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September 12, 2003

Vijay Singh


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome current leader Vijay Singh. Vijay, two strong rounds for you so far. Just talk about your round today and the tournament so far.

VIJAY SINGH: I played well. I mean, the conditions were really hard. I played really solid golf. The wind was kind of up when we started off and then it started raining so the wind died down a little bit. I played well and I drove the ball -- I think you need to keep the ball in play, and then that's when you can attack the flags. But I played solid golf, played solid yesterday. I just hope I just keep doing that in the weekend.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Chris Riley mentioned -- he played right in front of you, two of the toughest rounds as far as weather-wise, windy yesterday, hot and windy, and then today with the rain, probably difficult conditions for you back to back.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it's different conditions altogether. Yesterday was dry and windy, today was wet. I don't know if it was windy much, but it was just damp. These are the conditions where you don't really want to play much golf because if the ball gets wet on the tee box, it can squirt a little bit. Judging the distance of the greens, as we kept playing it, got softer and softer so you could fly more at the flags. I think the pins were quite tough, as well, so you didn't want to overshoot the greens here.

All in all, it was tough, but I played solid.

Q. How does your game -- how do you like this course in general, and how does it match up with your game?

VIJAY SINGH: The course is quite nice. It's fun to play. You can attack the flags. If the conditions are good, you can really shoot low numbers here. We had better greens today than we had yesterday. They became really bumpy yesterday afternoon, but it was fine this morning. My game, I hit a high ball -- yes and no. I mean, I like the par 5s because you can attack, and one or two short holes, but it narrows as the ball finishes so you're restricted in driving the ball as long as you can. Today I could do that because it was wet and not running that much further.

I like it and I'm playing well on it. I feel like I can keep doing that for the next few days.

Q. Is it a well-rounded test of golf?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. Today was. They've got some long par 3s, which is always very difficult. The greens are undulating enough to make you think about where you're going to hit the ball.

Q. Talk about with Riley playing in the group right ahead of you, you were able to sort of keep an eye on him if you wanted to see what he was doing. Did you feel it was kind of a one-on-one you can match him kind of contest?

VIJAY SINGH: The only time I saw Riley today was on the 18th, which was the 9th, so I wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing, and he wasn't paying attention to me, either. I just play my game. If you start worrying about other people's games, it will affect you. The elements were hard enough that you had to focus on your own game.

Q. What's the hardest part about playing in the rain for you?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the ball getting wet on the tee box. With a driver you need to be able to hit the ball really solid, and if -- I tried very hard to keep the ball dry when I was on the tee. Nowadays the drivers do not have grooves as they used to, so the ball squirts a lot. That's a very important thing. Apart from that, trying to keep dry as much as possible. That's about all. It's a hard grind when it's raining. I think everybody feels the same way.

Q. Talk about what brought you here this week, why you're playing in the John Deere Classic for the first time.

VIJAY SINGH: I committed very early, and it was in my schedule. That was it. There's no other real reason why I should be playing here. It's part of the Tour and it's a good event from what I heard, and I entered quite a ways ahead and committed to it.

Q. Had you heard some things about the golf course that piqued your interest?

VIJAY SINGH: I've played a few tournaments this year that I hadn't played for the first time. Boston obviously is a new event, but I hadn't played a lot at the beginning, I was hurt, so I just tried to make up for my lost tournaments. I like to play 25, 26 events a year, and this will probably do it for me.

Q. Can you talk about the Player of the Year race and do you feel like you're a serious contender?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been out there so many times. It would be a great honor to be named Player of the Year, but my interest right now is playing golf tournaments, and I think that should be determined when you finish the Tour. Whoever plays the best golf should win that, throughout the year.

Right now I don't think I'm in contention unless I would go out and win the next three or four events. I think the guys that won the Majors, they're all first-time winners, I think they should be given the award because it's no easy task winning a Major for the first time.

Q. Kind of a similar thing, but how important do you look at that, the money title, Player of the Year? Davis talked about it the other day, that it's important to him.

VIJAY SINGH: I think the money title is more important than Player of the Year for me. When you start off -- if you win the money title, obviously Player of the Year, you've got a chance of winning that. For me I think playing tournaments, winning golf tournaments is the key, and if that leads you to winning the money title -- when we look at the money title, we see who's 1, who's 2, who's 3, and that is my goal, to be up there at the end of the season.

Q. After a couple rounds, is there any one hole out there that stands out, whether it be good or bad; and if so, why?

VIJAY SINGH: They're all pretty tough. 7th hole is pretty hard. It's a par 3. I hit two great shots the first two days, but that will be very difficult if it gets hot and fast. Then again, I don't really like 17 because you need to draw the ball a little bit. I drove it perfect for the first two days, but there again, you stand on the tee and it sets up for a right-to-left, and I'm not a right-to-left person. I managed it okay, made par today, but that's it, I guess.

Q. Did you drive any tractors the other day?

VIJAY SINGH: No, I didn't, and I don't think I will, either.

Q. There were two chances, two nights. You missed both, huh?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm not into tractors really.

Q. Vijay, you said that playing golf tournaments is important for you and winning. How difficult has that been for you this year considering some of the off-the-course distractions and some of the controversies with the media and things that you've had to deal with?

VIJAY SINGH: I actually had no problem playing. As you can see, I'm playing pretty good. The most controversial week I won, so it didn't really affect me that much.

Q. I remember being at Bay Hill several years ago when you came into contention, you were still kind of an unknown, late '96, '97, something like that. Since you've developed into a premier player since that time, what has come along the most for you? Is it your mental game, something specific? What took you to the next level that got you to where you are now since then?

VIJAY SINGH: I think consistency, playing good all the time. That comes from golf swing. My golf swing has evolved into something that's so good right now that I don't really need to go out there and practice hours and hours. I feel very comfortable with my golf swing. The plane is where I want it to be. I'm still working on it to make sure it gets more and more consistent each time I play.

I haven't really checked my swing from '85 to '95 to right now. I have not really looked back and said, hey, this is how I was swinging before. I just like to look forward and see how much I improve, and that is the key to my golf swing, and that's why I'm hitting the ball so much better. My driver is so much better; I can hit the ball longer and straighter than I've ever done before, so that's a key factor right there.

Q. What was clicking for you today? Was it concentration or was there some particular part of your game?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm not fighting with my golf swing. I'm standing on the tee and I look at the shot and I want to play the shot and I pull it off. Many times before that when I was standing on the tee, I'm thinking you don't want to pull it or you don't want to push it. Right now I'm swinging so well that I feel like I can go out there and see the shot and just commit to it, and that's what I think all pros strive for is to be able to see the shot and swing at it and hit it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go over your round, you started out on 10 with a birdie.

VIJAY SINGH: I hit the tee ball into the rough, laid up with a 9-iron, hit a sand wedge about 15 feet.

13, I hit a driver again into the bunker, hit a wedge out about 15 feet.

Birdie on 2, I hit a driver, 5-wood just short of the pin, chipped it about another 16, 18 feet, made that.

Then bogey on 5, a good tee shot, 7-iron, came up short, hit a bunker shot about 12 feet, missed it.

Then birdie on 8, hit a good drive, sand wedge about 10 feet.

Q. Did your strong close yesterday have any carryover today?

VIJAY SINGH: I was really surprised what I did yesterday. The shot on No. 17, I wasn't really aiming for the flag, but I had enough club to carry the bunker. I hit it solid enough and it took off towards the flag. I was eight feet behind the hole. I was lucky to make a good putt on 18. It was a good feeling to be able to go out there knowing that I could be more aggressive today. The weather kind of messed everything up; I'm surprised that I'm even leading today. I thought there would be a few more guys up there.

Q. Can you talk about your feelings about the controversy with the media?

VIJAY SINGH: I will not discuss that. That's why I don't come in here, because of that.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Vijay Singh, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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