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November 3, 2002

Vijay Singh


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay and congratulations. A great ending to a great season.

VIJAY SINGH: Thank you. Wow, I didn't know I was going to be sitting here today. It's a good way to finish. I played really well. I think the keys to my success today was playing well. I hit the ball probably the best all week, and drove the ball well and just kept very calm out there. The results were right out there.

Q. Why didn't you think you would be sitting here? Were you just kidding?

VIJAY SINGH: A little bit. But you never know. It's golf.

I didn't know how it was going to play today. I wasn't very happy with the way I struck the ball yesterday, but I scored well. 65 was a great score, but not necessarily I played well.

I was speaking to my wife last night, I said, "I just have to go out there and play solid golf and let everything take care of itself," which I did.

Q. Did you have any flashbacks to '98?

VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I mean, '98 I was only one ahead. Today I was two ahead. So that's -- no, I was real focused on what I was going to do. I had the same club in my hand. The greens were holding so I just aimed it right in the middle of the green and probably hit the best 3-iron I've hit for a long, long time. I was practicing that this morning. I said if it comes down to 18, I need to hit a solid 3-iron because there was no wind in the air.

When I struck the ball, I didn't have to look. I knew it was going straight for the green.

Q. How many 3-irons did you hit this morning in preparation?

VIJAY SINGH: Must have been about five or six. And that was the best one I hit.

Q. We know how competitive you are, it doesn't matter what tournament, you want to win it. But you really wanted this one, didn't you?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. Especially on this golf course, I thought I was going to win, especially in '98, and today I played well. I think that was the key. I started, off with a bogey on 1 and then played really solid. My putter did not work the first nine but it started working towards the ends. I felt really good about my game. Hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and that's what you need over here.

Q. Were you at all concerned when you go through seven pars in a row and you're still sitting there at 8-under and guys are getting back into it, did you feel at all that it was getting away from you unless you started making something? And secondly, could you at all hear the roar on Jerry's ace; any idea what that was?

VIJAY SINGH: Which hole did he ace anyway?

Q. 11. You missed that one, didn't you?

VIJAY SINGH: I almost aced it. (Laughing).

No, I didn't see the leaderboard until I got to 9. When I looked up, I knew that two guys were at 6, but I was still at 8. I still had a two-shot lead. It's not that I lost the lead or anything. When I made birdie there and birdied 10 and 11, I looked up and still had a three-shot lead. So I said, well, I'm comfortable now.

Then Charles Howell towards the end, he made the eagle on No. 13. Birdied 12. All of a sudden, it was tied again.

But the key was my golf. I wasn't worried about anything else. I focused on hitting the fairways which I did. I think this golf course, the later half of the holes are very tough, 14 onwards. If you hit the fairways, the hole becomes so much easier. I was driving the ball really well. I think what won the golf tournament this week, was my driver. I drove it really -- hit a lot of fairways this week and pretty long, as well.

Q. Did it help you to -- did it help focus a little bit more when Charles started going a little bit crazy on the last five holes, starting with that eagle?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. You know, I was really focused out there. I told my caddie, I don't want any distractions. Just keep doing what you've been doing and I'm going to take care of myself. We were really focused. We played every hole as it came.

Charles had the tee most of the time on the back nine so, when he hit the fairways with his drives, it kind of got me to do the same, too. I was more into it, as well.

I played well. I had no, I wasn't worried about what others were doing. I just played my own game and let it take care of itself.

Q. You're starting to develop a friendship with Charles, and this is the first time he's in the last group in the final round with you, right behind Tiger and Phil. Is it a place where you expect to see him from here on out, do you think?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, like I said yesterday, he's really still really young. I can't even think that far back.

He's got a great golf game. Very level head. He's going to be in that position a lot more times in the future.

I know he's going to win a lot of tournaments. He's got that demeanor and a great, great golf to go with it.

Q. What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

VIJAY SINGH: I've got two little outings in Asia that I have to do that are only weekends, more or less like a holiday break. Then I play the Williams Challenge, which is Tiger's tournament, and then the World Cup and then Kapalua.

Q. How important was the seventh hole? You missed the short birdie putts at 4 and 6 and it looked like you might make bogey and Charles make birdie on 7. How important is that to keep ahead of him and also for your confidence with your putter after missing a couple short ones before that?

VIJAY SINGH: I told my caddie over there, I says, you know I think I'm going to make this one just because I missed two small ones the hole before that. I had a great line on it. It kind of gave me a lot more boost to my game. I mean, I was kind of feeling down. I didn't know if I was going to make a putt out there or no.

After making one, I hit a great driver on the next hole and kind of got the ball rolling and birdied 9, 10, 11.

Q. You said on television that you are swinging the club better than perfect and you credited the workouts; is there more to it than just the workout?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I work so hard with my golf swing through the years. I guess you guys know how hard I work.

Once your golf swing comes to a point where you can't improve it anymore, all you do is just repeat it. My workout kind of elevated that. I'm much stronger with the shots I'm hitting. I'm driving the ball further than I've ever done before, which tells you something. It's a lot of equipment, but also me. (Laughing).

Charles is what, 22, 23, and I was hitting it with him all day, and by him quite a few times. So that tells you, I'm almost twice his age and hitting as long as he is. I think physical fitness -- my trainer has done great work with me. I'm looking forward to the off-season now. I'm going to work much harder and get much stronger. Look out, I'm not done yet. (Laughter.)

Q. When did you start this emphasis on physical fitness?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been doing it for about five years, but the last two years, I've really taken it to the next level. I'm doing it together with my golf game. I'm not just doing physical training and forgetting my golf game. I'm swinging the club much faster now, working towards that in relation with my physical training.

So, it's combined with my golf swing that I'm doing the physical training.

Q. In general, what type of exercises do you do to improve?

VIJAY SINGH: You need a whole book to write that down.

Q. Strength, aerobics, both?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. Pretty much functional work. More core work, more legwork, upper body as well. I'm a lot fitter than I look. (Laughter.)

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies.

VIJAY SINGH: First hole, I hit driver, 9-iron in the bunker, pitched out about five feet and missed it.

9, I hit driver in the rough, laid up with a 6-iron, sand wedge about five feet.

10th hole, driver, 4-iron about 15 feet.

11th, 5-iron about two feet.

15, driver, 5-wood, about 20 feet, 2-putted.

Q. Vijay on 15, you said Charles had made it a little tight again. How important was it driving it there and matching him on the green and making sure there was not a swing?

VIJAY SINGH: It was very awkward because I had a club but it wasn't a perfect club. I knew I couldn't reach it with a 3-iron, and Charles just hit a 3-iron from behind me. I had a favorite 5-wood of mine that I had to cut up and I had not been hitting it very well, except coming this week. So I just took it up, aimed to the left side and hit a great shot. 2-putted there, which was good. It wasn't an easy 2-putt. I was three ahead. I was very comfortable with what I was doing.

Q. Did you register your body fat two years ago versus now or your weight?

VIJAY SINGH: No. I've still got a lot. (Laughing) I'm not that fit.

Q. Do you work as hard behind the scenes at training as you do out here, practical application?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I work out twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. That should tell you how hard I work. On a regular Tour event, I work like 40 minutes with my warm-up in the morning, and probably an hour in the evening, four times a day in the evenings. But every morning, I work out.

When I go home, like tomorrow, I have another program set up. It's an ongoing thing. If I feel tired, take off.

A long time ago, a guy said to me, once you reach 35, 36, that's when you kind of start going downwards. So you've got to work twice as hard to keep that one step up. And I've been doing it. I've taken his advice.

Now I want to play on until I'm 45 on this tour, 46 and be competitive. I just don't want to -- everybody says once you reach 40, that's the end of that. You've got to think about the Senior Tour. But, no, I want to compete as long as I can, and I think I'm able to do that if I keep physically fit.

Q. Charles talked about changing his practice routine recently and putting more emphasis on his short game. We see you hitting balls all the time. Have you changed your routine at all to emphasize your short game more, and what are the percentages between the two?

VIJAY SINGH: My short game this week was probably the best I've had for a long time.

I do it at home mostly. I work a lot on my short game at home. I kind of balance it out. If I work two hours on my long game I work two hours on my short game and I've been working a lot more with my putting, as well. At least an hour a day on my putts. I have a track that I practice on and I do it in the room, as well, if I need to.

It's an ongoing thing. It's paying off. I think my longer shots on the practice range is going to kind of slow down a little bit, because like I said, my swing is so much better now than it was a year and a half ago. All I need to do is just repeat it and just maintain it. If I can do that, I think I'll be okay.

Q. On a satisfaction level, how does this win rank with some of your other achievements in your career?

VIJAY SINGH: Besides the majors and the TPC, I think this is way up there. I think this is one of the best tournaments to win.

I really am proud to win this one, really. It's one of the Tour events that it's run by the Tour itself, and you get the best guys doing it. The whole team is here. It's an end-of-the-year event. I'm just proud to win this trophy that owed me last two years I came over here, two times, I thought I was going to win it. But finally I've done it and it's really something that I am going to cherish.

Q. Did you and Charles become friends because you have a similar practice or work ethic or were there other reasons for this?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I'm not -- how can I say -- I'm not buddy-buddy with Charles. He's a nice guy. I think I'm a nice guy. You know, I'm friends with everybody out there. But he is just a very easy guy to get along with. I think we're going to play a lot more practice rounds in the future.

He's just a nice, nice boy. He really is. He's a great guy to play golf with. We have some nice conversations out there. I don't go out and have dinner with him, but, you know, you never know, one of these days.

Q. Would you tell us about your buddy here in town who owns a Thai restaurant and how many times you've eaten there this week?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, Charlie and Nan, they own a restaurant that is on Peachtree and 14th. They cooked for me at the Masters when I won. It's the best food in town. If you guys are looking for a good meal, that's the place to go. I ain't kidding you. There were more Tour guys there this week than I've ever seen in a restaurant. I've eaten there every night. He's waiting for me in his restaurant right now. So you can't go without eating.

We eat every time we come to Atlanta. He really is a nice chap and the best food you can ever get.

Q. How many times did you eat there this week?

VIJAY SINGH: Every night. And tonight, as well.

Q. This gets you up to about third on the Money List and maybe higher on the world rankings, how much stock do you put in that and do you think it accurately reflects where you are as a player?

VIJAY SINGH: The Money List is pretty hard to win, if Tiger wins five times every year and the big ones, too. It really depends on which tournament you win.

Beginning of the year, my goal is to win, you know -- it's no one tournament that I want to win out there. It's just whichever tournament I enter, I want to win.

I emphasize more on the majors and the PLAYERS Championship, but any win is a good win. The Money List, you kind of think about it when it comes towards the end. I think this is the best I've ever finished on the Money List -- oh, finished second one, yes.

It's a good achievement. Especially as old as I am -- I am old. (Laughing) Well, I'm getting old anyway. It is a great achievement.

I'm looking forward to next year now and I want to play well and I want to compete. I told my wife, I said, "If I stop competing, I just don't want to be part of a pack. I just want to go out there and compete." That's how I am. If I don't enjoy it, I can't win anymore, I don't think I will play the Tour. Wait for the Senior Tour.

Q. Did you say you've got something that you practice, a track or something in your hotel, right?

VIJAY SINGH: I've got a putting thing that I work with. If you haven't seen me on the putting green, that's all I have is I put on that track to improve my stroke. You can just dismantle it, take it wherever you go. I just use it in the room when I need to.

You know, we're all golfers, we all practice in the room. Don't get that wrong. It's not only me. (Laughing).

Q. You are aware it's coming back here frequently, this site.

VIJAY SINGH: Next year -- Mike Weir is not here and he won it last year. I think it should be the top 31 guys; defending champion always play it. That's the way they should have it. But, hey, it's Top-30 and that's it. There's no guarantee I'm going to be in the Top-30 next year. Probably not going to see me here if I don't play well.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay.

End of FastScripts....

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