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November 2, 2002

Vijay Singh


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Vijay Singh with a 5-under 65 today. You have a four-shot lead in the clubhouse. Vijay, I guess the first thing people probably want to know, will the third time be the charm here at East Lake.

VIJAY SINGH: I hope so. This is the first time I'm going to go in with probably a four-shot lead or a three-shot lead. It's a lot better than going out with the one-shot lead. What was I in '98, one shot ahead? It's a lot better having four.

TODD BUDNICK: You came alive there on the back with birdies on 10 and 11, and the eagle on 15, then three great saves, 16, 17, 18. Talk about the back nine today.

VIJAY SINGH: I made a birdie on 9 which got the momentum going and I hit two good shots on 10 and 11, I had chances on 12, 13, 14 and made that bomb on 15. It was weird because where my ball was, that's where the pin was yesterday and where the pin was, my ball was there yesterday. I 3-putted it. I said, well, I knew the line, kind of. (Laughter.)

But I was glad to see it go in. It kind of made up for yesterday.

Q. Could you describe that putt more, did it break, was it uphill?

VIJAY SINGH: I couldn't see where my caddie was saying, it was so far away.

It was a big right-to-left break. I've had that putt before, and I know just getting the pace right, to get it over the hill with some pace and let it feed down to the hole. All I was trying to do was get close, within three feet, and it went in.

Q. What was that little two footed bunny hop you did when you were walking off the green after that thing went in?

VIJAY SINGH: Get me out of the green kind of, you know. (Laughing) that hole always -- I've never played that hole well. I made a par there or a bogey there the last times I've played. I was glad to see that ball go in. Hopefully I can get out of there tomorrow with some decent scores, as well.

Q. I know that an 80-foot putt is not unusual when you are out here day-in, day-out. By the same token, you were putting pretty close to the hole well and all day. I wonder your thoughts.

VIJAY SINGH: I've been working really hard on my putting. That was my goal this year, to work really hard with my putts. To get a stroke, a good feel going and not worry about making the putt so much, but just standing over a putt and putting a good stroke on it. I've been putting well for a while, and with the good greens like this, you get it online, you have a good chance of making a lot of putts. But that was more luck than anything else, I think.

Q. As much attention on the birdies and the eagle, what about the closing holes, coming in on three pars. It seems like everybody else is dropping shots as they come in. Is that a tough stretch?

VIJAY SINGH: It is a pretty tough stretch, especially the 18th hole where you have to hit a long iron in there. But I was in great position, 16, 17, right in the middle of the fairway, and just kind of played it badly and I played more going towards the flag instead of the middle of the greens. 16, you do not go for the pin. I was lucky enough to get great saves.

16, I thought that was one of the best chip shots I've hit for a long time. 17, although it looked very difficult with the bunker shot, it was pretty simple. Just get it up on the green and let it feed down. I made a good putt there.

18, I practice that bunker shot many a times.

Q. Where were you on 16 in relation to the hole?

VIJAY SINGH: I was pin-high.

Q. Left?

VIJAY SINGH: Right. The pin was right. It was not a good place to miss it. I was kind of kicking myself. And then do the same thing on 17. Pretty simple 6-iron to the middle of the green and I blocked it right.

Q. Three up-and-downs you finished with.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. I'm really happy with that. I've played the bunker very well this week. Yesterday and today. It's good to see that it's all coming together.

Q. You had another pretty good save on 4. Have you been scrambling this year as well this year as you ever have?

VIJAY SINGH: Not in the beginning. But I've kind of looked at the stats a little bit and I've seen where I was slacking off. I worked a lot on my bunker play and my chip shots in the last month, and my putting, as well. If you are hitting 15 greens and not getting up-and-down those three times, that's where all of the great guys, great players are saving their shots. Mickelson, Woods, Toms, Els, they are really good around the greens, and I have not been doing that. It shows in my scoring.

Q. I've talked to a couple people lately who say that they can see the line of the putt better using a longer putter. Do you find that's an advantage for you?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know if I can see the line better. It's reading the greens -- when you're reading the greens, you don't have a putter in your hands to read the greens. You go down and have a look at what you're doing.

I find hitting with a longer putter, it's much easier to release. You don't work too much on your strokes. I don't think I'll ever go back to anything else because I feel so comfortable with what I'm doing with the putter.

Q. With the Tour season so long, what's the fatigue factor, more pronounced mentally or physically?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I think mentally would be more than anything else. Especially on the last few trips that I've done. I made two trips to the U.K. in the last month. So kind of tired mentally.

Physically, I'm pretty healthy. I think I work out every day, almost. I'm pretty fit that way.

But you get kind of tired of traveling, especially when it's long distance. And I'm looking forward to the break.

Q. The scores here in the last three years have been pretty high relative to other tournaments, and you've had a lot of success on this golf course. What is it about East Lake that fits so well with your game?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know how to answer that question. Everybody has asked me that.

I just think it suits my eye. Whenever I come here, I play well. I like the greens. I think it all starts off from the very first time that I came over here and I played well. So two years later, I came here, I had good feelings going again and I played well and this year it's the same.

I don't think the golf course plays any different to me than anybody else out there. I just play well here when I come here.

It's a good thing to have.

Q. I was wondering when DiMarco did his Crocodile or Gator thing at the end on 18, are you, living in Florida, do you get into that?

VIJAY SINGH: There's a lot of heckling going on all day. He kind of brought it onto himself with that outfit he had on. (Laughter.)

You know, he gave it back to them in the end, though.

Q. Have you ever watched a college football game?

VIJAY SINGH: Not really, no. My caddie is a big Gator fan, and DiMarco obviously is. It doesn't really entice me much.

Q. What would it mean for to you win here, coming from someone who has won two majors and knows the difference between the four and the others?

VIJAY SINGH: I'd just like to win again. The last time I won was in Houston, and I have a good record over here without winning. I've been playing well the last few months, great finishes. I'd just like to get off this year with a win. That's more bigger for me than anything else. I'd like to end the season with a great win and start off next year with a good feeling, yeah.

Q. You mentioned Houston and winning there. You are in a similar situation today, and there you won by six shots. What was your approach on the final round, and will you take a similar strategy tomorrow?

VIJAY SINGH: I played really good there in the final round. I almost did not miss a shot.

I'd like to do that again here tomorrow, go out there and focus on what I'm doing. That's what I did out there. Just each hole at a time and my game, my way. Don't worry about the leaderboard. Don't worry about who is playing. I was fortunate enough to play with Darren, that played well, as well and we kind of fought it out. It was close there for a long time until I finished off well.

Tomorrow will be just going out there and have a good warm up and do what I did today. Just hit the fairways and hit the greens and make the putts and just play my own game. That's what I plan to do.

TODD BUDNICK: If we could have your birdies.

VIJAY SINGH: 7-iron about eight feet.

3-putted from about 30 feet.

Driver, 3-wood, sand wedge about six feet.

Driver, 7-iron about five feet.

7-iron about same, about five feet.

Driver, 5-iron, 90 feet.

Q. How far did you have in on that hole?

VIJAY SINGH: 190 to the front.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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