June 5, 2002
HARRISON, NEW YORK
TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Vijay Singh to the 2002 Buick Classic. Vijay took last week off, as well. He has made 12 of 14 cuts this year and is ranked eighth in the world.
What are you looking for heading into this week and then with the U.S. Open looming right behind?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I'm looking forward to winning this week, really. I'm playing really good. I feel really good about my golf game. I like this golf course. I like the crowd. I like the press. (Laughter.)
Yeah, I'm playing well. I've been prepared well for this week and I want to focus more on this week than next week. I'm going to focus on next week when I get there.
Q. How much of a distraction is having the U.S. Open the following week?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, it really depends on how much you want it to distract you.
I had a chance to go and play there, but I didn't. I said, well, I'm going to see the golf course on Monday and just start off from Monday. All I've heard about the golf course is it's long and it's hard and it's long and it's long. They keep saying that the guys who are going to have a good chance of winning the Open are guys who hit it a long ways.
As far as I've played the last few opens, the guy who hits it straight is the guy who wins the U.S. Open. Long is fine, but I think everybody on TOUR does not hit it short; they hit it at a decent distance.
My concern about the U.S. Open will be next week when I get there. This week, my focus is in Westchester.
Q. So this is definitely not a tune-up, you are here to win this tournament?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it's a big event and it's a great golf course. I really like to perform well here and then take that good feeling for next week.
Q. Other than Tiger Woods, you have the No. 2 through 8 ranked players in the world in the field this week. No. 1, do you like that extra competition, and No. 2 why is it? Is it the golf course, the scheduling, or a combination of the two?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it's a good golf course. It's a great event. It's a good tune up to the U.S. Open. It's always been the golf course is tough. I think it's always been a great event golf course-wise.
If you see the past tournaments, every good golf course, every tough golf course has got a good field, and this is one of them.
Q. Do you like having 2 through 8 here? Does that motivate you anymore or are you motivated enough already?
VIJAY SINGH: It doesn't have to be 2 through 8. I think all of the players that enter this event have a good chance of winning. They are all very strong. If you've seen the past champions, every week has been a different winner. I think the field itself is a strong one. It's strengthened by the top guy, as well.
Q. How much did what happened to you at THE PLAYERS Championship spur you onto Houston and some good play that followed?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't think it really mattered that much. I just hit two balls in the water that messed up my whole tournament. It was a golf hole where, it's my home course and I can stand there, put 100 balls in my hand and I'm not going to hit it in the water. It just so happened.
But I played the whole tournament pretty well. Even though I missed the cut, I was very pleased with the way I hit the ball. I was striking the ball so well over there that it just carried on to the week after. I just had a two-week break and three-day break after that and just went on and played well.
It really did not affect me or spur me to winning the golf tournament. I was just playing well at that moment.
Q. Do you feel like you are hitting the ball similar?
VIJAY SINGH: Now I am. I took three weeks off after the Masters and my golf game did not do well the week after that I came back. But I worked hard enough after that and got it back to where I feel like I'm comfortable with it and confident doing golf tournaments.
Q. Where was your putting game before you switched to the belly putter, and how has that style helped you?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I wasn't -- I don't know. It's just been so long ago. I just think putting with a belly putter is the best way to putt right now. The stats last year just showed it. I don't know what I ranked, but I ranked in the Top-10. I've never been in the Top-10 on putting stats, ever. So that should show you something.
I'm so comfortable with it. I feel like I can make putts when I'm standing over it, and it's just a joy to putt when you're putting well. I enjoy putting right now.
Q. What does the belly putter do for you mechanically?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, it makes the stroke more consistent. You return the ball with your club exactly the same spot every time and you release it. You don't really force the release of your putter head. If you are holding conventional style, your hands can actually take over. But when it is anchored in, it's always the same spot. It just releases the putter naturally.
Q. When did you go to that?
VIJAY SINGH: A year ago, two years ago.
Q. When did you go to left-hand low?
VIJAY SINGH: Gosh, I need a book for all this. (Laughs). Probably three years ago when I won the Masters, before that I went to cross-handed and just stuck to it.
Q. There was a possibility that the tournament might leave here and go to another golf course. How do you feel about playing here?
VIJAY SINGH: I think everybody would be disappointed, especially me. This is one of my favorite stops of the year. It would be a shame if you leave a good golf course like this. If it does change, hopefully it's going to be something as good or even better. But if it's not, I think it would be a loss to a great event.
Q. Is having the Buick and the GHO around the U.S. Open a good thing for the international players, being that they are so close?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I think the golf course this week is a lot better than other tournaments. Like I said, this is one of my favorite golf tournaments. You could hold the U.S. Open tomorrow on this golf course, that tells you a lot, and it's always before the U.S. Open. It's a good tune-up, also.
Q. Is it easier for international players just to go up to Hartford before rather than go back to Europe?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I think they come over here and get acclimatized as well. It's really not where it is. I think the week before any major that is played over here, you see a good field from the international side. I don't think the location really matters.
Q. The Tour has long had characters, Trevino, Chi Chi, Gary Player used to wear black. What do you think of players like Jesper and Charles Howell who dress differently, and what do you think that adds to the tour?
VIJAY SINGH: I think you'd better ask those two guys. (Laughter.) I'm not in a position to answer that one.
Q. You wouldn't be caught dead in what they wear?
VIJAY SINGH: I wouldn't be wearing those.
Q. Could you talk about the role that fitness has been incorporated into your current game?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it's done a lot to my game. I'm not young anymore, although I feel like it. I feel the best condition right now that I've ever been in. Physically, I feel strong. I'm a lot more flexible than I've ever been. I've been stretching a lot. I think the longevity of my golfing depends on how fit I really am. I really enjoy doing it, as well. I go out there. I feel strong, and I'm hitting longer than I've ever done. I think every player out there is just turning towards that, and in the future, you'll see more younger and stronger guys coming out. I think it's done me great and it's good that I enjoy doing it, as well.
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