March 26, 2001
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you for coming down and spending some time with us. I know you are disappointed, but maybe as best you can, just share some of your thoughts with us, and then we'll open it up for questions.
VIJAY SINGH: One bad swing. I think that's all it took today for me. I was playing pretty good. I was feeling really comfortable out there; but, you know, one bad hole. 14 was my killer blow this week, and I guess that's all it takes when you are playing the final round of a tournament this big. You cannot make mistakes like that. And that was it.
Q. When is the last time you double-crossed a drive like that? That's highly unusual.
VIJAY SINGH: The last time? Today. (Laughs). It was just a straight pull. You don't practice those things; it just happens. You know, I was feeling very comfortable on the tee and just wanted to move it left-to-right, and came right over it and crossed it. It's caused by a little too quick of a swing. You know, too aggressive and too anxious, I guess. But that's about it I guess.
Q. A competition like this where you are right in it with Tiger, yet you've made one mistake. Does this help prepare you for your defense at the Masters where you might face a similar situation?
VIJAY SINGH: I hope I don't face that similar shot out there. The Masters is totally different. I'm not going to -- I'm going to start thinking about it after I leave here. Tomorrow I'm going to come back here and start preparing for the Masters. But every time you are in contention, you learn something. It's always a learning thing. I mean, the way you play, you've always got that little bit of experience playing in conditions like that, and you always learn. I just hope I have learned something from that shot today. Under the gun, you know that you cannot make mistakes. That's the bottom line.
Q. You did really put that thing away after that shot? You had a great rebound and went birdie, par, eagle, birdie, par to end it.
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I talked to my caddy a little bit, and I said, "Well, we've got to birdie the last four." I hit a great putt on 15, and it didn't go in. Then I said, "Well, let's eagle, birdie, birdie finish. See what happens." I came close to it. I hit my 5-iron just a little bit -- didn't hit it hard enough on 18. I thought I had plenty of club going in there, and just came off it. Playing the last three holes over here, anything can happen; it's all over water. 17 has always had some drama, and 18, as well. But being two shots back from Tiger, he's not going to make any mistakes. He's too good of a player to do that.
VIJAY SINGH: You know, sand wedge was probably not the right club, because the rough was so high that you can almost double-hit it if you get on top of the ball. So I was taking a little bit of a precaution there. I practiced that in the practice round, and I guess it worked this time.
Q. You have not shot over par this year. How do you feel about your game?
VIJAY SINGH: I'm really happy. I'm really comfortable with what I'm doing with my golf swing. I think the important part is my putting. I'm putting well. I'm making a lot of those 6- or 8-footers, where I used to have a 50/50 chance of making them. That works into my game, as well. If you are chipping from off the green, you don't feel like you have to hit it inside a foot to make a putt. You can be 6 foot or 5 foot and still make it. It gives you a little bit more freedom to chip, and your short game, and that's helped.
Q. That shot with the toe of the putter, do you practice that?
VIJAY SINGH: I remember playing at Southern Hills one year with Freddie Couples, and he was on the sixth hole, I think, fifth or sixth hole, the par 5. It's almost an impossible shot. He played that and made it. When I was playing that, I told my caddy, I said, "You know, this is the only way to go." And I could always think, you know, what Freddie did and made it. So it was always a good feeling when I was over there. I knew I could not mess up if I hit it that way. If I had gone with a sand wedge, that would have been a different story.
Q. Do you recall the last time you played with the toe of the putter?
VIJAY SINGH: I'm messing around all the time.
Q. In a tournament?
VIJAY SINGH: Not in a tournament.
Q. Is that the first?
VIJAY SINGH: Probably the first one, yeah.
Q. You did not give up after that triple bogey. What went through your mind; and secondly, this has got to put you in a good mental set of confidence for what is coming up.
VIJAY SINGH: I said, "There's four holes to go," and you know, "three of them are over water too." I told my caddy, "Let's birdie the last four. I've done it before. Let's go and do it." I came close to doing it. I eagled 16, and I birdied 17. I tried to make the putt on 18, but I guess I hit it -- didn't read it good enough.
Q. Did you re-tee on 14, and can you take us through the rest of that hole?
VIJAY SINGH: I hit it in the water, dropped it in front of the tee. Hit a 3-wood, and then I had a bad yardage. I was in between clubs. It was a very, very hard 7-iron, or a nice, soft, 6-iron. And I hit a 6-iron, kind of leaked it right, and came in a very awkward spot again. Hit my putt too hard, and missed an 8-footer coming back.
Q. What did you hit on 17?
VIJAY SINGH: I hit a 9-iron.
Q. Will you stay here and practice the rest of this week and then go to Augusta?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I'll probably take a day or so off and then come back and prepare myself. It's a different mindset when you are going to Augusta than playing over here. So you've got to focus on what you need to do at Augusta, and then make sure they keep the greens as fast as they are on the practice range.
Q. Will it be a different mindset for you going in as defending champion?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. You know, finishing second here is disappointing, but at the same time, it's a boost to the confidence, you know, going into the last -- going into the first major. So, I feel really good about it going in there. Although, I'm pretty disappointed not doing well here, but I'm looking forward to next week now. I'm done with this week, and I'm going to go home and refocus and do something crazy there again. (Laughter.)
Q. You mentioned a few times about talking with your caddy. How big of a help is that having Paul, somebody who has been through the PGA TOUR in the past, having him as a confidant? Anything in particular that he helps you with?
VIJAY SINGH: We work on the golf swing a lot. He has worked with me ever since I've been working on my golf swing, and he's worked closely with my coach, as well. You know, I really like him on the bag. I think he is a good balance for me. Although, he gets a little bit -- he has not been in a situation like that, so he's a little bit edgy the last three holes. But he's a good guy, and I think we are going to go a long ways together.
Q. Have you been to Augusta recently?
VIJAY SINGH: I was there last week. I played there last Sunday -- two Sundays ago.
Q. There's a chance you could go into Augusta ranked 2. Does that have any meaning to you?
VIJAY SINGH: Absolutely nothing. Before coming over here, I finished no worse than fourth in my last five events and I have not jumped a spot, so, I don't know. There's something wrong there, isn't it?
Q. Sometimes you talk about, well, "I practice here and I play here, but it's entirely different during THE PLAYERS Championship." When you go into play Augusta ahead of time or drop in every once in a while, is it pretty much like it would be during the tournament?
VIJAY SINGH: It's totally different. You stand up on the hole, you see 18, you see 9, you see everything. During the tournament, there's just so many people; it's like a hurricane went by and took all of the trees away or something. Everything is missing. There's only a green and a tee. So, it doesn't seem like Augusta, as we know it, because by the time we turn up, there's a million people around. When we go out there -- just a practice round, there's hardly anybody out there. It's not the same atmosphere as when we play it. I'd rather be there when the tournament is on, and then you get the same --.
Q. They rebuilt the 10th green , did you notice that?
VIJAY SINGH: They did it so perfectly that you don't even realize they have done anything or made any change. All I noticed was they widened the ninth hole like they did the first year. They have taken the rough away on the bottom right, and also on the 10th hole. There was too many complaints about, "We're running out of fairway."
Q. Is it mostly the putting on this streak that you are on, this finishing in the top 4, or is it anything else?
VIJAY SINGH: I think I'm playing pretty good right now. I think my whole game is coming around. I'm hitting a lot of good shots off the tees, fairways, and putting well. I think the whole game is in tune right now, and I just need to not make dumb mistakes like I did today.
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