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June 13, 2000

Vijay Singh


LES UNGER: It would be remiss not to congratulate you, on a month or so ago, your great win at the Masters. I have to ask you a question: What have you done for us lately?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I haven't been scoring very well. In my mind, I've been competing well and hit the ball good, but scoring has been a problem. And I think it's coming along. I've changed a few things with my putting. And I'm quite happy with my game, going into this week.

LES UNGER: How many practice rounds have you had here?

VIJAY SINGH: I played eight holes yesterday and today, and tomorrow will be the last one. A different golf course altogether than what we normally play, AT&T. It's like a brand new golf course, coming over here this week. I've never seen a golf course play so fast and short. But -- and the greens are so much stiffer. You get on the wrong side of the green now, it's a different ballgame. So it's going to be some getting used to.

Q. Vijay, given the fact that is a completely different course, you've still played well here, a couple -- three times in the last few years. You played well at St. Andrews, both British Opens you played, and had a good tournament in Valhalla. So given all that, how farfetched and how remote do you think the possibility is for this week and the rest of the majors?

VIJAY SINGH: This will be a very good start. But I like the setup of the golf course here. I'm playing well, which is a good thing. I'm just showing up really good for Thursday. It really depends on how I start off. If I get into contention early, I have a very good chance of winning and doing good things. But I cannot look into the next two majors. Right now my focus is on this one here. I'm looking forward to it. Ever since The Masters, I've been looking forward to this week. I'm eager to play and play well. I like the golf course. I like the way they set up the golf course; it's great. We just have to wait and see how I do.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your putting? You win at Augusta, which is the toughest place to putt with the short putter. Now you have the long putter. Can you talk about how that all came about?

VIJAY SINGH: The last four tournaments I played, going to The Memorial on the last day, I struck the ball from tee-to-green better than anybody out there, but just I haven't been scoring well. And if you look at my stats on putting, it's been really fairly good. But I spoke to Paul Azinger about the way he putts, sticks it in his belly button. My putting hasn't changed, but I anchor it into my belly. To me, it doesn't feel like a long putter, but I've got a normal grip and standing up exactly the same way, just an extension that makes a difference. I like the way it's reacting right now. And this is my second week. But I'm putting -- I feel really good about it, and making a lot of putts. I'm excited, I really am.

Q. Vijay, you played so great on Saturday at Augusta in that wild wind, do you welcome the windy conditions here? Do you think that might be an advantage for you?

VIJAY SINGH: Windy conditions are always probably the hardest to play in. I think it depends on how you're striking the golf ball. You may be a very good wind player, but if you're not playing well, it's not going to do you any good. I played really well on Saturday, and I was hitting the ball very, very good, really solid. But I've been a decent wind player. I don't like very strong winds, where it's unplayable, but if it blows 15 to 20, I can manage it. My game is pretty good in those conditions. I'm not hoping that it will blow that much. But if it does, I think it's going to be a good thing for the better players.

Q. Vijay, when we talked at Memorial, I said I was amazed that you could pick the club back up and concentrate, because everything was happening. After your visit home, have you had your thoughts about how you feel now, and are things better and are you more satisfied with what's happening and in a better frame of mind?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I had a good week, two weeks, and had my eyes done, which is another big thing for me, and then going last week to the new putter. So I've been really trying to get used to two different things: Looking at the greens differently and putting. Last week was a good test for all that, and I think I came out ahead. I'm really -- I'm quite focused on this week. A lot of attention has been with the other players, which is fine by me, and I just like to go in and do what I do best and concentrate on the game.

Q. Vijay, one laser surgery patient to another here. If it couldn't be you to win this particular tournament, who else out there, maybe some of the favorites, that not only have the game, but mental toughness that the U.S. Open demands?

VIJAY SINGH: If you look back and see who's won all the U.S. opens lately, obviously, you've got to have Tiger up there in front of everybody else. But David played well last week. And I played with Nick Price and he's hitting the ball good. And Norman is hitting the ball good. Nobody really focuses on those guys, but their game suits conditions like this. They hit the ball very straight off the tee, and they're great ball-strikers. And I played with Ernie, and he's no pushover. He's been playing well lately. You've got all those top guys playing well. And you cannot disregard Colin Montgomerie. Coming from Europe, he's played well and been playing really good -- and Lee Westwood. And they're all very familiar with windy conditions. And I think they're going to contend this week. There's a lot of guys out there that are going to be in the hunt.

Q. Vijay, are you affected at all by the attention to your homeland, political attention?

VIJAY SINGH: I was talking to Nick Price, and I said maybe I should give Nick Price some tips and maybe he should give me some. But that's away from over here. I've talked to a lot of people back home about it. I really don't try to get involved in that. It's a sad thing, what's going on over there, but I just hope that they can get it sorted out. It's none of my -- whatever I say won't make any difference back home. So I just need to concentrate on this week.

Q. You talk about the course being different than it is at the AT&T, specifically 8, 9 and 10. Can you comment specifically on how they'll be placed differently and talk about your strategy?

VIJAY SINGH: The fairway is much narrower now. And it's not as narrow as what the U.S. Open golf courses are, but you can't have it as narrow. But the roughs are really thick. You look at 8, 9 and 10, if you miss a fairway, it's bad. 10 is a very wide fairway. If you miss a fairway, you get a bad shot. 8 and 9 off the tee, the balls are rolling so far. I've never hit a 3-wood, 9-iron on the 9th hole, but I did it today. And yesterday I hit a driver and a sand wedge. So they're playing a lot faster and a lot shorter. But if the wind changes direction, it's a totally different hole. The whole golf course is fast. You stand on the 4th hole and normally you hit it on the left bunker, it's fine, but now it's all bunker. Coming over here after the AT&T, it's like a new golf course. The greens -- you miss the greens over here, you're looking for a bogey, unless you get a good lie. It's going to be tough. I think the key is hitting a lot of fairways and make sure that you keep it below the hole. Anywhere below the hole -- I'd rather have a 20-footer below the hole than an 8-footer above the hole, because you cannot really have an aggressive stroke from above the hole. So it's playing different. It's playing very hard, too.

Q. How long is your long putter? Second of all when did you get your laser surgery? And have receptions of the people changed or have you changed at all in the last two months since Augusta?

VIJAY SINGH: My putter is about 44 and a half, 45 inches long. And it really is not a -- I don't really call it a long putter, because I don't do anything different than what I did with the other putter. I just anchor it into my stomach. It releases the putter so well. Tomorrow will be the second week. Two weeks from tomorrow I've had it done. And each week it gets better. I didn't see things very well last week, but it's getting to where I can see everything right now. It's much better.

Q. Has life changed at all for you in the last few months?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been getting more attention since winning The Masters. More autograph seekers out there. But apart from that, I'm trying to keep a low key in this, doing what I've been doing all these years. I've enjoyed all that attention since The Masters. And I think -- winning The Masters was probably the biggest thing I've done recently. You have to go with the program; take what you get. And I've enjoyed it and it's fine. I don't really mind all the attention. But coming to this tournament like this, you're focusing on what you're doing best, and that's playing golf. And that's the hard part, when you come to a major tournament and have people hounding you, but I think I will manage it okay.

Q. How long is the putter that you used to use?

VIJAY SINGH: I had a 36-inch putter. Now it's 45.

Q. Could you talk about putting the greens in Augusta and putting the greens here?

VIJAY SINGH: Augusta greens are a lot faster than these. And there's a lot more undulation on the greens in Augusta. It's totally a different grass you have. Augusta is bentgrass, and here is all poa annua, and a lot of grain. You get a lot of grain on greens over here. I didn't know that they had so many grains. If you're below the hole going uphill, it plays a lot -- a lot slower. It's two totally different golf greens that you're playing on. But if you are on the wrong side of the hole here, it plays almost as fast as Augusta plays. So apart from that, it's totally different.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about Jack and this being possibly his last U.S. Open. Have you had a chance to reflect on that and what he's meant to this event and to the TOUR, and perhaps not playing anymore after this year?

VIJAY SINGH: I played with Jack in the old days, and we talked a little bit about that. But it's just nice to have him in any tournament. It was the first time I ever played with Jack, and it was a thrill. You get goose bumps teeing up on the first hole. I don't think Jack will ever leave. Even if he doesn't play, his memory is always there, and he's the greatest player that ever played. And it's nice to have him play in tournaments like this. I think he's going to play a few more tournaments. He said he's going to keep playing The Masters and the PGA. It's a sad thing that sometimes things have to come to an end, and you have to face it.

Q. Just in general terms, leaving aside your situation, do you think with the strength of the sport, the number of good players, how impossible or possible is it to win a Grand Slam?

VIJAY SINGH: It has never been done before, but I think it's -- it's a hard question. It depends on who's competing. The guy that can do it this day and age would be Tiger, because he's got the game, and he's got the length and he's got the whole package to do it. And besides that, I can't see it being done, because of the strength of the field. And you've got to peak at the right time in all four majors, in order to make it, in order to win it. And I've never thought about it. People have mentioned to me that I'm the only one that can do it this year, but everybody that's won The Masters has had a chance to do it, as well. But I think it's pretty -- that's a hard field to do it in. If anybody could do it, I'd be very surprised.

Q. How did you play No. 2 today, and what's your thoughts going from a par-5 to a par-4?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I don't really think it's a good idea, because the golf course was set up to be a par-5. Right now, it's so hard and fast, and the whole fairway slopes from left-to-right, and then into the wind -- the way our balls are landing are not meant to be a place where you drive a ball to. And the green does not accept long irons. It's not a green for a par-4. But the scores are not going to change. In my mind, if you make a bogey, you should say that's not a bad bogey. And a lot of guys are going to make bogeys. If you make a par, it's like making a birdie out there, anyway. I think the scores -- guys out here are experienced enough not to let that bother them. But I'd love to see it still playing a par-5, because that's the strength of the whole golf course out there is you have a good start and you face those hard holes coming in.

Q. Since Ardena was the one that suggested that you go to a cross-handed putter, what does she think about your putting?

VIJAY SINGH: I was practicing two weeks ago, and I didn't have an opinion on this. I was very uncomfortable with the way I was putting, and she seems to like what I like. If I'm comfortable with this, she said, "I'm fine," because I'm going to be the one doing the putting. And she's all for it.

End of FastScripts….

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