May 24, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: All right. Thank you, Vijay for spending some time with us. Maybe just a
couple thoughts about what you've seen on the course and some memories of last year, I
guess and then we'll open it up for questions.
VIJAY SINGH: Last year was really good, except I didn't win (laughs). But I've always
played well, here. I've loved this golf course. I love the changes. 7th hole is different.
6th hole is different. 5th hole is altogether different on the green-side. All for the
better I think. The golf course is going to play a lot tougher. A lot of pressure put on
your irons play will be really important. Some of the greens have gotten smaller. As
usual, it's raining here again, but the golf course is in great shape and I'm really
looking forward to it.
Q. Can you comment on the rough at all? I tried to ask Hal and he said he wasn't in
VIJAY SINGH: I wasn't in there much, too. So -- it's so wet, the golf course. Even if
the ball is heading towards the rough, it doesn't really get in there because it stops
almost immediately. But I think if you hit in there you're going to have some problems
getting out of there. Bluegrass is really hard to play. The fairways feel so good, just
don't want to leave the fairways right now. But I think the fairways are so generous, it
will be hard -- you have to hit a really bad shot to get into the rough.
Q. Vijay, several people have talked about the fact that the importance here is like on
the second shot, because you've got to have it on the right side of the hole or where it
needs to be. How are you hitting your irons coming into the tournament?
VIJAY SINGH: Pretty good. My whole game is shaping up. I'm hitting my driver really
good. The iron play has been good for a while now. Must be the irons I'm using. That's
what they keep telling me. But I'm hitting my irons really, really good, and all I need to
do is make some putts right now. And the greens are probably the best I've ever seen the
greens here. If you get the ball in line you're going to have a good chance of making
Q. Did you agree with that philosophy that your second shot or your third shot has got
to be a good position on the greens?
VIJAY SINGH: Very much. There's a lot of holes where you cannot be above the hole. If
you're above the hole six or eight feet, you have you'll be lagging your putt, where if
you're below the hole, you've got a good chance of making a putt.
Q. Craig Parry said he played here over the weekend and he said he was in the rough
some. He said it favors -- as far as guys that would do well here, strong guys like
yourself and Ernie, because you can advance it out of the rough, where other guys might
just be able to chip out and not advance the ball. The little that you've been in the
rough so far, would you agree with that?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I mean, also, there's a lot of holes over here, if you hit it
a long ways off the tee and go into the rough, you're not going to be going with so much
of a long iron. I think there's more chances of missing the fairway here on a par 5 than
you do on the par 4s, so that way, you can always have a decent shot to the greens. 7th
hole, for instance, if you hit it off-line there on a par 5, you're trying to hit it as
long as possible. And that's the only time we're going to let it loose, and that's the
times where you hit it in the rough. 11 is the same thing. 5th hole is the same thing.
Mostly the par 5 is where we're going to see the long hitters missing fairways here. And
around the greens, the rough is very strong. If you miss the greens over here, you're
going to have a hard time getting up-and-down.
Q. I guess has your life changed since winning the Masters, and was there any
appreciable difference between the time after winning at Augusta and after winning at
VIJAY SINGH: Augusta has been a little more active -- mostly the signing of autographs
and people. Wherever I go, there's a lot of signing to do. And a lot of Augusta flags. I
don't know how many I've signed there, but it's really kind of a non-ending thing. But
besides that, I've been pretty -- pretty well received everywhere I went. You know a
little more demand from you guys.
Q. When you say "pretty well received," is it -- how do you -- can you define
that a little bit better? Tangible evidence of -- is the applause louder? Do you hear
VIJAY SINGH: I little bit more louder. More people kind of watching my group now. But
it's a lot more -- congrats from everybody wherever I go, "Well done, at the
Masters," than of the PGA. PGA, they kind of forgot after a little while.
Q. Why is that, do you think?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I think the PGA was the last tournament, the last major of
the year, and you wait so long before the first one comes, the Masters is the first one
and you've got the whole season to kind of, you know, look up to that. And I think that's
why. You know, the next one is another month away, so from the Masters to the U.S. Open,
there's a big gap, too. So that's probably why.
Q. Olin Browne, when he won Colonial last year, he made a point that if you win one
TOUR victory, it's one thing. If you win another one, it's some sort of validation, it's
no fluke. Is that the case at all with majors? Do you think that if you finish one major
people forget it sooner, but you win a second one, that changes the ball game?
VIJAY SINGH: That's a fair comment. There's a lot of great players that won only one
major. I think to the player, it makes a lot more -- deal if you win twice than if you do
just once, but I think winning one is almost as hard as winning two. I don't quite believe
Q. I heard you have another professional golf player in your family, is he going to
play the Golden Bear Tour this year?
VIJAY SINGH: I think that's his plan, yeah.
Q. You put the money up for him; right?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I have. He's come over here and he wants to try and see how he's
going to do over here. He's been playing in Asia and Australia for a while. I just hope he
goes out and plays well. He's been practicing quite a bit and working with a guy called
Peter Kroger (phonetic) in Tampa. I haven't seen him in a month now.
Q. How old is he?
VIJAY SINGH: He's 39.
Q. How long has he been a professional?
VIJAY SINGH: He's been a pro for a while, about ten years, I think. He's a pretty
decent player, but, you know, I just hope -- he hasn't played in that many tournaments
where he's played well in. He's played a lot of tournaments in Asia, but nothing big.
Q. You played this course pretty well pretty much ever since you started playing it,
and I wondered, the changes that Jack did make in the past year have been to the par 5s,
where I think it's safe to say you've done a lot of your scoring on those holes. Is the
way he's changed the holes, do you still think you can play this course as well as you
have in the past, or are the changes not that big?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. He's lengthened the 7th hole a little bit, which is one of the
ones that he's made a little longer. But it's an advantage to the long hitter, if there's
any wind -- if you can't get up, you're going to get as close to the green as possible.
Most of the guys are going to lay up. He's made the greens small, too, like the 5th hole,
he made a big change to the 5th hole. Now you cannot -- you if miss it to the left side,
you're going to be in the water. So again, it's a big advantage to the longer hitters. So
whatever changes he did, I think it's better for the longer hitters on the par 5s. So I
think it's to our advantage.
Q. Could you talk about the two courses, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews in terms of what
makes them unique, and also, winning the Masters in terms of a career goal, would winning
all four be something that you might aspire to do down the road?
VIJAY SINGH: A lot of people have talked about it, winning the whole -- the four of
them. You know, I've won to two now. But, you know Pebble, I've always played well on
Pebble. And I love the golf course. There's something about Pebble, and it's great design,
but then the beauty of the surroundings, you haven't got a better setting than Pebble
Beach. And to play well there and win -- I've seen a lot of U.S. Opens, played in Pebble,
where Jack won his tournament, Watson and Tom Kite, and, you know, I've seen it so many
times on videos about those tournaments. So going over there this year will be in a
befitting setting to go out there and play well. I'm playing well and looking forward to
it. But it's a golf course where every player right now, in the Top-10, has played well in
the past, so I think it's going to be one hell of an Open. And then going to St. Andrews,
you know, the history is just unbelievable. Last one I played there when John Daly won, I
had a chance to win there, as well. So St. Andrews is kind of unique in the sense that
it's a great golf course when the wind blows. If the wind blows, it's one of the hardest
golf courses you can play. But then when the wind doesn't blow, the scoring will be very,
very low. I mean you can see in the Dunhill Cup, most of the time, when it's benign, 62s,
63s are shot there almost every time when there's no wind. So St. Andrews is going to be
an Open Championship where you're going to really -- the conditions are going to dictate
the whole tournament, how you are going to play.
Q. Would you prefer to win St. Andrew --?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I think that's going to test our ability to its limits. It's a
golf course where you need the wind to blow to make it an interesting -- it was designed
that way. So I don't want it to be a hurricane, but I want it to blow a little bit.
Q. Can you talk about when you were young, how you admired Tom Weiskopf?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I remember the article that came out about Tom Weiskopf was in 1977
when he was in Golf Digest, they had a whole sequence of him. I picked out -- that was the
first article where I saw a sequence of photos. And I was a fairly tall guy when I was
growing up, or I was to them -- but my dad always said, there's no point in you going out
and emulating somebody who is a short guy. You've got to kind of pick out somebody who is
tall and swings -- you know, that's the way you're going to swing the golf club. And Tom
Weiskopf was a great example. And it so happened that the article came out, and I kept it
for a long, long time.
Q. Hal was breaking the course down and Hal said it was -- opening seven holes or six
holes, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and the finishing holes -- he focused on 8, 9 and 10 as being the
pivotal stretch to play well for four days. Is that how you break down the course, as
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. You've got to score on the first four holes. I don't believe
the 5th hole is a birdie opportunity there, or if the wind blows. And the 7th hole, I
remember -- when we played AT&T this year, I hit a 5-iron in there, you know. So
that's -- to a green that is 100 yards away and hitting a 5-iron, that's not a birdie
opportunity. So I think the first four holes you see -- well, now they made the 2nd hole
into a par 5; that takes that away. I think there's only three holes in the first four
where you can actually have a good birdie opportunity. But if the wind doesn't blow, all
of them are. I think 8, 9 and 10 are never easy holes in Pebble. If you hit a good drive,
you've got to -- the greens look so small in the distance, especially the 8th hole. I
think if I play 8, 9 and 10 in the tournament in 2-over, for the whole tournament, or
3-over, for that matter, I think I'll -- everybody is going to take that. Those three
holes are probably the hardest stretch of holes in any given day in any tournament. So to
get through those three would be really the key factor. And then the rest of them -- 17 is
never going to be easy to the pin, from the tee going all the way back. Just have to wait
and see how we play. Once we go out there, just have to focus on each hole at a time and
try not to think too far ahead. I think that's what we have to do out there.
Q. Now that all of the greens at Muirfield have been reconstructed and the drainage on
them is significantly better, I guess, how are they receiving? After all the rain that
came down yesterday and last night, how are they receiving the ball? Is there any release
on them or just hitting and sticking?
VIJAY SINGH: They are unbelievable. Yesterday I played in the rain a lot, and I said,
"Well, it couldn't have rained that much, because the greens are just unbelievably
firm and releasing." I was out here yesterday and the rain we had -- and I hit my
first shot, I had a 9-iron on the first shot. It was so high and still released about six
yards. So unless you're hitting in with sand wedge or wedges, the greens are just -- I've
never seen the greens with so much rain play so good. So that's a tribute to the guys who
Q. You spoke earlier about larger galleries following you and signing more autographs,
is that attention changing your focus or do you find it harder to focus?
VIJAY SINGH: You just have to deal with it the best you can. I don't see that it is
affecting my focus at all or my concentration, but I'm not spending too much time standing
in one area and signing. I'll just keep walking. If I have a lot of time and there's not
too many of them, I'll try to do everything I can. You just have to focus and see how your
time is. Like today from tee-to-green or green-to-tee, it was -- there are a lot of people
out there lined up, you know for autographs, so just take one, keep walking, and get the
most you can. But on the focus side, I don't think it's made any difference to me.
Q. Was Jack Nicklaus any kind of influence for you, living so far away from the States?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, we knew who Jack was, you know. He's known everywhere in the world,
what he's done in the game of golf. But, you know if you go and ask somebody in Fiji, you
know, if you pick any name out here, they probably won't know, but they will know who Jack
is, they will obviously know who he is. That's a name that you relate golf to, I guess and
it's been like that forever.
Q. Can you remember the first time you ever played with him?
VIJAY SINGH: I think at the British Open. It was in the 90s when I played. I actually
first met him at Troon. I think it was the early 90s. He was hitting balls on the range.
That's the first time I ever met him. He was there until almost dark and hitting these
wooden drivers, and his son was there and he was hitting drivers into the wind. And he
kept hitting one good and one bad, and he said he cannot leave without hitting two good
ones in a row. So I kind of took that -- that kind of tip that you must finish off with
two good shots. And I remember Jack from then on, that whenever he would finish, he must
hit two good shots before he finished. And that's such a good thought that I kept forever.
And that's the first time I met Jack.
Q. Do you still do that; you won't leave until you hit two good ones?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's a good thought. Anybody can hit one good one.
Q. Have you ever had a chance to meet Tom and talk about your golf swing over the
VIJAY SINGH: I never discussed the golf swing, but I played at Peter Jacobson's
tournament quite a while ago and he was my partner. We had a great time together. And I
think I played -- Jack was paired with -- I think his son. We had a great time; although,
we didn't play very well. But it was a nice memory to have.
Q. Did you tell him you studied his swing sequence?
VIJAY SINGH: I think he knew that. He still swings it beautifully. Just one of the best
golf swings I've ever seen. Just nice to play and know he's the guy you looked up to
growing up or still do.
Q. I think your peers have been as excited as you are about your success because of the
dedication that you have put into your game. Do you still feel, though, that you have to
practice as hard as you always have, to have the same success, or is it just something
that you find the sheer pleasure of hitting balls?
VIJAY SINGH: I still practice a lot. For a while I've been swinging the club so well
that I don't need to spend so much time. I've spent hours and hours trying to get my golf
swing where it is now, and now when I feel that I'm swinging it the way I want to, I don't
need to go out there and spend six, eight hours trying to keep doing what I'm doing good.
So I more or less focus more on my short game now, towards my putting. I'm spending a
little bit more time on my putting. But if I need to, I'll spend a lot of time on the
Q. Did you still have the Dandy --?
VIJAY SINGH: I not behaving well.
Q. Is that a record number of tournaments with the same putter?
VIJAY SINGH: I haven't played with the same Dandy all the way through. I changed at
Byron Nelson. I changed the puttered; played one Dandy and went back to -- kind of going
back and forth.
Q. You said that in the past you've practiced six to eight hours a day. What is your
average practice time now? Have you cut that in half?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, today I'm going to finish here and probably go and hit balls for an
hour. Literally hit balls out there, and then work on my short game for maybe another hour
and leave. But when I'm at home, I go on the range, maybe around 9 o'clock, 9:30, you
know. Do a little chipping, whatever, and then go and hit balls for probably an hour and a
half. And then, you know, there's always friends around; so you chat with them a little
bit. Hit a few more balls and putt a little bit. Just around there, you just -- kind of
hang-out time, you know. And have some lunch, go back out there, mess around a bit more,
and all of the sudden it's about 3:00 or 4:00. See, if a guy comes out there and watches
me go to the range and said, well, he's just going to the range at 9:00 and he leaves and
I'm still on the range, wow, he's been there all day hitting balls. So it's really not
spending six hours hitting balls. It's just kind of hitting balls.
Q. It can be pretty annoying for golfers with glasses in the rain, a lot of guys have
had the laser surgery, Tiger had it, have you thought --?
VIJAY SINGH: I'm thinking about it, but I haven't really made up my mind yet. Maybe in
the near future.
Q. Do you have any reservations about it?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. The way I've been putting, I think really I should do it.
But I'm not reading the greens as good as I think I should be. But I'm quite comfortable
with this right now. If I do it, it's going to be a spur of the moment deal.
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