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May 27, 1998

Vijay Singh


WES SEELEY: We're joined by Vijay Singh, the defending champion, one of his two victories on the Tour last year. Tell us about the state of your game as you arrive here to defend.

VIJAY SINGH: I'm playing -- I feel a lot better last year, put it this way. My game seems like it's coming around this year, this time of the year. I feel very confident about the way I'm striking the ball. Looking forward to this tournament, and hopefully I'll do as good as last year.

WES SEELEY: Questions for Vijay?

Q. What about the weather this year, the forecast looks very good. How will you play this course?

VIJAY SINGH: The course is playing probably the best I've ever seen it. The ball is running a little bit more and the condition is just unbelievable. I think everybody is just, they're all -- the condition of the fairways are just beautiful. I don't think we've played fairways as good as this all year. You know, most of the players when they come to this tournament, the conditions this good, they kind of give themselves up to have a good tournament, and I guess we all feel the same way. Right now, I played today and I played great. The course is playing so much shorter than it did last year. You don't need drivers on most of the par 4s like we did last year. Par 5s, we did. The longer hitters are not going to have as much of an advantage as they did last year.

Q. What do you remember most about last year, was it the shot on 11 in the final round -- excuse me, third round?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. People keep reminding me about that. I played a lot of good golf before that to get to that position, and obviously the rain. But, yeah, that shot stands out. I think that was the shot that won me the tournament at that time, and I was -- I had a good second round. I had 65, that put me into position. That was one of the things that I remember most.

Q. Was it a bit of a letdown for you when the cut streak ended, was that?

VIJAY SINGH: I guess so, yeah. It's always nice to have a streak going like that. It took me two years to get to that, and, you know, one week, it's all over. But in a way, it was good so I didn't have to worry about making the cut every week, go out there and try to remember if it happens, it happens. I got to a stage where you want it over, and you said maybe it's the end of the week instead of going on playing the game and seeing what happens. In that sense, it was okay to miss the cut. To lose the streak was another.

Q. Talk about your putting. Are you seeing some positive signs that you're going to roll it?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm the best putter in the world right now. I feel good about my putting. Even when I did putt bad, I kept a very positive attitude about my putting. I'm rolling the ball really good. I think, you know, if you make a few putts early in the round, you get your confidence going. That's what I need for this week. Last week, even though I missed the cut, I thought I putted very decent. I didn't make any putts, but I rolled the way I wanted to. I'm putting the ball really good. At the moment, I'm confident that I'm going to putt well.

Q. You're back with the short putter.

VIJAY SINGH: I've been back with it for about two years.

Q. What are your thoughts about the forecast of good weather that the tournament is going to have this week? Is it a good feeling going into it as opposed to what happened last year?

VIJAY SINGH: I guess so. I mean, nobody wants to play in the rain. We've always had rain over here when we've played. It's a good feeling to go out there and not worry about rain delays, you know, and if you're going to finish the round or not. It was fortunate that I played three rounds last year. You know, the course is playing so nice right now, any rain would destroy that feeling we have. And we don't -- nobody wants rain, like I said, and definitely not me anyway. Winning last year in the rain was great, but, you know, playing four rounds in any golf tournament is also something that we all look forward to. Nobody wants to win a golf tournament in three rounds.

Q. As defending champion of this tournament last year, do you feel like you have a distinct advantage this time around coming into the tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's a different golf tournament than last year. It's, like I said, the golfers look at it differently. But the feeling I have, I have a positive attitude coming over here. I guess playing this tournament as defending champion, I have an edge over everybody else because I'm defending it, and, you know, I feel that much more confident about coming over here. I've played pretty good here in the past as well, even though I didn't win. So this golf course, for some reason I like playing the golf course, and the greens are great. You can hit drivers most of the place over here, so, yeah, I feel really good about it this week.

Q. Is there any added pressure to you coming back trying to defend it? Do you know anybody who won it in three rounds in rain in a shortened tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I mean, I think it's a pressure I look forward to coming back here and defending it. Especially when you're playing badly and coming to a golf tournament. I think I'm playing really good right now and really geared up for it.

Q. Change the subject a little bit. Peter Thomson talked to us some about the Presidents Cup this morning. Are you looking forward to being a member of the team, and what might the international team need to beat the American team this year?

VIJAY SINGH: We need -- first of all, I think it's great we're going outside America to play this, and playing Australia. There's a lot of Australians that play much better back home than they do overseas. There's quite a few on the team. Hopefully I will be on the team, because I am on the team right now. I think we all -- when we get together in the team like that, we all, you know, keep each other really high. And to beat the American team, I think it's going to be a really strong team. We just need to play well, I guess. The tough players have to play well. I think last time around, on our top players, they did not get the points we thought they would. I think that's what we need.

Q. Have you played Royal Melbourne?

VIJAY SINGH: I've played quite a few times there, yeah. It's a great golf course and most of the Australian players who are in the team have been playing that golf course for a long time and they know the golf course really good. That's the advantage we're going to have.

Q. Somebody else told me that some of the players on the international team are going to play maybe two or three strokes better than they would in the United States because of the familiarity with the course over there. How much is the home court advantage do you think going to be involved here?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, like I said, if you look down the list of all the players, the Australian players, you know, Craig Perry and Appleby, Allenby, they've won tournaments over there, actually won tournaments on that golf course. Royal Melbourne has been on the tournament list every year in Australia, or every other year. They played so many Australian Opens there. That way I think there's a lot of advantage there to know exactly what club to hit on what hole. Especially when the wind blows over there, you need that home court knowledge to get by.

Q. Could you give your thoughts on what Jack did at Augusta and just what it means? Is it something special to come here to his tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. I mean, what he did, what did he finish 8th? That's incredible for Jack to do that. He kicked a lot of our butts, you know. For him to do that at that age, I think it's unbelievable. What can you say? The man is great.

Q. Is it something special coming here to his tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I think so. Winning his tournament last year was probably the biggest thing of my golfing career, one of them. And to come back here and play it and to meet him again and to speak to him is always a -- you know, something special. And playing over here, I think considering the field, it's one of the strongest fields on Tour.

Q. Are you playing much in Europe this year?

VIJAY SINGH: I should have gone there last week. But I'm playing the British Open and -- I don't know if I'm going to play the week before that -- the World Match Play, those two at the moment. I don't really need to go back there and play there as such.

Q. Ken Schofield after some sort of words that he was surprised that nobody -- none of the guys have come through Europe went back for the PGA Championship, guys like yourself who learned the game in Europe and before promoting to this Tour. How do you feel about that? Do you feel any responsibility to go back there to a flagship event?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's a pretty tough situation for us. I mean, we concentrate on this Tour here. I've joined the U.S. Tour and this is my Tour that I'm playing. Week-in, week-out, I play over here. To go back over there for just one week then fly back. I couldn't do that before, and it would take a toll on my game after a while. Ernie was telling me today he was feeling very tired going back and forth. It's a big event for Europe and Ken was saying it's one of the biggest tournaments in the world, the key, but we have a tournament over here as well. Used to be, you know, we had Byron Nelson and Colonial which are very big tournaments over here for us, and a lot of people like to go back and play that. I don't feel any responsibility to go back. I don't feel bad about it. After missing the cut, I wish I would have gone back. I played Nick Faldo there; he felt the same way, too. This is where he's playing now, and it's two different tours.

Q. People expect, you know, Tiger Woods to win every week, and Tiger has said like how hard it is to win on Tour. I was just wondering, could you talk a little bit about the level of competition on the Tour, how it's gotten so much better over the years or just how much more difficult, especially given that the Memorial has a really impressive field.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, first of all, I mean, everybody is hitting long out there now. It used to be the long hitters had so much more advantage. You know, right now, everybody is within 5 yards of each other, you know, give or take a few yards. But the equipment has changed the game a lot. And in that way, the level of play has risen from the guys who don't have that much ability. Now they can hit it so much longer, and the guys who have ability can only go so far. I was talking to Lanny Wadkins yesterday and he said, "I can't believe the way they're hitting the golf ball." We're hitting 4-irons and 3-irons on the 7th hole, and Jack did not design the golf course that way. It was a hole that you, you know, ought to go for either 3-wood or lay up. So in that sense, the whole game has gotten so much harder, so much more difficult, that everybody has a chance to win here. The short players are not short any more. They can reach par 5s with a wood now, even though we can reach with an iron. In that sense, it's gotten so much harder to win because everybody can win. If you have the equipment they did 10, 15 years ago, the same guy is going to be winning every week. So that way, I think the game has changed. And it's every week someone new can win.

Q. Does that mean you agree with the possible sanctions the USGA might hand down later this summer?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't think it's going to happen that much with the sanctions, because the equipment that's already out there, they can't take that back. I mean, titanium, it's not only one company that makes titanium woods. Everybody makes that now. It's going to be very difficult to draw the line what's good and what's not.

Q. Does that mean if you can win that many more times on Tour, it's more impressive than it was ten years ago?

VIJAY SINGH: Most definitely. Few guys really stand out now. Duval is playing well, Tiger is obviously playing well every week, and Ernie is playing good, so those guys really stand out. And even then, they can't win every week. So the standard of play is so much harder. It boils down to who gets the right breaks every week and who makes the most putts. Someone who hits that much better, I mean, you can hit 18 greens and not make a putt. And some guy is going to hit 12 greens and make six putts and will be ahead of the others.

Q. Just a follow-up, do you see other things that players are doing just to, you know, everybody is scrambling to get an edge, whether it's working out or --

VIJAY SINGH: Everybody is working out. I mean, in most of the guys out here, take back 20 years, I don't think anybody worked out but one or two guys. Right now, everybody is working out. Everybody -- I think the Senior Tour has done something to that as well. Anybody reaching 40s is keeping themselves fit and playing a lot longer. Once they reach 45, they're looking forward to Senior Tour, so they keep themselves in really good shape to play on and get onto the Senior Tour. That way, the older guys are playing better, as well, and the young guy is unbelievably strong nowadays. This day of hitting the ball is incredible. And everybody is working out. You go on the Tour van, it's full every week.

Q. Does that type of parody help the game or not?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I mean, it can't hurt the game. Every week, you have a new winner, you know, and I think the game of golf is not going to get any easier for any pros. For me, especially, each year I have to take two steps forward just to keep up. If you stay the same level, you're going to be way back in line. You have to just lift your game up to the next level every year to keep up with the pace, and I think that's good. The game has to be hard. It's the only way to do it is work at it. And everybody's practicing a lot harder now. It's not hit balls for half an hour and go home. Everybody is out there until they're ready to -- happy with their games. You go out on the range, you know, you have to -- you would be lucky to get a spot if you go the wrong time of the day it's so crowded. That's how competitive it's gotten.

WES SEELEY: Will that do it? All right.

End of FastScripts....

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