June 2, 1997
WES SEELEY: 70-65-67 -- 202, 14-under par, two-stroke victory for Vijay Singh. I'll get it started while we wait for our host. Why don't you start with some general thoughts about today and we'll go do birdies and bogeys for as far back as you can remember.
VIJAY SINGH: What can I say? I think I'm really, really pleased that I've got this out of the way. I haven't won for two years. And coming over here I didn't have that much expectation of doing that well, but after the round I had on Friday, I started thinking about winning. It's good to win, especially over here. And what can I say? I can't be anymore pleased than I am now.
WES SEELEY: You got through three holes on the first -- on Saturday in this round or was it four?
VIJAY SINGH: Three holes. I played three holes, and I played really good on those three holes. I was a little -- it was a little windy, the weather wasn't really good, as you all know (laughter.)
WES SEELEY: Hence this.
VIJAY SINGH: But I played really well. And I was just hoping that we would go out there and keep going. But then the break came. And we went out there yesterday and I started playing well. I don't think I miss-hit one shot when I went out there yesterday. And I just wish the rain would stay away, and then it came down like I've never seen before. And then it was the waiting period. I had a good tee shot on 11. That was a good time -- the break came at the perfect time. I don't think I would have reached the green if I went for it yesterday, but I was going to go for it anyway. But going out there today was unbelievable. I felt really comfortable with the shot, a nice clean ball, and thought about the shot on the driving range a lot. I hit my 3-woods a lot like I wanted to, and stood there and hit it and it came out like a dream.
WES SEELEY: Two feet?
VIJAY SINGH: It was a foot-and-a-half.
WES SEELEY: Sorry.
VIJAY SINGH: Two foot would have been a little bit too long for me at that stage. But I was happy that it got close to the green, got closer and closer, and I was just really pleased that it was as close as it was.
WES SEELEY: Next birdie was on -- how far was that 3-wood?
VIJAY SINGH: I hit 231 yards to the front and the pin was on 16, if I'm not mistaken, 15. And just hit it perfect.
WES SEELEY: The save on 14.
VIJAY SINGH: I stood there and hit this 3-wood, and as wet as it was, I didn't think I was going to go as close to the creek as I did. And when I hit it, I picked up my tee, I thought that's perfect. And my caddy said it could be in the water. I said I don't think so, because I just hit it quite easy. But we got there and it was touching the hazard line. I called for a ruling, I didn't know it was touching it, but he said it was touching the hazard line, and I was lucky to have a swing at it.
Q. Was the ball sitting in the rocks?
VIJAY SINGH: No, there's no rocks there, it was all leaves, from the rain we had. And I couldn't get -- you couldn't see the ball from the other side. So I just played in front of the green and lucky to get up-and-down.
Q. What was the yardage to the water hazard there?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it was 270.
JACK NICKLAUS: From the tee on 14, that's about right.
Q. Could you see your ball under the leaves when you stood there to hit it?
VIJAY SINGH: I could from the side I was, but not from the green-side.
Q. From what you could tell from where the ball was resting, is it possible the leaves kept it from going into the hazard?
VIJAY SINGH: Probably. If the ball was rolling hard it would have gone in anyway. There was about this much room before the water.
Q. Did you have a good stance to hit that ball? Your left foot like it might be --
VIJAY SINGH: I had to get the ball more towards my right foot. I was getting closer and closer to the water. I had a few inches to spare.
Q. How do you learn how to play golf in Fiji?
VIJAY SINGH: I guess like everybody else over here does, you know. You go out there and -- I was fortunate enough, my dad was a pretty decent player and he taught me quite a bit about the game. And I caddied for him for a long time. I had brothers that were older than me, but for some reason I was the only guy that was caddying for him. And I learned all my golf from there.
Q. Have they got a lot of golf courses there?
VIJAY SINGH: It's about 10, 12 golf courses now. When I was there about 10. Not too many 18-hole golf courses, only about two, 18 hole golf courses. I grew up learning on a 9-hole golf course.
Q. Well, was this your first tournament in America, this one?
VIJAY SINGH: No, it was the second one I played over here. The first one was Bay Hill when I came over here. And I must thank Jack for inviting me over here in '92, when I played, and played quite well.
JACK NICKLAUS: You played the British PGA last week?
VIJAY SINGH: Yes, I did. The weather was a little different. It was a little better than this. It was a little cold, but it wasn't raining.
JACK NICKLAUS: You and Ernie Els and anybody else?
VIJAY SINGH: Frank Nobilo played over there, and Nick Faldo played.
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm talking about the three fellows.
VIJAY SINGH: Jesper Parnevik, Frank Nobilo and myself.
JACK NICKLAUS: And Ernie.
VIJAY SINGH: Yes.
Q. You mentioned on the green in the ceremony that on Thursday Rick Smith gave you a big tip, how big a tip, how small a tip?
VIJAY SINGH: Not a big tip. It was important for me. I was moving off the ball when I took my backswing. When you do that your club gets too low on the backswing, I started hitting left, and my favorite shot was bad left, pulled left. So he told me to keep your head still. I started to get my fade back. I worked on it for two days, and that was really good. That was my key for the whole week.
Q. You said you didn't think you could hit that shot at 11 yesterday, why?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, when I got to my ball it was really wet, and there was a lot of water on the ball. And it wasn't -- with water on the ball you don't really know if it's going to come out good or not. That's probably why. I would have almost laid up before the rains came. I was lucky enough not to hit it and I was fortunate, I guess.
Q. How much pressure did Hoch's double bogey take off?
VIJAY SINGH: It did and it didn't. It did in the sense that it gave me some breathing space, but when Hoch was that close, I was concentrating a little bit better, I think. All my shots were really -- my focus was a little stronger. And that's probably what happened on 17, that with him making double and hitting left, a three shot lead took a little more pressure off me. And I think I got a little bit too easy on the next few, the putt I had there, I just thought I was going to make it without even thinking about it. And if I was one shot ahead I probably would have taken a little bit more time. In that sense it's a learning process, as well, that you've got to concentrate on every shot. No matter if you're one ahead or five ahead.
Q. Were you aware that he was hurting?
VIJAY SINGH: He showed a few signs of it. But I wasn't paying any attention to him at that time.
Q. Vijay, when you came in you said that it was good to get this over with, did you mean not winning, or just a 48-hour round?
VIJAY SINGH: No, winning. I don't mind winning here, if it takes me 72 hours.
Q. Vijay, how do you rate this tournament compared to your other wins and what does it do for your confidence heading into the U.S. Open?
VIJAY SINGH: This is big for me, it's a big tournament, it's Jack's tournament. I've always dreamed of winning something like this. I think this is the biggest win I've had in my whole career. And it takes a lot of pressure off me, I haven't won for two years. I won this year in South Africa, but it's nothing like this. Winning in the U.S., coming out this year I was -- I wasn't playing very well, and kept thinking about winning. I think that really got me -- I don't know, just took a lot of -- this took a lot of pressure off me. And going to the U.S. Open in two weeks time, I think I'll play a little bit more freely, next week, as well.
Q. Do you work to keep yourself even tempered out there or does it just come naturally to you?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know --
Q. You don't appear to get agitated at all.
VIJAY SINGH: I try not to. I talk to myself inside a lot, within myself and trying to focus that way. But I'm not one to show my emotions outside. I was pretty excited on 11 today.
Q. Who did you motion to, you pumped your arms, was it just the gallery?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, Clarence Rose was out there. And we were talking yesterday and he said, would you go for it? I said if I go out this morning I will, but not yesterday. I kind of talked about how I was going to hit that. And he was watching and I think he was as excited as I was.
JACK NICKLAUS: I was playing with Clarence, we were right there. And Clarence was telling me, did you see where he hit that? I said, you're darn right, I could even see the ball. It was about that far (indicating).
VIJAY SINGH: About a foot-and-a-half.
Q. Would you talk about 18?
VIJAY SINGH: I think I was a little bit -- it took a lot of pressure off me when I saw the lie. It wasn't as bad and I knew I could get to the green on that lie. It was a little on the up slope and I could get an 8-iron to it. And I hit a pretty good shot from there, considering that I was -- I didn't want to make anything else but a bogey, because I knew that the -- Jim Furyk was at 12 to finish, and Greg. So I just played for the middle of the green and made it as hard as I could, and it came out perfect.
Q. Norman when he was in here earlier said your length helps you out on a course that plays as long as this one did this weekend. How long are you compared to the guy that everybody is being compared to out here as far as length?
VIJAY SINGH: You mean, Tiger?
VIJAY SINGH: I've never played with him. He is long. He would be 30-yards longer than me if he wanted to. If he wanted to he'd be 50-yards further than me. I don't pay any attention to that. I try to play my own game. I'm decently long, but I'm not the longest out here, there's guys longer than me. I hit it 280 comfortably off the tee. It paid off this week. I carry the ball a long ways and that helped over here. That's probably why I could get up on par-5s more easier than most guys.
JACK NICKLAUS: He's as long as he wants to be, too. He's a lot longer than he's saying he is. He's very long.
Q. You're one of the hardest workers on TOUR, is it because you love the game that much, are you a perfectionist?
VIJAY SINGH: I enjoy working, I enjoy working on my game. I used to work a lot harder, like two or three years ago, when I didn't know that much about my golf swing. I've slowed down a little bit because I know what to work on. But I think practicing for me is -- when I get to a golf tournament, the golf tournament starts in the morning and ends in the evening for me every day. A lot of guys when they finish the golf tournament, they go back to the room, watch TV or go see a movie. I try to work and play the tournament that way. For me going to a golf tournament is a week affair, not just four hours or five hours.
JACK NICKLAUS: He is as hard a worker as we have on the TOUR. And I don't know if you heard what I said at the presentation about Vijay, but this guy, every place I've ever been, he hits more balls than anybody I've seen. He wears out the driving-range people, every week. He's really as hard a worker as there is.
Q. How many 3-woods did you hit on the range getting ready?
VIJAY SINGH: Not that many, about five or six. I was hitting it very nicely. And when you're hitting it good, you don't need to hit that many. But I hit it very well, and it showed on the 11th hole.
Q. Where did the work ethic come from, was it something your father imparted to you?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, all I did when I left school was just practice. That's all I could do. There was no golf tournaments in Fiji to play in. And for me it was just to get better. And the only way I could do that was just practice. That's all I did. I guess it just went on from there. That's probably why I hit the ball a lot better than most guys out here, is because I hit it so many times on the range. When you hit so many golf balls you get into a normal routine that you just -- it's easier for you to hit the ball.
Q. Could you talk about how you got your break, not here, but just to get out, playing professional golf?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it was in Europe when I first came out. I was playing professionally, but not very well before that. And I went to Europe in '86 and actually the first break I had was in Africa, when I won my first tournament I played in. I had a good sponsor, who paid all my expenses to get to Africa. And I had to pay him back, obviously. But the very first tournament I played and I won. I called my mom, and my wife, and I said, "Honey, I won." And she says, "Oh, really." She started crying, and I think I won 5,000 pounds at that time. And that was the break of my life.
Q. What was the name of that?
VIJAY SINGH: That was the Nigerian Open. I went to win two other tournaments on that Tour, it was a five-tournament Tour. And it gave me a break, and I got in the European Tour from there, and played well.
Q. What was your experience on Borneo like?
VIJAY SINGH: It was hard. I wanted to play professional golf and not teach. So I taught for a year-and-a-half over there. But it gave me a lot of time to practice, as well. I would teach six hours a day and practice the rest of the day. And I worked hard that way. You've got to survive, and that's what I did.
Q. After playing in Europe, what made you want to play here?
VIJAY SINGH: I got invited to this tournament in '92. I was playing quite well, and I was comfortable in Europe. And got an invitation to this one and Bay Hill. And when I played Bay Hill, I finished third, I think. And Jack invited me over here and played here and got good momentum, and I enjoyed playing over here from then on. The golf courses were so much better, the greens were so much better, the weather was great. (Laughter.) It was good that week.
Q. Well, '92, here?
JACK NICKLAUS: It's got to be better than this one.
Q. That was when Edwards and Fehr finished at 9 o'clock at night.
JACK NICKLAUS: It wasn't four days of it or five days of it.
VIJAY SINGH: Conditions are so much better over here. It's not as cold, so that's probably why.
Q. When you grew up in Fiji, when was the first time you heard of the American TOUR and when was the first time you heard of Jack?
VIJAY SINGH: I always watched a lot of golf on video. And I saw most of Jack's tournaments on video, and Tom Weiskopf, Jack, and Hale Irwin, and all those guys. That's how I learned about the game, watching on tape.
Q. I want to double check, please, you did hit driver at No. 11 tee?
VIJAY SINGH: Yes, I did, I hit a driver and a 3-wood.
Q. Well, you mentioned Bay Hill and here in '92, did you end up making enough money on this TOUR in '92 to get your card?
VIJAY SINGH: I played four events. And I made enough to keep my temporary card, I think it was -- got into the 150 -- I think it was 150?
WES SEELEY: Yes, more than the 150th player the year before would get you a temporary card.
VIJAY SINGH: And then I played a lot more the year after. And I won Westchester, I think got me exempted.
WES SEELEY: In this lull, do this last birdie and the bogey.
VIJAY SINGH: Birdie I had on 15. I drove it really well. I drove the ball really well this week, and that was one of the keys that I played well. And then I hit another 3-wood that came out just like I did on 11. It went to the back edge and I chipped it pretty close, I think it was three and a half feet and made it. Then the bogey was on 17. I hit a driver and a 9-iron. The ball was wet and it came out a little bit. I think I had 150 to the pin. It flew in the back bunker, I hit a great bunker shot to stop it short of the pin, I think three foot. And I just pushed it and then parred the rest.
Q. On 18 did you know what your yardage was out of the rough?
VIJAY SINGH: Yes.
Q. What was that and what was the length of your putt?
VIJAY SINGH: On 18?
VIJAY SINGH: I had 162, I think, to the pin. And I think 154 to the front. I hit an 8-iron out and came out a little bit. And I had a 25, 30-footer. It was comfortable to know that you can three-putt and still get away with it.
Q. Do you wear contact lenses?
VIJAY SINGH: No, I wore glasses. I tried contacts, I couldn't open my eyes to put it in. I have very -- I just can't put it into my eyes. I'm quite comfortable with the glasses.
Q. Well, what is it, astigmatism or what is it?
VIJAY SINGH: I'm nearsighted.
Q. You said -- I don't know if you said it yesterday or the day before, but you said you were going some place, supposed to go some place today to meet your family. Are you playing Kemper?
VIJAY SINGH: Yes, they were supposed to arrive this morning but they changed it, and they're going to arrive the same time I do in the evening.
Q. At Kemper?
VIJAY SINGH: At Kemper.
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