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March 13, 2019

Vijay Singh

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Vijay Singh to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Vijay, let's start off with your exemption this week. You're here because you won the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship last year at Exmoor Country Club. Can you take us back that day. I remember your excitement to come here to the PLAYERS, so here we are. Can you talk about that win and bringing you here.

VIJAY SINGH: I was always wanting to play back in March, because I played a lot of tournaments here in March, and to know that the tournament was coming back here and I wasn't going to play that much on the regular TOUR last year, so I said, for me to get through would be to win, and my goal that week was to win, and fortunately I did. And I was really excited, not because I won, but coming back here as well.

THE MODERATOR: This is your 25th start here. You're one of I believe only 23 players to play in March and in May, and this is your home course, so do you think you have an advantage here.

VIJAY SINGH: Well it is my home course, but I never play here. Most of the times when I come here I'm in the back of the range. The golf course is always pretty full. So I probably play a lot less here than a lot of guys that come here and play. So like this year I've only played -- I haven't played here this year. I played it once last year, but I know the golf course very well. I know where to hit it, where not to hit it, and coming back here this time of the year, the golf course always plays longer than it did in May, so when we played it there was high rough and it could get firm but mostly it was pretty soft.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. When you play a regular TOUR event, do you approach them now the way you always did, or do you look at it as a chance to kind of add another chapter to a legacy or kind of reshape the legacy?
VIJAY SINGH: A few years ago when I played here it was different. I mean, playing the regular TOUR is a lot more pressure, I think, to play well. There's a lot more work required to go out there and be ready to play. I practice more when I play the regular TOUR. So the preparation is a little bit different than when I play the Champions Tour. But I really want to win too. If I play well I have a good chance of winning, and that's my goal is to see if I can win, and I don't know if I'm going to play that much more over here, but the excitement is there and I really want to play and play to win.

Q. You touched on this, but could you elaborate a little bit more on the major differences between May and March here?
VIJAY SINGH: Different grass conditions. In May it's mostly all Bermuda and there's very little rough. The greens could get really fast in May. Right now the greens out there are very deceptive. You can hit shots from long distance and they're going to stop. I don't know how firm they're going to get it come tomorrow and the rest of the week, but the grass conditions, I mean, I've never seen that much grass on the golf course, so lush, so perfect as it is right now. So the course conditions are just absolutely superb. So that's one of the things, and the greens may not get as quick as they did in May. That's another factor, I think, because of the softness, so we may play a little softer greens and slower greens this week at this time of the year.

Q. I'm working on a story about professional golf and its foothold in Florida, and part of that is players who make their residence here. What have been the benefits of you having a headquarters here in Ponte Vedra?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, this is my only place I've lived in America, so when I first came here it was perfect for me. The golf course was and the practice facilities was perfect, and I just wanted to play here. A lot of guys go down south, obviously the weather conditions, a lot more golf courses to play and practice, and there's no tax, so... (laughing.) I think that's one of the biggest, bigger reasons a lot of guys settle down here.

Q. You played this morning with Molinari and Fleetwood. When you do play the PGA TOUR, do you enjoy playing with kind of the young up-and-coming stars? Do you enjoy maybe playing with the guys that are in their late 40s and getting ready to debut on the Champions Tour? And then how much do you enjoy being on the Champions Tour competing against guys you've competed against for the last 20, 30 years?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, playing with the young guys, I always try to see where I stand with the younger guys, how much further they hit it by me or if I can still hang with them. So Tommy's a pretty long hitter, so I mean, he was getting it quite a ways by me today, but Francesco, he's kind of the same as me. So it kind of gives me a little bit of encouragement when I know that I can still hit it with the guys. And playing the Champions Tour, it's a lot more relaxing for me to play the Champions Tour. When I started playing there, I don't want to come back here, like it's so easy to play there, you get practice rounds in the cart and pro-am in the cart, you know, so... (Laughter.)

So over here it's a full four days, plus two extra days of playing and walking. And I like the guys over there. They're very friendly, but they're very competitive. They're a little bit older generation and they really take their golf very, very seriously, not that they don't take it seriously here, but they fight for every dollar out there and it's good to know that even in the driving ranges you go, it's totally packed now. I think they practice more there than they did when they played over here. And they're very competitive. So I like that, too.

Q. Interested to know what you took away from your performance at the Honda Classic and your experience on Sunday in the final round in a PGA TOUR event again.
VIJAY SINGH: It's been awhile since I played the last, on the last group, but it was fun. I got my juices flowing again and I felt like I -- I had a chance to win, so any time I have a chance to win, I think my level of game, my shots improve and my focus improves, as well. So I was really excited and I could hang with the guys, and I was looking forward to Bay Hill and over here. Unfortunately I didn't make the cut there, but I'm looking forward to this week and I'll take that confidence from what I played two weeks ago and I feel like I can do it over here.

The golf course does not require 340-yard drives every hole. You still have to drive it pretty straight here, and if Fred Funk can win here, then obviously anybody that's not a long hitter can too. So I like my chances.

Q. You talked about the difference between March and May; can you cite a couple holes that are particularly different from one time to the other?
VIJAY SINGH: Well the 7th hole for one. I don't know what the wind conditions are going to be, but in May we were hitting 3-woods on 7 and yesterday I hit, I played with Martin Kaymer and we both hit driver, 5-iron. So it was kind of slightly into the wind, obviously colder. The 9th hole would play a lot different too. Last year I know that some of the guys were hitting irons off the tees and getting up and yesterday it was a three-shot hole.

So depending upon, and those are two holes that's going to play difficult. 18 could play a lot more difficult, as well, because -- and it's softer, the fairways are not running at all. I mean I don't know how they're going to get it firmer, but the whole golf course is playing a little longer, so that's going to be a test.

Q. When you're playing out here either starting this tournament or in the final group at Honda, do you approach it with the same intensity that you did 20 years ago as today?
VIJAY SINGH: I try to. I always give it my hundred percent every time, but I don't feel like I can practice and work as hard as I used to. Like yesterday I hit two bags of balls and I was so tired, like I only played nine holes, so those are the things that kind of get -- my mind is still okay, but my body says no.

Q. How many bags of balls would you have hit 20 years ago?
VIJAY SINGH: I would probably stay there until I'm ready. And it could be five bags, 10 bags, I don't know. But I like practicing. I like to know what I'm doing before I go out there. Now I feel like if I got a few shots going the way I want to go, then it's good, I can take it out there.

Q. Your social media workout videos, how long have you been working out like that, that intense, and then at what point was the decision made and why was the decision made to kind of make them public on social media? They have kind of created a life of their own.
VIJAY SINGH: I hired back my trainer Jeff Fronk, who is -- who I had quite a few years ago, and I started in December with him and he gave me a new routine and started treating me like I was still 30, but I started enjoying it. The workouts were an hour long and not an hour and a half or two hours sometimes. But they were really dynamic and it got me going again. It got my feet moving a little bit. And to get it on social media was my son's idea. He's taken over and he said, I want to promote you the right way, and he's done a good job so far.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Vijay, appreciate your time.

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