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January 7, 2007

Vijay Singh


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome the winner of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Championship, Vijay Singh. First time you won in your first start and good year to do that. Just talk about what another win does for your career.
VIJAY SINGH: This was an important one. You know, all wins are important. This gives me a lot more freedom from here on. I don't have to force myself. Sometimes when you don't win for a while, in the back of your head rebound you have some kind of pressure and this kind of eases all the pressure.
It's a good win. I wanted this win, and I practised hard for it. It's a good off-season for me. I worked hard and it paid off.
TODD BUDNICK: It's a bit of a milestone. It's your 30th career victory and you moved past the $50 million Mark in career earnings, the second person to do that in PGA TOUR history. Those are some special marks you hit today.
VIJAY SINGH: You don't really think about it. I knew it was my 30th win, I was at 29 for a while, so it's good to hit the 30 Mark. Hopefully it doesn't stop there. I feel good and I'm looking forward to the season, and hopefully there's a lot more wins.
TODD BUDNICK: Your 18th win since turning 40, what are you saying for the rest of the 40-year-olds there?
VIJAY SINGH: Life doesn't stop at 40. It just begins I guess.
It hasn't been easy. You know, once I've turned 40, I've probably picked up my training and my practise even more. Not so much my practise, but my physical training has been a lot more intense. Two workouts a week for the last month and a half has been pretty hard. Each day you finish that, you come back home, you feel really, really tired. But when you finish the whole routine, month and a half, you feel really good about yourself and that showed today this week.

Q. Are you looking forward to the media party next year? (Laughter)?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, if you don't bring your parents I'll probably come.

Q. You talked about pressure, but did you feel any pressure when Adam got within two with two to play, or did you still feel under control?
VIJAY SINGH: I was totally in control of my game. I was always up three or four most of the day and birdieing 16, it wasn't pressure at all. It was just a little concern, if he went birdie, birdie, then I have to birdie one of the last two holes. But I wasn't at any point worried about my position, nobody was really jumping out there and doing anything. It was the great start I wanted, birdied the first two and the other guys kind of dropped off a little bit.
There's a lot of chances out there for me as well. I made two good putts on the first two holes and never made anything after that. So I left a lot of putts out there, but I'm just glad that I ended up winning.

Q. You made a crack about age and 40 years old on television. Obviously there are a lot of guys who play into their early 40s and Nicklaus won a Masters at 40. What do you think a golfer can go -- how far can he go, into his late 40s? Do you feel like you have another five years of great golf in you, and do you notice any difference from a couple of years ago?
VIJAY SINGH: Fred Funk won a golf tournament when he was 48 and I'm a lot bigger and a lot stronger than Freddie Funk. (Laughter) So if he can win at 48, you know, what makes me think I'm not going to win when I'm 50?
I'm not looking that far ahead. Right now I'm just looking at the way I feel and I'm going to continue to work hard at my physical shape. It's not knowing, the body is a very unique thing, and you can get hurt at any time and that would be the end of the career there.
So I'm trying to be fit, keep my body in shape and be injury-free as much as possible. So I just think if I'm healthy and playing the way I'm doing right now, five, six, ten years, I don't know. I'm just going to keep going.

Q. After you won nine in one year, and you were, I'm assuming in similar shape as you are now, maybe you're in even better shape now than you were then. Did you think that would go away and were you thinking, how are you going to recapture that when you were struggling last year?
VIJAY SINGH: You know, it's so easy to fall off the top. Once you're sliding down, you've got to have something to hold onto.
My physical condition probably kept me there. If I wasn't strong enough, once you mentally get a little frustrated, you can just slide off so quickly.
It was a tough year, and I thought I played better than what I did. But the scoring didn't show and I was having problems with the driver all year. So it was, you know, it was a mix-match. One week I would drive the ball great and the next week, I would just not play well and head issues as well. But I cleared it all up, and the good thing is I'm fresh and I'm really looking forward to the season.
I've worked very, very hard like I said on both my golf swing and my physical side. I'm quite happy with the way I'm feeling right now.

Q. Did the results of this week close the book on last year or did you close the book before you got here?
VIJAY SINGH: Once I finished THE TOUR Championship, that was it. I turned over a new page and just had a great discussion with Joey, and just said, let's look forward to next season and make sure that when we arrive at Mercedes, we are ready to play and nothing is going to interfere with my head or my golf swing.

Q. Your work ethic is well known by everyone, your peers and so forth. I'm wondering, given your age and so forth, how you managed to, I guess, lift your work ethic or the amount of work that you can do, and is it an equal balance between the golf swing and your physical conditioning, or is physical conditioning continuing to take maybe more importance as you get older?
VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I do two workouts a day mostly. It's a good warm-up in the morning when I'm playing golf tournaments and I have a good work out in the evening. When I have weeks off, I do two different routines, one in the morning and in the evening.
I still go out there and hit balls. I was in Kona for two weeks and I did two workouts, but I was hitting balls for five hours a day. And to just stand on the practise tee and hit balls, that's a lot of balls, that's about 400 balls a day. And playing golf in the afternoon, going out and playing golf.
I was determined to do it. I had no interference at all in my routine and I was ready -- I can take it easy a little bit. I'm not going to take it easy, but my routines, my workouts, a little less when I have to start golf tournaments.

Q. At the end of the day, do you just fall into bed?
VIJAY SINGH: No, I crawl into bed. (Laughter).
It hasn't been that bad. In the beginning it was really difficult when I started out. But once your body gets adjusted to it. I was working this hard two years ago and kind of gets into your head that you've got it and once you know you've got it, you don't have it, it's that quickly you can lose it.

Q. Can I ask a Sam Snead related question? When did you become aware of Sam Snead as a young man, and did you hear of him early, and have you ever met him and what does it mean to pass his record?
VIJAY SINGH: I mean, I never really thought about, you know, Sam Snead's record at all. I never even knew that until somebody just told me at the presentation today.
Yeah, I met him one time, or I met him a few times, actually. I did want to meet him for a long, long time and we met and had lunch at TPC. I've read his books and I like the way he swung, very natural, very rhythmic. He's a great player and nobody can ever take that away. He's one of those players that you just love to watch him swing.

Q. Does it mean something, anything special having met him, now passing one of his records, does that mean something to you?
VIJAY SINGH: It's going to happen sooner or later, you know, but yeah, he does. I don't know what it means. If Sam Snead was out there and he played great all his career, for me to pass his record because after 40, really, it does not mean much. It really does not -- there's no trophies for doing it, you know what I mean.

Q. Maybe.
VIJAY SINGH: Really, it's just a record created by who; it's not even a record, it's just numbers out there.

Q. You turn 44 next month; are you in better shape now than you ever have been?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. A little bit more aches and pains than I had two years ago. I've been going at it very, very hard, and there's a lot more -- that's why I've got to be very, very careful in what I do. I cannot overdo myself.
But I think I'm feeling pretty good. I'm very, very comfortable with not only my body, but my golf swing, and that's more important to me than my body.

Q. Is your swing now as good as it's ever been, or is it hard to tell?
VIJAY SINGH: It's hard to say. You cannot compare a great season to now. It's only one week.
But I feel -- I can say that I feel really comfortable.

Q. Talking about intensifying your workouts, is some of that because of all of the golf at the end of the year, the PGA Championship, FedEx Playoffs, Presidents Cup, are you thinking about that big stretch there?
VIJAY SINGH: No. (Laughter) I play a lot anyway. My schedule will not change.
A lot of guys are going to take -- the only good thing about that is September, come the end of the season, which is in September, and I'm going to have a lot more time off. It's probably playing in my favour than, you know, anybody else's out there.
I wanted to commit myself this year, and I was just ready to come out here and play.

Q. Does that mean you're not going to play any of the Fall Series events that follow the FedExCup?
VIJAY SINGH: I may play one or two. To take that time off, that much time off, I'm not used to. (Laughing).

Q. Following up on what Art asked you, as long as you have to the really thought about the Sam Snead, 30 victories, etc., what does have significance for you? What is it you're looking to accomplish?
VIJAY SINGH: I just want to play well. You know, my goal is to go out there and play well. My whole theory about going out there and playing is to play to my ability and when I go out there and hit balls over and over again and hit the ball the way I want to hit it, that's how I want to come out here and play.
I always think if I can do that, you know, everything is going to take care of itself. That's the hardest part is taking my driving range golf swing on to the golf course and feeling as free as that, to be able to do it on the golf course.

Q. And maybe I should have said, what imprint do you want to be remembered for, what imprint do you want?
VIJAY SINGH: You all know what I've done in my career. Coming from Fiji, it's not easy to do what I've done. It's a miracle to win one golf tournament coming from Fiji, but to do what I've done, and being in the Hall of Fame is a big thing as well. That's never going to go away and that's always there. Those are great things that I remember and I want people to remember that as well.

Q. Does this performance make you think about the switch to the long putter that maybe you should have done it sooner; and was there a moment over the winter where you decided you were going to make a change?
VIJAY SINGH: I never thought about it. It was just like winning with a regular putter. It happened watching, I think the World Cup and one of the guys was putting with a belly putter and I had one lying around, picked it up, felt good, went on the golf course and played with it. I said, well, feels good.
I went from belly putter to the conventional putter and putted really well. So my theory was, well I'm going to practise the off-season with the belly putter and go and play conventional. But I just thought, well, it felt good, so might as well keep going.
Played very well at the father and son, putted very well with it, and it felt comfortable. There was no real thought behind it. Just two weeks later, I may go back to a conventional putter.

Q. You stuck with the conventional putter last year because you felt putting was not an issue; is that right?
VIJAY SINGH: I had not been putting badly. I think my stats on putting were not as bad as the rest of my game last year. I just hit it not very good last year.
I feel comfortable right now with the belly and it's going to go as long as it's still comfortable. It's an easier way of putting, anyway.

Q. First time in official tournament; right?
VIJAY SINGH: First time, yeah.

Q. You had I believe the most Top-10s in this event coming in, and I was just wondering if you felt at all snakebit that you had not win?
VIJAY SINGH: Nick Faldo kept saying, been there twice, led the tournament twice, 0-and-2. He kept saying that on TV and I just wanted to prove it to him that I can. (Laughter).

Q. How will you enjoy tomorrow now that you have won? Will you hit 400 more balls and work out twice?
VIJAY SINGH: No, I think I'm going to take a day off tomorrow. I think I'm going to go get drunk tonight (laughter) if Joey allows me. I think one glass of wine, I think that's all he'll allow me.

Q. Red or white wine?

Q. This is a similar question but wondering with as well as you've done and not having won before this week, is there any added significance that your 30th win comes here?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's fitting but nothing's fitting really. I wasn't nervous, but it was in the back of my head, was a concern, you know, there was always a concern how I'm going to go out there, how you guys are going to write about me tomorrow if I don't win; "there he goes again, Mercedes."
I went out there I was really, really focused to do well. I just said, if you just focus on your own receive and what I do best and that's play golf, and I started off beautifully birdying the first two holes, and nobody was going to catch me then I don't think.

Q. Does this change your goals in terms of number of tournaments you'd like to win this your career? Now that you're at 30, do you look at in terms of 40, 50, 60?
VIJAY SINGH: That would be nice, wouldn't it? (Laughter) 60 would be even better.
I just want to play well and win. You know, there's no real number out there. But, you know, always when you get to nine, or 19 like Davis is now, it's hard to make that 20. I remember when I was at nine, I wanted to get to ten so bad. You put pressure on yourself by doing that.
Now it's 30. I'm just going to play and enjoy it and see how many wins I can get before I finish.
TODD BUDNICK: Before we let you go, just go through your three birdies for us.
VIJAY SINGH: First hole, I had 3-wood, wedge to five feet.
Second hole, 7-iron to about eight feet.
11, I hit a 9-iron to about 15 feet.
TODD BUDNICK: Congratulations.

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