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May 23, 2007

Vijay Singh


GORDON SIMPSON: We've got Ponte Vedra weather for you here at the BMW PGA Championship. I'm sure you're pleased about that!
VIJAY SINGH: It's unbelievable.
GORDON SIMPSON: A lot of people have commented on the changes last couple of years. You had not seen them before you arrived back. What's your impression of the Wentworth refinements by Ernie?
VIJAY SINGH: It's totally a new golf course. I've played here so many times, but it's just, you know, I don't remember most of the holes playing like that. The first hole, you could go out there and you can just bomb it wherever you want. Now you have to think about those bunkers.
I think it's good changes. I think most of the changes are really good. A few holes I would question it, you know, but I think it's really -- it's done good. And this is a pretty big tournament for Europe. I think it's one of the bigger ones besides the Open, and I think it needed something like this. To come back from Ponte Vedra the last two weeks ago, they made a lot of changes there, not major, not as major as this. Whoever wins here has to play good golf. You can't get away with hitting bad shots, and that's the way I think it should be.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you sense there's a feeling here that The European Tour has cranked up this Championship to make it the leading event on the Tour?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. In relation to the States again, this would be the TPC of the U.S. This is, you know, even bigger than the TPC over there. We have three majors over there, and you have one over here. So I think this is a premiere event in Europe.
I'm just saddened by the fact that when you have the TPC in the U.S., you have a lot of Europeans going over there and playing. The PGA Championship over here is big, or even bigger, and you have a handful of guys coming over. So that's kind of sad in a fact. I would like to see a lot more Americans coming over and trying to play this tournament.

Q. Ernie was just in and telling us he thinks that the way the course is playing now will get players used to the sort of conditions they will have at the U.S. Open. Have you seen enough of this to agree with that?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's a lot more bunkers. I played Oakmont, and you know, the bunkering over there is kind of similar. If you've gone out and seen 16 over here and No. 9 over here, that's the kind of bunkering that Oakmont would have.
But it is a flat-out a tough golf course right now. This is one of the harder golf courses we play all year. It's tough. You cannot bail out on any shots anymore. There is no holes out there where you can rest. You've got to play it from start to finish and you've got to play hard. It's a really good test of golf.
I must say there are a few holes out there that didn't require some of the things, but you know, you have golf courses that not everybody is going to be happy with holes.

Q. Could you tell us which holes they are, the ones you feel didn't need changing?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, the only hole I thought that, you know, the bunker on 18 on the right we don't see off the tee. Probably will never come in play.
But the hazard on No. 12, the hazard on the right side, that was a little too severe. When you hit the middle of the fairway there, you've only got 15 yards on each side. With the new tee box, I think that's going to be really tough. So most players are going to be laying back with 3-wood if it's warm or downwind, and then try to go for the green from there.
If you remove the hazard on the right side, guys are going to try and take that on. If not, everybody is going to lay back and take three shots, but you can get on in two. But I'm really impressed with the golf course.

Q. You expressed regret that more American-based players don't come over and play this event. What would it take to get them to come over and play? Obviously you've done it.
VIJAY SINGH: I like to play in Europe. I have some good memories over here and my son was born over here. You know, this is where I started, The European Tour. My golfing career started more or less over here.
GORDON SIMPSON: Your apprenticeship.
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I have good feelings when I come back here.
But for the Americans to come over here, I don't know, they are so spoiled in the fact that they have so many golf tournaments over there. The tournament they are playing this week, the Colonial, it's a huge tournament. The prize fund is almost as big or even bigger than this one here. It may require this one to become a major maybe. That's one way of getting them over here.
Apart from that, I don't know, make it a $10 million tournament. I guess that's probably the other way of getting it.

Q. Just one suggestion on that point. If all of the international players come and play in an event like this, and so the World Rankings boost it gets, do you think that might encourage some Americans?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, they could have made this a World Golf Championships event. They have three in America. They have the one in Doral right now, which they could have made this that event. They could have done it and then you have a lot more players coming over and that's one way of doing it.
I don't know why they didn't do that. They could have in conjunction with The European Tour made this a World Golf Championship event. It is the PGA of Europe. It could have been one of those. Maybe in the future they can do that. That's one way of bringing all the top-ranked players over here.

Q. On the same point do you feel a sense of responsibility to the game as a whole to play outside of America?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, yes and no. Not for the Americans anyway -- for me personally, I like to play overseas. I think it improves the ability to play in different conditions, different golf courses. I think that's why Europeans are much more adaptable to different grasses and different conditions. They play all over the world here. You literally play all over the world, and I like to do that.
But you do get spoiled as well. In America you go from one town to the other, you fly on your own jet and you get so comfortable in not traveling; why travel.

Q. Any sense of obligation when you make your journeys overseas; is there any obligation?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I like to go back and play in Asia. It really comes from yourself if you feel like -- if I feel like I need to go and play there, I would. I mean, the obligation is to myself. It's not really to the game of golf. Because I do play a lot in the States, and I do play close to 30 events over there, so I'm doing a lot. I'm playing more than most guys over there.
The end of the season, it comes quicker in the U.S. now, so I'll be traveling more. I'll be playing one in Asia -- well, two in Asia. I'm playing Barclays and HSBC, so I will be traveling more; and if I qualify for The Match Play, I'll come back here. So I will be traveling more, and that gives me more time to go out there and play.

Q. I think there's far more ranking points here this week than there is in the Colonial. Do you think that will in the future, say there's a young American player who needs to get into the Top-50 to be able to play in the majors, might think, well, I can go over there and get better ranking points than staying here?
VIJAY SINGH: That's a good question but the FedExCup thing has overshadowed the World Rankings in the States. They hardly talk about the World Ranking anymore. The World Ranking system is so lopsided in the fact that if you play a lot more tournaments, you lose points, that guys do not care about that anymore. I really don't think that's going to make it.
I think the only way to do that is, like I said, make this a World Golf Championships or you know, increase the prize purse where guys just cannot resist. So that's the only way to do it.

Q. At the Tour dinner last night, both George O'Grady and Michael Smurfit spoke about the fact that our players are being lured on to the American tour. What's your view on that, and what does it take to keep them playing back here; do you think we ought to be trying to keep them to ourselves or how do you think it can work if it goes on in this way?
VIJAY SINGH: It's very hard not to have them going to the States because I guess there's really no comparison. The competition could be the same but the prize money is just incredible. I think that's really what drives everybody over to the States, and the majors, most majors are over there. And you have all of the top guys coming here for the British Open anyway.
It's just that the tournaments you have in the States, World Golf Championships, I think they are all over there right now. I think they need to move it around. Keeping the players over here I think is very unfair on the players itself because they want to go and play in tournaments; the PGA, I'm not saying that you don't have big tournaments over here, but it's few and far between. This is a big event here and now you can see all of the top Europeans are over here.
It's like playing the Volvo Masters. The Tour should try to do something that -- the Barclays is in Singapore. I'm playing the Barclays event. I just saw today it's opposite the Volvo Masters and that should never happen. That's the thing the Tour should avoid having. And probably some of the top guys will be going and playing in Singapore when you have one of the bigger tournaments in Spain.
Things like that I think the Tour should avoid, and I don't think there's anyway the tournament can stop players from going overseas. Again, you've got to increase the prize purse where they don't really need to go to the States and play, and that's one of the reasons why they do that.

Q. Last week in Ireland some of them were saying it's more a matter of playing where they feel comfortable than where the money is.
VIJAY SINGH: Maybe for one or two players.

Q. But that's not realistic?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't think so. I don't think it's true. I think it boils down to prize purse.

Q. If you're playing the U.S. Tour and coming over to a European Tour event, does it make it that much harder to win one?
VIJAY SINGH: Not really, no. I think it will make it easier. I'm not saying the competition here is easier to win than in the States. But I think the competition is more fierce in the States. The rough, also the setup, it's very difficult week-in and week-out. Over here you have odd tournaments that are like that.
The players in the States are consistently, you know, from I would say the top 60 guys are really strong up there, where over here you may have the top 20 guys are really strong and the rest of them are okay, but they are not as strong as the U.S. players. So it's harder to win in the States than it is to win over here.

Q. Can you just talk a little about your game in recent weeks, months?
VIJAY SINGH: It's been pretty good. I've been consistently getting more confident in my game. When I do play well, I win golf tournaments and when I don't, I'm up there. I haven't been as consistently good like I was two or three years ago; every week I go out there and I think I can win. I feel the same way but the golf game is not as strong. But it's getting better. In the last few weeks, I've seen a lot of good stuff.
I'm not putting all four rounds together. I think if I can do that -- but it's coming around, I've been working really hard and hopefully we see something, you know, I'm very confident this week. So we'll see what happens.

Q. Is it driving?
VIJAY SINGH: Driving's good. Driving has been one of my stronger parts of my game. You know, you change drivers, there's so many new drivers coming out, manufacturers want you to use their latest driver. So that's been always a battle. You get comfortable with one driver and then they come up with a new model and that's what they are promoting, that's what you've got to use. So that's where the conflict is.
But you know, they are making better and better stuff now, so it's easier to change.

Q. You are renowned for your work ethic. When you reached world No. 1 for that period, did you relax a little bit and let the foot off the pedal?
VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I work as hard. I don't work as hard on Tour anymore. I work a lot at home or if I'm changing stuff. If you get on the top, it's very hard to stay. That's the thing. It's not as hard getting to the top; it's staying there is the hardest part.
Yeah, when you fall off, you want to get back there and I think you push yourself really harder than what you should and that's where you push yourself and that's where the slide happens. I realise that and try to play within myself rather than playing for others and that's where you improve your game.
But I was surprised over here, I think I was on the range yesterday and it was absolutely packed. It's good to see that the young kids are practising as much as they are. I think they practise moreover here than they do in the States. The work ethic in Europe is much better than the ones in the States. So I was really impressed by that.

Q. Just hearing you say that about the driver, a lot of people find that absolutely extraordinary, but essentially for contractual reasons that you compromise one of the key tools of the trade.
VIJAY SINGH: It happens with everybody. I think every guy out there is in the same situation. No matter who you look at, they have their manufacturer's top driver. They will have to try it out unless they cannot they are told they cannot use it and they go back to what they are used to, and I've done that in the past. That's not what the manufacturers want. Unless it's not in the contract, then you have to use what they want you to use.

Q. Why would you ever put it in your contract?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I do have it, but always the point is, you're going to try something new, and you never know if it's better than what you've got. You always go out there, we are very greedy, you want to get the best out of the club and the newer clubs that are coming out are better when they are tested. It's not necessarily true when you take it out on the golf course. And then you realise after two, three, maybe even a month that it doesn't go as good as your old one, you go back ask that's when the manufacturers kind of go against you.

Q. It's amazing that they can tell what you to use on the golf course.
VIJAY SINGH: Well, not everybody can, but most of the guys. If you have enough strong hold -- last year I was struggling with the HiBore but then they came up with a HiBore XL and it was much better than the old one so I'm using that one and I'm happy with it. Last year I had problems all year with the HiBore, and end of the year I went back to playing what I used to play and I played better with it.

Q. Have you put any drivers under the wheels of your car and driven over it and they've disappeared?
VIJAY SINGH: I felt like that a lot of them, but I don't think I have done that, no. I just give it away now.
GORDON SIMPSON: Glad to see you back here at Wentworth have a good week and maybe see you back in here after your round.

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