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January 2, 2008

Vijay Singh


STEWART MOORE: We welcome our defending champion to the interview room here this week, Vijay Singh, Kapalua. Welcome back. How was your off-season?
VIJAY SINGH: Good. Not much of an off-season. I was over in Asia for a while, came back, played two events, Father and Son, and The Williams in California, and I had like three or four weeks off at home. It was good. I worked out hard. My off-season was pretty much working harder than other guys, so it's like a break when I come out on the road.
STEWART MOORE: The golf course is obviously a little bit wet. How is it out there?
VIJAY SINGH: It's okay. I played yesterday. It pretty much dried out much better than I thought. With the amount of rain we got on Monday I thought it would be really soggy, but the golf course drains pretty well and it's in one of the best conditions I've ever seen it in. A lot of grass everywhere. A little bit more rough this year than I've ever seen it, so that's going to be a little bit more interesting when you miss the green, a little bit more thought to it than there has been. So it's going to be a good event.

Q. What do you work on in that window at the end of the year? Is it something specific or just stuff you want to try to get better at?
VIJAY SINGH: I changed a little bit of my backswing toward the end of last season, so I was working on that, making sure it was very comfortable when I come out here. I'm still not comfortable, still working on it. I worked a little bit on my short game and did a driver change here and there, just the same thing over and over again, but fine-tuning the golf swing was the main thing.

Q. How comfortable is the new takeaway now?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it's there, but my mind is still not believing it because it's quite a big change from what I used to have. My caddie says it's good. Everybody says it's good, but I think my mind is still not comfortable with it. Once I get going, I think I'll pretty much forget about thinking about it as much.
The shots are good. The shot pattern is a lot more tighter and hitting a lot more solid shots. Looking good.

Q. Have you gone through a change like that before where it just takes a while to have that comfort level with it?
VIJAY SINGH: Not this type. I've always done, if it was, very slight. This is a very big change, going from being laid off to almost across the line now, which is -- it changes the whole dynamics of the swing, how the body reacts to it is a lot different now than what it used to be.

Q. How does this course fit your game?
VIJAY SINGH: Probably no more than anybody else over here. I've played it so many times through the years that I'm just comfortable with where to hit it and what shots to hit. I was playing with Daniel yesterday and I could see how he was analyzing every shot, every green. I'm just looking back and say, hey, you just have to hit it here and it's going to feed down here. This is his first year, so you can see the big difference in how knowledge you have about the golf course makes that much difference.

Q. The swing change was obviously built not only for now but over the next four or five years of your career. Is that safe to say?
VIJAY SINGH: I just thought I needed it. I mean, I almost fell over the other day when I saw a shot of my backswing at the U.S. Open, and I said, wow, I didn't know I was swinging that bad. It showed that if you get too complacent about your golf swing it can get from bad to worse. I just play from year to year and see what needs to be done, and this is a big, big difference. I'm more than thrilled to know that I found out what I was doing wrong, that it wasn't just on my takeaway but pretty much the top of the backswing was the biggest fault.

Q. You're 44 now?

Q. Do you feel any different now than you did at 42? Do you feel you have more desire than in the last couple years?
VIJAY SINGH: I think a big change was my trainer change. I changed my trainer, and he changed the way I was training, as well, especially going to the gym and doing a lot of weights with machine work, it's done pretty much on free weights and all dynamics stuff. It's a very hard workout, but it's making me feel good. It's different, it's new, and he's really enthusiastic about everything. I think that's the biggest change. If you look at my body, I've lost a lot of size, but I haven't lost weight, so that means I've put on a lot more muscle. I think I'm the same weight, but I'm slimmer.
I feel good. I feel strong, I feel energized, and with the swing and the way I feel, I think it's looking good.

Q. The majors this year, do you look ahead down the road to some of those venues?
VIJAY SINGH: They're so far away right now. I think about the Masters, the U.S. Open played at Torrey Pines, and I know that golf course pretty well. Yeah, you know, it crosses my mind, but I just want to build up to it and not think about it right now.

Q. What will it take for you to get comfortable -- when do you think you'll be 100 percent comfortable with your swing change?
VIJAY SINGH: I think I am already on the driving range. I'm standing there and hitting a lot of shots, and I know once I come out on the golf course just believing it and doing it is going to take maybe one or two tournaments. That's why I went over to Asia, just to make sure that I played a lot more free with the swing change. It's good. Maybe when the gun goes tomorrow I may not think about it at all. I feel good about it, and just going there believing and not thinking about it, maybe.

Q. It took a few times here before you won and you were kind of knocking at the door, knocking at the door. The same thing happened at Bay Hill. I wonder if you could maybe just talk a little bit about Bay Hill, too, the similarity here to there as far as breakthrough and how good that felt.
VIJAY SINGH: I just think it's playing the right golf at the right time. You can be playing well and not win. Some good breaks, good shots at the right time, making the right putt at the right time makes all the difference. I had chances here two, three years ago and just not capitalizing on the situation. Last year was more free-flowing. I don't think I did anything different, I just played a lot more solid golf and made more putts than I normally do.

Q. What is it about that course, Bay Hill, that seems to fit you? You know the local knowledge here, but --
VIJAY SINGH: I've played it since '92. I've played it every year. That's more than anybody else I think that's played it in a row. I just play it every year. It's an hour, two hours' drive from my place and I've just played it. I think I owe it to Arnie inviting me there the first time I played in America, so I've played there every single year. I know the golf course since -- I know exactly, except for the 18th hole that I hate a lot (laughing). I think the 18th hole cost me two tournaments there. Last year I had enough shots in hand where I knew even if I messed up I could have still won.

Q. When Tim asked you about the majors, and I know they're a long way away, but I was thinking about the fact that you have two that you need to get to get a career Grand Slam. You've done everything just about that you want to do in your career. I assume that's one of the things you'd want to do, and you talked about the fact that Torrey is a course that you know well and have played a lot. Do you put more emphasis now on the possibilities of a U.S. Open because it's a course that you know much better?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. I mean, again, I've played it many times, and I think it suits my golf game. It's a long hitters' golf course. But then again, it's a U.S. Open. The rough is going to be different and you need to drive the ball the right way. I know they've changed the whole greens again, so it's going to be -- that's why I want to play again this year to see what the difference is.
You know, the more familiar with the golf course the more better I'm going to play, I know that. Oakmont was one of them I played a long time ago, and I played it a few more times. I had a chance this year but I just didn't finish it off. You know, I know the British Open golf course is in Birkdale, and I've played there a few times. But again, you've got to go there and you've got to go there and play well. If you want to win the majors, you have to show up with the golf game. You just can't show up and hope you're going to win. It seems a long ways away, but I'm going to prepare for it. I'm going to be ready for sure.

Q. Are you heading over to the Middle East again this year? Last year you went to Dubai?
VIJAY SINGH: No, I'm going to go to India I think the week of Honda and the Johnnie Walker, and then pretty much that's it.

Q. Is that the first time going to India for a European Tour event?
VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I think they're going to have two this year, but I'm just going to play one of them.

Q. How exciting do you think it's going to be?
VIJAY SINGH: For them it will be. I think there's a lot more golfers in India than what we think. They have their own professional Tour there, and I think they have 15 to 18 events there on their own, so it's a very fast-growing country, not only business-wise but also sports-wise, as well. It's going to be good.

Q. Do you feel like you're walking in a mine field there because there's that conflict between the Indian Tour and the European Tour?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, but I think -- I think it's a conflict between the Asian Tour and the European Tour, not the Indian Tour. But I think they're coming to some sort of a solution now. I don't think the Asian Tour is asking too much. I think it's the fault of the European Tour going to their backyard and trying to take over. They have to play ball.

Q. Are you not doing Dubai just because it's too much travel for early in the year?
VIJAY SINGH: I just want to play here the early part of the year. I had great offers to go and play there, but I just want to focus over here. When I travel too much it just disrupts my whole rhythm.

Q. I think you said that last year, didn't you, after you came back?
VIJAY SINGH: I just want to win here (smiling).

Q. What's the biggest difference here this weekend as defending champion for you?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I don't feel very much different. I know that everybody that shows up here are ready to play and ready to win. They're all winners. But I know that half of the guys will show up here because they've won and they want to get prepared this week. I'm prepared when I come over here.
If you look at it that way, I think I've only got half the guys to beat because so many guys are coming from how cold their home is right now. Half of America is under snow, I think. I've seen a few guys coming up to the TPC to warm up before coming over here, guys practicing and getting ready for this event. I'm ready to play and ready to win.
STEWART MOORE: Vijay, thank you.

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