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September 1, 2008

Vijay Singh


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the 2008 Deutsche Bank champion, Vijay Singh, to the interview room. What you did out there was nothing short of spectacular, final round 63. With the win you pick up for the second week in a row 11,000 FedExCup points. Just start off with some feelings on the day.
VIJAY SINGH: Obviously I feel incredible right now. It was a tough day. I mean, I showed up here and the wind was kind of blowing again, so that was a good thing. I knew the greens were going to be firm. The leaders don't normally run away with it with the greens this firm.
I started great, made a great eagle on 2 with a chip-in, and I kind of -- kind of got the ball rolling. A great two-putt on 4, as well, for par, which kind of kept the momentum going, as well, and just played well from there. I drove the ball beautifully all day and kept the ball in play and never got myself into much trouble. I think that was the key.

Q. Why do you feel so at home on this golf course?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know if I feel at home, but I just feel comfortable over here. I think I just play well over here, I don't know why. I think the fans are great. The weather is good here all the time, too.
I don't know, I just come here and my game just turns on for some reason. I feel good vibes. I don't know what vibes it is, but I feel really good vibes on the golf course when I arrive here.

Q. Given your often-described humble origins, what does $10 million in your bank account sound like since you've practically mathematically nailed that down based on the numbers?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I haven't really got it down yet. You can ask me after the TOUR Championship and I'll answer you then. But it feels good. I'm not really thinking about that. I just want to win the FedExCup. After that, whatever happens, happens. But right now my focus is going to be next week and see if I can wrap it up next week.

Q. You get on a plane for Akron, seems like a pretty disappointing year by your standards, and now in a short span it can be something really, really special. Are you amazed how quickly that turned?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, winning in Akron was big. That was the first win of the year, and that was really, the way I was rolling the putts was -- I didn't know if I was going to do it, even coming down the stretch there. So winning that, making the last putt at Akron told me a lot, told me that I needed to change some kind of an attitude or change my putting style. If I kept doing that, I don't think I would have -- I could make it anymore. It was hard just putting.
So I went back home and just a good attitude change. I spoke to some psychologist that was trying to help me. Deep down it has to come from me. I mean, whatever they can tell me, it works briefly, but it has to come from inside of me, and that was the biggest thing. I arrived last week at Ridgewood with a great attitude on the putting green and just kind of felt like I belonged on the greens. That was the biggest thing. That was the key.
And when I started putting comfortably, my whole game started coming around, and it's always nice to see. If I knocked it on the green I wasn't worried if I can get up-and-down in two, two putts from 15 feet instead of trying to make them. So that was a great change.

Q. When you won at Bay Hill and then it was a year and a half until you cashed that next winner's check, was there a period, since none of us get any younger as we go along, where you were wondering whether you were starting to reach your expiration date? That was a long stretch for you, and you made swing changes, caddie changes, lots of stuff going on.
VIJAY SINGH: No caddie change, I had the same caddie. Trainer change.

Q. Okay, trainer change.
VIJAY SINGH: But trainer change was all positive. I think he's changed my physique to another level. I'm much stronger and much fitter now than I was ever. You know, the golf swing was -- I needed the change after last year. I started the FedExCup with a new -- that's when I changed my golf swing. Beginning of the year I felt good. I felt great with my swing but there was still tweaking going on, and it just boiled down to going out there and getting all aspects of the game together. You know, weeks go by where I really play well but I don't putt well. That part of it was just kind of killing me, really. I went to a short putter to a long putter to whatever, was trying to change my grip, to whatever.

Q. You tried it all.
VIJAY SINGH: I tried it all. I know it boils down to a great attitude change, a change in my head. My unconscious mind had a lot of stored-up bad thoughts in there, and that was the key, to get rid of all that, and I think I've done that.

Q. I forgot exactly what your quote was after the second round, but you pretty much indicated the greens were a little bit too receptive, you wanted a little less water on the golf course, wanted it firmer, faster. Did you think it would get that different over the weekend?
VIJAY SINGH: It was a different golf course, especially on the greens. The fairways got really firm, and the greens were almost to some point almost unplayable if you're coming in with a long iron. Thank goodness I was coming in with some short irons. What is it, 14, going downhill, you just couldn't stop anything on the greens there. And 9 was just almost impossible, as well. It just got really crusty.
It was good to play the golf course tough like that, but to have that much of a change, it was just like playing a U.S. Open. The first two days you play it, the greens are very receptive, and the last two days it just gets almost impossible. I think the TOUR should actually look into that and give it a happy medium instead of just soft greens the first two days and really, really, almost impossible for some of the guys out there if you're not playing well.

Q. For the last couple weeks it's looked like every single aspect of your game has been sort of on song, your rhythm, your tempo, your ball-hitting and your putting. Is that true, and what is that like?
VIJAY SINGH: It feels good. It starts out with the driver, obviously. I drove the ball incredibly well this week, and you need to drive the ball well on a golf course like this. It's open, but there's a lot of trouble, as well. I got my ball in play almost on every hole.
Then my iron shots, I've been practicing a lot of shots from the sand and to get good contact and good balance and good rhythm, as well. It feels good. This is what we all practice for, strive to hit the ball good, not only with the driver but pretty much every part of your game, and putt well.
The putting is -- you can play as good as you want, and if you don't make the putts, you're not going to score. This week I just started -- well, last week, attitude change. It's kind of worked right through the whole golf game. Instead of just talking about my putting, I started talking about the rest of my game, as well. It kind of carried on. I'm standing on the tee and thinking that I'm the best driver of the golf ball before I hit it. That is a great way to go ahead and -- it takes away all the negative thoughts, and that's what we all strive for.

Q. On the 14th hole, the shot before your 60-foot putt, you looked pretty disappointed, and then it looked like the attitude that you have with your putting now really came in handy when you sank that putt. Can you talk about that hole?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I didn't have a club to get to the hole there. I wanted to slice a 9-iron to try to stop it on that green because it was so firm. Sergio from four yards behind me hit a wedge and really hit it so hard and it still did not spin. I just thought, hit it just left of the flag, and I pulled it. I was trying to cut it and pulled it a little bit.
But I got on the green and just kept talking to my caddie, "I'm the best putter in the world," and he said, "You're damn right you are, now go ahead and knock it in," and I made it. That's just a good attitude. Instead of standing there and hoping you're going to get up-and-down in two, I was trying to make those putts.

Q. Chad's last name again?
VIJAY SINGH: Reynolds.

Q. Just following on from that comment of feeling you're the best putter in the world, what's it like having a comfort range between 35 feet and 60 feet which you seemed to have on the back nine? You made 175 feet of putts today.
VIJAY SINGH: Well, for a change it's good to see my ball going in. I've been watching everybody else's go in. It's nice to actually stand over the putts and make putts like that. It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to hit a putt and see the ball rolling into the hole. I mean, it's nothing better.

Q. You only bogeyed one hole today, 15, I believe. Do you know how great that second shot almost was?
VIJAY SINGH: I was surprised that it spun back, especially the hole before that. There was no way of stopping the ball. I hit a pitching wedge, and it was only 125 yards, and normally they don't spin. So I thought I pitched it where I wanted to pitch it, and it was unfortunate it came back. But that's the way golf is, I guess.

Q. Can you compare this victory to the one four years ago against Tiger at this same place?
VIJAY SINGH: Four years ago was four years ago. You know, this is now, and I just enjoyed the way I played. I think the golf course was playing a lot tougher today than I've ever seen it play. I don't think this golf course could play any tougher. The greens were really, really firm. The pin placements were not easy at all. I think this golf course today played the hardest I've ever played this golf course. It makes it that much more better.

Q. Looking ahead, next week we're going back to Bellerive, and you were there with what happened last time with 9/11, that being cancelled. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what that was like, what you remember from that week, and whether it's going to be a little odd heading back to that place.
VIJAY SINGH: I never made it there. I was on the tarmac ready to fly off, and I think I was one of the lucky ones that didn't get airborne. I just drove ten minutes back to the house.

Q. That practice device that you're using where you're getting the pitch that matches your tempo, how much has that helped you in the time that you've been using it?
VIJAY SINGH: I think I started using it at the U.S. Open this year, and that's when my rhythm started getting better. I think it's helped me tremendously. I always had a good rhythm, but I never had a consistent rhythm. That's making my swing a lot more consistent, not just with the driver but the whole game. It's one rhythm for the whole game instead of having a quicker rhythm for irons or slower rhythm for the driver. It's just making me so much more consistent.
Even when I take it off, I remember the humming sound in my head. I hum to myself on the golf course just by listening to that that many times.
Once it gets on the market, I think it's going to be one of the best teaching devices ever. It's a great tool.

Q. Do you know what the note is, what the pitch is that you hear? It's the same pitch for every --
VIJAY SINGH: Same pitch for every club.

Q. You spoke about the unconscious bad thoughts with your putting. When exactly did you decide you had to do something about that?
VIJAY SINGH: After I hit that putt on 18 at Firestone (laughing), the last one, the little one. I willed that ball to go in. I absolutely put all my energy into making that putt, and that's not the way to putt. You've got to just stand over a putt and feel good about it and stroke it, and I just did not feel that. It was one of the worst feelings over a putt. If I didn't have the will inside of me to make that putt, the heart to make it, I don't think I would have made it.
That's when I decided you've got to have an attitude change. You have to go out there -- it was a great win, but it was a disappointment in me to see how badly I stood over and struggled over that putt. I mean, standing over putts this week is just night and day different. I feel just great.

Q. Yet it wasn't instantaneous because you missed the cut at the next two tournaments. Was that putting or more complicated than that?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I didn't like Oakland Hills' greens at all. I think they were some of the worst greens I've ever putted on or played on. And the week after Greensboro I just didn't feel good on that golf course. Yeah, it was a little bit of putting. I still was struggling. I wasn't ready to come out there and just putt like I normally do. I feel really different the last two weeks than I did those two weeks playing at Oakland Hills and Greensboro. I wish I had this attitude going into PGA. Probably things would have been different.

Q. Every day this week there were low scores, including your 64 on Monday. Did you have a mindset today to beat that 64, or did you have a goal?
VIJAY SINGH: You know, I thought with the two low scores yesterday, I thought 20-under was going to win. That was my initial goal.
But when I played the front nine, seeing the greens that firm, I didn't think anyone was going to get to 20, so I just tried to play the best I can. I thought 18, 19 would have a good chance. Obviously I did a lot better than that.

Q. As you say, four years ago was four years ago, but when you left here you were on a great run, your confidence was very high. When you look at your confidence right now, close to that level, beyond that level? How does it feel?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I just have a different feeling. My body feels different, my golf swing is -- I think I'm swinging the club better now than I did then. My lines are a lot better, my plane is a lot better. I would say I'm swinging the club better now that I did four years ago, and obviously with the way I'm feeling on the greens, I've never felt this comfortable on the greens ever. The more I feel, the more I talk to myself on the golf course, walking up to the greens, on the greens, I just keep on talking to myself, the better I feel. Sooner or later I'm not going to talk that much, but to get that into my head that I'm as good as I am.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind just running us through your birdies.
VIJAY SINGH: 2nd hole, I hit a driver, 3-iron just long, about probably 15 feet long, chipped it in.
6th hole, I hit a driver, 9-iron to about six feet.
7th hole, I hit a driver, 3-wood, pitched it about six feet again.
11th hole, I hit a 3-iron to about eight feet.
13, I hit a driver, 9-iron about 30 feet maybe.
14 was a long one. I hit driver, 9-iron to about 50 feet, I think.
15, I hit a driver, wedge just short of the green, putted up to about six feet and missed it.
17, I hit a 3-iron, 8-iron to about 20 feet.
Last hole, I hit a driver, 5-iron, and it was 15 feet past and I two-putted.

Q. You've got a massive lead now in the points over Sergio and Weir. You could basically bail it in the last couple weeks --
VIJAY SINGH: What's the breakdown? What do I need to do to win?

Q. They have to finish like first or second and that's if you finish DFL both weeks.

Q. Which is why I'm trying to borrow $10 million from you.
VIJAY SINGH: That makes me feel a lot better now.

Q. My question for you now is do you play safe or do you play to win?
VIJAY SINGH: Oh, I'm not going to -- I don't know how to play safe. I'm going to go out there and play the best I can play. I'm going to have a game plan and I'm going to stick to it. I'm going to go out there and try to win, put it this way. There's no cut, which is even better, and I know Atlanta very well.

Q. You've won there.
VIJAY SINGH: I've won there.
DOUG MILNE: Okay, Vijay, thanks for your time.

End of FastScripts

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