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September 24, 2008

Vijay Singh


LAURA NEAL: Vijay, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We talked about this being kind of a victory lap for you, but we know you're not just here to start the TOUR Championship, you definitely want to win. Just talk about being here, wrapping up the FedExCup, and trying to finish off the season.
VIJAY SINGH: It's nice, really, to know that all you need to do is finish the round. I've been told the last four weeks, maybe 100 times, three weeks, 100 times, don't run too much and make sure you run on a flat surface and don't over-exercise.
So, I mean, it's been kind of strange in a way that -- your friends and your family and your trainer keep saying, you know, Don't over-exercise. We'll have to just keep it nice and easy this week. Kind of gets to your head a little bit.
Deep down I want to come here -- I'm here fresh and practiced pretty good, and I've come to win this golf tournament now. I want to finish really strong, and this will be probably my last event for this season over here. So I want to come out here.
I like the golf course from what I saw. I think it's much tougher than what it was last year, so I have good feelings this week.

Q. Have you ever come into a tournament like this, a big tournament, with not any pressure on you like this? What is that like?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, it feels good. There's two tournaments in one here; the FedExCup obviously is behind everybody's mind. You go out on the golf course and it says "playoffs" everywhere. At the same time, this is a big event for us. Two years ago, three years ago, this was one of the major events on TOUR. That's the way I still look at it.
I want to come here and still keep a good focus on THE TOUR Championship and let the FedExCup be on the back of my mind, because you know I want that.
All I need to do is just go out there and play four rounds. That's what everybody has been telling me. So I just want to have a good, solid finish to the tournament right here.

Q. Is it a little mind boggling to think that you just play 72 holes and you get the $9 million first prize?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, but, I mean, if you think that way, then you might as well just not worry about playing the golf tournament. There's only two guys that can actually beat me if I don't play, and they have to win. But, you know, yeah, it is mind boggling to know that you have to play 72 holes. This is not my first time to play 72 holes. I've done it forever, so I'm not worried about that at all.
Again, I'm going to go out there and not even worry about the FedExCup; I'm going to worry about winning this golf tournament.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your affinity for this golf course? You've played great here. You've won here.
VIJAY SINGH: The very first time I came, it was really tough. I mean, it was -- I loved the golf course from the very get-go. I went out there yesterday and I liked it even better. They've lengthened quite a few holes and the fairways have been changed a little bit and the greens are a little bit smaller, some of them, and some of them are bigger but less undulations on them.
So I think it's going to be a great week. I think whoever wins this week has to play good golf. They cannot just go out there and play not their best and win; you have to go out there and get your whole game.
I liked what I saw yesterday, good opportunities.

Q. You've won so many events in your 40s and you're winning the FedExCup at 45. Is there going to be any reason to think that you wouldn't be able to contend for FedExCups and majors, like, into your 50s?
VIJAY SINGH: I don't know about into my 50s (laughing), but I'm not going to go away for the next five years. I'm here, and I've got good plans for the end of the season. I don't have to worry about my golf swing as much since I've worked hard enough last year and beginning of this year to get it right.
If I keep physically fit and injury-free -- as you get older, you're more prone to have small injuries and aches and pains, so if I can keep that to a minimum and just go out there and work hard, I think I have a good chance to go into my 50s, as well.
But it really depends. I kept telling everybody, If I cannot compete with the young kids, if I show up in a golf tournament and know I'm not going to win or I cannot win, then I think it's time to walk away. But hopefully that feeling won't last long.

Q. To what do you attribute your success in the 40s? Is it your fitness? Is it your constant evolution of your game? Is there one particular thing?
VIJAY SINGH: I think it's a combination of a few things. At the same time, I'm able to swing the club a lot more freer than most guys close to their 50s. I've been blessed with very loose joints, so I can still swing the club pretty much past parallel whenever I want to.
As you get older your swing gets shorter, your turn gets shorter, but mine seems to stay the same. And at the same time, I work really hard with my physique, as well.
I was really regimented with keeping a trainer for a long, long time, and I have not deviated from that. I have a trainer on TOUR for the last six, seven, eight years. Having that guy on TOUR with me and waking up in the morning and he's outside my door knocking at 6:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, Hey, let's go to the gym, that keeps you going. That's the discipline that one needs to keep going.

Q. Do you feel like you're in better shape now than, say, ten years ago?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I'm in great shape for a 45 year old. I don't think my -- my physique is not as good as a 25 year old, but the older you get, the harder it is to feel younger. You've got to work twice or three times as hard. You also have to watch what you work on. It's very easy to get hurt.
It's a very delicate situation. You've got to work hard and at the same time don't get hurt, and that's what I'm trying to do, find different ways of working hard and feeling strong and not feeling pain the next day.

Q. Could you tell us what you did during your break?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I didn't hit balls for a week. That was the big thing. Tried to rest my arm a little bit; I knew that was a big factor. If I kept playing I don't think I would have been able to manage that, so I took a week off and then started hitting balls again. Played a little, but not as intensely.
I was surprised, Saturday, Sunday, Monday -- Saturday and Sunday I watched the Ryder Cup, so that was a good excuse not to practice. But I did enough work on my game, enough work with my body, and just kept myself in good shape for this week.

Q. Could you give us some impressions, some of your impressions, from the Ryder Cup? What did you think of the way the...
VIJAY SINGH: I think it was great. I think the matches were really intense, closer than what the result showed. It was exciting, especially seeing the guys that were playing, and you know all of them, you've played golf with all of them, and you know their strengths and their weaknesses.
But I thought both teams played well, and the team that made the most of it, made more putts and crucial shots at the end kind of won. So it was a good tournament to watch.

Q. You're about to win the FedExCup. Do you ever allow yourself to sit back at any point and reflect on what you've accomplished in your golfing career?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, I'm still -- I think I'm still in the middle of it, you know, so it's hard to kind of sit back and say, Well, you know -- yeah, people remind you of it.
When you do not appreciate yourself, what you've done, then you have people to come up and say to you, Listen, look what you've done. You've got to be at least confident that you can go out there and do it because you have done it before, so those are things that I've been reminded of before.
But right now I think I'm still playing, and once I quit playing, then I'll sit back and think about what I've done. But right now I'm still focused on what I'm doing right now.

Q. You're already in the Hall. You've got more money than you could probably spend. I don't know your spending habits (laughter), but what do you do? Do you have to invent something more to drive yourself? I mean, you've achieved a lot of goals.
VIJAY SINGH: Well, for next year I already have a plan what I want to do. I'm going to finish this week, and there's a handful of tournaments that I'm going to play until the end of the year. But I'm going to start figuring out how I'm going to come out next year and play even better golf.
My career is still at its peak, I think, and if I just keep my focus and have a good mindset -- the attitude change the last two weeks, three weeks ago, kind of showed me that there's more to it than just physical strength and ability to go out there and play.
I think if your attitude is better on the golf course -- putting the way I did the last two, three weeks, it kind of gave me a big relief in my mind that I can compete again at the highest level and not be scared to go out there and miss putts and make putts, just go out there and put strokes on it.
So I'm excited about that. The only issue here is how much stronger can I get and not get hurt, and that's the key right now. I'm making a plan and trying to get strong again and come out next year really fit and eager to go out there and probably play.
I want to compete better in the majors before I finish. This year was a disappointing four-major events. I missed the cut in two of them and just did not compete in the other two, so that was probably a disappointment.
Obviously the TPC, where I live, I play, and I probably spend more time there than I do at home. And missing the cut there was probably one of the biggest failures of the year for me, so I'll see if I can fix that up.

Q. You touched on it a little bit, but you've been putting such lights-out during the FedExCup. What turned on the switch? What made that improvement so noticeable for you?
VIJAY SINGH: I think the way I putted the last day at the Bridgestone event, at Firestone, it's kind of scary when I heard how poorly I putted. I could have walked away with that tournament by five, six, seven shots, but I had to make a four-footer on the last hole to win.
It kind of was a good thing, and at the same time it was really an eye-opener to know how your mind can really freeze you up. I went back and I said, You've got to do something about it. It cannot be my putting stroke because everybody that looked at it said, Wow, you've got a good putting stroke. So it was coming from above.
I just had to change my attitude, so I saw two psychologists and they kind of worked on the same -- kind of the same path as others worked on. They said, You've got to have a good routine and good attitude, you've got to breathe right, and then go back on my mechanics. It wasn't my mechanics, it was between the ears.
It had to come from inside of me, and I just started talking to myself and it happened. You've got to get the subconscious to believe that you're a good putter, and that's what I tried to do.

Q. Many foreign country players are coming to the PGA TOUR now. You were one of them. Right now many Japanese young players want to come to here to try to challenge the PGA TOUR, but not so many players here. So do you have some advice for the players from foreign countries for success on the PGA TOUR? What is the key of success?
VIJAY SINGH: You obviously have to play good golf, one; but you have to come out here and try it. There's a few events, a futures over here. You can come and play the Nationwide Tour first if you don't get into the PGA TOUR, and that's how you qualify to get in.
But obviously playing away from your home is the key. You have to get away from Asia, either go to Europe and come over to America and play. I think that's what you need to do. Staying at home you get too comfortable, so you've got to get away.
LAURA NEAL: Vijay, thanks for your time. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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