Vijay Pleads for Media Understanding

By George WhiteNovember 2, 2004, 5:00 pm
OK, maybe we have it wrong. Maybe Vijay Singh is really a barrel of laughs. We were wrong about his ability ' no one conceived of him winning nine times in one year. And maybe we misjudged just as badly his personality.
We, of course, are the members of the golf media. We talk to the golfers, watch them as they go about their chores on the golf course, see how they relate to the gallery. We then attempt to be amateur psychologists and tell you what the different personalities are like. The problem is, its a very inexact science. Sometimes a first impression is the wrong impression.
Singh, talking to the media after his win in Florida Sunday evening, says we have gotten it all wrong. And maybe we have.
The way you write about me, I'm very intense out there, said Singh. I probably had more fun out there today than you guys are ever going to have in a whole year, but my fun out there is very intense, and when I finish the round, then I enjoy the game.
Look how serious you guys are right here. This is your work. My work is out there. People who don't know me read what you guys write about me, and if you write negative about me, how I'm not having fun, how serious I am - that is not true.

And that may be correct. Singh was quiet when he first came to America more than 10 years ago. We assumed that it was because he was leery of questioners probing into the cheating issue ' he was accused of incorrectly doctoring a score many years ago on the Asian Tour. Incidentally, he strongly denies it.
Singh didnt have a lot to say the following years. Maybe that is his Fijian culture. Maybe he is always guarded around strangers. Anyone banished to Borneo for a couple of years isnt going to be Mr. Funny when he finally gets to civilization. And then he had a run-in with a writer who quoted him as saying that Annika Sorenstam shouldnt play in the mens tournament at Colonial ' a quote that he claims was inaccurate ' and he merely stopped talking to the media.
That lasted for six months or so. But he began to win so often that the pressure to give interviews was overwhelming. He grudgingly agreed at first. And this year, as both Singh and the media have become more comfortable with each other, both have found that the other was not as bad as they had thought.
Singh has certainly contributed to the misunderstanding. An incident involving Brandel Chamblee, when Singh repeatedly cursed the Golf Channel reporter, didnt help. But ' maybe the media is at fault here, too. Maybe Singh is a much warmer guy than he has been painted to be.

I have fun, I talk to the guys, and I probably have more fun than 80 percent of the guys out there, he said. But you guys do not write that. You see how intense I am.
Off the golf course, when I come over here (to the interview room), I'm still intense. I cannot just let go and be relaxed. The intensity still stays on for a couple of hours. I mean, that's the way you focus, that's the way you wind down. It takes a while.
So, write good.
That last sentence is hugely indicative of the barriers that have been broken down between Singh and the media. Write good. Singh cares that he has gotten such negative press. For years he gave no indication that it mattered. But he does ' he is nothing but human, after all.
Singh is older now, and the media has been around him longer. Singh probably doesnt brush by reporters as brusquely as he once did. And maybe now the press wont write about him so much as a tall, dark robot who is into his golf game and not much else.
The real issue, though, is the manner in which he relates to fans. If Singh tries to be pleasant, smiles occasionally, signs autographs after his round is over, the people will respond. And if he continues to win, the media will continue to see him at ease more and more. Singh wont be quite as much a mystery to them.
Goodness knows that hes won nine times, equal to Tiger Woods top season. He has won four of the last five times hes teed it up and finished tied for second the fifth. In fact, hes won six of the last eight times hes gone to the post, dating back to the British Open.
Maybe this will mark the time for an old-fashioned thawing out of the relationship of press-vs.-Singh. He says we have gotten him all wrong, and he could be correct. He is a great golfer ' that no one can deny by now. Maybe he is just as great a person.
One thing is for certain ' we are going to see much, much more of this multi-talented person. He is going to see much more of the media. Right now, an uneasy truce has developed. Its time for a genuine appreciation to become the order of the day. Vijay rightly deserves a second chance.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.