Vijay Singh Hook Line and Winker

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HONOLULU -- It was a Vijay Singh I had never seen.
 
Four hours earlier, almost to the minute, a Singh none of us had seen in his monster year that was 2004, hit a wicked hook off the 13th tee on the Sunday of the Mercedes Championships. And it cost him the golf tournament when a triple bogey ensued.
 
So much for taking the left side of the golf course out of play. Vijay Singh isn't Hogan yet.
 
But now here Singh was ambling down the aisle to the rear of a crowded, commercial, open-seating island hopper bound from Maui to Honolulu.
 
Somebody mentioned the errant drive.
 
'I'd just about forgotten it,' Singh said, continuing on to the back of the plane. 'And then you had to remind me.'
 
He delivered the line like an actor who knew his audience. There was mild irritation in his voice. But there was an underlay of self-deprecation. And there was timing.
 
Judging by the amused reaction, very few were unaware of who he was or what had happened at Kapalua that afternoon. Stuart Appleby, the winner also happened to be a passenger. There were caddies, heading for the Sony Open, on board as well. And everybody was chuckling.
 
It was a Vijay Singh I had never seen.
 
Two days earlier Appleby had referred to Singh affectionately, and in pure colloquial Aussie-ese, as 'the big coconut crusher from Fiji.'
 
Hadn't heard that one before, either.
 
I have seen Vijay Singh be mean, cheap, brilliant, silly, moody and helpful. But the Vijay Singh on the plane last Sunday night was one I'd love to see more of at the golf course.
 
I won't be holding my breath.
 
This was just another early scene from a 2005 season on the moveable feast of golf and life that is the PGA Tour. Its poignance was way too short-lived. Singh won't be cozying up to the media any time soon. And he will pick his spots to make light of his own self on those rare occasions when he isn't booked on a private jet.
 
'How often do those guys fly commercial like that,' a man asked me in the jetway after we landed.
 
Not often.
 
The only thing more memorable last Sunday evening in Honolulu was the warm round of spontaneous applause a small group of uniformed American servicemen received when their presence was announced in the waiting area of a flight to Los Angeles.
 
There is war and terror and the aftermath of a nearly-apocalyptic tsunami in our global consciousness at the moment.
 
So a golfer sniping it off the tee under pressure isn't the worst thing in the world. And this time the golfer Vijay Singh knew it. So he made people smile.
 
Nicely played.
 
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