Vijay Pleads for Media Understanding


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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