PALM HARBOR, Fla. – On a chilly, blustery day that made for difficult scoring conditions, Vijay Singh walked off the Innisbrook Copperhead course with a 2-under 69, his name firmly entrenched on the leaderboard.
He had to have felt pretty good about the result, but that notion couldn’t be confirmed.
After the round, Singh was approached by a PGA Tour media official who asked if he would speak to an awaiting contingent of reporters.
“I have no comment,” he responded.
When the media official asked if he alone could have a few comments only about the round and nothing else, Singh still didn’t acquiesce.
“Sorry,” he said. “I have no comment.”
It should be noted that Singh was polite and cordial in his response. He apparently didn’t mind being asked a question about whether he could be asked questions, but he also made it clear that he didn’t want to answer any.
All of which only adds to the awkwardness of his current situation – whatever that situation may be.
On Jan. 29, news broke that Singh had revealed to Sports Illustrated that he had been using deer-antler spray, which reportedly contains IGF-1, a chemical banned under the PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Policy.
“When I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances,” he said via statement that day. “I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.”
Since then, Singh hasn’t spoken publicly about deer antler spray, a possible suspension, his game or anything else. He finished T-50 at Pebble Beach on Feb. 10. No comment. He turned 50 on Feb. 24. No comment. And yes, he shot an opening-round 69 on Thursday. Once again, no comment.
The result is reigning confusion about his situation, which may or may not have already been settled. Compounding the mystery is the fact that PGA Tour executives won’t speak about the matter, either. Not until the case is closed and then only if he is deemed guilty.
“There's no time urgency here,” commissioner Tim Finchem explained last month. “If action is taken, it'll be reported. If no action is taken, it won't be reported, and that'll be the end of that. I'm not concerned about that.”
Which means that if Singh isn’t suspended – or even if he is appealing a suspension – and neither he nor anyone from the PGA Tour will address it, then the rest of us are left guessing about any progress or possible conclusion to the situation.
As if that isn’t complicated enough, there’s this: According to the Anti-Doping Policy, “Sanctions on players may include disqualification, including loss of results, points and prize money from the date the antidoping rule violation was found to occur forward.”
Translated into layman’s terms, that means there’s a possibility Singh could parlay his strong opening-round performance here at the Tampa Bay Championship into a victory on Sunday, only to later be punished by suspension that would wipe out the result.
Of course, there’s that little word in the policy’s language – “may” – which renders it all completely nebulous.
To summarize, Singh used a substance which is believed to contain a chemical banned by the PGA Tour. We know he hasn’t been suspended, because he’s still competing and because the Tour hasn’t made any formal announcement. But we don’t know that he has been cleared, because the Tour won’t say if that is the case.
Meanwhile, Singh won’t comment about anything, from deer-antler spray to a potential suspension to his opening round this week.
It was probably a good one, probably one in which the 50-year-old was pleased with his own performance. We can only guess, though, as the situation becomes more awkward every time he tees it up.