And hes capable of prodigious feats with a golf ball.
He drives it phenomenally well ' long, high and straight. When hes driving it as he did, and making putts as well, then hes potentially a worthy challenger to Tiger Woods. Thats the absolute key. Vijay doesnt give up a ton to Tiger off the tee. On the greens its been a different story
Thats why hes spending 30 minutes before every round putting and an hour after. He knows that hes got to close that gap, and is intent on doing it the only way he knows how - by working on it.
Vijay is becoming an athletic specimen, too. He trains with Joey DioVisalvi. Twice a day. Morning and night. They work on core strength and flexibility. And Vijay is super committed
Vijay is ready to challenge himself for the next ten years, DioVisalvi told me
Said Vijay, soon to be 40, I feel really good physically.
So Vijay is training like a football player, banging out two-a-days. Taking care of business on Sunday, when its all about being strong for the stretch run. Finishing the race. Blowing by your opponents. Paul Tesori, his quiet, well-regarded caddy, revealed that Vijays primed for the majors, and he thinks that Vijay believes that he can win more than one. This year.
I brought this up to Vijay, and he smiled and said, Youre probing, arent you?
Athletes dont like to publicly state their more ambitious goals. Those are better left unsaid. But Vijay did acknowledge that hes going to be ready for the majors. And he plans on contending at every one. Thinking like Tiger, like the big, cagey cat.
This is shaping up to be very interesting campaign. Vijay won the Tour Championship to close 2002. Ernie won two to start in Hawaii. And now Vijay scores again in Phoenix.
Sure, there were 18 first-timers last year. And no doubt therell more this season. But its the big boys, the majors champions with all the tools, who are flexing their muscles early, setting the stage for a battle royal when the world champion comes back from minor knee surgery.
Speaking of tools, both Ernie and Vijay are playing the new Titleist Pro V1x. As a result, both guys are longer, if thats possible. Its reasonable to assume that Tiger and his team at Nike have spent a little time in the testing center recently. His return is probably a couple of weeks away, maybe at Torrey Pines for the Buick.
Game on. Soon.