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A Quick 9: Vijay Singh

Vijay Singh is the defending champion at this week's Wachovia Championship. Last year he fired a final-round 66, which included four consecutive birdies to start the back nine, earning a share of the lead and then winning a three-person playoff on the fourth extra hole. It was the third win of the year for Singh in 2005. We caught up with Vijay recently for a Quick 9...

1. What's the number one swing fault you see in the amateurs you play with and what tip would you give them to correct it?
A lot of faults come from poor alignment. If you set up wrong, a lot of times you try to make adjustments with your swing and that's where you get an over-the-top swing and pull hooks. Most Tour pros can make adjustments on the fly, but faults with amateurs are magnified. We're only with the amateurs for 5-6 hours and can apply a "band-aid" fix to their swing but they really need to spend time with a  teaching professional to fix the problem.

2. Is there one tip someone gave you along the way that maybe you go back to when you're not playing well?
I've had so many over the years but I think one of the best is to focus on rythmn, complete your backswing. If you can maintain good rythmn and finish your backswing, you'll be in good shape. When the rythmn changes, that's when the timing changes and when the timing changes, you lose consistency and won't be able to hit the same shot twice.

3. How important is hydration and nutrition and what do you eat and drink during a round?
I try to eat a banana or an apple or an energy bar during the middle of the round. Something to keep your energy up throughout the round. You've got to drink plenty of water and if it's hot, drink a sports drink to replace the electrolytes.

4. How important is it to work out to stay competitive on the PGA TOUR?
It's very important, maybe even more important than people realize. I workout everyday and sometimes twice a day, using weights, bands and medicine balls. I think it's important to know what you're working out for. If you just go out and start lifting a ton of weights you can destroy your entire muscle structure. That's why a trainer is very helpful. They can help you develop a program based on your needs and also make sure you're form is correct so you don't hurt yourself. More than anything, golfers should focus on stretching though.

5. Do you have a pre-round routine that you follow before each tournament?
Whenever I'm in a tournament, I always go to the gym before I play. Sometimes it's pretty early depending on my tee time. I do a lot of stretching, then about 30 minutes of cardio and some work with the weights, bands and medicine balls. I try to do exercises that mimick my golf swing, like throwing the medicine ball, so I get those muscles loose. I do a pretty similar routine each time to ensure my muscles are loose and ready to go.

6. Have you ever been "in the zone" and can you describe it? VS: "The zone" is something that's manufactured by your own thoughts. When you're out on the course, it becomes more about how close you're going to get the ball to the hole, as opposed to where or how you're going to hit it. You get the yardage and stand over the ball without any negative thoughts in your mind. Most often you do it for a round or if you're really comfortable, you can do it for a few weeks, maybe even a month at a time, but it's so hard to stay in it for a long period of time.

Another element of the zone is the ability to tune out. Usually when you're out there, you hear little things like a click of a camera or someone dropping an umbrella, but when you're in the zone, you don't hear anything.

7. With the length and grind of the PGA TOUR season, how do you stay motivated about what you do everyday?
My whole theory about golf is hitting the ball the way you want to hit it. I go to the range for hours and what really keeps me going is hitting the ball how I want to hit it - the distance I expect and the trajectory I want on all my shots. You can't get any more satisfaction that hitting shots exactly how you planned and that's one thing that really keeps me going. The hardest thing is trying to do that on the course week to week so when I'm struggling, I go back to the range and try to hit the shots like I know I can.

Winning also keeps me going. We're out there week to week and I want to win golf tournaments. If I don't win this week, I'm anxious to tee it up next week to try again. 

8. How important is it to have confidence in your golf ball?
You have to know the distance control of your golf ball when you hit it and that's the key to having the best ball. When you hit a wedge, or a knockdown shot or a shot into the wind, you need to know exactly how the ball is going to react. When you hit a fade or a draw, you need to know when it's going to curve, how, and at what distance. It's all about distance control and that's the consistency we look for in golf balls.

9. Has your son Qass expressed any interest in following you to the PGA TOUR someday? Is that something you guys talk about at all?
We've certainly talked about it and he seems interested. You know, he's got the golf swing and the physique to be able to play really good golf. He swings the club better than I did when I was his age, he's stronger and he's got a lot more knowledge about the game of golf, but he needs to make it his top priority and it's not quite there yet. But I definitely think he has the talent to play on Tour someday if he wants.


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