Vijay Singh

Published on   2023-04-17 by Kai

Vijay Singh (Fiji Hindi: विजय सिंह pronounced [ˈʋɪdʒəj sɪ̃ɦ]; born February 22, 1963), nicknamed "The Big Fijian," is a Fijian professional golfer. He has won 34 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including three major championships: a Masters title (2000) and two PGA Championships (1998, 2004). Singh is the first player of South Asian descent to win a major championship. In 2006, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

In 2004 and 2005, Singh was ranked number one in the official world rankings for 32 weeks. Vijay was the 12th player to reach No. 1 in the world rankings and was the only new world No. 1 in the decade of the 2000s. Singh was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 2003, 2004 and 2008, and also won the FedEx Cup in 2008.

Turned professional in 1982

Two years after turning professional, Singh won the Malaysian PGA Championship in 1984. His career was thrown into crisis, however, when he was suspended from the Asia Golf Circuit in 1985 over allegations that he had falsified his scorecard. It was alleged that he had lowered his score from one over to one under in order to make the cut.

But Singh denies this, saying that in any case it should only have resulted in a disqualification from the event and not a suspension. After the tour's investigation into this and other alleged violations proved correct, Asian PGA Tour President John Bender banned Singh from playing on the Asian PGA Tour for life.

First title on European Tour

In 1989, Singh won his first European Tour title at the Volvo Open Championship in Italy and finished the tournament ranked 24th on the European Tour Order of Merit, finally putting his early troubles behind him. In 1989 he won four times, at the Volvo Open di Firenze, the Ivory Coast Open, the Nigerian Open and the Zimbabwe Open. He also finished tied 23rd in the Open Championship. On the European Tour he won again in 1990 and twice in 1992. During this time he also won several tournaments in Asia and Africa.

First PGA victory at the Buick Classic

Singh joined the PGA Tour in 1993 and won his first PGA Tour tournament, the Buick Classic, in a playoff against Mark Wiebe. That victory led to him being named the 1993 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. After struggling with back and neck problems in 1994, he returned to win the Buick Classic and the Phoenix Open again in 1995. After playing well (but not winning) in 1996, he won both the Memorial Tournament and the Buick Open in 1997.

In 1998, Singh won the PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, with a 70-66-67-68 over the four days (the 66 set a course record) to capture his first major title. In 2000, he won the Masters by three strokes over Ernie Els.

Fourth in the money standings without a PGA victory.

In 2001, Singh did not win on the PGA Tour, but finished the year with a record 14 top-10 finishes and was fourth in the money standings with $3,440,829. In 2002, he won the Shell Houston Open at TPC at The Woodlands, setting a new tournament record for 72 holes with 266 strokes, and the Tour Championship, which he won by two strokes over Charles Howell III.

2003 proved to be a very successful year for Singh. He won four tournaments, claimed 18 top-10 finishes and topped the PGA Tour money list with $7,573,907 (and had the second-highest single-year earnings in PGA Tour history), surpassing Tiger Woods by $900,494, even though Singh played 27 tournaments compared to Woods' 18.

09-Hole Scoring Record

Singh set a 9-hole scoring record at the U.S. Open with a 29 on the back nine of his second round and won the Phoenix Open, EDS Byron Nelson Championship, John Deere Classic and FUNAI Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. He narrowly lost to Tiger Woods in the PGA of America's Player of the Year voting.

However, the 2003 season was also marked by controversy surrounding Singh in connection with that year's event at the Bank of America Colonial. LPGA star Annika Sörenstam became the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias at the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

In that context, Singh was incorrectly quoted as saying that Sörenstam didn't belong on the men's tour and that he wouldn't play if he was paired with her. In reality, he said that he would not play with her because his playing partner was chosen from the pool of former champions.

Tiger Woods overtaken

On September 6, 2004, Singh won the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts. With this victory, he overtook Tiger Woods at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking and ended Woods' streak of 264 weeks at the top of the golf world.

Singh finished the 2004 season with a career-best nine wins, 18 top-10 finishes and record earnings of $10,905,166 and was named the PGA Tour and PGA of America Player of the Year. The former award is determined by a vote of active PGA Tour players.

Struggle to be ranked No. 1 in the world

Despite a victory early in 2005, Singh lost his No. 1 position in the world rankings when Tiger Woods won the Ford Championship at Doral on March 6, but he regained it just two weeks later after finishing in the top three for three consecutive weeks.

After Woods' win at the 2005 Masters, Singh again lost his spot as No. 1 in the world rankings, finishing fifth. In April, he became the youngest living person to be elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame with 56% of the vote.

All-time Tour winner at age 40-plus.

Early in the 2007 season, Singh won the Mercedes-Benz Championship, the first FedEx Cup event in PGA Tour history. With that victory, Singh earned his 18th Tour win at age 40-plus, surpassing Sam Snead for the most wins at age 40-plus and becoming the all-time winner at age 40-plus.

He is the second man, after Tiger Woods, to earn $60 million on the PGA Tour. His 34 career victories are the most by a non-American player on the PGA Tour and place him 14th on the all-time leaderboard.

540 weeks in the top 10

He spent more than 540 weeks in the top 10 of golf's official world rankings. Singh's longevity on the PGA Tour and his number of wins have earned him a lifetime exemption to the PGA Tour.

Singh had a mediocre 2009 season with no top-5 finishes and ended the year with his lowest-ever ranking on the PGA Tour money list at 68th. His poor form continued in 2010 and resulted in him finishing 66th on the PGA Tour money list. He fell out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since the early 1990s.

Banned substance used

On Jan. 30, 2013, Singh admitted to using Hirschantler spray without knowing it was a banned substance. The PGA Tour later dropped the case against him.

In March 2019, Singh shot his way into the final group in the final round of the Honda Classic. Singh played even-par and finished sixth, three strokes behind winner Keith Mitchell. At 56, he nearly became the oldest winner in PGA Tour history.

Practicing Hindu

Singh is of Indian-Fijian descent and practices Hinduism. He was born in Lautoka, Fiji, and grew up in Nadi and resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Singh is known for his meticulous preparation. He often travels well in advance of the tournament and stays long after his rounds to work on his game at the driving range and putting greens.

Previous article in the series: Billy Horschel

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