Golf

Vijay Singh feels the pressure in Fiji

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At the age of 51 and with three major titles to his name you wouldn't expect Vijay Singh to feel the pressure on the golf course.

However, Singh is returning to the land of his birth for the Fiji International, the inaugural $1 million tournament that starts this week at the Natadola Bay Golf Course.

Homecoming

It will be the first time the Florida based golfer has returned to Fiji in eight years as he goes in search of his first title in six years.

But Singh admits he is feeling the pressure of competing in Fiji and is very much looking forward to it.

"It's the first time in 35 years that I've played a tournament here," he told a news conference at the course on Wednesday.

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"I'm excited to play here, there's going to be a lot of pressure trying to play here and win.

"I'm going to try and win this tournament and play the best I can, so that's the pressure I have to deal with."

The tournament is co-sanctioned by the Australian PGA and the OneAsia tour and if Singh doesn't triumph in the event, he can't have any complaints about the course.

His own course

Singh returned to the island nation in 2005 for the first time in nine years to design the Natadola Bay Golf Course. Whilst in Fiji he took the opportunity to appeal for the indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians to live together in harmony after years of communal tension.

Singh admits that after building the course and his work helping the island unite he is recognised a lot more in Fiji.

"A lot more people recognise me this time around than when I came here before to build the golf course," he added.

"And it was nice. I rode around my old stomping grounds, where I grew up, the golf course where I grew up, the house where I grew up and it was nice."

Dry spell

Singh was world number one for 32 weeks during 2004 and 2005 but hasn't had a professional win since 2008. But he showed some form during last week's US PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky when he finished in a tie for 36th. Singh is without doubt his country's most successful sportsman of all time with his two US PGA wins along with a US Masters win to go with his 50 career titles.

Singh is hoping that the Fiji international can be the catalyst that inspires young Fijians to attempt to emulate his success. However, Singh revealed his disappointment when it was announced that local golfers would have to progress through a special qualifying event to enter to Fiji International.

"I was very surprised about that," he said. "I think they should have given the Fiji local golfers at least five spots without qualifying.

"It is a tournament in Fiji and in any other country they would give five to 10 spots to the local golfers."

Family affair

Joining Singh in the competition is brother Krishna in what feels like a family event for the 28 times winner on the US PGA Tour.

"Everyone seems to be like family again, I meet somebody and they remember me from 15 years," he added.

"Hopefully they come out here and watch me play. It's not too many years left for me to go out here and play at the level I can play and win golf tournaments."

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Topics:
PGA Tour
Golf

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