Going Up

Tariq Engineer

It’s been a long, hard struggle. It’s been a long time coming. There were the cheating allegations. There were the years spent beating balls in the jungles of Borneo. A lesser man would have crumbled under the strain, but Vijay Singh is made of sterner stuff. The trials and tribulations he faced only made him more determined to succeed. And succeed he has, in spectacular fashion.Singh is currently on one of golf’s all-time best streaks; having just posted his 12th consecutive top ten finish last weekend. His win at Pebble Beach leaves him just two short of the modern record for consecutive top-tens held by (who else) Jack Nicklaus. It’s a feat even Tiger hasn’t come close to matching.

What’s more, Vijay has 3 wins from his last 9 events, and sits atop the current PGA Tour money list after topping last year’s list with over 7 million dollars in prize money. Singh’s win also moved him into second place on the all-time career money leaders list, with just under 28 million dollars.

It’s a far cry from Lautoka, Fiji, where Singh was born.

And Singh says he isn’t done yet. He has set his sights on being ranked the number one golfer in the world. No easy task, since one Mr. Tiger Woods has occupied that position for as long as anyone can remember. Others have threatened to provide a rivalry for Woods, most notably Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, only to falter in the end. Singh, however, may prove to be a different proposition.

Nobody works harder at his golf game than Singh. His practice sessions leave the ground scarred by 3-foot long trenches. Like Ben Hogan, he looks ‘to find it in the dirt’. Like Hogan, he is happiest when he is practicing. It was the pursuit of perfection that drove Hogan, and that now drives Singh.

“I just enjoy hitting good shots,” he said. “I told my caddie a long time ago — I hit a shot in one tournament, it was great, just the way I want to hit it — I told him, ‘If I keep doing it, I don’t need to play.’ It’s such a great feeling. That’s what I like to do on the range. It doesn’t happen … maybe a few times in a whole session … but that’s what I’m trying to achieve.”

And if he gets there, he just might find himself the number one golfer in the world as well.