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Tariq Engineer

I’m tired of all the Vijay Singh bashing I’ve been seeing in the national media (read ESPN.com). Yes, Vijay isn’t Tiger Woods, but then who is? Tiger was raised to be the best golfer in the world, and possibly the best ever.But can you imagine Tiger hitting balls in the jungles of Borneo in between giving private lessons for a pittance? I certainly can’t. And I think this is why so many people in America don’t like Vijay – he is the anti-Tiger.

Tiger was a superstar before he even turned professional. He won his first major (the Masters) at 21. Vijay was 30 when he joined the PGA Tour. Of course Vijay won his first year on tour, but he certainly wasn’t a superstar. He’d had success playing on the European Tour, but nothing that ever indicated he would someday become the best golfer in the world.

And that is precisely why we should be embracing Vijay. He is where he is because of sheer hard work and determination, an example that everyone can relate to. You think the jungles of Borneo gave a damn about Vijay’s image? The only way Vijay was going to make it was to become the best golfer he could become, and this is precisely what he has done. What is even more amazing is that he is doing this in his early 40s. No one has had two seasons like Vijay’s in his 40s. Not Nicklaus, not Palmer, not Hogan. No one. And to top it all off he is doing it in the Tiger era.

Yet people claim that he is boring, even going so far as to say that his being the No. 1 golfer in the world is bad for golf. I say these people don’t know what they are talking about because their view is America-centric. For example I know firsthand that Vijay has done much to increase interest in the game of golf in India, with a certain Indian professional going so far as to say that Vijay had given him the self-belief to succeed.

Which brings me to another point, one I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about. In a predominantly white sport, the last two No. 1 golfers in the world haven’t been, well, white. This is a development that can only be good for the game globally. Yet instead of focusing on the positive, people seem intent on finding reasons to criticize Vijay. As a long-time Vijay fan I simply couldn’t stay quiet any longer. Here is a man who has painstakingly worked his way to the top, one agonizing step at a time. Let’s applaud him for who he is, instead of attempting to tear him down for who he isn’t.

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