Former FedExCup champion is not slowing down, looks to return to winning ways at Bay Hill Club
Vijay Singh doesn’t believe in aging gracefully. More to the point, the way he continues to work at his golf game and to keep himself fit, it appears that he doesn’t believe in aging at all. Or, at least, he isn’t about to submit to the idea of aging or slowing down, not even as he nears his 50th birthday.
“My body is fit, my mind is good. I’ve had a few little (injury) issues of late, but, overall, I’m feeling good and I’m still excited about playing golf,” Singh said. “I still like working hard and trying to make myself better all the time. I’m not about to change my approach now, except maybe I am a little smarter now than before.”
Singh, who turns 47 on February 22, has reason to keep doing what works. Though he didn’t win last year when he battled a right knee injury that required two surgical procedures, the native of Fiji has collected 34 PGA Tour titles in his career, including the 2007 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. He also owns three major titles: the 2000 Masters and two PGA Championships, in 1998 and 2004, the latter at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, site of this year’s PGA.
Singh’s victory drought dates back to the 2008 DeutscheBank Championship, a triumph that propelled him to the FedExCup title in the second year of the season-long competition, but a return to the Bay Hill Club & Lodge might be just the place to regain that winning form. “I’ll be there for sure,” he said of the 32nd edition of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, scheduled for March 22-28 at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida.
“I have some pretty high expectations. I feel like I have a lot more winning to do, so not winning doesn’t make me very happy, even if I’m playing OK,” Singh said.
Few tournaments have been kinder to the hard-working Singh than the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. Singh’s first start as a member of the PGA TOUR came at the 1993 edition at Bay Hill, when he posted the first of his three runner-up finishes. Including his 2007 victory, Singh has finished in the top 25 12 times at Bay Hill, and he has never missed the cut in his 17 appearances, which have come consecutively. He is a collective 97 under par, and until last year, when he wasn’t quite 100 percent, Singh had finished under par in every start.
No wonder he is a perennial favorite in the $6 million tournament.
“It’s a ball-striker’s golf course, and I like that,” Singh, a former No. 1 player in the world, said about Bay Hill’s Championship Course, which underwent a significant renovation last year. “You really have to drive it well and hit your irons good. I’ve felt comfortable there from the start. My record, I guess, has been pretty good through the years.
“I think everyone knows how I feel about Arnold, and how much I enjoy playing in his tournament,” Singh added. “I always feel like I owe it to Arnie to go back every year after he gave me a spot, so it’s always on my calendar. You know, as you get a little older you want to pick and choose a little more on your schedule. But Bay Hill has always been one of my favorite events.”
He hopes to keep returning to Bay Hill as long as he can, even with 50 and the Champions Tour approaching. “Age doesn’t matter; it’s absolutely just a number for me right now,” he said. “(But) the body takes a lot of toll. They say the older you get, the harder you have to work at it, and that’s been my motto. We’ll see how long I can keep going.”
For tickets or for more information, log on to the tournament web site, www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.comor call the Bay Hill ticket office at 407-876- 7774 or toll free at 1-866-764-4843.Tournament proceeds benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.