There’s been plenty of talk on the Web about Vijay Singh and his [photopress:VIJAY.jpg,full,alignright]onrunning battle with the press following his win at Bay Hill on the weekend.
Most stories pick up the same seemingly ridiculous incident to raise their points — that Singh parked in the media parking despite there being lots of spots for players. I guess it was an issue of “he could, so he did.”
Anyway, the Daily Mail’s Derek Lawrenson picks it up from here:
Singh was at it again on Sunday morning at Bay Hill. Pulling into the parking lot, he would have seen acres of spots reserved for players alongside half a dozen reserved for the press. Guess where Vijay parked?
When his female companion was politely asked if the car could be parked in a correct spot, the attendant was left to reflect in no uncertain terms that this was Vijay Singh’s vehicle and it could be parked wherever he liked.
But if a parking incident wasn’t enough, there’s more, including a nasty incident after the Masters:
“Kiss my ass, everybody,” was Singh’s pay-off line as he left the gates of Augusta National after claiming the Masters in 2000. Woe betide if you don’t.
Singh still doesn’t talk to Doug Ferguson, the highly-respected golf writer for the Associated Press, owing to the fact he once quoted him accurately.
“I hope she misses the cut,” said Singh when asked about Annika Sorenstam’s participation in the 2003 Colonial Invitational.
According to Lawrenson, most of Singh’s distrust apparently stems from the cheating incident that Jim Rutledge called him on more than a decade ago:
Singh bemoans the fact that journalists still refer to a murky, unproven allegation of cheating in Indonesia in the mid-1980s. He is right about that. The statute of limitations has long passed.
The statute may have passed, but writers still bring it up. It is a testament to the fact that cheating is probably the most serious thing you can do in pro golf. It is also a testament to the fact Singh isn’t pleasant to deal with in media terms and therefore the media — as a way of getting back at him — continue to bring up the incident.
That’s Palm Beach Post writer Craig Dolch’s point:
But Singhs story doesnt resonate like it should for two main reasons: 1) Singh doesnt trust the media (no doubt a result of the cheating charge and subsequent negative publicity) and rarely gives reporters true insight into his life and past; 2) Singhs sometimes hostile approach to the media turns off many reporters.
Dolch also raises the issue of parking-gate again:
Another tale, albeit a minor one, occurred last weekend at Bay Hill. For some reason, Singh kept parking his car in a media parking spot instead of where the players park. Why? Who knows? A parking attendant told me Saturday morning how he and several of his fellow volunteers had gotten into a heated argument with Singh because after he was told he couldnt park his car there, but he did so, anyway.
Dolch concludes it is hard not to admire Singh’s notorious work ethic, but at the same time it is awfully challenging to see much positive about the man himself.
All of this contrasts with the fact Singh is generally well liked by his peers on tour and pro-am partners find him friendly and affable. He might bring some of the issues with the press upon himself, but the players don’t care. Here’s an example from Lorne Rubenstein’s column in the Globe:
He also helps other players. Mike Weir once asked Singh to show him how to play a shot of about 30 yards to the green. Singh rotated his body back and through so that the grip end of the club seemed stuck in his navel. There wasn’t any excess movement. The shot became a staple of Weir’s short game and helped him win the 2003 Masters.
I’ve actually never had a issue with Singh, though he consistently comes to the Canadian Open, unlike most others of his stature. In 2004, when he rallied in rain soaked conditions on Friday at the tournament, shooting a remarkable 28 on the front nine and eventually taking the title from Mike Weir, there were suggestions he wouldn’t bother to talk to the press. In fact, the PGA Tour media handler asked him following his second round about whether he would scrum with the media or come to the tent. Singh said he’d come to the tent, but the media person didn’t actually believe him, thinking instead that he said that as a way of avoiding the media altogether. He came to the tent, flopped into the couch and answered a handful of question before departing. Of course, he didn’t have anything much to say — but that isn’t the point.
Of course, in my mind this is coloured by a first hand account of an encounter with Singh that was told to me by someone working at the Canadian Open in the late 1990s when the event was at the Abbey. Singh, a tireless range hound, was hitting balls into the early evening. One of the assistant pros working at the event for ClubLink was in charge of dealing with the range. With Singh looking low on balls, the pro grabbed a bag of Singh’s brand and walked over quietly, depositing them near where Singh and his caddy were working and began to walk away.
Suddenly Singh turned and snapped: “What the f**k do you think you’re doing?”
The pro was a bit stunned, thinking he was doing Singh and his caddy a favour.
“Get those balls and get the f**k out of here,” Singh said and the pro sheepishly grabbed the bag and departed.
Now maybe Singh was having a tough day. Sure the pro probably shouldn’t have approached him. But all things being equal, it might have been easier to have simply said, “Sorry, I don’t need those at the moment.”
Which leads me to believe, like many golf pros, Singh now lives in a world of prestige and wealth. He’s worked hard to achieve it, but along the way he appears to have lost touch with where he came from.