Sunday, June 1, 2003

Daugherty: Don't hold breath for Singh to talk



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DUBLIN, Ohio - Nobody bugged Vijay Singh on Saturday. Aside from a confrontational "Go, Vijay!" and a cruel and unusual "great putt!" or two, the galleries left him alone. Golf fans are such wimps.

Singh stayed in his Annika-free golf cocoon, his best element. He responded with a credible par-72 in the gusts and drips at the Memorial. The wind and wet made it feel like Ireland. No wonder the place is called Dublin.

Afterward, Singh had nothing to add. "What do you want, bud?" he asked me.

A few questions.

"No."

Since he said he hoped Annika Sorenstam missed the cut at Colonial, Singh hasn't sung in public. He has declined PGA Tour requests to meet the media here, even as he stayed close to the lead.

Who can blame him? If I were he, I wouldn't talk to me, either. Until two weeks ago, Vijay had never uttered a compelling word to the media, not in 11 years on the Tour. Now, he'll never utter another.

We want athletes to be candid. When they are, we slam them. The media nailed Vijay to a cross of his own opinions. But Singh isn't John Rocker or Marge. He's not even Fuzzy Zoeller. We carved him up, though, just the same. We smacked him like he was a Pro V-1 and we were Big Bertha. We in the media don't discriminate. Good for us.

[img]
Vijay Singh chips up to the par-4 second hole.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
Please don't repeat that

Here's what Vijay Singh has learned the last couple weeks, beyond keeping his yap permanently closed: Feel free to add to the public discourse. But if your opinions aren't popular or sanitized, watch your back.

Maybe Vijay Singh is wondering why his clumsy honesty got him such bad publicity. As it is, he has unwittingly entered the lexicon, as a term for male boorishness:

Hereafter, a man of a certain philosophy will be known as a male chauvinist Vijay. Or simply a "Veej." As in, "Did you see that guy take that woman's seat on the bus? What a Veej." The new term can be used as a noun ("Don't go Vijay on me!") or a verb ("Don't Vijay me, buster.").

More likely, Vijay is pondering the 6-footer he missed for birdie at 18 on Saturday.

Singh is the anti-celebrity. He lives in the golf cave, emerging only to get re-gripped. Vijay makes golf-wonk Tiger Woods seem careless. Singh keeps his comments brief, because every unneeded syllable cuts into his practice time. It wasn't surprising when he weighed in on the Annika story. It was astounding.

As a lot, golfers are pleasant and willfully dull. Tiger may be a toastmaster with his buds. With the media, he's like talking to a kitchen appliance. Fuzzy Zoeller was fresh air for years. He took care of that at the Masters a few years ago. We never let him forget it.

Singh won the Byron Nelson Classic five days after he zinged Sorenstam. He took off the following week, then came here, playing the same maddeningly consistent game that has won him 13 tournaments, including the 2000 Masters. Singh finished Saturday five shots off the lead, even after he missed several birdie putts, including a 6-footer at No. 18.

And he remained willfully silent. Say what you want. But it better be nice.

"You rip the guy because he said something and you didn't like what it was?" Paul Azinger wondered recently. "You're not going to hear from him again."

You got that right.

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E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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