World Golf Hall of Fame Profile: Vijay Singh
By all objective standards Vijay Singh is richly deserving of induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. But the path he traveled in getting there is uniquely his. As a youngster growing up in the South Pacific island of Fiji, Vijay would throw his clubs across his back, crouch down and walk 100 yards in darkness through flowing drainage pipes.
"Going under the airport runway through a drainage ditch to get to the golf club, those are things you don't really think about when you are doing it," Singh said. "Why walk three miles around when it takes you five minutes to get across?" Singh was driven from a very early age to work as hard as it took to become a successful professional golfer. His father, Mohan, who worked at the Nadi airport and was a captain at the golf club, got Vijay involved in golf when he was 11. Vijay's two older brothers were both better golfers than himself, which inspired him to improve.
His father gave his son one solid piece of advice as a young golfer - only model himself after other "tall and lanky" golfers. Singh took that advice to heart, and that's why seeing a swing sequence of Tom Weiskopf in Golf Digest in 1977 had such an influence on his swing.
Singh dropped out of school at 16 to concentrate on playing golf. It was during that time that he further cemented the incredible work ethic he maintains. "I think the thing that has separated me is that I would do whatever it took," Singh said in Golf Digest in 2005. "I did that from a young age, and it gave me the toughness. I didn't have any money, and I wasn't going to get any pocket money from my dad. He had six kids and in Fiji the taxes were about 50 percent, and we never really lived comfortably. I understand how much pressure that put on him. My dad was a tough guy. He had to be. And to play golf, I had to be tough, too."
Vijay turned professional in 1982 playing all over the world, amassing 22 career individual titles in such disparate places as Malaysia, France, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Spain, Germany, England, South Africam Sweden, Taiwan and Canada.
Singh broke onto the PGA TOUR in the spring of 1993, when he would win the Buick Classic on the way to claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Between that point and his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, Singh had won 29 times on the PGA TOUR, including three major championships.
In 1998 he won the PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Redmond, Washington with scores of 70-66-67-68 - 271 for a two stroke victory. Twenty months later, Vijay captured his second major at The Masters in 2000 by three strokes over Ernie Els.
In 2004, Vijay put together one of the finest ever years on the PGA TOUR - 9 victories, including his second PGA Championship at beautiful, but tough, Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. He made 28 cuts out of 29 events entered, finishing in the top 25 on 24 of those occassions enroute to becoming the first person to win more than $10,000,000 in a single season.
In 2004 Vijay finished out the second consecutive year as the leading money winner. He would sit on top of the Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 32 weeks spanning both 2004 and 2005.
Vijay has nearly $50,000,000 in career earnings, placing him second on the all time PGA TOUR Career Money List.
Singh's golf swing is a marvel: incredibly limber with a strong back that permits a full, fluid and extremely powerful, yet highly accurate, motion through the ball. Hoganesque in his devotion to practice and improving his considerable skills, Vijay is often the last person to leave the practice ground after completing his round.
From humble beginnings, Vijay has earned his entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame through perseverance, hard work and sterling play.