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Vijay Singh out to win titles not friends

Twice winner Vijay Singh made it clear on Wednesday he is at this week's U.S. PGA Championship to win a golf tournament, not to win friends.

"I don't know what I need to do to win you guys (over)," Singh, who will open his title defence on Thursday at Baltusrol Golf Club's Lower Course, told a news conference. "I'm not going to beg.

"I'm not the guy to get down on my knees and say: 'write good things about me'.

"I'm not going to do that. I have not done anything to not win your confidence. I'm a player, I'm an athlete.

"I go out there to play golf tournaments and I speak my mind and I'm very honest about it," added the 42-year-old Florida resident, who won the U.S. PGA Championship at Sahalee in 1998 and again at Whistling Straits last year.

"I'm not fake like many guys out there."

There is certainly nothing warm and fuzzy about the former nightclub bouncer, who possesses a legendary work ethic and is chasing his fourth career major this week.

Usually the first player to arrive on the practice range in the morning and the last to leave, the smooth-swinging Fijian appears to have little room for anything else but golf.

However, despite his remarkable achievement in becoming the world's top-ranked player for much of the last 12 months after starting out as a lowly club professional in Borneo in the 1980s, fans have been slow to embrace the single-minded Fijian.

Last year, Singh produced one of the greatest seasons in PGA Tour history, winning nine titles and piling up record earnings of $10,905,166.

He also ended Tiger Woods's five-year reign as world number one by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship last September.

However, the Fijian's occasional outspoken nature and inherent shyness has not always impressed fans, sponsors or even the golf media.

In 2003, he refused to speak to American reporters following his criticism of top women's player Annika Sorenstam being invited to challenge the men at the Colonial tournament in May of that year.

Although this should not have been a factor, it might have gone against the Fijian in the balloting for the 2003 PGA Tour player-of-the-year award, where he was edged out by Woods.

"I've done what I need to do and I have to worry about what I feel and not about what other people feel," said world number two Singh, a four-times winner on the 2005 PGA Tour.

"I feel great about my game, myself and what I've done. I'm not really concerned how you guys feel about me."

Although the party Singh hosts for his peers each year during the prestigious Players Championship at Ponte Vedra in Florida is one of the season's most popular social events, the public regard him as a private, almost reclusive, person.

Much has been made of his rivalry with Woods and a relationship between the two that has been described as cordial if chilly.

Singh, whose clinched his second major at the 2000 U.S. Masters, underlined his respect for Woods on Wednesday but stopped short of hinting at any friendship.

"We don't go out to dinner," he said. "But I don't go out for dinner with 95 percent of the guys on the Tour, or maybe 99 per cent of the guys. So why single out Tiger?

"I've never had a drink with Phil Mickelson. Why doesn't anyone talk about that ... or Retief (Goosen) or whoever? Don't make a big deal out of nothing."

 

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