He’s won more than 50 Professional titles across a career spanning more than 30 years, but Vijay Singh (pictured) is still feeling the pressure to perform back home in Fiji.
Receiving a hero’s welcome on arrival for the inaugural Fiji International, it’s the first time that Singh has been back in Fiji since 2006.
“A lot more people recognise me this time around than when I came here before to build the golf course. I think the publicity about the golf course and the tournament probably made people aware that I was coming back,” said Singh who designed this week’s host course at Natadola Bay.
“It was nice. I rode around my old stomping grounds where I grew up, the golf course where I grew up the house where I grew up and it was nice. A lot of people knew me around there as well.”
Singh, regarded as Fiji’s most successful sportsman, has supported the Fiji International concept since it was first ignited over 12 months ago.
A three-time Major winner, former World No. 1 and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, all the experience in the world can’t mask the pressure that Singh is feeling to perform in front of his home crowd.
“It’s the first time in 35 years that I’ve played a tournament here.”
“It’s so relaxing and so many people know me and you still kind of drift away at times. But I think once I get to the driving range to prepare it’s kind of going to be okay.”
“I’m excited to play here, there’s going to be a lot of pressure trying to play here and win. I’m going to try and win this tournament and play the best I can, so that’s the pressure I have to deal with.”
In recent months Singh has shown glimpses of the form that has him touted as one of the game’s best ever, the big Fijian taking confidence from last week’s T37 finish at what was arguably the most competitive Major of the year.
However at 51 Singh says he only has a few more years to compete on the US Tour and hopes to make the most of his time left and hopefully perform in front of his friends and family.
“Everyone seems to be like family again, I meet somebody and they remember me from 15 years. Hopefully they come out here and watch me play. It’s not too many years left for me to go out here and play at the level I can play and win golf tournaments.”
Singh will take to the Natadola fairways for the first round of the Fiji International tomorrow, Thursday 14th August at 7.35am.
He’ll play alongside one of Australia’s most exciting talents Brendan Jones and veteran Aussie Paul Gow.
Gow, also an Australian media personality, will add an exciting new element to the tournament’s broadcast coverage and for the very first time will be ‘micd up’ during play.
It’s hoped the initiative will give fans a unique insight into the tournament from the Professional’s perspective.
The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 14-17 August and will be Fiji’s first internationally broadcast golf tournament.
Being played for a US$1 million prize purse the Fiji International will be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.
Proudly supported by the Fijian Government, the Fiji International is expected to produce a multi-million dollar boost for the Fijian economy, in addition to flow on benefits including the growth of the game in the region.
Designed by Singh, the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course is renowned for its sparkling backdrop of coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean that line 15 out of the 18 championship holes.
Tickets for the Fiji International are now on sale through selected Total Service Stations and RC Manubhai stores.
Total Service Stations selling tickets include: The Total Tavua, Total Ba, Total Lautoka, Total Navutu, Total Namaka, Total Corner Pt, Total Town end (Nadi), Total Sigatoka. Suva areas: Total Lami, Total Hibiscus, Total Flagstaff, Total Laucala, Total Makoi and Total Nausori.
Thanks to the support of the Fijian Government, tickets are available to Fijian residents at a reduced rate when proof of residence is shown.
The cost of a ticket includes a free shuttle bus from the corner of Maro Road and Queens Road junction in Natadola, and 10 per cent discount on bus travel with Sunbeam to the junction (normal bus timetable to apply.)
Children 16 years and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.
For further information visit www.fijiinternational.com.