Fiji: He has won more than 50 professional titles across a career spanning more than 30 years, but Vijay Singh is still feeling the pressure to perform back home in Fiji.
Receiving a hero’s welcome on arrival for the inaugural Fiji International, it is the first time 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. A lot of people knew me around there.”
The US$1 million Fiji International in jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia and will be Fiji’s first internationally broadcast golf tournament.
Singh, regarded as Fiji’s most successful sportsman, has supported the Fiji International concept since it was first ignited more than 12 months ago.
A three-time Major winner, former world number one and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, all the experience in the world can’t mask the pressure Singh is feeling to perform well in front of his home crowd.
He said: “It’s the first time in 35 years that I’ve played a tournament here. 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 tied 37th 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.”