Vijay Singh, also known as the “The Big Fijian” is one of the biggest personalities the world of golf has ever seen. He rose through the ranks to have a number one spot for many years, but recent circumstances have seen him fall again. We’re going to look back at his history, early career, successes, and recent downfall to see what makes him such an icon in golf.
Every now and again, a personality bursts onto the golf scene and makes an instant name for themselves. Vijay Singh was one such golfer, and the Indo-Fijian sports star is now one of the most recognized faces in the world of golf.
With early starts in his home country of Fiji, Vijay had an instant love for golf and a keen determination that would one day make him the number one golfer in the world. We’re here to look back at how he got his start, the memorable achievements he’s made, as well as some of the failures and controversies that he’s been involved in.
Regardless of where his current standing is, there’s no doubt that Vijay Singh will forever be remembered as one of the sport’s best players and most fascinating characters. Take a look back with us at what made him such a huge success and where his future plans might lie.
Early Life and Passion for Golf
Vijay Singh was born in Lautoka, Fiji in 1963 and spent his childhood growing up in Nadi. His father was an avid golfer and airport technician who taught Vijay everything he needed to know about the game, and his love for it was immediate. Vijay would spend his days practicing at the Nadi airport golf course whenever he could, be it after school or on the weekends.
Singh said that when he was younger he used to play with coconuts as he couldn’t afford golf balls. He also enjoyed a range of other sports including rugby, snooker, and cricket which further ignited his passion for the thrill of a good game.
Vijay has always had a legendary work ethic and this was something that he took with him from childhood into his professional years. Always seen practicing before and after tournaments, even when he was the world number one, proving just how dedicated he was to the sport.
Beginnings of His Professional Career
When Singh turned professional in 1982, he moved quickly. By 1983 he had joined the PGA Tour and in 1984 he won the Malaysian PGA Championship. However, he would soon face his first career controversy when it was alleged that he had doctored his scorecard on the Asian Tour in 1985.
Although Singh denied anything of the sort, he was banned from the tour. Further investigation into the scandal found out that he did indeed later the scorecard and was also guilty of other allegations, and so he received a lifetime ban from the Asian PGA.
However, Singh continued to deny the claims and felt he was mistreated because of inner workings of the Asian PGA. From there, he was forced to take a regular job in Malaysia at a golf club and continued to practice. Once he’d saved enough money, he tried to resurrect his career and enter into new tournaments.
In 1988, he won the Nigerian Open and became the first man of color to ever win the event. After his victory, he entered the European Tour Qualifying School and got in on his second attempt. By 1989, Singh had scored his first European Tour Title at the Italy Volvo Open Championship. Another four wins that year and a tie, plus other notable achievements in Africa and Asia started to earn him a lot of attention.
Major Achievements and World Recognition
Singh won his first PGA Tour Event in 1993, the Buick Classic, and landed the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award. He had to spend 1994 on the sidelines due to injury but returned in 1995 to win the event again, as well as the Phoenix Open. In 1997, he won the Buick Open and Memorial Tournament and was headed for further victories.
1998 saw more wins for Singh, including the PGA Championship at Sammamish, Washington and then hew on The Masters in 2000 just beating out Ernie Els. The following year he finished fourth on the money list and achieve 14 Top-10 finishes for the season.
2003 was a huge year for Singh with four tournaments under his belt and now first place on the money list with $7,573,907 in winnings. That year, he only just lost the vote for the PGA of America’s Player of the Year to Tiger Woods, even though he had beaten him on the money list.
By 2004, it was clear that Singh showed no signs of slowing down. His win at Pebble Beach was the first for the year and his 16th of all time for a PGA event. Winning the final major of 2004, the PGA Championship was another huge success.
His next big win at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts would finally push Tiger Woods off his number one spot on the Official World Golf Ranking and move Singh into his place. After turning 40, Singh won 22 more times on the PGA Tour and beat the record held by Sam Snead. The longevity of his career and numerous successes have earned him a permanent exemption on the PGA Tour.
Recent Downfall and Controversy
Following years of success, Singh started to decline in 2008 as he had to withdraw from numerous events due to injury. For many years after this he had numerous failed surgery attempts and tried to make a comeback on tour but it never worked out.
Along with his failing health, Singh was also involved in a number of controversies. He admitted to using banned deer antler spray in 2013, had a bad relationship as the Goodwill Ambassador for Fiji, and made sexist remarks against female golfer in Annika Sorenstam. Golf Digest even labeled him as “pro golf’s bad guy” and it’s a reputation that has continued to follow him.
Interesting Facts About Vijay Singh
A golf professional with this much personality seems to live their life in the spotlight, but there are still some things you might not know about Vijay Singh. We’ve uncovered some interesting facts about the Indo-Fijian golfer with some that may surprise.
Future Plans for the Golf Legend
Despite his many controversies and struggling with injuries for some time, it appears that Vijay Singh is making a comeback on the circuit. He recently won a senior major at the Constellation Senior Player’s Championship, and fans are hoping he can replicate the success he had in his 40’s now that he’s in his 50’s.
Whatever the future holds for Singh, there’s no doubt of his serious talent and incredible rise from the bottom to the world number one. Even if he’s been shrouded with his fair share of controversy, there’s no denying his talent and huge personality as one of golf’s biggest names.