Vijay Singh sets sight on Malaysia win

Fijian star Vijay Singh will renew his golf fling with Malaysia at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic with every intention of ending his season on a winning note.

Golf News: Vijay Singh

The former world number one and three-time Major champion headlines an elite field at the Mines Resort and Golf Club which includes title holder Ben Crane, a trio of Major champions in Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, Camilo Villegas, Robert Allenby and Asia's top stars Thongchai Jaidee, Jeev Milkha Singh and current Order of Merit leader S.S.P. Chowrasia.

The US$6.1 million showpiece, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour, is an event Singh would dearly love to win as he has strong links to Malaysia where he launched his professional career in the country during the early 1980s. 

Furthermore, he is now free from injuries which had curtailed his performances over the past two years.

"I pretty much started my golf career here. My wife is from here and I almost literally started playing professional golf in Malaysia. It was a good honing ground for me," said Singh today. "It feels good. I haven't been here for 10 or 11 years. It's a big event, it's a huge event for the Asian golfers," added the 48-year-old Fijian.

His maiden professional victory came at the 1984 Malaysian PGA Championship and he also won the country's national Open twice in 1992 and 2001, the last time he was in the country. Singh has now won 56 victories worldwide but none since 2008 largely due to his spell out with injuries.

An honorary member of the Asian Tour, Singh was delighted to see the game growing immensely across the region. "So many courses and so many tournaments now," he said. "When we played here, we were trying to look for tournaments to play in. Nowadays, we can pick and choose what we want to play. That's the big change. Golf in Asia is so much bigger now. The opportunities are there for the game to grow further.

"The next big thing is Asia. It's been going on for a couple of years now. India, China and Malaysia now. Coming over here, you can see the development."

He revealed that he nearly packed it in with his career after being struck by knee and back injuries. "I thought that was the end of it. Luckily enough, I found this doctor in Germany and we did great therapy work and (there was) no more pain," said Singh, who is renowned for his strict fitness regime.

"Once you're pain free, you can play your normal game. I thought I was strong enough to play golf hurt and get away with it. I'm pain free now, I'm healthy and I've started to work out like I used to and hitting balls a lot more. I'm looking forward to next year. This is my last event (this season) and hopefully I can finish the year with a big bang," said Singh.

Title holder Crane was delighted to be back at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia. He won the McGladrey Classic on the PGA Tour recently to signal his intention of retaining his title at the Mines Resort.

"It's certainly been fun coming back and remembering some of the shots from last year. The shots that stick out are on No. 15, when I drove the green to make eagle and the birdied on 18 to win. It was one of the most thrilling things to happen in my career to win here the way I did on the 18th hole. It's just an honour to back here at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia and be the inaugural champion," said Crane.

"My game is rounding into form. To be playing so well and to come back here when I feel like my game is in really good shape, maybe I'll have another opportunity to win. We have a lot of good players who came over from the US. There are a lot of guys here who I am close with. Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink, Scott Stallings. A lot of these guys are very close friends, so it's a lot of fun to have some friends playing in the event, as well."

Like Singh, Australia's Allenby, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, also has fond memories of Malaysia as he won his first professional title here in 1992. "I won my first professional event as a pro not too far away in Ipoh which was the Perak Masters. I got great memories of Malaysia," said the 40-year-old Australian.

"I've always enjoyed coming over here and playing the golf courses. It is always a treat."



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