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As a youngster I remember my father teaching me little lessons about work and work ethic. “Put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay”, he would exclaim. Another of his sayings was, “if you’re going to do a job, then do it right” My father was a really hard working man or at least he put in many hours as he would leave early in the morning and usually be late for dinner in the evening. He had been raised in the rural south and knew about work on the farm. As a young man of 11 or 12 he learned to hitch a mule to a plow and till several acres of farmland. His Ma would send him out into the woods to find hen eggs before breakfast. He believed firmly that success in life was tied to one’s work ethic and effort. He was a stickler for doing a full  day of work and doing it right and so, then, did I.

Well, what does this have to do with golf, you might ask. Let me simply respond by saying, look who is the number one golfer in the world and how he got there. Vijay Singh a 41 year old from Fiji has always been known as the hardest working golfer on the PGA Tour or perhaps it would be more correct to say the hardest working golfer anywhere in the world. He has had that reputation for a number of years now.

Vijay’s regimen includes a full and demanding workout most days in the player’s workout facility, a full warm up on the practice tee before going to the course, a round of golf followed by many more hours of practice. He is usually the last person to leave the practice putting green in the late evening hours. He does this day in and day out, weekly, monthly, yearly. His practice includes all parts of his game. He takes nothing for granted. His goal obviously is to know what to do and how to do it in any situation in which he finds himself out on the course.

Have you ever watched a really good juggler put on a show. It might be the ultimate hand-to-eye coordination exercise and skill and it must include a bit of mind over matter as the juggler keeps numerous balls or plates in the air simultaneously. That juggler practices his art so often that muscle memory begins to take charge so, in time, he could keep the balls in the air even when distracted. If you practice something often enough and have that work ethic you too could become extremely good at any physical exercise as well as long as you are in good physical condition, have some hand to eye coordination and have the determination to work at it. With intense practice, eventually, over time, a confidence level will develop, a self assurance which leads to a more tranquil demeanor when the curtain goes up. In time you become unflappable.

This describes what must have happened with Vijay Singh. He has just outworked most other golfers in the world, if not all. This is not to take anything away from the work ethics of other golfing greats such as Tiger, Phil or Ernie Els but it seems that Vijay tops them all. He never seems perplexed on the course. He strolls down the fairway with that casual, easy going gait, finds his ball, sets up and hits it and then goes to find it again. Seemingly it is always in the middle of the fairway or on the green near the flag. The juggler comes to mind. It is like clockwork, machine like from shot to shot, hole after hole, round after round, week after week. This season he has moved into the number one spot as the highest ranked golfer in the world. In route to winning nine tour events and over $10.7 million in 2004 he leads all golfers in scoring average, earnings, total eagles, total birdies, greens in regulation, top ten finishes and wins. There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to this man’s ability to win. If he continues to work hard, take good care of himself, find comfort in his family he could be number one for many months ahead.

Isn’t it a pleasure to watch him play the game? He makes it look so easy, so effortless. But we know what goes on behind the scenes for it to seem that way. I would guess that all the other touring professionals in the world had better get up a little bit earlier each morning and stay up a little bit later if they plan on competing with Vijay. We certainly know what Vijay will be doing, don’t we. Remember what Thomas Jefferson once said about work? He was quoted as saying, “it seems that the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

So if we ever hear anyone say that Vijay Singh is just a lucky golfer, we’ll know what that really means, want we.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2004 (Updated November 1, 2004)


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