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May 09

Vijay Singh and PGA – Not Done Yet

Vijay Singh to Sue PGA?

It was a twelve-week investigation, in which each step was made public, with little or no effort to avoid the sensationalism. The PGA’s case against Vijay Singh was, in some phases, just downright weird, and the fact that we were talking about a deer antler spray made it even weirder.

thSingh was trying to find an antidote to sore joints. However, the media made it sound like something kinky and off-beat, and that should be cleared up. What any golfer over fifty wouldn’t do to cure a back-ache or sore knees? Well, you just have to be over fifty to know. In my opinion, Singh wasn’t performing voodoo or contacting the mother ship – he had a sore back.

The PGA suddenly dropped their case in late April, giving Singh the go ahead to continue play, because the World Anti-doping Agency decided that the traces of growth hormone were far too small to serve as a basis for prosecution or suspension. They unfroze almost $100,000 of Singh’s winnings over five tournaments, and didn’t vacate any of his wins, which means they didn’t have to redistribute any of his earnings. “All right, Mr. Singh, you’re free to go.” – I say, “Big of ‘em, really big of ‘em.”
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We have two sides to consider here. Vijay is no choirboy. His career was put on hold for four years after an issue of an altered scorecard. I wasn’t there, don’t know what happened, and haven’t a clue as to Singh’s mind at the time – so I have no verdict. Still, the issue did happen. For some, Singh’s upfront manner of answering controversial questions has irritated many, but on the other hand, right or wrong, no one was confused about where he stood. The world would probably benefit from a little more of that. When someone tells me the truth as they see it, it leaves me free to proceed with clarity, and I like clarity a lot.

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Singh’s lawyers claim that the PGA treated Singh unfairly by exposing him to “public humiliation and ridicule,” and that the governing body showed a lack of professionalism in the public nature of the investigation They further claim that the accusation was made against one of the tour’s hardest-working members. I don’t have a great argument against those claims, and we know how large sports organizations can get with their members, such as an increasingly absurd NCAA that either plays Spanish Inquisition with football programs, or turns two blind eyes. Singh’s people also claim that the substance in question is found in cow’s milk, and that it is an inactive ingredient. I must admit that it smacks a little of swat teams breaking down the wrong door and walking away without at least a sheepish apology.
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More interesting than the facts of the case is Singh himself. If I were to jump someone in a dark alley, it wouldn’t be Vijay Singh. He’s not the sort to just take it when he feels offended, and the PGA should have known that. He fights back, and indeed, he filed suit against the organization one day before the Players Championship – talk about public. The last time this happened, Doug Barron achieved a settlement, but this is a World Hall of Fame player with a major “tood,” and he’ll probably see it through.

The PGA has every right and obligation to uphold its standards, but it also has an obligation to treat players, its life-blood, with fairness and a certain modicum of sensitivity. If they’re going to put a member through the ringer, they shouldn’t do it in front of us until they know precisely how to proceed. They shouldn’t be surprised or offended if a player they’ve allowed to be dragged through the media gauntlet punches back. And, if it’s Vijay Singh, they’d better not drop their left.

 

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.