Vijay Singh just doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone.
Not that he ever has known the right thing to do. Singh’s reputation was already soiled, despite all he has accomplished in the game.
And now this.
Singh filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Wednesday in New York, claiming he had been subjected “to public humiliation and ridicule for months” during an investigation into his use of a banned substance. The suit asks for unspecified damages.
This came on the eve of The Players Championship, among the tour’s most prestigious events. The timing seems about right when it comes to Singh, who brought all of this on himself in the first place.
In a Sports Illustrated story in January, Singh admitted to using deer antler spray, a substance he hoped would help with knee and back problems. After the admission, there were concerns the spray included a growth hormone that was included on the tour’s banned substance list.
During an investigation, it was determined the deer antler spray includes insignificant amounts of performance enhancers and was removed from the banned list.
The tour cleared Singh of any wrongdoing last week, putting the matter to rest.
Everyone had moved on. Everyone but Singh.
In a statement released through his lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, he said: “I am proud of my achievement, my work ethic and the way I live my life. The PGA Tour not only treated me unfairly, but displayed a lack of professionalism that should concern every professional golfer and fan of the game.”
What Singh is overlooking is that many of the details from the matter, including a 90-day suspension that was never enacted and withholding his earnings ($99,980) in an escrow account during his appeal, would not have come to light had they not been disclosed Wednesday in his lawsuit.
A rising star still searching for a signature win is hung with the label "the best golfer never to win a major" until he has a breakthrough victory.
Singh may be the best golfer never to win major—any?—support from fans or the media. Put simply: People don’t like him. And it is because of incidents like this one.
Singh's career achievements make him among the most accomplished golfers in tour history. The Hall of Famer from Fiji has 34 career tour wins (14th all time), has won three majors (1998, 2004 PGA Championship, 2000 Masters), was No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings for 32 weeks in 2004-05 and was the leading money winner in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
But that seems secondary to the bad impression he has left in the minds of many.
Singh’s missteps began even before he arrived on the PGA Tour 20 years ago, according to information gleaned from his bio on Wikipedia.
He was suspended from the Asian Tour in 1985 when it was alleged that he had doctored his scorecard—a charge he denied that was later determined to be true—slicing a stroke off of his score following the second round of the Indonesian Open in order to make the cut.
When Annika Sorenstam was added to the field for the 2003 Bank of America Colonial, Singh was quoted as saying: “I hope she misses the cut. ... because she doesn’t belong out here.”
The golfer tried to dig himself out later, saying: “There are guys out there trying to make a living. It’s not a ladies’ tour. If she wants to play, she should—or any other woman for that matter—if they want to play the man’s tour, they should qualify and play like everybody else.”
The clarification is not what people remember, however, with many golf fans coming to regard Singh as a misogynist.
This came at a time when Singh was hitting the high point of his career. Instead of being applauded, Singh was being called “pro golf’s bad guy” by Golf Digest.
Singh has had his supporters through the years. Ernie Els came to his defense when Singh received some bad press after winning the Masters.
“Golf should be proud of Vijay Singh,” Els said in Sports Illustrated. “Anyone who knows Vijay would tell you there's a lot more to the man. ... He works long and hard at his game, but that is something to be admired.”
There are those who say otherwise, and they will have their say on this one. Media members especially are already having a field day. The Golf Channel's Jason Sobel was among them.
Vijay Singh lawsuit is akin to a golfer hitting tee shot OB, being granted a mulligan, hitting another, then calling mulligan disrespectful.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) May 8, 2013
Fellow golfers have chimed in as well.
VJ don't do this horrible advice you got off take it from me not worth it #friendlyadvice— John Daly (@PGA_JohnDaly) May 8, 2013
As the lack of periods attest, Daly has never been one who knows when to stop—be it sentences or substances. And now he’s dispensing advice like Dear Abby?
Vijay, that should tell you all you need to know.