A thought came to me while watching the Canadian Open:
The CBS television crew were praising Vijay Singh, who is leading the tournament after three rounds, for his record breaking success on the PGA Tour at his relatively advanced age (he has won 19 tournaments since turning 40, breaking Sam Snead record of 17). They (and in the past Singh himself) credited his work ethic and a focused workout regiment as part of the reason Singh was able to have such success ‘late’, temporarily surpassing Tiger Woods as the number one golfer in the world in 2004.
A look at his bio shows he went from winning one or two tournaments a year from 1997 to 2002 to winning 4 tournaments in 2003 (the year he turned 40), 9 in 2004 and 4 in 2005. The amount of events played from year to year didn’t change appreciably; he ranged from 26 to 30 events played each year.
Does this sound familiar? An athlete near the top of his profession gets better at an age where most other players start to fade? Aren’t there athletes in other sports under heavy scrutiny that follow a similar career trajectory?
Recently another athlete was lauded for his worth ethic and strenuous workout regiment. Sean Sherk is the current lightweight champion in the UFC. The week before the most recent pay-per-view (where Sherk held on to his title with a commanding decision victory), the UFC aired UFC All Access on Spike TV to promote the event. Part of that program focused on the ridiculously difficult training Sherk puts himself through before a fight. During the fight, the commentators referred to Sherk’s training as a reason he was able to fight at a high rate.
Sean Sherk later tested positive for steroids.
I have no idea if Vijay Singh is using anything stronger than Advil to be the best golfer he can be. I do know every second the major golf tours delay implementing drug testing, questions like this can’t be easily swept under the rug.
Especially when Singh has been accused of cheating before.