Vijay Singh: Fiji's PGA star
If you've read any of my Fiji Islands Mysteries, you will know that Inspector Joe Horseman can never work undercover because he is recognised everywhere he goes as a star rugby player. The entire population of the glorious islands of Fiji is mad about rugby, but many other team and individual sports are played and followed with passion. Nevertheless, it may come as a surprise to many that Fiji's most world-famous, most successful and most enduring sports star is the golfer Vijay Singh, nicknamed "the Big Fijian" on the pro golf circuit.
Growing up in Fiji
Vijay Singh grew up in Lautoka, the son of a golfing aircraft engineer who worked at nearby Nadi airport. Because "golf balls don't fall from trees" young Vijay instead had to hone his golf skills on coconuts, which no doubt were harder to miss but required massively more strength than a golf ball. Despite also playing rugby, football and cricket, Vijay dedicated hours to studying international golf videos and by the age of 15 was one of Fiji's top players.
The only way to improve his game was to go overseas - first to Australia, then Asia for some years before launching himself on the European tour. Finally, in 1993, he scaled the heights of the American PGA, winning the Buick Classic.
Peak after 40
Since turning 40 in 2003, Vijay Singh has been first in the World Golf Rankings for three years. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005. Since 2009, however, a recurring back injury and more recent knee surgery have resulted in time off and a slide in rankings. Nevertheless, at 56 years, Vijay is just as persistent as ever, relentless in training and dedicated to improving his game. He has already made a strong start to 2020 in Hawaii at the Sony Open (PGA).
Fiji's Goodwill Ambassador
Although he has made his home in Florida for many years, Vijay Singh has been a goodwill ambassador for Fiji since 2005. He is not only a national treasure to all Fijians, but his success and his nickname "the Big Fijian" have put Fiji on the map worldwide and attracted many thousands of visitors to Fiji. The top hotels near Nadi now boast excellent golf courses, too.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Image of Vijay Singh: Flickr user nostalgic_fordisaster / Siyi Chen  [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]