An Open Letter to Vijay Singh by Matt Saternus

Dear Vijay,

Let me start by saying, this letter comes from a fan.  I love your game, and, more than that, I love your legendary work ethic.  It gives all the grinders out there hope that one day all of our hard work will result in something great.

Now that I’ve made it clear that I’m on your side, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?

For those that are unclear on what’s happened (and it seems you may be among them), let’s run down the key points of this saga:

  • In an article in the February issue of Sports Illustratedyou stated that you use deer antler spray (banned at the time by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the PGA Tour) “every couple of hours . . . every day.”
  • On February 19th, the Tour sanctioned you for violating the Anti-Doping policy.  You appealed seven days later.
  • WADA clarified their position on deer antler spray, stating that it is no longer considered prohibited.
  • The Tour dropped its case against you.
  • Yesterday, you filed a lawsuit against the Tour for exposing you to “public humiliation and ridicule”.

Seriously, Vijay?  In the Sports Illustrated piece, you admitted to sleeping with lasers and wearing hologram stickers, but it’s the Tour that’s humiliating you?  I’ll admit I’m a little fuzzy on how the International Dateline works, but I’m pretty sure it’s not April 1st on either side of it.

In researching this letter, Vijay, I searched all corners of the internet looking for people who support you in this lawsuit.  The internet: the place where every lunatic is on equal footing.  The place where you can find people who believe every manner of craziness.  And I couldn’t find one bit of strongly-worded support for what you’re doing (except from your lawyers, of course).  The closest thing I found was this, from Adam Scott:  “I would assume Vijay thinks he’s doing what’s right.”

Not exactly a call to arms.

On the other hand, I ran out of fingers counting the people who think this is a terrible idea.

Butch Harmon, via Twitter, equated your lawsuit to giving the Tour the middle finger.

Joe Ogilvie, member of the player advisory council, Duke grad, and generally smart guy, referred to your lawsuit as “frivolous”. But, the cherry on top:

When John Daly is acting as your voice of reason, things aren’t looking so good.

But I’m not here to pile on, Vijay.  I like to think I’m a solutions guy, not someone who loves admiring the problem.  So here’s what you need to do:

Step 1) Rescind this lawsuit.  Immediately.  I know that you’re probably reading this in the middle of round one at The Players Championship, and that’s no time for a press conference.  I understand.  Finish your round, play your best, and then, in your post-round interview, announce that the lawsuit is over.

Apologize for pulling attention away from this great event.  Apologize to the Tour and your fellow players.  Whether this was your idea (as your lawyers claim) or whether you were talked into it, just accept responsibility and apologize.

Step 2) Shut up and play golf.  I understand that you want to clear your name.  I understand that you’ve worked very hard for your entire adult life to build a career and a reputation and a legacy.  But your name will not be cleared nor your legacy improved by trying to tell everyone how you’ve been wronged.

I also understand that you have a lot of science on your side that you want people to know about.  In fact, while researching this letter, I read the science, and I found it compelling.  The problem is that no one wants to hear it, at least not when it’s mentioned in the same breath as “lawsuit.”  If it were mentioned in the same breath as “I apologize,” you’d have a chance, but when it comes from the lawyers, no one is listening.

I’m sure you employ some very smart PR people.  Let them share the fact that IGF-1 (the banned substance) is found in cow’s milk.  Let them explain that the concentration of IGF-1 in deer antler spray is akin to the alcohol content of a s swimming pool after a shot of bourbon has been poured into it.  What you need to do is play golf.  And be quiet.  And not sue anyone.

We are a forgiving people, Vijay.  We love our athletes.  The examples of the athletes we’ve forgiven for sins big and small, real and imagined, is long and growing longer: Kobe, Tiger, LeBron, Ray Lewis, and Michael Vick, just to name some of the most recent examples.  Get back on Tour, play on the weekend, maybe pull down a couple of top tens or grab a W.  Will people talk about this for a while?  Sure.  But will they get over it?  Absolutely.

You’re a Hall of Famer.  You put together one of the best seasons in the history of golf.  You’re the only player to take the #1 World Ranking away from Tiger when he was at his best.  You’re universally known as one of the hardest workers in the history of professional golf.  And no one can tarnish that reputation…except you.


Matt Saternus