By Ron Sirak
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- On the day after he sued the PGA Tour for allegedly damaging his reputation in the Great Deer Antler Spray Saga, Vijay Singh returned to competition with little interest from fans and even less from his fellow players.
Singh warmed up for Thursday's first round of the Players on the secluded back end of the practice range at TPC Sawgrass. When he walked from the range to the practice green, it was to sparse applause and not even a nod from other pros.
As he putted, Singh spoke only to his caddie, his coach, or on his cell phone. No player made the trek across the green to bring him greetings. His playing partners Robert Garrigus and J.J. Henry said hello on the first tee and not much more.
Several fans shouted Singh's name as he walked to the first tee, where he was greeted by a middle-aged man sitting in the second row wearing a deer-antler hat. The only real heckling came on No. 3 where a man yelled, "Stay away from the spray."
The Singh lawsuit seems to be resonating very little with fans -- although, truth be told, golf fans are not of the heckling ilk. And in a lawsuit pitting a multimillionaire player against his even richer employer, few seem to be finding a side to root for.
The clearer reaction seems to be from players who, for now at least, are sort of making Singh feel like the island green at No. 17 -- not totally cut off from land, but connected only by the narrowest strip. If no man is an island, this one seems to be at least an isthmus.
While none of the players were talking on the record, the underlying sentiment was that suing the PGA Tour, where 99 players won at least $1 million last year, was a bad idea.
The 50-year-old Singh, meanwhile, was making even less of an impact as a player, playing the front nine in 39 strokes and finishing with a 74 on a day when Roberto Castro tied the course record at 63.