Vijay Singh was born in Lautoka, Fiji of Indian ancestry, the son of an airplane technician who also taught golf. Growing up, he admired the swing of Tom Weiskopf, using it as an early model for his own.
Singh began playing professionally in 1982 and won several international victories, including the Malaysian PGA Championship in 1984, the Nigerian Open in 1988 and 1989, the Ivory Coast Open, Zimbabwe Open and Volvo Open di Firenze in 1989, El Bosque Open in 1990 and the King Hassan Trophy in 1991.
In 1993, Singh won his first PGA Tour event, the Buick Classic in a playoff over Mark Wiebe. That victory led to Singh being named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. After being hampered with back and neck problems in 1994, Singh came back to win the Buick Classic again in 1995 as well as the Phoenix Open. After playing well in 1996 (but with no victories), Singh won both the Memorial Tournament and the Buick Open in 1997.
In 1998, Singh was victorious at the PGA Championship at Sahalee in Redmond, Washington, playing a 70-66-67-68 over the four days (66 tied a course record) and giving him his first Major title. He followed up his first Major title by winning The Masters in 2000 with a three-stroke victory over Ernie Els.
In 2001, Singh was not victorious, but finished the year with a Tour-best 14 top-10 finishes and was fourth on the money list with $3,440,829 on the year. In 2002, Singh won at the Shell Houston Open at TPC at The Woodlands, setting a new 72-hole scoring record with a 65, and at the Tour Championship, winning by two strokes over Charles Howell III.
The year 2003 proved to be Singh's best ever, but also one of his most controversial. He had a personal best four victories, 18 top-10s and was the PGA Tour's money leader (and second all-time) with $7,573,907, beating Tiger Woods by $900,494. Singh had victories at the Phoenix Open, the Byron Nelson Championship, the John Deere Classic and the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort.
However, the 2003 season was also spotted with controversy surrounding the year's event at the Colonial. LPGA star Annika Sörenstam became the first woman to play at a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias at the 1945 Los Angeles Open. Surrounding this fervor, Singh made the comment that Sörenstam "didn't belong" on the PGA Tour and that he wouldn't play if he were paired with her. He eventually backed down from his comments, but still decided not to play at the Colonial, withdrawing shortly after his victory at the Byron Nelson Championship.