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June 8, 2015

Mike Antolini

Malone Schooler

Art Steiber

Tiger Woods

MIKE ANTOLINI:  Good morning.  Welcome to media day for the 2015 Quicken Loans National.  My name is Mike Antolini and I am the President of Championships for the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Before we begin today I'd like to send a special thanks to Eric Rhodes and the wonderful team here at RTJ for hosting us today in their warm hospitality really every day.  I'd also like to thank Prince William County, Virginia, for their continued support in the planning of this year's tournament.  I'd like to thank our tournament's founding partners in AT&T and CDW, and also Lockheed Martin for their continued support of the tournament's military programs.
The Quicken Loans National benefits the college access programs of the Tiger Woods Foundation, and we're proud of the 22 million charitable dollars raised through the tournament since its inception in 2007.
Because of the Quicken Loans National, we've been able to establish and open three Tiger Woods Learning Centers in the region in Wards 6 and 7 in Washington D.C. and most recently in Marine Corps base Quantico last January.
We've also welcomed 25 local Earl Woods Scholars into our program, something that we're also very proud of.
Now, this impact is possible in large part due to the support that we receive from the local community, and this year is no different.  We're very excited to welcome more than 100,000 fans here to Prince William County at RTJ for this year's Quicken Loans National.  The response has been overwhelming thus far, and tickets are available on our website at QuickenLoansNational.com.  I encourage everyone to sign today because they are filling up fast, specifically in our upgraded venues such as the Quicken Loans Hole‑in‑One House.
The Quicken Loans will again pay tribute to our armed forces this year through our military programs, something that it's been doing since the tournament began in 2007, will provide more than 30,000 complimentary tickets to active duty military members through our partnership with Lockheed Martin, and supported by Quicken Loans, and also discounted tickets are available for veterans, teachers, students, and first responders.
We are also grateful for the 1,500 volunteers that give their time to the Quicken Loans National and its success.  Volunteering is a run and rewarding way to way to experience the tournament, and there are still lots of opportunities available.  Again, you can visit our website today to sign up at QLNational.com.  I'm happy to announce this year that we have an official mascot of the 2015 Quicken Loans National in T‑Dub.  I think you've all been bestowed a plush T‑Dub today at your chair.  We hope you'll take it with you.  Beginning tomorrow, T‑Dub will be hidden throughout the DMV area.  His whereabouts will be posted on our media channel, the official Twitter handle @QLNational, and those who find T‑Dub, snap a picture, tag us, will win Quicken Loans National tickets, autographed memorabilia and even get a chance to take a photo with this year's champion at the 18th green trophy presentation, so please take your T‑Dubs with you.
Turning our attention to today's program, we are really thrilled to be here at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club this year.  RTJ has a rich history in professional golf, serving as the host of four Presidents Cups, and we are really delighted to bring the Quicken Loans National to this great club this year.  The support that we've received and the hospitality throughout the planning process has been very much appreciated by our entire team, and here on behalf of the club to deliver some remarks, I'm pleased to welcome RTJ club president Malone Schooler.
MALONE SCHOOLER:  Thank you, Mike.  Good morning, and welcome to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, fondly called RTJ by its membership, all who have been associated with this club over many, many years.
On behalf of the membership, the board, and our wonderful staff, we are excited to be part of this great event.  Bill Craig, our event chairman, and his committee have worked closely with the Tiger Woods Foundation and their title sponsor Quicken Loans for many, many hours over the last year on every little detail to provide one of the finest tests of golf anyone could find in these United States.  Thank you, Bill, and thank you to your committee for all that extra effort, late nights, and the great communication it takes to make this tournament a memorable event for everyone involved.
Being the birthplace of the Presidents Cup and hosting that event four times, we as a membership understand the importance and the preparation it takes to make an event such as this one successful.  It has been a pleasure working with professionals from the Tiger Woods Foundation staff.  This has made our job easier, and because of this teamwork, this tournament will be remembered for years to come.
So I close by saying to you here today, to the players who will be here shortly, and the fans who truly make all this possible, we welcome you.  Come, enjoy our campus, enjoy our spectacular golf course, and enjoy the wonderful feeling of being part of history being made.  Thank you, Mike.  Appreciate it.
MIKE ANTOLINI:  Thank you, Malone.  We're excited to announce several fan enhancements at this year's Quicken Loans National, including activating the lawn at RTJ, which is a stunning piece of property.  That will included ungraded food and beverage options, lawn games, a putting experience for spectators and even private cabanas.  Very excited about those.
We're also introducing the Quicken Loans National summer concert stage outside of our main gate Thursday through Saturday, which will feature local bands during tournament week, and the Quicken Loans Hole‑in‑One House is back for its second year, which will be situated between the 18th green and the clubhouse, and that will feature live tournament streaming and more.
Now, this tournament and the great impact that it makes in the community wouldn't be possible without the support of our title sponsor, Quicken Loans.  Our partnership with them began just over a year ago, and when you think of the impact that they've been able to make in that time, not only on this tournament but also the PGA TOUR, it's quite remarkable.
We're proud to call Quicken Loans a partner, and here to deliver some more exciting news regarding this year's Quicken Loans National is Quicken Loans vice president of marketing and sponsorships, Art Steiber.  Art?
ART STEIBER:  Thanks, Mike.  The Tiger Woods Foundation and the PGA TOUR are great partners, as Mike said, for years.  We'd like to thank them for their partnership since we've been in this sport, and we're really looking forward to an exciting event here next month.  It's our second year as sponsor of the Quicken Loans National.
RTJ, a beautiful course, a beautiful clubhouse.  We'd like to thank Malone and the members here at RTJ for hosting us and really making us feel welcome at this event.
Our investment in the last year in this sport has really allowed us to connect with the fans of this great sport.  Last month we announced we extended our presence in the sport with our partnership with Rickie Fowler.  Rickie just a class act, has a lot of enthusiasm for the game, obviously a fan favorite, has been a great fit for Quicken Loans, so I'm excited to announce that Rickie will be competing here at the Quicken Loans National this year.  We think it's going to be a great event.  We're anxious to see Rickie representing Quicken Loans as he plays in this great event with just a world‑class field.
You may know that we also brought back this year the Quicken Loans Hole‑in‑One Sweepstakes, which we launched last year, was received very well by the fans, created a lot of excitement, so we've brought that back, and so far this year we've had 16 aces during the TOUR, so we've had 16 fans win a mortgage payment for a year, get their mortgage paid off for the entire year, so we're extending that through the season, and at the Quicken Loans National, we're also bringing back our Million Dollar Hole.  So if there's an ace on 16 during the tournament this year, one lucky fan will become a millionaire.  We're really hoping that happens.  That would be really exciting.
I want to thank the Tiger Woods Foundation.  I want to thank the PGA TOUR and all the folks here at RTJ for making us feel welcome.  Looking forward to a terrific event next month, and we're looking forward to seeing you back here next year.
MIKE ANTOLINI:  Thank you, Art.  In addition to Rickie joining us, as Art mentioned, happy to share some other early player commitments.  Our defending champion, Justin Rose, will be in the field, as will Chris Kirk, who won last year's Deutsche Bank Championship and most recently at the Colonial; past FedEx champs Brandt Snedeker and Vijay Singh; and World Golf Championships Match Play finalist Gary Woodland is also expected in the field.  We will have many more commitments as we get closer to the Quicken Loans National.
I'm also very pleased to say that our next guest will be teeing it up and competing in the 2015 Quicken Loans National.  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome two‑time Quicken Loans National, our founder of the Tiger Woods Foundation and tournament host, Tiger Woods.  Tiger?
TIGER WOODS:  Mike, thanks for having me.  This is exciting for all of us, to go back to RTJ.  I hadn't been there since '05.  It's going to be exciting to have our Quicken Loans event there.  We're excited with what Malone and this entire board and the community, how they've supported this move to this golf course.  Everything is positive.  You know, we have 25 Earl Woods Scholars from the D.C. area alone.  We have a couple learning centers that we have there at Marine Corps base Quantico.  We also have them in Cesar Chavez in Wards 6 and 7.  We have a lot of things that I think are very positive, but one thing that has been near and dear to my heart is obviously this is a tournament that was close to my dad and I, and we have always kept a military presence involved in the event, and we give out 30,000 tickets every year to our men and women who serve our country and their little kids, and they come out.  We've given away over 300,000 tickets since '07, so I think that's something that not too many people can say.
Our Heroes Tribute Wall where we can write messages and we ship them overseas, you can't believe how important that is, these messages, to our men and women who are serving and deployed all over the world to hear that we are back home supporting them and wanting them back home safely, because without them we wouldn't be experiencing the freedoms that we have now.
Again, thank you to all of them.  Thank you to Malone and his staff, Quicken Loans for believing in us and believing in what we're trying to do for not only golf but for kids, and we're looking forward to having a great event.
MIKE ANTOLINI:  At this time we'll take questions for the panel.

Q.  Coming to RTJ, playing this event at this course, what do you think your colleagues will find?  A lot of guys have not played this course.  What will they find when they get here?
TIGER WOODS:  I think‑‑ I don't know how many changes they've made, but it was a great match play course, a lot of different fingers on the greens.  We had to be very precise.  Robert Trent Jones loved to put bunkers on the insides of doglegs, so we were‑‑ depends on two locations.  We're going to move the ball up over the top of some of these bunkers and play the holes on a fairly short side, but I don't know what they're going to do for this week.  I don't know how far back they're going to play it.  But it's a heck of a test.
You can set it up in ways that you can make a lot of birdies.  A lot of balls can funnel into the flags, or you can set it up like they did in the singles where no one makes birdies, and it's going to be quite a test.
Knowing the TOUR, they probably want to have a mixture of both, but birdies are definitely more exciting, so I probably suspect that they'll make it more towards that.

Q.  Tiger, obviously there's always a lot of scrutiny on your game, but after this past weekend everything seemed to have been dialed up to 11 perhaps.  Can you address your play this week, and give the other side of the coin to those that might read into that that you're in serious trouble right now with the U.S. Open coming up?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I look at it this way.  It's about getting reps.  I got a lot of reps this weekend.  (Laughter.)
As I was saying to the media who were there at the beginning of the week, we had made some changes post‑PLAYERS and were making a shift in the baseline of my swing.  It's very similar to what I did back in, what, February when I played in Phoenix and Torrey where I made the baseline shift there, and I didn't play until the Masters.  I came back and I shot 1‑over on the Sunday, but I was in fifth place going into the final day, and compared to what I was playing like in February, that's a pretty good jump.
This feels very similar to that.  I had to make these baseline shifts.  Unfortunately you have to put it into play, and doing it in front of the world, and of course I'm going to get the scrutiny.  That's part of the deal, but also I'm very proud of the fact that I stuck with my game plan.  I stuck with it, and I was finally able to hit the shots on Sunday that we've been looking for.
Now we can go out and practice this week and really focus on getting ready for the U.S. Open and having that scouting trip prior to going to Memorial was huge because there's so many numbers you have to learn, there's so many different tee locations, elevation changes, so many different things the players are going to have to adapt.  I think Mike Davis is going to present us with a golf course, basically four new golf courses every day, and that's something that's unusual, but that's something that I think we all are going to have to try and adjust to and get accustomed to, so when Mike says we need to play more practice rounds out there, he's right, because you're going to have to get comfortable with all these different tee locations.

Q.  How surreal was it to be out there playing as a single?
TIGER WOODS:  It was actually‑‑ I wouldn't say‑‑ it wasn't a bad thing.  The only bad part is that you're in last place doing it.  I've had it where guys have pulled out on either a Saturday or a Sunday because of injuries and I've played as a single that day, but not because I was in last place.  That wasn't a very good feeling that I was in last place, going out that early, but I went out there with the same mentality, grind away, focus as hard as I can, and play the correct shots.  At one point I got it to 3‑under par and lost it coming home, but I showed signs of what we're working on was starting to come together, and that was pretty exciting to see.  I finally started to hit those shots, shots that I didn't think I could hit.  Probably earlier in the week I couldn't have hit those shots.  The drive I hit down 10 was an absolute feat out there.  I saw most of the guys were hitting 7‑irons, 6‑irons into the green.  I hit sand wedge into it, so that was kind of nice to see.

Q.  Do you feel like the two weeks leading up to this U.S. Open (inaudible) and in addition to that, the challenges (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS:  Yes, there's plenty of time.  It's plenty of time.  I needed tournament golf, and it was nice to have Memorial in there and to be able to play a golf course that's that difficult, that hard, that demanding from tee to green and even on the greens.  The only difference between obviously what we will face at Chambers and Memorial is just the elevation changes alone are going to be interesting to see.  People don't really have a true appreciation for it until they get out there.  They're going to say, yeah, it looks like a links course, but it's not going to play like a links course.  You're going to have to throw the ball up.  There's a lot, a lot of movement on the greens.  There's a lot of putts that are going to be breaking 20, 30, 40 feet.  You're going to have to play them almost like bank shots.  You have backboards so you can get the ball close.  You also have backboards that if you hit up high enough, you'll actually have enough speed to roll all the way across the green into a bunker.  Yeah, you have these places where you can hit shots, where you can use the backboards to help you out, but also then again you can be very penalized by them, as well.
We don't know‑‑ I've seen the footage from the U.S.Amateur there.  They had, let's see, 300 rounds‑‑ 300‑plus rounds the first two days of the qualifier, and three guys shot under par.  That's how it can play.  They had only 10 percent of the guys hit the first green when they played it as a par‑4.  Patrick Reed, I played with him this week, and he told me that he won his first match on the first hole with a 9, so you can see some interesting numbers happening out there.
I remember some of the guys telling me that they quit showing the first putts because there were so many three‑putts and four‑putts, they only showed the shorter putt they had to make.  They didn't say this was his fourth putt to win the hole with an 8.  They didn't say things like that.  So some of the things were taken out to make it look like, yeah, these guys are playing pretty good, when in essence Patrick was saying a couple of the guys, they won matches with 85 and 86.
It can play like that.  Okay, that's the extreme because Mike had the guys play all the way back.  The only tee that was moved up was No.1 and played as a par‑4.  In match play they played it as a par‑5, and they played basically every hole back, so it was‑‑ in that sense it was just over 7,800 yards.  What Mike is probably going to do is obviously have a mixture of that and probably play it around 7,500, but you don't know what holes he's going to move up, what holes he's going to keep back, and there are so many different tee locations that he can use, that's why I say that basically we're going to play four new golf courses this week, or that week, every day.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS:  Well, yeah, obviously Chinese golf has put a moratorium on new courses being built, so a lot of the course architects have worked with land owners and land developers in certain regions to basically redo a golf course and still have the same footprint but just basically build a new golf course onsite, on that particular property.
There's no signs in the near future that that moratorium is going to be lifted, and so the architects are trying to find creative ways with the land owners to create new golf courses, but in the existing footprints.
Now, as far as the government being involved in golf, I've seen a tremendous amount of kids playing golf since the Olympics‑‑ since the inception of the Olympics idea was being tossed around, and then obviously implemented for '16.  They were‑‑ when I was playing at HSBC there in Shenzhen, it was only, what, probably a few hundred kids in this one program, and last time I came back and played, they had over 100,000.  So it is growing, yes.  It is becoming more of an importance to have Chinese golfers involved in it.  I think having Guan winning the Asian Amateur and then getting into the Masters was a huge lift for all of China, and on top of that he was 14 years old playing in the Masters.  I mean, that's just ridiculous.
But that's the type of talent that is coming.  It's just a matter of giving them places to play and encouragement and facilities and teachers necessary to help them develop their skills and eventually as the weeding‑out process happens, as you get better and better and you get better competition, it helps to have a bigger pool to come from.

Q.  You're a polarizing figure in golf.  (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS:  I've heard that before.  I've heard that before.  When‑‑ I busted my leg up in '08‑‑ '07‑'08, I heard that.  I heard it after I won the Masters in '97 and changed my game in '98, that I looked awful.  You know, this kid is‑‑ he's a one‑and‑done kind of kid.  He won't be able to win much, because I was changing my swing, I was spraying it all over the lot.  Nothing was going well for about a year.  So I've had‑‑ I've had times like this in my life where I've gone through these periods, but you just have to fight through it.  I'm committed to what I'm doing and committed to the changes, and once I start to snowball and start getting more solidified, then that's when things start coming together.
Joey keeps telling me, like this past week, he kept reminding me to the point of knowing, man, take it easy on yourself, you haven't played that much golf.  You never played last year, and you haven't played that much this year.  You've been playing at home, but you haven't played tournament golf.  Just take it easy, it'll come around.  Tournament golf takes time.
I hate to say it when he's right because as a player you always want to be right, but he's right.

Q.  Tiger, after your finish at Augusta, which looked like a lot of progress was made, at that point you made a decision to go back and make baseline changes again rather than build on that for the U.S. Open.
TIGER WOODS:  Well, that's what I did, but it's just we're taking the steps.  You just don't go from 1 to 10.  We're taking it 1, 2, 3, 4, all the way to 10, taking it step by step, and making baseline shifts, that's what Chris and I were just calling it.  You can call it anything, progression, baseline shifts, you can come up with any terms you want, but what it is that I'm taking it step by step above the game plan we have, and we have formulated for me to get better and get back to where I want to be in the game of golf.

Q.  Tiger, if Joe is right that you haven't played a lot of tournament golf, now you're getting ready for the Open, so what about after the Open?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I am playing more.  I'm finally healthy enough to do it.  My back is good enough to do it, so yeah, I'm fully committed to playing more golf all this summer.  Now I just need to get my ranking up high enough so I can get into some of these events and continue playing.  It's kind of funny to think about that.  I think I've won at Firestone eight times and I'm not in the event.  I need to obviously start playing a little bit better to get into that event and then to get into the Playoffs.  That's not guaranteed.
I've got a lot of work ahead of me, and I'm looking forward to it.
MIKE ANTOLINI:  Thank you, Tiger.  I know we look forward to seeing you out here at the Quicken Loans National in late July, and all the best up to then.
TIGER WOODS:  Thanks, Mike.  Thanks for having me.
MIKE ANTOLINI:  So that concludes today's press conference.  Thank you again for joining us.

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