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December 8, 2003

Tiger Woods

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations again to Tiger Woods for winning the Player of the Year Award for 2003.

Q. You said at THE TOUR Championship you probably should be the leading contender, but today were you still a little surprised when you got the call, and did you get any indication of how close the vote was?

TIGER WOODS: I think I kind of had a feeling it was going to be close because a lot of guys value the Money Title. Other guys value number of wins. I think it all depends on where you stand on that. I thought I was leading in that category because I had more wins, and winning two World Golf Championships in those five wins.

Q. Any indication of how close it was?

TIGER WOODS: I thought it was pretty close, but no one told us how close it was.

Q. Where does Player of the Year rank for you?

TIGER WOODS: Early in the year, I was just hoping I could play again and be competitive in tournaments. I just happened to get off to a great start at the beginning of the year. This year has been a very, very exciting year from the standpoint, first time I've been healthy in a while, so from that standpoint it was great. And now on top of that, to be as consistent as I've been the entire year, more than half of the tournaments I've played at, I've finished in the Top 5; that part I'm very proud of. I was still able to be consistent, and that's why, you know, I keep trying to make strides, trying to be more consistent, and getting five wins this year, I was pretty happy about that. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year, if you would have taken just one win, I would have said yes. When Ernie was winning all of those tournaments at beginning of the year, all I could hit was a pitching wedge, I felt like, "Golly, there's no way that I can compete against that." Lucky enough, I was able to get back.

Q. Where does it rank?

TIGER WOODS: I think it has to be right up there because certainly, if you looked at my career so far, it's the only year I really didn't win a big award was '98. The was the year I won the highest Award I could get, that was Rookie of the Year. And Player of the Year, I'm very proud of that because that shows consistency at a high level for an extended period of time. I think my majors are obviously No. 1 and my cut streak has to be No. 2.

Q. Do you think this validates some of the criticism in the sense that you've won the award -- not being in a slump?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's frustrating because I knew I wasn't in a slump. There's certain players that I have seen go into a slump and I certainly wasn't in that. I just had not won in, what was it, three or four months or whatever it was. I guess it's other people's expectations but I think it was more of a snide remark by a reporter at the U.S. Open this just snowballed. From there, I kind of had to deal with it. That was the most frustrating thing. I think he was trying to be smart with his remark, but he didn't understand the ramifications that soon followed, and I had to deal with those, and that to me was frustrating.

Q. Was this year tough considering what you went through?

TIGER WOODS: As I said, if I could have won one tournament at the beginning of the year, I would have taken it, because at the time, I didn't really know. When I came out of my first injury in college, there was a lot of doubt and I wasn't able to perform at any peak for a while and I had to build into it. This one, we took a conservative approach. I could have come back earlier but I didn't. The physical hurdle was easy to overcome, but I think the mental hurdle was the most difficult because I would still flinch and still give it my old golf swing that I had to play with all of last year to try and get by and try and get out of those habits. That was the toughest thing, because mentally, yeah, your knee is fine, now go ahead and trust it. I had so many different things to tell me it wasn't okay to trust it.

Q. What year would you rather have: Your year or Mike Weir's year?


Q. Because?

TIGER WOODS: I've won three Masters. (Laughter.)

Q. It's been a good year, you had more wins than anybody, but it's been your least productive since '98 in key indicators like money, major victories, yet you're still Player of the Year. Does a year like this show how hard it was to achieve what you've had in previous years?

TIGER WOODS: Well, '99 and 2000 that was an amazing run that I played from, what, the Byron Nelson where it all started in '99. And then all of 2000, that was over a year and a half that I was playing some pretty good golf. Yeah, a lot of people have made that as my bar and when I only won five tournaments -- I won five tournaments last year and I won five tournaments the year before that. It just happened I didn't win major championships in this year versus those last two years.

Q. What does that say in terms of how the majority of the people look at those awards, is it all about majors or does it have to be multiple majors?

TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously it's majors, but also number of wins and quality of play for the entire year. You know, I had the second lowest scoring average in tour history next to mine in 2000. So that shows I played at a consistent level for the entire year. If you add everything together, you know, coming off of what I had to come off last year and then try and get back to playing again this year, I'm very proud of that.

Q. In a sense, on some level, is there a different kind of satisfaction in that that you were able to win this award without winning a major?

TIGER WOODS: There is. There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction because it just shows that guys on all of the Tour respect that I was consistent; that I've won numerous times and they respect that. I think that's what the award reflects.

Q. It seems like frequently when you talk about maybe some difficulties in your golf swing, you talk about getting stuck, at least it seems like you use that term a lot. But is there anything that you're working on that you think that you can eventually more or less eradicate that from the very few problems that you have?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just trying not to get affected -- I think that's one of the reasons why I changed it in '98 -- I mean, '97, '98 and the beginning of '99, and I'm still working on it. It's my fault and something that I think I've probably struggled with my entire career. It's what I used to do as a junior to try to get more distance.

Q. How disappointed would you have been if you had not won this award?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I would have been pretty disappointed because I had won five times, and with my stroke average being as low as it was and only finishing second on the Money Title, I would have disappointed with that. I think with two World Golf Championships in there, I think that's what probably kicked it over the top because those are some pretty quality wins.

Q. Just want to know what you thought your best tournament performance was this year and which tournament disappointed you the most this year?

TIGER WOODS: That's very simple. Best win was The Match Play. I played best there that I did the entire year. I played great, hit my irons well, made a lot of putts and didn't make hardly any bogeys the entire week. As far as the most disappointed, it would have to be the British Open because I was right there going into the back nine with a chance to win it and just made some bad mistakes. I bogeyed 15, 17, and that basically took me right out of it. I was very disappointed because I had played so well the entire week and I just couldn't get anything going on that back nine on Sunday when I really needed it.

Q. I just wondered if you might say something about Vijay, since he probably put the most heat on you this year that you've ever had to face, and all of those Top-10s he had down the stretch.

TIGER WOODS: Obviously, everyone knows he's a hard worker. But I think this year, he was more consistent than he's ever been. And he's made some swing changes, you can see in his swing; it's not as loose as it used to be and it's helped him become more consistent. Toward the end of the year, he just got on a roll basically and was very consistent with his game. He had a lot of confidence. I think that when he won in Moline (ph), it really gave him a lot of confidence, and from then on he really played well. It just seemed like every single week he was in the Top-10 or at least on the back nine on Sundays he had a chance to win. That's what it's all about. He's made the right changes to accomplish that.

Q. When you came on TOUR, you talked about the burning desire that you had to set records and the goals that you had. Is that desire still burning, is it raging, does it simmer? Talk about your desires and your goals.

TIGER WOODS: It's the same desire. The desire is just to win. The goal, that's to win. That's what gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction in the game of golf is getting out there and winning because you know that there's no one else that week that beat you, and that to me is a lot of fun knowing that you beat everyone out there on that field and they gave it their best. The goal has not changed, the desire is the same.

Q. What are you looking forward to next year?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's going to major championship sites next year. We have some pretty exciting venues. The one that's really intriguing is that no one else has ever been to, Whistling Straits. What I've heard, with the golf course playing around 7,600, it's going to be an interesting test that week. Still, with the World Golf Championships, they are great events, as well as the major championships, on these great venues, it's going to be a fantastic year. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Following up on Vijay, talk about him being on such a roll at the end of the year, do you expect him to carry that through?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. Your confidence is still there. He played well at the Presidents Cup. He played well at Sun City. He's just -- he's only going to continue to work on it in the off-season. So he'll be ready next year.

Q. Outside of you, who has had the longest stretch of great play since '99, what other players do you think?

TIGER WOODS: I think with the most wins is probably Duval.

Q. In the last year and a half --

TIGER WOODS: He was on an incredible high in that year and a half with 12 wins, something like that, 11 wins. You'd probably have to put him, maybe Ernie and Vijay and then Phil all in that mix because they have all won quite a few tournaments.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, everybody, for joining us for a few minutes. And also, thank you to Tiger for joining us.

End of FastScripts...

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