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June 26, 2000

Tiger Woods

JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to welcome you to the 2000 World Golf Championships NEC Invitational Media Day. And we'll begin by congratulating you on your great year to date. And last year, you won two of the three World Golf Championship events, including here at Firestone Country Club. Perhaps could get us started by talking about these events in the sense that you're competing against the best players until the world?

TIGER WOODS: Well, to be able to compete in the best players in the world is what any player would like to be able to do. And the PGA TOUR, along with some of the greatest sponsors have been fortunate enough to put us in the position where we can do that, we can meet not only during the majors, but we get to meet at other tournaments as well, and these tournaments are becoming some of the greatest tournaments to watch. Obviously at NEC, you are the American Express Championship at Valderrama, the new World Cup in Argentina. So those some exciting events, plus match play, different formats, different fields and I think that's what the public wants to see.

JAMES CRAMER: Tiger we'd like to give the people here in the audience at Firestone the opportunity to ask some questions before we take some from the reporters that are on the phone.

TIGER WOODS: Okay. You've got it.

Q. Now after the U.S. Open, what's your basic schedule for the rest of the summer through the British and then here to NEC? How many times will you play and where?

TIGER WOODS: I'm not playing that many times. I don't give out my schedule, but I'm not playing that many. In the summer, I generally don't play that much golf. I play a lot early in the year and at the end, but I don't play much in the middle of the year. That's just kind of what I like to do.

Q. At what point did it sink in what you did at Pebble Beach and what has the reaction been like?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, it really hasn't sunk in yet. I've never seen the tapes. I have not seen one shot of the tournament -- (inaudible) -- what anything looked like, what people were talking about. So it's hard for me to grasp the historical ramifications of what transpired there, just because of the fact that I really don't, know what happened. I knew that I won by 15, I played a great tournament. But it's very reminiscent to what happened at Augusta where I didn't really realize what the accomplishments that I had done, so I'll probably (inaudible) -- very reminiscent to Augusta because I didn't realize what I had done for another probably year afterwards, maybe even two. It takes a little time for something like that to sink in. I guess when you play head-to-head battle like at the PGA, it feels a lot different than it does when you win by a larger margin than that.

Q. People are calling this the -- like the -- comparing you to a Michael Jordan like performance, or maybe one of the -- you are now the premiere athlete in all of sports. Do you even consider that kind of thing or do you just let the people talk?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's great that people are saying that, because people are saying that golfers are athletes, and that's kind of good.

Q. Couple of things regarding the upcoming British Open. First of all, are you going over early to practice, and how will you prepare for that as far as working with Butch and working on shots and ball flight and that kind of thing? What will you be concentrating on?

TIGER WOODS: Well, actually I am going over early. I'm playing a charity event with a lot of the top players over in Ireland. And just going and hanging out, making sure that golf doesn't get in the way of my fishing, and I guess I'll be getting ready by hitting a lot of shots where obviously I'm going to have a shorter follow-through and shorter backswing, working on my trajectory, working on my shallowness through impact, my left arm plane. A lot of things that will need to be more consistent in the wind and playing some golf around some of the links courses.

Q. Did you think it was unfair, any of the fallout about you cussing on national television? It hasn't been that big of an uproar, but I just wanted your reaction to the reaction.

TIGER WOODS: You know, obviously I let my emotions get the better of me there. One thing that did bother me about it was that I did do it. And the other thing that I didn't really like is that -- what Johnny Miller said: "Michael Jordan would never do anything like that." First of all, I don't think he's ever been to a basketball game on the floor and heard what those guys say down there.

Q. Tiger, whatever memories you have of the event last year, coming off, PGA then here, and then you pretty much won everything you played until the Masters, how was your game when you got here last year and how much better is it now?

TIGER WOODS: When I first got there I was -- if you remember the week before, I played in the Sprint International, I wasn't feeling very well after I won the PGA. I was kind of sick and missed, I guess, the final cut there. I made the 36-hole cut but did not make Sunday's cut, rested and for two days, let my body heal and get over my cold. And when I came out to Akron, I was refreshed mentally, and especially physically, and when I teed up in the tournament, I felt pretty good about my game. And all of the sudden I played a great round on Saturday, and was able to increase my lead and actually get the lead and take it into Sunday; and I played pretty solid on Sunday, as well.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Any time you get to play against the best players, I feel you try -- to feel like you don't increase your concentration level because -- (inaudible) -- to play the tournament you're playing. But I still believe that the bigger the tournament, the more you're going to concentrate. It may not be by much, but it's enough to where that you might end up playing a little bit better.

Q. Tiger, going back a couple years, in regards to you and Butch changing your swing, I know you went on -- (inaudible) -- when did you actually feel comfortable with that new swing?

TIGER WOODS: Probably back in Germany, or early that summer last year. Probably the best I've hit it in years. I was able to do it with control. I didn't really putt that great. I made key putts when I had to, but overall, I didn't really putt that great. But I hit the ball so solid, it was actually nice to see that's where I was heading towards, and I finally got there. And it was nice to be able to play it -- not necessarily a round like that, but a whole tournament like that. And from there, my putting started to come around, and I started to putt a little better. But my ball-striking pretty much maintained the same level throughout the rest of the year and into this year.

Q. How much better is your game than it was 10 months ago when you were here?

TIGER WOODS: A little bit better. Probably not where -- I guess appreciably different than it was 10 months ago, but it is a little bit better, refined a little bit here and there. The moves I'm making are not as, what do you call it, are not as conscious and more subconscious now, which you want to end up getting towards one day. And it takes time, a lot of hard work and patience. It's starting to come around where the moves I'm making, I can just do it naturally without having to think about it.

Q. Your caddying last week, how did that go?

TIGER WOODS: I caddied for Jerry, which is a good friend of mine. We were roommates on the road during our time up at Stanford. And Jerry actually played with me at the AT&T where we finished second in the team competition. We've had some pretty good success, and he was out there qualifying for the U.S. public Links. And I went out there and caddied for him the second round, and he didn't make it; he was second alternate. But, we had a good time out there. And as far as Notah winning, which is great to see, especially with all of the things that have transpired this year and things that he had to try and get over. And for him to finally break through and get through all that, you can see the emotions just pouring out of him, which is neat to see, because I know how hard he worked after all of the things that he had to deal with. And for him to be able to come out and play as well as he did put all those things behind him, it's just great to see.

Q. When someone mentions the words "Firestone South" to you, what immediately comes to your mind?

TIGER WOODS: What immediately comes to my mind? Well, probably the first time I ever saw Firestone was in a Big Three Match. And I remember one of those guys playing and hitting woods on 7. And when I got there, I hit a 5-iron and the tee was -- (inaudible). I think the equipment has changed a little bit since then. That's my first recollection, and from playing it and I know from watching on TV, growing up as a kid, I know that's one of the greatest golf courses we play. It's a ball-striker's paradise.

Q. On the last day of the Open, you mentioned you had a calmness about you. I was just curious, is this a rare thing, or how many times can you remember feeling that way?

TIGER WOODS: The last time I was that way was at Augusta in '97. Even though I got off to a rough start and shot 40, I still felt like I was right there in the tournament, and I still felt I had a good chance if I shot 32 coming home. And I was able to improve that by two, and that put me under par and I played great the rest of the week. But those things don't happen very often, where you feel calm about yourself, your emotions, your game; everything feels like you have it where you need to have it in order to succeed and accomplish your goal.

JAMES CRAMER: Any other questions from within the room before we go to people joining us on the telephone? All right. If we could invite the people from the AT&T teleconference to join us. You're joining us for the 2000 World Golf Championships NEC Invitational Media Day, and I would like to invite you to ask questions at this point. And obviously I can't see you to recognize you, so if you could just go one at a time, please. (Inaudible).

Q. Can you talk about your reflections of the Open? Have you had time to put it in perspective?

TIGER WOODS: No, I really haven't, to be honest with you. I haven't seen the tapes. I've been I guess busy relaxing, getting away from it. I don't know exactly what some of the records are. I don't know much about the tournament other than the fact that I won the tournament and I won by 15. I know that I played well and I know what I accomplished, but as far as the other records that they have said that I have tied or broken, I really don't know what they are. That week was just a great week. I enjoyed my time there. I played a great tournament. It was nice to have things come together at the right time. But as far as reflecting, I really haven't had time to do that. I've been busy relaxing. It's been very nice.

Q. With regards to that inner smile that came forth on the 15th hole both on Saturday and Sunday, can you reflect on that?

TIGER WOODS: What happened on 15?

Q. They showed some close-ups on your face and there was an inner smile that came forth that, personally, I had never seen on your face before, even here at Firestone. I was just curious to what brought that inner smile out?

TIGER WOODS: When did that happen?

Q. It was the 15th hole on Saturday and 15th, 16th hole on Sunday. You were waiting, in between shots, just something, a look, that came across your face, that inner peace that came across. I don't know if something special that triggered that?

TIGER WOODS: Actually there was. I know what you're talking about on Saturday, I don't remember what you're talking about on Sunday, a group of us that drove by an Saturday that somebody yelled out something kind of weird. It was kind of funny; that's probably why I smiled.

Q. I just thought it was something you were reflecting on?

TIGER WOODS: No. It had nothing to do with the situation, just somebody yelled out off the bus as the bus was taking them off the property, somebody was just trying to be heard.

Q. Tiger, I realize that winning is important to you. I know what you said about what you think of second place, but do you get particular joy -- or should I ask, how much joy do you get just hitting golf shots and pulling off golf shots the way you want to see them? How much happiness does that bring to you when you see the shot come off the way you want?

TIGER WOODS: That's why you work so hard is to see that shot come off exactly the way you want to, feel what you want to feel. And it's just one of those things where everyone knows this is a game of misses. And when you finally hit one right, exactly the way you want to, feel just absolutely everything you want to feel on the golf swing come together, that's why we play.

Q. And how many times did you feel that way at the Open?


Q. Just once?


Q. Can you tell me where?

TIGER WOODS: The 8th hole on Sunday, the 6-iron I hit into the green. I hit about a five-yard cut, which was perfect, from 220 downhill, downwind to land the ball three yards on the green which was perfect.

Q. Had you ever had a tournament before that in which there was more than one shot?

TIGER WOODS: Probably not. Like Hogan said, if you're lucky, you'll probably hit four perfect shots a tournament, if you're playing well. And probably the most I've ever had is about four or five. But when it really happens where you put everything like that and you're able to hit exactly the shot that you want to, put the shot right where you want to on the number, the correct shape, how many yards you want to draw the ball, cut it however low or high you want to hit it, the divot. What you want to feel throughout the golf swing, it's not easy to do.

Q. What are you doing with the rest of the shots? Some of them are three feet from the hole.

TIGER WOODS: People don't understand this is a game of misses. I could hit every shot perfect, and the key is to hit your misses where they turn out good or in good shape where you go play them and they end up in the right place.

Q. Today we announced that Sam Snead and Ben Hogan are to be the recipients of the 2000 Ambassador of Golf Award, the first time that two persons have been named. Could you reflect on what Sam Snead's or Ben Hogan's records' influence has been in your game?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was fortunate enough to play with Sam, actually one time when I was five years old down in L.A., a little three-hole exhibition. Sam was typical -- typical Sam, being smart and making jokes and having a good time out there. It was just pretty fun to play with. It was a lot of fun to play with him. I shot 2-over, 17 and 18. I've had a chance to talk with him after that and tell him stories. And it's just neat to be able to be around a living legend such as Sam, and to hear all his stories and all of the things that he gets to tell, the jokes, the weird jokes he gets to tell, like at the Masters dinner, the Champions dinner, and it's neat to be a part of that. Mr. Hogan I've never met before. I talked to him one time on the phone. Talked to his wife a couple times, but never had the chance to meet Mr. Hogan in person, which I wish I would have gotten that chance, but he passed away, he was sick before; so I talked to him right before he passed away.

Q. What are you doing to prepare for the British Open?

TIGER WOODS: What am I doing? Right now I'm not doing anything. But I will be. And when I start getting ready for the Open, I'm going to start working on my swing plane, my trajectory of shot, to make sure I can hit the ball the way I want to, control it. Make sure I'm shallow through impact, and basically hit the ball the right height I want to hit it, because that's the most important thing when you go over there.

Q. When you say you're not doing anything, do you mean you're not playing golf at all?

TIGER WOODS: No. I haven't touched a club yet.

Q. And second of all, what would it mean just to get the career Grand Slam at the British?

TIGER WOODS: It would be great. Something that I've always wanted to do, and to be able to have the chance and opportunity to do it at the home course where golf all started, that's what anyone who is in a position to win a slam. That's -- it's ironic that it happened this year, and to have I guess two of the greatest sites you can ever play on, Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open to hopefully complete the slam, that's what you've always wanted. And to have -- for me to be in that position, I'm very lucky and very fortunate.

JAMES CRAMER: Tiger, we appreciate you taking the time to join us today. And to the people listening vie at telephone, again, I apologize for our technical difficulties and hope you were able to get something out of the questions here at least.

TIGER WOODS: Take it easy, guys.

End of FastScripts...

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