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TARGET WORLD CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY COUNTRYWIDE MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 24, 2007
THE MODERATOR-GREG MCLAUGHLIN, PRESIDENT OF THE TIGER WOODS FOUNDATIONS: We want to welcome everybody for joining us today. Thank you. This is the ninth annual event and eighth here at Sherwood Country Club. We're delighted to be back here again at Sherwood. Certainly I want to thank our sponsor Target and Countrywide, who are our title and presenting sponsors. This year we will have a purse of $5.75 million with $1.35 going to the champion. Proceeds from the tournament again will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation projects, the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, which to date has served about 15,000 kids, as well as the Start Something program, which is a character education program that serves close to six million kids enrolled in the program. So we're very, very excited about that.
We have another great field. We've been fortunate to have a stellar field each year playing this event. This year it's led by defending champion, No. 1 player in the world, and host, Tiger Woods. In addition to that, we'll have Jim Furyk. Steve Stricker, who is new, his first year playing with us. Former champion and British Open champion Padraig Harrington will be joining us. Ninth in the world currently, Rory Sabbatini, who is also new to the field. KJ Choi. Vijay Singh. First-time player Justin Rose, 13 in the world. Second year in a row we'll have Henrik Stenson back with us. Masters champion Zach Johnson. Former champion Luke Donald and Niclas Fasth. Those are the players that qualified off of the World Golf rankings, and that effectively committed after last Monday's cutoff after THE TOUR Championship. The four exemptions include Paul Casey, who is 22nd; Mark Calcavecchia; Davis Love III, former two-time champion; and certainly local and tournament friend Fred Couples.
So, again, we have a nice field. Hopefully everyone grabbed a media packet with all of the information contained in there. With that I'd like to introduce now on the phone from Montréal competing in the Presidents Cup, Tiger Woods, who is the host and, as I said earlier, defending champion.
Tiger, we'd like you maybe to comment a little bit on your year, FedExCup champion, PGA champion, as well as comment a little bit about this year's event at Sherwood Country Club, then we'll open it up into questions.
With that, Tiger.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you. This year has been just a basically dream come true. I know I've had some nice success on the golf course, won some tournaments, including a major championship this year. But this year, having the birth of our first child, has been just truly amazing. It's been just so much fun. My life right now is a complete full opposite of what it was a year ago. Couldn't be happier. I think it's fantastic.
We're looking forward to our ninth event there at Sherwood. Eight years in a row there at Sherwood. Thanks to Target, Countrywide, all the players that have committed to play. This is going to be another fantastic event. We're looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to competing and hopefully being able to win the tournament.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. With obviously the Presidents Cup going on, the unity of the U.S. team, obviously we know how the international players feel and approach when it comes to team golf, but this year with the great field especially from the U.S., I mean, has the team got together, got the unity going? You guys are talking to each other, really excited about the Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Actually it's kind of interesting because most of the guys are coming in right now. We were supposed to be here by 5 p.m. eastern time. Our captain, Jack, just landed about a half hour ago. He's on his way here to the hotel. Let me see. Steve Stricker just went out to the golf course. Charles and Lucas and I think Verplank are already out there practicing. Majority of the guys from both sides are coming in today.
But basically we start tomorrow. Have a team function here tonight, team meeting, make sure everyone is on the same page. Usually today, from all the teams I've been on, the first day you get here, you usually try to make sure your clothes fit, make sure everything's organized so you don't have to worry about anything for the rest of the week. That's basically what we're doing, chilling out, maybe have a few beers later tonight, make sure we catch up on anything, get fired up for the tournament.
Q. Quick question on the TOUR now. A decision to initiate the performance-enhancing drug policy next year. I'm wondering in your mind, since there's still protocol in the penalty phase for the testing to come, do you have any feelings on what you think would be appropriate penalties for anybody who does test positive for any of the banned drugs, whether it be something along the Olympic lines, which would be pretty severe, two years, or less severe like the NFL, which I guess is about four games or so. Just wondering your thoughts on that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think, you know, given our reputation in our sport, how honorable our sport is and always has been and will continue to be, I think that the penalty's got to be somewhat significant. I know tennis, it's pretty significant. Obviously they go along with the Olympic testing. So I don't know how extensive.
Tim is supposed to meet with us this week and explain the policy to us a little bit, some more of the details. We know as much as you do right now. So it will be nice to actually get some information and the details on it.
But I believe that it has to be somewhat significant because the sport has been traditionally about honor, and I think that someone who breaks that code of ethic in our sport should be penalized.
Q. You mentioned the honor in the game. Golf is the only mainstream sport there is that is essentially on the honor code where you police yourself, call your own penalties on yourself. What do you think the reaction would be among the rank-and-file toward anyone found to have broken this code?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it would be very disappointing if it did happen. I think that person's reputation would be obviously damaged pretty significantly. You know, this is the only sport in which you call your own penalties. You can imagine if an offensive lineman said, Oh, I'm sorry, I held the guy, we have to take a 10-yard penalty. I just can't see it in any other sport. Or Michael Jordan says, You know what, sorry, ref, I actually traveled on that one, it should be their ball. We think that's pretty funny to say that stuff, but that's actually how our sport works.
I've called penalties on myself. I know numerous other guys have done the same thing. I think the person who does -- if it does happen, tests positive, then I think his reputation is going to be damaged pretty severely.
Q. Obviously the FedExCup just completed. It was good for you, having won the first one. There was a lot of talk throughout the four weeks about possible changes. Can you give us thoughts from your perspective on, if any, what changes you'd like to see made, what tweaking they could do to the system to make it better?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the first event of the FedExCup, I think the field is actually too big. Technically what we're trying to do is trying to create a system in which, just like every other sport, you play all year to get into a playoff system. Well, 'playoff' means that it's shrunken down, a lot of guys have been eliminated. Well, in our sport 125 players are exempt to play next year. And the first tournament is 144 guys. That's about 10% over. Also don't forget some of the invitationals, such as my tournament, Bay Hill, Jack's tournament, Memorial, all have smaller fields. If you're trying to create an elite status in playoff events, I think you've got to have smaller fields, try and make the events more prestigious that way as well as also more difficult to get into. When you have 144 guys, that's basically like another TOUR event.
Q. Do you feel the PGA TOUR, maybe more specifically Commissioner Finchem, is open to listening to you guys and possibly making some changes based on things that you guys think need to be changed?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think everyone is open to suggestions right now. We want to make the system better. It's sort of similar to NASCAR. When they first came out, they made tweaks. We're going to do the same thing, we're going to try to tweak it a bit, make it better.
That's the idea. We need to have open discussion about it. I know Tim's coming in this week. I know the players are looking forward to talk to him, trying to get everyone's thoughts on it. Ultimately we're going to try to make this better for everyone, not just for the players, but we're trying to make it better for the public and all the sponsors who are involved, try and create a better atmosphere for everyone.
Q. Under what circumstances should a player be banned for testing for certain performance-enhancing drugs? Also, have you ever suspected that a fellow player was using performance-enhancing drugs?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you have to make the determination of what is performance-enhancing. If you go by what the Olympic Committee does, I know I have some friends who played on the ATP, and they can't take a cold remedy such as Nyquil or anything. It tests positive. So, you know, how severe are we going to go on this is the question?
I know some of the guys have taken a steroid pack. What I mean by that is you have an anti-inflammatory. It's like 11 pills, then 10, 9, 7, all the way down. It's like a five-day pack. Some guys have had to do that to get out there and play. I believe one of the golfers tested positive for that this year in the French Open. He already told the guys what exactly it was. It's what it was. It was that kind of steroid pack some of the guys have taken in the past.
I don't know how far we're going to go on that. That's the thing that we're looking forward to talking to Tim this week, getting more detail on how far and how extensive is the list going to be.
Q. And what about ever suspecting someone using them?
TIGER WOODS: We all think that it has probably happened in the past. We know that guys have tried beta blockers. You know, Nick Price is the first one to admit it, that he did use it, because he had a heart problem. He needed to do it so he didn't have any more heart complications. He said it actually hurt his game.
But, you know, as far as that, we really don't know.
Q. A different direction here. I was at the other US Open, and Roger, who won, talked a lot about you. I know you made the commercial with Roger and Thierry Henry. Can you get into your thoughts about Roger, and also where did you make the commercial? I know it's supposed to be a worldwide distribution, isn't it?
TIGER WOODS: I'll get back to the commercial part second.
Roger and I have become very close friends actually. It's been great for both of us. We needle each other all the time with text messages or leaving voice messages, talking to one another. I think it's been great, both of us in the positions we're in, what we're trying to do in our sport. We are, you know, basically the same time frame in our careers. We're right in the middle of our prime years. So it's been a lot of fun for both of us to get to know one another, how we think, how we train. It's been a lot of fun, it really has been.
As far as the Gillette spot, actually it was a pretty cool spot. It was all done on green screen, so it makes it even more interesting. I did mine in Orlando. Roger did his from Australia. And Thierry did his I believe from France or Italy. They put it all together, so it was pretty cool actually.
Q. How nervous do you still get before a round? Is it more or less than when you started?
TIGER WOODS: I'd say it's still the same. I still get nervous. I think I understand how to handle the nerves a lot better, know how to deal with them, how to subdue my emotions so much more than I ever used to.
You know, I think that just comes with experience. I've been out here for 11 years now. All that experience, it helps out a lot, especially when I've had success along the way, and you try to analyze what went right. I think just through experience, you kind of figure out a way of how to get it done.
Q. Is it ever an overwhelming feeling or close to overwhelming? If it is, how do you get that to calm in those situations?
TIGER WOODS: Before I play?
Q. Before or during.
TIGER WOODS: Well, during you're in the flow, you're in a rhythm. But before, it's more excitement of getting out there and wanting to compete. I want to get out there so badly, to mix it up with the boys, try and shoot a good round. That's my excitement level.
I think that's one of the things I've had to learn how to calm down over the years. I just tend to get so fired up. That's what I had to do in track, in cross-country, in other sports I used to play, get so fired up to let adrenaline basically carry you across the line. Here you're trying to subdue everything. As you mature as a player, you get better at handling that, get better at knowing what to do.
Q. It's never a shaky feeling?
TIGER WOODS: No, never, never.
Q. In terms of goals and winning, you've won almost everything there is to do. What is your next biggest goal? For our Hispanic audience, what do you think about the latest success that players like Angel Cabrera have had, Miguel Carballo, Angel Franco, and of course Lorena Ochoa in the game?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's been fantastic, especially Angel. I've known Angel for years. To have him play as well as he did in the U.S. Open, to win the championship, it did a lot for everyone down in Argentina. What Lorena has been doing here in the United States has been phenomenal.
It's just great to see golf becoming more global, recognized in the world for what it is. It's great to see it expanding. Before primarily it's been U.S. dominated with Europeans and Australians and a few South Africans. But to have other places around the world starting to pick up the game, play at an extremely high level, world-class level, it's been great for our sport. It's only going to continue to expand from here.
Q. The progression of the Learning Center out here, give me your thoughts on that, how it's been going. Secondly, I think I'm starting on the 3rd hole here and haven't hit a ball in about eight months, do you got any tips?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, aim left (laughter).
As far as the Learning Center, it's been fantastic. We have reached more than 15,000 kids so far in the Learning Center, which has been phenomenal. Then our Start Something program, which we've done on a national level, we've reached nearly five million kids. I think we're having a positive impact. I think we're only going to continue to expand on that.
I have a few initiatives that I want to handle things going overseas, going abroad. We're trying to expand on that.
Q. At the Presidents Cup, the U.S. team has to play international competition every year. The guys you're playing don't. They get a year off. Is that a problem, and if it is, do you ever see anything that would maybe change the scheduling somewhat?
TIGER WOODS: The scheduling won't change. It is what it is. It's interesting because the Europeans say, How do you guys do it every year? It's what we do. The Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup were here before I ever turned pro.
You know, it's an honor to make the team because you know played well. We've got some great guys on the teams. It's fun to get to know some of the new guys you don't get to see. All these years we basically had some core guys that have played. It's been myself, Mickelson and Jim. We've been on the team together since '97. We've made every team together. Phil was on there in '95 in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup in '96, so he's been on here longer.
It's great to get to know a lot of the guys, their wives and their families. It builds from one team to the next because of what we've done in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups in the past. Certain years, like the last Presidents Cup we played on, everyone on that team had played on some team event, either Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, so there were no rookies. May have been a rookie for that one particular event, but not for team competition. So it was a lot easier.
This year we've got a couple rookies that have never been on a team before. I know they'll play well. But it will be a new experience for them.
Q. Do you expect some pretty tough coaching from your captain, from Nicklaus, or is he going to just let you guys go?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I think that's one of the great things that Jack does on the teams that I've been involved in, South Africa, the last time we played at RTJ, then here, then Australia in '98, is that Jack has traditionally just let us play. He gets out of the way. He says, Go prepare how you normally prepare for an event. We have certain team things and certain team rules that we have on his teams. Very lenient. More than anything, he says, Just go get prepared to play.
It's been more hands-off than anything else. When he does speak, though, everyone listens because obviously he is the greatest player of all time. You always want to hear what he's going to say. But he doesn't speak very often, which makes it very interesting. It's not a rah-rah atmosphere. It's very serious, very focused, but also just a lot of fun.
Q. Looking at 2009, what are your thoughts on the change of venue here in the States? What will that do for the popularity among the general public for the Presidents Cup? It's had success going to different countries, but with the new site in two years, what do you think that will do for the popularity?
TIGER WOODS: I think any time you get to move this event, move it around, I think it helps the event. It helps grow what we're trying to grow. The only exception was probably in '98 when some of the guys had taken their time off and really hadn't been as prepared as they needed to be for the event. But every other year since, I think the guys have been very focused, have always wanted to win.
It's a great competition. If you look on the international side, I think that everyone will be the first to admit that's probably the best lineup there is, including U.S. or European Ryder Cup teams. To be on the international team, you have to basically be in the top 20 in the world to make the squad. That's pretty formidable.
Q. I'm wondering what kind of a personality Sam has developed? Can you tell us what you do, if you've worked out any funny strategies to get her to stop crying?
TIGER WOODS: What was the last part?
Q. Any funny strategies or things you do to get her to stop crying?
TIGER WOODS: Well, she loves light for some reason. I don't know if that means she's going to love cameras, but she loves light. She likes just to stare at light for some reason. It's actually been pretty neat. Actually, to make her fall asleep, just turn the light on. The opposite of most people.
But, no, she's been great. I can't tell you how eye-opening it's been and how fantastic it's been. Here is one of the weirdest feelings you have as a parent, it's been so hard and so difficult, so time-consuming, but you can't wait to have another one. Theoretically, it doesn't make any sense, but it's been so cool. We just can't wait to experience more things with Sam and obviously hopefully have others in the future.
Q. With Michelle Wie now just practicing at Stanford, from your perspective, being the best player, we just had the King on the show, he had his perspective and opinion on Michelle Wie's play thus far, why can't she win? I'd love to know from your perspective, your opinion. She's young. She's got better skills than most I've ever seen. What do you think the problem is? Mental? What do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that she's basically won one golf tournament. I think that a lot of us who have played in golf at an early age, have played high school golf, have played AJGA, amateur golf, collegiate golf, then turned pro. She basically skipped a lot of that.
I think that for me as a competitor, as a player, I think there's an art form to winning. You have to learn how to do it. It takes experience after experience after experience after experience to learn how to do it. She really hasn't gotten that.
I have a feeling once she does win and flood gates open, she'll win a bunch of events. She needs to obviously win that first one. Once you break that hurdle, I think she'll learn from it and obviously win a lot more after that.
Q. Is there any way to decompress the late-season schedule? You have the World Golf, British, four FedExCup events, then the Ryder Cup next year in an eight-week span. Are top players going to continue to pick what to play, what to miss? Any way to change that compression?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's the question that we're all asking right now, is how can we make it so that it's fair and just for everybody and we can play and all the sponsors will be happy, the players will feel fresh and be able to compete. That will be the interesting thing going forward.
Next year it's basically set in stone. Obviously the schedule is pretty much set and we pretty much have to deal with that. Subsequent years, hopefully we can tweak it around, make something applicable for all players.
It will be very interesting to see, as a player, what Tim has to say this week about all that stuff. We're going to obviously ask him a little bit about the FedExCup, how can we make improvements, try to find of out what the policies are going to be for performance-enhancing drugs. We're basically going to try to figure a lot of that stuff out this week talking to him.
I think in the near future we'll have a better idea.
Q. A question for both of your tournaments. We had news last week about '09. I wondered if you're getting closer to maybe anchoring your tournament to Congressional. The other thought is, with two golf tournaments to play, and a golf course design business developing, how are you going to juggle all those things with time?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as Congressional, we're still working on that. We'll have a better idea for you probably towards the end of the year and early next year, what we're going to do.
As far as the two tournaments, then juggling the golf course design business, I think the golf course design part of it is something I'm really looking forward to, I'm really excited about. It's been a lot of fun and eye-opening to be involved in that. Something I've always wanted to do.
As far as the time commitments, that's something that I've been trying to work. Obviously some things are going to have to probably go away to make time for that. My most important thing right now is my family, being around Sam as much as I possibly can. The golf course design stuff, the reason why I like it so much, is I can hop in, hop back, still be at home. A lot of stuff that we do, I can actually take her to these sites, walk the golf course with me, walk properties. I think that's been a lot of fun for all of us.
Q. On the performance-enhancing drug issue, how would a golfer be ideally proportioned, in your opinion? Bigger arms, does that help a golfer? Do you have to be careful not to get too big? Can golfers become performance enhanced through developing your body or do you have to be careful not to get too big?
TIGER WOODS: I think in our sport, there's so much touch involved and so much feel that a player must have, that if you do get too bulky, too big, as well as tight, then I think it will be more detrimental than helpful. I think that's the balance you're trying to find in our sport.
Other sports, you can get big, you can get pretty bulky because a lot of it is gross motor movements. It's not finite control. For instance, when you play baseball or football, those are basically gross motor movements. You don't need to have fine control. In our sport, it's about feel and executing a precise shot. It's going to be interesting to see.
I know the guys have gotten bigger over time out here on TOUR. Look at the collegiates, they're bigger and stronger. We have yet to see anyone who is 6'3", 240, and absolutely ripped like you see in a lot of other sports.
In my personal opinion, I don't know how you could actually maintain your feel while getting that size, that big. There may be someone who can. Who knows.
Q. How have bigger arms helped you in your golf?
TIGER WOODS: Well, for me it's helped me a lot, not necessarily the big arm part, but just the overall stability. I've always been very loose-jointed. I've always had almost hyper mobility in a lot of my joints. For me lifting actually got me back into the normal range, normal realm where most people are. So it's actually helped me quite a bit just to try to get back to where most people are in everyday life.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks to everyone on the telephone, all the members of the media. Thank you for being with us. Thank you, Tiger. Good luck to you and the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks for having me. We'll see you.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everybody, for coming today.
End of FastScripts