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AT&T NATIONAL MEDIA DAY
April 20, 2009
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Good afternoon, welcome, everyone, to the 2009 British Open Media Day (laughter).
Yeah, sorry about the weather, for those of you that were here, a little surprising this morning at 8:00 AM there were 65 golfers that went out. It's balmy out there right now compared to how it was earlier today. Those of you that played golf, hats off to you. You must really like your jobs.
So with that, it's a delight to be back at Congressional Country Club, and we are certainly honored to be here. It's the third annual AT&T National, and we certainly want to thank and acknowledge AT&T, who is a wonderful title sponsor of ours. Also would like to acknowledge our presenting and founding partners, which would include Lockheed Martin, CVS Caremark, CDW and Chevron and certainly thank them for their support, as well as all of the sponsors of our tournament for their support.
Congressional Country Club has been the host of this event for two previous years, and we certainly were proud to have K.J. Choi win in 2007 and Anthony Kim win in 2008, and we are delighted that the members have agreed to have us back in 2009 and also 2012 through 2014.
We want to thank the board members that are present and all of the members, and with that, I would like to introduce the president of the club to make a few remarks, Mr. Tim Sullivan.
TIM SULLIVAN: Thanks, Greg. Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of the board and the membership of Congressional, welcome to Media Day, and welcome to our club. For the third year as Greg has said, Congressional is quite pleased to host Tiger, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the AT&T National in order to -- yikes, this is nerve-wracking. I know I'll get it back in a second. Just like missing a putt, Tiger. (Laughter).
TIGER WOODS: Done that a lot lately. (Laughter).
TIM SULLIVAN: We have really a strong partnership with Tiger and the Tiger Woods Foundation. We really believe in the mission of Tiger and the Tiger Woods Foundation, which is helping those in our community that really need it, through both the foundation and its great work that it does in California, and soon in our area; and also to help the local charities that we are allowed to give proceeds from the tournament to local charities that serve our members and people that live in the Washington metropolitan area. And also we are really excited to bring professional golf back here.
So Tiger, we are proud to have you for our third year. We are sorry you won't be here with us next year, but we have a little tournament called the U.S. Open to get ready for, and all of the members of Congressional stand with you, and we will welcome you back and we look forward to an amazing tournament this year.
I think most people here know we are located in Montgomery County, and the support we receive from the county officials has been tremendous, and I wanted to just thank and recognize county executive Ike Leggett, the staff members Tom Street and Steve Silverman for being there, and thank them as well. Please, nice round of applause for our county officials.
We have several exciting topics to discuss today. One of the things I would like to talk a little bit about is the Tiger Woods Foundation and the outreach that we have done in two short years. We have been endeavoring to locate a Tiger Woods Learning Center, D.C., for the last 18 months and we are excited that we are zeroing in on a location that would be here in the Washington, D.C. area in the District and hope to have something announced before the tournament this year.
In addition to that, through last year's event, we generated approximately $2 million in net profit from the 2008 tournament. We are able to support a wide variety of local 501(c)(3) youth organizations in and around Washington, D.C., northern Virginia and Maryland. And in addition to that, we are able to grant college scholarships to deserving Washington, D.C. young men and women.
Currently we have a total of ten scholars that will receive a four-year college scholarship renewable annually; to kids that received the scholarship last year, both from local area high schools, one is going to the University of Idaho, and one is going to the University of Arizona.
So we are pleased to have the Earl Woods Scholar, which is named after the cofounder of the Tiger Woods Foundation, Earl Woods, we are honored certainly to be bringing our scholarship program, as well as supporting the many organizations in and around the Washington, D.C. area. So we are excited about what we have been able to do with our charities.
Turning your attention to the tournament, which will be held over the July 4 holiday, we will, again, honor our military as we have the previous two years. Our tournament will donate 30,000 tickets to retired, as well as active military, in and around the greater Washington, D.C. area.
We will have our opening ceremony again on Wednesday at 11:00 AM. This year we will be featuring the Wounded Warriors as our honorary first tee starters. We will have our Military Caddie Program again on No. 7 where men and women who are currently active will caddie one hole for an individual professional during that day. And there are various other military initiatives we will be doing during the week. Again, we want to continue our support of the military in this great community, and we plan on really making a nice showing here in 2009.
We have a couple of early commitments I would like to announce, both the 2007 and 2008 past champions, both K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim will be back, as well as I would like to announce newcomer Ernie Els, who won the '97 U.S. Open here, has committed to play, as well as Paul Casey, Ryder Cup Member for The European Team, as well as recent winner at the Houston Open; Jim Furyk, a regular here; as well as Danny Lee, win of the U.S. Amateur, as well as the Johnnie Walker Classic recently. We are excited about our early commitments.
In a moment, we will introduce another person who will make another commitment to play. We have a lot of friends that are here as well as -- (laughter) -- no, in all seriousness, we have a lot of guests here. I would ask that all of the questions for Tiger and for Tim be really just from the members of the media only.
So with that, I would like to introduce the founder of the Tiger Woods Foundation, Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you. Well, first off, I want to thank AT&T, Congressional, all of the members, everyone involved in making our dream come true and have this PGA TOUR event be as special as it has been over the last two years.
Sorry that I was not able to come up last year. I was on a couch. I was watching it, blowing up over here everyone's phone -- actually, everyone's phone, trying to find out -- players were texting and calling me; just quit calling me. (Laughter) I wanted to find out everything that was going on up here; I missed it so much.
This year, I want to officially announce I'm going to commit to the tournament. I can't wait to get out here and play. Just really looking forward to getting onto that Blue Course and hopefully win the tournament.
Q. Actually two questions. One, how is Charlie?
TIGER WOODS: He's good. Growing like a weed.
Q. Are you going to put a parental control on your television to prevent Charlie from seeing the swing of Sir Charles Barkley? First question. (Laughter). The second thing I have to ask is, I know that the tournament is being given to recognize those veterans who have participated in the wars. And this is maybe not the right time to ask this question, but I feel compelled to do so. There's a show that I do called "My Generation" that targets the 50- to 70-year-old people. It's all the Baby Boomers, and basically we provide the kind of programming that no one else is, from reinventing one's self after retirement, volunteering, health and fitness and the whole nine yards. One of these days, I want you to commit to coming in and doing an interview for us, because we have a large group of veterans that this show goes out to and are unaware of what it is you are trying to do here. And also, my last question is, who won the Masters? Because I turned off the TV, man, and went over and started chipping balls.
TIGER WOODS: First part of your three-part question -- (laughter) -- as far as Charles' swing, it certainly is interesting. It certainly is like a speech impediment, you're right. It's like anything, though, it can't get any worse; it only can get better. (Laughter).
Yeah, but as far as anything to help out, try to do anything I possibly can for the military, always have. I grew up, and my dad served, and certainly understand what it takes, and grateful for what everyone has done for this great country and try to help however I can.
As far as the Masters, you know, I didn't watch anything, either. (Laughter).
Q. We know the tournament is going away for two years, can you just address the Washington market, what you found the tournament to be like here, and long term, even beyond 2014, what you would say about whether you see staying around here?
TIGER WOODS: This is a great golfing town. This is a great sport town in general. Everyone always comes out and supports their teams, and this event over the past couple of years has been phenomenal. They have had great support here, and even when the tournament used to be played here back and Avenal, they always had a great turnout. I think what we are doing for kids and especially honoring the military, I think people sort of understand that and want to come out and support this event.
As far as continuing playing here, we want to come back and play here, as long as Congressional wants us. I mean, this is such a great golf course, and such a special area, that of course you want to come back. It's an very historic golf course and one that players love to play.
If you have a great golf course, the players will come.
Q. You were at the basketball game last night. You looked pretty casual in your khakis and everything. Are you a Lakers fan?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, I am no doubt. No doubt.
Q. Now that you've got a family, you're probably starting to think about education, like all parents do, and sort of the buzz word these days is the global schoolhouse; educating kids for responsible world citizenship, the global schoolhouse. And you and your family have such rich cultural backgrounds, have you started to think about what you might do to encourage your kids to be global citizens?
TIGER WOODS: I think just the nature of what I do, it is global. Traveling -- actually one of the things Mark O'Meara and I talked about a few months ago, I was at home just rehabbing and he came down and we had a long talk, and that was one of the points we talked about is that his kids got an education that very few kids do, which is traveling around the world. And obviously with Elin being Swedish, my mom being Thai, they will be traveling quite a bit to those two countries, and I'm sure with me all over the world.
The world certainly has opened up. It has gotten closer. I think my kids will certainly experience something that I didn't experience, even in my generation, with accessibility to these different places, and I think it's going to be fun for them, and educational for both of them.
Q. Do you speak any Swedish?
TIGER WOODS: I speak a little. It's not very good. I'm better at reading it than anything else, or, "Take out the trash" or "clean up the house" or "wash the dishes." I understand those. Actually I understand that in Thai, too. (Laughter).
Q. It's been, what, ten days since the Masters; wonder if you had a chance to do a postmortem on how you felt your game went there, and where you see your game right now going forward to your next tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I'm obviously disappointed I didn't win. I was on the periphery of being in contention and being right there in the mix.
I was just a fraction off. I didn't putt well till Sunday, and being a fraction off in that, and I do mean a fraction, like Stevie and I were talking about it: "Like how many times would you hit a shot that was one yard off?" And one yard is 30 or 40 feet at Augusta. Just takes the wrong side of the slope. And it just seemed to be happening all week.
It was just one of those weeks I was just that much away from posting some really good numbers. Unfortunately it didn't happen, and consequently, I didn't win. Hopefully the next tournament I play in, I'll be a little bit sharper than that, and we'll get a W.
Q. How difficult is it to win your own golf tournament? Jack's done that in the past. I assume that's what you would like to do. Are there distractions or any other things that people wouldn't know?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've had a little bit of success at the Chevron tournament out there in L.A. But a PGA TOUR event, it's hard, it really is; full field -- or a limited field, but to have that many players that you have to beat, and the quality of players, is not exactly easy.
And then under the demands of what you have to do off the golf course is certainly something I've learned, how to handle the responsibilities and deal with that along with my preparation. I've got just an incredible staff that have done such a great job over the last couple of years with this event, and hopefully I can do my job and win the event.
Q. You talked at Augusta about having a Band-Aid on your swing. Wondering at the end of the day, knowing Kenny had backed up into the field and the playoff, was it even more frustrating knowing that with just a little more, could you have been right there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I got probably almost as much as you could probably get out of my round on Sunday. My other rounds, no, I did not. I made a few mistakes on the last couple of holes.
But the way I warmed up on Sunday, the way I hit it on Sunday, was not very good. And to shoot the score I shot, I wish I could have turned -- that was the round I probably should have shot 1- or 2-over par into a 68. The other rounds were certainly rounds in the high 60s I turned into 70. That's something you can't afford to do, and I did it three times.
In the end, that's basically what cost me a very good chance to win the golf tournament.
Q. And seeing Kenny come back?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was really frustrating, no doubt, but then again, he got to 14, and the last few holes, anything can happen. I didn't do my job. I didn't post the number I needed to post. I needed to post an 11 just to have an outside chance to get into a playoff; and 12, I thought certainly would have been in the playoff; and 13, I thought would have won the tournament out right. But I didn't handle my part.
Q. Enough about the Masters. Want to look ahead to the Major, which is the U.S. Open. I know it's a little bit a ways, but you're not only the defend champion, but you won at Bethpage last time it was there. Two-part question: What are your memories from Bethpage, and what did you like most about the golf course?
TIGER WOODS: As far as the memories, it was an unbelievable atmosphere. Granted, we were not too far removed from 9/11, and I think the whole city was just looking for something to wrap their arms around, anything, any sporting event, anything to take themselves out of that moment in time. The U.S. Open was that event.
I played well, and ended up winning the golf tournament. But I think the overwhelming memory of the whole event was just the week in general; the support we got, and I can't believe how many thank-yous we got as players: Thank you for coming out and supporting New York and thank you for everything you've done. We didn't do anything. We just came out and just played. But to them, they wanted something else. They wanted a distraction from what they just witnessed and what they were dealing with, and all of the people they have lost in their lives.
As far as the golf course, the golf course was a very big golf course at the time. It's even bigger now. It will be curious; I haven't played it yet since they made the changes, so I would like to get up there and play it, obviously, prior to the U.S. Open and get an understanding of how to play it.
But at the time, it was just a big ballpark. It was par 70; guys could not get to the fairway on 10 and 12. 15 was an unbelievable green, and in general, there were a lot of hard holes out there. And the rough being four or five inches and thick, nobody got to the green in regulation; if you hit the ball in the rough, you had to drive it great. It was just a tremendous test.
Q. Have you played there at all since that Open?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have not played there since the final round, no.
Q. Did you ever see the Ben Hogan movie?
TIGER WOODS: I did, yes.
Q. Do you find any inspiration in that his legacy was really cemented after post-serious injury? Yours wasn't life-threatening, of course, but similar.
TIGER WOODS: Well, hopefully it's post, because that means I'm going to have some good things happen.
Obviously I didn't have to deal with anything he's had to deal with, and his comeback certainly was a lot more difficult than mine.
You know, it's one of those things where you don't really realize what you're getting into. When you first have a surgery, oh, rehab should not be too bad. I've had surgeries before and done rehab before. But this one was different. It took a lot longer to where I was feeling good.
But we are actually looking forward to playing now, because I finally have a leg I can hit against, which I haven't had in so long. It feels fun to hit shots that I have not been able to hit. It's just very exciting.
Q. A park in New Jersey, I understand as part of the Tiger Woods Foundation you go up there to support the inner city kids there. Could you advertise that more so some of us could --
TIGER WOODS: We will do a better job of that. We will certainly do a better job of that.
Q. Because you've always just left. (Laughter) I'd like you to talk a little bit about your golf courses that you've been designing. Why did you choose a mountain course and a desert course, when you like links golf so much?
TIGER WOODS: Actually, the desert golf course, the first one is going to be more linksy just because we have the ability to actually design that, because it is basically a blank canvas out in the middle of the desert, and it will be more that way. I enjoy playing links golf where you can use run-up areas; and my golf course in Dubai and the one in Asheville is similar to that. You can run the ball up and use the ground as an ally.
The one in México, there are a few forced carries, and that's because they are beautiful holes and you are hitting out over the ocean. But other than that, I enjoy using the ground as an eye line. I think that most modern golf courses take that away from the players and I don't think that's right. Not everyone can hit the ball straight up in the air and stop it on a dime. What's wrong with giving a player an opportunity to run the ball up and use that as an ally? That's part of the game and how it was originally played, and I think that's how the game of golf should be played.
Q. Is it a walking course?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, it is. I think it's great to be able to get out there and walk and enjoy being on the golf course. And caddie programs certainly have diminished over the years with the advent of the golf cart, and I think that getting out there and walking, is a how a lot of kids learn how to play. It's how I learned how to play. Certainly we are going to try to have that opportunity.
Q. What's your favorite memory about coming to town and participating in the inaugural celebration, and have you had a chance to talk to the President either then or since then?
TIGER WOODS: Talked to, obviously it was former President Bush, and he came in and hit the inaugural tee shot. I remember him complaining on 17 tee that, "oh, I can't hit a shot, I just had surgery," and blah, blah, blah, and he stripes it right down the middle of the fairway. He probably wouldn't be very good at poker or anything like that. (Laughter).
But it's one of those things where it was just a great way to start off this event. It made it so special. And to have the military there and to have everyone support the event like they did the first year; and especially us putting the event together in just over a hundred days, putting it together and having the players just rave about it, having all of the fans rave about it, it was just such a huge success.
We are just trying to build on that momentum that we created the first year.
Q. Talk more about your role as host here and your duties outside the ropes and compared to other tournaments you are not hosting, and is MJ going to break a hundred at Bethpage?
TIGER WOODS: Part of being a host, obviously you have certain functions that you have to attend to, a lot of people that you need to talk to and have meetings and get to see during the week. That is one of the more challenging aspects of it, but also one of the things that I truly enjoy, as well.
I didn't really truly understand when I first got into it the first couple of events that we did, one down in Arizona and one at Sherwood, but over the years, understanding how a golf tournament really works, the inner workings of a golf tournament. It's been obviously a great learning experience for me. There's also been a lot of people I've gotten to know because of it and great friends I've gotten to know because of it.
As far as MJ's chances, well, he'd better hit it straight. (Laughter) I mean, can't say -- his game is certainly better than Charles, but, you know, I'll tell you this. This is a good story. When I first played in MJ at Chicago, in one of those Playoffs and his first round wasn't very good. Shot 88. His next round, 73. So obviously I got suckered in. (Laughter) Learned my lesson. Learned my lesson.
It all depends where I put the wager on the number, what he's going to shoot, so I think that's what I'm kind of learning towards right now, jockeying for that number.
Q. You guys have already announced that Danny Lee has committed, and with Anthony winning last year; with Ryo Ishikawa, a whole rave of guys, Rory McIlroy, how overwhelming is it for these guys to say, 'Tiger is our template, we never saw anybody else growing up,' and that's why they play golf?
TIGER WOODS: It's really different, really different for me. Most of the guys that I looked up to and idolized are now on the Champions Tour. For me to be in that same position, it's different. It's really different. One, I don't consider myself that old. And then two, it's just amazing how time flies and how many things can happen in such a short span of time.
Q. Two quick things. One, could you talk about your comfort level now at Augusta National versus when you first got there in '97 and won, especially with the changes? And the second thing is, why does it take so long to find a place for the Tiger Woods facility here in D.C.?
TIGER WOODS: First off, the golf course has changed so much, being no rough, wide open, downgrain to now every hole is into the grain, tightened up.
As far as my comfort level, I know how to play it. That's one of the reasons why you see a lot of the same guys near the top of the board; we understand how to play it. Only difference is a lot of our angles have been changed going into greens.
I remember Raymond Floyd used to tell me on No. 9, hit the ball as far right as you possibly can hit it, right of the gallery, so you have the perfect angle; with your length, you have a wedge hitting up to the green. Well, we don't have that shot anymore. There's a big forest over there.
So some of the things have changed over the years, but I still feel very comfortable over there. I really enjoy playing there and have an understanding of how to play it; even though I haven't won in recent years, but I've been there, and close, and that's because I understand how to play it.
As far as finding a place here, it certainly has been a little more difficult than we would liked to have had. A lot of that has to do with, obviously, the financial times and things changing, changing and evolving. It's not exactly the best time to start raising funds for a Learning Center. It just makes things -- this whole financial climate has made things a lot more complicated for us, but certainly we are narrowing down and we have got some good things happening now.
Q. A couple of weeks ago at Bay Hill, you got it done down the stretch. Kenny Perry did not have the same fate at Augusta. Do you feel for a guy like that? We'll never know, what goes through your body down the stretch when you have to get something done?
TIGER WOODS: Well, of course you feel bad for Kenny. He's 48 years old, and don't know how much more chances he's going to get. Also, you have to feel bad for Chad Campbell for playing as well as he did, and just came down to one putt.
You know, Kenny Perry's situation is very similar to what Raymond Floyd dealt with at the Masters; 50 or 51 at the time and lost in a playoff to Faldo, and didn't know how many more chances he's going to get to get back there again; and played against Freddie and loses again. Your time is running out, and I think that's one of the reasons why Raymond took it hard and one of the reason why is Kenny takes it hard. Realistically, you are not taking as many chances at 48 as you are at 28, and that's one of the reasons why it hit home so hard to him. And he had a chance to win.
What goes through your system at the time, it's amazing: The rush that you get, of adrenaline, the thoughts, the focus you need to have, distractions that come up, and all of these different things that you have to deal with. And is your game solid that day; is it not; a lot of different things that change, and you have to be fluid and adjust, and can't be stagnant and get caught into a certain -- have to play a certain way. It's a fluid environment, and you just have to go with the flow and get it done, somehow, find a way.
Q. You're part of a group of international golfers trying to get golf accepted into the 2016 Olympics. How is that important to you, and why?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that golf has become more global and has expanded. I think golf, with its rich history, it certainly would be a wonderful fit for the Olympics.
Q. Before the economy started taking its current slide, this tournament actually was a pretty good value for families to come out and have some really good entertainment for four days. Do you all in the current environment, do you expect there to be any kind of downturn either in participation or folks coming out; what do you do to entice people, and are you feeling any kind of pinch with the foundation right now?
TIGER WOODS: As of right now, I think we are right on schedule as far as everything is concerned. It's a matter of obviously the financial climate; it makes things a little more interesting. But we have got just a tremendous amount of support from the local area so far. I think it's only going to get better as more guys commit, and hopefully we have a great weather week that week and people will come out.
I know that we are certainly getting the support and have the ability to give thanks to the military again this year and hopefully people come out, not only to watch the players, but also to say thank you to all of the servicemen and women that are coming out here, because if it wasn't for them, what they are doing overseas, things might be different here.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thank you all very much. Look forward to seeing everybody during the tournament.
End of FastScripts