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AT&T NATIONAL MEDIA DAY
May 10, 2010
EMILY TAYLOR: Welcome to Aronimink. We are all very pleased you could join us today. My name is Emily Taylor, and I am the vice president of communications for the AT&T National.
I'd like to begin today by recognizing and thanking our title sponsor, AT&T, along with all of our supporting tournament sponsors and the media for joining us here today.
I would also like to thank the members and board of Aronimink Golf Club, along with the people of Newton Township for their generous hospitality for being our host for 2010 and 2011.
At this time I would like to introduce the president of Aronimink Golf Club, Mr. David Boucher, for a few remarks.
DAVID BOUCHER: Thanks very much. My name is David Boucher, I'm president of Aronimink Golf Club. It's my great honor and privilege to be president. It's my second year, having succeeded Mike Higgins, who is our tournament chairman for the AT&T.
On behalf of myself, the officers, governors, members, welcome to AT&T National Media Day. As all of you probably know, especially if you played this morning, we have a Donald Ross gem of a golf course. We have had a number of outstanding events here in the past, including the PGA, U.S. Amateur, the Junior Amateur and the Senior PGA, and now topping that off with the AT&T National in 2010 and 2011.
So thanks to our sponsor, AT&T, and other sponsors, the tournament is going to showcase Aronimink bringing professional golf back to the Philadelphia marketplace, which is so exciting for us and for everybody who lives and plays golf in this region. This tournament also carries the mission of the PGA Tour and Tiger Woods Foundation by providing charitable funding for Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia, Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, and of course the Tiger Woods Foundation.
For those of who you played the golf course this morning, I hope you enjoyed it. I'm sure it was challenging with the wind up. We are hoping that a combination of fast greens, wind, high rough is going to provide some entertainment for our players and also entertainment for our spectators.
So again, welcome to AT&T National, welcome to Aronimink, thanks for coming today. Special thanks to Tiger Woods for coming today. Thanks, Tiger.
EMILY TAYLOR: Next I would like to welcome our 2009 defending champion, Tiger Woods.
Tiger, welcome to Philadelphia. What do you think about being here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's great to be here, first off. Hard to believe we are wearing sweaters.
Today, this morning, actually was a great morning. I got a chance to go down and visit the Honickman Learning Center that Jon Bon Jovi, his Soul Foundation is involved in. Just absolutely phenomenal what they are doing down there. Very similar to what we are doing out in Anaheim, but with the live-in component because of the homelessness and the problems that that causes. And seeing the kids and how excited they were about going to college for the first time, where they are going; it's just really neat to see that people like Jon are taking the initiative to do these great things, and it's one of the reasons why we have come here, to try and do the same things that the Boys & Girls Club and what Jon is doing here for the kids.
We are excited to be here with AT&T and Aronimink. This golf course is hard. So I think it will be playing right about 7,200 yards, par 70, and it will be quite a test being at an old Donald Ross golf course. And I think all of the players will thoroughly enjoy it. Right now the greens are up to speed. And this early in the season; still got eight more weeks, so it's going to be fun.
EMILY TAYLOR: Thanks, Tiger.
Q. Just wondering about your back which you hurt yesterday and the reason you withdrew from the tournament; did you get any examinations or see any doctor about it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not my back like it's been reported. It is my neck.
Yesterday I did pull out and it was because the pain is such that, yeah, it is annoying and it's painful, but I can deal with the pain. But once it locked up, I couldn't move back or through. I couldn't actually turn going back and I couldn't turn coming through.
Was it frustrating? Yeah. For me not to play all 18 holes, that was as angry and as frustrated as I've been in a long time. But yeah, it is sore. I haven't had any treatment except for right after the round yesterday. I flew up here as soon, as I get back down to Orlando I'm going to start getting more treatment.
I'll have an MRI on it and see exactly what's going on, why it's behaving the way it's behaving. I'm answering all of your questions before. (Laughter).
It actually started bugging me two weeks before the Masters, and it was just on and off. I thought it was just sore and no big deal. But as I kept playing, kept practicing, it never got better. It actually was getting worse, and now I'm at a point now where I just can't go anymore.
Q. Physically you are having some problems right now, but are you also struggling with your mental game a little bit, given the recent turmoil in your life?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's certainly not where I would like to have it, there's no doubt. There's a lot of things going on in my life, period, right now. And just trying to get everything in a harmonious spot, and that's not easy to do.
I'm also trying to make life changes, as well, and trying to do that under the microscope of everyone asking me and watching everything I do doesn't make it easy. But I have just so many great friends and peers that have gone through things that I am going through and battling; people have been at it for a lot longer than me, and that helps to be able to talk with them and share my feelings with them. It really does help.
Q. At the Masters, you mentioned that after the accident, you had a busted-up lip and sore neck, is there any connection --
TIGER WOODS: Zero connection. Absolutely zero. My neck started to bother me when I really started to practice a lot and tried to ramp up.
Q. Why Aronimink? What made you choose Aronimink, as opposed to many other golf courses in the area? Had you ever heard about it before? Have you ever played it before?
TIGER WOODS: Haven't played it. Been out here, walked it, been around it, but just it's also the rich history that Aronimink has. We were at Congressional, another golf course that has a rich history, and I have always been a proponent of why don't we go to golf courses that are like this. We don't get a chance to play too many golf courses like this; so it's a treat for us as players.
One of the reasons why you see a lot of players play Quail follow is it's a great golf course; Riviera, it's a great golf course; Torrey Pines. We don't get a chance to play old-style venues like this very often, and when you do, you take advantage of it. And Aronimink was as nice as can be to allow us to come here for two years.
It's going to be a great test for the players. I mean, this is an old Donald Ross golf course, and any time you get to play on a venue that has had so much rich history and a designer -- look at Pinehurst. All of the guys can't wait to go play Pinehurst, and some of the greens look like that. It's going be to be a great test.
Q. There's speculation about tournaments you may or may not play because of the injury. No. 1, do you have any idea what you may not play now or what you may play? And No. 2, can you assure everybody that if you're -- that if you're playing, that you will play here?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, if I'm playing, I'll play here, no doubt. A lot is up in the air still, which I don't like. I still need to go home and get a picture on this and see what's going on.
I'll want to come back, and obviously defend at Memorial and play the U.S. Open and obviously play here. But a lot of that is still up in the air right now, and that's not a place where I want it to be, no doubt.
But I'll have a lot more answers after I get the picture.
Q. Is there anything you're going to change about your swing and who works with you on that? And if you show up at a tournament expecting to win, should the public still expect you to win these days?
TIGER WOODS: Well, changing anything in my swing, yeah: Don't hit it left and don't hit it right (laughter). I would like to change that. Also like to make more putts and shoot lower scores (laughter).
I talked to Hank about some of this stuff and we are still working on it. Still got a lot of work to do, and a lot of it is I can't make the same moves as I could before because my neck is not allowing me to do that. I need to get organized. I need to get healthy in order for me to swing the club properly.
As far as the fans expecting me to win, that's their own expectations. If I enter an event, I expect to win. I try to win. I do everything I can to win that championship, and that hasn't changed and nor that will ever change.
Q. Have you thought about the fact that if you had this MRI and they say to you, you could have surgery, but you're going to have to sit out for X amount of months, or you can just play through which way you might lean?
TIGER WOODS: You're taking a big leap there. I don't know. I'll have a lot more answers obviously after the picture and see where it's at.
You know, I know it doesn't feel good right now, and I want to feel better, and how am I going to get there is the task at hand.
Q. In the past you have ignored doctor's advice, in particular, before at the U.S. Open, when the doctor somewhat famously told you not to play, and you had a pretty sharp response to him and you went out and played, and you won. Given that, how will you determine what your competitive schedule might be, based against what the medial advice is that you receive? In other words, how important is what the doctor tells you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is very important, Tom. Before the U.S. Open, going into that U.S. Open, I knew that I may -- it's probably like a 90 percent chance I wasn't going to play again that year with my leg broken. So with the instability of having no ACL, even if the bone heals, I still have instability in the knee and I'm going to keep rebreaking it. So I knew that my last shot was going to be that U.S. Open. So, I went after it and somehow it worked out.
This is a little bit different. This is an injury that I know that can get really bad. And I've had numerous friends who have had injuries in their necks, and you just don't want to mess with this. And this is one of the reasons why this picture, it is important to see what's going on so I can do some rehabbing and get back at it.
I want to practice. I want to play. I want to compete. But this is not allowing me to be able to do the things that I need to do in my golf swing to hit the proper shots.
I need to get to where I can do that again.
Q. What are the most difficult shots for you to get on after you've had a layoff? You've just been through a couple of them; what's the hardest thing to work on?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's just the time of practicing is something that I like to spend a lot of time working on my game, and it's also one of the reasons why I think this thing flared up is because I wasn't conditioned to it. I had been away from the game for such a long time and came back and ramped up really quickly in order to try and play the Masters. The body wasn't quite ready for that. You can be in lifting shape, but then to play in sport shape is two totally different shapes, and I wasn't quite ready for that.
As far as shots, I think it's just once I'm able to do the work on the range and get comfortable, then all shots are fine. But I need to do the work.
Q. Is this the furthest your game has been away from your A Game, and if so, what are some of the determining factors?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's not. I've been further away. I made a swing change in '97. I made a swing change again with Hank. I made a swing change back in '93 with Butch, and I remember the first -- my first weekend playing, I played as hard as I could, and I shot -- at the time I was still a pretty good player, won a couple U.S. Juniors, and the best score I came up with was 83; this is probably not a good sign.
But you've got to stay the course. And I believed what Butch was trying to get me to do; it turned around. I had a lot of success. Changed again in '97; believed it, turned around in '99. And worked with Hank and took about -- just about a year and then from basically '05 to now, I've had a pretty good run, as well.
Q. There seems to have been an intimidation intangible to your game. Do you feel like because of the last couple months of you being off that that's no longer there, and if so, how do you deal with that with the other players feeling you're gettable now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, in order to, as you say, intimidate someone, you have to play well, and I haven't done that, at least this year. I've played, what, three events? Last year, I thought I had a pretty good year. And you know, this year hasn't been that, at all.
Q. Good in the wake of everything you've been dealing with in your personal life and coming back to golf, fans in Philadelphia are known for being rowdy or loud; what will you expect from the fans here when you come play here?
TIGER WOODS: I expect them to be loud and rowdy, there's no doubt. You know, I think that they will be supportive. I think this is a great sporting town, period. And to have golf come back to this city, I think is something that they are going to be very excited about.
I hope that people come out and support this event. We are trying to do a lot for kids and for our military, and this is one of the reasons why I started this tournament is you know, I believe and the kids need help. They need to have a direction; in order to have that, we need to have money so we can create more programs, get kids developed. What Jon Bon Jovi is doing here in town is incredible, and we are supporting these type of endeavors.
And the military, I grew up in a military household and my dad was in spec ops. So to have a military component, as well, that's very important to me, especially with a lot of men and women down range right now putting their lives on the line. We need to remember what they are doing right now.
Q. Considering what you've been through off the course and you said right then you can't wait to get back on the course, and now you have the neck; do you say, what's next? Just the frustration level?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is really frustrating, there's no doubt, because I know what I'm capable of doing, hitting shots, and I just can't feel it right now. I just need to get this thing healed up so that I can start working. So spending the time it takes to get better; I haven't been able to do that. I've been able to work in spurts and trying to have to work around this, it's annoying. Before, the knee was good, but the Achilles was bugging me last year, and now that's good. And now this thing is flaring up. It's just getting old, dude (laughter).
Q. When you won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, it was obvious the pain you were in with each swing; it was visible. This time, no one knew about it and yet the pain was enough to force you to quit mid-round. Can you be more specific about the pain, also, I saw you mention tingling fingers; that has to be scary. When did it hurt and how did it feel? Was it a sharp, shooting pain?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, it was. It was very sharp. It's been that way for, as I said, off and on, since before the Masters. And the pain I can deal with, but when it spasms and you can't physically move your neck either way, then I can't play. But I could play through the pain, which I was doing.
Q. Which side?
TIGER WOODS: It's on the right side. You know, as I said, the pain is fine, okay. I can deal with that. I can deal with the headaches and I can deal with the pain, but when it spasms to the point where I can't turn, you can't make a golf swing if you can't turn. That's awfully frustrating for me, because I know what I can do, and I just can't do it.
Q. Have you ever played golf, tournament or otherwise, in the Philadelphia area?
TIGER WOODS: I have not. No, I have not. This is the first time.
Q. At the beginning of this year, they said that you used to be the host of this tournament, but you're no longer the host; is that still true?
TIGER WOODS: That is true.
Q. How will that affect how you deal with raising money for your foundation and the other charities? Is that rule changed at all?
TIGER WOODS: No, nothing changed at all. Still have the same responsibilities. I still do the same things. We are trying to do everything we can to raise as much money as we can for the Philadelphia area and help as many people as we possibly can.
Q. Given the circumstances of everything outside of golf, and watching you at Quail Hollow, looked like you were just going through the motions, how committed are you to honestly playing golf this year?
TIGER WOODS: I am committed. Unfortunately I haven't been able to practice like that, like I want to, spend the hours that I used to to get better. And hopefully I can do that, soon.
Q. Johnny Miller criticized Hank Haney, saying that you need a new coach now. What's your comments to that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Johnny Miller criticizes everything I do. (Laughter).
Q. You mentioned, you said about two weeks I believe before the Masters is when you first started feeling this? What kind of treatment have you had since then? Have you been taking anything for the pain? How have you been dealing with it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've been taking anti-inflamms to try to calm it down. Been going to the trailer every week to have it worked on. I've got a guy where I live working on it, as well.
So I'm doing everything I can, but it's not getting better. It's actually going the other way. So we need to figure out what's going on.
Q. If you don't get back to the pace you were before, when it's all said and done, would it be fair or unfair to look at this period and say, that's what derailed it; and if that is the case, how would you think you would deal with that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's what's happening right now. I've dealt with other things in my life, where people said that I was pretty much done and come back. So the whole idea is just to keep fighting every day. It's all I can do is just fight today.
Q. Will this be the first MRI in this process, and if it's been going on just two weeks before the Masters, was there ever an indication that maybe you should have won previous to this?
TIGER WOODS: No, it never got this bad where I would need one, whether it was the traction or anti-inflamms or manipulating the neck, that was all it took to relieve it. But then it would keep coming back and it would keep recurring faster and faster and faster. So it's been kind of unfortunately a sliding slope the wrong way.
Q. Johnny Miller isn't the only guy, analyst, who sees -- who thinks he sees flaws in your mechanics. Is what they think they are seeing, physical stuff, or is there anything to what they are saying?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you can probably pick apart every golfer and they will have flaws in their golf swing. I know I have my flaws, and I'm trying to get those better, as well.
Q. It's been ten years since Pebble does it seem like it's been ten years, first of all, and how is your game different since then?
TIGER WOODS: It's hard to believe it's been ten years. Time flies by. You know, how is my game different? It's a lot different. I hit the ball a lot further now than I did then. Technology has changed so much since then. I remember I had a 43-and-a-half-inch steel-shafted driver, and that was the normal in those times. There were still I think one or two guys still playing -- sorry.
What I remember even before that, like in '96 when I played Davis in the playoff, he was using a Persimmon driver. So we thought that was the big advancement from Persimmon to where we were at, we thought they had big titanium heads in 2000 and now we are with the 460s and you've got Paddy Harrington using 47-inch driver now. Just the game has changed so much; the balls are going so much further. I know I'm hitting it a lot further than I did then. The whole game has changed, and I know mine has, as well.
Q. Just sitting here today, knowing your body the way you do, can you handicap whether you would be able to play at Pebble, or not?
TIGER WOODS: I'm trying everything I can to just get back as soon as I can, and that's just normal -- even normal practice regime, without having to feel it every time I practice.
Q. When was the last time you played a competitive round and felt 100 percent, and when was it?
TIGER WOODS: Might be December when I was 11 (laughter) Christmas tournament -- yeah, I was on then. It's been a while. It really has.
My knee was bugging me for over a decade. Now that's fixed. Then I hurt my Achilles in end of '08 and now I've got this. I guess it's -- I became accustomed to the knee not feeling good, so that game the norm, but now it's feel great. So I can't believe I actually lived through that, I was functioning through that.
Now my Achilles is feeling good and I'm able to run and do things again. But now this thing has acted up. I guess it's been off and on for a while.
Q. While you were out of golf, there was so much speculation about how you would be received when you returned to golf. How do you feel? From your perspective, how have you been received?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely incredible. The receptions, I'm blown away by it. So many people have been so nice and so supportive of me getting back and playing the game. That's certainly something that I explained at Augusta, I was kind of worried about, hesitant going to play that I didn't know how I would be received.
But there's been so many people that have been so supportive of me, it's made life just so much better, so much more enjoyable on the golf course. You know, I haven't been playing the way I want to, but just to have that type of support, it means the world to me.
Q. This has been such an important event for you, personally and with the foundation; in the past, it's been sort of a festive thing. Do you anticipate any members of your immediate family may accompany you or is it too early to do that scheduling?
TIGER WOODS: It's a little too early for that.
EMILY TAYLOR: Thank you, Tiger and David.
TIGER WOODS: Appreciate it. Thank you, guys.
EMILY TAYLOR: Thank you for coming out. We look forward to seeing you in late June.
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