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AT&T NATIONAL MEDIA DAY
May 24, 2011
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Aronimink Golf Club. My name is Greg McLaughlin. I'm the tournament director of the AT & T National. It's a great pleasure and honor for us to be back here at Aronimink for our second championship. Looking forward to a wonderful week.
Last year's event, if you recall, certainly had record crowds; approximately 200,000 people attended from the greater Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, some from Washington, D.C. that came up and supported the event.
Our first event here, certainly the first time that the PGA TOUR had been back in this community, and it was really exciting for us to see the support of really the local fan support; and we really wanted to thank not only the sponsors and certainly AT&T, but all the fans that came out and supported us. I know certainly the players really appreciated it, and the community really embraced the event, so it was great for us.
I would like to acknowledge a couple people at the very beginning here. AT&T, who has been our title sponsor since 2007, a tremendous partner and really leading this event when we first kicked off the Congressional in '07 and has been wonderful to work with and supporting us, as well as our founding partners: SAP, CDW, Citizens Bank, and all the supporters and partners we've had in this community as well.
Certainly have to acknowledge maybe one of the most important partners that we've had here is our Newtown Township Board of Supervisors and Delaware County Council. When we came here initially, they hadn't had a tournament here since 2003. I think in combination with the club, really, and the local community, they embraced what we were able to do here, so we thank them really for their support.
This club, when we first selected it dating back to probably 2008, when we looked it was the only club in the marketplace that we really considered and we were fortunate and able to be able to convince the board membership to have us for two years, and the partnership really has been tremendous. The members, the staff, and the board, I couldn't have found a better partnership for us to have over these two years, and it's been great working with them.
The golf course, if you happened to be here last year, was phenomenal and received tremendous reviews from the professionals, and we're expecting nothing less this year.
So with that, it's my pleasure to introduce the president, Mr. Joe Brooks, Joe?
JOE BROOKS: Thank you. Greg, thank you very much for taking all of my material. I really appreciate it. Just kidding. Good morning, my name's Joe Brooks, I'm the president of Aronimink, and it's my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all of you. We thank you very much for coming and we hope you enjoy your day here today.
We're also very proud and honored to be associated and partnered with Tiger and his wonderful foundation. They do so much great work for many, many charities.
Last year, as Greg said, we were hosting the event. It's great to have golf back in Philadelphia. We had so much fun with the event last year. The tournament was a great success for the local area. We had record attendance as Greg mentioned. I think the golf course really transcended everybody's expectations in terms of we had great comments from the players. Our sponsors were very positive, the patrons enjoyed the event, and most of all the media, yourselves, were great to us in your recognition of the Aronimink experience, so we thank you for that.
We're pleased once again to be hosting the 2011 AT&T National. We're excited to be doing this. We're sure we're going to provide a worthy and exciting test of golf for all the field and the players, and we look forward to exceeding last year's results as well.
As Greg said, one of the other things on behalf of the members of Aronimink, we'd love to thank the sponsors, particularly AT&T, and the other sponsors who make this event possible and provide the support and also help to continue golf's great charitable work which is an important aspect of this whole event.
We're confident we're going to have a great event this year. For those of you that are playing today, we welcome you again to Aronimink. And if you happen to get in that rough out there, in the words of the old Captain on the TV show, be careful out there. You might want to take a GPS device to get yourself out of that rough. Thank you very much and have a great day.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thanks, Joe. I wanted to point out a couple things as far as going into this year's tournament, which we focused on again. The tournament has been committed, really, to supporting our military. And there are several initiatives that we've done on an ongoing basis. We've donated each year 30,000 tickets to active and retired military. There is a pavilion that Lockheed Martin sponsors out at 17 tee that provides free admission, food and drink for active and retired military throughout the week as well.
And this year we'll have a unique thing, a tribute wall which will be located at the main entrance. It's some 50-feet long, that will give fans, spectators and members of the media an opportunity to write a note to soldiers that are serving abroad. And we'll take pieces of that and distribute it to various USO's around the world. So we're excited about that initiative and we're hoping for a great fan enhancement piece.
Beneficiaries of this year's event again will be the Jon Bon Jovi Soul foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia and the program and the Tiger Woods Foundation.
To talk about some of the player commitments that we have - A little early for formal commitments, but we have a slew of verbal commitments that have come in in the last month or so to touch on a couple. Joining Tiger will be defending champion Justin Rose, who will be conducting a media teleconference on June 6th. Hopefully you can join in that as well. In addition, TOUR winners this year, Lucas Glover, Nick Watney, Jim Furyk who was Player of the Year last year, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson, K.J. Choi, and of course, Sean O'Hair.
So with that, I'd like to ask Tiger Woods to maybe begin our media conference by making a few comments relative to being back to Aronimink and views on last year's tournament.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's great to be back. We're looking forward to another great week, as Greg just alluded to. Some of the players that have verbally committed, we're very excited to have that. The golf course is in phenomenal shape; it's only going to get harder and more difficult come tournament time.
So we're excited about having an opportunity to come back here to the Philly area. This is an unbelievable sporting town. They came out last year and really supported this event and embraced the event and truly embraced what we're trying to do for kids.
We are, as I said, looking forward to having another great week and another great event.
Q. Tiger, how are you feeling, how is your health today as opposed to a week ago or two weeks ago?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's been great. I've been resting, haven't been able to do much. I've been in a boot for my Achilles. Been on crutches to take some pressure off the knee and my back, because when you're in a boot you start limping, back gets a little sore. So that's what I've been doing for the past week, and it's been good.
I'm basically going to start probably by end of next week, start strength training, trying to get had thing a little bit stronger, because it's obviously atrophied from not doing anything for a while, and try to get it in golf shape again.
Q. Do you have concerns about being ready for Congressional, and do you have long-term concerns with the knee years from now that this is a chronic situation at all?
TIGER WOODS: As far as being ready for Congressional, I'm trying to do everything I can. All my docs have said it should be ready to go by then, should be good to go.
As far as the future of it, I've had four surgeries on it, so obviously it's not what it was when I was little. I'm sure down the road it may be more difficult, but hopefully I'll be in a cart by then on the Senior TOUR. But between now and then, I should be pretty good.
Q. Have your docs told you when you can start hitting balls again? What is going to be the schedule if you get back on track?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of that is dependent on how much more muscle I can start laying down on this thing. Obviously it's atrophied just because I haven't been able to do anything on it. I've just been resting. Still continued doing the icing and the stem and ultrasound and soft tissue work, so that's not going to stop.
But eventually I'm going to have to start strengthening this leg again, that timetable will determine when I can start hitting balls again.
Q. The world rankings came out this week and you had dropped to I think No. 10. Nobody probably in this room knows how to explain those world rankings, and I don't know if that will ever change. I'm just curious how much you pay attention to that, how much does it motivate you, or does it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously, I haven't played. That's one of the reasons why I've fallen as far as I have, and when I did play, I haven't played well. But winning takes care of all of that. That's how you're able to move up.
I haven't won in a while. Looking forward to when I can get out there and compete and try to win some events.
Q. As a follow-up to what you said about not playing, a lot of that because of the injuries. Assuming you come back healthy for the rest of this year, would you consider playing in more events than you have over the past three or four years, or will you maintain a schedule that you've been consistent with over the last four or five years?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of that depends on the injury, how it behaves over time. I'd much rather take it slow and see how I progress, take it on a week-to-week basis. That's kind of where I'm at right now, and it's hard to look at it beyond that.
I'm trying to hopefully get ready for the Open, and anything beyond that, I don't know.
Q. What is your level of frustration since the Masters since you first tweaked the knee, and what's it been like just sitting around thinking about can you play again at what was your max back in the day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's frustrating because I felt like I was playing well at Augusta. I put together a pretty good front nine on Sunday and hit the ball well on the back nine, missed a few putts on Sunday or else I would have posted a number that would have been up there.
Yeah, it has been frustrating because I haven't been able to do much. As you all know I like to be pretty active. I like to run, I like to be able to practice, and those are all things I haven't been able to do. That part has been frustrating. But that's part of dealing with injuries.
I've dealt with it before. That's not my first time. It's certainly not the first time I've had to shut it down for an extended period of time. Coming back off the reconstruction of the ACL was by far a lot more difficult because it took forever. Didn't hit a golf ball for six months.
Q. Has it been suggested to you that at any point you might need knee replacement surgery, and in hindsight, do you feel you came back too early for THE PLAYERS Championship?
TIGER WOODS: First part, nobody's ever mentioned that, no. Second part is, yeah, I probably did.
Q. Last year all the questions here in Philadelphia were about your personal life, your health. This year it's all about your health. How much are you looking forward to the day hopefully soon when the questions are just about golf again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it is kind of about golf (laughing). It's when can I get back out there and play again. Yeah, I guess, kind of in a round about way.
But, yeah, it has been frustrating that I haven't been able to play and practice. Those are things I love to do. I love practicing, I love preparing, and I haven't been able to do that.
But the good news is I've done this before. I've gone through injuries before, as I said is, and taken the time out to take it step by step. I've had to go back into that mindset. As I said in '08 was really tough to have to shut it down for six months, doing something I love to do and not being able to do it at all. That's kind of where I've been at mentally is just trying to prepare myself. Then when I can come back and start practicing again, it will be that much more fun to be able to hit balls and go out in the evening and just work on my game.
Q. Back in 2008, pretty pointedly, and I guess famously told the doctor when he told you regarding your knee, that you shouldn't play, at least as you've told the story, basically got up, wheeled out of the office, you told him I'm going to play and I'm going to win and you walked out. How would you compare where you are now in terms of this injury and your expectation and readiness to play?
TIGER WOODS: A lot better off. Then I had no ACL, it was completely ruptured, and my leg was broken, so those are two bad things (laughing). I'm a lot better off.
I feel that, as I said, probably in the next week or so I can start getting back towards that, and hopefully start practicing pain free and start getting ready. That is kind of where I'm at and really looking forward to that.
Q. I wanted to ask you something completely related to golf. Which is I don't know if you've been following Sergio Garcia trying to come back to the top now. And as somebody that is trying to regain his momentum, do you think he'll be able to make it to Congressional and what do you think about his push now?
TIGER WOODS: Who again?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he just pulled out yesterday, I think, with an infected finger, I think it was. Yeah, that can be healed, and that should be healed and that should be fine over time.
We all know he's got so much talent. It's just a matter of him putting it together. He's been playing better this year. I think he's either led or been near the lead after two days in two or three tournaments, so he's really been playing well. It's just a matter of continuing on with that. It looks like, from what I've seen, the break he took last year helped.
Q. There is a story in the New York Times today. Ted Forstmann who as you know has been sick, talking about IMG and its future. He talked about how the growth is not really in golf but in other things. I believe Mark's contract is up for renewal with IMG, but I'm not sure about that. I'm wondering what is your feeling about your long-term commit many to IMG and your commitment to Mark? You've been with both for a long time, and where do you see your business life going?
TIGER WOODS: I'm committed to both, with IMG, and Mark's my agent. It's been a great relationship. I've been with him ever since I turned pro. I had a chance to go through a lot of -- basically my entire professional career and learn a lot about the business.
It's been a lot of fun for me going through all the dinners I used to have with McCormack over the years until he passed, then obviously my relationship with Mark. But I'm very happy with both.
Q. Tiger, in the aftermath of THE PLAYERS, there was a lot of doom and gloom about your situation. I think mostly related to the fact that you've had a lot of issues with the knee over the years. Just wondering where you saw it? Did you just view it as a temporary thing, not that big of a deal, maybe came back too quickly? Or were you concerned and are you concerned going forward?
TIGER WOODS: You know, Bob, it's certainly not the dooms day that some of the press members are writing about. I was certainly a lot more concerned back in '08, end of '07, finishing out the year in '07 with my ACL already ruptured and then dealing with the wrath of the Masters that year to clean up the cartilage because I was playing on it still.
Certainly that period of my career was certainly a lot more -- I was confident about going forward, because I was finally going to have a solid knee, but also I'd never been through a period where I had to shut it down for six months either. That was very difficult. Lot of pain, lot of pain. Anybody that's ever had an ACL reconstruction can attest to that. It's a tough period. But this one's a cake walk compared to that one.
Q. If you probably came back too early for THE PLAYERS, will you be willing to take that same risk for the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's one of the reasons I shut it down this time. I just completely shut it down. I was borderline whether I was going to be ready for THE PLAYERS. I was excited about the event and I felt like I could go.
I tried to play, unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that well. At least I finished on 9, I was next to the clubhouse, so it was all right. Next to the trailer, so that was not too bad.
As far as the U.S. Open, that's why, as I said, I shut it down. I've been wearing a boot and been on crutches to try to give it ample rest and ample healing time. I should be ready.
Q. Do you need to be pain free if you're going to play Congressional?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't been pain free for a long time, so thank God there is ibuprofen.
Q. I was wondering how often you think about the majors record? With each tournament you miss, does any doubt creep into your mind at this point?
TIGER WOODS: Well, certainly it's one of the things that drives me in this game. That 18 is our benchmark in our sport. No one's played the major championships better than Jack has. I think I have had a pretty good run of 14 in 15 years is not too bad. Looking forward to the future.
I mean, it took Jack over what, 24 years, 23 years to do what he did. It takes time. I still have plenty of time, and I feel that going forward I'm excited about playing major championships and playing golf again. I just want to be healthy and solid, and I feel like I can give it a go.
Q. You came to THE PLAYERS and just played those nine on Tuesday, nine on Wednesday. Would you be comfortable doing that at Congressional or do you need to get more work in before an Open?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to play more, but in '08 I didn't play anything. This year I see it as an advantage. I see that I got to play nine competitive holes more than I did in '08 between the Masters and the U.S. Open.
It would certainly be nice to come up here and play practice rounds and do all that and deal with my normal prep like I do for all the other majors. That is the game plan, and hopefully the game plan will pan out.
Q. Is the Achilles giving you more trouble than the knee? And also, you haven't said, but it sounds like next week the Memorial's out?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the Memorial's doubtful, the Memorial's doubtful. Either way I'm going to call Jack and let him know either way. As far as the Achilles and the knee, it started with the knee, then it comes down to the Achilles. Chicken or the egg, you know, they're both related. I've had to take care of both.
Q. About a decade ago one of the criticisms that people would give to The TOUR in general is it wasn't playing enough big shots and stuff. Now everybody says The TOUR is much better. Does that add to your frustration? Do you believe that was better?
TIGER WOODS: What was the first part again?
Q. I'll shorten it. The TOUR has better players, a better group now than it was a decade ago, do you believe that? And if you believe that, does that add to the frustration of not being able to bring your best to it?
TIGER WOODS: I believe The TOUR is deeper now, no doubt. The scores they're shooting, and the amount of guys that are winning for the first time, it's just become more difficult to win events. That goes throughout time. Each generation will get more difficult. It is what it is.
You look at the cut scores now, and there is generally between 70-plus guys within ten shots every week. Before, that number was greater than that. It was all between 12 or 13 shots. Most guys are shooting under par and it's closer. We had a couple cuts last year that were 4-under par.
It's pretty amazing when you get 70-plus guys 4-under par or better. You can see it, it's getting deeper. It's just become more difficult to win and it's fun. It's a fun challenge for us as players.
Q. Since the tournament benefits your foundation, I have a question in that regard. Can you comment on what the horizon holds for your foundation and any plans to expand on the learning centers?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we certainly are looking into every single type of expansion. This morning we're down at the KIPP school this morning taking a look at that. We'd like to have a future learning center down there as well, or learning center campus.
We have two in D.C., and we just opened it up now so all kids in the entire area are able to come to our campus as well. So that is something that we're trying to do and we're trying to grow.
As we all know, this is a tough economic time for expansion, but we're still able to do it. We're still raising money, and people are still believing and trying to help kids and believing in what we're trying to do. So that hasn't changed. It's gotten I think probably stronger over time. When most people are shutting down, we've actually expanded. So that is very exciting for us.
Q. You talk about want to go peak four times a year for each of the majors. Was that compromised to some degree in measure of the injury? Was there any scenario at all in which you can foresee not playing at Congressional?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there is, absolutely. But I'm not going to say that I'm looking at it that way. I'm looking at it with the proper treatment and the proper rehab that I'll be ready. That's what I'm planning to do.
Q. At THE PLAYERS, Johnny Miller observed that he thought you had two different types of swings, one for the practice range and one for competition. And suggested that the competition swing may be contributing to your physical problems. I'm just curious of your reaction?
TIGER WOODS: Johnny knows everything, doesn't he (laughing)? Well, no, it's not quite that way, no.
Q. You don't feel a difference once you go between the ropes?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Instead of hitting balls six hours a day, how are you passing your time?
TIGER WOODS: I've been with my kids a lot, which has been great. I've been with them, and that's been actually fantastic. But the other time is spent in treatment. I'm getting pretty tired of ice.
It's just part of the deal. As I said, I went through it for six-plus months in '08 and the beginning of '09. So that does become kind of monotonous at times, but you've got to do what you have to do to get ready.
Q. I think you've said many times in the past that your father was your best putting coach. If you putt like Tiger Woods at all at the Masters this year, you usually get to 14 under. I wonder what you do now with your father not here to advise you on putting, what you can do to get your putting game back to what it used to be like?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I still go through the same -- all the different teachings that he was able to teach me over the years, and I still go through that. I still run through the whole laundry list of things that we've worked on.
People have obviously helped me throughout my putting throughout my years on TOUR, but still I always revert back to what my dad teaches me.
So I may practice one way, but under the pressure of hitting a putt when I have to hit it, it's all my dad's teachings. I go back to all of that every time, because that's what's natural. It's what I've learned. It's a matter of doing that consistently.
Q. Can you talk about your swing changes in general? Is your swing basically the same swing you've always had?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Is it a very different one?
TIGER WOODS: If I played it in slow-mo and I explained it frame by frame, you'd see a very big difference.
Q. We talked a couple weeks ago about the depth of the TOUR and the young guys. How different, when you're able to play, how different do you play now? You used to be able to overpower courses. How much more now is it your mind?
TIGER WOODS: Well, certainly I can't hit the ball in relative terms as far as I used to compared to the other TOUR players, and there are guys that hit it much further than I do.
It's a different ballgame. Some guys on TOUR hit wedges from 150 in. When I came on TOUR everybody hit an 8-iron from 150, now guys are hitting wedges from 150. It's a different ballgame, but you've still got to be able to score.
You look at all the older guys who did really well, Jay Haas, late in his career, even Raymond Floyd late in his career over here, you know, they've learned to pick apart a golf course. I still have length in which I can get to par-5s and the occasional short par-4 I can take it up and try to drive it.
But it's still learning how to move the golf ball around the golf course to give yourself the best chance over 72 holes. It is a marathon. Understanding how to play the game that way has helped me quite a bit over the years. No matter how much power you have, you have to be able to, you know, dissect a golf course and learn how to pick it apart.
Look at what Jack did. He was by far the longest of his generation, but he played a cerebral game as well. You can still hit the ball long and still play with your mind.
Q. They talk about Aronimink maybe getting a major championship somewhere down the line. What do you see in this golf course that it could be a major championship host?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly it has the greens, the green complexes to do that. The only thing it's probably missing is the length and maybe a little infrastructure as well. Certainly I think that Aronimink is a hell of a golf course, and they've had major championships in the past, but we'll see what happens.
Q. Your training regimen for golf is legendary. Considering your physical condition and the challenges you've had over the last three or four years, has it changed, how much, and/or will it change?
TIGER WOODS: It certainly has changed quite a bit. I don't lift anywhere near as much as I used to. I lift a lot smarter than I used to. I don't run anywhere near what I used to do. There were times I'd run between four and six miles before I'd go play. I don't do that anymore.
As you get older, you have to do things differently. The body doesn't allow you to do these things and you just have to be smarter about it.
Q. At any point have the doctors mentioned surgery to you as an option if the rehab doesn't go according to plan?
TIGER WOODS: Not once.
Q. After you came back from the big knee surgery and had the great '09, have you had any issues until now with the knee, anything this bad, even just the pain or any of the side issues that go with it? Obviously, you played quite well through it.
TIGER WOODS: Oh, I did. I just played through it.
Q. But there was nothing to this degree?
TIGER WOODS: No, nothing to this degree, no, absolutely not. But there were times it did flare-up, and you just play through these things. There is a difference between being in pain and being injured. Those are two totally different things. You can handle pain, but being injured is a different deal.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thank you, and we'll see everyone June 27 to July 3rd at AT&T National. Thank you.
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