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AT&T NATIONAL MEDIA DAY
May 20, 2013
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Welcome, everyone, to the 2013 AT&T National media day. I'm Greg McLaughlin. Pleasure to be here. Wanted to certainly thank Congressional Country Club members and board of directors and staff for having us here today and welcoming us back to this great club.
Just wanted to introduce at the stage Greg Lamb, the president, and thank Tiger Woods, both gentlemen for being with us today. So thank you.
Seven years ago we started this event. I was thinking about it this morning. I was like, wow, it's really gone by quickly. But we've had really a great history. Brief but certainly great as far as past champions on the two great golf courses that we've played in Congressional Country Club and Aronimink. It's exciting for us really to be back here again in preparation for the 2013.
Great champions joining us again with Tiger Woods winning two times; K.J. Choi coming back; Nick Watney and Justin Rose, as well. So as we prepare for June 24 to the 30th, we think we'll actually have a great competition.
Center of this history really for us has been military, what we've really done around the military and the importance when we came here in 2007 what we really wanted to do. We feel that we've really been a leader in the outreach that our foundation and this tournament has really had around military, and we were the first ones to have an opening military ceremony, and if you recall now, it's fairly commonplace what the PGA TOUR does around THE PLAYERS Championship. We're the first one to have uniformed soldiers working the tournament on the 1st and 10th tee. We were the first actually to create the military wall. We're the first ones to have caddies that were caddying in the Wednesday pro‑am that are enlisted servicemen and women that are caddying. First one to have hospitality for the soldiers, as well, 17th, and the only one to have given 200,000 tickets away for free over the seven‑year period to enlisted as well as retired servicemen and women, and when you think about that, 200,000, that's really more than we would draw in any given week.
We do this event really to raise money for our foundation. That's the sole reason why we're here and that's why we do this golf tournament. Proud certainly of what we've been able to do with the Tiger Woods Learning Centers that we've opened here in the Washington D.C. area and Capitol South, Wards 6 and 7. Also proud of the Earl Woods Scholarship Fund that we've established here, which has 25 young men and women matriculating at colleges locally as well as nationally that are from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and the 130, 501(c)3 organizations that we've supported in the seven years, or six years tournament wise, that we've been supporting here, so we're certainly proud of that as well as economic impact really for the community, mid‑Atlantic region, Montgomery County, northern Virginia, Washington, D.C.
Certainly want to thank all the sponsors, all the individuals that buy tickets that come out really, and you guys, as well, the media because if you don't cover it and you don't talk about it and help promote it, we wouldn't benefit. So we thank you for your work and everything that you've done.
Want to just recognize a couple people in the up front: AT&T, sponsor of this golf tournament since inception in 2007, great title sponsor. They've been with the foundation supporting them since 2003 on other programs and philanthropic activities; our founding partner CDW, intelligence, decisions; and Montgomery County as well as our military partners and Lockheed Martin and PenFed.
I mentioned in my initial remarks about Congressional Country Club. When we came here, the whole idea when Tiger and I were talking about this early on when we had the opportunity to put it together, it was the only place that really came to his mind that he would consider playing was at Congressional, and we were lucky enough to get it. I know it made him feel good and it made us feel that we were going to be in the right place to have this tournament and be able to establish what we really wanted to do around this event in 2007.
The board members, the club members, the staff have welcomed us tremendously. The club's history certainly of hosting five majors goes without mentioning. All of you know it's an amazing place.
With that I'd like to ask Greg Lamb, president of the club, to make a few remarks on behalf of Congressional Country Club. Greg?
GREG LAMB: Thank you very much, and on behalf of the membership and the Board of Governors I'd like to welcome you here today. We are very excited about hosting the AT&T this summer. We'd like to welcome Tiger, you, and all of you here today. We'd also like to recognize Steve Durante who's sitting at the front of the room here who's our tournament chairman. He's doing all the heavy lifting this year. I have the privilege of watching a little bit more this year, so Steve, thank you for all your efforts.
I wanted to take a couple minutes just to really kind of look back on 2012 for many, many different reasons. First and foremost we had a tremendous championship in Tiger Woods, which always makes the event a little bit more special. But we had really an event, a historic moment last year with the derecho. I'm not sure if any of you knew that word before last year. On the Friday night of our tournament the club was devastated by a storm, and spending that next morning, Saturday morning, just to kind of remind you, there was a lot of talk about whether or not the event would even be played Saturday, and it was because of the volunteers that run this organization and this tournament, both from the foundation, the Tiger Woods Foundation, the staff here at Congressional Country Club, members, were able to get this course open for play on that Saturday, and to refresh your memory, that was the day when spectators were not allowed.
Really it was a testament to the people who run this organization and the tournament to have that course open and in the condition it was for play Saturday and Sunday.
Because of that derecho you'll see changes as you go out there today. There's been some trees added where they came down last year. I think with particular attention to No.4 and No.14, you're going to see quite a few changes out there that I think truly enhance the club.
2013, you're in for a treat today. To say that the golf course is the best it's ever been, it's hard to say as we've hosted a number of events here, including majors. The course is in the best shape it's ever been thanks to the staff of this club and the members who work so tirelessly to make it better.
Last year, just to close, this tournament was the most difficult tournament on TOUR outside of two of the majors at Kiawah and at Olympic Club. We're very proud of that. I think this year we might go a little easier, but the course is ready, the membership is ready, and we're excited to host in 2013. So thank you very much.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thanks, Greg. It's interesting that you brought up the storm, which was something, and I think we the tournament got a lot of credit for it, for playing that day, but really the superintendent and their staff did‑‑ they did an unbelievable job. There were 40 some odd trees that really fell in that half hour, 45 minutes or so that storm came through. So for those guys to really get this golf course playable inside the ropes, we kind of handled everything outside the ropes, it was pretty special, I think, for us to have that event happen.
And again, one and only PGA TOUR event played in the history without spectators. So it's kind of something unique without question.
Just wanted to give you a little bit of an update on some of the field. Greg talked about last year's event and what happened. One of the things he didn't mention was the heat index of 120 degrees or so that we had for four days, which I'm sure Tiger could attest about the wait and what you had to do to try and get through, which was really a unique experience for us.
This year we've tried to install some more climate cooling opportunities for the spectators in order to give them a little bit of hope that it's not going to be quite as tough out there, but just misters and little things like that, water stations. We're hoping that that was a once‑in‑100‑year type of occurrence that we had last year and we're not going to have that, which we're keeping our fingers crossed.
The field this year will be 132 players. Most of you all know that it's a 120‑person field invitational in the past, and this year as a result of what the PGA TOUR is doing by starting the season in October, they wanted to provide some more opportunities for all their players that potentially wanted to play because they've lopped off the race for the card at the end of the year, the Fall Series event, a variety of different names. So for one year we'll expand to 132 players. Purse stays the same at $6.5 million.
We're certainly appreciative to have the No.1 player in the world, two‑time champion in Tiger Woods coming back. Some of the commitments have come in early right now. I think the main run pretty much is between June 1 to June 15 for us as far as what players, but players we're expecting, some committed formally, some verbally, will include Adam Scott, Masters champion. I think he finished fourth last year after a somewhat tough start on Thursday with the alarm clock not going off as maybe you might remember. I mentioned the past champions and we've got six or eight tournament winners that have won so far this year. D.A. Points, Sang Moon Bae, which was a nice little benefit we got yesterday with him winning, and certainly congratulations. Also Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and kind of a host of others that we're expecting this year, as well.
We've awarded two exemptions thus far. Jordan Spieth, who played last year, will be playing, as well as Chris Williams, amateur, who will also be playing, and Steven Fox, the 2012 U.S.Amateur will also be playing and kind of keeping in our custom of providing opportunities for amateurs to play, as well.
With that I'd like to ask Tiger to come up, make a few brief remarks and then we'll open it up to question and answers. Tiger?
TIGER WOODS: Well, again, as Greg was saying, we're excited to come back here to Congressional Country Club. It's just unbelievable. It's in fantastic shape, and what the board, Greg and his staff and everyone who's been involved in this over the past six, now seven years, to make this event as special as it has been, obviously you all know with my upbringing and my dad being in SF how important a military component is, and it's one of the reasons why we're the leader in a lot of these different areas on the PGA TOUR, trying to make sure that these men and women here in the D.C. area understand how much we really appreciate what they do, foreign and domestic.
Again, we're looking forward to another great week, but a great field so far. I'm sure it's only going to get better. The golf course is going to be a little bit different, hopefully won't be 1,000 degrees, and looking forward to it. I'll open it up to Q&A now.
Q. We know that it's going to be a challenge to try to get the tournament here back once again at Congressional. What are your feelings moving forward, and how are you going to be able to address any concerns of the members to try to keep it here?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's something that we are obviously addressing now, and we'll certainly continue with that. We like being here. This has been a fantastic venue for us and has certainly allowed us to contribute to the communities and also fund programs around the country. I think it's just a wonderful showcase to have a golf course that has hosted five major championships, and as difficult as it is, we would like to stay here, there's no doubt.
As I said, it's an ongoing conversation, and we'll figure it out.
Q. Do you have another venue in mind if this one doesn't work out?
TIGER WOODS: There's certainly options out there, whether it's in Philly or it's in the D.C./Baltimore area. There's certainly opportunities out there. That's something that we're going to have to work through.
Q. Tiger, I have a Merion question if you don't mind. Have you seen Merion or played it before?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. And I was wondering, as you get to know the course, I assume you will in the next weeks, how do you go out and try to learn a golf course that you haven't seen? How do you plan? What do you map out for yourself, game plan? How does that all work?
TIGER WOODS: Well, first off, I will play it before tournament week. I'll go take a look at it. Generally that's when I do a lot of my scouting on the greens and do all my charting, take care of that, so I have very little to do as far as charting the greens during the tournament week.
Understanding what my practice sessions are going to be, for instance, I don't know if it's hilly or it's flat, is it predominantly right to left, left to right, is it going to test‑‑ whether it's going to be the driver or is it going to be the 3‑wood that week or 5‑wood, I don't know. These are all things that I'll get an understanding for when I first go play it. And then when I get to the tournament side it's now about feel, what the weather forecast is going to be, how are the USGA going to try and set it up that week because as you know, especially under Mike Davis, he's mixed a few things up here and there and moved tees around and given you drivable par‑4s where we never thought it would be drivable, i.e., in '08 at Torrey Pines, 14, he moved it all the way up, 150 yards up; what he did last year at Olympic on 16, moving it up on Sunday. They said they were going to move it up, but we didn't think‑‑ they had two tee markers set for us at yardage plates, but they went like another 80 or 100 yards up. So these are things that you try and get a feel for during that particular week.
And once I come up with a game plan for the week, then it's about executing it and being disciplined.
Q. You've been playing as well the last few weeks arguably as you've ever played. It's one thing to maybe have an injury or be working on a swing, but is it especially frustrating to have the major drought continue when you're playing about as well as you've played?
TIGER WOODS: Well, there were a few years there where I wasn't exactly healthy and I missed a bunch of major championships. Now that my game has come around, I've shown some signs of it last year. I was in the lead at the U.S. Open after a couple days; PGA I was right there; the Masters was going pretty good until that nice little wedge shot on 15. I was leading that tournament, as well. I've kind of been there, and then this past week at THE PLAYERS, that's another big event. I ended up doing well that week.
So my game is coming around, and to have won seven times the last couple years is something I'm proud of. It's not easy to do, but I think having my game come under the‑‑ the swing changes with Sean, I'm starting to see it now and starting to get the consistency, and I feel like what I've done from last year and this year, one, being healthy, it's certainly pretty positive.
Q. Tomorrow the USGA announces its decision on anchoring. Can I get your reaction to that because it seems like they are going to go ahead with the ban. Do you think the PGA TOUR should implement it before January 1, 2016, and just your overall reaction to what you think will happen.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hope they go with the ban. That's something that I've said, that anchoring should not be a part of the game. It should be mandatory to have to swing all 14 clubs. There are different ways of making the butt end of the club move. You've seen it with Bernhard Langer when he won the Masters putting against his forearm, what Kuch does putting against his forearm, as well. But it's not a fixed point; the butt end does travel. So I think that's where guys are going to try and ‑‑ will figure it out if that's the ban and that's where they go, I think it's great.
And as far as the PGA TOUR, I hope they do it as soon as possible to be honest with you. I've always said that. I've always felt that golf you should have to swing the club, control your nerves and swing all 14 clubs, not just 13.
Q. During the time when you weren't winning and hadn't won seven tournaments the last two years, do you look back now and say, as you were struggling with health and rebuilding a swing, did you struggle at all with confidence? Can you say that now or was it just a slow build for you with health and the swing?
TIGER WOODS: It was health, first of all. I couldn't practice, so if I'm going to make any kind of change in the swing, you've got to get out there and do the reps. I couldn't do that. So first things first. I know what I can do when I'm healthy. I think I can play this game pretty good.
So I needed to get healthy, and that took a while. Once I felt strong enough and explosive enough again, then the changes were starting to be implemented piece by piece. And then I started to get a little more consistent and had a few good weeks last year, and I've had a few more this year.
Q. How is your health right now, and do you take measures to make sure you can extend that period of health as far as you can?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's one of the reasons why I changed my swing, to make it a little bit easier on my body, as well as the strength training is still there. I don't go out there and run the 30 miles a week like I used to. I'm just too old to do that now. But I still will do the explosive training and I'll still do all that, all the strength training. I'm stronger now than I ever have been, but I just obviously can't log the miles like I used to.
Q. Merion hasn't hosted an Open since 1981. A lot of it was concern over the length of the course. They're going to play like 6,996. Do you feel that's long enough for an Open course and what are your thoughts about Merion getting back in the rotation after 32 years?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the only time I really have seen it is when we played the U.S. Am there, and the rough was some kind of thick. The guys couldn't get the ball on the greens, and those greens were set up pretty difficult that week. Granted, that was the match play, so being match play it doesn't really matter what you make on the hole. You win the hole with doubles and triples, it doesn't matter.
It'll be interesting to see how they set it up, how short they're going to‑‑ how pinched in it's going to be, at what numbers are they going to pinch it in at, also how difficult are they going to make the pins. That's the ultimate is what are they going to do on the greens. If they get a nice summer or a nice couple weeks where there's very little rain and then get them baked out, get them firm, you don't obviously have to put them in corners because it's going to be playing pretty difficult.
A lot of it is predicated on weather.
Q. When the Open was here in '11 McIlroy really ran away with it and of course you ran away with many tournaments in your past. Do you think you're still capable of posting that kind of a win?
TIGER WOODS: Do I? Yeah. I had a pretty good lead at Torrey this year. People kind of forget that. That wasn't that long ago. (Laughter.)
Q. I was just thinking in terms of‑‑ especially during a period when you were recovering from your injury where there's so much talk about there's so much more parity than there used to be and it's impossible to win by 10 or 12 anymore. Is it impossible to win by 10 or 12 anymore?
TIGER WOODS: No. Rory did it, and I certainly have done it throughout my career. Whether you win by 10, 12, 15 or one. One, I'm going home with the hardware. That's cool with me. (Laughter.)
Q. Following up on the weather, thinking Merion, we've seen how the weather can affect a course, as well. Is there a point in your mind where a course gets so fast that your driver becomes obsolete?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there are a few courses that have been that way. Obviously we played Hoylake that way, the British Open. Even Olympic got a little bit like that last year in the Open. There were a lot of holes that early in the week everyone was hitting drivers off in practice rounds. We got to the tournament and it got quick and dry and the drivers were put away.
You know, it depends on how the week goes, and as we all know as players, what you do in practice rounds, sometimes you don't quite do in a tournament situation because you have adrenaline in your system. Practice rounds, whatever, you just kind of hit one out there. Come game time you add half a club to a club in distance off the tees, and things change quickly. We'll see what the weather does. We'll see how it's set up. From what I hear a lot of the guys who have played are looking at utility and hybrids and 1‑irons and 2‑irons, things of that nature. Certain kinds of 5‑woods they're looking at.
I don't know because I haven't been there yet. For me, I usually play golf with basically 15 clubs. I've got either a 2‑iron or a 5‑wood. I switch in and out. That's usually what I go to tournament sites with. So I don't know if it's going to be a 2‑iron week or a 5‑wood week.
Q. Considering your health, you just committed to Muirfield and then one week off and it's the U.S. Open. You said you're not going to run 30 miles a week anymore. Recovery time the older you get, speaking from experience, takes longer to get. Is one week enough between the two tournaments considering the pressure you put on yourself to win majors?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, yeah, that's plenty. I'll be home and chilling out with the kids and enjoying that.
Q. I almost hate to bring this up, but the thing with Sergio a couple weeks ago, a lot of people on the outside looking in, it appeared so petty. Has there ever been any thought of just contacting him and saying, hey, let's chill, we don't need to be going back and forth like this anymore?
TIGER WOODS: No. (Laughter.)
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Well, thanks a lot. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports