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August 7, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back to the 100th PGA Championship. Pleased to be joined by Tiger Woods, four-time PGA Champion. Tiger, welcome to what is your 19th PGA Championship.
You have been to Bellerive before but never competed here, once due to injury and another time due to some jolting news. Maybe you could relay your experiences from 2001.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 2001 was a very surreal time, at least for me anyways. I had done an American Express clinic there, here in town, and I played a practice round with Calc, and the tragedies that happened transpired. And we tried to play the next day, and I believe I was playing with Wiersy, and at the time, I think Tim was the -- one of the towers had fallen on the American Express building, and a lot of people lost their lives and the people at American Express weren't -- were struggling at the time, and I think Tim made the right move in cancelling the event.
And that was on the 11th, and I drove home on the 13th and 17 hours to get back home to Florida, and it was a very surreal time for myself on that drive and a lot of reflecting.
THE MODERATOR: So here you are, a little bit of a different experience this week at Bellerive. You're actually competing this week on a golf course you haven't competed on, and that doesn't happen at this stage of your career terribly often. What kind of challenge is that for you, and have you thought about that at all?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hadn't played -- I literally haven't step foot on this golf course since that week in 2001. Didn't get up here pre British Open, and yesterday I took the day off. So today we only got in five holes and didn't really get a chance to see a whole lot, but I only remember a couple of the holes, but I didn't really remember the first five that I played today. And so I'll have to do some more homework tomorrow and get a good feel for what's going on for the rest of the week.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Just to follow-up on that long drive home on your reflecting, I think that that's where you kind of made some decisions about your foundation. Can you expand on that a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we were a golf-based foundation. I did a lot of clinics around the country and tried to raise money for the local areas and trying to bring awareness and a better understanding to our youth about the job opportunities that are afforded in the game of golf. You don't have to be a PGA professional or a TOUR player to make a living. There's a lot of different opportunities, and that's what we tried to do.
When the tragedies happened on the 11th and I drove home on the 13th and I reflected, if I had been a part of that, what would our foundation be? Well we wouldn't be really anything because we were -- I called it basically a traveling circus. We would raise a bunch of money, be there for one week and gone for 51. What would we be?
Well, and a couple weeks later I sat down with my dad, and I said, hey, Dad, I think we need to change the foundation and our directive and how we go about it. And he says, what do you have in mind? And I said, well, it has to be along the lines of how I grew up. It was family, then academics, and then golf, or whatever sport I was playing at the time. And so he said, okay, let me get back to you in a week or so, and that's when we got the lease from the city of Anaheim, 50 years for one dollar a year, and we built our learning lab there and in Anaheim on the golf course that I played my high school golf, and lo and behold we're -- we have now what? 53 different curriculums that are based in STEM, and so that one drive changed our entire directive of my foundation.
Q. Just jumping to golf a little bit, Jordan has a chance to complete the Grand Slam this week, and I just wonder if you can recall your pursuit of that, what it meant to you in terms of the accomplishment when you did it, and what kind of a deal would it be for Jordan when and if he's able to do that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I only had had to think about it for about a month. I had won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and The Open Championship was at St. Andrews a month later. So I really wasn't asked a whole lot, except for what would it be like to complete the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews and only had to deal with it basically for a month or, in particular, that week. So it was a very special time because it's not too often you get a chance to complete the career Grand Slam but also to do it at the home of golf, and for me, it doesn't get any better than that.
Q. Did you need that day off yesterday? What did you do?
TIGER WOODS: I did. I needed that day off. Yesterday was I spent a few times in the ice bath just trying to get some inflammation down and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week. And a lot of stretching. Did a leg lift yesterday as well and was ready to go for today.
Q. You've spent a lot of time with Bryson over the last few months and this year. If he were to make the Ryder Cup team, what does he bring -- what would he bring to the team, and what would his role be, and how would he fit with the guys?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Bryson is very analytical, as we all know, but what most of the guys don't know is how competitive he is. He is very fiery, very competitive, and that's the type of person we want on the teams. We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. We want those type of players on the team. Right now I think he's sitting at 9th and needs to have a good week to get in automatically. But we want him on that team. He's playing great this year, and he's been very consistent and he's still got a little bit of work to do to get on the team automatically, but again we're definitely looking at him as a pick as well.
Q. The word comeback has been mentioned many times this year for you. In your mind, when would you consider the comeback complete?
TIGER WOODS: Well, just the fact that I'm playing the TOUR again, it's been -- just for me to be able to have this opportunity again is -- it's a dream come true. I said this many times this year, I didn't know if I could do this again, and lo and behold, here I am. So just coming back and being able to play at this level and compete -- I've had my share of chances to win this year as well, and hopefully I'll get it done this week.
Q. If you were in Jim Furyk's position and you had to make the Ryder Cup pick this week instead of a few weeks time, would you pick Tiger Woods?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think he's trying to get into the Top-8.
Q. If the call was now and looking at it coldly, do you think you've done enough to deserve a pick?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, we'll see. I've gone from zero to basically 20th in seven months. As I said last week, I'm trending. So that's all I'm going to say.
Q. This may not be a fair question since you only played five holes. A lot of dogleg lefts on this course, can you find an advantage for fading the ball on this course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, right now it doesn't really favor anyone because it's playing so soft. The ball is just plugging out there, and if anything, it favors a guy who hits the ball high. Because we're not going to get any run, it's not going to dry out the rest of the week. It's going to be hot, it's going to be wet, and fortunately, I'm one of the guys who hit the ball high and get the ball up in the air, and you just need to get the ball out there.
Q. From 1,200 in the world to around the top-50, about to play in your fourth consecutive Major, what words would you choose to describe your story in 2018 so far?
TIGER WOODS: Blessed. Very blessed. As I was saying earlier, I didn't really know if I was going to be here or not at this level and very blessed to be here.
Q. If you can take us back to when you were at the top, your thought process, a couple of days leading into a Major, versus this week, what are you thinking about this week leading into this Major, and how does it differ from what you were thinking back then?
TIGER WOODS: When I was playing well there for the better part of a little over a decade, it was the same thought process. It's just to get rest and not to wear myself out in practice rounds and make sure that I'm mentally and physically fresh come Thursday. Now what I do, what I did back then and what I do now are two totally different things. I don't lift as much, and I don't run as much as I used to, to stay fresh. That part has changed.
But the whole idea was to try and get a feel for the golf course and how it's playing that week, but more than anything, just make sure that I was fresh and ready to go come Thursday.
Q. You weren't able to play here in 2008 and in the playoffs, just how much have you looked forward to or been anxious to finally play a competitive round on this course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've looked forward to it. I was recovering from a surgery in 2008. We all know what happened in 2001. So I just remember, when I was watching it as a kid growing up, Price-y go and just blitz the field here and played really well, and par's different now than it used to be and so I think the golf course will, scoring-wise, may play a little bit differently than it did back in those years. But I'm looking forward to competing. I'm looking forward to getting out there Thursday and got a great pairing as well.
Q. Jason Day comes from a country that enjoys so much success in other sports, do you think it's unfair that we expect him to have won more than one major championship by now, and are you a little bit surprised by that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not easy to win major championships. What he's done, and I think that -- I think Jason said it best is that he should be very proud of that he was able to win a major championship after having a family. That's a very different thing. Also, the struggles and the things that he had to endure and his upbringing, and he's fought tooth and nail to get to where he's at, and he should be very proud of winning a major championship because it's not easy to do.
Q. What has been the most difficult challenge for you with this comeback, do you think? More physical, more mental or a combination of both?
TIGER WOODS: Well, definitely more physical. I know how to play the game of golf. It's just what are my limitations going to be. And as the year has progressed, I've learned some of those things. Certainly can't do what I used to do 10, 15 years ago, but I'm still able to hit the majority of my shots, and I've had to learn a golf swing that is restricted. I've never had a spinal restriction before, and I played all those years without it. Now, I've had a bum knee most of those years, but I could wheel it around that. But having a fixed point in my spine is very different.
Q. I don't know how much you pay attention to the TOUR stats, but one number that's different from that decade you referred to is I think it's almost a full stroke difference in scoring average from the front nine to the back nine. Is that part of re-integrating back into the game?
TIGER WOODS: I wish I could figure that out. I don't know what it is. I don't know why I haven't played the back nine as well as I have in the past. Who knows? If I had an answer to it, I would give it to you, but I really don't know.
Q. Getting back to the Ryder Cup, Thomas Bjorn said this morning that it's still intimidating to play you, to play against Tiger Woods in match play. Do you think so?
TIGER WOODS: I like my chances in match play.
Q. Going back to the ice bath yesterday, what was the -- where was the inflammation, and how many ice baths this year?
TIGER WOODS: Three. And everywhere. Anything else?
Q. Specific, just?
TIGER WOODS: That's it.
Q. Half specific?
TIGER WOODS: No, that's it.
Q. There's been some thoughts about super pairings and some chatter about that this week. Do you have any thoughts on it? Is it good, bad for a golf tournament?
TIGER WOODS: You know, we have tried to do -- I think we tried to do it most of this year on our TOUR. I think that for me personally it's become more of the norm, and it was actually abnormal at the Open Championship when we didn't have those pairings. We were all kind of spread out. But this is kind of back to what we have done all year and something that I think that we're all pretty familiar with.
Q. Seeing yourself on the leaderboard in the Open on Sunday, you talk about being competitive, how does it help your confidence today knowing that you were competitive in the last Major?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, considering that I didn't do very well in the previous major championship, and I missed the cut, so to go from missing the cut there to contending and at one point leading The Open on the back nine, it felt good. It felt very familiar. Unfortunately, I made two mistakes there on 11 and 12 there, and it cost me a chance to win the championship. I was -- I felt like I was in control of what I was doing, and that felt good. Unfortunately, I just didn't do it.
Q. In your mental preparation for this course, were you thinking about using something other than driver very much? And how have the conditions changed that, and how may that change your ability to attack it?
TIGER WOODS: No, I watched the PGA there when Nick won, I watched when Camilo played well here and tried to watch what the guys are doing in those videos, and it's completely different than what they were playing. Today was soft, wet and muddy, and the ball wasn't traveling very far on the ground, and I think that's going to be how it's going to be all week. So it's -- as I said, it would be advantageous for the guys who hit the ball in the air and can carry it a long way, and I just need to be able to do that.
Q. There's been talk of the greens are big, but they have quadrants and all that. Is the softness going to make hitting those quadrants easier, and how do you think the greens are going to play? There's been a lot of talk about their condition.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it will be important to hit the ball in the right quadrant. It will be easier to hit the ball in the right quadrant because the ball will be plugging. I don't think they're going to be the smoothest of greens that we played on, but everyone's got to play them. We're going to have some putts where we hit good putts and they're going to kind of wobble off line, but then again you can actually put some pretty good heat behind it as well and take out some of the break. And these greens do have a little bit of movement. But if you get in either of the proper sections, then they really don't move much.
So if -- I think if you're able to hit the ball well and put the ball in the right sections, you'll see a bunch of birdies, and if you don't, then I think you'll see the field get separated pretty quickly.
Q. Follow-up, any adjustments in your putting stroke on greens like this? They're a little different this week.
TIGER WOODS: No, nothing as far as adjustment to my stroke. I have -- as I switched to the Ardmore, it has helped me putt slower greens a little bit better. In my past, I've struggled on slower greens, but what I've done normally is just add lead tape to my putter. This putter, the ball's rolling off a little bit quicker, and I don't have to do it.
Q. When you have not been at your best physically in the past, you might have tried to power through it. Was this past weekend and even yesterday an example of you sort of holding back or guarding against doing that to not make it worse?
TIGER WOODS: No, you know, it's just there's going to be certain days that I'm just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did. I'm 42 now, and I've had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it's just about managing it. Before, and as I was alluding to earlier, I didn't really have any of those issues when I was early in my career because I didn't have a fixed point in my back. My knee used to hurt a lot, but I could play around that. Playing around my spine's a little bit different.
Q. At Carnoustie at the end, you talked very well of the pleasure -- of the disappointment at what had happened but also the pleasure you were about to get or had received from hearing your children say, dad, can we go and play soccer or football, I think. Is playing football with your children more important than winning major championships to you now?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I think having the ability to be able to play with my kids in the backyard is something that I don't take for granted anymore because there was a couple of years there where I didn't do that. I laid on the ground a lot, and I wasn't able to move. So for them to be able to ask or try to egg me on to let's go for a run or let's go play soccer in the backyard, that's something special because I went for a few years there where I couldn't do that.
Q. I'm just following up, you said you're 40 now, you can't do some of the things you used to do. How do you manage your excitement about pulling off some of the great shots like at Carnoustie where you were in that bunker, the announcers were saying that you're going to have to pitch out to the side before you even got to the ball, and you throw that wedge up there on the fringe? How do you deal with that emotion now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, God, there's so many things I could say. I'll tell you this, that, at that particular point in time, I thought that was the tournament, that was the tournament. Now, I'm tied for the lead, and either I go for it and -- if I don't pull it off, it's going to hit the lip right in the front of me and probably stay in the bunker. If I pull it off, this could be the point that turns the entire tournament on its head and where I can go ahead and win it. Let's go ahead and try and pull it off, and I pulled it off. Didn't win the tournament, but the fact that I was able to hit that shot was pretty special.
Q. There was almost a sense of shock here nine years ago when you didn't convert the 54-hole lead for the only time. Just wondered, does that leave some unfinished business for you with this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Not really. No, that was what, nine years ago? Yeah, I had a good shot at it, and I didn't do it. Y.E. outplayed me, and so it goes. This is another PGA Championship, and hopefully I can put myself back up there again and hopefully win my fifth.
Q. Does your game plan change at all since you only got five holes in today, as far as tomorrow's practice round?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a little bit. Just a matter of how much I'm going to get in tomorrow. I know that it's going to be -- it will be pretty packed. I think that all the guys are trying to get in as much practice they possibly can because today was negated a little bit and most of the guys who played last week took yesterday off. So there's going to be quite a few guys trying to get out there to play, and I'm going to be one of them. Try and get as many holes as I possibly can but also make sure that I'm ready for an a.m. start on Thursday.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, Tiger, thank you so much. Welcome back.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports