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May 4, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Wachovia Championship, first trip out since you won The Masters tournament. Congratulations on that.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Why don't you just make a couple comments on your activities over the last couple of weeks and how you feel about the coming week.

TIGER WOODS: Sweet. Right after Augusta I went down on my boat and shot some fish, which was fun, had a good time doing that. And then I got back and I relaxed with the guys, celebrated with my best friends and got back to work trying to get ready for this event.

The past week and a half or so I've been practicing, grinding, trying to get ready, just making sure I don't forget things that were successful during Augusta.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: You had an opportunity to play this morning. Can you just talk about the course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as of right now, the golf course is fast and hard and dry and no rough, which is different. With the forecast that's coming up, that probably will change, but I think this course will be pretty difficult if the wind is blowing because once it rains here the guys will be going after flags and putting up some pretty good numbers.

Q. There's a story when you won your first Masters that you went to sleep in your green jacket. Do you still do that or is that old hat?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't really go to sleep, I kind of passed out (laughter). Difference.

Q. Can you elaborate?

TIGER WOODS: You can figure it out. Actually we packed up and celebrated with dad over at his house. I flew home that night, got in about 1:30 in the morning or so and kind of just couldn't sleep, still wired. As tired as I was, I was still wired. I kind of stayed away basically almost all night, kind of had a quick cat nap and I was still on cloud nine the next day.

Q. How was the satisfaction of that one different than the other three?

TIGER WOODS: Different for different reasons because the first one being it was my first ever, the second one being for four in a row. And then defending, which to be on the list of Faldo, Nicklaus, all the people who have ever defended the tournament, and this year the dog fight with Chris DiMarco, I mean, we separate ourselves. We had seven shots between us and 3rd place, so it was one-on-one basically from the middle of the front nine on, and we knew that. It was fun to play a major championship when we separated ourselves like that.

Q. Was the satisfaction different on No. 4 in that it was a dog fight with Chris or a dog fight with you having gone ten majors without and all the attention on that?

TIGER WOODS: When I was out there playing I never thought about it that way. You're out there trying to win a golf tournament. You forget it's The Masters. You forget there's a green coat and it's a major championship. I'm trying to beat Chris. We separate ourselves and you have X number of holes to get the job done, and that's what you focus on, put it here, put it there, put it here, put it here.

When it's all said and done, probably the most proud I ever was the entire week was I hit my two best shots in the playoff when it really mattered. When all the pressure was on me after playing three poor holes in a row, 70th, 71th, 72nd holes, to go out there in a playoff and hit my two best golf shots all week said a lot for the things I've been working on.

Q. There's a story about Steve flipping his car again.


Q. Do you think of talking to him, kind of telling him to lay off and knock it off, he's got a job to do?

TIGER WOODS: You know Stevie, right? You know he's a little bit stubborn. It's not going to happen. It's one of his passions. It's like trying to tell me not to scuba dive.

Q. When you hear those stories does it worry you at all?

TIGER WOODS: Of course. Any time you race there's a chance of wrecking bad, a chance of serious injury, a chance of death. That's part of the adrenaline rush, too, of racing. Stevie loves it. It's his passion. His caddying pays for his racing, just like my golf bays for my diving. Our passions are our passions. I'm not going to ask him to take away one of the things that truly makes him happy in life.

Q. Can you compare your mindset coming to this tournament this year versus where you were last year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, last year I was in the midst of still working on a bunch of changes, just getting started on it. I didn't play all that well, my short game was unbelievable last year, and that's kind of what carried me through.

Q. Can you talk about how your dad is doing?

TIGER WOODS: My dad is doing a lot better. Still struggling with his energy after going through all the radiation treatments, he's not quite recovered from that, so he's still fighting it.

Q. Unrelated, when you went through that period when it was ten majors without a win, you're obviously used to this kind of mass hysteria around you, people yelling out your name. Did you sense that that subsided at all, sort of demands on your time or anything along those lines, that it wasn't quite as frenetic as it was during that period in 2000?

TIGER WOODS: Well, nothing can be as bad as what it was back in 96 and 97. That's when it was the worst. When I went through my run in 99 and 2000, it was nowhere near what it was back when I first turned pro because I was new, new to the scene, and there was a lot of hype about my game and different things were being said, and it was all new to me, too, as well.

I kind of learned from that, and when I went through 99, 2000, I didn't think it was anywhere as bad. I look back on those days and think, "wow, how did I survive that?"

Q. In the last couple of years, do you sense a difference between 99 and 2000, a difference at all?

TIGER WOODS: It didn't change. I still have the responsibility of doing press conferences and talking to media after just about every round and usually trying to defend myself for shooting 70. What's wrong with shooting 70, that sort of thing. People were very critical of my game even though I shot some good numbers. But that's just the way it was. But I still had the responsibilities of dealing with the media and the fans, as well.

Q. The U.S. Open is a little ways away, but can you talk about Pinehurst a little bit and the challenges that presents?

TIGER WOODS: Pinehurst is unlike any other golf course we play. I mean, it's upside-down bowls really or turtle backs, however you want to look at it. And they put pins near the edges of those things.

I know they've narrowed the fairways down this year, built a couple new tees, made it even longer, so it'll be a pretty darn good test. Bermuda rough and those greens, and if they ever get it where it's fast, where it didn't have rain like we did last year on Sunday, at least it rained and softened up a little bit, you get that thing blowing with some wind and dry conditions, it could be brutal.

Q. How emotional do you think things are going to be with the loss of Payne?

TIGER WOODS: I think there will certainly be some remorse for some of the guys. You know, I was one of the guys battling him out there. I have a lot of fond memories of that event and his celebration we had back home at Isleworth when we got back, certainly some great memories from that. That's I think what we should all focus on.

Q. What do you recall from that celebration?

TIGER WOODS: How drunk everyone got (laughter).

Q. Where was it?

TIGER WOODS: At home in Isleworth over at his place.

Q. Can you just talk about your experiences in Charlotte and also with the Wachovia Championship?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't quite hear all of that.

Q. Could you just talk about last year, your experiences in Charlotte and also with the Wachovia Championship?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, last year, I mean, the fans were incredible. To have that many people out here on this golf course, because it is kind of a small facility, and they were ecstatic, enthusiastic about our sport, which is great to see. I've never played here in Charlotte, that was any first time, and for my first time on a golf course like this, in this environment it was a lot of fun.

Q. Was that a big reason why you decided to come back?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the golf course. I mean, if you have a great golf course, guys will come. Guys will play. And this is. It's one of the reasons why you get such a great field. If you look at all the great golf courses, you always seem to get the best fields. Guys just tend to show up.

Q. With all the mental and physical preparation that goes into a major, when you win it, how long does it take you to kind of overcome that drain and feel like the competitive juices are flowing again and do you feel like they are where they need to be to win?

TIGER WOODS: It probably took at least a full two weeks. Even after I went on my vacation spear fishing and had a great time doing that, I was still not quite back to normal yet. For some reason, I don't know why it took so much out of me, but more mentally than physically, that's for sure. I got back home, rested a few more days, kind of laid low, just let it kind of naturally get back into when I felt like getting back into it. I let myself get back into it. All of a sudden one morning I felt like I was ready to start practicing again, so it probably took close to a full two weeks.

Q. Are you thinking Grand Slam this year?

TIGER WOODS: I'm in the Grand Slam, yes. No, I'm not thinking about that. You can't think about that unless you've won the first three and get to go to the last one. You've got to take it one step at a time.

Q. Given the courses that the majors are played on this year, do you think that gives you more comfort or helps you in any way?

TIGER WOODS: I could care less. You've still got to win. My next one is the U.S. Open and I'll try to get ready for that and obviously try and get ready for the British and try and get ready for the PGA. That's how you break it up. That's how you have to look at it. If you don't look at it in segments, then you look at the big picture and you forget that you have to win each one along the way.

Q. Talk about the greens. It seems like they tried to speed them up a little bit this year.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they are faster, there's no doubt about that. They're faster and they're firmer. But with the rain coming in, forecasted, if it does get here, then it won't be quite as fast and it also won't be quite as hard. But nonetheless, they're still going to be very difficult because they have some pretty good pins out here.

Q. I imagine you're hoping for a little bit softer of a green?

TIGER WOODS: I'd much rather see it hard and fast and as difficult as you can make it. That's kind of how I always like golf courses.

Q. Have you gotten to Pinehurst No. 2 while you've been here?

TIGER WOODS: No, last time I was there was in 99.

Q. Is there such a thing for you as momentum? Can you carry success from one tournament to another?

TIGER WOODS: There's a certain confidence factor, yes. Sometimes you can carry momentum from week to week, but I've taken three weeks off and kind of started fresh. The confidence of things I was working on was able to pull me through the event, that's what you take back, and when you start practicing again, and I started back, I was very pleased at my practice sessions and very excited about this week.

Q. When you started with this philosophy with swing, where would you say you are in the process?

TIGER WOODS: A long way to go.

Q. Halfway there?

TIGER WOODS: Don't know. I just know I've got a long way to go. A lot of things I need to work on to get better.

Q. If you've still got a long way to go and you've just won The Masters, can you do things you did before in terms of like winning double digits? Is that out there?

TIGER WOODS: My idea is to become better than that. That's why you make changes. That's why I changed from 97 and that's why I changed now is to take it to another level.

Q. Do you get any sense at all as you look back after The Masters that you almost had to be defensive about winning just because of the way -- there's seemed to be a lot of focus on the way you closed out bogey-bogey.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, looking back at it now, yes. If I would have lost the tournament, yeah, I probably would have gotten ridiculed pretty good, and rightfully so, a two-shot lead and two holes to go and the other guy makes two pars and he's in a playoff, that's not very good.

But as I said, the thing that made me so proud of the whole week was the way I played the playoff. After what happened on 16, 17 and 18, the poor swings I made on those three holes, to come back and hit my two best golf shots, just feeling-wise, felt so pure, so solid, like I was at home practicing at Isleworth. They just felt so nice. And then under the most extreme pressure to feel that way and to pull those shots off, that's when you know you're working on the right things.

Q. That gives you validation?


Q. You mentioned the rough being nonexistent. Is that kind of a disappointment to you that that's going to open the course up to that many more guys? Would you rather have longer rough or how do you look at that?

TIGER WOODS: I've always been a guy either that says have the rough really high or have no rough at all so every ball runs into the trees. A lot of these holes if you have no rough, this golf course would be pretty interesting because every ball would run into the trees because every hole seems to be tilted. Last year it was kind of hack out. This year we've got some good lies, but the fairways are faster and it's hard to keep the ball in the fairway. All of them are pitched a little bit. That's going to be a little bit more of a challenge.

I think if it rains, which you're going to find a lot of guys are going to be kind of maybe a little bit upset because of the mud balls because there isn't a whole lot of grass out there and your ball will be picking up a lot of mud. That's the way it is.

Q. I had the opportunity yesterday to take my eight-year-old son to Lake Norman First Tee dedication. Mr. Sifford was there, Mr. Morgan; we had a wonderful time, taught my son a lot about chipping and things. What does that older generation of golf like Mr. Sifford have to offer, and share some of your thoughts about what he meant to you and to some of the new generation golfers that are coming up right now?

TIGER WOODS: You know, Charlie is like my grandfather. I never really had grandparents. They unfortunately all passed away early. He's been like my grandfather. I always call him grandpa. He's been a pioneer. He's the reason why my dad was able to take up the game of golf. If he wasn't as dedicated and as stubborn and hardheaded as he is, to make it through all the things that he had to go through just to play golf, then make it out on Tour, my dad probably wouldn't have played the game, and if he wouldn't have played the game, I wouldn't be here. Obviously Charlie means a lot to me and all minorities who play the game all around the world because he was the one who paved the way for us to play The Masters. Things that he did and the tournaments he won and the person that he still is, I mean, he's the best.

Q. He's an interesting person.

TIGER WOODS: He's the best.

Q. While you're here this week, when you're away from the golf course, is there anything that you can do that you're able to get out and sort of enjoy, and if so, what is that?

TIGER WOODS: Eat, definitely eat.

Q. Anyplace in particular?

TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to tell you (laughter).

Q. You talked about the greens being really fast. Talk a little bit about some of the holes out there. What do you see as the most challenging holes out there?

TIGER WOODS: They're all -- I mean, yeah, you have some holes where they're a little bit shorter but you can be more aggressive, and if you get aggressive and you miss the ball in the wrong spot, you're looking at auto bogey. Each hole presents its own challenge. Certain holes like 6, not exactly the shortest par 3 in the world. It's a drivable par 4 really. What is it today, 258 yards or whatever it was today, into the wind. So it's a nice hole.

Q. At this point in your career are you comfortable with the logistics of having to be you when you come to the tournaments, the large galleries for the practice rounds, the things that a lot of the other guys don't have to deal with?

TIGER WOODS: You become accustomed to it, yeah, but still it feels a little awkward when everyone is looking at you. That's something you never really feel comfortable with, ever, at least in my case. I guess it's one of the reasons why I put my head down a lot. So many eyes are looking at you. I mean, why? I'm just walking.

Q. You were talking about Stevie's passion, your passion. Do you have any diving equivalent to flipping your car, any close calls, dangers you've had?

TIGER WOODS: I could tell you, but insurance-wise I'm not going to tell you.

Q. When you look at the field this week and two guys out of the Top 10 aren't here and the rest is here, does this have almost like a small major feeling because of the Top 10 golfers that are here?

TIGER WOODS: The quality of the field is one thing, but it's also the quality golf course. If you have a quality golf course, the guys will come to play. This is. This is a great golf course. It's an old style golf course with the trees and it's like they just laid a golf course on the property. They didn't really move a bunch of dirt to create these big mounds. It's just what it is.

I think that's one of the reasons why the guys like coming here is that it is an old style golf course. We play too many golf courses now that -- from a flat piece of property, you've created elephant burial grounds, you know, but this is one of the old school golf courses where you've got to shape the golf ball both ways off the tee, and you have to make it move because -- to take advantage of the slopes, you have to make the golf ball move, and I think that's what's cool about it.

Q. Going back to Pinehurst for a minute, the last hour in 1999 on that Sunday, you were in the midst of all that happening, 16, 17, 18. Is there a moment or a shot that you look back at when you left, like that was my moment that could have changed this?

TIGER WOODS: I've relived that so many times. 17, I just came off of birdieing 16, the hardest hole on the whole golf course, hit driver and a 4-iron to eight feet, made birdie. Sweet, I'm tied for the lead now. And these guys haven't played 16 yet.

We looked back there and they had just hit their tee shots on 15. So I'm in the driver's seat if I can par in. I'm looking pretty good. I jerked my 7-iron in the left bunker, then hit a decent bunker shot, not a great bunker shot, pulled my putt, lipped it out and then played 18, made par there.

I'm glad that -- for one reason, for myself personally, I'm glad that Payne made that putt on the last hole to win by -- to beat my by two. If I would have lost by one, knowing the way I played 17, that would have hurt a lot.

Q. Weren't they on the 16th green while you were putting that? Didn't you back away or something?

TIGER WOODS: I was going up 18 when Payne made that big putt on 16 for par. I didn't know it was for par. It sounded like a birdie roar. Then I went up to the board and looked at the board and saw it was for par. And I thought, "I'm still in the game here, if I can just made this par." I left it on the lip. That's it.

Q. When you won the four majors in a row over two seasons, did that give you any indication about how difficult it would be to win all four majors in one year?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's hard (laughter).

Q. Can you compare it to other things in sports? How would you compare it?

TIGER WOODS: It's like -- I guess it would be different than tennis, winning their Grand Slam. They've had players do that in their sport, but no one has ever done it in our sport, at least in the modern configuration of it. Bobby Jones did it, but two of them were amateur events. A modern configuration, no one has ever done it.

To win all four in a row and to do it in the same calendar year, you have to start with the first one, and that's the hard part. The way I did it, at least you have basically four chances to start it any time. I just happened to start mine at the U.S. Open.

Q. How far did that drive go that you hit on 16 today? And talk about your driving distance and what kind of weapon the driver has become here when you come to Quail Hollow.

TIGER WOODS: I don't know how far I hit it. I don't know how long the hole is, but I had 118 to the hole.

Q. 486.

TIGER WOODS: There you go. So I hit it good (laughter). The driver is certainly more of a weapon this year because I am hitting it further. With a longer shaft, I went to graphite, bigger heads and a faster golf ball, it's all contributed to hitting the ball further.

This year my driving stats are up distance-wise, and it's been a nice asset to have because as -- I've kind of fought the whole technology deal, sticking with 43-and-a-half-inch steel and a spinnier golf ball, but I've kind of changed and gone with the times, and I'm hitting it basically where I used to hit it compared with the rest of the guys.

Q. Why do you and Steve work so well together? What is it about your personalities?

TIGER WOODS: Two peas in a pod, I guess. We're both fiery, both stubborn, hardheaded and extremely competitive. We both love to mix it up. That's our rush. That's our rush to get in there and feel that adrenaline, handle it, and try and come out on top. That's us. That's how we live life, whether it's out here on the golf course or we're out here -- sometimes we go for runs together. You know the last mile is a sprint, that's just the way it is. You've got to beat each other's brains in. That's how we are. We compete in everything we do. It's been a great fit to have him on the bag, a person who's very similar to me because he understands what I'm going through, and sometimes he can pull back the reins a little bit when I start getting really fiery out there because he kind of knows how he can be.

Sometimes I've got to pull him back. At a major championship he gets a little too fired up at times, and I've got to say, "Hey, come on." Sometimes it's role reversal. That's how we are together. We're great friends. It's a pretty cool relationship where you can have -- you're able to separate your working relationship and one of your best friends and have that mix and understand that, and that's what's really cool about us.

Q. Who usually wins that last sprint?

TIGER WOODS: (Tipping cap).

End of FastScripts.

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