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March 2, 2005

Tiger Woods


Q. I know the fans here are looking forward to you being back; are you looking forward to being back at Doral?

TIGER WOODS: Looking forward to it. Haven't been back in a few years. Wish the weather was warmer but the golf course is in perfect shape. Hopefully the wind will hold off tomorrow and we'll get some golf in.

Q. Do you feel when you're in a tournament the fans are more alive?

TIGER WOODS: They're certainly out there. It's exciting to have them out there and supporting the event like this. We have a world-class field this year.

Q. Why this year, this event is the field so good?

TIGER WOODS: Probably because most of the guys got beat early last week. The guys played last week and played the week before that in L.A., we didn't get a chance to play very much. This is one of the reasons why I'm playing is I haven't teed it up very much. I've only played four competitive rounds in two weeks and didn't miss a cut. It's nice to get out here in some warm weather and on some greens that are fast and smooth. Hopefully we can get this thing going.

Q. Is it important to have success in the Florida Swing to success in the entire season?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, because some of the guys don't play well in Florida but they have played years once they get out of Florida. I think if you're a guy that lives in Florida or who grew up on bermudagreens, yeah, I think you have to distinct advantage when you play down here in the south, especially in Florida. This year, I've never seen the greens like this before, they were overseeded pretty good and there's some grain in them but very little grain. Usually there's a lot of grain here and you have to very careful on some of the putts. This year they are a lot faster because of them.

Q. Are you aware of the tragic situation with Jack Nicklaus' grandson and your thoughts on it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I just heard about it. It's sad for anybody to lose a child like that. It's unfortunate and I'm sure all of us here at the tournament send their condolences. That's something you don't ever wish anyone to have to go through.

Q. Do you think marriage has relaxed you on the course this year?


Q. Or did kicking in that victory relax you more than anything?

TIGER WOODS: Putting the pieces of my swing together. You know, I had a lot of work last year and it took a while, and as you can see towards the end of the year each and every tournament I got a little better. Finally going over to Japan, I put all the pieces together. It didn't really have anything to do with the marriage or anything like that because I've lived with Elin for over two years, actually, three years, before we got married, so nothing's really changed.

Q. With the stars in the field this week, does this have a bigger event feel than other TOUR events; not a major, but World Golf Championships?

TIGER WOODS: Probably. Not as deep as a World Golf Championships, but you still have the top-end players playing, which is great. We don't get a chance to play against each other very often, the World Golf Championships, majors and maybe the PLAYERS. Some of the guys are international players and they support their tours. It's nice to have a field like this to compete in. We always enjoy it, going against the best and it's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. In terms of calendar years, this is your 10th professional season?

TIGER WOODS: Can you believe that?

Q. Does it seem like it's raced by and do you feel like your best ahead of you?

TIGER WOODS: It's definitely raced by. It's hard to believe I've been out here that long. My 10th season out here on TOUR, I was laughing. You get to double digits, you've been out here a long time, you're kind of old. I'm there now.

But it's a lot of fun. I had a great grind and certainly my best years are definitely ahead of me.

Q. Working with Hank, do you feel as confident as you've felt in a while or more focused?

TIGER WOODS: I'm definitely more excited because I'm hitting it better. A lot of the things we've been working on have come together. You know, the beginning of this year and the end of last year, I put the pieces together. Now it's just, you know, refining it day-to-day like you always do. That's part of golf and that's part of playing this game.

But all of the -- the major overall stuff is pretty much done.

Q. Making a charge on the last day, do you feel this course is suited to what you're doing now and that you can score low?

TIGER WOODS: You have to score low. The golf course, playing as fast as it is, the fairways are fast and dry, the guys are going to play aggressive off the tees. The fairways are pretty big. You can get it down there and be aggressive. You have to make a bunch of birdies. I think last year, 18-under par was in a playoff. That's generally what it is, you have to be between 15 and 20. You have to go low.

Q. When you get to the first tee and you don't have your swing where you want it that day, how do you get around without shooting yourself; do you change your philosophy on how you play that round?

TIGER WOODS: You have to figure out what you've got. Some days, it's a draw or a hook. Some days it's a fade or a slice, some days it's high, some days it's low. What it is is what you've got. You go with it and don't try to find it.

Q. Do you play conservative?

TIGER WOODS: Sometimes I'm very aggressive. See what my swing allows me to do. If I can hit nothing but hooks I get to every back pin. That's easy. The right pins are tough. You shade it more to the center of the right pins.

Q. When you get to the south, do you start thinking about Augusta --

TIGER WOODS: You kind of feel that way, but any time you get off that West Coast and you get off the poa greens and you come on to smooth greens, yeah, your mind definitely heads toward Augusta because they're obviously the smoothest, fastest greens we're put on all year. It's nice to get back on smooth putt greens where you hit good putts and you know it's in.

Q. Is your lead-in to Augusta going to change this year?

TIGER WOODS: What do you mean?

Q. Same schedule?


Q. Wide open race for No. 1, does it make you look around and maybe pay a little bit more attention to what other guys are doing or does that really not affect you at all?

TIGER WOODS: No, you just try and win tournaments. That's what you're here to do. You enter events to win. You start looking at the leaderboard to see who you have, if you're up there and who you have to beat come Sunday. Otherwise you don't even pay attention. You try to get yourself in position to win and then try taking care of it on Sunday.

Q. We've been talking about in other sports players are bigger and stronger; do you think players at the top will get even bigger and stronger? Do you think the strengthening will continue the way it is now?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about that. We haven't got true athletes playing the game yet. Most of them are golfers; they are not athletes. I mean, what if you got Bo Jackson playing this game, who decided the hell with football and baseball, I'm going to play golf and stick with it, with that speed and that athleticism, or Michael Jordan said basketball is not my future, I'm going to play golf, with that competitive fire and that edge and he was good at it, those are true athletes playing the game.

So we haven't got any true athletes playing that would be dominant in other sports, but one day we will. One day we will.

Q. Do you think now in golf the best athletes are the best players, you and Ernie, and do you think of yourselves as the best athletes out here?

TIGER WOODS: Most of the guys, if you're athletic you've played other sports growing up. You didn't just play golf. I ran track and cross-country and played baseball, so I did other things besides golf. And I think that's -- if you're able to make varsity or go to college on scholarship in multiple sports and golf is one of them, that's pretty good.

Q. Who's the best all-around athlete?

TIGER WOODS: All-around athlete? That's a good question.

Q. They still have that superstars thing on TV, do you remember that?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, I remember that, yeah, yeah. Hopefully I'd be one of them. (Laughter.) It depends if it's a racquet sport, Fax is pretty good. If you play tennis, I heard Sergio is really good. Ernie is pretty good, yeah, you're right.

Q. Cricket?

TIGER WOODS: He can't bowl. What else -- I know that Andrade is a pretty good basketball player. So, we have some athletes out here.

Q. How do you see this Big Four thing playing out and does it help with the fans and does that get players' attention too?

TIGER WOODS: It's more the fans than it is the players. We're trying to win golf tournaments so whatever tournament you enter, you're just trying to win.

Q. The Top Four, you played seven or eight times last year, do you think it would be good for golf if that happened more often or do you think it's good the way it is that you know only six, seven, eight teams a year --

TIGER WOODS: I'll tell you what, it would be more exciting for the fans and I'm sure the sponsors and TV and everybody if we did play more often together. The only way you could do that is if we shortened the season, which I've really been trying to get into Finchem's ear about. We play, what, 46 tournaments this year -- 48; is that what it is now? Well, there you go. 48 events, I mean, that's a lot of events and a lot of guys play overseas. But if you had a shorter season, we'd be forced to play more against each other.

Q. Chances of that happening are what?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. Did you hear the comment about a month ago, "The TOUR has got 43 title sponsors, Tiger thinks we only have 18"? Did you hear that comment and do you feel pressure to play different tournaments?

TIGER WOODS: Even when I was playing when I was winning a bunch of tournaments, I still played the same schedule. I played 18 and 20 events. I haven't changed my schedule.

Q. What would be the argument, beyond the independent contractor, doing the LPGA thing, where everybody has to play once every four years?

TIGER WOODS: If they choose to do it, that would become the rule. I kind of like it the way it is. I've supported the TOUR and we've had some wonderful TV ratings and things have gone up, purses have gone up, so I think everything has been very positive. But I still think if we're struggling to get sponsors, we have too long of a season. We have an 11-month season and that's too long. There's no other sport that you can say plays 11 months of a year.

Q. How would you make it shorter, just lop off tournaments that are not cutting it?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly. I have a whole long process, I've talked to you about this, but I think we should end with Labor Day. How can we compete against football? It's not going to happen.

Q. What would you do with the AMEX?

TIGER WOODS: We just have to move events. Unfortunately you're going to have to lose some tournaments. But then again I think you would get a better crop of events. Guys would be more inclined, you'd have to play more against each other. It is a shorter season. You don't have to spread out over 11 months. I think it would be great for all of golf, world golf as well, because some guys would play in other parts of the world in the off-time when we are not playing here, because you know what, Australia is about almost ready to go down, they have lost so many golf tournament and that's one of the best places to play. It's sad that the TOUR is struggling this much when they have to have Nationwide events in order to have a successful -- field tournaments.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Unfortunately it's just one of those things. We have a long playing career. We have a chance to play for a long time. It's not like in football, you're done after three, four, five years. You have a long chance to make it out here. You have plenty of opportunities. You just need to take advantage of those opportunities. That's what it comes down to and that's unfortunate but that's just the competitive world. You have to take advantage of your situation when it's presented to you.

Q. Does Finchem hear you out on this and nod his head like he does when most guys ask him Commissioner-type questions and give you the answer you want to hear?

TIGER WOODS: You know how it is, you've asked him.

End of FastScripts.

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