June 18, 2003
HARRISON, NEW YORK
Q. Can you talk about the differences of the Open courses, small ballpark compared to a course like this -- more than Bethpage -- inaudible?
TIGER WOODS: It's different because you have to shape shots. When this golf course is hard and fast is when you have to really create shots. You can't just hit a straight ball out there in the fairway and expect it to stay in the fairway, and the same way with on the greens.
This week we are going to have to really be careful on our second shots and not spinning the ball off the shelves. Some of the back pins are probably going to be the toughest pins because you throw a normal shot in there, it's going to rip back there 20 feet. You are going to have to play very similar to how we play on the West Coast, hit a lot of shots in there.
Q. Do you like these kind of old-style courses?
TIGER WOODS: I like being able to create shots. That's one of the reasons why I love the British Open so much is that we get to use our creativity. Some of the golf courses nowadays, that's no longer the case. It's target golf and they take creativity out of the equation. Here, every golfer who has played here and won here has been successful here and has enjoyed the creative aspect of it.
Q. Do you think the equipment is getting too good? Do you think they are going to have to regulate?
TIGER WOODS: For the Tour players or the amateurs? Because the amateurs haven't improved at all. (Laughter.) Honestly the average score for the amateur hasn't improved. But for the Tour players, if you think about it, we are specialists in what we do. And so, hence, if you make any type of improvement in our equipment, you're going to see more of a significant improvement than you would be of someone who has another job for a living.
In the golf courses, they are becoming shorter because of the equipment. And don't forget guys are working out. We're becoming bigger and stronger and more flexible. Before, it was en vogue not to work out. Now it's vogue to work out.
Look at all of the young kids now: Every one of them, they are cut, they are ripped, hit the ball a long ways, and the game has changed that way. You don't see too many young players coming up playing the way Corey Pavin used play. You don't see that type of game anymore. Now it's just bombs away and we'll figure it out from there.
I think that's where the game has really changed, I think that's where it's kind of headed towards. I think the PGA TOUR needs to be on the forefront of that and make sure everything is regulated and we are all playing with the proper equipment.
TIGER WOODS: I think you need to put a limit on -- obviously they have on the CORs of the club faces, but I think we all need to make sure that's being regulated. They need to be tested, a lot like NASCAR. First hole, here's my driver; make sure it's legal. Green light, red light, that kind of thing.
The golf balls, you know, each and every generation, we think we can't really improve the golf ball that much more and we seem to be able to keep doing it.
I don't know where they are going to go on that situation, but I think they really need to crack down on CORs of drivers.
TIGER WOODS: Come back this year? The honest truth is that I didn't play Wachovia this year, and it was either I was going to -- I needed to find a couple other tournaments throughout the year I was going to play. This one has been -- the people have been great to me. They gave me an exemption when I was an amateur here and wanted to come back and play.
TIGER WOODS: No. I came. I didn't come out to the golf course, but I did get in yesterday, yeah.
Q. When your timing is off with the golf ball, is it your hips not catching up to your hands?
TIGER WOODS: My hips always outrace my arms, yeah.
Q. How do you correct that?
TIGER WOODS: Slow down. It's one of the faults I've always had. Certain guys have their own tendencies. Greg Norman had his slide. I have just an overactive hip rotation through the ball. I've always had that, even as a kid. That's one of the reasons why I hit the ball as far as I do is because I have that. Also, one of the reasons why I do hit the ball crooked at times is I do have that. It's a matter of matching up. Obviously, when I match-up, that's when I have my most success. When I'm not matching up, that's when you see a lot of foul balls out to the right.
TIGER WOODS: It's been trouble ever since I started playing the game, because that's my fault, and if I get any fault, that's it. I struggle with that all the time. Even when I'm playing well, I'll still hit a couple shots that way. I may save it with my hands and you say, oh, wow, that's a great shot, but in essence I just saved it and got luck and I timed it well, but it was actually a poor swing.
Q. Equipment, seems like you were testing throughout the tournament --
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. First, second, third, fourth round, and fifth rounds at some tournaments.
Q. Do you advocate the testing of equipment?
TIGER WOODS: You could say that.
Q. Do believe there are certain clubs that are out here that shouldn't be out here?
TIGER WOODS: You could say that.
Q. Does this year remind us how hard it is to win an Open?
TIGER WOODS: It's not easy. We all had a chance to play it and he came out on top. He hit the fewest number of shots, and, hence, he's the deserving champion. It's not like we played a different golf course than he did. We had the same opportunity that he had. He just played the best. It's he was second in fairways, first in greens last week, and if you do that and put, even if you putt like an 18-handicapper, you're probably going to win the tournament if you're that successful with your ball-striking, which he was, hence he's very deserving of it.
Q. Can talk about the example you set for your contemporaries -- inaudible?
TIGER WOODS: I've people just don't understand. I've won, what, three times this year, and I only played -- when that came up last week I had only played in seven tour events, and at the time, if you're batting over .300 in tournament wins, that's pretty good. Last time I checked, that was.
But, you know, that's just the way people are. Times have changed. I've had this conversation a lot with Arnold about it and how in the media wasn't so incessant on a guy's, just, performance, each and every week, when he was in his prime and how it's changed over the years. If anyone's had to deal with it more than anybody, it was him. He said it's been a dramatic change. I don't know what everyone's need is for categorizing everything. If I go on and I win a couple tournaments and all of a sudden I'm playing great, unstoppable and I don't win two weeks in a row, then all of a sudden I'm in a slump again. It's a roller coaster ride. That's one of the things that I've really tried to understand ever since I've turned pro is not to get caught up in that roller coaster ride, just trying to keep my own improvement going, and if I keep doing that, I will have my success, whether people think I'm having it or not.
Q. Would you liken yourself more to Arnold Palmer, the way he reacted with the crowd, his emotions, or more to Jack Nicklaus?
TIGER WOODS: I'm probably a blend of both. I don't play as aggressively as Arnold did and I didn't play as conservatively or as methodical as Jack did. But a lot of that is dictated by our times and the way we play now, which is that can we play that conservative and win tour events week-in and week-out. I don't think so because you look at the average score now, to make the cut is 4- to 6-under par. You can't play too conservative and shoot 4- to 6-under par each and every week to try to make the cut. If you look on the board, it's 14, 12-under par after two days is leading; close to 20 by the end of the week. And vice versa, it's changed and become more aggressive. That's why I think a lot of the younger players don't play the way I said, like some of the older style players. They play more aggressively because they have to.
Even in college, the scores are lower than when I played in college. They have a lower scoring average now than when he played. So scores are getting better. You have to shoot at more flags, you have to make more putts, just because everyone else is.
TIGER WOODS: You know, that's part of our game. You hit a bad shot, you have to get over it right there and then so you can focus on the next one. I had to get over this U.S. Open pretty quickly so I could be focused and ready for this tournament.
You know, I sat back Sunday night and took a hard look at some of the things I did some of the thing did I wrong, some of the things I did right, and tried to really learn from what I did. Hopefully apply that in the future and not make the same mistakes and hopefully improve on the same successes that I had last week, as well.
TIGER WOODS: I think it's not only myself, but at the time Greg Norman influenced a lot of players with his length and his success. It then became more vogue to hit the ball a long way when Daly came out on TOUR and won two major championships playing that way. Granted, his swing may be a little unorthodox and kids don't really want to copy that, but it's proven that you can be very successful hitting it a long way, and if you hit it straight on top of that, you're going to be pretty tough.
Q. Can you talk about playing in the Pro-Am?
TIGER WOODS: Just have fun. Some guys, you realize early on whether or not you can give them a whole bunch of grief or not, and that's how they relax is just to make fun of them and they relax. Other guys, you need to encourage them and make them feel relaxed that way. I think it's just learning to become more of a people person. Because of the people I've played with, and all of the people I've met, you get a feel for it pretty quickly. Right when you first meet the person, you can kind of get a feel for how you can behave.
TIGER WOODS: I have. I don't hit as many balls as I used to, but I'm more focused when I hit balls now because I have to be. It's more quality versus quantity. I can't stand out there on the range like Vijay and hit balls till it's dark. I've got to be more focused on my practice sessions because of my knee. In some regards it's better because I get more accomplished. In other regards, when I start to find something and I feel that I really can start working on it, I have to take a look at the big picture and say, you know what, maybe I should take a rest for a couple hours and then come back and hit more balls -- instead of, just sit out there can keep working on it, keep working on it, keep working on it till I get it right. I do that and I have done that, but I've paid the price the next day because it gets really sore. So I've had to really gauge a balance. Some days I have to shut it down and that's when it's most frustrating for me, because when I was a kid or growing up, we all thought we were invincible, just go out there, hit any ball you want, play 72 holes a day. Can't do that anymore.
Q. Is that something that will change?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it will change. It will get better. It's just that my therapist and surgeon have taken the absolute most conservative approach possible and look at the big picture. Now if I was playing football or basketball and had a short lifespan in my sport, I wouldn't be doing that. I would be going out because I had a short window. But with golf, I have a pretty big window to compete, so it's a matter of being able to stretch it out as long as I want to stay active in the sport.
Q. Are you chasing Jack Nicklaus or you chasing the name that's in the win column?
TIGER WOODS: In what sense?
Q. He's the all-time leader in majors; he is considered the best who ever played the game. Are you trying to chase Nicklaus or what he represents?
TIGER WOODS: No one has ever done it more consistently or better than Jack, or for as long a duration, too. So as far as that's concerned, yes, he is a benchmark for all of us.
Am I chasing it? Well, I'm competing against it, yes and hopefully one day I would like to be able to surpass that. But if I don't, that's fine, too. At the end of the day, I want to say I'm a better golfer than I was yesterday. That's my outlook, and if I keep doing that, hopefully that will be enough to be considered one of the greatest of all time.
Q. I might be wrong, but I saw a stat somewhere that Riviera and here are courses you've played the most without winning; how much more incentive is it for you to play well and win at a place you have not had success in the past?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if I had played here in 20 years in a row and never won, then I'd have more of an attitude about it, but this is my third time as a pro, fourth time as a pro, so it's not like I have been here a lot.
Riviera I've played every year but one year, and I've come close, lost in a playoff. I came close there, but haven't really come close here at all. Riviera is a lot longer, some big holes. Only thing that's similar is the size of the greens. They are both very small. These are much larger than Riviera's.
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