September 18, 2002
GORDON SIMPSON: Tiger, welcome back to Ireland, it's a place you're very familiar with now, but not competitively. You've built up a great affinity here, tell us what your thoughts are about coming to Ireland every year before the Open.
TIGER WOODS: It all started with Dermott (Desmond) and JP (McManus) inviting Mark and I over. We came over here I think back in '98, I think it was. And I had such a great time I've been coming here ever since. I loved fishing here. I loved hanging out at the pubs. The Irish people have actually been wonderful. It's a place that I thoroughly enjoy. I never played here competitively until this week and again, it's going to be a lot of fun this week.
Q. We have a fantastic field again for the World Golf Championships event, 49 of the top 50?
TIGER WOODS: Any time you get the best players in the world, obviously you're going to enjoy that atmosphere and I've always enjoyed it. We don't have a chance to play against the best players in the world I think enough. These world golf championships as well as the Majors were the only tournaments where you're pretty much guaranteed to have the best field.
Q. Tiger, would you be good enough to tell us how important your preparation for the British Open has been through playing golf in Ireland and what your comments are; do you think our courses are good?
TIGER WOODS: I think it has been instrumental in preparing for the British Open, not only for getting adjusted for the time, but also getting used to playing Links golf. Obviously it is a different type of golf. We've played Portmarnock just about every year, Royal County Downs, again just about every year. Sometimes we'll go down to play -- we played Ballybunion. Just about everywhere. It's been so much fun to play these type of golf courses, we play in all different types of weather, which certainly makes it interesting. I've played in Port Mark where I drove a couple of holes. The first hole, I've driven it on the green there, and last year I hit driver, four-iron on the same hole. It's the weather and it's a lot of fun to play that type of golf, and I think it's instrumental in my preparation for the Open championship.
Q. Do you find it the least bit odd the two winners of the World Golf Championships are two guys that have never won before? Is that any reflection on the events that are showcased at World Championship events?
TIGER WOODS: It is odd. It's one of those things where match-play anything can happen, first of all, but NEC it's such a great field and. Paz played great, as well as anything can happen if you get the best players assembled.
Q. Tiger, can you explain the impact, the psyche of waiting an extra 12 months to start the Ryder Cup, what impact that has had on you and your profession?
TIGER WOODS: It puts everything in perspective. A golf tournament really isn't that important in the whole scheme of things. After what happened on September 11th, I think, especially us being Americans, it certainly had a profound affect on all of us. It just puts thing in perspective. A 4-footer isn't as important as you might think. I think because of the events that happened on September 11th, I think the atmosphere this year is probably going to be the way I think the tournament was meant to be played. I think it will be a lot better. I think everyone has a better understanding of life in general.
Q. Where do you stand on the two captains, that they are justified in sticking with the original selections for this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I think that's the way it should be. You have to understand that it's probably not the best two teams we could have assembled, but then again who really cares. After September 11th, it puts things in perspective real quick for you.
Q. Tiger, any advantage for the American team being able to play over here this week, the week before the Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Any advantage?
Q. As far as getting used to the time and all?
TIGER WOODS: I guess for some of the players who don't really travel outside the country that often. There are a few of us that play around the world all the time, throughout the year, and we're kind of used to doing it. Some of the guys don't really travel, so it might be advantageous to get them used to the time zone.
Q. Do you think maybe because of the circumstances, exception should have been given to everybody on the Ryder Cup teams into this event?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. I think that would have probably been the fair thing to do.
Q. Tiger, I understand you got a new set of irons in the bag this week; is there an element of risk changing before two such big tournaments?
TIGER WOODS: Obviously there's always an element of risk any time you change clubs, whether it's any club in the bag. But I think if you try them out, test them out enough -- again, I'm still working on it and hopefully they'll perform.
Q. What difference are they going to make to your game?
TIGER WOODS: Difference?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think overall consistency in the heads, the balance is consistent throughout the entire set. I think that was one of the things that I found was the biggest difference between my previous set and this set.
Q. Go back to the perspective issue from 9/11, because I would think it's safe to assume you don't really know what's going to happen until we get there. Does it put the Ryder Cup in perspective. Did it put the Masters in any different perspective?
TIGER WOODS: I think it put everything in perspective real quick. Everything you do in life, it's unfortunate it takes something like that, that profound, to actually make you step back and take a look at things, but it certainly did for all of us.
Q. Along those lines, was there a point last year for you, which I think was Disney after 9/11, right?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Did things get back to normal, when you got to a tournament, it was still the same thing you had been thinking about before, still fairways and greens, there was still a big check at the end of the week?
TIGER WOODS: It probably wasn't until we started the year this year, because obviously security was pretty cracked down and a lot of guys weren't playing. A lot of guys were withdrawing from tournaments, and at the time we hadn't retaliated yet and a lot of guys were hesitant about playing tournaments and putting themselves out there.
Q. Is it back to normal now, do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Is it back to normal?
TIGER WOODS: I think as normal as it can be. I don't think all of us have a better understanding of life in general because of it.
Q. Tiger, your Ryder Cup record so far isn't that brilliant. Is that something that rankles with you at all?
TIGER WOODS: Does it bother me?
TIGER WOODS: Not really.
Q. Can you put your finger on why it's not as good as perhaps we expect it to be?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes I've played well and I've gotten beaten. Other times I've played really poor and still gotten beaten. It's just one of the those things where anything can happen, as you know, in match-play, and especially in 18 holes match-play, anything can happen, and it has, and I think the Ryder Cup is a big reflection of that, anything can happen.
Q. Did anything particularly unexpected happen in one of your matches that you can recall that has swung, altered the balance?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Maybe it's just making a key putt here and there. My matches really haven't been the dramatic chip-ins or a hole lost in the fairway or anything like that. They have been matches where I've made a lot of birdies, yes, but nothing that dramatic.
Q. Tiger, golf coming into the Olympics could probably be in Beijing? What do you think, are you keen to go to the Olympics? It would compete with the PGA or the British Open. To golf in the Olympics, is that something of an exception?
TIGER WOODS: It certainly does excite me, but I think which one would you rather win; an Olympic gold medal or one of the four major championships.
Q. Tiger, are you getting excited about the Ryder Cup now, now that it's only a week away; do you think there is going to be any less excitement in the round this week?
TIGER WOODS: I think there is certainly less excitement, certainly from all of us: The players, the fans, the media. The build-up hasn't been that dramatic in the press. As you know, every year around the PGA it gets real interesting, who is qualified, who is going to get picked, blah, blah, blah, and then it happened this year. I think the build-up certainly hasn't been as exciting as it has been in the past, but rightfully so. I don't think the players this week are really concerned about the Ryder Cup this week. We're trying to win this tournament. It's a big event, and once this tournament is over on Sunday, then I think both teams are going to start getting fired up for next week.
Q. You don't feel the same you did three years ago, this stage before the Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Three years ago? You mean last year?
Q. The last Ryder Cup, before the last Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: At Brookline?
TIGER WOODS: No, there is certainly not anywhere near the excitement level. Understandable, though.
Q. Going back to the perspective issue, was there ever a time when you would be thinking is golf worthwhile?
TIGER WOODS: I think is it worth putting yourself out there where there could be some type of attack or injury to one of the players. I think that's what happened last year, the Ryder Cup was canceled because of things like that, and I think guys with families, with little kids, were reluctant to travel overseas and play in tournaments because of what happened.
Q. You came over during the summer to play Mount Juliet and you've seen it now the last day and a half, two days, how do you compare this to another Nicklaus course, a classic course like Muirfield Village, and where does it rate?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think it's as difficult as a lot of the courses he designs. The bunkers aren't quite as severe and deep as we're accustomed to seeing most Nicklaus courses, especially at Muirfield, the phases are vertical and they're right up next to the greens. Here they are not as steep and severe. But it's going to be an interesting test I think this week because the greens are so pure, I think the guys are going to shoot some really low numbers this week.
Q. Do you see this as being a Tiger Woods course, a course that suits you, that puts the driver in your hand and gives you an advantage?
TIGER WOODS: I think any course is a course I like to play. If I'm in the field that week, that golf course definitely suits my game.
Q. With 49 of the top 50 here, do you feel that this is almost like a Major and do you get as keyed up for this as you would a major because of the quality of the field?
TIGER WOODS: It's not quite like a Major championship obviously from the historical perspective, but having the field the way it is, it definitely gets your juices flowing, because you're playing against the best, the same guys you would in a major championship.
Q. And are you as motivated this week as you would be next week?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Right now I'm focused on this week, and next week I'll be just as focused.
Q. Today is the way you like to prepare for an event, get out early, do your work and finish for the day. Next week the practice days are very, very different. If you had your own wish, how would you prepare for next week and do you think you should be allowed to prepare for it in your own way?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, you should. It's supposed to be a pretty big event, and I don't know, most major championships, you're spending most of the nights going to functions until 11:00 or midnight, and that's not how you prepare for a big event. But big events, you're thrown out of your routine, you're not doing things you normally would do to prepare and get your game ready. One of the things I've struggled with in my preparations for the Ryder Cup is I don't have the time that I like to spend practicing as well as working out. My workout routine is something I take great pride in, and we don't have the time and the luxury to be able to do that, and that's kind of thrown off your schedule a little bit.
Q. Do you think you should be allowed to prepare?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, you should.
Q. Expand on your reasons why you're not too bothered about your Ryder Cup record?
TIGER WOODS: Why? Because we all know match-play anything can happen. I think that's the thing that you have to understand. In junior golf and amateur golf I had a great record, but also a lot of luck too to have that kind of record.
You have to understand that anything can happen. You can go out there and I'll never forget, I played the Monroe Invitational and I was 6-under through ten holes and I was one down. I shot eight under par and I was going home. That happens. That's part of match-play. In stroke-play you're loving it because you're probably in the tournament, but in match-play that can happen.
Q. The woods and the wedges that you're carrying in your bag this week, is that your normal choice or have you chosen something specific for this course?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's the same.
Q. Can you tell me what they are?
TIGER WOODS: Nine, 15, 56 and 60.
Q. We know a lot of the guys on both Ryder Cup teams are probably not in the form they were in a year ago. Do you think that the format of the competition and the fact that it's a team event means that individual form coming into the tournament is meaningless, that we can expect to see a lot of surprises?
TIGER WOODS: I think a lot of times did it helps you are playing well going into an event, but I think when you're in a team event and team at months mere like that, it can turn things around, it can inspire you to have team mates around you, it has done that. We've seen that in the past. Hopefully both sides will be that way, but it can also work in he verse, if you're not playing well, all of a sudden you're flown into the fire with all that pressure, and you can't. You don't have the confidence to ride on your swing and your mechanics and you can hit some pretty poor shots. We've seen that as well, so it can go both ways. I've had it both ways in the Ryder Cup. I've played well and played poorly going in there, and I've had mixed results, that's probably one of the reasons I can say that, because I've experienced it both ways.
Q. There's a gender equity issue brewing in America, with --
TIGER WOODS: Really?
Q. Hang on. Suzie Whaley, who is a club pro in Connecticut, which automatically qualifies her for the Greater Hartford Open, even though she played the forward set of tees to win. Any thought of her playing a PGA golf event qualifying with a shorter set of tees?
TIGER WOODS: Is she actually qualified to play?
Q. She has a spot. It's a matter of whether she wants to take it?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's pretty cool. She went out there and she earned her right. She beat everybody in the field and that's what you have to do. She did it.
Q. Playing from a different set of tees?
TIGER WOODS: Which is understandable. I mean, most women aren't going to hit the ball quite as long as most of the guys.
Q. She would have to play from the same set as everyone else at Hartford if she chose to play, though?
TIGER WOODS: I like to play from the front tees. I'd like to put in my request.
Q. You said you like to come over here before the British Open to adjust to the time difference, yet you've only come here some 48 hours before the tournament. Is that going to be a problem getting over jet lag in preparing for tomorrow's tournament.
TIGER WOODS: No, I've played in Japan, and Germany every year. I've played all around the world and that's about how long it takes for me to get fully adjusted, about 48 or 36 hours.
Q. What about playing with Padraig Harrington?
TIGER WOODS: It's going to be exciting. A lot of fans will come out and follow our pairing. He's been playing great all year and I think it's going to be a lot of fun playing with him again.
Q. Tiger, were you consulted last year as to whether or not the Ryder Cup should be played? Did anybody ask you what you felt?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. And your feelings were?
TIGER WOODS: I think if they could have provided -- if they could have 100 percent assured that we're going to have a safe environment and everyone is going to be protected and be okay, then that's fine. But at the time I don't think anyone could actually have assured that. It's certainly not assured now, any tournament we're playing, but certainly then with all the turmoil that was going on, I don't think anyone had the focus that it took to put it together.
Q. So you still feel at this point it was the right decision. You don't look back in hindsight and think --
TIGER WOODS: It was the right thing to do, because at the time, you know, a golf tournament didn't mean a whole lot. All of us understood that, and I think we all understand that now. In the whole scheme of things, missing a 4-footer really isn't that important.
GORDON SIMPSON: Tiger, enjoy the week and don't overdo the Guiness.
End of FastScripts....