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August 13, 2002
JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Tuesday of PGA Championship week at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Tiger Woods joining us, past PGA champion. Tiger, welcome to the Twin Cities.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
JULIUS MASON: I guess you played the golf course. If you could give us some inside on what you saw.
TIGER WOODS: Well, the golf course has certainly changed since we played last Monday. The golf course is much faster, it's dried out, and the greens are certainly firmer and faster. So this week is going to be a fun challenge, for all of us this week.
Q. What's the learning curve like for you and your caddie when you have not played a competitive round of golf on a course like Hazeltine?
TIGER WOODS: Well, playing last Monday certainly helped, from the standpoint of knowing what clubs to hit off tees, but more than anything, getting lines off the tees. The practice rounds, I think this week are just mainly to get the speed of the greens, know how firm they are going to be receiving shots, and that's what we are looking at. I already have my lines and know what club I am going to hit off the tees. I just need to get a feel for how the rough is playing around the greens, and that just comes with repetitions, and that's what I've been doing today and that's what I'm going to do tomorrow.
Q. Do you think what could have been had it not been for a difficult Saturday at Muirfield?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't. Anyone who plays in the Open championship, we all know that's just what can happen. We all know that the weather over there is unpredictable, many things, anything can happen and it has happened. I'm sure I'll play in conditions like that again over there. I've just got a time when the conditions were tough and I didn't hit the ball particularly well that day and it just kind of added to it.
Q. What is the best aspect of being Tiger Woods and what's the worst aspect?
TIGER WOODS: The worst, easy. This. (Laughter.) Just kidding. I think the toughest part is anonymity. From college to now is certainly a lot different. It's a lot different now than it ever used to be. That's something that I really look back and thoroughly enjoyed, my college experience, because of -- there was so many different people from all different aspects -- most of the people were at Stanford prior to me. But you've got Olympic athletes, there was a kid in my dorm who built his own computer from scratch, freshman dorm. The kid was, what, 16 years old. I mean, people are just so bright and special in their own way, and I think that was probably the coolest time of my life. After I turned pro, it has certainly been different. People recognize me and I think that's probably the toughest thing. I think the best thing is being able to play golf competitively for a living. Ever since I was a little boy, that's something I've always wanted to do, and now I get a chance to live out my own dreams.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the difficulty of the closing three holes, and how it compares to other majors, and what do you think would be a good score on Sunday for those three holes?
TIGER WOODS: Any time you can play those holes even par, you're going to be doing well. 16 is interesting because we were talking about that today, Cookie and Marco and I, off the tee, you don't realize unless you go out there, if you stands on the tee box and look at the middle of the fairway, all you see is the reeds off the tee, so if you catch a shot in the wind, you can catch those reeds, so you have to decide, left side of the tee box or right side of the tee box. That's a signature hole here at Hazeltine, and I think it's going to be the one that everyone is going to probably remember. 17 and 18 -- 18 is more marked, being as long as it is, and especially if it is into the wind. That's a brutal hole.
Q. I know you were obviously winning majors -- you've said many times, you're never going to get tired of winning majors. Do you think the golfing public and fans are going to get tired of watching you win majors?
TIGER WOODS: That's something you're going to have to ask them. That's something I honestly don't know and to be honest with you, I like winning majors so I think I'm going to keep trying to do it.
Q. I did ask a lot of them this morning and the same people who were just ga-ga over getting your picture or whatever, after they are done shaking and I ask them, "Oh, who would you like to see win the tournament? Oh, well, Davis Love." They kind of want to see someone else win. Do you have a reaction to that or anything to add?
TIGER WOODS: That's their opinion. They are rooting for the people they want to see win. Obviously, I'd like to see things a little bit differently in my own perspective. It's good to see. It's good to see everybody cheering for other people and equally.
Q. How many times are you going to hit the driver this week, and could you talk about the perception that length here is supposedly a really big advantage on this course?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to hit the driver very often, honestly. Just the par 5 and maybe an occasional par 4 here and there. Most of the holes for me fit better with a 3-wood, especially now that the golf course is playing a lot faster. I can trap my 2-iron down there and hit it 280 or 290 because the ball is getting 40, 50 yards of roll. I'm not hitting the ball that high up in the air, but it is rolling 40, 50 yards. I think the misconception is you have to be long off the tee, but not really. These greens are firm enough that you have to hit the ball on the fairway and that's most important -- actually, any major championship, you have to get the ball in play first.
Q. I was wondering if it's hard to get your work done with all of the fan frenzy and how do you find the Minnesota golf fans?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes it is, yeah. Sometimes it is difficult to get your work in. That's why I like to get my work in before I get to a major championship and I feel like I've got all my work done now, just fine-tuning and getting my feel for how the course is going to be playing this particular week. The fans here are ecstatic for golf. They love their golf. From what I've been told from the players who have played here in the past, that's just the way it is, and they love it, they come out here in full force, and they are going to be loud and boisterous.
Q. You're known for such a power game with the par 5s; pretty good par 5s. How did you play No. 3 today?
TIGER WOODS: Very easy. I got there in regulation. (Laughs). I hit a driver and a 3-iron and a 9-iron. I didn't play to the flag today; I played to the back left. That's what I hit. I can't get there, unless it's downwind. No. 11 is borderline, if the winds starts blowing. Today the wind starting coming downwind on 11 and I was able to get 2-iron to the front, just short of the front edge. Most of the par 5s, I can come close to getting there. 15 is borderline. Again, depends on the wind.
Q. Most of us know that you have little or no influence with a group of men at a golf club in Augusta, but you do have a lot of influence on young people. Can you talk about your goals and where things are with the First Tee and the Tiger Woods Foundation?
TIGER WOODS: We've worked with them on a couple of facilities, we opened one in Louisville, Kentucky. It's been a wonderful relationship being able to work with the First Tee of the PGA TOUR and PGA of America and all of these facilities. Right now, the Foundation, we are going to build a learning center here pretty soon for the kids, down in L.A. It's not necessarily -- it's going to be a golf learning center but also an educational learning center. Kind of like the YMCA where they can go there and have computers and access to a lot of different things, a mentoring program. That's obviously something that's very near and dear to my heart. It's taken off. We've also got some other great ideas with the Foundation that are going to start next year with some schools. That's something that I think is just so cool, to be able to make an impact like that.
Q. You mentioned playing with O'Meara and Cook. There's quite a large group of 40-something players who are doing well this year. Can a 40-something player win this week?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. Those guys, they have seen it all, been through it all and have done it all. If anybody can handle tough situations down the stretch, I think it would be those guys. They know what they are capable of doing and they don't ever go beyond that. I think sometimes the younger generation, obviously, we like to be -- we have our egos and we do a little bit more than we think we can at times, but I think that's just part of the learning curve. They have gone through it all and I think those guys are probably the best at handling tough situations.
Q. You got Ernie Els and David Toms the first two days as playing partners. Is it important to you to play at or above the level of your playing partners the first two days to get a gauge of how your competition is playing; do you set a goal after 36 holes as extra motivation?
TIGER WOODS: I never have. I never have. My goal in a major championship is just focus on my own game and put myself in there with a chance to win. You either get near the lead or leading from on the back nine on Sunday, that's where I want to be and that's all I focus on. I enjoy playing with the guys I play with. This is a great pairing. We're all friends and we are all going to go out and talk a little bit here and there, but we are all going to be very focused. I don't think they could care less what I'm doing because they are focused on what they are trying to accomplish and that's shoot the lowest score possible.
Q. You are certainly one of the favorites in any major tournament you enter. How much pressure is there for you to play well and how do you deal with that?
TIGER WOODS: I think the pressure is internal. I want to play well for my own sake. I have my own goals, and that's to win. That's why I play. I love competing, I love winning championships. This is a championship that I would love to add my name to that list again.
Q. Ernie Els is coming off the British Open victory. Can you talk about his game, and how do you view him as a challenge to what you are trying to do in the long term, win 18 majors, win 19, whatever?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think he's playing well. You can see he was actually playing pretty good going into the Open Championship. His game was progressing nicely and all of a sudden, boom, he played great. He handled the situation pretty well. He dug down deep when he had to, made a couple of mistakes here and there, but he dug down deep and got it done. I think that's going to boost his confidence a lot. He's won three major championships now, and he's proved they can win and win the big ones. I think that's going to be a great thing for him and I think it's going to provide a nice atmosphere for, if we ever get a chance to go down the stretch, in a major championship, that he's done it before and I've done it before.
Q. Thunderstorms are likely for Saturday and Sunday. What concerns do you have about your game and inclement weather and what adjustments might you be likely to make?
TIGER WOODS: Thunderstorms, you can't do anything about it. You can't play. If there's lightning around here, especially what happened in '91, I don't think anyone is going to be -- if they are going to make a mistake, they are going to make a mistake by being overly conservative. I don't think they ever want to see what transpired here happen again, ever. As far as playing in the inclement weather, I thoroughly enjoy it. I think it's a fun challenge. I grew up -- I keep saying this, I grew up in Southern Cal, we always had great weather. Any time we had bad weather, I was out on the golf course trying to play in it because it was just different. It was always sunny Southern California. If it was Santa Ana winds blowing through the desert or storms from the pacific, I was out there playing.
Q. Talk about your caddie, probably one of the most famous caddies of all time. How did you get him and how important is he to you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Stevie is a great guy, first of all. I got a chance to actually get to know Stevie before I turned pro. I played a couple of practice rounds with Raymond. He caddied for Raymond Floyd at the time. He was super nice to me, even while I was a skinny little kid out there trying to hang with the big boys. He was -- he would always try and take the initiative to make me feel relaxed and he knew I was nervous being out there, playing with these great champions, and he would just try and ham it up, joke it up, talk to me and just make me feel relaxed. It's something that I will always remember and that I did remember. Because when the opportunity came that I got to have him on the bag, I jumped at it. He was nice enough to say yes and I think we've been in a great partnership since then.
Q. Curious as to your thoughts when you come to a PGA Championship. Masters has it's own thing, U.S. Open is our National Championship, the Open Championship is the oldest. What do you think of the histories and traditions here and how do you view this major?
TIGER WOODS: I view it as a major championship and one I want to win. I've won it twice and I would like to add my name to that list again. It's the last major of the year, and you always want to end it on a good note.
Q. Did the build up and excitement of the Grand Slam distort your accomplishments this year, in that you are here trying to win three times, three majors in a season and people are still having trouble with what if, what this week could have been?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. I think that's your responsibility. (Smiles) -- and your fault, for doing that build up. I explained it. You guys all saw it. It wasn't exactly easy conditions on Saturday of an Open championship. That's what happens sometimes. But, I've had a great year. Any time you can win one major championship in a year, it's going to be a successful year. I think winning two in one year so far, it's been even better. I'd like to make it three. Right now, if I can win this week, Mr. Hogan and myself are the only ones that have ever won three in one year.
Q. Now that you did not win the British Open, looking back, could you say it's good for golf maybe that you didn't win all four in one year this year and that in the big picture, that's a good thing for golf?
TIGER WOODS: You know what, dude, I can't give that to you. (Laughter.)
Q. Having won seven of the last 12 majors, how do you explain that dominance? Are you just that much better than everybody else?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I've put myself there enough times that you're bound to win one. Because I think I won one early in my career, it certainly relaxed me in knowing that I could handle it and I've done it before, my first full year as a pro, in '97, I won the Masters and I think that took a big burden off of me; knowing the fact that I can handle it. I had won the U.S. Amateur, I had won big tournaments, but I had never won a big major championship before. Winning that one, I think set me up for the rest, and then from there, once I put myself in contention with a chance to win, I could always say, "I've done it before."
Q. I'd like to get your opinion about how boisterous the galleries have become at times in major championships, and as a player, does that affect your concentration level, and is there any 1-up man ship through the galleries that you've dealt with?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think the game is certainly changing. The crowds are certainly becoming louder and louder and more boisterous. That's great, but it's also -- it can be harmful to the game, as well. Because they yell at inappropriate times, and sometimes, they say inappropriate things, after they have consumed a few, usually in the afternoon. Overall, 99% of the fans are fantastic. They are there to watch good golf and cheer good shots on. I think that's what you have to focus on. It's just unfortunate that sometimes that few here and there can ruin the atmosphere. But nonetheless, overall, the fans are absolutely fantastic.
Q. You are one of the very few guys that have won the PGA since it went medal play, without it being your first major championship victory. Why do you think it is that this tournament maybe is more conducive to being a breakthrough for a guy to win a major and why is it so competitive?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think a lot of it is, the first three majors are so different. You have the fairways -- they used to be wide at Augusta, but the greens are always the ones that is the defining characteristic of the Masters. The U.S. Open is the high rough, narrow fairways, hard brick greens. And the open championship is just au natural, just no water on the golf course and go play it. Those are three distinct styles of golf. I think when you come to the PGA, it's very similar to a U.S. Open. The only difference is, I think most of the PGA venues that I've played, so far, fairways have been a little bit more generous than the U.S. Open, and that's something that -- these are the size of the fairways that we are accustomed to on the Tour. I think that has a lot to do with it. It's very similar to a lot of the tour events we play, but you have the rough higher, like the U.S. Open, but the fairways are more generous. I think guys feel a lot more comfortable on that.
Q. After what happened to you at the British Open, do you have any extra incentive this week to win and reclaim your spot as the king of the majors?
TIGER WOODS: No. I'm just going to give it my best, that's it. There's no extra incentive at all. I take the same focus, the same approach to each and every major championship, and that is to peak and get my game mentally and physically ready for this one week. I try and do it four times a year, and so far, I've done it two times -- two and three-quarter times.
Q. In view of the fact that you are the most recognized athlete in the world, and everything that goes with that, has it annoyed you or bothered you that you have become the target of a number of people across the country, in view of their agendas and what are your fondest memories of your first -- or one of your first Tiger Woods Foundations in Minnesota?
TIGER WOODS: Second part to your question, I still remember it. It was a great time. We were young, we were in the infancy stage of our foundation development. It was great coming up here and hosting a wonderful clinic. The first part of your question, it just seems like the more putts I've holed, the lower my scores have become, the more knowledgeable I'm supposed to have gotten or become. (Laughs). It's kind of funny, if you think about it. I'm the same person. I have my goals, my aspirations for what I want to be able to do in this game, and I try to do that with my Foundation. I can't be the leader in all causes. I'm still 26, and obviously, I can probably do more as I get older and understand what I can and cannot give and dedicate my time to. Right now, I'm very focused on my foundation's development and urban youth.
Q. You talk about playing in inclement weather conditions, and that Saturday, you had to play in those kind of conditions. Did you learn anything about your game that Saturday that you could apply here, should it start raining during this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Unless it becomes 34 degrees out here, I don't think so. All the guys who were out there, I mean, we all froze out there. It was 34-degree windchill, wind blowing up to, they said, over 35 miles an hour and rain coming down sideways. I don't think you usually find that here in August. Maybe later in the year. That's one of those things where you just chalk it up and say, you know what, that's just a tough day for everybody. We all understand. That's part of playing the Open Championship. It can happen, and it has happened and will happen again.
Q. You mentioned that the lead up to the British Open was, in many ways, our fault, but at the same time, you have to take some responsibility because it's something no one had done in 30 years, winning the first two. Do you think people have become almost blinded to the fact that you don't just win a major championship by falling out of bed; that it's a very difficult thing to do? Can you speak to the difficulty of winning any one, and let alone two, and in your case, perhaps three?
TIGER WOODS: It's unbelievably difficult. To be able to go out there and have your game peak for that one week and deal with all of the different circumstances you have to deal with that particular week, I mean, anything can arise. You're going to get bad breaks, you're going to get good breaks. You've just got to move on and handle your business. That's not always easy. It's the toughest conditions, the best players in the world; it's tough. It really is tough. I've been fortunate to have my game peak at the right time, but also, I've gotten some great breaks, too. I've had some bad shots end up in good spots where I can turn a bogey into a birdie, and sometimes that changes things around. It could change it around from a 73 or 74 into a 69 or 68. Sometimes it's something that simple that changes the entire tournament. That's usually what happens and that's how you win those tournaments.
Q. Can you talk about your college golf experience? How important was that for your development and how important do you think it is to developing the game of college golf, especially here, where you have the defending National champions who were almost eliminated this year?
TIGER WOODS: I think that's a time of my life that I will never, ever forget. I think that was probably the -- obviously the most free time that you have in your life, very little responsibility. And all you need to do is go to class and make sure that your grades are good enough, try and progress in your game, and make sure you don't consume too much on Fridays and Saturdays -- Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays. (Laughter.) It's a great time. I think that's where I finally learned, that was my first step into adulthood, and that's something I will always remember. If I didn't have that experience, there's no way I would have ever been successful out here on TOUR because of the time management skills that you need to have in college that I had to learn. I had to try and apply those skills that I learned in college out here, and they worked. If I didn't learn that in college, there's no way I ever could have been successful out here, for me, personally. Other people are different, but for me, that was the best thing in my life. The guys up here in the Minnesota program, it just goes to show you, that if you get some guys believing in a cause and coming together, what can happen. College sports is a great environment for that to happen. They proved it. Hopefully other programs won't drop golf and continue to promote it and support it.
Q. Four majors in a row, going for the yearly Grand Slam. We forget the three straight U.S. Amateurs. Will you ever do anything more amazing than that in golf than win 18 straight?
TIGER WOODS: Well, how about 18 straight junior matches? (Laughs). I guess winning the U.S. Amateur three straight times. One thing, I look back on all of my USGA victories as an amateur, even the three U.S. Juniors and the three U.S. Amateurs, I was behind in every match and every match -- every final match and every final match went to the last hole and beyond and I was somehow able to win. That is something that collectively has certainly helped me to get to where I am now.
Q. Back in '91, you were starting to dominate the Amateur golf world and Payne Stewart won his first U.S. Open on this course. Have you had a moment recently that made you reflect on him? I'm sure you miss him like the whole golf world does, but we're in a place where he won a very emotional tournament, with the lightning and whatnot. Do you and your buddies talk about him, maybe more so, this week?
TIGER WOODS: We were talking about that today, actually. Mark and Cookie and I were walking off the 16th bridge over there. It's got a plaque in memory of Payne and rightfully so. He won the last major championship here. Obviously, it's a tough -- it was tough for all of us to go through what transpired, and especially his family. But I think as a whole, I think Payne was an absolute great champion, and I think that's what you always remember about him. Even though he was a great friend to me, he was a great champion for the game of golf.
Q. In both '99 and 2000, your wins in the PGA you were pushed hard on the back nine. If you had to pick one moment from each of those, one shot that you think allowed you to get over the hump, which one would they be?
TIGER WOODS: Well, '99, that's pretty simple, the putt I made on 17. That was a big par putt that I had to make. I was leaking oil coming in and somehow able to snuff off the leak for just a little bit and then made the big putt and parred 18. In 2000, I think the most memorable moment there was that putt I hit on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff. That was a big putt. Bob made his and everybody was going nuts. I had to step up there and somehow creep it down there and make the putt. The funny thing is, people ask me, how nervous were you? I say, "You know what, I was actually pretty nervous, but not as nervous as I was on 17 for some reason." 17, when I put my ball down, my hand was shaking. It was just, get the ball down, you know. I picked up my marker and said, "Just relax, get the ball in and let's go to the next hole." I buried the putt and said, "Okay, you made one on the last hole, put the same kind of putt, go ahead and step up there and make this one." I was able to make it to the playoff and then won in the playoff.
Q. Looking to the Ryder Cup, do you think the events of 9/11 will affect the atmosphere this year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we all understand that the Ryder Cup might have been going a little too far, over the edge. I think it was getting -- it's not a blood bath. We are out there competing and having fun. We are trying to win and enjoy each other's competition. I think that's where we, as players and media and the fans, I think we all lost sight of that. And you can see what happened in '99, I think the fans went over the top, the players went over the top and the media went over the top. Everybody went over the top and we all learned from that. What happened on 9/11, unfortunately, put everything in perspective for all of us. I think the Matches will be conducted in the fashion it was designed, and that is a competitive atmosphere, but it is a gentlemanly sport. We are going out there and compete, we are going to enjoy it, but it's not going to be the same. It's not going over the top. We all understand it's not life or death. We are out there enjoying it. I think, unfortunately -- it's terrible to say, but 9/11, reminded us all of that, and it's sad to say that it takes something like that to remind us, that it is just a sport.
Q. For the local media, what do you think about Minnesota? Have you even had time to go take in any of the sites and have you planned to; have you been to the Mall of America?
TIGER WOODS: House, course, course, house. House, course, course, house. That's kind of how the routine is. In the week of a major championship, it's a little different. I don't really get out that much and I try to get my rest when I can. I've got my routine that I'd like to stick to. I don't really like to sight see anyways, but I would like to see the Mall of America, even though I hate shopping. I'd like to go in there and just check it out. I've heard it's a really big place, a lot of square footage.
Q. Talk about with a distinguishes the PGA Championship among the four majors. The Masters has Augusta National and Bobby Jones, the U.S. Open is our National Championship, the British championship is the oldest in history. If you had to come up with one or two words to summarize what this championship means to the players, what would it be?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a professional tournament. It's only for professionals. I think that's one of the reasons why I think you get probably the best fields each and every year in the PGA. I think we have the best field of all-time this year, 98 out of the Top-100 players are playing this week. That goes to show that when you get all of the professionals playing, that's what can happen.
Q. Out of what you've seen so far, out on the course, how do you think Hazeltine compares to the other courses you've played PGA Championships on?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's similar to Medinah, very similar. Some of the looks, some of the shapes, some of the holes, it looks very similar. Hopefully I can use the same feeling I had then, this week. I think this golf course, it's a long, tough course. The rough is up this week. The greens are hard and fast. That was not the case at Medinah. The golf course was playing a little soft, we got a little rain that came through the first day and we were able to backup 5-irons and 6-irons and that's not the case this week. I have hit a couple of wedges that have landed and skipped over the back. That's going to be a tough challenge this week.
JULIUS MASON: PGA champion, Tiger Woods. Thanks, Tiger.
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