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August 11, 2002

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: It must be pretty special to win the Buick Open.

TIGER WOODS: It is. It was a windy day. It was tough playing out there. I didn't hit the ball just like I did yesterday, hitting it in spurts. I made a lot of big par putts and made a few birdie putts here and there, but it was with the putter. I was able to hang in there. Esteban played well. He made a couple of mistakes at the end. But he fought hard all the way and he ought to be commended for that.

Q. You mentioned that the big putt on 13 for birdie was the idea that you capitalized on the situation. Toledo struggled. You capitalized and really pretty much put a dagger into it at that point?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a fast putt over on 12. I had a 3-footer for birdie there and it was the worst putt I hit the entire week probably. And here I am right in front of the green, easy uphill chip. I'm telling myself, leave it below the hole. And I run it by about eight feet. I'm just compounding the problem here. He hits it in the water. And he's going to make six. And if I can somehow bury this putt, all will be forgotten. I stepped up there and hit a really good putt. It broke hard at the end, and it went in. And it was just like a big relief.

The next hole I think is where the tournament swung open my way. I hit a bad tee shot there, pulled it left, hit the tree and came back out in play. He hits about the same drive I did, but he didn't have the lucky break that I got and he made par.

Q. (Inaudible) talk about your putt on 12, but then to bounce right back and get the big birdie on 13. What is it about your game that you can just immediately change the focus and be positive again?

TIGER WOODS: You just have to stay in the moment. Golf is one shot at a time. You can't live in the past. You have to play the shot at hand. That's what I've always done.

Q. Tiger, you're around crowds all the time. Did the crowd on 17 unnerve you a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, what they were saying. They were saying things that were just uncalled for at a golfing event. You don't say that to any player, myself, Esteban or any player. That's what happens when you get a lot of people who obviously have consumed too many.

Q. (What did they say)?

TIGER WOODS: Nothing you could say in here.

Q. You've won 25 of the 27 tournaments you've led after three rounds. Outside of the majors and U.S. amateurs, how does it rank in terms of things maybe you're most proud of you've done in your career?

TIGER WOODS: You have to put that up there with it, to be able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities that I put myself in. I'm telling you, I got some lucky breaks to win some of the tournaments. Sometimes I just beat the guys. Other times I've gotten some great breaks that have allowed me to go on to win. You can't always play great all the time. You have got to get some help, and I've got my share of good luck.

Q. Tiger, first of all, the crowds, how much advantage do you think do you have when they are as huge as they are and they are obviously pro Tiger? And secondly, what are you thinking going into next week coming off with a victory here?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think it's necessarily the fact that they're pro Tiger or pro whomever in the group. I think the fact that I've played with that type of crowd enough where I've seen it, I'm used to it, and other players who haven't been in that atmosphere may not be used to it. It is a little bit different. That's just the way it is, and I'm really excited about next week. Obviously winning here obviously gives you a little shot of confidence, but the way I won the last two rounds here, I didn't really hit the ball particularly well, but I managed my game well and I really putted well. And that's always a nice shot in the arm.

Q. Your comments about a windy day today is a perfect segue into this inquiry. I know that you know that for some time now materials with origins in aerospace industry, i.e. titanium have been used in club construction. In fact your own club constructors have to contend with the same materials physics as do aircraft and automobile manufacturers, such as weight, structural rigidity, elasticity, tension uniformity and deformation. Current regulations with the PGA permit day-to-day club performance characteristics modifications but no changes once the clubs are in play for a given round.

The question is, as a science of club making advances would you advocate rules modifications that permit real time adjustments based on club conditions, and player performance too, if unlimited design and construction resources were placed at your disposal right now what would be your criteria for a perfect driver.

TIGER WOODS: Can you repeat that? (Laughter) all right. Let's see. The first part, yes. Golf clubs are becoming very technical, highly advanced, and it's only going to continue to get better. And I think actually what the PGA TOUR is actually working on right now is making sure that I guess your CORs are legitimate. Some of the drivers out here may be a little on the borderline edge. And I think the PGA TOUR is trying to come up with an instrument that on the first tee you can test your driver and see if it fits, if it is legal to be put into play.

Some of the drivers I said are borderline, and it's not the players' fault. The manufacturers give these clubs to the players and they say, I'm hitting it farther, I'm hitting it great, go play with it. And I think they're trying to get a tool that will make a level playing field for everybody, so everybody is playing under the same rules.

As far as hitting a better driver, I don't know what the next step is, for me as a far better driver. Right now my driver is not as fast, and I don't get the spring effect a lot of the other drivers do. The fact that my ball comes off, obviously, the less you can maneuver the golf ball. I've tried drivers that are put to the edge, or darn close to it and I can't maneuver the ball quite as well, but I do hit the ball a lot further. What would I rather have? Hit the ball a long distance, 15 yards further, 10 yards farther, or be able to control the ball in the wind and maneuver according to what the dogleg is or what the shot requires. I would much rather have that, and that's what my driver allows me to do for know. I don't know what the next step is. I'm sure it will get a little bit better. I thought my last driver was the best driver for me. Now I think this driver is the best driver for me. And I'm sure I'll find another one.

Q. With corporation sponsorship with the PGA originating here, born with the Buick Open and certainly your relationship with Buick, how much does it mean to you to have a chance to sit up there and stand out there and take the Championship hardware for Buick's first tournament in PGA history?

TIGER WOODS: It's pretty neat. It's my second Buick event I've won. And to see the guys I play with in pro-ams, I've know these from the photo shoots I've done, the commercial ads, to see them on the green like that, that's pretty cool. They obviously want me to play well this week, and I wanted to play well, as well. And it's so cool to be able to win this event, as a Buick spokesman. I'm proud to be a Buick spokesman, and to win this tournament makes it that much more special.

Q. (Talk about Mark O'Meara)?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'll tell you one thing, no matter what, it's really neat for me to see him playing well again. He's making baby steps. He's making steps in the right direction, which is great to see. At the British Open, he was playing with a few holes to go. He was in 4th place he had gotten up there and was playing well. He's playing better. The practice rounds that we've played. I played with him on Monday, Hazeltine, I played with him here the first two days. He's hitting the ball like he used to in '98, but in a better position now. He's coming from a much better position. So he's hitting more consistent shots. His bad shots aren't as bad as they were, and he's starting to get the confidence. He's starting to talk trash again. He's trying to give me a hard time, which is always a good sign. Then you know he's playing well. And to have Marko playing the way he's playing, for me as a friend that's what you always want to see.

Q. What do you feel you have to work on between now and Thursday in Minneapolis?

TIGER WOODS: Just getting back to shaping some shots. This week I was able to do it for the first couple of days, the last couple of days I didn't really hit the ball -- not as well as I did the first two days, that's for sure. I hit good shots in spurts. I would play three or four good holes and then I would lose it for a couple of holes, then I would find it, then I would lose it, I would find it, then I would lose it. That's how it went. I need to get back to hitting the ball consistently, getting the ball in play. Putting the ball on the green, shaping the shots correctly again.

The weekend when the wind started blowing, I was hitting it solid, but my path wasn't right. Lot of it is my take away. I've been working on my take away, trying to get it better. And occasionally when I start getting comfortable and it starts to get it off. Which causes a lot more problems in the swing.

Q. You struggle with your swing, but on No. 11 you stuffed it in there. What was your train of thought there? Were you aiming at the flag? Did you mean to hit it at the flag? And what did you hit in there?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a 7-iron right at the flag. My intent was to aim right at it, try to hit a holder. The wind is coming off the right. If I hit it straight it was going to drift 15, 20 feet left. If I hold it, it should be the right club. And I held it and hit it absolutely perfectly flush, but I could see it stand up in the wind a little bit. I wasn't quite sure it was going to make it. Somehow it got there. I don't think it actually landed on the green. I think it landed short and kicked up on the green.

Q. The possibilities of winning next week, I think two people in the last 33 years have won a tournament and then gone on to win a major the next week. Could you discuss your ideas of why that's so difficult and what you might be able to do to become the third person to do that?

TIGER WOODS: Don't know. It's a weird phenomenon, I've won tournaments in the past back to back. I've won tournaments in a row. And hopefully I can do it here. I won the PGA and then I won the NEC. Hopefully I can reverse it and win Buick and then PGA and then win the next one. That would be nice.

Q. Talking about winning three in one year, talk about what that would mean to you. And with this tournament going back a week next year, do you think you would be more likely to come to the Buick Open if it's two weeks before the PGA championship?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly, I would love to come back. The only thing that would prevent me from coming back is my health. Hopefully I'm feeling healthy and I'll come back and I'll play. This is a tournament that I've enjoyed playing. I think this is my fourth year playing in it, and I've done all right here in the past, and this year it's a little bit better.

Q. Being the first to win three majors, what that would mean if you did?

TIGER WOODS: It would rank right up there to win three majors in a year and to do it twice. Myself and Mr. Hogan have done it and hopefully I can do it again. It's already been a successful year and I would just like to make it more successful.

Q. At this point in your career do you measure your success by total victories, by victories in majors? What's sort of your bar?

TIGER WOODS: Each and every year I'd like to win a major championship. I think anyone would say if you won a major championship that year, it's a successful year. For instance, like David last year, he didn't play particularly well for the entire year, but he won a major championship, so it's a successful year. You always want to win the big ones. That's what it is all about. That's why we practice, that's why we play, that's what we dreamt about as kids, to win those big events and there's only four a year.

Q. Are faster greens are truer greens and also were these a little faster that you expected or a lot faster than you expected?

TIGER WOODS: Are faster greens truer greens? Most of the time, yes. The only time where it's not is when they start spiking off, and you can see kind of an effect down there. But this week, it definitely surprised me. They dried out pretty good. They were still receiving shots. You can still spin the ball in there, hold your shots, still be aggressive, but you had to watch it coming down some of these slopes. Some of the putts, they were quick. It started looking like a major championship kind of quick, which is nice to see going for a major championship. You want to putt on greens that are going to be similar what you are going to be practicing on next week and leading up to the event and even playing the event. And this week was a perfect preparation for all of them.

Q. Tiger, you said your game was a little sporadic today. Esteban, he had three straight bogies after he had a chance to tie you and then maybe it snowballed a little bit from there, but maybe it snowballed for him a little bit right there. Do you feel invincible at all, counting all these things together, the accumulative affect of all of them?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's sports. We play sports and we're all human, we're all going to make mistakes. As I said, I made my share of mistakes today, and you have to have a lot of luck on your side in order to win. Sometimes you just play well and you blow everybody away. Other times you need a lot of luck. As I said, I was 14 there, I drifted my tee shot left, about the same line Esteban hit. Mine hit the tree, came out, I had a shot to make par or birdie. Esteban put his in the trees, had a gnarly lie in the rough. He had a tough shot, and he made 5. You need to have breaks like that in order to win. And yeah, you're not -- any time you play a sport, you're not invincible and you're going to lose. And this sport you lose a lot more than you win. So you get used to losing.

Q. You have to be pleased with your game since you turned pro. Where do you think you've gotten the most growth as a golfer? And Esteban, how tough was that, him not being in that situation that often? If you can remember back that far?

TIGER WOODS: My growth as a player, I think, from a physical standpoint I've gotten better, my mechanics have become more sound, but I think understanding how to play the game and just the life on tour, the 12 months a year that we play, how to manage basically your time and your schedule, preparation, that's something you can only attain -- you can only attain that knowledge through experience, and I made my share of experiences, made my share of mistakes early on, learned from them, applied them and then I became a better player. Esteban, he hasn't been there a lot of times, but you can tell he's a fighter. He hung in there and just hit a couple of bad shots here and there and it kind of snowballed on him. He hung in there. He ought to be commended for the way he played. He played his heart out today. You could see how hard he was grinding on each and every shot. Even though he made a couple of mistakes at the end, he was still grinding. He was still fighting. He made a great save on 17. It wasn't an easy bunker shot. He made it look easy, but it wasn't an easy one.

Q. You were in support of women at Augusta and with your popularity and success, do you think you have the power to change golf and change some of those clubs and some of those rules?

TIGER WOODS: I'd like to, yes. Certainly I'd like to. I'd like to see that happen. I'd like to think I have the influence to do that. But if you notice, look at the history of Augusta National and just look at the way they've conducted themselves over the history of the tournament and their policies and how they've run the tournament, you'll see they make change when they want to make change. At the players' dinners when we've had some informational conversations with the chairman of the tournament, and let me tell you, they run it the way they want to run it. It's their prerogative.

But I'd like to say I have made a little bit of difference in this game, as far as accessibility into our sport, kids, minorities, participating in the game, and I'd like to do more. I would love to do more. My foundation is trying to do that and we have got a lot of plans to do even more.

Q. (Inaudible) when he came off tonight after he finished his round, he gave you a lot of credit for that little stick in the butt that elevated his game. One, do you take pride in that? And then in return, how much has he helped you with some other things on the tour?

TIGER WOODS: I'm not sure I take pride in it because he's my friend. I love him to death. He's my buddy. You would do anything for your buddies, and I'll always be there for him and try to provide any information I possibly can to help him play well, or just do well in life in general. Golf is not the end of all things, but for a competitive athlete who plays golf, it means a lot in our lives. And for him to start making progress, it's really cool to see. He's done so much for me. I can't thank him enough. It's not necessarily the golf shots or the shot that he's shown me, mental approach to the game, some of the insights that he's had. It's just overall life in general. He's obviously a lot older. He's 45. He's been through it all. He's seen it all and he's handled it with the utmost class. Those things you want to emulate. I've been lucky enough to have him as my buddy.

Q. Back to the question about Augusta. Have you had discussions with the people there about this issue, or --

TIGER WOODS: Not this issue, no.

Q. Where will you go to practice before the PGA? Will you go back home?

TIGER WOODS: I'm going there tonight.

Q. And you'll work there before you come to -- or will you have time to work there before you come to Minnesota?

TIGER WOODS: I'm going there tonight.

Q. You're not going to Florida?

TIGER WOODS: No, I'm not going to fly all the way down there and all the way back. I'm too lazy for that. (Laughter).

Q. On 17, did somebody in the gallery pick up the ball?

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea. I wasn't informed about that. Nobody said anything whether the ball was moved or not.

Q. Talking about Augusta, you could make a statement by saying you wouldn't play in the event if you thought it was totally wrong. Would you ever consider doing something like that?

TIGER WOODS: Will other players do the same?

Q. I think they will follow suit.

TIGER WOODS: If they don't, then what happens? Then the defending champion doesn't play.

End of FastScripts....

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