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July 16, 2002

Tiger Woods


STEWART McDOUGAL: Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger Woods. Tiger, thank you for coming across. You've seen Muirfield this week since Monday. The first time you've been across here. Give us your impressions of the course.

TIGER WOODS: The golf course is playing very difficult now. It's probably the softest I've seen in an Open Championship with the fairways this lush, but the rough is obviously up as everyone has seen and that's going to be a fun challenge this week to hit the ball and you've got to keep it in play in order to shoot some good numbers. The greens are not that fast yet. I'm sure they are -- they'll probably get a little quicker for the tournament, but it's going to be a fun test this week.

Q. Talk about the Grand Slam. Is that starting to carry momentum like it did two years ago, last year, the momentum I'm talking about achieving the Grand Slam?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I haven't played since our Open, so I really haven't fielded a whole lot of questions about it. It hadn't been too bad. The people that I've seen haven't really asked me. They've just been real supportive, keep playing well and try to accomplish it. That's what everyone has been saying, so it's real nice to hear that. I haven't really been asked the question very often.

Q. Do you think it would be harder to do in one year or as you did in the previous year, to do two or three and start the next season?

TIGER WOODS: I think probably it's going to be a little more difficult to win in the same calendar year, because you have to start off with the first one. You can't just win like I did, win the U.S. Open and win three in a row and then wait. The hardest thing I had to do when I did it, when I won all four in a row, is to wait seven months or whatever it is between tournaments and have to be asked that question for seven straight months, at least this year it happens month after month after month it's a lot easier to deal with; then the buildup to Augusta in 01.

Q. I know Mark mentioned this in on your web site, not playing competitive in a month would hurt you. Do you lose a little edge if you don't play that long, do you find that at all or does practice make up for it?

TIGER WOODS: It depends how your practice sessions are, and how focused you are. It wasn't like I was playing poorly coming out of it and trying to find my game. I was playing well and all I did was just keep doing that and kind of stay with the same regimen, my practice rounds have gone very well and I'm pleased with the way I'm hitting the golf ball right now, I don't foresee it to be a problem.

Q. Tiger, as a kid, how do you look at the Grand Slam in terms of achievement?

TIGER WOODS: I never looked at it, no. As a kid, I just wanted to win a major championship, you never want to look at winning a Grand Slam, just get out on tour first of all, and get your card and compete and then hopefully win major championships from there.

Q. Now, do you find yourself in this -- is it fun?

TIGER WOODS: I have fun competing. I certainly have never enjoyed sitting in here doing this, but I thoroughly enjoy going out there and competing and I'm excited about getting out there this week and playing, because, one, the golf course is so challenging. It's going to be a fun test this week.

Q. You mentioned people being so supportive. Have you found anybody who isn't supportive? Have you found anybody who doesn't want you to win?

TIGER WOODS: No. No one. Everyone has been so nice and really supportive. Just the fact that I've been playing well and what I've been able to do this year. Everyone has been really nice.

Q. Do you expect more people to be in contention this week as opposed to the other two majors this year?

TIGER WOODS: You've just got to hit it well. Anyone who is hitting the ball well will be in contention this week. You have to get the ball in play, no doubt about it, you can't go out there and mis-hit shots and get away with it - the rough is knee-high; waist-high in some spots. If there was anyone who was hitting the ball well, it really does.

Q. Do you think it includes a larger pool of players than Bethpage and Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: It's not as demanding off the tee as far as length. You can hit a lot of irons off the tees, but you have to position your ball. I mean, you've got to hit the ball on the correct sides of the ball to get at some of these flags and you've got to keep the ball out of the bunkers, as well as the rough, because it is a penalty for going in them.

Q. (Inaudible) Where does Muirfield fit insofar from what you've seen -- do you think like it?

TIGER WOODS: I do. It's a different style than the courses we've played, but it's still, nonetheless, it's one of the most fair golf courses we've played because everything is right in front of you. There's really no blind shot except for the 11th, but other than that everything is right there in front of you. It presents itself right in front of you, there is no hidden agendas, no tricks or anything like that, it's one of those golf courses that's very fair and come get me.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Never talked to Jack, no.

Q. Tiger, you mentioned earlier this year you didn't thing you were hitting the ball quite as well (inaudible) are you getting close to that and (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: Well, no, I haven't hit the ball quite as well as I did in 2000. You don't win nine times in the states -- I think I won 12 around the world that year, 12 or 13, you can't really slap it around and do that. I mean, I hit it well. This year hasn't been quite as good, I've played well in the major championships, that's what I want to do, and I've been able to do that this year. I think the key is comparing the two years, I haven't hit the bell as close to the flags consistently in 2000, I was probably a little bit more aggressive because I felt a little better about hitting the ball close. This year I've kind of played a little more conservatively because I haven't hit the ball quite as crisp as I did in 2000, still it's not bad, leading the tour in greens in regular, so it's not like I'm struggling.

Q. Is there anything you learned about what you went through winning four majors in a row that will help you in this situation?

TIGER WOODS: Just go out there and play, like in 2000, everyone was asking me about being able to complete the Slam at St. Andrews and blah, blah, blah, and I kept saying all week, first of all, I've got to play well and take care of business this week and try to win the championship and that will be an end result, and that's the same plan I have this year.

Q. Tiger, some players like Sam Snead and Tom Watson didn't like links golf when they first saw it. Did you like it the first time you saw it and what particularly did you like about it?

TIGER WOODS: I absolutely love it. I think it's more fun than any other golf we play, because you get the chance to be creative, hit shots and run the ball on the ground and a lot of times the yardages are just thrown out the door. You have to create a shot, see a shot and hit it and play so much by feel, we don't get a chance to do that in the states. If you've got 164, you have to fly it 164. Here you can fly it 120 if you wanted to and scoot it on back there. You have so many different options and I think that's what's so much fun about it.

Q. In addition to that, if you have difficult conditions weather-wise - I know nobody can enjoy that - do you enjoy that increased challenge if the weather turns rough?

TIGER WOODS: I grew up in southern California. It's always good weather, so any time we got bad weather, it was neat to play in it because we never really saw it. I enjoy the challenge and having to go out there and post a number in bad conditions. It's not easy to do. You have to hit the ball well and think, well, and do a lot of things well and it's very important to have a good guy on the bag, too. And I've got one of the best.

Q. Tiger, the issue of women not being allowed being members at clubs was raised last year at Augusta. What is your position on that?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it's one of those things where everyone has -- they're entitled to set up their own rules the way they want them. It would be nice to see everyone have an equal chance to participate if they wanted to, but there is nothing you can do about it. If you have a group, an organization, that's the way they want to set it up, it's their prerogative to set it up that way.

Q. If it also applied to other groups, African-Americans, Asians, whatever, would you feel the same way?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I do. It's unfortunate that it is that way, but it's just the way it is. There are clubs that have segregated, whether it's sex or race, one of those two issues, and -- or even age, those are issues and those are things that have happened and will continue to occur and they will continue to exist for a long period of time.

Q. With your stature in the game, do you think you can force the change?

TIGER WOODS: I've done my part so far trying to get more kids who haven't been able to have access to the game, that's what my foundation is all about, so I have -- I'm trying to do my share in my sector where I'm really focused on, and it's not easy, a lot of these clubs that's what they believe and that's what they've believed for a long period of time, it's not easy.

Q. Would you be surprised to hear, Tiger, in view of that, the youngest member here is 27?

TIGER WOODS: Am I surprised?

Q. Would you be surprised to hear that?

TIGER WOODS: No. Why? You have to explain to me why would I be surprised.

Q. There are no young members. You have just said you were doing your bit to encourage young people to play golf, I'm wondering what you feel about the youngest (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: It depends on how the membership is set up. Is it set up through inheritance? Or is it set up if you have the money you go ahead and pay it and you're automatically a member? Is there a waiting list? There is more than just asking me that simple question.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: That's just the way the club believes. I grew up on a junior golf course with a lot of other kids, but there were -- there were other country clubs where that wasn't the case in southern California. That's what they decide to believe in and the things they did and they practiced, we weren't allowed to play then.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to see every golf course open to everyone who wanted to participate, but that's just not where society is. If you just pigeonholed this single issue, I think you're not doing justice in the bigger scope, and I think there are a lot of other things that go into it. It's not just simple, he's too young or he's not the right race or he doesn't believe in the right religion, there's a lot more to it than just that.

Q. What courses have you played since you've been over here in preparation, and were they selected for preparation?

TIGER WOODS: We played Port Marnock. We played the European Club, and Mount Juliet.

Q. Tiger, the number of the older players have been critical of your peers not giving you more of a challenge. How do you feel? Do you feel players have not stepped up and challenged you this year and would you like to see a situation where you come down to the last holes where (inaudible) two- or three-shot lead --

TIGER WOODS: If your were a golfer, I think you would probably answer the question by saying, what would you rather have a one-shot lead or a 20-shot lead with two holes to go, which one would you rather have, and I think most of us would pick the bigger lead, and I certainly feel that way as well.

Q. Do you feel that guys have not stepped up and challenged you this year?

TIGER WOODS: No, they have. They've played well. It's just I've played well at the right times and made the right putts and got the good breaks at the right times and that's what you need to have happen. I've done it this year so far and hopefully it will continue. The guys, it's not like they're playing and shooting 80s on the final round. They're going out there and shooting rounds that are solid rounds. Phil shot even par on Sunday of the U.S. Open and that's -- under those conditions that we played in, to play that well, that's not easy to do, it's just that I had a big enough lead over him, where it's one of those things where I was able to outlast him because I had a bigger lead, or big enough lead. Sorry.

Q. Overall, what do you think of your competition and the fact that maybe some of the older players think that the competition you're facing isn't as tough. Does that in any way diminish what you've accomplished so far?

TIGER WOODS: No, I think I've done all right. I certainly thing I've done all right.

Q. You know golf history well. Do you think the players you have to compete with week after week are up to the standard that Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson had to face?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think if you just go look at the scoring averages these guys are shooting, how much lower these guys are having to play major championships, you know, it's not too often you go out there and break the scoring record in a PGA Championship and you are in a playoff. The guys are getting better and the scores are getting lower and it's tougher to win. More guys have a chance to win. In their era, there were a select few guys that had a chance. Now that group has certainly grown and there are more players that have a chance. I think it's tougher now because there are more good players now that can win tournaments.

Q. Tiger, there's a long line of American golfers who have come over here and played very well and warmly received by the Scottish fans, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson. How do you characterize the Scottish or Open fans in comparison to fans in the states and your relationship with the fans here?

TIGER WOODS: My relationship has been absolutely great. I mean, they have been extremely nice to me and gracious and the fans -- I've always said this: The fans over here that come out to the Open Championship are the most knowledgeable fans. This is where the game of golf started. They play out here. They recognize that not every shot that gets airborne is a good shot. If you hit a shot up there to 30, 40 feet, and they know it's a good shot and you'll hear the difference in the ovations. That's why all of us that come out here and play in the Open Championship truly admire and respect about the fans, that they understand the game.

Q. Do you prefer that they not shout, "Get in the hole" and "You're the man?"

TIGER WOODS: No, because that's not part of our game, not part of our sport. Our culture and sport inherently hasn't been that way.

Q. Tiger, just go back to the historical thing for a second. Some people would say the only question about the future of your career is how well you can maintain your appetite and you achieved so much so early. Do you ever worry about having fulfilled so many dreams maybe, what is left to achieve, do you ever speculate that looking down the long round?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you I never have because I love what I'm doing. I love getting up and can't wait to go out there and practice and play and compete. That's what I love to do. I've always loved to compete, and in anything I do.

Q. If you won the Grand Slam in a calendar year, that would seem to be the ultimate achievement. How easy would it be to kick in another goal (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: Well, do it again.

Q. Can you tell us about the goatee? With betting being legal here in England, do you plan to put a wager down?

TIGER WOODS: On the second one, I've never laid a bet on myself, ever. I don't do that.

The first part, that's just being absolutely lazy. I don't know any guy in here that likes to shave. It's annoying and when you don't have to do it, I don't see any reason why I have to do it.

Q. In light of what the paper is saying the marshal did not recognize you on the practice tee yesterday....


Q. When was the last time you were not recognized?

TIGER WOODS: Quite a few times. She obviously didn't -- she was following the rules and she was doing her job. I didn't have my credential and I left it in the car. I guess I convinced her by saying I won the tournament two years ago.

Q. Was there any thought of telling her or giving her another name to turn her up?

TIGER WOODS: No, she was doing her job. She was following it by the books. She may not have been a huge golf fan or recognize people, she was just there and I didn't have the proper credentials.

Q. How did you talk your way in, did you say "I'm Tiger Woods"?

TIGER WOODS: No, I just said I won this tournament two years ago.

Q. Did she believe you?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I guess. Maybe people forget. I don't know two years is a long time.

Q. (Inaudible) You might get bored if you won a Grand Slam.

TIGER WOODS: I would love to play golf competitively as long as my body allows me to play, mentally I think -- I enjoy competing too much. I enjoy that challenge too much. But physically hopefully there won't come a point in time where I can't play this game physically.

Q. Tiger, Nick Faldo said yesterday that between a dozen and 15 players could win this week, because a links course hasn't been tinkered with or lengthened in any way to combat technology or anything. Is taking the driver out of your hands, is that a challenge -- (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: I think it's great. It puts a 2 iron right back in the game for me and I can run that ball out there. I was hitting a 2 iron out there sometimes over 200 yards because it was running along the ground. The fairways, even though they're soft, if you land the ball in the correct knob it will release and it will just continue to go. If you hit it low, the ball is going to run on a links course. But the golf course is soft enough where you can throw the ball up and also kill it too so the ball won't run out of control.

Q. Do you think the courses in general should be left the way they are and perhaps rough increased or more bunkers in order that a course doesn't actually become too long and cut so many players out of the field because they aren't long off the tee?

TIGER WOODS: I think links golf is all predicated on the weather. If the weather is perfect the guys will shoot great numbers. That's just the way it is. At St. Andrews we all shot low in 2000 and when Nick won there as well, Nick won here and he was 12 under par after two rounds and there were other guys playing well. So it's all predicated on wind and the conditions. If the wind blows, like we did at Birkdale, I mean, you go out there and shoot 72 you move up, you move up quite a bit. This week, no matter how high they grow the rough, if the weather is calm like it is out there right now, the guys are going to shoot good numbers.

Q. Tiger, are you amazed by the fact that Lee Westwood is now outside the world top 100 and do you have words of encouragement?

TIGER WOODS: It's one of those things where I think the new World Rankings certainly hurt him when they came out, because you drop faster, but then again you can also make it up faster, too. The new World Rankings are certainly more volatile. He just -- I think maybe got into a bat rut -- a bad rut with his game and didn't get out of it, and it happens. A lot of people have gone through it and I'm sure the talent he has and he's young enough where he has the ability to come out of it.

Q. Have your allergies started to kick in here?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah.

Q. How bad?

TIGER WOODS: It's nothing I'm not used to. I think I'm allergic to my job, I'm allergic, to grass, trees, dust, pollen, it's something I've always had. When I was a kid it was 10 times worse than it is now. It's nice to be as immune to the stuff as I am now.

STEWART McDOUGAL: That's the end of the questions. The draw for tomorrow, Tiger is playing at one minute past nine with Shigeki Maruyama and Justin Rose. On Thursday, obviously, yes. Have you played with these players before, Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I have. I've played with both of them. And Justin has had a fantastic year. He's won four times this year, and Maruyama has won as well this year in Dallas, so both players are great guys to play with, too. They are two nice guys, so it will be a fun pairing.

Q. When did you play with Justin?

TIGER WOODS: I think I played with him in a shoot-out. It might have been in Germany, I think.

STEWART McDOUGAL: Thank you, Tiger.

End of FastScripts....

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