May 22, 2002
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We're pleased to be joined by Tiger Woods. We will go ahead and get started.
Thank you, Tiger, for joining us here in the media center at the Memorial Tournament. It's a big week. You're trying to accomplish something only two other great players in golf have accomplished, by becoming the third player for a four-peat at one tournament. Why don't you make a couple comments on that and then we will go into questions.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing the course. I haven't gotten a chance to play the golf course yet, but it's a golf course that certainly brings back good memories, every time I come here.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions?
Q. What is it about this place that obviously turns you on?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just the fact that this golf course, it's suited for a person who hits the ball long and high. And the way that it has played in the past being so soft and so wet, it's really fit to my game.
Q. How is the jet-lag?
TIGER WOODS: It's not bad actually. I thought it would be a little bit worse. But it's not too bad and late afternoons are a little tough, though. Once you get past that you're all right.
Q. Does it take a couple days to get right?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, about that.
Q. Do you have any plans to go see the Nicklaus Museum? I know you just got into town. It opened Monday night. It's quite the palace. You were a big fan of his growing up?
TIGER WOODS: Right. I haven't had plans to go over there and check it out yet, no. I don't even know where it's at.
Q. It's on campus at Ohio State. It's pretty sweet.
TIGER WOODS: Oh, okay.
Q. How do you fight the jet-lag, especially since you haven't made one trip, you just made two. What do you do to get yourself out of it?
TIGER WOODS: I think that it helps when you're in better shape, in order to get over it. You look at for instance Gary Player. He worked out religiously. And he probably is the most traveled athlete of all time, going from South Africa all the time to play and compete and live down there. It helps when you're in better shape, certainly to travel around the world.
Q. There is also the factor that you've now sort of put the schedule together now for a couple years and maybe you're sort of in a regular flow or your body is used to just the same schedule year in and year out?
TIGER WOODS: I think that you understand what it takes to get through the jet-lag and you understand what it takes for your mind and body to be ready to play the come the first day of the event, and I think just getting your ample rest at the correct times; trying to get on time as quick as possible. It's a task, but it's also something that it becomes easier once you go through enough of it, enough experience.
Q. Are there any similarities between here and Augusta and Firestone in terms of the shots you have hit or even just standing on a tee and the way the course looks to the eye?
TIGER WOODS: I think this golf course is more like Augusta than it is Firestone. The look of Firestone is completely different. But this golf course has a lot of similarities to Augusta. It's ample, wide fairways. But if -- you got to hit the ball in the fairway in order to get at most of these pins.
Q. Are you leaning toward playing next week and if so, four in a row, you've done before, obviously, is that the way you want to go into the Open?
TIGER WOODS: Right now I'm 50/50 I'm going to play next week. I must see how it goes. Luckily, I've got a great tee time in order to see how I feel, going late/early. So I will have some time on Friday afternoon to see how my body feels. Am I going to be able to give enough energy next week and still be ready to prepare for the US Open.
Q. Having not seen Bethpage, how do you prepare for that as far as the shots you might think you want to hit?
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to go out there and play it before, before I get there for the week of the tournament. And then once I check it out, then I will have something to go home and practice and get ready for.
Q. When are you going to play it?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on whether or not I play Kemper.
Q. Pursuing history has always been part of your career. Joan mentioned the four-peat, Hagen, what exactly would that mean in the context of your career and history?
TIGER WOODS: As a player you don't really look at winning a tournament four straight years in a row, because if you're starting out, you just want to win one. That's the task in itself. And I've been pretty lucky to have won as many times as I have. It's something that knowing the fact that you're going for a piece of history where you can be a part of great names as Hagen and Sarazen, those are legends in the game of golf.
Q. The list of guys who have won this event over the years has included -- most of the times it's guys who have won majors, guys who have already proven themselves. Does this course or this event kind of lend itself to guys who have proven themselves? Is it difficult for a young guy to come in here and try to win this event?
TIGER WOODS: I won't say it's difficult for a young player to come in. I think it's more difficult for a player who the way -- I'm sorry, the way this golf course is set up, it caters to players who have won big events. Because it's set up so difficult each and every year. And I think just the nature of learning how to win at major championships allows you to win an event like this, because generally year after year this golf course is set up unbelievably difficult.
Q. As the two-time defending champ in Germany, does that affect at all -- any consideration about the conflict with the Nelson next year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I would love to go back to Germany, certainly, and defend my title. But also I have a sense of loyalty to Mr. Nelson as well. So hopefully there won't be a conflict because next year's Tour schedule in Europe hasn't been released yet. So hopefully it won't be one. But if there is, then we will see what happens.
Q. Can you talk about what Greg means to you and also Steiney, what role does he play?
TIGER WOODS: Which one, Greg or Steiney.
TIGER WOODS: Both, well Greg works very hard on Nike there in Beaverton. And he comes on the road a lot to make sure that everything is right with Nike and make sure that we talk to a lot of sales forces that we go around the country with and get them, get their spirits up and make sure we're pushing the product. And he's been instrumental in getting my line at, my signature line at Nike up and running to where it's at now. I owe -- I mean he's not only been a great person to have on the business end, but he's been even better to have as a friend. And Steiney, he's been unbelievable too, what he's done for as far as organizing my life. It's not exactly easy. But he's done a heck of a job at that.
Q. It's been awhile since you played here when it's been hard and relatively fast. It still might not be this week, but can you kind of contrast what it's like, this course, what it's been recently in the last three years as opposed to what it was a couple times when you played it when it was fast?
TIGER WOODS: When it was fast, the fairways narrow up quite a bit. And a lot of these flags that you can generally get at, you just don't fire at, because there's just too much danger. When it's soft, the fairways become so much more wide. You can go ahead and hit driver off of some of the holes where you normally are kind of defensive and hitting 3-wood or 2-iron down there and you can be so much more aggressive going into these flags with the greens soft. Generally you fire at most of the flags if it's soft, because you have to, because the guys are all making birdies.
Q. What was the course that you played, what was the home course for your high school was it bad ? Something or another?
TIGER WOODS: We had two of them starting out. My first year when I got there it was at H. G. Datmiller. And then we played my I think my last year at Los Coyotes.
Q. Was it too short for you, too easy for you H. G. Datmiller?
TIGER WOODS: Generally I just walked up with a hard hat and just played.
Q. Crossing fairways?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, everybody was. I think I have been hit three or four times there. It's just normal. You just expect it.
Q. Public course?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah.
Q. I thought I read somewhere that your coach thought it was not enough of a challenge for you and lobbied to get Los Coyotes?
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. Which was private; is that right?
TIGER WOODS: It's private. That's right. They had an
LPGA tournament there.
Q. Of all the public courses you played as a kid what was the one, what was the toughest?
TIGER WOODS: The toughest one?
TIGER WOODS: Probably Torrey Pines.
Q. That was okay.
TIGER WOODS: We played Junior World there when I was from 15 to 17.
Q. The last three years with the way the course played as you were talking about it, your margin of victory has grown every year. If there is more roll in the fairways this year at least until it rains again, does that help the field against you, do you think?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know if it -- that's a good question. I don't know. Because when it's hard and fast, it favors a guy who is hitting the ball well. You have to hit the ball well. When it's soft like it is or has been in the past, it favors a person who hits the ball long and high. So hopefully I can fit into one of those two categories.
Q. How are you hitting it?
TIGER WOODS: I hit it pretty well last week.
Q. It looks like you putted pretty well last week. Is that accurate to say?
TIGER WOODS: I rolled it well, I didn't make a whole lot of putts. I was rolling the ball well.
Q. Have you ever even messed around with the claw and do you understand that philosophy or do you just not even want to think about it?
TIGER WOODS: No, I've tried it just for fun. I've asked Chris how does he do then I asked Calc how he does it. Of course, you're always going to try it just to see what it's like. I can't putt with it, because I putt so much with my right hand for feel and distance. With the claw, what it does it's more of a piston kind of stroke and I just don't -- I don't putt that way. I like to release my right hand through the ball.
Q. You played so well in Germany last week that you were asked lots of questions about perfection, which obviously you successfully deflected. But you did admit and concede that you played awfully well and of all the people that were watching you, they kind of know what you were talking about, were you beginning to make a comparison with where you are now and where you were in the summer of 2000. How fair is that?
TIGER WOODS: It's pretty close. Summer of 2000 I think I was -- I think my iron game was, my long iron game was just a touch more sharp than it is right now. But it's coming. The changes I'm making on my swing are starting to come together now and last week I only missed five greens for the week. Any time you can hit 67 greens, that's pretty good. And I felt like last week is the first time more of the changes, that they finally came together and I could go out there and just hit shots. I was just shaping shots. I wasn't thinking about my swing, my plain the things I was working on off the course. I could go out there and hit the golf ball. That's what I was doing in 2000. I wasn't working on a whole lot of different things, I was just playing and that's ultimately where you want to get to.
Q. And you said when you were asked about perfection that you only hit maybe one perfect shot every couple of years?
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. Did you hit any last week?
TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't.
Q. How many this year, Tiger?
TIGER WOODS: None.
Q. What's the tolerance for your misses ? You've said many times the golf -- golf is a game of misses, so?
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. How much are you missing your good shots by?
TIGER WOODS: You don't -- every shot you basically, I mean, it's hard to describe when you hit a perfect shot. Because it feels like you didn't even swing the golf club. Like it wasn't, it was all of a sudden this ball leaves and it's right at your target with the right shape and trajectory and you don't even feel like you were there. It's like an out-of-body experience, like you're not even there. You just hit the shot. Generally you feel where you're a little off, your hips move a little too quick, a little too slow, your hands are taking over, not taking over. It's just minor adjustments. That's what this game is. It's just trying to get it just right. And it doesn't come together very often where it's not even like you're not even hitting the ball. So a lot of the shots you hit, you're doing minor adjustments to the golf shot.
Q. So what are you off? Two yards, three yards, five yards, I mean if you're --
TIGER WOODS: What do you mean?
Q. Well, I mean if it's not perfect, but it's close, is it?
TIGER WOODS: It may end up -- you may hole a shot, and it's not the shot didn't feel perfect. It may have the perfect results. I'm trying to describe that to you. It's not -- sometimes it's not the results, it's the shot you hit, the swing that you make. For instance, I've holed numerous shots but none of them have been a perfect golf just because sometimes you can make a perfect swing and a wind may come up or you my may hit it so flush, it goes a couple yards too far. That's just the way it is.
Q. I'm from Cincinnati. One your neighbors back home in Florida, Ken Griffey Junior has had a rough go with some injuries and trade rumors and things, how often do you talk to him and have you guys shared any advice with each other?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't talked to Jr. In a while, actually, he's been pretty busy dealing with a lot of things he's had to deal with. And I certainly sympathize with what he's going through, with a lot of the speculation from the media and the fans. And it's not an easy situation that he's in. But I think once he starts playing, I think he'll start feeling a lot better. Because right now you know he's been competing all of his life and all of a sudden -- he's never had an injury and all of a sudden he's had two major injuries. He's had to sit out and watch his teammates play and that's one of the toughest things to do is watch. Especially when you're used to competing.
Q. Not too long ago there was a debate on whether you had all four majors at one time and it was a grand slam, you're the only person that can win the grand slam this year. How do you think the three upcoming majors fit your game and would you welcome the chance to "silence those critics" before and just go ahead and do it all in one year this time?
TIGER WOODS: I wish it was that easy. I don't know how Bethpage plays and I've never played Muirfield Village. And I've never played Hazeltine. So it's really difficult for me to answer those questions. For how it sets up for my game. One thing I can say is I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing the US Open. When I won four in a row, you take it one at a time you don't just look at winning four in a row, you just have to take it one step at a time. You put so much energy into that one week and leading up to that week that I don't think that most of the people appreciate how much it takes out of you.
Q. Have you by and large relative to the other majors have been happy with your play at the US Opens that you've been in since turning pro?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't really play that well at Congressional. But I've gotten better each and every year, I think. And I've got a better understanding of what it takes to play the US Open. Mentally and physically.
TIGER WOODS: Couple more questions.
Q. Has there ever been a point in your career even early on where you questioned or wondered whether your fan support, the galleries would have an adverse affect on your game because of their size and their passion?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think when I first turned pro that it's definitely a shock going from playing amateur golf and college golf to all of a sudden having thousands of people following you. In Milwaukee, my first event I had never seen fairways lined like that before. And I kept telling Fluff, I said Fluff, I'm, I don't want to kill anybody. And you hit a bad shot -- even back then I was pretty wild. I could hit a couple fairways over. So it was certainly a challenge to try and get my mind acclimated to seeing people out there following me and watching, because I wasn't used to that at all.
Q. Do you imagine how Jeff Hart felt?
TIGER WOODS: Um, good point.
Q. You talked about Milwaukee a little bit, your being paired up with Shigeki Maruyama and you're also paired up with Carlos Franco who is a former GMO champ. Is there any chance that you might turn return to Milwaukee soon with the All-Star Game there this year going back?
TIGER WOODS: I would certainly love to get back there. There's no doubt about that. Milwaukee has a certain place in my heart, obviously that's where it all started for me as a professional. And this is a -- the timing just hasn't been right as far as my schedule. But I would love to get back there as soon as possible.
Q. When a tournament gives you a sponsor's exemption, whether it's you or someone like Bryce Molder this year, etcetera, how long do you have an obligation to them? For how many years do you think you should return the favor?
TIGER WOODS: Well I don't know. That's a good question. Because it all depends on who it is, I think, and the tournament it is. For instance, when Arnold and Mr. Nelson gave me an invite as an amateur, I mean there's a certain sense of loyalty to the great champions of the past. How they have paved the way for you to get to the point where you're at. And I think the sense of obligation's a little bit longer for tournaments such as that.
Q. To follow-up on a sponsor question, but in a different angle, there's a number of tournaments that have had some turnover in sponsorship. This will be one of them, the television sponsor goes away, your tournament as well, can you talk about, I don't know if there's a trend or a movement or what are your experiences in that maybe what would you say is the cause of that?
TIGER WOODS: It's just our economy. It's just the way it is. We're in a time right now where it's tough to get the sponsors to fork up as much money as we're asking for. And it's tough negotiating that price. It's not easy to do and certainly we at our foundation have found that out. But we're excited about our event and the -- Williams is still a part of our event but a different role. Target has taken over the lead role. But it wasn't an easy process to go through. And I can only sympathize with what the Tour has to go through with turnover when you got 10, 12 different tournaments that they have to go out and try and negotiate with a certain sponsor, with what they have in mind. And it's a tough task.
Q. There was a point in Germany a couple years ago that you started using the Nike ball and you've been -- there was a story
a couple weeks ago where you were testing the Nike irons down in Texas. Do you have any plans in the next couple events to start playing those or is that awhile down the road?
TIGER WOODS: Well I'm not switching before the Open, no.
Q. The US Open?
TIGER WOODS: Correct.
TIGER WOODS: There is no -- no. My preparation is too close now. I'm getting too close to the Open.
Q. It's one thing to be a defending champion of an event when you come in with, as a three time defending champion when you come here this week, how does that give you an advantage and what specific ways, this weekend, being a three time defending champion over the field?
TIGER WOODS: I can always say I won this tournament. It's kind of funny because when you play a tournament and you've, you're coming down the stretch with a chance to win you can always say, if you actually have won the tournament in the past, you can say I've done this before. And there's a sense of calm when that happens. Because I have done this before. And the funny thing is I've done it so much different ways here. When I beat Vijay I never hit a fairway or green on Sunday and I just short-gamed it around the golf course and got it done somehow. Last couple years I've played a little better. But you, in either case you can always say that I won this tournament and I can keep coming back.
Q. Do you think it has an effect on the field when they're going out there knowing that you've won this three times too?
TIGER WOODS: That's a question I think you got to ask them.
Q. Jack talked yesterday about he prepared for majors sometimes by going in two, three, four days early to get over the fear of the course as he put it. When you look at three majors this year of courses you're not overly knowledgeable about, do you have a tendency, do you consider on any plans going in early to play in any of them?
TIGER WOODS: No, I won't change my routine. I don't like to get away from what's, what I've done and has been successful in the past. I think what for the, let's say for the Open Championship, the British Open Championship, I will do the same thing, three practice rounds and tee it up. But I'll just pay more attention to my practice rounds, not just whiz around there like I normally do.
Q. Throughout your career you've been real successful not letting either winning or money or notoriety affect your drive. What about your makeup do you feel -- why do you feel you've been able to do that? What is it about you that none of those things seem to affect you?
TIGER WOODS: Well it's not -- I forgot who said this, I think it might have been Sam Snead, I think, but I'm not sure, so don't put a name on it, but the line was, how money was important to him. And he says, I'm not going to put it up there close to air, but it's right next to it. Was that Sam? Well, that's not how I view it. I view like the money that the notoriety and all that stuff, that comes with winning championships. And to me that's the most joy I get is going out there and winning championships and beating everybody in the field. That to me is fun. It's knowing the fact that when I go home on Sunday night that know one else beat me.
Q. Nobody's pressure proof, although you seem to be proof to the contrary a lot of times when there's something on the line you seem to rise to the occasion or whatever. What kind of a routine do you go through mentally or is there some kind of tricks you play on yourself to deal with the pressure of whatever the situation is?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes you do. Yeah. Sometimes every one, when the pressure is pretty intense you may play a few mind tricks but overall you just keep doing the same things. If it got you in the position that you're in, don't change. I have the same routine if you watch when I hit a golf shot or prepare for a putt, you put a stopwatch on me, it's about the same time. I don't ever change. And I think that's part of, one of the reasons why I can handle the pressure on the back nine on Sunday as well as I have done in the past is because I don't ever change anything.
Q. Did some of these mind games that your dad played on you when you were younger, does that come into play?
TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't. The stuff he played was more gamesmanship than anything else. He was just trying to get me to be disrupted. Out here we don't really play that kind of stuff.
Q. So you don't think that that prepared you for any of this?
TIGER WOODS: It might have in roundabout way. But I think that the experiences that I have by winning championships in the past, especially the big ones, have allowed me to learn from and learn what works best for me.
Q. The US Open obviously is the first time it's being played on a truly public golf course. A non-resort. Is that something you think the USGA ought to keep doing?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, without a doubt.
Q. Do you applaud this thing?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, without a doubt. That's what it's all about. It is an Open championship and I think that we ought to play on a public facility every once in awhile. I think that's, I think we might see Torrey Pines get in the rotation here pretty soon because of that new trend. Hopefully it becomes a new trend.
Q. Speaking of your father, there's a scene a Tiger Woods scene in the movie Changing Lanes, have you seen that movie?
TIGER WOODS: I have not. I only heard about it.
Q. What have you heard about that scene or have you do you have any opinion about that?
TIGER WOODS: No, I just heard it was funny. I don't know if it was funny or not. I just heard it was funny.
Q. When people talk about the most punishing golf tournament or the most punishing golf courses you usually think of the
US Open. What makes a US Open such a punishing golf tournament?
TIGER WOODS: The fact that most of the fairways are about 20 to 25 yards wide. Sometimes even narrower than that if you drive it a little further. Greens are, if they have the right conditions, they will get them as hard and as fast as possible. And they hide all the pins. And there's no room for error when you play a US Open. You know that if you make a mistake, you have to go ahead and take your punishment and move on. And every one in the field's got to deal with it. It's just probably one of the most brutal mental tests there is in our sport. Because you know if you make a mistake you're going to pay a price. And hopefully you can salvage it and not put yourself out of the tournament.
Q. Do you think it's a complete test?
TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily. I think the only complete test that I've ever played in a US Open has been Pinehurst where you have long rough around the greens, but also you have a chance to use your short game as well. And most of the U.S. Opens you miss the flag by four five paces you got the 60 out and hack it out of the rough and hopefully can make about an eight or nine footer.
Q. In your experiences playing majors in the vicinity of
New York have you found a different environment there instead of say other big markets in the United States, is there a different energy or environment there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, those fans are a little more boisterous than most, certainly. Especially in the afternoons.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: One or two more questions.
Q. Have you found a balance between being aggressive and letting, taking what the course gives you as to really attacking? Can you kind of take me through like maybe the past few years and maybe what you learned on when par is a good score or are you still at some tournaments 100 percent aggressive or how would you approach and how would you attack this course or would you take what it gives you?
TIGER WOODS: You have to weigh the situations. And I think that only comes from experience. That I've learned from a lot of my failures and a lot of my successes. And you know when a situation is good and you know when a situation, you got to be very cautious. And every situation is different and you have to play it accordingly. And there are times when even though you're trying to make up ground on Sunday afternoon, you don't really play that aggressive, because of the fact that it's, the course doesn't give it to you. I mean if you get too aggressive you make bogeys and you're going the wrong way. I think that what I've learned is to try and get a balance and I've done better at weighing the situations at hand. And I think that's one of the reasons why I've been able to play and win tournaments. The bigger ones especially because of my experiences.
Q. Do you remember that shot you hit on five I think last year was it an iron from you made a two I think and it was?
TIGER WOODS: A 2-iron, yeah.
Q. It was 235 or something like that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, about that. Into the wind just hit a nice high 2-iron, yeah.
Q. Is that normal or is that, would you call that aggressive?
TIGER WOODS: Well I wasn't trying to hit it right where I hit it, I'll tell you that. I was aiming probably three yards right of where I hit it. And saying go ahead and hit it as hard as you can. Because generally when I hit it hard I usually hit it high right. And high right is not a bad spot to hit from and if I hit it flush I should have a putt at it. And it was kind of a pull cut and it worked out great.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: One more in the back.
Q. Tiger, last year you had an advantage on the par-5s over any of the guys close to you. Obviously a lot of that is your length. But do these par-5s do you think that it --
TIGER WOODS: I didn't hear the last part of it.
Q. Do these par-5s particularly suit you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think they, if I'm driving the ball well, if I can get the ball out there, a pretty good distance, yeah, I can get to every Par-5 here. 11's, kind of depends on how the wind's playing. If it's in your face, I don't even try. Especially now that he moved the tee back in the last year.
Q. Jack said that when he went to Muirfield he got a crick in his neck before the British Open in '72 and ever since then he's been carrying his own pillow. Do you do that?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Bring any special sleeping aids with you?
TIGER WOODS: No. I don't carry my on pillow, I don't carry a little Teddy bear around or anything.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us.
TIGER WOODS: You got it.
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