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June 12, 2001
RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to have with us Tiger Woods. Tiger, thanks for taking some time out of your preparation and practice schedule to spend some time with us. This is Tiger's seventh appearance in the U.S. Open. Tiger is a seven-time USGA Champion, having won the Boys Junior three consecutive years, the U.S. amateur three executive years, and, of course, Tiger's very memorable victory at Pebble Beach last year. Tiger, at the end of last year's Championship, you remarked how that it might take some time for you to be able to put in perspective exactly what you had accomplished at Pebble Beach last year, and I'm wondering, a year now has past and what you might have to say about your accomplishment last year.
TIGER WOODS: I played well. Last year was a lot of fun to be able to play a golf course that was in such great shape, and a course that I played a lot in college. I played the State Am there. I played the AT&T's there. And the scenic beauty on top of that, to really play well, and to win a National Championship on Pebble Beach was something very special. And it's no doubt something I will always cherish and always remember, because I think that's probably a sight that if you're going to win one U.S. Open, that's probably the sight, because of its pristine beauty.
Q. This course is the longest par-4 in Open history and the longest hole in Open history. When they keep stretching the holes out, does it play into your favor as a long hitter?
TIGER WOODS: It's hard to say, because No. 5, it's more than likely going to be a three-shot hole for everybody in the field. And 16 being 490, it plays downwind, and so it plays a heck of a lot shorter than the number. Now, if the wind switches and it comes back in our face on a couple of these holes, it plays more like the hole on 5, and it's going to be quite a challenge. But the prevailing wind, it's always going to be downwind. Is there an advantage to being a longer hitter? Yes and no, I guess. If you drive it straight, yes. But you need to hit the ball in the fairway, and I think that's far more important than how far you hit it.
Q. Tiger, two questions. Right now, odds-makers have you at even money. There's never been anybody coming into the Open with that type -- as much a favorite. If you could put money down on yourself, would you consider yourself to be the guy to beat here?
TIGER WOODS: Would I put money on me? Probably not. Just because I don't think it would be a good business decision, with those odds. (Laughter.) Now, do I like my chances? Yes, I do.
Q. The other question I have, Thomas Bjorn has been talking about having been paired with you now after having won in Dubai. How do you look at playing with Thomas?
TIGER WOODS: Thomas is a great guy, and I've gotten to know him over the years that I've played around the world, and Thomas and I have become pretty good friends. It's going to be nice to play with him again. We had four rounds we played together in Dubai. He played well. And he beat me. But overall, we chatted it up all the way around. We had a great time. And it's always nice to be able to be paired with friends.
Q. Tiger, can you talk about the difficulty on 18, and what makes it so difficult; how much of that is the second shot?
TIGER WOODS: The green on 18 is awfully severe, and I could obviously tell you the story between the memories of the USGA, but I'd rather not. All I can say is that the green on 18, if you hit a good, solid shot in the middle of the green, there is a chance of that ball rolling 40 yards off the green. It's a good shot, right in the middle of the green. And that's a pretty harsh penalty for a good, solid shot, especially the hole being 470, and you've got 2- or 3-iron -- or even lumber, you're firing it into a green like that, where it doesn't really reward a good shot. And that's -- that's tough. But everyone in the field has to play it.
Q. Tiger, going into Augusta, you said your game was sort of coming in and out, and you were having six or seven good holes and a few holes that were just okay. The last few months since Augusta, you seem to be playing at least on the level that you were last year. How do you analyze where you're at right now and how much better can you get?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know. That's a good question. I feel like I'm hitting the ball crisp and clean, which is just nice to be able to do, especially playing off these Bermuda lies, you have to be able to do that. I feel like I'm driving the ball pretty solid. It may not be straight in the fairway every time, but at least it's flush. And if it's flush, you can always fix that. But my putting is about the same as it was last year. I feel like I'm able to hit shots consistently, and that's what I'm going to have to do this week. And going into The Masters, I really wasn't doing that. As I said, I was able to do it for six- or seven-hole stretches, and then I'd lose it for a couple of holes, and then I'd get it back. Lately, I've been able to keep that for an entire round. I think that's one of the reasons why I've been able to score the way I've been able to score.
Q. How about the idea of -- like, in your mind, what's the perfect round?
TIGER WOODS: What's the perfect round in my mind?
Q. In your mind.
TIGER WOODS: I think -- I guess every hole that you could hit the ball, potentially make it, it goes in. Whether that's in 2 or 1 or whatever it is, I think that would be a pretty good round.
Q. Tiger, you've been great at studying courses and assessing what you need to do with your game to be prepared to play. What special things have you worked on to be able to prepare for Southern Hills, and has that preparation gotten you ready to kick the door in here?
TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, this golf course is such that it's straightforward, it's right in front of you. There's no tricks; and that's one of the great things about playing some of the older golf courses, that there aren't any lumps and bumps and blind shots. Everything is right in front of you. It presents a challenge. The fairways are defined, the bunkers are very defined. And it's going to be quite a test. And I haven't done anything special in preparing for this event. I've tried to hit the ball crisp and clean and work on my driving a little bit, make sure I'm hitting the clubs off the tees straight enough, and improving my end play, and from there, I can hit some iron shots and make some putts.
Q. Tiger, we know you're coming to New Zealand in January. There's speculation in Australia you might be able to come to play in either the Johnnie Walker or Heineken or both. Can you let us know if you're considering it?
TIGER WOODS: As of right now, I'm not considering it.
Q. Just New Zealand?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Kind of a two-parter. I'm just wondering, what's the weakest part of your game right now in your mind? And how is your ability to adapt, seemingly, to every course? There doesn't seem to be a track that you can't play, whereas a Trevino hitting the ball left-to-right, certain things were just off the books for him.
TIGER WOODS: I don't know what the weakest part of my game is. I feel like my overall game is pretty sound. There may be some loopholes in there that I don't really see that are weak, maybe not quite as strong. But in preparing for a golf course, whether it's a right-to-left or left-to-right course or it's short or it's long, I think it's just understanding that you need to put the ball certain places, and go ahead and put there. And there's really no trick to it. And shape the ball accordingly. I feel like I'm one of those players that can actually move the ball both ways. I may not do it as proficient as I want to sometimes, but at least I feel like I can do that.
Q. Tiger, we've all talked about what a great achievement it is for you to win the four majors as you have. You're a sports fan. What do you think are the great achievements in sports out there?
TIGER WOODS: In sports in general?
Q. In sports in general.
TIGER WOODS: I think I'd probably be doing an injustice if I don't name all of them. There are so many great feats in all of sports. I guess DiMaggio and his hitting streak, and what Bobby Jones accomplished, Edwin Moses and his streak. There's been so many great accomplishments, I can't say there's one that really stands out. Because every one -- every one of the great accomplishments, no matter what sport it was, it's a defining moment in that sports history, and maybe sports in general. But I think that it's been really neat for me to be an observer of sports and be able to watch those events and really appreciate it. Because I really enjoy sports.
Q. Tiger, this is a little bit off the beaten path, but are you aware that for a pretty significant period of time during your victories, after you win, the stock market rises that Monday, have you heard about that? What's your reaction to that? Do you have any theories? Is it amusing to you?
TIGER WOODS: As long as the stocks I'm involved in rise, I don't care (laughter.)
Q. Tiger, it seems like recently you're getting in almost a lock-down type of mode when you get in a major, as far as spending very little time on the course, and getting away from it. Can you talk about how that's helped your performance, to get away from all the hoopla at the majors?
TIGER WOODS: I think I'm trying to do what's best for me. And that's just what -- I guess what people see, whether I get away from it or not or whether I'm practicing and focused or whether I'm playing the golf course, whatever it is. I have found what works best for Tiger Woods to get ready for a major championship, and actually any tournament in general, and I understand that. And that's why I try and somehow do it every time I go to a tournament site.
Q. Tiger, at Augusta you described Steve Williams as being in your ear about going to New Zealand. You are going there; how were you persuaded and what did he warn you to expect?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Stevie and I are already arguing about the fact that it's his home course and he doesn't think we need a yardage book. (Laughs.) But what Stevie has told me, it's a beautiful place. And hopefully I can come down there and do a little fishing and hang out and see where he grew up, and it's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to have a great time.
Q. Tiger, could you talk a little bit about the Tiger Woods Foundation, the lives you've been able to touch and your global, as well as national vision, for its development in the future years?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think in the years we've been involved, since March of '97, we have our own tournament, we run our own concert every year. I don't know how many lives we've touched, but I can tell you this; that we've given more kids another outlet to make something of themselves. And that's pretty special to me, to give them another chance to grow in life and to make something of themselves, and that's what we're here trying to do. Not every kid will become a professional golfer, and that's not what we're all about. We're trying to influence their lives in a positive way, either through golf programs or education. So far in our infancy years, we've done a fantastic job of that. People working on the staff have dedicated their time, and our sponsors, as well, and it's neat to have the communities we go to get behind not only what we do, but the local programs, and really get something started, and something very special. And each of the cities we've been to. And I think that's what is very important, because you don't want to have us be like a circus, and we're there for one or two, three days and we blow out of town and there's nothing there. We want to have a leave-behind program, and in every community we go to, we have leave-behind programs, and have done a fantastic job of getting kids into the schools, better grades. And from there, participating in our great game of golf.
Q. Tiger, you talked about in the past about in the future there's going to be somebody that's going to be as good or better than you are. Do guys like Charles Howell and Bryce Molder fit that bill, or is that competition still a couple of years away?
TIGER WOODS: That's up to them to figure that out. I think if they get their games right and play to how they think they can play, they could do something very special within the game. What I'm saying is that 20 years down the road, I think you're going to see better athletes playing the game. Kids who are bigger and stronger, more athletically gifted than what we've seen in the past. I don't think it would be uncommon to see guys who are 6'3 and above whaling away at the ball with touch, and understanding how to play the game of golf, the strategy involved. And I think that's going to be kind of neat to see when that happens, we get kids out here that big, that long, that proficient at controlling the ball.
Q. Tiger, I'm going to ask my ridiculous question early in the week, so you don't have to worry about it coming later. Listen, there's no way the public or media expects any more of Tiger Woods than you expect of yourself. But do you ever just wake up in the middle of the night and say, "Whoa, how did I do that? Can I do it again?" And just a little panic?
TIGER WOODS: Usually when I wake up in the middle of the night, it's to do something else. (Laughter.) I haven't really looked at it that way, sorry. You ask amazing questions sometimes. There are times when, yeah, I'll look back in hindsight and look at the accomplishments I've had, and to me, some of the things I've been able to accomplish in the game are very special to me. The many championships I've won, and USGA events I've won as a junior and amateur, those are very special, and my experiences in college, as well. But I guess I get a better appreciation from what I've accomplished from other people, they give me, I guess, a better perspective. When you're out there playing, you're out there competing; yes, you ultimately want to accomplish a goal, and sometimes I do. Sometimes I really don't have that appreciation for what I've been able to accomplish, because I've been so focused on that and I don't see the periphery and what it really means. Sometimes I have to rely on others to give me a clear perspective of what it really has meant in the game, and it's been kind of neat to hear that sometimes. That's not why I play the game of golf, that's for sure. But it is neat to be able to get a different look on it, because all I see is trying to shape a shot and trying to make a putt. And you don't really look at, I guess, what it really means to other people.
Q. Tiger, back to the tournament for a moment. There are some people of the opinion that the heat at Southern Hills would play a distinct disadvantage to European golfers, or the golfers who play on the European Tour. I was talking to Phillip Price, and he said last week he was playing in a full parka. He just arrived and was feeling the heat for the first time. Do you agree with that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think the guys that play on the European Tour don't have to face this type of climate. There's no doubt about that, not on a daily basis. I live in Florida, and this is normal in the summertime. It's what we face for three or four months of the year. Sometimes worse than this. The guys who play in Europe don't really have that on, I guess, a routine basis every year. The only time they face that is when they go outside of Europe. I think, also, the golf courses aren't set up like this, and they aren't set up like this on our Tour anyways, just in the major championships. And this one is more severe. We do play golf courses that are slightly more difficult than they do in Europe. The rough is a little bit higher. And that's what we have done in the last, I guess, five to ten years; we've made a concerted effort to make the golf courses more difficult. Our PGA TOUR staff have gotten the feedback from the players, and that's what the players have wanted and that's what we've done. When I've gone over to Europe, I've only played a select few in Europe, not all of them, just a select few, and the ones I have played, they aren't set up how they are in the States. And that's just, I think, part of the climate. It's very hard to get the rough to grow that high and the greens that fast.
Q. Tiger, I guess you're always thinking majors. When do you switch on for this one? When did you switch on for this one?
TIGER WOODS: You mean start preparing for it?
Q. Yes. Mentally, yes.
TIGER WOODS: It's hard to say I switched on and off on it. I think about it and think about things that I might need, and all of a sudden, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do at Dallas. And after that, it's going to be Germany and Memorial. But when I finished Memorial and I came here on Monday to play a practice round, that's when I really started giving it my full attention. At least I had something in my mind's eye to replicate, when I was doing my practice sessions.
Q. Was that the same at Augusta, when you turn up on the week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. Sometimes. Depends on when I go. Sometimes I may go earlier. I may go before TPC. Even sometimes before Bay Hill. And sometimes I may go later, like I did last year. And this year I went after TPC and to play it and give my full attention. But in either case, it's always nice to be able to see a golf course and replicate in your mind's eye and see what you need to face, and then at practice sessions, you have that.
Q. Tiger, those of us who are mortal who are out here, I wonder about your thought processes. For example, let's project a hypothetical situation. It's Sunday and you have a 10-foot putt to win the tournament. Does it ever enter your mind, and if so, how do you deal with it: "This is major No. 7, possibly, I have this many more to go to catch Jack, I've got to make this putt." Do you have to deal with that kind of thing like we do? And if so, what do you do when that comes to your mind?
TIGER WOODS: I definitely don't think of that. I think that's one of the reasons why I'm playing and you guys aren't (laughter.) Just kidding. I've got a putt, let's say -- for instance a good example is the putt I had to make at the PGA last year to force a playoff. I had that putt, and to be honest with you, all I'm thinking about is: "I've done this a thousand times on the putting green, I've enjoyed it, just step up and just relax and hit the putt." What's the worst thing that's going to happen? You're going to make or miss, one of the two. And no matter what happens on that putt, the sun is still going to come up the next day. And do I put that much pressure on myself? I really don't. Do I expect to execute what I set out to execute? Yes. And if I don't, yes, it is disappointing. But it's not the end of the world. I'm still going to hopefully be breathing the next day, and the sun is coming up and I'm enjoying the next day. Sometimes it does hurt when you don't accomplish what you set out to accomplish. But that should in no shape or form ever really run your life, because life is too short.
Q. Tiger, you said many, many times that you only play to win, you try to win every week you play. Given that, could you give us some specific examples, details of what you might be doing this week, thinking this week, that's different than, say, earlier in the week at Bay Hill or THE TOUR Championship?
TIGER WOODS: You know, Doug, it's still the same thing. I'm still doing exactly the same things every day. I guess the only thing is I may not play as many holes this week because -- then again, I don't normally play that much before a tournament. I just show up and play Wednesday, so I take that back. I really don't do anything different.
Q. If I could follow up, how do you explain your performance, which is a result, I expect, of focus, of doing so well in the Majors?
TIGER WOODS: I've played well.
Q. True. Is there anything more?
TIGER WOODS: I don't really think there's anything more than that. I've been very fortunate to have my game come together at the right time. I've gotten some good, lucky breaks, and I've capitalized on those lucky breaks. That's what you have to have happen. This week is a great example. You hit a couple of bad shots, you put a couple of balls in the tree, you miss the ball in the rough, if you get a couple of good lies, next thing you know, you've turned that around and made a potential hazard into a great number.
Q. You prepare no differently for a major than you do for a regular event?
TIGER WOODS: I do, but I don't.
Q. In September you'll be playing the Trophee Lancome. Why did you select to particular tournament, and will you take time to visit Paris on that occasion?
TIGER WOODS: I've been to Paris twice already. I went there back in '90, southern California Junior Golf Association tournament. Played against the French National team. It was a lot of fun. I played there in '94 in the World Cup. And we were very fortunate enough to win that tournament. And I've seen everything around Paris and in Paris. And that week is going to be a fun week. I'm looking forward to going, looking forward to competing on that golf course, and really having a good time. And also getting adjusted to the time zone for the following week.
Q. Tiger, players used to talk about respecting par, accepting bogey and minimizing mistakes to win the U.S. Open. Today, David Duval used the words "mistake-free" and "perfect" as sort of the modern requirements. Do you sense that the mindset has really changed that much in the Majors?
TIGER WOODS: I think the guys are better players now. And with better equipment, better technique, the scores are getting better. And with all the improvements in our game, the guys are just shooting better scores, and they're trying to limit that with some of the golf courses, and the pin locations, more than anything. The rough isn't an as high as they've had in the past. But they're making up for it with the pins. They're tucking the pins more than ever, in the history of watching things on the TV. They weren't tucked three or four off the side to the hole; that wasn't the case. They were more toward the middle. It's going to be fun to play in this, and see what we can do.
Q. Tiger, two quick ones. Five in a row would take you one more than four in a row. Where would you put that --?
TIGER WOODS: You can add.
Q. Except when I keep score. How would you put five in a row in perspective in terms of accomplishments in the game. And the second question, going back to your nocturnal stuff earlier. Your dad was quoted in TV Guide as saying he didn't think you were going to get married until you were 30, and a wife can sometimes be a detriment to a good game of golf. I wonder if you have an opinion on that?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. First one, right? What would it mean if I won five? It would mean -- it would mean a lot to me, very special to be able to do that and something that I hopefully can do. But I don't know how to say this the right way. Hopefully, I can explain a little bit better. The best I can do. I'm not trying to win five. I'm trying to win one. I guess that's the best way I can explain it. I'm not here this week just to win this week. What I've accomplished in the past, that's great, but it doesn't hit any golf shots for me this week. I've still got to go out and execute my shots. And that's what I'm trying to do this week, go out there and give myself a chance to win come Sunday. And hopefully, I can come through. But I need to get my game right this week, because whatever I've done in the previous four majors isn't going to help me hit any shots out here. I'm not going to have an out-of-body experience, and sit there and watch myself hit a shot. I've got to go out and actually execute the golf shots myself. As far as what my dad said in TV Guide, that's my dad's opinion, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. Obviously, that's what he believes in. When I feel is the time is right, the time is right, and I really don't know when that is. Whether it's going to be next week or it's going to be 20 years from now, I really don't know. I don't know what my future holds for me in that realm. But I will know when the time is right and I will enjoy that part of my life when it does happen.
Q. Tiger, you mentioned earlier that No. 5 was more than likely a three-shot hole for everybody in the field. If the wind or roll or some bizarre condition would change that, how close would you have to be?
TIGER WOODS: To what?
Q. To make a deliberate effort to hit the green, as opposed to setting up a third shot?
TIGER WOODS: I hit it on there yesterday, but it's --.
Q. From --?
TIGER WOODS: 280 in the front. No big deal.
Q. What club did you hit?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a little cut 6-iron up in there. (Laughter.)
RAND JERRIS: Thanks very much. Good luck this week.
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