March 13, 2001
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: All right. We'd like to thank Tiger Woods for joining us in the interview room here today. First of all, we want to begin with the Mark H. McCormick Award. Tiger, earlier today, it was announced by the governing board of the Official World Golf Rankings that you are the recipient of the 2000 Mark H. McCormick Award. Rankings are very significant because they determine eligibility for several tournament, including next week's PLAYERS Championship. You won the award in 1998 and 1999. What does it mean to dominate the rankings three years in a row like you have?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I guess it just means that I've had a couple lucky breaks and made a couple of putts here and there. (Smiling). But to be able to, I guess, be ranked No. 1 in the world consistently and for a substantial time just goes to show you that you just need to be consistent. I've worked very hard on my game to get to the point where I'm at right now. I think in order to become the No. 1 player in the world, you have to have an inordinate amount of consistency in your game. So far in my career, I've been able to do that, and hopefully I will continue to do that.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Does anybody have any questions for Mr. Woods about the Mark H. McCormick Award?
Q. (Laughingly) How does it feel to qualify for THE PLAYERS Championship?
TIGER WOODS: You know, to be able to qualify for THE PLAYERS Championship means a lot.
Q. Most important, how far does Stanford go in the tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they are going all the way. There's no doubt about it.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Now, let's turn our attention to the Bay Hill Invitational. You are back here to defend your title at Bay Hill. You had a chance to play a couple of the holes today. What are your feelings about the week ahead?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the golf course is pretty soft right now. The fairways are soft, but the greens are a little firm, but that's going to change, obviously, with the rain going on right now. The golf course I think is going to play a little bit longer, which is a little bit different than how it played last year. It played a little bit faster last year. Hopefully, this year, the balls won't pick up mud, and we'll see what happens. I feel like I'm playing halfway decent, and hopefully I can get it going.
Q. What do you like most about this course?
TIGER WOODS: I think this golf course allows you to use your driver a little bit. The fairways are pretty wide open here. You can go ahead and let it go, most of the time. You know, it feels good to be able to use your driver more often. I guess that's one of the reasons why the longer hitters have done well. Obviously, some of the shorter hitters have done well, but consistently year-in, year-out, some of the longer hitters are usually at the top of the board.
Q. Do you ever come over here and play?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Have you been here since last year?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. No curiosity?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've played here enough. I've seen the golf course a few times.
Q. Is there one thing that stands out in your mind from last year's Invitational here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, think I think being able to go head-to-head with Davis in the final round. I didn't make a bogey on Sunday. I really played solid golf. It was a lot of fun to play that solid when I really needed to, and to hold off such a fantastic player as Davis Love. It was obviously a very good feeling.
Q. Tiger, no one really believes that you are any less of a golfer than you were last year. Things just haven't gone the same; the results are not the same. Is it important to you how you handle this stretch as much as it is on golf?
TIGER WOODS: The funny thing is, my stroke average is actually lower right now than it was last year at this time. I went over my stats the other day and I'm 75-under this year through six tournaments. That's not bad. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I've played that consistent. I'm scoring better than I did last year. The only problem is I just haven't got the right breaks at the right time, and you need to have that in order to win. I got some good breaks last year and was able to win a couple tournaments. Like I wasn't really supposed to win Pebble Beach. I had a good round at the end, but I needed some help and I was able to get some help. That's what you need to have happen. I haven't really had that or I've messed up on my own.
Q. Can you talk about the frustration; you have to be pretty accustomed to having things go your way?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's only been, what, six tournaments or something like that that I haven't won this year, or whatever it's been, which is not that long. Six tournaments isn't that many tournaments.
Q. Does it bug you that the media is -- that we make it a story line that, "My God, he's gone six event and he hasn't won, what's wrong with the guy?"
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's annoying because of the fact that if you think that way, then you really don't understand the game of golf. And obviously, some of the media ... (Smiles).
Q. Some of us?
TIGER WOODS: Some of you.
Q. An article -- (inaudible) talks about the intimidation factor in sports last week --
TIGER WOODS: I haven't read it. I don't know.
Q. It says the intimidation is gone and that you need to get used to learning how to lose. I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.
TIGER WOODS: I've lost my share of tournaments. There's no doubt about it. I think I've won 20 percent of my tournaments or something like that, or 17. So I've lost over 80 percent of my tournaments. That's a lot of losing.
Q. Tiger, as fickle as this game is, how do you peak for a major? How do you now that you can peak for a certain week in April or June or July?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just an understanding of how to get ready. It just comes from trial and error. I've been able to do that, I think, pretty well throughout my career. Even before I turned pro. When I was in junior golf, when I was a little junior, there's only one big tournament and that was the World Junior Championship in San Diego. And obviously the U.S. Amateur, those were the only tournaments that really meant a lot, and I was able to peak for them. And it's learning how to get your mind and body ready for that one week. Out here on TOUR, you've got to do it four times and it becomes a little more difficult because you are playing under difficult conditions. I think it is just through experience and learning your body and learning what you need to do to have everything come together.
Q. Are you still learning?
TIGER WOODS: Am I still learning? Oh, yeah. I think you're learning the essence of just trying to read how your body is doing, and I think that's just a continual process of just always trying to learn how to read it.
Q. Using the Masters as an example, since it is coming up on us, have you altered the way you do things each of the four or five years that you've been there?
TIGER WOODS: What do you mean?
Q. Whether you're working on certain shots or whatever you're doing to try and peak for that week, have you adjusted that at all from '97 through this year? Have you found a plan that you like that you stick with?
TIGER WOODS: I think I have. I've found a plan that I like to stick to. Obviously, it doesn't always work, but the thing is, you've just got to believe in it and I've done that. I've put myself there with a chance, and that's all you can ask for, to give yourself a chance on the back nine on Sunday. I've done that. I just haven't really captured the moment like I did in '97. That happens.
Q. How much does your swing -- I don't think people understand how much you work. You don't just go out and play. How much does your swing change from month-to-month and how much are you tweaking?
TIGER WOODS: It changes from day-to-day, moment-to-moment. I've never been one -- when I'm at home who -- never really likes to play. I've never liked playing golf when I was a kid. I'd rather practice. I'd rather go out and hit hundreds of balls and chip for hours and putt for hours. I'd rather do that than go out and play. That's what I usually do at home. When you do that, you find little things in your swing that you can -- you feel and I think that's one of the reasons why, in my opinion, have a good sense of what's going on when I'm playing, because I'll feel certain things that I was doing on the range and I'll know how to correct that. It didn't always happen, but at least I have an awareness of how to do it.
Q. Going back to the intimidation question before, do you think it's possible for a player to be playing so well to be, in such a groove, that he does, indeed, intimidate other players?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think in this game, I think it's very difficult for a player to intimidate another player, because you're not, you know, physically going out there and beating them. (Laughter.) In other sports, yeah, some guy that's 6'5, he's going to run over you; 250 pounds. That's intimidating; you're 180 pounds. That's a little tough. In this sport, maybe the intimidation, it's more mental than physical. I think that's probably the best way that I can answer that question.
Q. How often does Tiger Woods hit that doldrums wall where he says, you know, "I'm supposed to be here this week and I'd rather not. I'd rather do what I want to do this week, instead of my profession"?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think I've ever felt that way. That's one of the reasons why I don't play that often. That's one of the reasons why I only play 20 tournaments a year on our tour, for that reason; so that when I do play, I feel that I'm ready to play. Last year at the end of the year, when I played eight consecutive weeks in a row, on four different continents, that was hard. The last week, I don't really know if I could have played that well by myself. Thank goodness I had David there as a partner to kind of feed off of him because he was playing so well. But it would have been really hard to get up for that event, being it was my eighth tournament in a row and more than 27,000 miles. It was tough on the body. That was probably the closest I've ever been to not really wanting to be there.
Q. For as easy as the game appeared to be last year and with the ease you were able to win some tournaments, this year you are still playing well, but other guys seem to have raised that level. Does the competitive side of you enjoy that?
TIGER WOODS: I think we as players just enjoy competing and understanding that, you know, the game of golf, guys are getting better. Equipment is getting better and agronomy is getting better so the scores are naturally going to improve. Just look at the -- I was watching the Bob Hope for a little bit and I was seeing the scores, how they have improved decade by decade, the winning score. That's just amazing how much better they have gotten. And I think it's all of the above combined that have attributed to that. I think as a player, I enjoy the fact that, you know, you're going to have to try and improve. I enjoy going out there and working on my game and trying to get a little bit better, whether it's a new shot here or a new shot there, improving your existing technique or whatever it is. I enjoy that challenge of always trying to get just a little bit better. And I think all of us as players do, whether that's PGA TOUR pros or the weekend hack. We are always trying to get just a little bit better.
Q. What did you think about a 16-year-old shooting for par under four rounds the way he did?
TIGER WOODS: That was pretty good. Ty played pretty well. It was neat to see. I can't wait to see Cookie, to see his own -- he beat the coach, basically. That would be pretty fun. I'll have to rib Cookie about that.
Q. What does that say about the Tour that something like that can happen, a guy can come out and play against these great players?
TIGER WOODS: The thing is, any player can do that, whether it's a club pro or junior or a person who Monday qualifies who is ready to go on the Senior Tour. It just goes to show you that anybody can have a great week. Now, can you repeat it time and time again; that's the key. There's so many times that players have gone out here and played well one week and then they are gone. That's part of playing the game of golf. We have all had those magical weeks where we have all played well. The trick is, repeat that, and that is when it becomes a little more difficult.
Q. Did you ever try and Monday qualify?
TIGER WOODS: I tried one time. I tried for the L.A. Open when I was 15. I was 7-under coming into the last hole and I thought I had a pretty good chance of making it. And the rules official came up to me and said, "I hate to bring up the bad news to you, but I need eagle to make a playoff. There are already two guys at 9-under. There's only two spots."
Q. Did you?
TIGER WOODS: I made birdie and shot 8-under and there I went. Go home.
Q. Why didn't you try more often? When you were 15 --
TIGER WOODS: I received exemptions, but it really wasn't a priority for me. I never really -- I never really made it a priority. I would much rather just go out and play high school golf and junior golf and enjoy being around my buddies rather than come outer and try and qualify for a PGA TOUR event.
Q. Can that be misleading to have one of those magical weeks and have the expectations for a 16- or 17-year-old get higher?
TIGER WOODS: What I always felt when I was a kid was that you needed to play well at every level and win at every level before you felt -- before I felt that I was able to play at the elite level and win at that level. I won at junior golf, I won in college and I won in amateur golf, and that gave me the confidence to know that I can go ahead and win at the professional level. If I had not done that in those stages, I don't think I would have had the confidence coming out like I did.
Q. We're doing a piece on Cheyenne -- and I apologize for this. Two-part question: What are your hopes and fear if she tries to make it as a pro, and how do you think your game is similar to her's when you were ten years old?
TIGER WOODS: I think, well, we started in the same spot; the same garage I started. She picked up the club and there she went. I think what she's doing is fantastic. She's a great kid. I talked to her a little bit this year when I was over in Phoenix and she's playing so much better. She's getting better. She's getting longer and a lot of that is she's just growing; she's growing like a weed. So it's really neat to see her progress. I think as she gets older, I still want her to have that enjoyment of going out there and working on her game and playing in tournaments and enjoy just being out there and competing. I think that's what is going to keep her excited about improving as a player, and hopefully, she doesn't -- doesn't burn out after her first year in doing that, because right now she has just a great love of just playing golf; and usually when they do that, when they have that burning desire, that love, they usually don't burn out.
Q. I talked to your father and he said he did a scouting report for her at 3 years old, basically saying she could be as good on the LPGA as you on the PGA. How much pressure is that for a 10-year-old to handle?
TIGER WOODS: I think right now she's, what, fifth or sixth grade? Just enjoy that. Enjoy going out there and playing and just try to improve. There's really not a whole lot of pressure when you're ten. Now, when I was nine and ten years old, the only drawback to getting older, you have two more recesses. Junior high, high school, you don't have recess anymore. You have to go to your locker. That wasn't my thing. I liked playing nation ball and stuff like that. I think that's probably the biggest change in your live when she's ten.
Q. On the same point it, seems like the Australians they are grooming guys from a very young age. Is that the wave of the future, guys to follow in your footprints and what are the perils and pitfalls of that?
TIGER WOODS: I think what you are going to see is, obviously, better players at a younger age, and I just hope that those kids aren't pushed to try and succeed. They are encouraged, yes, but not pushed. And I think that's the fine line with these academies that they have to watch out for is making them go out there and work on their game and practice and do all these drills and talk to the psychologist. I think if a player want to improve, they will. And they will get out there and practice; you don't have to tell them. They are going to want to learn more about the psychological side. They are going to be curious. They are you don't have to drill it into them. They are going to ask questions. I think you're just going to have to be very careful not to push them, because if you push them, I think in the end, they probably won't succeed as long. They are going to be successful at an early age, but until the end, I don't think they are going to be quite as good as people might think they are.
Q. How did your dad dangle that carrot without the burnout factor?
TIGER WOODS: Very simple. He always held the reins back on me. I always wanted to do too much. I always wanted to play too much. I loved it. I was talking to Curtis about this. We had a -- just a burning desire to get out there and play. My dad has never asked me, "Do you want to go practice?" I always called him: "Pop, can I come out and practice with you?" I always took the initiative because I loved it so much. That you really can't teach. You either have that or you don't. A lot of these kids do have that. They do have that burning desire to play and grow, grow as a player and some don't. Some are pushed to try to succeed, and I don't think those players who are pushed are going to succeed in the end for a long period of time.
Q. Your schedule, you've got the majors, the tune-ups for the majors events, World Golf events, championships to defend, how many weeks, discretionary weeks for you on your schedule?
TIGER WOODS: In the summer, in the middle of the summer, I've got quite a few. But in the fall I've got a lot of defending to do, a lot of playing to do. But the end of the year, it's pretty open. So, granted, I have a little stretch there where I have to play quite a few tournament, but overall, do I take my breaks.
Q. There's another great course you're playing here in Orlando. What's your favorite course in Florida?
TIGER WOODS: Isleworth.
Q. And what do you like about it?
TIGER WOODS: Home, sweet home.
Q. When you go to an event, from your perspective, what do you bring there and do you even notice the impact, because you're always at events?
TIGER WOODS: I know I've had an impact on this game, and hopefully it's been positive. To what extent, now that -- you know, being in, I guess, in the eye of the storm, it's hard to get and gauge correctly what's going on. You don't have the correct perspective. I know that there are a lot more kids coming out and watching and partaking in the game, and hopefully I've had that type of an influence in the game, and hopefully will continue to have that type of influence. To be honest with you, I really can't gauge it because I deal with it almost every day. I need other people, such as yourselves, to give me a better perspective on that.
Q. Do you notice it when you go to an event like the Bell Canadian last year or Phoenix again this year where you haven't been year after year? Is it more intense or more of a buzz?
TIGER WOODS: I think there is. There's more excitement and just being able to -- the galleries get more revved up when you make a couple more birdies, because there's more of them. They don't see you year after year. Some tournaments have grown accustomed seeing the same guys year after year. They play the same events, the same tournaments. You just expect them to be there. When they are not there, that's a shock to the system and then they come back and it's great again. At the Bell Canadian, that was absolutely incredible, the crowds and enthusiasm they had, for the game of golf.
Q. Tiger, if people learn from their mistakes, have you had time to consider Dubai and the 18th?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well the problem was a was trying to hit a high sweeper. People don't realize how much you've got to hook that ball. You've got to hit a 20-yard hook off that tee in order to keep it in the fairway. The further you hit your tee shot, the for you have to hit it for the left. Thomas hit just a big sweeping 20-yard hook. People don't realize that. You can't see it on TV, the shot he played. But he played a beautiful tee shot. I tried to hit the ball on the same line starting out, but I had to sweep it more because I'm a little bit longer, and I tried to hit the ball from the inside and it got stuck and left it hanging out to the right. To be honest with you, the third shot is the one that really surprised me the most. The tee shot, I can understand, because when I try to hit a big sweeper, sometime I do hang it out to the right. But that shot, up over the palm tree, a little 9-iron, I hit the shot just right at the flag, playing for the flyer, and the ball just didn't fly. It came out soft. But it was right on line. I hit it just the way I wanted to, under the gun. That shot really surprised me that it didn't get there.
Q. Arnold Palmer is playing in this tournament. He's over 70 now. Do you see yourself playing tournament golf at that age?
TIGER WOODS: I hope to be alive at that age, let alone playing golf. What Arnold has done for the game of golf, we as players always have to thank what he has done because, obviously, if it was not for him, we would not have the tournaments. We would not have, obviously, the money we are playing for, the spotlight on these events. That wouldn't be the case. For him to be out here and partaking in the game is very exciting. And you can compete against a living legend. Most sports, when they retire, they are done or you don't ever see them again. You can't compete against them. I had a wonderful chance to be able to play with Jack Nicklaus the first two rounds of the PGA. I've played with Arnold and Jack in practice rounds and in tournament, you don't see that in football you don't see that in baseball or basketball are any other sport. Golf is the only sport that you see that where you can actually compete against them, and they can do well.
Q. You do a lot of those clinics and you see a lot of kids with a lot of talent. Does that keep you motivated? And who is replacing Greg Marshals as the coordinator?
TIGER WOODS: We are working on that now. As far as the kids, does it give me more motivation? Not necessarily. It gives me a great bit of joy to see these kids out there doing what they are doing. It's absolutely incredible. Their swings, I mean, these kids are five, six, seven, eight years old with great swings. It's just a matter of them continuing and enjoying the game of golf. To me, it's absolutely incredible, over the few years that I've played on TOUR and I've done my clinics, how much the talent pool has increased, and it's only going to increase. When you get these kids who are supposed to go off and play basketball and football and run track and play baseball are now partaking in golf and focusing all of their energies in golf, when you get these great athletes playing golf, it's going to be quite extraordinary.
Q. Stanford, pretty good seed in the NCAA Tournament. Are you a big fan of this type of year, basketball-wise and do you have a prediction for your school?
TIGER WOODS: How can you not be? Everybody enjoys watching college basketball, because of the energy level and excitement that it brings in the tournament. We all love it. Obviously, we all put our little monies in the pools and hope we can gauge it correctly and win a little bit at the end. Hopefully, Stanford with their two losses this year, especially the one we just lost; that we'll get more inspired and be ready to play in the tournament.
Q. A lot of guys out here are loyal to their schools?
TIGER WOODS: All of them, yeah.
Q. Do you rib each other back and forth in the locker room at all?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, a lot of the Pac-10 guys, we do. Because obviously I'm from the Pac-10 and a lot of the Pac-10 guys are playing and this year; we've had a great year in the Pac-10. It's been great to rib them a little bit.
Q. After winning three of four majors last year and if you went on to win the Masters this year, would you consider that a Grand Slam?
TIGER WOODS: I would only consider it because I was holding all four at the same. There's two thoughts: Obviously, one you've got to do it on the calendar year, which obviously I'm not going to deny, it's a harder one to do because you have to win the Masters to start off with. Or you can get hot during the summer, which I did and continue out throughout the entire summer and hopefully, you know, turn it on again in the spring. You know, hopefully if I win the Masters, it will be considered the Slam. And in my estimation it would be, because I would hold all four at the same time. It would be a great problem to have.
Q. Knowing you won both events, as a competitor, which did you enjoy more: Competing against yourself at the U.S. Open for having that back-nine duel at the PGA?
TIGER WOODS: I think both of them stand out in different ways. The back nine duel at the PGA Championship, I think that's -- brings more out in you. There's no denying that. Any time you go head-to-head, toe to toe and not make a mistake, that brings the best out of you. When I did at the U.S. Open, that was more of -- it was more strategic than anything else. You had to be more aware of danger, just because of the fact that you didn't want to go back the other way and give the other guys momentum. At the PGA I knew and he (Bob May) knew that we needed to make birdies in order to win the Championship, and we just kept making birdie after birdie. That was exciting, from a player's standpoint. And then watching it on TV as a spectator, it was pretty exciting. Would I like to have the lead more? Yeah. It's a lot easier on the system. Going into the final round with a ten-shot lead, you feel like if you just get off to a halfway decent start, you should be able to win the tournament. But if you lose the tournament, you look like an idiot so you have that going through your head. You have a lot of thoughts of losing a tournament, but when you're playing head head-to-head, toe-to-toe, how don't have those type of thoughts. It's a different type of mental process.
Q. One more question on preparation for the Masters. How do you separate -- obviously you are in a tournament here and you have to focus on this. When you go home in the afternoon, are you thinking Augusta or are you working on stuff for Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've been working on stuff for Augusta since the beginning of the year. I knew some of the changes they made to the golf course and some of the things we're going to have to take a look at and be aware of, some of the pin locations. So I've been trying to shape myself and get ready for that.
Q. Can you do that during the tournament still?
TIGER WOODS: When you're out there playing, unless you're playing just terrible on your golf, the back nine on Saturday and Sunday with no chance of winning, then you might try a few things. But when you're in a tournament, you're grinding away to try to give yourself the best chance of winning.
Q. Is there any residual or any hangover from what happened in due buy? Did that sting a little bit more than a second at some other tournament or did you put it behind you quickly?
TIGER WOODS: Did it sting? Oh, yes, it did. There's no denying that. When you have a chance of winning and don't win, obviously it doesn't feel good. But the great thing about that tournament is that I really started to play well. I really putted well. I shot three consecutive 64s. I made 24 birdies. The only problem was one was in the Pro-Am. 24-under par in three rounds, I felt like my game was progressing. Actually 28-under in five rounds -- four rounds, that's not bad. So my game was progressing. It was getting better. I was pretty excited about that. Just on Sunday, I just didn't quite get it going. I had a chance. I made a mistake and didn't win. But it was a good learning process. One that I will file back in the memory banks.
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