October 31, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Mr. Woods, we appreciate you spending some time with us this afternoon. Champion of last year's TOUR Championship. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about what you saw on the course today and then how you view heading into the week.
TIGER WOODS: The golf course is set up just a little bit different than it was last time we played. The rough isn't quite as high as it was in 1998. The fairways are just as pure. The greens are just as pure. Maybe just a little bit firmer. But the golf course is in fantastic shape. Looking for a wonderful championship.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. Coming into this championship after leaving Orlando last week, how do you feel you are playing and are you getting what you want out of your game?
TIGER WOODS: Last week I got a lot out of my game considering the way I felt over the golf shots. How this -- well, yesterday, Monday, I guess, I did some nice work on the range and really felt I was back on the track I needed to be. It felt good to go out there today and shape some of the shots that I haven't been able to do for a while and it was a real joy to be able to hit the shots just like I had envisioned them.
Q. You have already won 9 times this year, three of the four majors. How difficult is it to stay focused now that you have already done all that and pretty much have the money title and the Player-of-the-Year honors locked up, how difficult is it to stay focused this time of year?
TIGER WOODS: Not difficult at all. That is one of the reasons why I take as many breaks as I do so that when I do play I will be well rested and ready to go. That is one of the reasons why I don't play that many events, but I am in a stretch now where I will be playing a lot for a while here and that is one of the reasons why I took off five weeks right before The Presidents Cup because I knew this stretch was going to be hard on my body and my mind and I was ready to go.
Q. Obviously you had a tremendous year. But I think a lot of other players have played well also. A lot of players in the top world rankings have improved in their scoring rankings this year. Have you seen evidence that players are stepping up and outside of yourself, are playing and raising the level of the Tour?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you just take a look at the winning scores from week-to-week. Look how much lower they are over the past ten years versus what they are used to be. The players are just getting better. The field are getting deeper. More guys are shooting lower rounds. You see if you look at this year, I don't think I have ever seen so many 63s and 64s week-in and week-out. There are a lot of them. That just goes to show you the guys are getting better. Not from just the top players, but everybody who is competing out here, everyone that is just getting just a little bit better.
Q. Does Duffy's score on Sunday prove that as well?
TIGER WOODS: I think it proves the fact that anyone who plays out here on Tour is capable of shooting a great round if not having a great tournament. That is why they are out here. They wouldn't be out here if they weren't able to do that.
Q. Several guys are going for there first Tour win. How difficult would it be to get the first win with the top-30 winners here?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think it would be -- I don't think it would be surprising to see those guys win just because of the fact they have had wonderful years. They have been real consistent, especially Steve, he has played extremely consistent all year, and I don't think it would be a surprise to anyone to see them win just like it wasn't a surprise to see David win in 1997. He just got going and won everything for a while. So the guys -- you know the guys out here with a lot of talent and you can recognize them. You know who they are. When they get going, it is just a matter of time.
Q. You were talking about working on your game, what you did, obviously, but you also kind of found time to get around a little bit and make the amateurs feel at home. Did it take a while to learn how to do that, accomplish what you wanted to do as a player on a day like this, but also do the P. R. thing that you feel you need to do?
TIGER WOODS: Did it take me a while? I think it took me a little bit to understand that. I know that when I first came out there was a lot more tension than there is now inside the ropes. I remember going down Milwaukee and cameras running right in front of me and it is kind of hard to talk to your playing partners. They are trying to get out of the way of the cameras; I am trying to get out of the way, it was just a fiasco there for a while, but as things have calmed down and I think it has become a lot easier to be able to play as well as interact with my playing partners. We are out there by ourselves now and it is a lot of fun. These guys are good guys and we enjoy each other's company.
TIGER WOODS: Well, TOUR Championship, it is Halloween, Halloween week, I did it in 1998 here. Last year it was inappropriate to do that and this year, I thought it would be a little bit more of a light hearted atmosphere and it would be fun to see.
Q. You saw the young kids that participated in Eastlake Academy. What do you foresee as far as African American, other people of color, as far as the inclusion in the PGA TOUR in the future?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the PGA TOUR is all inclusive and all it takes is be able to get the ball in the hole fast. That is all. That is all there is to it. Now, you have to have the ability to do it. You have to have the work ethic. You have got to have the breaks to go with you at the right time, and that is one of the great things about it, you can qualify. Anybody can qualify for the PGA TOUR. There is a lot of kids that I have seen as I have toured around the country that have the talent to possibly come out here and compete and play. Do they have the work ethic? Do they have the drive to be a player out here? I don't know that. Only the people associated with them truly understand that. But there are a lot of kids coming up that are going to be pretty good.
Q. Julius tells me that your raw scoring average is 68.1. Byron got the all-time mark at 68.33 could you talk about what it means to you to have the lowest raw average ever. Following up, do you think we could just get away with the adjusted scoring, would you rather see it just actual scoring or do you think there is a need to have it adjusted? Did you get all that?
TIGER WOODS: I got all that. There is a lot there too. You are sounding like Ed. Sorry, Ed.
Q. I think that adjusted scoring is -- I think is the proper way to do it. I think you have -- you should have two just for curiosity sake. I think the main scoring should be the adjusted just because of the fact that some of the players aren't going to be playing THE TOUR Championships and the majors and the Players Championship and what if they -- this week they go to Jackson and they go out there and shoot 26-under par where versus -- we get some -- this golf course ain't easy, we shoot 8- to 10-under par it's a good score, there is a big difference there and it is the same week. So I think the adjusted is probably the proper way to go about it.
Q. Were you paying attention to Byron's 68.33; is that something --
TIGER WOODS: I would like to do something a little bit lower than that, yeah, and I have -- I have a goal in mind. I haven't quite got there yet. But I am sure you could probably figure it out.
Q. Does the event feel any different without Player-of-the-Year on the line, without playing for the money title; there is not a whole lot to decide here; does it feel any different as in other times?
TIGER WOODS: Back in when I played in 1996 I wasn't in it. 1997 it came down to the wire as far as a lot of different things actually. 1998 was -- I had a chance to get the Vardon Trophy. So there were a lot of little different things. Last year was completely different atmosphere. This year, again, it is different. But nonetheless, the goal remains the same to go out there and win. There aren't the season-ending titles up for grabs, but no one wants to go out on a bad note.
Q. Two more official events this year -- (question regarding double-digits) -- (inaudible)
TIGER WOODS: That is one of the things I wanted to try to accomplish this year and I have come close. If I have a couple of breaks my way, it could happen. Then again, it could be the other way too. I have had a lot of good things happen to me. What it boils down to is putting yourself in contention enough times. Just like I said, numerous times and I always will say this: The key is to put yourself there. Now, a lot of times you get the right break at the right time, you win; other times you outplay somebody; other times you may gag it, and give it to somebody else or they outplay you like Duffy did last week. It happens. But the key is to keep putting yourself there in contention and then the wins will come.
Q. You got a chance to become the first player to ever win 10 million in a season. Is that a goal and did you ever think that a golfer could ever win that kind of money in official earnings?
TIGER WOODS: Is that a goal? Yes. Did I ever think that could happen? Yes.
Q. Are you floored that you got there so fast, you know, maybe in 2005, purses will be a lot bigger, but --
TIGER WOODS: No (smiles).
Q. Following up, last time you played here you opened with 75, 76. Little extra motivation this week coming back here?
TIGER WOODS: Thank goodness I am actually playing a lot better than coming in this week than I was back in 1998. I wasn't -- It was kind of funny, I don't know if I remember this correctly, but I believe I was either four or five over after 9. I was playing with Vijay and Vijay was either 4- or 5-under, I remember being 9 down through 9. He birdies 10. So I am 10 down for 10 in my own pairing, so that is kind of one of the funny memories that I have of this place.
Q. Outside of the majors what is the most important tournament for you to win in?
TIGER WOODS: Outside of the majors? Well, I think THE PLAYERS Championship being one, THE TOUR Championship. Obviously all the World Golf Championships.
Q. Is there one right now that is more important than the other?
TIGER WOODS: Probably THE PLAYERS Championship. I think that is something that everyone shoots for. That is the first big event of the year, every year, and it seems to draw probably one of the best fields of the year as well.
Q. You have obviously had a huge impact on this sport. (inaudible).
TIGER WOODS: I think going down the first hole this morning to see all those little kids out there with black sweat shirts on there, it was a little writing on it, but to have them all out there and they are all non-traditional golfers, it was neat to see. It really is neat to have that kind of impact, to change their perception of a sport. When I was growing up golf was considered a sport for wooses. No one wanted to play it. That is now changing. It is becoming one of the accepted sports, one of the hopefully when I am done playing it will be one of the core sports in America.
Q. If you could state your impact in any way would it be (inaudible) --
TIGER WOODS: That is what I would like to have happen, yeah, that is something I am shooting for, with my foundations. That is one of the reasons why we are doing the things we are doing. You got to take little steps. You can't make the big changes. You got to take it step by step. Some people can get adjusted to it and accept it an learn and grow with it.
Q. You mentioned the rough is a little easier than the last time. Is it still tough? Is the ball still sitting in the bottom? Any other things about the course?
TIGER WOODS: The lies are kind of -- best way to describe it is hit and miss. You can get -- some lies are great. You can spin a wedge or spin a 9-iron, you can make it hold. Other places, you are lucky to just even come close to getting to the green. It all depends on the luck of the draw there, but the greens are -- I think they are harder than they were than when we played in 1998. Just as fast, but a couple of greens, I hit sand wedge into one of them, and it skipped by 15 feet. That normally doesn't happen with a full sand wedge.
Q. Was 5 better with the landing area?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a lot better. It's more fair now. For a hole that long, to have it pitched out to as narrow as it was -- we were hitting -- I hit 2-iron off that tee a couple of times two years ago for a hole -- what is it 480 or 475 to have to hit a 2-iron to just keep the ball in play kind, of run another one up the green, I don't think that is the way the hole is meant to play.
Q. Hit driver there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and 9-iron today.
Q. Regarding the increased purses over the last few years, how much do you think your popularity has contributed to that increase?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe just a little bit here and there. I guess the TV ratings are probably the best indicator of that. It just seems like that I have helped in that regard. It benefits everybody who plays.
Q. Changing the subject because I haven't heard or seen much of this from you. Your thoughts about what the William sisters have accomplished in tennis and do you see any parallels between the way their father brought them along and the way your dad brought you along?
TIGER WOODS: Any parallels? I really don't think so in the standpoint of from what I have seen on TV what has been reported, how they were kept out of playing junior tennis, and that wasn't the case with me, I was playing every week. When I was a kid I was -- my parents actually kind of pulled the reins back on me and said, you can't play everyday. I love to play. One summer I played I think 45 tournaments. That is a lot of tournaments in the summer. So I have played almost every day. That is a little bit different than how they were. They were kept out of playing, but as far as support, I think my father loves me and has supported me. Their father has supported them, in different ways, but the love is still there.
Q. What about what they have also accomplished as to what you accomplished bringing a lot more interest into what used to be a woosie sport, tennis too?
TIGER WOODS: I think what they have done is, I mean, absolutely fantastic, the way they have changed the perception of tennis; how much stronger you have to be and how much more fit, more power, it is just -- athletics are changing, and some sports are more dramatic than others, and the impact that they have made on their game has been absolutely fantastic.
Q. Would you guys ever like talk to each other as to what you are trying to accomplish?
TIGER WOODS: I have only met Venus one time. Ironically enough, I was at school at Stanford and I believe it was her first ATP event, it was in San Jose. I went down to watch her play in her first match, and I never forget meeting her. I had to look up to meet her. That was kind of unusual in itself. But it was neat to see her play; and, she played real well.
Q. Due to technical problems I have got to reask this: Can you respond again to the evidence that you see of the increased depth in this Tour, how the players are playing better this year?
TIGER WOODS: Guys are getting better, stronger, more fit. You are getting guys who are more athletic, coming out playing and I think the game of golf is changing. It is evolving, it is becoming more power driven than it has been in the past. Guys don't shape the ball as much as hey used to be doing; it is just the fact that you got to bomb it now. You got to take it out there and put it in play and make a lot more birdies than you ever used to. I remember watching on TV when I was growing up, watching guys shoot 71, 70 leading the tournament and win. That doesn't happen anymore unless it is in a major. If you shoot 69 probably going to get passed, that is how I think the game has changed, you got to be a lot more aggressive than you ever used to be.
Q. Summarize your year in one word.
TIGER WOODS: Two words?
Q. Oh, okay.
TIGER WOODS: Not bad.
Q. Now expand a little on that: When you look back and think about it, how does it make you feel?
TIGER WOODS: Very happy in the fact that I have been able to work as hard as I have been able to work on my game and see the progress I have made on the golf course because we all know, as anyone who plays the game -- I mean you can go out there and hit the ball so good on the range and take lessons and get better, taking it to the golf course is a different story. And then the next level after that is take it into tournament play. I have kind have done it step by step, hit the ball well on the range, go out and play it at home, test it out, prove to myself that it works, then I have to prove to myself that it works in a tournament. And to see the results after all the hard work, that to me is extremely satisfying.
Q. Because everything has been decided, still another official tournament left at the end of this year, can you talk about whether this Tour Championship feels like just a regular Tour event or how it compares to say 1998 or 1997? Not like an All-Star game anymore?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think it is. I don't think it has the same impact that it used to have because it is not the last tournament of the year. I know next year it is going to be different, but this is not our last tournament, it is our Tour Championship and it just feels a little awkward. Traditionally it is our last tournament of the year and then we are done. It does feel a little awkward knowing the fact that supposedly it is our last tournament of the year, but then we got to play one more, so from that standpoint, I don't think it has the impact that it used to have, but I think it will next year when it turns back to its old format.
Q. Do you think it still has the prestige?
TIGER WOODS: I think if you put it as the last tournament of the year I think it will.
Q. But it doesn't because of Spain.... (inaudible)
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q. Has your work ethic and your results on the Tour raised the bar for the other players?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. That is a good question. It might have, but I have always worked this hard. This is what I do. This is just me. As far as other players maybe observing that and saying that maybe I could work a little bit harder, I don't know. I know that David has worked pretty hard on changing his physique and strength and flexibility in his game and it has paid dividends. Other players have tried to become more fit. But I think what it all boils down to is how bad do you really want it when you play. And, you can work out all you want, you can have the right diet, practice as hard as you want, but when it comes down the stretch in a tournament, all that is kind of thrown out the door, it is, how bad do you really want to win.
Q. There has been talk about golf being evolving in the Olympics. What are your thoughts; would you like to participate? When you were a kid did you go trick or treating; and what did you go as?
TIGER WOODS: I will answer your second one first. Yes, I used to go trick or treating. Generally it was -- I did dress up as a golfer a couple of times, in my dad's clothes with the pockets you had which come in from up here. Tight, pink, sky blue, plaid tops. I don't know how my dad wore that stuff. But all you guys wore that. (laughs). But, would I like to compete in the Olympics? Yeah, I would. That would be pretty neat. It would be interesting from the standpoint that I don't think it would have, I truly believe, I don't think it would have the same impact as it would have for most sports that are in the Olympics already, just because of the fact that it has no history yet. All those other sports, that is the biggest event there is; our sport, that is not. We have our four Majors, those are the four big ones. I think that is the problem they are running into right now with tennis: They have the four Slams, then you throw in the Olympics, that is why some of the top players don't play, because they'd much rather focus on the slams. I guess over time, once golf is in the Olympics, and then you give time and the great matches I am sure will occur, I don't know, I am curious to see what the format would be, but I think given time, the Olympics could be one of our biggest events, but it won't happen, I don't think, initially. Just like it didn't happen with tennis. But, over time I bet you it will be.
Q. Would you like to win an Olympic gold medal?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice, yeah, especially since the fact that it only happens once every four years, you don't get a chance to do it every year. To win one of our Majors, at least you have a chance every year to win the same majors. Olympics that is not the case. Once every four years and you know, four years time you don't know where you are going to be in your life.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, sir.
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