August 27, 2000
NELSON LUIS: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods, who just finished winning his third World Golf Championships event. Tiger, you become the first player since Johnny Miller in 1975 to successfully defend three titles in one year, so congratulations on that.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
NELSON LUIS: Just your thoughts on the week's action.
TIGER WOODS: Overall, it was a wonderful week. I played well. I hit a lot of good, solid shots. Made a lot of key putts; and today, I guess the second start to the day, you know, Hal made that first big putt on 1, a nice birdie on 2, and a good save, and another birdie over an -- what hole did he birdie? 5. So he got off to a wonderful start. I bogeyed 7, and I think my lead was down to 5 at the time, and I just wanted to keep playing solid golf. And if I felt like if I shot even par for the day, Hal would have to shoot 61 to force a playoff, which he could do under these conditions. But I knew the greens would be a little spiky; that would be hard to do. So I felt if I could just hang in there -- and No. 8 was a big putt I made there. Turned the momentum around with a two-shot swing on Hal. And he struggled a little bit on 9 and 10, and Phillip played well -- got to -- I believe it was 13-under, and I saw that on the 12th green on the leaderboard there, and proceeded to knock that putt in there to extend my lead. And I felt I had to do it for Stevie today. Stevie kept telling me: "We've got to go for 21." That's his favorite number. I tried it at Memorial. I got to 20 at Memorial; bogeyed 18. And today I told him: "I'm going for 21." And he said: "All right." And I got it going, and he -- it's so funny. The last hole, I asked for a new glove. So he gives me a dry glove and writes "21" on it. I hit a good drive down there; hit an 8-iron stiff, 168. And he was so excited. I mean, I've won major championships, and he was not that excited. And I guess I finally got to his favorite number.
Q. Can you talk about that last shot? We couldn't see a thing down there, except for the explosion of the strobe light. What was going through your mind?
TIGER WOODS: The last shot or the approach shot?
Q. The 168-yard 8-iron. Couldn't see a thing?
TIGER WOODS: If you notice, when I got over the ball, the first time I took a look at it, I had to get down to see what my lie was. And once I saw what the lie was, I took a practice swing and I knew the ground was pretty hard. So I knew the ball was going to jump out of there; it was going to fly its true yardage. And for some reason on the back nine, I had a lot of clubs the same distance -- 173, 168 -- kept hitting the same clubs. And I figured, you know, you've hit them stiff every time; you might as well go ahead and hit it again.
Q. Could you see the ball when it flew down there?
TIGER WOODS: I could see it in the air, and I stayed committed to the shot. Hit a nice little draw in there, about a two-yard draw. And from there, as it was falling, I couldn't see anything.
Q. How about the reaction of the crowd?
TIGER WOODS: We could hear it. We just couldn't see anything.
Q. If you ever doubted Steve's yardages before, you'll believe him now, won't you?
TIGER WOODS: He got a good one on 18. He was grinding harder on that number than he has on most numbers. He wanted to get to 21 pretty bad.
Q. Any idea why that's his favorite number?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know why. It always has been. He runs in 21-minute intervals and swims that way. Whatever it is, it has to do with 21. That's always been his favorite number.
Q. A little more broad-brush, your season has obviously been phenomenal, you're a student of the game, how would you rank this season from what you know of the history of the game? Is this the greatest season ever?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's hard to compare -- I have a tough time comparing, you know, the guys who played in the past who have had wonderful years, such as Hogan and Nelson and Jones, just because the equipment is so different. On top of that, the guys are different now. It's hard to compare. You know, if you put those same guys in our time right now, would they be hitting the ball just as far as us? Probably. Would they be just as good? Yeah, probably. It's hard to compare. All we can compare is kind of theoretically. You know: Okay, you won this tournament; I won that tournament. You played well here; he played well here. It's hard to say what season is the best.
Q. What would you say if you didn't count this one?
TIGER WOODS: It's either Hogan's or Nelson's. Nelson won 18 tournaments in one year. That's not a bad year.
Q. What about Jones?
TIGER WOODS: Granted, he won the Grand Slam in one year. But I think to win as many times as Byron did -- competition was a little bit stiffer, too, than when Jones played.
Q. How bizarre was the finish for you, the playing at twilight? You had to be a kid the last time you did that.
TIGER WOODS: I think it's great. The fact that it was -- I was telling Stevie: "This is how it used to be. This is how I grew up playing." I used to sneak out on the golf course to go play. And to play in twilight like this -- and my dad and I used to always come in -- we used to have probably two holes in pitch black or dark. But you have to call the shot you're going to hit; that's the only way you know where it's going to go. It's right-hand side, two-yard draw or three-yard cut back on the left-hand side -- cut back four yards; so it should be down the left side just left of the middle. Now that's the feeling and the way I grew up playing. So, granted, that was me -- I don't know, but it was just like going back to junior golf days.
Q. At any point did you think you were going to finish tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Because of the lead I had, I think everyone just wanted to get in and finish it. If the tournament was tied, I guarantee we would have stopped.
Q. Were you feeling okay the back nine?
TIGER WOODS: No. All day.
Q. To the extent that you can, do you want to share with us what you were fighting? Was it allergies?
TIGER WOODS: Flu. I broke my fever on the 4th hole, which is nice. I've got salt stains all over me.
Q. What kind of changes did you think the guys had once you started up again?
TIGER WOODS: I thought it would play slow. I thought there would be a lot of casual waters and guys needing rulings. But the golf course drained great. I went from thinking we'd get in 9 to 13 holes somewhere in there depending on how pace of play went, and we ended up finishing.
Q. With the change in conditions, what's the difference today? What did you learn today?
TIGER WOODS: What did I learn today? About what?
Q. You had rain, fog, dark. Is there anything different?
TIGER WOODS: I think you've just got to play one shot at a time; take it as it comes. You know that because the ground was wet, the ball is going to go a little bit further. You're going to possibly come in nice and shallow to pick the ball. Even then, the ball might squirt a little bit, and you've got to protect against that. A lot of times, that's what I did. Like the shot I hit on 13 was a terrible golf shot, but I was protecting against going over. Came up short -- I'm sorry, 14. But overall, that's what you need to do. You need to keep hanging in there and just try to play one shot at a time.
Q. What was that course you used to go out and play in the dark with your dad?
TIGER WOODS: Navy.
Q. And what does it say about the slow-play issue? You guys went pretty quick; golf is good. What does it say about that whole point that everybody was making last week at the PGA?
TIGER WOODS: Well, PGA Championship, that golf course was so much more severe than this is. You hit -- you miss a green there, you're going to take a while trying to figure out what you're going to do. It's like Pinehurst. Pinehurst played really slow, too, because of the undulations in the greens. Augusta always plays slow because of the greens. The more flat the golf course is on the green, the faster pace of play will be. This golf course, there's really no tricks on the green. Just playing simple. And all week the pace of play has been wonderful, plus we have a limited field, too, which helps.
Q. If I may, just to get your opinion on the fact that Notah made the Presidents Cup on his own, and the possibility that maybe Kenny will pair you with him a couple times, your thoughts about that, please?
TIGER WOODS: I'd love to play with Notah. We were talking about it today actually during the rain delay that it would be nice that if we could tee it up all four matches together. But it's ultimately not our decision. We put the input in. We play the same golf ball and we enjoy each other's company. I've known him for about 11, 12 years now -- probably actually a little bit longer than that, actually. Notah and I have been wonderful friends, college teammates. We roomed together on the road. I have known Notah and he knows me pretty well. It would be nice to be able to play with him.
Q. Did you play many matches with him in college?
TIGER WOODS: We played all the time together. We were always -- always seemed to be paired together when we played in qualifyings.
Q. You stayed on the tee at 7 for quite a bit after your tee shot there; you were unhappy with it working on something with your swing. What was that? And then your approach at 8, could you give me your yardage and what you maybe found in your little practice session that got you --?
TIGER WOODS: It's the same thing. Shaft laid down. I got stuck on it, and consequently I put the lean on it, put the upper body lean on it, just to protect from the left, and I hit it straight right. And if I could somehow get the club down in front of me consistently, it would be all right. Just occasionally I get the club stuck -- either I have to time it and I have to hang on it and just hit a shot out to the right. On 8, I was just trying to get the club down in front of me. I have 128 to the hole, which is a perfect number for my wedge, especially under those conditions, and took dead aim at the flag. Just said, "Go ahead, fire right at it."
Q. Was that the crusher, the two-shot swing?
TIGER WOODS: I think that hurt Hal a little bit there, because he was playing so well. And the drive wasn't that bad. It wasn't a bad drive. It just happened to get a bad break and a lie that he could not advance it accurately. And it put -- the one spot you can't put it in on that hole with that pin is the left bunker, especially with the rain, because you know that bunker is going to be hard.
Q. You have a pretty busy day tomorrow, but after that, is it about time to just get away and relax for a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: It's going to be nice. After tomorrow it will be nice . I'm looking forward to some down time.
Q. Put the clothes away for a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, for a little bit. It will be nice.
Q. An afternoon maybe?
TIGER WOODS: A little longer than that.
Q. Two questions: You said that the fever broke on the 4th hole?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I started pouring out sweat.
Q. Did you wake up with this?
TIGER WOODS: I've struggled with it the last couple days, and I've been pushing myself pretty hard the last few months, obviously.
Q. And the second part was realizing it just happened, but your shot on 18 and in the gathering darkness to one foot is in your sort of hall of memorable shots; will that go in there somewhere?
TIGER WOODS: Not at all. I couldn't see it.
Q. How often in this season have you impressed yourself, and where and when, with your golf?
TIGER WOODS: A few times. Some of the shots I've hit. I think the one that really sticks out in my mind was -- was it Friday or Saturday at the British Open on 14 where I hit that 3-wood. I told Stevie , "that crane." It was Saturday, the pin was back left over the corner, and I hit it just on the top of the ridge, and that was -- I'm telling you, that was as good a swing as I can make right there. The wind is coming off the left and just held it perfectly; so it was absolutely dead straight. Never left the crane, planted right on the base of the crane, and made my little smart remark to Stevie.
Q. You've dominated last year and then have backed it up this year with a high level of play. How satisfying is it to you that you've been able to even raise your level after what you did last year, and how important is it to you to be not only a winning player, but a dominant player?
TIGER WOODS: Just like anybody that plays golf, I always felt I could get a little bit better and improve. I'm going to continue to work hard, continue to try and get better; and what you've seen, I'm a better player than I was last year, and hopefully it will be the same next year. And sometimes, like I said back in '98, winning isn't always a barometer of getting better. When you get to a point where you really start winning, then obviously you've done all the hard work. You just need to fine-tune it from where -- which I felt like I've done. I need to keep fine-tuning my swing. Obviously, it's going to get out of whack here and there. Putting stroke, one day you're going to have it; next day you are not going to find it. But I understand how to play the game now, how to manage myself around the golf course, and I know that will continue to get better with more experience.
Q. Do you think it will be harder for you to continue to get better?
TIGER WOODS: The better you get, obviously, the amount of improvement gets smaller. But nonetheless, it is still improvement.
Q. That wedge yesterday from 18, what degree loft, and what was the 8-iron today?
TIGER WOODS: 51.
Q. And the 8-iron today?
TIGER WOODS: How far?
Q. No, the degree of loft?
TIGER WOODS: 42.
Q. Can you talk about your confidence level, especially in the first two rounds of a tournament? Do you feel like no one can beat you? Do you feel like it is in the bag before you even start? That's almost what it is turning out to be.
TIGER WOODS: Nothing is in the bag. Only thing that's in my bag are the 14 clubs.
Q. Would it be accurate to say today's round was struggling or lethargic or anything in view of your health?
TIGER WOODS: I just felt like if I could make a lot of pars, I would be all right and I wasn't going to take any chances today, and I didn't, until the back nine where I started feeling a little bit better, and I thought the tournament was under control. I had at the time a seven-shot lead, I think; I felt like it was under control and time to go for Stevie's number, and that was about it.
Q. What about tomorrow, how are you going to cope with --?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I have to do a clinic here in the morning and head on out there. At least it will be nice and cool. (Laughter.)
Q. You reflected on the year. Could you reflect on the four-year cycle that ends today, really, since you've turned pro? Has it gone by quick for you, slow? Five majors and 23 wins, is that about where you wanted to be right now?
TIGER WOODS: Like I told my friends, I felt like I live in dog years. It feels like I've been out here a long time. I felt like I would give myself a chance to win that many majors, probably more. What I actually capitalize on is a different story. I've been very fortunate to have been able to have won that many times, but I always felt like my game was good enough to put myself in that position to win. Whether I make a mistake down the stretch or outplay someone or they give me a championship, you don't really know until you get to that point, but I always felt like my game was good enough to get myself there. Same with regular tour events. I felt like my game was good enough to put myself there; and from there, sometimes it is blind luck.
Q. Just curious, what kind of break you might take between now and the Presidents Cup, any idea?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know yet. I might play a couple more. Or I might not.
Q. How do you maintain your edge? You seem to feed off of criticism or when somebody questions your game. Right now, nobody can question that. How do you keep your drive?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, just like any golfer, I'm always trying to get better, and trying to make that little slight improvement here and there; and whether it is through technology or technique or whatever it may be. I'm just like you. I'm always going to try and get a little bit better.
Q. Could you see the flag on 18 from the fairway?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q. And what is the timetable tomorrow? Clinic at 8:00, leave here at noon, get there at 2:00?
TIGER WOODS: Clinic from 8:00 to 9:00. I'll be in the air by 10:00 and out there by about 12:30; tee up at 4:45, and then drive home to L.A..
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