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May 29, 2000

Jack Nicklaus

Tiger Woods


JACK NICKLAUS: Tiger, it's all yours.

LEE PATTERSON: Maybe just a couple thoughts about your 19th PGA TOUR victory and winning here two years in a row.

TIGER WOODS: Well, going out today, I needed to shoot a good front nine to try and increase my lead, really, and make sure these guys didn't have a chance on the back nine. I played beautifully on the front nine, shot 3-under par and had a chance on 9 to shoot 4 and missed it, six feet, pulled it, and that's what I needed to do and I was able to do it. But on the back nine, if I just kept hitting solid shots, giving my myself chances, I might sneak up one or two there. Main thing is keep it on fairways and greens and I'll be all right, and I was able to do that, except for the last hole.

Q. What club was that, Tiger?


Q. 7-iron? You hit that club how much farther than you normally hit it, or what happened exactly on that shot?

TIGER WOODS: Probably about 30 yards. The shaft laid down, which has always been my fault, and I felt a stuck shot coming and the weak right. So I let it go and unfortunately I miss-timed it and delofted it, and see ya.

Q. What was the yardage to the pin?


Q. This is a chance that you've been looking for. You made a successful defending of the title, this is going to build your confidence up to some of these other defenses you've got coming up.

TIGER WOODS: I felt pretty good about my chances last week in Germany, defending that. And I had a two-shot lead going into the last round; I hit a bad shot on 11. But I learned my lesson from last week and came out today, and said, you know what, I'm just going to go out there and hit solid shots, I guess, save my bad one for the last hole.

Q. Since this tournament a year ago, this is now your 11th win in that period of time, I think. Can you put into words, just your thoughts on what you have accomplished in the last year and your perspective on that dominance?

TIGER WOODS: That's something that I've been working towards. That's one of the reasons why I decided to change my game after the Masters in '97, even though I had played beautifully there, but I felt I was not headed in the right direction for the long haul. I keep telling everybody I was a better player in '98 than I was in '97, but people said, "How can you be a better player when you're not winning?" It doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to win every time, but I felt that my game was progressively getting better. And last year right before the Nelson, I hit a few shots on the range just the way I wanted to, finally, after about a year and a half of work and came together. And from then on, I think I've only finished out of the Top-10 twice since then.

Q. Ernie Els kind of shuddered at the thought of you continuing to get better and better. If you do continue to get better and better, what do you see in the future, considering the dominance that you've had in the last year?

TIGER WOODS: That's what you're supposed to do is continue to try and get better. Doesn't mean that you're going to get better, but I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to work on every facet of my game. I'm trying to improve, to give myself chances in each and every tournament I play in. Doesn't always mean I'm going to win each and every tournament I play in, but I want to give myself a chance. And sometimes I'll go ahead and I'll play somebody or they may give me a tournament or I just may go out there and get beat, just like I did last week.

Q. Because you've won so much, so early, and in light of your focus being in the majors, is a victory like this less satisfying than it was maybe a year or compared to the Western in '97 or something like that?

TIGER WOODS: No. Just to win a tournament out here, I know and I appreciate how difficult it is to win a PGA TOUR event, or anywhere around the world. It's not easy, especially as deep as the fields are now, the great champions that are playing tournaments. It's not easy and I appreciate every victory I get.

Q. Ernie and Justin both said that you were trying to get to 17, so that possibly they could make you even think about them. When you bogeyed 13, I think briefly it got to 4 before you came back with the birdie and Ernie bogeyed. Did you ever feel them pressuring you, did you ever feel any pressures from behind?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I saw Ernie was making a run, and I saw him get to -- at the time, I didn't see that he birdied 15, the board said he was 7-under through 14. And I made bogey on 13 and then Steve, my caddy says, "Well, time to buckle down. You know what my favorite number is, go shoot it." I said, "That's fine." His favorite number is 21, so we go try to shoot 21-under.

Q. Does any other place setup as well for your game?

TIGER WOODS: Probably Augusta.


TIGER WOODS: Pebble. (Laughter.). True. I've had some pretty low rounds at Pebble. 63 and two 64s there.

Q. If I may, you were not only spectacular all week, but you were very steady-spectacular all week, even your 1-under par 71 that you opened up with. What was the key to all this?

TIGER WOODS: I think any time you're going to go out there and play well in a tournament for four days, you're going to have to drive the ball well and this week I drove the ball beautifully. I picked the sides of the fairways I wanted to put it on and I was able to shape it to the correct side of the fairway, I was able to give myself an angle at the flag and shape it in there the way I wanted to or play it safe and make a putt. I think it came down to my driving. I was able to drive the ball not only out there, but the correct shape, put the ball on the correct side of the fairway where I wanted it. If it was too pitched on the left-hand side, I put it towards the middle. I just felt so comfortable with my driving this week, it enabled me to be more aggressive coming in to the greens.

Q. You're always interested in Jack's records. He's won this tournament twice. You've won it now twice, but you're the only guy in 25 years to win it back-to-back and I wonder your thoughts?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's pretty neat to finally defend a tournament. I've done it in amateur golf. I just haven't done it in professional golf until this week. It's just one of those things where I've given everything I have and just sometimes it just doesn't happen. But this week, I played really well. And I just felt that if I continue to play that way for the next, you know, few weeks, who knows.

Q. I wanted to clarify why Steve's favorite number is 21; does he like turning over two cards that add up to 21?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I don't think he's ever gambled. But his favorite number has always been 21.

Q. On 18 again, Tiger, before you gave everyone a significant emotional experience, did you think about the record here or did it have any influence on your game at all today?

TIGER WOODS: I knew the record was 20-under, but it was not my driving force today. Going out on the front nine, I tried to go ahead and shoot, basically 3 -, 4 -, 5-under par on the front nine and try and blow this thing wide open, so that on the back nine, the guys knew that the tournament was already over and I was able to somewhat get there. I shot 3-under, but Ernie kept making birdies and I made that bogey at 13, as I said Steve said, "Let's buckle down and let's try and shoot my favorite number," and we almost gave it a run at it.

Q. You talked about the turning point in your game at the week before the Nelson last year. How much have you improved from last year's Memorial to now and in what areas?

TIGER WOODS: A lot. Everything. Everything. My driving is better. My iron game is better, short game is better, putting is better. Course management is getting better each and every tournament I play in, just because of experience and learning from mistakes.

Q. Leaps and bounds get better or just incrementally better?

TIGER WOODS: In some facets, leaps and bounds. Probably mentally, leaps and bounds. In strategizing and what shots I want to play in, to what pins and what chip I need to putt the ball on the fairway. What is it going to take to hit the ball, you know, that distance off the tee with that shape, with that wind, just understanding the game a little bit better.

Q. How much of your practice time this week was spent working on shots that you'll need at the U.S. Open?

TIGER WOODS: Zero. We're just working on the same swing faults I've had for the past, I don't know how long, ever.

Q. As sharp as you seem to be this week, I was just curious if in some ways you almost wish the Open were next week or do you feel like there's stuff you still need to work on the following two weeks?

TIGER WOODS: There is some stuff I need to work on. Right now, I want to continue to get better with my driving. Still want to continue to shallow out my arc at impact and make sure I'm going down the line properly. A couple times this week, I wasn't able to do that. One of my tendencies is obviously to lay the shaft down, put the shoulder on it and either I flame it out to the right, or a pull and I was able to save it a lot of times. For instance on Friday when I shot 63, a lot of those shots I hit were great timing shots. The shaft laid down and put the shoulder on it, played with my hands and I just got the ball around. But I putted beautifully, and it didn't reflect the way I felt. And I know I have some things I need to work on, and two weeks is going to be good.

Q. Of the four rounds this week, they were all very different, is there one that stands out, looking back, like you're more proud of?

TIGER WOODS: Probably the first round.

Q. In the wind?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. The wind was blowing hard. The scores obviously aren't very low and it's a day that you could shoot yourself right out of the tournament, and I was able to just hang in there and keep myself in the tournament.

Q. When was the last time you felt you put together four really good rounds?

TIGER WOODS: Four really good rounds? Put 3 1/2 together at Augusta. Four solid rounds -- I played well at Firestone last year. Those were four pretty good rounds there.

LEE PATTERSON: Why don't you go over the birdies and two bogeys for us.

TIGER WOODS: Birdies, I birdied 3. I hit 3-iron off the tee, a pitching wedge to about six feet and made that. Birdied 6. Hit a driver off the tee and a 9-iron to about four feet; made that. And on number 8, I hit a 9-iron to about six feet and made that. Bogeyed 13, hit a driver off the tee and an 8-iron in the left bunker, blasted out to about 12 feet and missed it. And 14, I hit a 3-iron off the tee, a pitching wedge to about 12 feet right behind the hole and made that.

Q. Jack, if there is one area of Tiger's game that really strikes you, what would that be? Can you boil it down to one area?

JACK NICKLAUS: Pretty hard to boil it down to one area. I think the biggest change that I've seen in his game from last year to this year is his distance control. He and I have had a couple of conversations about that, and I think that he's had a tendency to -- well, he occasionally loses maybe one shot a tournament. But for the most part, last year here, he had quite a few shots were long or errant, but he salvaged those and I didn't see any of that this week. The only shot was at 18 and I think that's very understandable in that situation. Most every shot that I kept seeing is the right distance, and I think -- to me that's the key of playing golf is being able to hit the shot that you want to hit and know how far you're going to hit it. I mean, it's nice to be able to hit that shot, but not knowing whether you might hit it 210 or 230 or whatever. You want to hit it the right distance, and I think he has been able to do that more in the last year than ever before in his life.

TIGER WOODS: I agree with that.

Q. Is that the principle factor behind the changes? Is that the one goal you wanted with your swing changes was to be able to control everything?

TIGER WOODS: Golf is a game of control. You always want to play the right shot at the right time and know exactly what it's going to do. You don't want to have any surprises out there. And the way I used to play, that's exactly what would happen. I would hit a good swing and see the ball take off, and, you know, where is it going? Right now, I know a good swing exactly what number it's going to fly. If it's 132 I'm going to fly it 132. I'm not going to fly it 135. I'm not going to fly it 130. It's going to be 132.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think the other thing that nobody else has in the game today is a lot of the guys that hit the ball long -- nobody hits the ball quite as far as he does, but nobody hitting the ball long can stand there with a driver and say, "I'm going to hit the ball 205 yards and shape it the way I want to shape it and put it in the side of the fairway." He is the only guy that can do that. And when you have the ability to just outdistance your opponents by 30 for 40 yards and know exactly what you're doing and where it's going to go, you just -- you're playing for second every week unless you play poorly, unless he doesn't play well.

Q. Jack, 20 years ago, can you talk about some similarities or dissimilarities in your game compared with Tiger's today?

JACK NICKLAUS: 30 years ago, maybe. (Laughter.) I think that the game today is a little bit more precise than when I was in my prime. I don't think that we had the golf balls or the equipment to be able to be as precise as he can be today with distance control and the shaping of the shots. I think it's -- the equipment is so good that I think you can do these things which I don't think we can do. As it relates -- I always felt the same thing, if I was hitting the ball the way it wanted to hit it, I always felt like everybody else -- I may screw up, but I always felt like everybody else was going to play for second. And I think he feels the same way. When he's doing what he wants to do, he knows and he believes in his own mind, as I did, that I -- that we were going to win. Now, we didn't always win, obviously and you're going to get beat a lot of times. Somebody played better, but you feel that way, and you have to feel that way. I see a lot of similarities. He hits the ball farther than I did, but I think equipment has something to do with that, too. But it's not that much, though. I think he manages his game well. I managed my game well. I think he can play right-to-left or left-to-right. He probably plays better right-to-left than I did -- I played most of mine left-to-right. He's got far better short game than I ever had. His short game is phenomenal. I mean, he's just got every shot around the green, and, you know, I've never had that. As it relates to being a putter, he's a terrific putter, but I think I was a good putter, too. That's as close as I probably could come on that analysis.

Q. If you go back to '98 to the changes you were making in the game and not winning during that time, you're 22 years old at that point, it's not always easy for a guy that age to be patient especially when you had previous success. Can you talk about the ability to be patient in that time and know that you were going to get to a point that you are now?

TIGER WOODS: Well, to be honest with you, it really wasn't as difficult as you might think, just because I knew that my swing wasn't -- I obviously wasn't as good as I wanted/ so I wanted to make some changes. And I knew I was heading in the right direction. I was getting consistency. I was having more Top-10 finishes. I was giving myself more chances to win on the back 9 on Sunday. I just wasn't converting those chances. It was just a matter of time before I would start doing that. And it took me until '99, the middle of '99 to start doing that. But the process -- I could feel the confidence building as I was going along, because the swing was getting better. My putting stroke was getting better. Every facet of my game was coming around to where I wanted it, and it was just a matter of time before it would come together. And it finally came together in '99 and I've had it ever since.

Q. Are you anxious now? You played well in Germany you played well here, now you're going to take two weeks off, even though you're going to work on your game a little. Aren't you anxious about going to Pebble Beach? Wouldn't you rather have it sooner?

TIGER WOODS: Not at all, because I know I have a few things I need to work on, as I described earlier, that I need to continue to work on. My irons, continue to work on my short game, my driving ability; be able to feed those putts at Pebble, because the greens are going to be fast and hard, and you're going to have some pretty tricky putts. Got to be the right speed and right line. Obviously, I have some things I need to work on. When I go there I'll be primed and ready to go.

Q. The other guys who have been long hitters over the year, Davis Love, John Daly, they have always had a problem earlier in their careers, people like to see the long ball, they get egged on. Do you ever kind of fall in love with your long ball at any time, say, after the Masters or any time?

TIGER WOODS: I never -- to be honest with you, I never really liked hitting -- my dad's always been a big believer of hitting the ball in the fairway. We used to have on the 18th hole every time we played at our home course, a long drive, and I'd hit it in the first cut of rough. He says, "I win." He'd hit his little 230 down the middle and get me every time. I would hit the ball in the rough. I said, "I've got the longest drive". "No, you don't. You've got to be the fairway." That's what he always believed in and what he always stressed on. I've always been a big believer of getting the ball in play and keeping it in play, whatever it takes. Because sometimes I've -- I've hit 4-irons off of tees and just need to get it in play. Other times, I'll be able to whip out driver and put it right down the middle. But I've always been a big believer of just keeping the ball in the fairway and from there if you're in the fairway, you can do what you want, but it's hard to do what you want from the rough and under the trees.

Q. You didn't birdie a par 5 today; I don't think you went for one, did you?

TIGER WOODS: I went for 7.

Q. You went for 7?


Q. Was that sort of by design, take the risk out of the hole and just get your chances and wedge it up close?

TIGER WOODS: As soft as the golf course was playing, it really made no sense to go for it, especially off the tees. On 5 today it's normally a 3-wood, and if I can slide it, I can give myself a chance. And I said no, just put a smooth one down the middle, lay up and wedge it on there from about 15, 20 feet and try and make that and move on. 7, I felt was probably going to be my best chance, 7 and 15, if I drove the ball in the fairway. So 7, I drove the ball in the fairway and hit a bad iron up there, bad lie around the green and just didn't hit a good shot. 15, hit a tee shot there and wasn't able to go for it. On 11, it made no sense; it's too narrow. Ended up hitting a wedge shot in there about four feet, and just jerked the putt, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate it.

End of FastScripts…

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