August 29, 1999
LEE PATTERSON: All right. Congratulations. Very, very good job today. Maybe just a couple comments, and we'll open it up for questions.
TIGER WOODS: Well it, was a very blustery day. The wind was blowing quite a bit today. Phil played a wonderful round of golf. I felt if I went out and made no mistakes, no bogeys I would have a pretty good chance of winning. Obviously, that wasn't the case. I made my share of mistakes. Made some saves on the front nine, but not the same on the back nine. Excluding the flub on the wedge shot, but made my 5 and got in the clubhouse.
Q. Seems like it's a good weekend for Stanford Cardinals. 2-stroke lead at the turn --
TIGER WOODS: I hope he wins. I wasn't able to get ahold of him last night, but I really hope he wins. It would be nice for him because of all the things he's gone through his entire life, just trying to play golf. And it wasn't easy for him. And to go to Stanford from where he came from is kind of a miracle on itself. And it's great to see that he's playing as well as he is.
Q. Tiger, what is it about you and 17th holes? It happened at Medinah and then here; two putts?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think it's recently. Even my U.S. Amateurs, my first U.S. Amateur, my third U.S. Amateur, I made pretty good putts. There's something about having to make one on 17. I stay focused. That doesn't change. It's just that the ball seems to go in. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about it.
Q. Can you talk about a couple of the saves on the front nine, specifically 8 and 9?
TIGER WOODS: 8, I had a little 6-iron to the green, and I pulled it. It was a right club. I just hit it a little left. The chip shot didn't come out as hot as I thought it would. The lie looked a little warm, and it came out pretty soft, which left me about a 6-footer right up the middle. And I buried that in the middle of the hole. 9, I hit it in the fairway. Wrong fairway, but it was a fairway. I don't know if you can count that in a stat book, but it's a fairway in my stat book. I hit a good 6-iron. I caught a gust of wind. You could feel the wind kick the ball, and see it, it looked like it hit a wall in the air. And I knew it wasn't going to get there. I thought it might get to the front, but that wasn't the case. Played a nice little sand wedge up the hill, and made about a 4-footer there from right-to-left.
Q. Tiger, can you compare the atmosphere on the back nine today to Medinah; the differences, and the similarities?
TIGER WOODS: There was probably no similarities at all. These fans were wonderful. They were courteous to not only myself, but Freddie. You could see that Freddie wasn't playing that well, and they tried to lift his spirits. The fans were extremely golf knowledgeable. They knew what good shot was a good shot. It's nice to play in that environment.
Q. Talk about what it was like for you to play in terms of the pressures of this back nine versus that back nine?
TIGER WOODS: There's no comparison. A major championship is just a different type of animal than any other tournament.
Q. Not to suggest that you make winning look easy, but you've won now five times in your last 8 tournaments. Could you talk about the frame of mind you have coming into every tournament?
TIGER WOODS: It's the same. Same as it has been, since I've always teed up to try to win it.
Q. But you're on quite a roll now.
TIGER WOODS: I'm playing well, but I just think, as I kept thinking this week, it's a culmination of a lot of hard work. I kept saying to all of you last year, my game was better in '97. But how could it be; you're winning. This year, I'm starting to reap the dividends of a better game.
Q. Earlier this year, talking about David, when you're reaching a stage when you're playing so well and you can look around on the first tee and say: Who is going to finish second? Do you feel like that?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't have the same outlook. I never had that outlook. I've always been very confident in my abilities, but not to the point where I'm going to say something like that, because there's so many holes to be played. There's 72 holes, and anything can happen. I need to go out there and take care of business.
Q. Through the years, the great ones have always said it's very, very difficult to play with a big lead. And I wonder if you find this to be true in the pro ranks. And secondly, is it a confidence-builder when things get shaky or close and you're able to bring it back for next time?
TIGER WOODS: I can tell you one thing, I am not against playing with a big lead. I love it. Which means -- what it means is, if I go out there and I make a couple mistakes, I have a cushion to fall back on. If I was tied and I make a couple mistakes, all of the sudden I'm trailing and might not have a chance to catch up. When you play with a big leads, it's nice because you have a cushion. You're not always going to play well. Today was an example of that. I came out with a wonderful round yesterday, and it's always the hardest thing is to come out the next day and play a good round of golf and shoot a low number again. The conditions as tough as they are. I knew if I finished with no bogeys on the score card I probably would win, if not have a good chance of winning. If it gets close like this, yeah, it does give you a sense of satisfaction and confidence to hold off a quality of player as Phil was today, and Sergio at the PGA and Vijay at Memorial. I've beaten some pretty good players this year, and I've been lucky enough to hold them off. They are some talented individuals. I have just been fortunate to come out on top.
Q. Last year I asked you about your application of power, and you stated that you didn't use all of your power. Has it changed any?
TIGER WOODS: It has. It has. I have reduced my power. I don't hit the ball anywhere as far as I did last year.
Q. Your romantic interests, has that changed?
TIGER WOODS: That has changed, yes.
TIGER WOODS: Yes, sir.
Q. When you go home and you look at this last round today, do you concentrate less on sort of the style and more on the result? Or do you just say, "Okay, I found a way to get it done," and not pay too much attention?
TIGER WOODS: I look at some of my mistakes. Obviously, the swing on 9 and a couple other ones. But more importantly, the fact that I won, and to do it with the game that I didn't have yesterday, I feel pretty good about that. And to make a putt like I did on 17, when I look back at my back nine, I really didn't make anything. To step up and bury that one, it sure feels pretty good.
Q. You talked about how you enjoy playing with a nice cushion. What went through your psyche when that cushion evaporated and you saw Phil Mickelson charging?
TIGER WOODS: When I saw him making a good start, I believe he was 5-under through 7, and at the time, I think I was 2-under on my own card. I felt -- he was at 9 and I was at 13. I still had a four-shot lead. As well as he was playing, I only lost one shot. And that's what I tried to focus on. I knew that Phil was probably going to make a few more birdies. As well as he got off to a good start, I figured he would probably make three or four more. That means I would probably have to make one or two more with no bogeys. I made one more birdie and got to 14 and felt that it would be difficult for him to catch me, but that wasn't the case. I made my share of mistakes. But I also knew that the wind was very difficult out there. It was swirly, it was gusting, and it was hard to hit the ball the correct number. And it, because of that, it was going to be very difficult to make birdies.
Q. How big is not birdieing 16 after making the bogeys at 15 -- 14 and 15?
TIGER WOODS: No big deal. I still had a 1-shot lead. If I fired at the pin, and hit it pin high and juiced it, it would be right back to the hole. And that's not what I wanted to do. I played it safe; take my 2-putt. If I made it, great. I feel confident in my abilities to go down 17 and 18 and hit two good drives or for two pars. That's what I was trying to do.
Q. When you had the trouble on 14 now, you have no way of knowing that he's in trouble on 18.
TIGER WOODS: I do know, yes.
Q. How did you know?
TIGER WOODS: Faherty.
Q. I realize your bank account is doing okay right now, but does $1 million mean anything to you?
TIGER WOODS: It means that I'm a million richer, and that feels pretty good.
Q. Tiger, after the 11th, you seemed to -- you seemed all day to have things in control. But after the 11th, you seemed to get a little frustrated with yourself.
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't frustrated. I was -- it was tough to hit golf shots. It was pretty windy out there. I hit a good shot on 12. I hit a wonderful drive on 13 that just didn't slide. The wind was holding it. I made a great save there. And hit a perfect drive down 14. And I probably hit it too close, because it was 76 yards of going straight downwind on a downslope; and trying to spin that ball on a firm green; that wasn't easy. If I had took the safe way and let it skip past and putt back up the hole -- it didn't happen; I made bogey. I hit a good shot on 15. It just went too far. I was playing to play short of the hole -- about 20 feet short for an uphill putt and move on. I flushed it. It went right; flew in the wind. Even though I made two bogeys right there, I didn't hit bad shots. I may have hit bad putts, but the shots leading up to the greens -- well, I didn't hit bad shots, so there's no sense in panicking. Continue playing your own game. You're going to continue to hit good shots if you concentrate and stay with your game plan. And that's what I did coming in.
Q. Tiger, I think we can all pretty much assume that we think that your game is fairly complete right now, but you may not. What do you develop next, and where do you see the development of your game going next?
TIGER WOODS: I think I can still get a little better with my swing plane. It is not as round as I would like to have it. But again, my club face is a lot better at the top than it used to be. My downswing is still -- unfortunately my fault, still drop the club down and lay the shaft down, which means that I have to use my hands on the way through the ball. I can always get better on a couple things. But overall, I'm very pleased with the work that Butch and I have done. We have taken out the -- some of the big, bad shots that I used to hit. I control my trajectory much better in the wind. That was evident at the British Open and at the Western and this week: Keeping the ball down and controlling. That's the product of a lot of hard work, but it can still get better.
Q. How long was the putt at 18, the lag putt; and what exactly were you thinking when you hit that?
TIGER WOODS: When I hit the pitch shot, I knew that it didn't come off the way I wanted it to. I decelerated through the ball. And on top of that, I raked my hands through it, which added even more softness to it. I wasn't trying to do that. I was trying to bow it down to release, but it didn't happen.
Q. How far was the putt?
TIGER WOODS: The putt was about 50 feet. All I wanted to do was just 2-putt. The beauty of it is that I hit that putt last year in the tournament, and I knew exactly how it broke. I remember the putt, and I remember exactly where I started the putt. I started at about three cups outside the left, and fed it down there. I ran it past the hole about four feet, and I told myself: This time, obviously, don't run it past the hole four feet. It's a little quicker coming down the hill than it looks. It's pretty shiny, and I remember that from last year. And I went ahead and trusted my stroke and put it out there pretty close. No. 1, I hit a 2-iron off the tee. A pitching wedge from 146 to about 3 feet, and made that. 5, I hit a 6-iron from 207 pin-high; left about 18 feet and made that. 7, I hit a 4-iron pin-high, left of the hole about 40 feet coming over the ridge. Hit it short about 10 feet. It wasn't a very good putt. Pulled that next one. 3-putt bogey. 14, I hit a driver off the tee; 60-degree sand wedge from 76 yards. Hit it long. Chipped down there just past the hole about three feet, and missed it. And 15, I hit a 4-iron off the tee. A chip shot from the left rough -- the first cut of rough. And had about an 8-footer there and missed it. On 17, I hit a driver off the tee, a 60-degree sand wedge past the hole on the fringe. Had about a 15-footer straight down the hill, and started the ball just outside to the left and it went in.
Q. About your putting you made some great par saving putts, but you had a lot of pressure on your putter. Come to 17, you know you need it. Do you and Steve have a little talk or did you have a little talk with yourself, forget about all this, let's go?
TIGER WOODS: He said: Just keep doing what you've been doing. Trust your stroke. That's great advice, but I needed to bury this one. I know that when I pull putts like I was today, my tendency is to not let the blade release, to kind of hold on it. If you hold on it, the toe comes over pretty quick and starts the ball over left with a little hook spin. So I said this time: Make sure you go up there, stay committed your line, keep nice and steady but this time I'm releasing the blade. I don't care what happens, I'm releasing the blade. I released it in my right hand and it went in.
Q. What did you have for yardage on 17, the second shot?
TIGER WOODS: Second shot? I don't know what I had to the hole but I had 75 to the bunker. That's all I was concerned about was getting to 80 feet there.
Q. Can you talk about 18?
TIGER WOODS: The problem with hitting driver is there's fir trees over the bunker. I figured today, I had a two-shot lead; bogey wins. Put it down there in play. If I hit 3-wood off the tee, if I flame it out to the right, I can put the ball in the bunker; that's not where I want to be. I figured if I can hit a 2-iron off the tee, if I do flame it out to the right, I'll be short of the bunkers, which I did. And then I laid up a 7-iron out there, no big deal. I figure if I can hit a hill pitch-and-run up over the hill, 2-putt and move on. Wasn't the case.
Q. How close was that to going in the bunker?
TIGER WOODS: I was a good 20 yards short.
Q. The third short?
TIGER WOODS: It carried by, I think, two yards, two or three yards. It was okay getting over. But definitely wasn't the shot I wanted.
Q. Tiger, you said you don't use all of your power anymore. Is that a constant battle to keep that in check? Do you want to give it a rip now and again?
TIGER WOODS: I do that for fun. I know if I hit it as hard as I use to hit it, I don't have the control. If you look back over my career I didn't have the control. A product of that is my grip isn't as strong. I'm not delofting the club through impact, and because of that I can't hit the hot squirter I used to hit. Occasionally, I can lift a ball that was -- would probably go further with a fade than it would with a draw, because the blade was shutting down a little bit. I can't do that anymore.
Q. How much of the success you've had this year has to do with being more comfortable, your swing, being out here and your life, of what's going on in your life or whatever?
TIGER WOODS: All of the above. I think it's having good swing mechanics makes you more at ease. Knowing you're not stepping up over every tee shot going: I don't know which way this ball is going to go. A couple times last year, I didn't know where my messes were going to be. This year, I know where I'm going to miss it. Predominately, it tails a little right, and I can aim for that. Occasionally, I let it go too much but I know what I'm doing. Last year I was still in the change of my game, and it wasn't that easy to step over there and know that I'm going to miss it in a certain spot. I had a two-way miss. Now, I have a one-way miss. A big difference.
Q. Tiger, how much fun is winning now for you?
TIGER WOODS: Winning never gets old. That's the greatest cliche ever, and it is true. It feels good. Not only when you can win, but when you can beat the best players. This week, we had some of the best players assembled. I believe at the PGA they were telling me that we are the best field ever assembled, and to come out on top of that, it gives you even more satisfaction to beat the best. It's nice to win, but it's -- it feels a little bit better when you can actually say that you beat the best.
Q. Everybody likes the money, but beating the guys to you means more?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. The money is a by-product of beating the guys out there on TOUR. If you go out there and you accomplish your goals, which is winning, if you win, the money will come. But I take more satisfaction out of going out there and beating the best players in the game, and I know that the money will come but from an emotional standpoint, there's no greater feeling.
Q. With five wins in 8 starts, do you feel invincible at all?
TIGER WOODS: No. Not at all. Sorry. (Laughter.)
Q. Do you feel that being as hyped as you were coming in to the pro TOUR helped you or was it a hindrance to you to get to this point where you are now? In other words, was the pressure as big then as it is now because you're now the dominant player on the TOUR?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's -- I believe the pressure is less now. Reason being is probably because I've been through it before. I've been through when my game wasn't -- I knew my game wasn't as solid as it is now and on top of that, I had a lot of hype on top of that. The fans wanted to see me play and the media built me up a little bit. And on top of that, I won some tournaments, and I won a major by 12 shots, and that tends to make people think that you can keep winning a lot and winning bunches. I wasn't able to that because my game wasn't as solid as it needed to be. I made a few changes, and I think because I went through all that, the pressure that I feel now is probably not even close to being what it was. And in '97, I guess the so-called Tiger Mania was at it's crescendo probably at Dallas in '97. I don't think it will ever be as high as that because people have seen me around now. They have gotten to know me. I'm not as fresh as I was when I first came out. No one really knew who I was or what to expect and they are doing the same thing with Sergio right now. But a few years from now, that won't be the case. It will be somebody else and that's just the way it is.
Q. From a Ryder Cup viewpoint, can the American team take satisfaction that you've routed the Europeans?
TIGER WOODS: No. This is a stroke-play event. And quite honestly, we really don't care how we did against the Europeans or Internationals. This was an individual event. The guys aren't going to look and say where did I go wrong individually. It's not a team format this week. If it was a team format I guess we could throw all the money in together and divvy it up, but that's not the case. (Laughter.)
Q. Where did Firestone rank on your list of places that you wanted to win?
TIGER WOODS: I think this is one of the greatest golf courses we play. I was talking to some of the guys this week, and I'm surprised that the USGA doesn't come here for the U.S. Open. I know they have had PGA Championships, but this is a perfect U.S. Open course. Automatic par 70. They love to convert everything to par 70 anyways. (Laughter). This is a natural par 70. They might play 16 as a par 4 from the front tee. That's about it. But I believe that this would be a wonderful golf course, and to have a big championship like that, I think it would be great for the people of Akron, but for the golf of Ohio, the PGA championship has gone to Inverness in Ohio. I don't know why USGA event doesn't come here, because I think this is a wonderful setup. The golf course is -- I guess what's been labeled as "boring" because it's just straightaway long par 4s all day and it's not boring. We love coming here because we get to use our driver. It's the club we don't get to use very often on TOUR and this week, it's all day. Just bust it; hit it out there. But if they did have an U.S. Open here, hypothetically, then I'd be concerned about the slope on the fairways and speed of them, because we faced that at Olympic. The fairways were pitched almost about the same and good shots down the middle of the fairway probably won't stay in the fairway. On 8 and 9 won't stay in the fairway. If it was in the middle of fairway, it would probably roll off into the rough. That's my own concern if a championship like that does come here.
Q. Do you have a sense of the history here, a course where Nicklaus and Palmer, it helped to launch their careers? Does that mean something that you've won here, too?
TIGER WOODS: If you look back at the history of the winners who have played here and won, it's a pretty good list. If you look back at it, all of them are wonderful ball-strikers. And to come out on top like I have; and recently you look at the past champions, Norman and Phil and David, it just goes on and on and on. All of them are wonderful ball-strikers. I'm very humbled to add my name to that list, because it is a pretty frightening list if you look at it. The champions who have won here, how distinguished their careers have been.
LEE PATTERSON: Congratulations, and thank you.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks, Lee.
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