February 23, 1999
LEE PATTERSON: Impressions of the week so far.
TIGER WOODS: As of right now, I am pretty excited about playing Nick tomorrow. I am coming off couple of good weeks here. I have been playing a little bit better, and I am obviously been scoring a little bit better. It feels pretty good. My game is definitely rounding into shape. I am real excited about playing Match Play again. I haven't played it since The Presidents Cup, and something I have always looked forward to and just the thrill of playing it one-on-one.
LEE PATTERSON: Questions?
Q. How much Match Play did you play as a kid?
TIGER WOODS: I played the Canada Cup. I guess when you have a few dollars here and there, bet, Nassau that kind of Match Play, but nothing organized, no, besides the U.S. Junior.
Q. Why do you love it so much?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it is a chance where you get to put your skills up against one person of head-to-head. Most sports that's the way it works, one team against another. This sport it is one person against the rest of the 155 players; so it is unusual for us to play one-on-one. And basketball, you can single out one-on-one, have a little duel, and in this sport for some reason we don't ever get that chance very often, unless it is somewhere on the back 9.
Q. Do you think you are better at Match Play than stroke-play?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
TIGER WOODS: I don't know why. But my track record is pretty good. But I have always enjoyed playing one-on-one. I have always enjoyed having a chance to when a tournament comes down to a one-on-one situation. I love the feeling of that. I just like -- I got a chance to play against Billy Ray Brown down the stretch in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. That was a great thrill. Obviously, I got lucky and came out on top.
Q. Your thoughts about playing Faldo?
TIGER WOODS: I am looking forward to it. I haven't played I don't think I have played with Nick since The Masters of 1997. We played together the first round, that is it. I take that back. I played with him, but he had Westwood as his partner in the Ryder Cup at Valderama later that year.
Q. Can you describe what happens to you when you get pumped up like that one-on-one, or for example, that situation against Steve Scott in the Amateur, do you notice things that change in your body? Do you get an adrenaline rush?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you do. You do get a rush. I think more than everything it is the momentum changes that happen in Match Play. You may hit a bad driver out of the hole; looks like hit a great miraculous recovery shot; the guy hits a bad shot; now you are in the driver's seat, and the guy holes out from a bunker or chips it in; now he is in the driver's seat. Just the ebb and flow of Match Play. The strategy and the strategic planning that goes into each and every hole and shot will change as the match goes on. If you get up, obviously your game plan changes if you get down, it changes. If it is head-to-head or even with a couple of holes to go, you might change a few things here and there. You don't get a chance to do that in stroke-play.
Q. Would this be a better matchup a couple years ago, or is he still dangerous in Match Play situation?
TIGER WOODS: He is still is dangerous no matter what. He is a true champion. Nick Faldo is definitely a true champion. Won six major titles. Led the Order of Merit a number of times. Won titles all around the world. Even if he is not up to his normal form, he is still a dangerous opponent no matter what.
Q. In tennis, a guy, say, a Sampras who is No. 1 seed basically played his way up by knocking off other people. This is so different. I mean, basically the top 25, 30, 40 guys can beat anybody here. So is that in being No. 1 seed much more difficult and more precarious position than at a tennis tournament?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. The No. 1 seed, or basically any seed here, is kind of thrown out the door because the top 64 players are capable of beating each other on any given day. And with that in mind, I don't think No. 1 seed really has distinct advantage over a 64-seed. Or 2-over 63. You can be one of those guys who are about 75, or even 80, on the list, but all of a sudden got hot. Now you're ranked up there, say 60 or so, and you actually playing a guy playing better than the guy who is ranked in the Top-10. You are obviously at a higher form. And so it is hard to say, and I think that people who think that the top guys have -- the top-seeded guys have a more of an advantage than the guys who are just got in the tournament, I think that is false.
Q. Growing up with your father, did you guys play Match Play?
TIGER WOODS: My dad and I never really played Match Play. We played Nassaus, that is about it.
Q. Will you and any of the other players ever consider this a fifth major?
TIGER WOODS: No way. No.
Q. Why not?
TIGER WOODS: No, because there is four majors. That is it. Granted, the money is very high. The top 64 players -- 64 out of the 65 top players are here. I don't see it being a fifth major. If anything, I'd have to say the Players Championship would be the fifth major.
Q. Nick Price was saying the other day whoever wins will have the five greatest (inaudible). Could you describe what type of satisfaction for winning this would be. And realizing how many head-to-head match-ups of great players you would have gone through to get it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is going to be nice if I can come out on top and look back and see the names I have beaten, because being in this tournament alone, you are going to have to play some good players, no matter what. And you are going to have to play at your best in order to win this tournament. You can't just go out there and slop it around and win. You have got to be firing all cylinders each and every match, and even then you get beat.
Q. Wouldn't this be more, I don't know, satisfying to win this, as opposed to a PLAYER'S Championship where you have had to go up against Faldo then Watson and Couples, et cetera, instead of just shooting the lowest score that day?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is a different type of satisfaction. Playing a stroke-play event, such as, say, PLAYERS Championship or even one of the majors, granted, you have won it, but it is a different kind of satisfaction. You figure that you have grounded out, hung in there, didn't make a whole lot of mistakes, and you were able to take advantage of some opportunities and win down the stretch. Here you have got to go out and you have got to be hitting on all cylinders firing on number one. It is a different type of format where pars here are just aren't going to get it done. You are going to have to make a lot of birdies, especially on the conditions right now. The golf course is fast. Greens are perfect out there. Granted, they are a little got some poa annua in them, but still they are pretty smooth. You have got to make a lot of birdies. Look at the winning score here every year for Mercedes Championship, it has always been pretty low.
Q. Would you discuss your match with Greg Norman - which was really a wonderful match - how that might help you, two top-notch golfers going at it in Australia, not necessarily carry-over, but just sort of the excitement and getting you into match play for this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Just having the chance to be able to play against Greg Norman was a thrill of a lifetime. To come out on top was even better. But the match that we played that is something I have always wanted to play, against him down the stretch in a tournament. We have never been paired together in a tournament and in a professional event. This was the first time I have got a chance to play against him, and then to beat him gave me a lot of confidence knowing that even though he has come off his recent shoulder surgery and wasn't at his top form, but he played pretty good in that match. He made 5 straight birdies and still hit some pretty good shots, and played well making a birdie on 17 to force it to the last hole. That is a true champion. And to beat a true champion like that, definitely gave me a lot of confidence.
Q. Does the way the course is playing change what you try to do, or if it takes birdies, does that go out the window and attempt to go low?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on what your opponent is doing. If he is making a lot of birdies. Then you have got to keep up. Hopefully he won't make too many, and you can keep halving them on some of holes because eventually you are going to get on your run and hopefully you can either tie him or halve him. But if your opponent is struggling, doesn't seem to be making a whole lot of good swings, making bogeys, careless shots, then it would be wise to put the ball on the green, putting heat on him knowing that your ball is 15, 20 feet every hole, you know you are going to make two, three, four of those a round, and that is the difference situation. So it all depends on the situation of the match and how it stands and how each other is playing.
Q. How much does the venue of a golf tournament have to do with getting you excited? Forget the tournament itself, how much does the golf course pump you up?
TIGER WOODS: The golf course does get you a little more excited than -- but then again, looking at the quality of field here, too, even though this is not up to the caliber of the majors that we play, but still the quality of field that gets you excited. That is all you need right there. Knowing that you have got to go head-to-head, like tomorrow, with Nick Faldo, that gets me pretty fired up than if I am playing on a muni somewhere. Doesn't matter what the golf course I am playing at. I will be excited.
Q. You have played 5 tournaments. Any fatigue factor playing into this?
TIGER WOODS: No, I am in pretty good shape. I have been lifting and been working out and staying in pretty good shape. Probably best shape of my life physically. As well as cardiovascularly.
Q. Do you think a tournament of this magnitude could become a major in the future be?
TIGER WOODS: No. I don't see that happening, no, because golf is all about tradition and it is very difficult to incorporate a new event into what has been there for quite sometime. I don't see that happening. Definitely not in my lifetime. It would be neat if it did happen, but golf is all about traditionalists, and traditionalists don't want to ever see another major added. Then you can't compare yourself versus a Gene Sarazen versus a guy like say in 2050. You can't relate and you can't compare.
Q. Would you like to play more (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: I think that with the incorporation of these new World Golf events, you are going to see I think that golf is going to take off, and it is nice for players such as myself who play mainly in the States. I do go abroad, but not that often. To be able to see the guys that -- who are friends of mine, but also I get to play against these players. I only get to see them probably four, five times a year. That is it. I don't get a chance to basically compete against them. It is nice to compete against the best players more often throughout the year, and I think by bringing all the Tours together for these events, it can only help golf and it is going to help its spreading and grow.
Q. Having had success on this course in the traditional stroke-play, does that change your strategy in any way?
TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't. As I said. You have got to play your opponent as well as the golf course, and just got to go out there and see what your guy is doing; how do you feel. If you are feeling on, go ahead and fire at the pins. If you don't feel quite on, then you have got to take a little more conservative approach; and hopefully, your opponent is not going off and making a whole bunch of birdies.
Q. Why did you decide to play five weeks in a row? Have you ever played that long of a stretch before?
TIGER WOODS: I have, yeah. I played 4 a week, off; and I played 5, and I played I think it was 9 out of 10 weeks; incorporate the Amateur in there as well. But the reason why I played five is most of these tournaments are basically in my home courses. I grew up in Southern California, coming down to La Costa, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach I went to school at Stanford; so, it really doesn't -- it doesn't affect me as much. If you notice, most of the players who grew up on the West Coast are going to play more of the West Coast events and skip the Florida swing. That is just kind of part of the strategy. Guys who grew up in Florida are going to play more events in Florida, probably play every tournament in Florida versus coming out and playing a lot of tournaments here on the West Coast.
Q. Brian is caddying for you at this event
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Brian has had pretty good success with me. Brian lives down here, and it is really neat to have Brian on the bag and Brian is getting ready for medical school and be able to hopefully help get him through medical school, I think is a great thing not only for him, but for me as a friend to be able to contribute to him. I would like to see him come out more often if his work permits, if he can. Brian and I are a pretty good pair. We have never lost a tournament together. I won the southern California am. I won all U.S. Amateur qualifying. U.S. Amateur, as well as a Buick in San Diego; so, being 4 and 0, I think that is a pretty good record.
Q. The fact that you are playing Faldo, does that get you into this tournament mentally a lot quicker than if you were playing one of the more obscure guys of the 64?
TIGER WOODS: I would like to say yes, but it is going to be no. Playing no matter who it is, the fact that you are a part of the top 64 players, you can't take anyone lightly. And you have got to go out there and compete and do your best; playing against Faldo or a person that is more obscure by name, really doesn't matter because each opponent here is dangerous and you have to treat him as such.
Q. Would you say you are probably in the best physical shape of your life? What shape is your game in at the moment?
TIGER WOODS: I think it is pretty good. I played five tournaments so far, and I have had four Top 5 finishes and a win. That is not too bad, I guess. (laughs).
TIGER WOODS: It would be way too grueling, unless you want to do a two-week event like a tennis tournament, a tennis major then you can get away with doing that. Give us a day off, but it won't be good for TV and TV runs the TOUR.
Q. How many in a row will you make it, 6?
TIGER WOODS: No, I am not.
Q. You play Honda or Bay Hill?
TIGER WOODS: We will see. We will see of how I feel.
Q. You played practice round with Duval today. Are you feeling any pressure on the two of you with all the attention focused on No. 1, or what is your relationship like with David?
TIGER WOODS: David and I are great friends. We always have been. And it is neat for him to be playing so well. It has taken a lot of the media off of me and also given you guys something else to write about, which is kind of nice.
Q. A stress on your relationship?
TIGER WOODS: No, God know. It is like saying because Mark won two majors it puts stress on my relationship with Mark. No, friends come first. We will always be great friends.
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