October 28, 1998
LEE PATTERSON: All right, sir. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. Maybe a couple impressions of the course, then we'll entertain questions.
TIGER WOODS: Well, let's see. I've played two rounds so far here. And so far I found the golf course to be playing pretty quick. The fairways are running, even though they are Georgia grass, it's still dry and fast. Overall, the golf course, it's playing very difficult. A lot of rough out there. The rough is pretty deep. Being semi-dormant, every ball goes straight to the bottom. I've hit a couple wedges just trying to hack the ball out. From there, hit some sort of short-iron trying to make par there. It will be interesting to see when the tournament gets going. The greens are running pretty quick. I talked to the superintendent, it's running about 11 and a half right now. Possibly could get quicker if the wind blows. It will be very interesting this week.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
Q. Does it feel sort of like a Major championship setup?
TIGER WOODS: A little bit, yeah. The setup is similar to a Major. But, you know, I've never played a Major where we've had Bermuda grass, so that is different. We'll have it next year at the US Open. It will a great test, no doubt about it.
Q. How does it feel to be able to play a course where they haven't taken the driver out of your hand most of the holes, or would you leave the driver in the bag?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm going to hit my driver a few times out there; not as much as you might think. Even on some of the holes that are playing -- some of the par 4s, a 481, I talked to some of the guys, they're hitting 2-irons, 3-irons, 1-irons, they're all that long. The fairways are so fast, any kind of low ball will run 40, 50 yards out there. The holes are long, yes, but the fairways are running. So you won't see too many guys -- the longer hitters won't hit a lot of drivers because, for example, like on 16, it's 481, but you got bunkers to the left. It narrows down and slopes more where you're going to be landing the ball. You could kick it straight in the rough. It's actually better to just lay it up either short, or if you get it downwind, you can bust it over the top where it's flat. It will be interesting to see how some of the longer hitters are going to play the golf course because you can take advantage of a low ball and run the ball out there.
Q. Does it remind you of any other place you've played?
TIGER WOODS: Not really, huh-uh. I told Jimmy Roberts today that it looks a little bit like Congressional in a sense because some of the par 4s are so long, just the way they're shaped, because they are converted par 5s.
Q. One thing on the Bermuda, have you played anywhere where the Bermuda rough has been like this?
TIGER WOODS: I've played it where it's been higher than this, but it's been in spots. It's not consistent. This is consistent. It's cropped off at four or five inches, and it's long. It's consistent all the way around the golf course. The only time it ever gets lumpy, patchy, is when it gets around the greens. That's the last place you need it to be that way.
Q. How do you feel about the par 3, 18?
TIGER WOODS: Very interesting. Today, I played early. Playing as early as I did, I had just a little bit of wind, not as much wind as is blowing right now. I had to smoke a 2-iron. I just landed on the front edge. I can carry my 2-iron 240, 245 in the air. I'm just barely getting it there. Calc told me today he had to hit 3-wood on the hole, and he's not short.
Q. Do you like the consequences of a par 3 on what could be Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah, I like it because it's fair. Even though it's long, it's fair. There's really no water that's in play. There's bunkers, yes, but the green is pretty big. If you hit the ball pretty far off line, the grandstands, you're going to kick the ball back into play. You'll see some balls batter those stands.
Q. You were here earlier in the year for the grand opening of the executive course next door. Could you speak to the concept of what this East Lake Foundation has down?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, it's unbelievable. If you get as many people coming together over one cause, all the socioeconomic backgrounds and the diversity, all come together, put aside all their differences, and just make the community a better place to live, that's truly extraordinary. Mr. Cousins and everyone who was involved should be commended on chasing after a dream and making a dream come true.
Q. Mark O'Meara said recently that he thought, even though the victories aren't the same as last year, that you have made strides this year and played even better. How would you appraise your second season?
TIGER WOODS: I've played a lot better this year, there's no doubt about it. I'm more consistent. I've hit the ball better. Short game is a lot better than I it ever was. Overall, I'm a much better player. My finishes reflect that consistently. I believe it's 13 Top 10 finishes out of 19.
LEE PATTERSON: 13.
TIGER WOODS: That's not too bad. Last year, I was not even close to that, I was a little more erratic. I was either winning the tournament or I'd be 20th or 30th. It's nice when you're that consistent, where every week you play, you have a chance to win. That's what you really want, is to have a chance. This year, either I haven't made the birdies when I really needed to, or I haven't gotten the breaks when I needed to. I think people have just outplayed me. It's just been one of those years where I've been close, but not quite good enough.
Q. Has that in a way been a good thing in the sense that there were so many expectations on you early, now you're playing consistently, people don't have that 'Tiger has to win every week' thing?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I've just kind of gone along in the year. I guess my slump is over (laughter), press-wise.
Q. Now now. What does that mean?
TIGER WOODS: You figure it out. You know, this year has been a great year. I've played some pretty good golf. I'm very pleased at the strides I've made. Expectations obviously have diminished compared to what it was after I won the Masters last year. That's fine. That's all good. But I still get hassled just as much.
Q. Is it reflective, too, that you're leading the race for the Vardon Trophy? What does that mean to you?
TIGER WOODS: My stroke average, just goes to show you I've been consistent. Your bad rounds really aren't that bad. When you have a chance to win the Vardon Trophy, it goes to show you haven't shot yourself in the foot with some 80s, or when conditions are tough, you don't blow up and blow out of the tournament, you still hang in there. That's what I was able to do this entire year. I haven't gone as low as I did last year, but I haven't shot as high scores as I did last year.
Q. When you shot the high scores last year, I think to use your terminology, you were getting hung up.
TIGER WOODS: Stuck.
Q. Stuck. Have you fixed that? Is that a reason why you haven't --
TIGER WOODS: I've worked on my swing plane. I've shallowed out my approach into the ball. I'm using the true loft of the club. Consequently, I'm more consistent. When you're not coming into the ball as steep, not getting the shooters like I used to get, even from the rough I don't catch as many flyers as I used to, just because of my shallower approach into the ball. I've been talking to Mark about that all year. "Why don't you get flyers from the rough?" He kind of just explained to me, "If you can shallow it out at the bottom, come into it extremely shallow, you're not going to get any flyers." I've tried to adopt that. It's been pretty good. I've had to work on my swing plane in order to get there. He already has it. I've had to work pretty hard to get it there. Very pleased with what I've done.
Q. You had a pretty hectic four-week schedule, St. Andrews, London, Orlando, here. I know you had the flu. How does it feel?
TIGER WOODS: It's getting better. I still cough a lot. Not quite gone. I haven't had a chance to rest and get rid of it. Physically, I feel just as strong as I normally do, but it's just I have this nagging cough. It's an uncomfortable feeling when your playing partner needs to putt and you're over there giving one of these (coughing), tears are coming out of your eyes. Other than that, I feel great, yeah.
Q. You said the fairways were running.
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. A lot of times you guys talk about the fairways running, but sometimes you're penalized for a good shot such as Olympic, have a good drive, wound up down there in the rough. Are these fairways running better than that?
TIGER WOODS: No. The fairways here, even though they're not pitched as severe as Olympic, Olympic straight down the middle wasn't going to end up in the fairway. Here, a straight ball right down the middle will stay in the fairway. The only hole I would say it probably wouldn't would be on 16, because it's pretty severe on the right-hand side. If a ball hits in the middle, if it has any kind of kick to the right, it will run into the first cut, but it won't run into the deep stuff like it did at Olympic.
Q. Now that you've played a couple times, who do you think this course favors, if not you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's going to favor someone who is hitting their driver or driving the ball long and straight, period. If you're not driving it well, you're going to have a tough time making pars. This golf course is a golf course in which you have to put the ball in play, but the holes are so long that you've got to get it out there. You can't just hit a ball out there 240 off the tee, whereas most courses that's okay. Here, you hit a ball 240 off the tee, you still have at least 200 in. The greens are so fast and so hard right now, it's going to be hard to make pars. You've got to get the ball out there, be aggressive and try and get the ball as far down there as possible by keeping it in play.
Q. Besides yourself, who is going to play that way?
TIGER WOODS: Anybody driving the ball long and straight, period. Because from there, you can attack.
Q. Do you think this tournament is going to lose something next year? When it's over with, you go to Valderrama to settle the money list, everything else?
TIGER WOODS: Is it going to lose something? Yeah, because our season's not over. There's another week added onto it, officially. Traditionally, I've always seen, from watching TV growing up, that this was always the last tournament of the year, when it was Nabisco, I think it was.
LEE PATTERSON: Then became THE TOUR Championship.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, so I've always seen it growing up as the last event of the year. However you did at this tournament, that's it, you're done. But now it's merely a setup for the following week, where you have two big huge money tournaments in a row. We as players have never seen that before, so it will be interesting.
Q. What's the importance of winning this week for you?
TIGER WOODS: For me?
Q. Yes. Is it just another tournament?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to win, get a victory under my belt, considering I haven't won as much as I would like to this year. But it's still been a great year, whether I win or not. But I would like to still get the Vardon Trophy. That would be pretty neat. Last year, Price just edged me out.
Q. Other than that, it's just another tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Winning THE TOUR Championship, when you're in a position that I'm in, it's not quite the same as it would be for Duval or "Mark'O". It's a little different story for those guys, because they're battling for Player of the Year.
Q. The rise in prize money next year, the new World Golf Championship, either one have any impact on your schedule? Will you come in right around 19, 20 tournaments?
TIGER WOODS: Actually, I took a look at my schedule for next year recently. It kind of messes things up a little bit because some of the spots where I like to take my breaks, I really can't, because I need to get ready for the bigger World Golf tournaments. Then I still want to play the same tournaments I've played in. I need to find some kind of balance in there, get my rest as well as be ready to play a hundred percent, be ready to go for these new World Golf tournaments, as well as the Majors. It will be interesting to try to balance it out.
Q. Are you looking forward to the Presidents Cup competition this year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I am. I'm really looking forward to it. I've been to Melbourne before, played the Australian Masters there. I've never played the golf course, but I'm really looking forward to playing it, from what they've told me. To play another team event, you know, I played one Ryder Cup team, I played the Dunhill Cup, I love playing the Dunhill Cup. It will be interesting to see, playing a Presidents Cup team, because I've never played head-to-head with some of the international guys in an event like that. What I've been told, it's a lot more of a relaxed environment than it is at a Ryder Cup. I looked at one of our functions in the meeting last night. It was a two-team barbecue. We don't have that at Ryder Cup (laughter). I wish we did.
Q. Unless you're barbecuing each other?
TIGER WOODS: I don't want to say it, but just the press, the fans, the people involved in the tournament want us to go head-to-head, just bash each other's brains out. It's just meant to be fun. It's a gentlemen's game and should be played that way, in that atmosphere. From what I've been told, that's how the Presidents Cup has been conducted.
Q. Should there be a barbecue at the Ryder Cup then?
TIGER WOODS: You know what, I really do think at a Ryder Cup there should be a time when both teams can just relax together, because we don't have that chance. It's a formal environment. You've got to get up in suits or tuxes. You have to get all dressed up and go to these big old balls, galas, functions. It's not a relaxed environment. Having a poolside barbecue, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, having a good time, that's what it's all about.
Q. What is your take on how Jack is going to be as a captain?
TIGER WOODS: I think Jack will be a great captain. He's going to be intense. He's going to want to win. It will be neat to actually hear him give his little speeches in there. I've heard, when I was at Muirfield, one other time he was a captain, guys have really enjoyed playing for him.
Q. West Palm.
TIGER WOODS: West Palm, yeah.
Q. He was saying the other night, in jest partly, that he'd make a lousy captain because he doesn't see it as a great, intense match, he sees it as a goodwill event.
TIGER WOODS: It is a goodwill event.
Q. Not that he doesn't want to win.
TIGER WOODS: He does not want to lose, I'll tell you that (laughter).
Q. He made the point of saying, it would espouse some type of feeling that wouldn't heap extra pressure on you guys.
TIGER WOODS: Right. That's the way I think it should be conducted. I think that's the way he's going to be. I'm sure that he's going to get out there and he's going to be Jack, he's going to be focused.
Q. If you were in his shoes, would you have conceded that putt?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I would have.
Q. Are you steeped in the history of this place? Have you done much wandering around, looking at all the Bobby Jones paraphernalia here?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't, no. Range, clubhouse, car (laughter).
Q. About being hassled just as much. Considering that Mark O'Meara and David Duval are battling out for Player of the Year, do you think you would not be as hassled if you were in a position like yours this week? Does that disappoint you somehow, that you still have to put up with the same amount of media attention?
TIGER WOODS: That's just the way it is. Can't really help it. Just got to accept it and just deal with it. That's just part of being who I am and my responsibilities. But it's neat when kids are coming up to you and asking for autographs. It's bad when adults are running over the kids for autographs. Kids are crying. That's when it gets out of line.
Q. Is your feeling going into your first Presidents Cup anything like your feeling was going into the first Ryder Cup? Did you sense there was maybe a little more intensity surrounding the Ryder Cup? What are your thoughts about that, the feeling you have now?
TIGER WOODS: I think my feelings, if you compare the two, I know that traditionally the Ryder Cup has been a pretty historic event in golf. The Presidents Cup hasn't been, because it's new. So it's in an infancy stage. You really don't have the history behind it. Two totally different elements. You look back on the videotapes and you can see in the 1960s matches, some, J&B teams. It's great to see that, the young Ballesteros, Ollie, all those guys playing. You don't see that in the Presidents Cup because it's still new. I'm very proud to be a part of it and get this thing started, play on this team. Hopefully one of these days when I'm old and gray, I can look back and say we made it like the Ryder Cup.
Q. Do you think you'll be enthusiastic about playing at the end of the year? Looks like in the next 20 years, you'll be playing Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup every other year. Do you think at some point it's likely to be too much?
TIGER WOODS: Not if you really set your schedule right, it's not too bad. If you dog pile everything together, don't space yourself out during the entire year, because the season for us is not ten months, it's now extended to about a good 11 and a half, 12 months. Because of that, you really have to make sure you schedule some rest in there, get your practicing done, be ready to play each and every time. It's a very, very long year.
Q. What is your schedule before the Presidents Cup?
TIGER WOODS: I play the Grand Slam, from there I go to Casio in Japan, then I play Sun City, then I play the Presidents Cup.
Q. With your busy schedule, are you going to be able to work a trip in to Augusta National to see the changes there?
TIGER WOODS: You mean early spring next year?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know when the golf course opens up again.
Q. It's open now.
TIGER WOODS: Is it open now? For the remainder all the way through the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: I'm sure "Mark'O" and I will sneak up there early next year sometime.
Q. Do you normally go before the tournament ever?
TIGER WOODS: I normally don't, no. Unless I'm in that area, I'll go play it. But if I'm not in the area, no.
Q. Last year you didn't play from after you won until you got --
TIGER WOODS: I've never played Augusta prior to the tournament, except that week, the week of the tournament. That's it.
Q. May be at bit too far ahead. Your first Ryder Cup, first Presidents Cup, foreign soil. Are you kind of looking ahead to, provided you're healthy --
TIGER WOODS: I've never played a team event on our soil ever. I've played a World Cup in France, a Walker Cup in Wales, Ryder Cup in Spain, and Presidents Cup in Australia (laughter). I don't know what it's like for people to be rooting for me (laughter).
Q. I was curious, if conditions stayed like they are now, the setup stayed like it is now, what kind of score that you'd take right now that you could sit in the clubhouse with?
TIGER WOODS: From what they're saying about this cool front coming through on the weekend, wind picking up, I'd say anything under par is looking pretty good. Under par definitely has a chance to win, I believe. If we get the winds predicted, yeah.
Q. Is Atlanta distinctive in any way to you? Are the fans different here? Are there certain places you like to go here?
TIGER WOODS: I do like Atlanta. I've always had a great time when I've come here. I've obviously played well in not only Atlanta, but the state of Georgia, I've done pretty good. That is also very comforting, too, when I come back to play in this state, not just necessarily Atlanta.
Q. Was last week the first time on TOUR you didn't come in before the tournament started?
LEE PATTERSON: Yes, it was. But he did it for two years every Tuesday, right?
TIGER WOODS: Every single week, I played.
LEE PATTERSON: Two years straight, every Tuesday. But last week was the first week.
Q. Do you get a sense you've settled in as kind of a regular guy in terms of how we look at you?
TIGER WOODS: God, I hope so. I just felt it was a time in which no other player has to do this every week. Some of the best players in the word, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Westwood, "Mark'O", right down the line, they don't have to do it every single week they play, a mandatory press conference, whereas I've had to. I felt it was time. I don't always need to do that. I know all of you. If you have any questions, come up to me, I could answer, whatever. It's more relaxed and less formal than it ever has been, I think, just because I've been able to get to know everyone in here for the past two years.
Q. Mark said he's given himself a cutoff date, and he's going skiing. Have you given yourself a cutoff date and decided what you're going to do during your brief time away after 11 and a half months?
TIGER WOODS: You mean this year or next year?
Q. This year.
TIGER WOODS: This year.
Q. He's going to the mountains.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he is. He bought a new place up in Park City.
I don't know. I've got some things I need to take care of business-wise, right after I get back from the Presidents Cup. But as far as golf-wise, I'm not seeing the sticks until probably the following year. It will be nice to put them up for a good two and a half weeks, just get away from the game.
Q. What problems did the Presidents Cup, being in mid December, schedule-wise present for you? Basically everyone on the team is kind of not going to have an off-season. Probably will carry over to '99 in some way. Having a tournament you have to get ready for in mid December, how does that change your schedule?
TIGER WOODS: Well, last year I didn't have the ending -- let's see. I didn't have I guess the mid December thing last year. But in '96, I did. I played J.C. Penney, and I played Australian Open. I kept playing. If I look back into my junior golf days, Christmas was always one of the bigger tournaments of the year. I've always played then, too. It's different to look at it and say, after the Presidents Cup you have three weeks until you have to tee it up officially, start this thing up again for another 11 and a half months. I think if you can get yourself breaks during the year, you'll be all right to play for 11 or 12 months, but you need to schedule a month off, three weeks off here. You can't just play a couple weeks on, just take one week off. You need some blocks of time to get away from everything, then gear back up.
Q. Can you talk a bit about Mark's year? I know you played with him a lot. What do you see that's maybe different or has changed?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Mark has always been one of the most consistent players on our TOUR, no doubt about it, also been known as one of the best putters on our TOUR. So it's just a matter of time before he just put everything together. He's always been very consistent, always been right there. When he has a chance to win, he's always won. He's never done it in a Major, and it was just a matter of time before he was right there and he capitalized on it. You knew he was going to make some putts, he's such a great putter. Look how he won the Masters, birdie-ing three of the last four holes. At the British Open, he made everything in sight. It was just a matter of time before things started falling his way and having some breaks go his way.
Q. Does his success change your relationship with him at all?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it has. It really has. I'm asking for strokes now, whereas last year it was the other way around (laughter).
Q. Are you getting strokes?
TIGER WOODS: You know, he's not giving in. I don't know why.
Q. What happened with you and Hughes, have you hired a new permanent man?
TIGER WOODS: Permanent, No. Just a trial period now. Mark Steinberg.
TIGER WOODS: Interim deal, yeah.
Q. And Hughes, what happened there?
TIGER WOODS: Just a difference of opinion.
TIGER WOODS: Difference of opinion. You can always try, Buddy. I know you.
Q. Have you given any thought to who you might vote for for Player of the Year?
TIGER WOODS: NC, no comment.
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