March 25, 1998
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
WES SEELEY: We continue now with Tiger Woods and we will go right to questions.
Q. Tiger, after you won The Masters last year, adults and kids and the like, seemed to have expected you to help make golf more inclusive. How did you feel about those expectations? Burdened? Invigorated?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the thing is I think the overall general public became more aware of it. I have been doing this since I was thirteen years old, doing clinics and talking to kids and just trying to help them out and make the parents aware of things that have been going on in golf and trying to change these things. That was nothing knew to me. I have been doing the same thing since I was a little boy. I think the general public became more aware of it just because of the media coverage. I think because of everything that had happened, how it transpired, what happened at Augusta, the historical past of Augusta, and then everybody writing about it, I think, people started to say, you know what, he can make more of a difference. But, I have been trying to do this all my life. And, it is just one of those things that I am going to keep doing. I have my own foundation. We are doing clinics around the country. Right now we are with the First Tee program right now, trying to get more facilities built for kids to have a chance besides this core sports in America. So, everything is coming along. And, I think as the public becomes more aware of how they can participate and how the kids can get interested in the game, is when I think golf is going to really kick-off.
Q. The role of the golf establishment, how do you need their help and what help do you need from them?
TIGER WOODS: Right now the First Tee program is exactly what we need to do right now. I don't know whether that is going to be it for 100 years. Who knows. But I think that is what golf needs right now. We need facilities. We need them as quick as possible. We need low-cost equipment as well as balls, that is just the way -- I mean, sets of clubs aren't exactly cheap now. This game is not one you can just go pick a ball up and go play. It is one of those sports that requires a lot of money. And, I think with more facilities being built, I think the cost will be driven down as well as if you can get more practice facilities built, I think, that, and also as well as companies contributing junior clubs. I think that over time, you will see golf turn young.
Q. Even in a practice round you have a large gallery; is that bothersome or do you enjoy it?
TIGER WOODS: It is great, but when they get me with these (making camera sounds) on my outswing, I usually flail it somewhere. That is the only hard part. Besides one other thing, too, is nowadays that we have professional autograph seekers out there, who go out there professionally to get autographs; then go sell them for hundreds of dollars. They use kids now. A lot of the kids, you can't distinguish the genuine kids versus the kids who are for hire. And, unfortunately it is happening a lot and I don't know what to do about it. But, you see these guys give out stuff for them to go sign, or get signed. That part is tough. Because it ruins it for everybody.
Q. You were kind of struggling with your swing a little over the weekend. Talk about what you have done and do you feel more comfortable with it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, my swing when I started swinging bad I usually get a little long, a little too loose. Long for me is short, parallel, but that is long for me because of my speed. I have shortened up my golf swing again. Made it more how it was at Augusta or at the beginning of this year when I had my swing nice and short, I could zip it out there. Lately, watching my swing, I don't hit it anywhere. I have no speed in my golf swing, kind of losing every ball to the right. When I am swinging short, boom, I hit it out there and I got my distance back.
Q. You have spoken about this tournament before being kind of a preparation for Augusta for you. Has that approach changed at all this year where you are more focused on winning this event as opposed to preparing --
TIGER WOODS: I always go to every event to win, but you also have to look at what are you are ultimate goals. My ultimate goals are to win Majors. And, it would be nice if I won this tournament. I am not going to say that -- it would be great to win this tournament, but if I don't win, that is fine too. Just as long as my game is peaking for the Majors.
Q. Talk a lot about your goals, short-term, long-term. You shortened your swing last year; been out here now for a while.
TIGER WOODS: Shortened my swing three years ago.
Q. The distractions, you have been out here for a while full-time a lot of people tugging at you. How much of it is affecting you on the golf course, will you let it happen?
TIGER WOODS: No. I don't let that happen. What it does tend to do is it tends to get me, I guess, sometimes a little short, a little agitated because as I explained with the autographs seekers, a lot of them are professional and, two, is that the people are so aggressive now. I have little ladies grabbing me say "Sign this now." That can be a problem because the threats I get sometimes via whatever it may be, you don't -- you never know what the situation is going to be. You never know how it can come. Yeah, sometimes I can get a little hairy, but overall, once I get out there I am where I belong. (smiles).
Q. Are you on line this year in terms of where you want to be? Are you behind --
TIGER WOODS: I am much more ahead of schedule than I was last year. My game is -- you can look at my record this year. It is much more consistent. I am in there on every Sunday, I have a chance to win and it wasn't like that last year. I didn't have the game to be in contention every week.
Q. Apart from shortening your swing, going back to that, how has your game changed if at all from last year? Has it matured?
TIGER WOODS: I have learned lot of new shots versus this time last year. I have learned how to play in all different types of conditions; especially the rain. But overall, my whole package is better this year. My swing is more refined. I have learned new shots. My control of emotions as well as control of shots have improved and I am just growing up as a player and that is going to happen for quite sometime.
Q. Things have been written that there might be a rivalry between you and Ernie Els. Is there?
TIGER WOODS: You love that rivalry stuff, don't you?
Q. Is there such a rivalry or is it --
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't think so. I don't think there is a rivalry at all between Ernie and I because you can't forget Phil, you can't forget David, you can't forget Justin, Davis. There is so many good young players now and they keep coming up every year. I wouldn't say there is a rivalry between one and two now because there are too many modern players, and because I think of the equipment, because I think of the fitness, the techniques, that you can't have a rivalry anymore. I don't see it, between two players, say, a rivalry between Nicklaus and Watson, I don't think you can see that now because there is too many good players and the guys are going too low nowadays.
Q. If I may follow-up, like last week where you probably didn't play as well on Sunday as you thought you'd like, when you leave there is it on your mind: I just didn't play golf well or, Gee, I didn't play as well as Ernie played or --
TIGER WOODS: No. Definitely didn't play as well as Ernie. That is obvious. Leaving that tournament, yeah, I was disappointed because I didn't play as well as I needed to play. I didn't give myself a chance. I was hitting the ball pretty bad and couldn't control all my shots. That is not how you win on Sunday.
Q. You give us plenty to write about. In the present you are busy yourself taking care of your golf game today; do you ever think of 20 years ahead? Do you want to be a Ryder Cup captain? What are your long-term ambitions?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, boy, Ryder Cup Captain? That will make me 40-something --
Q. Or any goal?
TIGER WOODS: I guess overall I would like to see myself getting better every year, keep improving and on top of that, I would love to see all the charitable acts I do in the game come to fruition with all the people I am trying to get in the game, the kids, that I am helping and all the other organizations around the country helping. I'd like to see golf become more global, more accessible. That is what I would like to see in 20 years.
Q. When you were the amateur champion and Els the Open champion and you were paired together in those Opens in 1995, did you form a friendship there? Is that the start of your friendship?
TIGER WOODS: I think it started a little bit earlier than that. I played with him, yes, at the U.S. Open that year, but I also played with him-- didn't play with him. I met Ernie in 1994 before I won the Amateur in the Johnnie Walker in Thailand in my mom's home country. I was there on exemption as an amateur. I first met Ernie on the putting green. We just talked for a little bit and from there I think our friendship kind of kicked on. Then it moved and as I got to see him more often, we would talk for a while and because we were both pretty young - obviously he is very young - and I was still an amateur. So he was kind of helping me out with things that he saw, things that he has experienced and just trying to help me out.
Q. You have touched on Augusta already. With what you have accomplished there last year what do you hope to maintain this year when you go back?
TIGER WOODS: Hope to maintain?
Q. What do you hope to do this year?
TIGER WOODS: Win.
Q. There is already talk about: Can he repeat. Do you put that on your shoulders when you go there?
TIGER WOODS: Technically, repeating, but I just want to win.
Q. You talked about how when you asked about 20 years down the road you want all this inclusion and whatnot. In the past 13 months since The Masters and since everyone said, Hey, this is really going to open up the game, have you seen a lot of changes? I mean is the game moving fast enough for you?
TIGER WOODS: All you have to do is look at the gallery. Go down to your local driving range and you look at it; that is when you know that it has changed.
Q. Do you feel as though that is you doing that?
TIGER WOODS: It is not only me. It is everybody. It is all the great young players we have in the game. It is programs being either started up or being given a shot in the arm and people are becoming more aware of the game. As people gain an awareness, you are going to see the golf grow.
Q. A lot of people call THE PLAYERS Championship the fifth major and so on. How do you perceive this event here when you are playing this week, is it the fifth major in your mind? Is it important as the others or what?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think anything can be as important as the four Majors. That is just them. They are at another level. But I think this is definitely the best field we play all year besides those tournaments. You look just look right down the list, you see the greatest players in the world here assembled. Yeah, I think it is -- I would have to say it is close to being the fifth major but there are some other tournaments too, WGC tournaments, so, it is right up there and I think it is great for all of us as players, competitors, to have this tournament right before the major, first major of the year because it's a great way to compare ourselves and see where we need improvement, how we going along; are we ready for The Masters and the rest of the year.
Q. A lot has been made of the contracts that you have signed in your first year and a half, a reported $100 million which is record setting. What is your philosophy toward money? How much has that affected you in the core of you?
TIGER WOODS: I am still the same. I don't really spend a whole lot myself. But, that is just the way I have always been. I think overall the money is great, but I want to associate myself with the companies that are at the top. If you look at all my sponsors, go right down the line, they are quality and that is what I insist on.
Q. You say you set out to win every tournament you play in. Have you battled any kind of impatience in wanting to win again, any kind of frustration in the past?
TIGER WOODS: To win again?
Q. Yeah, are you impatient to get out there and win? Is it getting frustrating at all?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have won this year. I have been doing pretty good this career.
Q. On this Tour?
TIGER WOODS: I don't care what Tour. A win is a win. It would be nice to win out here. Hey, a win is a win. I don't care where you are. Johnnie Walker is a pretty big tournament, whether you guys like to admit it or not.
Q. Assuming that you play in all three of the World Golf Championships, does that mean you cut out three tournaments somewhere else to try to keep your schedule the same and do you think other guys will be looking at that the same way?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I think -- I don't know about what other players are going to do. But, I would have to say if we are going to play worldwide like this, I will have to play more of a reduced schedule just so I don't wear out. You are travelling overseas, just going from one week in Asia or Australia or Europe, that wears you out. And you have got to have energy to deal with that and endure that. If we are going abroad a lot, then with the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup involved in there as well, yeah, for myself, I don't know what other players would do-but I would have to play more of a reduced schedule.
Q. Yesterday we had John Daly in here. He was talking about you and about Fuzzy and Augusta and the incident there. He said that he would like to see you guys play a practice round together and get together. What is your thoughts now on the incident and your relationship with Fuzzy?
TIGER WOODS: Well, unfortunately the incident happened. It is a shame that it happened. But Fuzzy and I have talked and we have reconciled. It is over. It is a done deal. It happened and we have both moved on. He has got his deals that he does, and the things that I do. We both moved on. We both have mutual respect for each other that hasn't changed and I don't think that ever will.
Q. You mentioned that you are trying to globalize efforts with the children and you also mentioned that the galleries in the U.S. here are getting more aggressive in terms of autographs. How do you find playing overseas? Is it more comforting to you that they are more accommodating?
TIGER WOODS: I would have to say the best place to play would probably be Asia as far as people not -- people being very respectful. It is amazing when I go there, there is a crush, but people if you say, you know, I will sign later, they don't ask. They will never ask until that moment in time. That is very nice. That is very nice of them. People here in the states are very aggressive, especially in late afternoons after they have had a few. (Audience laughter.)
Q. A follow-up to an earlier question, John Daly yesterday was talking about how the Tiger/Fuzzy stuff has just gone on too long, too far and it needs to stop and one of his suggestions was it would be great if you and Fuzzy played a practice round together at Augusta. What would your thoughts of such a thing be?
TIGER WOODS: If it happens, it happens. I know I am going to do my best to get ready for a tournament and the major, I don't know if we had -- it will be more of a public relations thing than it would be getting ready for a major and I am getting ready more for a major. If he wants to get ready for a major with me and that is it, that is fine. I don't have a problem with that.
Q. You were talking how the autographs seekers are getting too aggressive. Is that one of the biggest surprises since you have been on Tour?
TIGER WOODS: I think it is a big surprise that parents push their kids into doing it. That is a shame. That is not the way I was raised. I don't know how all of you were raised, but I was not raised that way. I was raised to be more respectful. And ask instead of, Hey, sign, sign, sign this. That is not the way I was raised. My mom would -- whoo --
Q. I saw you at Vegas when the kids pushed through the fence, decided that was enough and walked away. I know you feel you have to do that. Do you think it has its effect; people see that and then they behave next time?
TIGER WOODS: Depends. It all depends on sometimes what I say if I can say something, if they will actually take it back and use it, or I think where it starts is in the home, whether the parts will say, hey, this is what happens, this is what happens when you get too unruly. You can't be pushing and shoving like this. Not supposed to happen.
Q. Tiger, can you give us a prediction on the Stanford/Kentucky game?
TIGER WOODS: It is going to be great when I go to San Antonio on Monday when I watch my team.
Q. Last December you went to Japan and joined an exhibition match and you have the many, many supporters. Will you join a Japanese tournament this season?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't know yet. We are looking at a few tournaments in Japan that I might come over this year. If it doesn't happen this year, I will definitely come back in the near future because I love Japan. The people are great. And I love the Kobe beef. I have had good experiences there.
Q. It is a good possibility to go to Japan?
TIGER WOODS: I just said that, yeah, definitely a possibility.
WES SEELEY: Not yet sure.
TIGER WOODS: Not sure yet. Working on it.
Q. Players are designing golf courses these days. Do you ever see yourself doing it?
TIGER WOODS: I do. I think it is going to happen a little bit later. I have just started to get out here and travel the world and play different courses and I haven't really -- I have got some things in my head of styles I like and things I want to incorporate into my own course designing, but I have got to play more courses and understand how things are supposed to work on the golf course and drainage and slopes and where you are supposed to position this and -- home here, home there, developer, yeah, area there, there. Things like that I don't know that business yet. But it is definitely something I want to get into. I am very creative. I like to create that way.
Q. Speaking about golf courses, seems like more and more young long hitting players are coming out. How do you think the game needs to adjust to this? Are you guys overpowering golf courses?
TIGER WOODS: I can tell you one thing: When I came out in 1996 actually what surprised me the most was 1995 when I played at Augusta. I was surprised at how short the players hit it out here on Tour. I was very surprised. In college you cannot believe how long the college players hit it. They hit it so much further than the players out here, but they don't control their distances as well so you start backing off. But as modern equipment is taking over, you can blow it down there so far that really it is really not that hard to control the distances. You are not hitting a 5-iron. You are hitting a sand wedge instead of a 5-iron. That is a huge difference, and I think courses either are going to have to be built longer, they are going to have to probably grow rough in and grow it higher so players are going to have to be more conscious of driving the ball straighter which is probably going to take a little speed off of their swing; hence loss of distance. Or something may have to be done with equipment or golf ball. I don't know. But I think if everything stays the same, you are probably going to have to change the golf courses because there is too much money involved in equipment.
Q. What are you working on with your second shot? Interesting follow-through (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: What happens, I have been -- I have been laying -- my shaft of my club has been getting too flat on the way down which means I get stuck. I run into myself and I have to flip it out there or else I hit it dead right. So we are trying to get the club more in front of me on the way down that is caused by my backswing, and these are just little things we have always worked on I have always had this problem my entire life. It is becoming a problem less frequent, but I have got to work it out. We have been hitting a lot of balls this week and going to hit a lot more before Augusta to try to completely get that out of my game.
Q. Exploring the player-caddie relationship, can you define what makes a good caddie?
TIGER WOODS: Several things. One is the golden rule the caddie, caddie rule No. 1, never speak unless spoken to. That is rule No. 1. A lot of caddies have a problem with that. 2 is you have got to have the guts to say what is on your mind -- when a player asks you: "What do you think it is? It is a 6 or a 7?" Some caddies will just be you think it is 6, oh, I think it is a 6 too. I know Fluff has helped me out in a number of circumstances where I have been in between clubs and I say enough, what do you think it is. And he will tell me exactly what he thinks it is. Sometimes I will disagree with him. I will say I think it is this. We will talk about it. We will make an understanding. But, nevertheless, a player has to pull the club and the player has to hit it. It takes lot of guts to say what is on your mind when asked, especially down the stretch on Sunday.
Q. Much is made last year how well you played at Augusta; particularly how far you hit the golf ball, but you had four terrific putting rounds last year. People tend -- was that the biggest part of your game last year at Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: I have to explain this as a package because it was one of those things that you can't say it was just the putting, or just the driving. I have to explain the whole package in order for it to work. You see me make a lot of putts. Look at my putts, they were all -- majority of my putts were uphill because I was able to control my irons into the greens. Why was I able to do that? Because I had short irons in, I had wedges in par 5s. The longest iron I think I hit was 6-iron on 10. The last round -- so you look at that. Why did I have those irons? Because I drove the ball great. So you have to look at the whole package. And putting was just a reflection of everything working out from the green all the way -- I am sorry the tee box all the way to the green.
Q. Was it one of your best putting tournaments that you have ever had?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have putted a lot better. But not on those type of greens, though, flat.
Q. You talk about wanting to peak at the right time. Anyway for you to know that you are peaking for Augusta or is it something that you find it when you get there?
TIGER WOODS: You can feel it in your preparation. It is like a boxer, you can feel yourself getting ready and sometimes you don't peak that week. Sometimes you might peak early; sometimes you might peak late, a week or two late. Just one of those things that you hope that you peak at the right time. Sometimes it happens third or fourth round, you put everything together, but then sometimes it is too late. But, hopefully everything will be ready to go on Thursday and he will be hitting on all cylinders.
Q. Do you feel it now?
TIGER WOODS: No, I am not there yet, no.
Q. You mentioned sometime in the future where golf courses are going to have to change to adjust to the equipment. Reflecting back to the Masters last year, do you anticipate any changes at Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: They already made some changes at Augusta.
Q. AntiTiger changes or just routine?
TIGER WOODS: They tweak every year. It is just part of the tweaking.
Q. Any new unexpected benefits of popularity, Disneyworld, after hours, anything you didn't --
TIGER WOODS: Four seats at Laker games and Bull games, not a bad thing.
Q. You talk about tweaking every year at Augusta, what would you tweak if you could tweak the course?
TIGER WOODS: Personally?
TIGER WOODS: Take out the slopes. (Audience laughter.)
Q. All of them?
TIGER WOODS: It is one of those golf courses in which -- unless you are there and you can actually see these putts - grant it, the slopes are severe, but if you look at all the slopes they go up and then they go down. Most of the courses now are -- they go up and they are flat. At Augusta they -- you have got to get it just right and let it fall to the hole. I think that is one thing all players would say or slow down the greens would be nice.
WES SEELEY: Okay.
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