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August 20, 1997

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Any questions you have for Mr. Woods today.

Q. Tiger, what did you think of the announcement Monday of the two captains picks for the Ryder Cup team and your general thoughts about the competition shaping up and your excitement level for your first Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: Which part?

Q. Let us start with --

TIGER WOODS: The picks?

Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: I think, (1): We needed to pick those two guys because, (1): We don't have that much experience on our team. And they have been on Ryder Cups before and we need that kind of leadership. And it is going to be -- we don't really, okay, one we have a Captain who has been there many times, seven times, but we also need players to help out other players as well. And, when you are inside the ropes playing and partnering, it is nice to have a guy who has been there before who can, I guess, in a sense get you through.

Q. How about your own personal excitement level?

TIGER WOODS: It was one of my goals last year when I turned pro, was to try and make the Ryder Cup team and I did it. I am very happy to make it. Also the fact that we lost the Walker Cup in Wales last year makes it an even more incentive for me to go back to Europe and this time to try and get the Ryder Cup. .

Q. What do you think it is about your game that has made you such an effective Match Play player?

TIGER WOODS: One is I don't quit. I have no quit in me when I go out there and I am down. I am down, but I am not out. I am not out until you close me out. And you always have to believe going into every single match that you play that you can win. Because sometimes you are going to get off to a bad start or they can get off to a hot start and you can be down, but got to believe in yourself. You are going to win that. You are going to pull it out.

Q. This golf course probably has been the focus of attention television-wise as long as anything. Do you have any recollection of it as a kid? Do you watch any of the old World Series on CBS?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I really don't. I guess for me this time of year I am not really watching a lot of Tour events because I am playing a lot of my stuff growing up, A lot of juniors tournaments in Southern Cal or AJGA events, and towards the end of the summer right about now, third week in August, you start gearing up for some of the big, big events like the U.S. Amateur or other events like that. So I never really watched the World Series because it is usually conflicting events.

Q. Reaction to the golf course now that you have played it once?

TIGER WOODS: I have played here before. But not at a tournament. In the summer when it is hot and dry and running out there and there is no rough, but after I played it today, the golf course is playing a lot longer than I remember. I remember hitting a driver, like a 9-iron into number 9, but, don't forget, it was real dry. Today it was real wet and balls are backing up on the fairways collecting mud and the rough is really, really wiry. Sometimes you drive the ball in the rough. You can't get to the greens, period. It is long enough and wet enough for where it is not going to happen.

Q. You have played here. Wasn't it after you did that clinic in Cleveland, National Minority Clinic, two years ago you came out here?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did. Played both courses.

Q. You said after the final round on Sunday that looking back over your year there were times you wish you wouldn't have played so much and times you wish you would have played more. Could you say when those were?

TIGER WOODS: I wish I would have played less. I made a mistake by playing Westchester. I mean, you never play a week after a major. Here I am again, but.... (LAUGHTER) But, this is a different sort. This is a really big tournament and it is an honor to get in because you have to win to get in. In Westchester I was mentally fried when I played. I was too tired and I played anyways. And, consequently, I played bad. You know, my confidence went down a little bit, but I understood where I went wrong. And, playing more -- I wish I would have played more at the beginning of the year because that is when you are most fresh, that is when you are taking the entire winter off and you are ready to go. I didn't play as well as I think I should have because I still felt fresh. But, then again, like I guess it paid off at Augusta because I was fresh.

Q. Are you tired this week?

TIGER WOODS: I am a little tired, yes. Because I have played last week, played the week before at Buick, and especially after last week that golf course wasn't easy. It beat all of us up except for Davis. But, that golf course took a lot out of me mentally and coming here, that is why I took a couple of days off. I didn't play and today I felt pretty fresh. I was kind of surprised by that. Consequently I shot 65.

Q. In view of that, Tiger, will you rest before the Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I will.

Q. You will take a week off before the Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, just try and get my game ready; work with Butch a little bit.

Q. Obviously you set your goals high. Are you sort of surprised sometimes even by the attention that you do receive? I mean, 7 o'clock this morning, there is a whole bunch of people out here and they are --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you ain't lying. I know. I wouldn't get up that early. To be honest with you, it is very flattering. I never thought, honestly never thought I would receive this much attention this early. I thought the earliest would be late 20s, early '30s after I have won some Majors and really had deserved the attention. And, I thought it would take something like what Nicklaus had done early in his career, winning a lot, a lot of Majors to get to this level of attention from the people, from the fans, the media, basically everyone.

Q. Does it put the pressure on you that people expect only the best from you every time?

TIGER WOODS: No, because I expect the best from me, and that is all I care about. It is kind of flattering that people think that highly of my game, that they expect the best, that they think my game is good enough where I can win every week. That is nice.

Q. You have kids of all ages, rural, urban areas, at different tournaments and they are thinking about this game for the first time. I think that was one of your goals, but I think it has perhaps even exceeded what you thought the popularity would be. This tournament has never been sold out?

TIGER WOODS: I never thought this many kids would be coming to golf tournaments this soon and to see not only the socioeconomic diversity, but just diversity in general. We are seeing people from all walks of life on the golf course. And, kids now think, you know, golf might be actually a cool sport to play. I know that when I was growing up, golf was not a cool sport, just one of those sports only wooses play, only the weak play, and if you are not tough, go play golf. But, I think that is changing now because I think kids are starting to look at it - not only myself - but Justin Leonard, Ernie Els, a lot of good young players out here doing it and, hey, you know what, maybe this is for me, maybe I can get into this game. I have heard a lot of kids say, longevity, I can play this sport and make money and be a pro until I am 60, which is true. Like Arnold Palmer is still playing well at age 66 or whatever he is now. So that is one of the bonuses to it. Plus, all the people you can meet and travelling, it is just great.

Q. How do you handle being a role model for all these people?

TIGER WOODS: Being a role model is an honor that people think that highly of me. And, I am -- I have been put in that position at an early age. I have kind of taken that and said, you know what, this is an honor that people look up to you and you can do your best to help them out.

Q. Did you enjoy the Pro Am this morning?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did after I woke up. (LAUGHTER)

Q. What time was that?

TIGER WOODS: That was probably about six or seven..... holes into it.

Q. How are you physically, and is your ankle a factor at all this week?

TIGER WOODS: The ankle is still a little sore. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it is not a little sore. But it is a little tender just because I haven't given it time to rest. I keep playing. As soon as this week is done, I am going to put my foot up, literally, and kind of kick back and get some treatment on it. I am getting treatment on it now. And it is getting better, no doubt about that. I am able to do more things now with less pain.

Q. You have always talked about how important Majors are to you and how you want to gear your game to Majors. It is hard to stay motivated now at the end of the year or does Ryder Cup coming up help you have a little motivation left, you know, playing 'til the end of the year now?

TIGER WOODS: I got my own goals that I haven't achieved yet. And I am going to try and achieve them. But, there are two factors that are actually real big motivations toward the end of the year now that the Majors are over. One is the Ryder Cup because you want to try to get the Cup back and, (2) is that I have won twice late in the year last year so I get to defend twice, and that is always a motivation, not letting anyone get your title. And, so that is going to be interesting at Disney and as well as Vegas.

Q. Which ankle is it and how did you hurt it?

TIGER WOODS: This one, right one.

Q. How did you hurt it?

TIGER WOODS: Playing with my friends.

Q. I read it was on the 4th hole at Winged Foot?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I reinjured it there. But, I injured it couple weeks prior.

Q. They didn't jump on you and twist it?

TIGER WOODS: No, they didn't jump me and beat me up, no. (Laughter)

Q. You weren't playing football?

TIGER WOODS: No, look at me. (Laughter)

Q. This tournament, more or less, ends your first year as a pro. Can you talk about the things that have happened. Obviously one of your goals was --

TIGER WOODS: How much time do you have got?

Q. We are here. Deadline is late. Obviously one of the things was earning a Tour card and winning a tournament. Talk about the other things that happened, even some of the outside stuff.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the biggest two things. (1) that my life is totally different than what it was in college. Totally different. And it came in two different stages: (1) it came last year when I turned pro in those nine events I played, I think, and then after The Masters. So two dramatic different changes in my life that I have had to try and get used to and hadn't been easy. It really hasn't. And, (2), I have never played this much golf in my life for this long - competitively golf. We can play -- if you think about it, junior golf and amateur golf are strictly summer sports. Only play during the summer, that is it. Maybe a holiday occasionally, but not from January all the way through October, no, we don't do that because we are usually in school or people are working. So I have never played this much golf and that has been a big adjustment trying to get up for each and every tournament when you have never played this much.

Q. How far have you exceeded your expectation?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't.

Q. You are a fan of the game, it is obvious when you talk about Sifford. Watching Davis Love last week, a guy that has been one of the strong supporters out there, what about the friendship, just seeing him win a major?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, man, it was -- I had chills running up and down when he made that putt on 18 because I know some of the things that he shared with me about his dad because he can relate to what the relationship I have with my dad and to see that rainbow and it looked like the rainbow was going right where the hole was, and to see that ball go, you know that his dad said, that ball is going in. And, to see him do that and share it with his family, his brother and his mom were there, that, to me, was everything because he deserves it. He really does. He worked his butt off. He has had some bad breaks, but he has learned from them and consequently it all paid off last week.

Q. You played a lot of amateur events, pro events as an amateur. Then you came on the Tour. You never missed a cut yet. How did you learn how to play that quickly or why do you think that is?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'll make it very simple. In my life there are three priorities in my life: Family, school, and golf. And it's always been in that order. Now, when golf is your third priority, obviously when you have a term paper or anything due during a PGA event, which I had a lot, then obviously I don't care about the Tour event because I need to get my school work done. That is the most important thing. And then comes golf. If I can get golf in, great. If not, then, oh, well, as long as I get my grades up. But, now that school is not there anymore, now golf has moved up to No. 2 and because of that and, consequently, I can put more focus and more attention into golf.

Q. Can you tell us is that one of the goals you have talked about not missing a cut?

TIGER WOODS: It is nice. Definitely nice.

Q. When you said that you haven't exceeded your expectations, is that because you had a specific number of Tour wins in mind?

TIGER WOODS: No, I have very high expectations of myself. I have set some pretty high standards, to be honest, but I have not achieved a lot of them because I have set them extremely high. And, that is one of the things that I have always done all my life, always tried to push myself to the absolute limit and I have made mistakes and I have learned from them and hopefully I will accomplish my goals.

Q. What distractions or adjustments did you have to get used to once you get in the pro Tour? What were the little things or maybe the annoying things that you have had to deal with now that you didn't before?

TIGER WOODS: I guess the biggest thing is one yesterday when I was out there practicing yesterday, pitching, little kids screaming and can you come sign this, people making comments. When I was at home or in college practicing, nobody ever made any noises, no one was ever there. That was and still is a thing that I am still trying to handle and trying to block out because it is not natural to hear that many noises at a golf course. I mean, just not the way it is supposed to be. But it is different now. And some of the things, not only I am trying to get used to, but I think the rest of the Tour is trying to get used to as well.

Q. Another thing in your first year on Tour is associating with a completely new peer group. Because of your celebrity, have you been able to make friends who make a lot of friends, because I don't know if you can just go out to dinner with the guys or go to a club or something like that. Has that been difficult?

TIGER WOODS: Going out to dinner with the guys hasn't been a problem. That is not a problem at all or going out to movie something like that. But, going out and actually hanging out and kind of partying a little bit that is a problem. Because some of the things that I think of and they can't relate to because, (1), they are much older and their priorities have changed. They look at things totally different. That is just the way it goes. But, it is nice when some of our friends come out and I got friends in cities that I either know through junior golf, amateur golf or even college, that they are in these cities. It is kind of nice to go out with them and have a little fun.

Q. So you can go out?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Q. What will you do between rounds in a relatively small city like Akron? Anything planned?

TIGER WOODS: Not that I know of. I just will probably practice here, go out to dinner with some friends, some of guys on Tour here, and go back home and play some video games or something.

Q. You have your lucrative contract with Nike and did you and Donald Trump happen to -- did you and Donald Trump happen to stumble into each other?

TIGER WOODS: I have met Mr. Trump twice at two All-Star Cafes -- let's see, might have met him at New York and Atlanta City. And, only two times just briefly met him said hi, talked a little bit, but nothing specific. Just kind of holding conversation, talking about nothing, really.

Q. Talk about the learning curve for you in the Majors this year what you might have learned in general how much better you will be next year because of having gone through this experience?

TIGER WOODS: One is I have never played golf courses like this where they are set up that hard and it is different. And, you got to change your game a little bit and adjust and not make those high numbers which I tend to do. And I have learned and it is kind of nice that I have actually messed up like that. I know I learned an awful lot when I messed up at the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. That is one of the reasons why I won in Vegas a year later or actually I won the amateur too because I had complete think different mindsets, I learned a lot, let me put it to you that way. And, I have learned a lot these past three Majors. I have played well from tee-to-green and let's see, I didn't play well at the U.S. Open, but I played well my last two Majors, British and PGA, hit the ball extremely well. I made three bad swings at the British and it cost me some high numbers and you just can't afford to do that. And the PGA I didn't putt well. And at those greens you don't putt well, you are not going to do well.

Q. Some people define pressure differently. Every major tournament you have played in despite whatever shortcomings you may personally feel, that you have -- you have always played strong. Do you embrace pressure? Is it something that you say I don't deal with pressure, I just deal with the situation?

TIGER WOODS: Pressure on the golf course, nerves like that?

Q. Do you just embrace it?

TIGER WOODS: I love it. If you don't love it, you shouldn't play any kind of sport. I tell you one thing when I get down in the hunt or something, my palms are sweaty, my nerves are going so much and my eyeballs are beating and I mean, it -- that is what it is all about, feeling those nerves and being able to conquer and handle them and perform. Suck it up and just do it. That is what it is all about. To me that is what I try and get into every week try and get into contention just to feel that because I think if you want to become a great athlete you got to be able to handle that.

Q. We can go track it back to your U.S. Amateur days being so far behind -- everyone would think -- was it something that you and your father developed together or was it something just naturally came to you? I mean everybody has it?

TIGER WOODS: The fight in me has always been there. Never doing it, never give up, that is for sure, when you are down, you are not out. You got to always -- you always have to believe that you can win no matter how far down you are, got to have that belief in yourself. And, to be quite honest with you, not a lot of players have that, either they are insecure, (1), I know I have been through that before and obviously you don't perform as well. But, after you handle a few times going through the fire, you learn and you grow and that is when you have that belief in yourself.

Q. How important has it been for you to have experience and like Fluff on your bag this year as you have gone through this learning curve that you have spoken off, what is it like to have a caddy who signs 300 autographs which he did yesterday?

TIGER WOODS: I guess one thing he is a little slower in yardage because his arm is tired. But --

Q. How about the serious side?

TIGER WOODS: Serious side, for him to have the guts to say the things he has said under the gun, that is when you know you have got a good caddy. When he can say like at Pebble Beach on number 17 here, we are here in the hunt, we are trying to catch Mark, I am thinking, what do you think, Fluff, 6 or 7,. He says, "Well, I think it is 7, stuff it." I said, "Well, that is the decision. Let us go, stuff it." Not too many caddies can say that. Or you are going over water, you have got a shot, you are saying, what do you think I should do. He says, "Well, here is what I think if you want to win." And, not a lot of players caddies say that. They say, well, play long, you can putt back, BLA BLA BLA, Fluff has the guts to say what he honestly feels.

Q. Tiger, this week is sold out, but every week is sold out where you play. Most of the people are following you. Can you talk about the biggest crowd you remember this year following you, I mean, maybe outside the Majors, the biggest the most --

TIGER WOODS: Phoenix. By far, Phoenix.

Q. What about a couple more after that maybe?

TIGER WOODS: Pebble Beach. I guess because a lot of cameras too. Where else were some big crowds?


TIGER WOODS: Dallas was huge. Even Chicago was pretty big.

Q. With you bringing the younger generation in do you see this escalating farther?

TIGER WOODS: I think golf is going to be one of the faster growing sports and you are going to see -- I mean just imagine if you get some great athlete let us say a Michael Jordan playing golf at an early age, then you go to basketball or Deion going to football or baseball, you get a great athlete going into golf at an early age where it becomes natural for him to do the golf swing. Now if that is the case, you are going to see some records being broken. I know some of my records will be broken. Just a matter of time. It is going to be great for the game. You are going to see some awfully low numbers. You see it now. You see all the first-time winners. You see the scores they are shooting now. You don't go out there and perform. Look at last week 11-under-par at Winged Foot. That is just unheard of. It is great for the game.

Q. You talk a lot about your personal goals. Having played Walker Cup how do you adjust for something like the Ryder Cup and with that in mind, have you thought at all about some of the guys you might like to play with as a team and who might compliment your game?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have thought about it, definitely. Definitely thought about it. Looking forward to it. Some of the guys I would love to play with, obviously, Mark because he is one of my best friends. Phil would be a great pairing, Davis, Freddie, I think guys who are long would compliment me more because we can relate to each other, especially if you start talking about yardage, and, I think in clutch situations where the pressure is really intense and you have got a person who can help you out, "Well, what do you think 6 or 7?" And the guy says, "Well, 7," because we hit the ball about the same length, that helps out a lot.

Q. Local question, could you talk a little bit about the this morning's round with the Pro Am team, the early starting time, the rain, the whole experience there?

TIGER WOODS: I can probably answer from about 6 on. But honestly I played well today because (1) I love to play in the rain. I have always loved playing in it. I have always played well. Once the rain started falling today I started to get a little more excited, started to hanging better shots. That is just the way it works out. But my partners were so much fun today. I have never seen this Mr. Ono had a move after his swing was done which I have never seen before. (LAUGHTER) It was wildest thing I have ever seen. It was neat to see.

Q. What was it like?

TIGER WOODS: It was different. (LAUGHTER)

Q. Did you ask him about it?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I tried to understand where he got it from. He didn't know he did it.

Q. Little bit like a shuffle?


LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, sir.

TIGER WOODS: You got it.

LEE PATTERSON: Appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

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