May 28, 1997
WES SEELEY: We are joined by the TOUR's leading money winner, Tiger Woods. And we'll turn it over to questions.
Q. Tiger, has any of this gotten old for you yet or are you used to it?
TIGER WOODS: If I had to do a one-on-one interview with everyone it would get old. But, no, it's not bad.
Q. What role do the fans play in your game?
TIGER WOODS: What role? I guess, one, lately I've been coming over the top on a lot of shots, so I've been hitting a lot of balls left and the fans keep me from getting into deep trouble. They support me and root me on, as well as other players in the group or on the golf course, so it's great.
Q. What's the significance in playing in this tournament, given your admiration and setting goals that were paralleling what Jack Nicklaus has accomplished?
TIGER WOODS: That has nothing to do with it, I think. It's just great to play -- play in a tournament that's Jack's tournament. And I felt great playing Byron's tournament, Mr. Hogan's tournament. And it's an honor, these guys are the guys who brought golf to what it is now.
Q. Do you feel like you're kind of at home because of the IMG connection out of Cleveland?
TIGER WOODS: This isn't Cleveland, though.
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. You don't?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Do you wish the media would concentrate on more of the players and not so much yourself, some of the guys are not getting the recognition they need because they're focusing on Tiger Woods?
TIGER WOODS: I can't help that.
Q. I'm just asking.
TIGER WOODS: Asking what?
Q. How you feel about that?
TIGER WOODS: How I feel about that? That's just something I can't control. Whether you guys decide to cover me or not, that's the media's prerogative. The only thing I'm going to do is go out and try my best.
Q. How much do you feel things since The Masters have been spinning maybe a little out of control in terms of the frenzy around you; and if you feel that way they've gotten much, much worse, what steps have you personally taken to deal with it?
TIGER WOODS: I've just adjusted. That's why I took that month off. I was going to take that month off any way, but I think it was even more needed, just given the fact that I did win The Masters, my life did change. And I needed some time to understand, to analyze my life, and then accept a few changes that I'm going to have to make personally, with my recognition factor that has definitely increased.
Q. Can you be specific about the changes?
TIGER WOODS: That's private, that's very personal. And I can't really share that with anyone. I don't share it with anyone. But I can tell you this, that I have adjusted to everything and I've accepted a lot of the things that now come with being who I am. Before the Masters I was kind of struggling with it, but I think that month off really did help out a lot.
Q. Tiger, what do you remember about playing here in '92 in the U.S. Amateur?
TIGER WOODS: Well, let's see, I was two under going into 12, ended up shooting 78. And I shot 66 over on the Country Club course. And then I lost in the second round to Tim Herron.
Q. Tiger, I want your analysis, what is it about you that's created so much interest? Is it your personality, your age, your game? What is it?
TIGER WOODS: That's something I can't really answer, because I am who I am.
Q. What's your theory, though? Why is it that you stir up so much interest in the game?
TIGER WOODS: I guess I'm different, in the fact that I'm new on to the scene, whereas you've seen a lot of these players, you've seen Jack dominate the game, you've seen Tom Watson, you've seen Greg Norman dominate the game. You've seen so many players over the years. It's different to see a new face, just like Kobe Bryant coming on to the Lakers, he was new.
Q. Jack talked yesterday about the excitement that your coming on the TOUR created. And one of the things he said would be possible would be rivalries down the road. What sort of players do you see out there that could become rivals for you, at this point there doesn't seem to be any?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's very hard to have a rival now, given the fact if you look at our depth of our fields now, anyone can win, whereas we'll say even as late as the early '80s, that there's only a handful of guys who could win, and who were winning. If you look at the last three or four years on TOUR, look how many first time winners there are, and you know our TOUR has definitely changed.
Q. Tiger, you signed a new deal yesterday with Rolex. With so many decisions, who's making most of those decisions for you?
TIGER WOODS: My mom, my dad, myself and Hughes, my agent.
Q. He's from IMG?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh.
Q. A lot of the players will look at those weekly stats that PGA TOUR puts out, some in finding areas where they might improve their games. Do you look at those numbers, is there one statistic that they put out other than scoring that you find to be more significant than any other?
TIGER WOODS: No. To be honest with you, no. Just because I don't see -- a lot of statistics are kind of -- it's hard to critique them and hard to analyze them, because given, let's say a guy may be leading the TOUR in greens in reg, but he's 30 feet away all the time, whereas a guy who's stiffing it, but is leading the TOUR in putting, he's got short putts all the time, it's hard to look at it that way. The only thing that is viable is the scoring average, because we're all playing the same amount of tournaments, may not be playing the same courses, but that's something you can really take a look at and compare your game to everyone else.
Q. What was going on with your approach shots on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: On Sunday I was getting real steep on the ball. And I was doing that all week. And it finally caught up with me. I was just kind of getting away with it.
Q. When will you and Butch get together again?
TIGER WOODS: Probably next week, as I'm getting ready for the U.S. Open.
Q. Tiger, you say you've learned a lot from winning The Masters and the hoopla it's created here lately. What did you learn, if anything, after not winning last week, a lot of people were saying, hey, he's human, he's not going to win them all?
TIGER WOODS: I can't win them all.
Q. Did you learn anything through adversity?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you learn a lot through adversity, you learn a lot through winning. My goal and objective is to learn something from every round of golf I play, whether it's a weekend round of golf at home or a tournament round out here or a practice round, as long as I can learn something, I can take it back home, analyze it and improve on it. And looking back at the tournament I made some physical mistakes, yes, I hit some bad shots. But I also made some dumb mental mistakes, too, as well. The mental mistakes I can always improve. Physically, you're going to make some blunders out there every once in a while, that's the way it is. But mentally, I can eliminate those mistakes, and over the long haul, I'll be in contention more often than not, just because if I can eliminate my mental blunders.
Q. Prior to last Friday there was speculation whether you'd play this tournament, and we thought it was going to be a decision made late in the afternoon. When did you make up your mind to play here, and was there ever a question or did you always think you'd play?
TIGER WOODS: Yes. I always commit late. I learned my lesson the hard way with the media last year when I pulled out of the Buick Southern. I got hit pretty hard. And I've learned that if I commit late then I know I'm going to play. And if -- let's say, I would have hypothetically, I would have committed in January to play this tournament. And I would have -- let's say I played, after The Masters I played three or four tournaments in a row and I'm tired and I decided to take this week off. I'm going to get nailed by the media for taking this week off when I committed back in January. That's something I've learned. Arnold does it every week, and that's something I've adopted as one of my policies.
Q. Was there a question? Did you always think you were going to be here?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh.
Q. Tiger, all the guys always talk about they swing at 70 percent or 75 percent maximum, you always look like you're swinging at it 110 percent, what would you put your swing at?
TIGER WOODS: About 80, max. People don't realize I've got another 30 yards on my game if I want it. And that's something -- see, the thing is I can hit it 30 yards further, but I give up so much accuracy that way, therefore I never do it. There are certain times when I can go ahead and dig down deep and hit it 15, 20 yards further, but I'm giving up a possibility of missing the fairway.
Q. The swing we're seeing looks like 110 or 20 --
TIGER WOODS: It's not that hard for me. It's like Nolan Ryan throwing a fast ball that goes only 90 miles-an-hour, he's just cruising, and that's about what I'm doing.
Q. Can you talk about your mental toughness and describe it to us, how you see it? Do you blow the other guys away, Norman, Lehman?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know how to describe my mental toughness, it's just something I've had. I've always been pretty tough mentally, because of the things I've had to endure growing up, having to play the sports, I've been denied a lot of things. So I've had to endure a lot and also the neighborhood I grew up in, I've had to endure a lot. Just because of those factors I had to become tough. With my dad's experiences in his life and some of the teachings he's given me, and a lot by my mom, that I'm tougher than most.
Q. Tiger, you got some heat for not going to the press room on Sunday, was that unfair?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's unfair, because you're only required to go in there once if you win or runner-up?
WES SEELEY: Generally we ask the winner and the runner-up.
TIGER WOODS: So, it would be unfair for me to go in there, because David won. He beat all of us down the stretch. And it would be taking away from his limelight. He earned it. He earned it. He earned it down the stretch in the tournament, he beat all of us. And it would be unfair for me to go in there and be a part of that press conference.
Q. Tiger, are you surprised with the success you've had on the TOUR since you've come on TOUR; and is it a big deal to you?
TIGER WOODS: Surprised? I was more surprised last year than I am this year. Last year I had to endure an awful lot to just to try to make my card, and I was able to do it, by winning, I think my 5th tournament or something like that. I thought that was pretty good. But this year, no, because I've improved my game since then, and all I ask for is just to get in contention.
Q. Tiger, Jack Nicklaus used to talk about how he geared himself to win the major championships. What's your thoughts on how you gear yourself to try to win a U.S. Open championship this year?
TIGER WOODS: You practice on certain shots you're going to have to hit. At Augusta, I remember at the Players Championship, every opportunity I had I would try and draw a ball off the tee, because at Augusta I had to try and draw it, so I'm preparing myself for The Masters. For the U.S. Open I'm going to gear on to really hitting the ball straight, not as far, and probably -- I don't know if the fairways are going to be hard or they're going to be soft, because of rain. And I'm going to have to prepare for both, with the height of my shots off the tee. And then from there, practice my light putting a lot, because you're not going to have a whole lot of great birdie opportunities because you're afraid to -- the pin is tucked in the corner if you pull it or push it a little bit, you're going to be in the deep rough not far off the green, and that's a big penalty, so you'll be playing 20 or 30 feet all day.
Q. Tiger, you said last November that your No. 1 goal is to make the Ryder Cup team?
TIGER WOODS: That is one of my goals.
Q. But with all that's happened since, what are your thoughts on the Ryder Cup now?
TIGER WOODS: I think -- right now I think I'm on the team.
Q. I think you are (laughter.)
TIGER WOODS: I've accomplished one of my goals. And it's always nice when you can -- you set your expectations -- my expectation was pretty high at the time, because I hadn't played a TOUR event as a pro, so I haven't acquired any points. And to get the number of points I've accumulated in the time span, I'm awfully proud of myself.
Q. Also, I was speaking to Colin Montgomerie at Hilton Head, and he said that he spoke to Tom Kite and Tom seems to think that he's going to have to pair you with Mark O'Meara with the Ryder Cup, how would that sit with you?
TIGER WOODS: That would be fine. Mark is one of my best friends. He's, in a sense, one of my -- I consider him a big brother on TOUR, because I can go to him about anything and he'll sit down and talk to me about it. So it would be nice to have a neighbor, as well as a big brother and a friend being a partner of mine.
Q. Monty also said that he thinks that pairing would be unbeatable?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know about that. You can always lose. But then again it would be a tough team, too, just because of our chemistry.
Q. Tiger, you talk about some swing problems you had last week, you talk about not meeting with Butch until next week, what are your expectations for this week?
TIGER WOODS: Butch and I have talked on the phone. We've worked it out. And it's going to be interesting to get a feel for how this course is playing and then see if my swing can get it around.
Q. Does your swing suit the course?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I haven't played it a while. I've grown up a bit since I was here.
Q. You talked about the U.S. Open, I know that's two weeks away, you've got a little USGA string going, with the Juniors and U.S. Amateurs, and obviously it would be nice to keep that?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice.
Q. Can you elaborate on that for us?
TIGER WOODS: It would be great. (Laughter.) No, winning the Juniors and the Amateurs is totally different than winning a U.S. Open, because, one, they're matchplay. And this is a stroke-play event under probably -- I'd have to say the most severe conditions in golf, considering the rough, now this year the heat and humidity, the competition and the field. It's going to be tough. And the matchplay, all you need to do is get hot at the right time during the round and you can win a match. Stroke-play play you've got to carry it around for 72 holes, that's what makes the U.S. Open so hard.
Q. How does that affect your mental change? Obviously you'll have to change your approach?
TIGER WOODS: It's like playing any major, you have to gear up for it. But you also have to understand that if you make 72 straight pars you're looking pretty good.
Q. Tiger, one of the guys you talked to and spent some times with, one of the legends is Sam Snead, did you learn anything from him --
TIGER WOODS: I haven't spent any time with Sam.
Q. Did you talk to him at the Masters at all?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe a minute, if that. Just one of those hi, I haven't seen you since I was 5. (Laughter.)
Q. Are you trying to refresh your memory today about the course you recalled five years ago, what it takes to play well here or win here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I remember every hole. When I played here in the practice rounds during the Amateur it was really fast. Then we got those huge rains. I got rained out on my first round match, took us like two days to play it. And that's one of the things I remember, so maybe if we get the rain we're supposed to get tomorrow, it might play the same way. But as far as rough, I don't know how the rough is out there, I don't know how fast the fairways are running or the green speeds, I don't know any of that.
Q. Everybody says your length will be a huge plus here.
TIGER WOODS: I recall length is nice to have out here, but I remember, I think, a lot of the holes are slightly dog-legged, so you've still got to watch it, if you hit it too far you can run right through the fairways, then for the Amateur the fairways are really fast, they were cut down. A lot of the shots I was hitting on the edges were running right into the rough.
Q. You seem to like your chances each time you go out there. Are you the guy to beat this week?
TIGER WOODS: I think there's 155 other guys out there to beat.
Q. Tiger, how close is your game to where it was in Augusta? Critique it, would you?
TIGER WOODS: It's not as good as it was at Augusta, that's for sure. But mentally I'm about the same. I'm putting just as good. My chipping is probably better, but my swing is not as good as Augusta, just because you get into lulls, and I'm in that lull right now. Right now is kind of interesting, because it comes in streaks, where I'll hit great shots for four or five holes, where I shoot three or four under, and all of a sudden I couldn't throw a pea in the ocean.
Q. Tiger, I want to ask you about the fans again, is there anything that stands out about Central Ohio, about the people here? I know you've only been here a few minutes, but on your trip over.
WES SEELEY: How have your first 20 minutes been?
TIGER WOODS: My first 20 minutes, there's a lot of people in one room. I didn't see a whole lot of people out there.
Q. They were all here yesterday waiting for you.
TIGER WOODS: They were?
Q. Yes. Do you have any message for any of the fans?
TIGER WOODS: I guess come on out here and have some fun.
Q. You've talked about the media giving you a bad rap a few times. Have you made any mistakes in how you dealt with the public and/or the media?
TIGER WOODS: I made a huge mistake last year by pulling out of -- I wouldn't say the Southern, I would say the dinner, the Haskins Award that was in my honor, I made a huge mistake in that regard. That's something I will freely admit, because I was wrong, and it's a mistake I'll never make again, I've learned from it.
Q. And subsequently, from a little bit before The Masters through today, have you made any other mistakes?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think so, no.
Q. About your Foundation. You have mentioned that one is to help children raised in a negative environment to develop self-esteem; for that is there other activities besides the golf tournament and clinics?
TIGER WOODS: The golf clinic at my Foundation is just merely a vehicle to get kids really excited about playing golf, and after I leave, it's the leg work behind what we just did, it's the head pros in these clubs who invite these kids to come out and play and practice, and give free instruction, and say, you know, come on out, I'll help you. If you want to play. And that's the hardest part. The easiest part is doing the clinic, that's only a one-day thing, and there are obviously 364 days of the year that these people are grinding it and working their butts off to get this accomplished.
Q. Tiger, how much satisfaction do you get, that you brought so many new people to the game, newcomers to golf?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's great because golf is one of those sports I think everyone, if they want to enjoy should enjoy, because it's a tough sport, but then you get a lot out of it, too, just that one good shot will bring you back. And it's a sport, I think, all -- if kids will play, they'll learn a lot from it. And they also can play this sport for I guess until about 80 or 90 years old, Gene Sarazen, 95, he's still playing. And it's amazing the people you can meet in the sport, too, which is great.
Q. Tiger, with everything that's happened to you, is there any part of your old life that you want back?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes, just to be able to go to a grocery store and not be bugged for a photo or asked for autographs and stuff, that sometimes can wear on you or at dinner when you've got food in your mouth and people are coming up to you and want to take a picture and ask for an autograph, too. That part of my old life I do miss, but then again as I said, answered his question, I've accepted that, too.
Q. Can you name a few things that you like to do or did like to do that you can't do anymore? Do you do some grocery shopping?
TIGER WOODS: I always do, because you're hungry. (Laughter.) No, but I still pretty much do the same things. I just have to understand that if I do do these things there's a cost to it, in a sense, not money wise, not monetarily, but I'm talking about loss of privacy when I do do these activities. I have to understand that, and I have.
Q. When are you going to take a look at Congressional and how do you feel about the tournament finishing on a par 3?
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to take a look at Congressional in about a week. I'm not going to play it before. I'm just going to go home to Florida and get ready. As far as ending on a par 3, if you have the lead going to that hole as a 72nd hole you're in a great position to win, just because it's so hard to make a bogey or double on a par-3. If you were on a par 4 on the U.S. Open, if you make a bad shot you're looking at bogey, and the person that does it well could pick up three shots on one hole. And that's the difference ending on a par 3 and par 4 in the U.S. Open.
Q. Do you consider yourself a favorite there, Tiger, and if you do, who among your fellow golfers --
TIGER WOODS: Who --
Q. Who are the favorites, if you include yourself in that group?
TIGER WOODS: I guess Nick Price is one, he's playing right now, Faldo, Woosnam just won last week, who else is playing well?
WES SEELEY: I would say Faxon.
TIGER WOODS: Fax is playing well, if he drives it well he can really be tough, because he can really roll his rock.
Q. What about yourself, do you consider yourself a favorite there?
TIGER WOODS: If I play well, yeah.
Q. Tiger, practice round today, are you going to get out there today?
TIGER WOODS: As soon as I'm done here.
Q. Tiger, going back to when you were talking about doing ordinary things that those of us who are not famous do like fill up our car with gas and buy groceries and things like that, how do you accomplish that?
TIGER WOODS: I still do it, no matter what. I'm telling you, I do the same activities that everyone else does, but I have to understand there is a Price to pay for it. People are going to bug you at times, but that's fine, that comes with the fame, I guess and recognition.
Q. How many autographs come with a tank of gas? (Laughter.)
TIGER WOODS: Let me see, the last one, five (laughter.)
Q. Tiger, Jack said yesterday that it was amazing that someone who started golf as young as you did wasn't sick of golf and his father and everything by the age of 12. How is it that -- you seem to have an insatiable appetite for it and have it all the way along, can you explain that?
TIGER WOODS: I love to play. Simple as that. I just absolutely love to play; whether it's play with my pop back home, playing with my friends, playing in tournaments, I just love to play. And I love to compete even more. So you put those two things together and you have the combination that's me.
Q. Tiger, with the endorsements of money you've picked up well the different contracts and the earnings from the TOUR, what stuff have you sort of splurged on, sort of fun stuff you've gotten to satisfy your own desire for playing around or whatever?
TIGER WOODS: I guess I bought a couple of Sea-doos-- wave runners. And one car.
Q. What kind of car?
TIGER WOODS: A Mercedes. But as far as anything else -- I'm not the type of guy who likes to buy a whole lot of different things. That's not the way my parents raised me.
Q. Is it a kick or a feeling of pride when all these kids say "I am Tiger Woods". How does that make you feel? It seems to be taking the country?
TIGER WOODS: It's an honorable position, put it to you that way. Because I'm in a position where -- I remember when I was a kid -- well, younger (laughter), when I was younger and I used to look up to people. I used to do the same thing, I am him, whoever that was. And it's neat to be in the same position, but reversed now, to have the roles reversed and it's really neat.
Q. Can you talk about the endorsement deals, does having that kind of bank roll behind you make it easier to gamble on the golf course, does it translate directly out there?
TIGER WOODS: No, not at all. I play golf the way I play golf. And I play golf with my heart. And if my heart says go for it, I go for it. If it says layup, then I layup. The money aside is not it. It's about getting yourself in a position to win, if not winning. And that's what playing golf is for me.
Q. Tiger, you just talked about how you love to play the game. Do you love to play the game any more or less than you did a year ago, five years ago?
TIGER WOODS: I'd have to say more. The older I'm getting the more I like to play, that's kind of interesting.
Q. How long can that grow?
TIGER WOODS: Probably forever.
Q. What's been the influence of Jack Nicklaus and his accomplishments to your career, if any?
TIGER WOODS: I guess it's kind of a wall I can bounce things off of in a sense and compare how I'm doing, at comparable ages, at comparable times in his career and my career, see how we're doing. As far as accomplishing what he's done, realistically I don't think it will ever be done again, just because our fields are so much deeper now, it's so hard. But I'll never forget, I was kind of surfing on the Web, and I went into his account and looked at it. He had 72 top-10 finishes in majors. People tend to forget that. That's amazing. If you look at it now, people have tried to do that now over their career, that's almost impossible to do that.
Q. Tiger, you played golf with Michael Jordan a little while ago, I don't think you've played basketball with him yet?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Is he the --
TIGER WOODS: Keep him on my turf.
Q. People refer to you when you first came out as the Michael Jordan of golf, does that bother you or is he now the previous most famous athlete in the world?
TIGER WOODS: No, Mike and Mike. But I think -- as a kid I used to look up to him and still do. He's one of my best friends and is one of -- he's a big brother to me, helps me out. And I admire -- people fail to realize that one, he's a great basketball player, but off the court he handles himself so well, a true gentleman, and that's what it's all about, and that's one of the reasons I look up to Mike. That's one of the reasons I said I'd like to be the Michael Jordan of golf, not only because of his on-court performances but just the way he conducts himself in general.
Q. Tiger, is there any part of you that wishes you were still back in college at Stanford?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, a little bit. What's today, the 28th? I've got finals in two weeks; no (laughter.)
Q. Tiger, there's been, with the way you've won The Masters, a lot of talk about grand slams, I'm sure you've heard it. Have you thought about it, is it fair or is it --
TIGER WOODS: Winning a Grand Slam is not easy. But I've kind of looked alternative it this way. Granting you're playing against the best fields in the world against -- under the most extreme conditions, and obviously the butterflies are going to be going crazy, but I've said this before, that Phil Mickelson won four times last year, all you need to do is win the right now four.
Q. Tiger, you talked about getting a tank of gas and five autographs and autograph requests with food in your mouth. Is there some other strange but true stories about life?
TIGER WOODS: I've had some weird ones, yes. I can't share them in public.
Q. Weird autograph requests?
TIGER WOODS: I've had a few, question.
Q. Any thoughts about John Daly's return to the TOUR? I think when he was still out there playing you came on the scene, a lot of people got a kick out of comparing your drive lengths. Is he somebody that you'll be glad to see back out here?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's great for the game. I think it's great for society to see that a guy has enough guts to admit that he has a problem and to go get it taken care of. That's not easy to do. And he had the guts to do that and I admire him for that.
Q. Have there been times from reading books about you in the past when you've gotten some really kind of nasty mail, even threats. Any of that since The Masters?
TIGER WOODS: Since The Masters? Yes.
Q. How much?
TIGER WOODS: Enough.
Q. Tiger, after Sunday and given that you're playing here in Nicklaus country, are you especially hungry mentally to win again?
TIGER WOODS: I'm always hungry to win. I'm hungry now, just period (laughter.)
Q. I heard that you might come to Japan, and there are so many people who love you and want you to play. And even people who are not playing golf, like in the United States, even Japanese, they are crazy about you and want to see you. Is that a plan? Is that in your plan to go to Japan?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, there is a plan to go to Japan. When, I don't know. I'd like to go, it would be fun. I've only been to Japan once as a stop over, I was going to Thailand. But that's it, I've never actually seen the city, any of the cities or any of the country.
Q. Is there anything you are interested in in Japan?
TIGER WOODS: I just want to see the culture and understand it a little bit more because obviously people know that I was raised under the Thai household, so I understand a lot of the Thai culture, and I want wonder if they're anywhere near the same.
Q. Are you going to play in New York the week after the Open?
TIGER WOODS: Am I going to play?
Q. With the Buick Classic?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I haven't committed yet.
WES SEELEY: Thank you.
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