August 18, 1996
Q. What's your initial impression of the courses?
TIGER WOODS: Impression? I guess that the golf course is extremely fast, as far as the greens go. The greens are getting very firm, very quick and with these undulations you've got to be very careful coming into the greens. But one good thing is that the fairways are ample wide, so you can use the driver.
Q. How is your game right now? Talk a little bit about your preparation coming into the tournament.
TIGER WOODS: I'm playing pretty solid right now. Nothing great. Hopefully it will be this week, but overall I'm very pleased that my preparation ever since the Western, I've worked very hard. I've worked on a few technical things with Butch for about an hour and we solved some things that needed to be solved. And I'm striking the ball in the way I should be. I'm putting it pretty good. So hopefully everything will gel tomorrow.
Q. Since the Western, you were in the Bay Area?
TIGER WOODS: No, I live in Southern California.
Q. You were down in Southern California?
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. Are these five pars reachable for you mostly or how are you going to play it?
TIGER WOODS: I think every one is reachable except for 4 or 5.
TIGER WOODS: That's 619? Yeah. If I hit a good drive, I can come close. I don't know if I can get there day in and day out.
Q. Can you drive it over all the trouble or is the bunker --
TIGER WOODS: The right bunker, I can carry it over. It's no problem. The left bunker, I'm sorry, and if I do pull the ball out I'm in the bunkers, obviously.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about your quest here for a third straight and what that would mean in terms of your own personal achievements in a historic sense?
TIGER WOODS: That one is hard to answer. The reason being is that I never understood the historical ramifications until after I won any of my USGA titles. It's kind of interesting, because the only thing I'm here to do is try and win. That's the only thing I'm caught up in. I try to do my best, but I never understand what it actually means until the tournament is over. The last tournament, the last USGA win, took me about six months to understand what it meant to win two in a row. And then within the last couple of months, ever since the summer started, articles have been written, people have been asking me what it means to win a third. And then I started thinking I've won two, to have this opportunity. So it hit me kind of late. It's kind of interesting that way.
Q. Do you feel a pressure in that or is that something that's fun for you? How do you feel about going for the third?
TIGER WOODS: The third doesn't mean anything. It's like trying to win the third U.S. Junior. Only thing I'm here to do is get into match play and take it match at a time. It's just something that I've learned that's what works, works best, not to get caught up in everything around me and what's going on.
Q. I was a little surprised to find that the champion had to qualify, I thought there might be an automatic seed. Do you wish that was the case or is it good to get in two rounds?
TIGER WOODS: I think everyone should qualify, because a person could win it, see, like I did last year, and could be playing absolutely horrendous coming into this event and get an automatic seed, which would be wrong. It would be unfair to 311 other players, because of that. But if your game is fit, you'll get through the qualifying.
Q. Tiger, do you prefer medal or match play? Does it make a difference to you?
TIGER WOODS: Match play is much more interesting, that's for sure, because one-on-one, we don't get to play that very often until the last 9 holes of the tournament. And one-on-one tends to bring out a little different attitude, especially match hole. Stroke play when it comes down to a match play situation, you've still got to be careful in your decision making. You still can be very aggressive in match play, which I find suits my game.
Q. It's a little more precarious, isn't it, because you can play well in match play and not win, or you can play badly, poorly and win. Is it a little bit more out of your control?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's directly in your control. If you play good, I think you will win. You've just got to keep playing better than the other guy, that's all.
Q. You said all along that when the time comes for you to talk about your future plans you will talk about them. When will that be? When do you think you might discuss what you want to do with your future? I know you're here to win this tournament and that's foremost in your mind, but I'm sure people are interested in just what your thoughts are on that.
TIGER WOODS: I think I'll start thinking about that and actually start talking about that after this event. This is something I've geared my whole summer towards, just like I do every USGA event. I try to peak for this event. It's the biggest one at my level. I'm not a touring pro, so the U.S. Open is not my biggest event. But as junior golf, USGA was the event. It's the biggest one by far. In amateur golf it's the same way. After this tournament I'll sit down and talk to anybody about it, about my future plans.
Q. So for you this is a bigger deal than The Masters was this year or the British Open?
TIGER WOODS: Right. Basically this is my level. This is where I'm at. I'm an amateur, of course. This is the event. I'm not saying that The Masters or U.S. Open or British Open are not big tournaments, but if you understand that, say a pro plays the U.S. Open, he plays in the U.S. Amateur, how would he rate the two? He would think the U.S. Open is bigger than the U.S. Amateur. That's the same way for us, because this means a lot to amateurs, just like it does to a junior to win the U.S. Junior.
Q. Are you nervous at all?
TIGER WOODS: Am I?
TIGER WOODS: I'm always nervous. When I tee up on the first tee, I'll be nervous and then it will go away.
Q. More so this week because it's more important to you?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's the same.
Q. Does the experience playing in the British Open and The Masters and the U.S. Open give you any extra mental advantage in an event like this?
TIGER WOODS: I think the British Open was the big one, of the three this year. I say the U.S. Open, I'm sorry. And the British Open. The U.S. Open showed me that I can play with these guys, being tied for the lead, but I still have a long way to go, to have the disaster on the finish on the first day. But the British showed I had a lot of patience. It's the first time I've played 72 holes with patience on every shot. That's something that's come hard for me to do. It's not natural. It's not natural for most 20-year-olds, but it's something I've had to learn. And I've learned it the hard way. Unfortunately, I had to learn at the U.S. Open in front of national TV and had a bunch of articles written up about me, and you guys in the media. It was awfully tough. But it was probably the greatest thing for me to learn from that. And I applied it to the British Open and there it was. I shot 7 under my last three rounds.
Q. How do you strike a balance between the gearing up to play at the competition and trying to keep it light, so that you can laugh. Is that hard to do? Like now tonight will you flip a switch and say it's all serious?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, after the banquet tonight I'll go home and start thinking about the tournament. I'll start thinking about how I'm going to play tomorrow, because it's kickoff time tomorrow and it's time to get serious. Practice rounds are all fun and games. We had great matches. My last two days with Buddy and some of the guys, I've had a great time, but tomorrow it's everyone for themselves.
Q. How do you rate this course as compared to Newport last year?
TIGER WOODS: How do I rate it? Very different. It's a lot like TPC the previous year. I think this is a lot more fair than the TPC. This golf course allows you to hit driver on just about every hole, if you so choose. There's going to be a penalty if you miss it, but there's options there. At TPC it was taken out of your hands a couple of times. These greens are a lot harder and a lot faster than they were down there.
Q. The Portland area has been pretty good to you and your competitive play. I've read a little bit about it, but go through some of the things that have happened to you here in the Northwest?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. I guess my first tournament in this area was when I was 16, I believe, 15 or 16 I played in the Hogan Cup at Riverside Golf Club, I think. And I played very well. I think our team won and I won individually. I guess the next one was the U.S. Junior, I won that. And then I won at Royal Oaks, which was just across the border.
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