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August 15, 2006

Tiger Woods


KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen, the 1999 and 2000 PGA Champion, making his tenth appearance in the PGA Championship this week. Also the reining British Open Champion.

Welcome back to Medinah. Your thoughts on returning to the site of your first PGA Championship triumph.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the golf course is absolutely fantastic. Obviously they've lengthened some of the holes and the greens have been redone, but the golf course is such a wonderful layout, wonderful shape to it. It's one of the neat golf courses we get to play. It's old and traditional and it's just very straightforward. I mean, you've got to hit the ball well and obviously control your irons into these greens in order to have a chance.

Q. A lot has been made about your driving accuracy. Do you think too much has been made about it? And secondly, playing a course like this, do you need, do you think, to hit driver a lot, or can you hit the 5 wood stinger and 3 woods and get away with it.

TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to hit that many drivers because it won't really allow me to. Most of the holes are doglegged. Obviously I'd have to take driver up over the top of these tall trees, and it doesn't make any sense. Yeah, I'm going to use it a few times, definitely.

But overall, just like it was back in '99, I hit just a bunch of 2 irons and a bunch of 3 woods here. Just because that's the way the golf course allowed you to play. You play to a lot of the corners and obviously fire from there. If you try to take on a lot of the corners or shape the ball around the corner, yeah, you can, but it's not always the easiest thing to do.

Q. How do your fans differ from Phil's fans? I don't know if you saw that Rick Reilly piece that ran a while ago. It was pretty hilarious, sort of comparing your camp to his camp, because there's going to be a confluence of like I guess for the last year, the first couple of days. I'm wondering if you can tell one from the other.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it'll be loud either way (smiling). There will be obviously a bunch of people following our group.

Obviously you have the three major championship winners this year in the same group, so that's always one of the premier pairings of the PGA. And then obviously the fans that Phil has and that obviously the fans I have, it'll make for a very loud atmosphere.

But in either case, you've still got to place the golf ball correctly and you've got to make putts. Granted, it will be loud, but you've got to go out there and place the golf ball where you need to place it.

Q. To follow up on the driver thing, given normal stock conditions, can you tell us what holes you would expect to be hitting driver on?

TIGER WOODS: Probably only five or six times.

Q. Can you tell us the holes?

TIGER WOODS: Just the par 5s and maybe one or two more. Depends on the conditions, honestly. Obviously the par 5s for sure, and then maybe two other than that, maybe three.

Q. Dave Pelz had some interesting comments in the Tribune today. I wonder if you noticed what he said in terms of well, he said basically that "when Phil is at his best, I'm thinking nobody can beat him." What does that do to you when you hear something like that? Does that stoke your fires? What does that do?

TIGER WOODS: I think I'm pretty tough to beat when I'm playing well, too. (Laughter).

Q. Just to follow up on that, what kind of things motivate you? When you hear things like that, when somebody says that when Phil is on top of his game, he's the best in the world, does that sort of thing motivate you, fire you up a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: Ws. Just getting Ws. That's why I play is to win and to beat everybody in the field. That's fun (smiling).

Q. Isn't golf for you a more interesting game and unique game because you have these challenges that you come from Liverpool and you have to make a game plan, and then three weeks later, it's a totally different game for you; it just shows that golf every time is a unique opportunity because every time you have to play a totally different style of golf?

TIGER WOODS: True. You look at every major championship, and it's always a little bit different. A lot of it is dependent obviously on the weather for that particular week, as well.

Golf is very fluid. It's always changing, always evolving. You have to make your adjustments a lot of times on the fly and be confident that you're making the right calls at the right time. And that's the fun part of it, too; that you have that opportunity to change things and change the game plan or change shots.

But a lot of it still is about placement. Sometimes on different golf courses, trajectory changes quite a bit. Obviously the British Open versus here your trajectory is going to change. Obviously you hit it a little bit higher here. But still, placement; you've got to place the golf ball correctly.

Q. You talked a little bit about the Western Open leaving Chicago every other year, and you're back in Chicago now. Does it bother you about the PGA TOUR schedule that they aren't going to be coming back to Chicago every year for the Western?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's a shame because it's one of the best markets. The fans are absolutely incredible here in Chicago. I just think that it's absolutely one of the biggest well, it is one of the biggest markets we have in the States, and it's unfortunate we're not coming back here each and every year to take advantage of that.

I just think that the fans here have really supported our Tour and the major championships that have come through here, and I just think that we should have a tournament here each and every year.

Q. It's difficult to bring up Medinah without thinking about the duel that you and Sergio had back in '99. Can you give me your recollections of that, and probably more specifically the shot he hit at 16?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was on the tee actually. I had just walked onto the tee and I saw him hit the shot, and I didn't really pay much attention to it until I saw him sprinting (laughter). Obviously that's when I took notice because obviously he's looking either it's going to be really good or really bad.

You hear the crowd just erupted up there on the green, so obviously I knew it had to be pretty darn good. I thought by the way the crowd erupted it was going to be close, and I thought I was going to have to bear down the last few holes and play well. I ended up making bogey there and ended up having to par 17 and 18.

Q. Can you compare the sustained stretch it's only a few weeks, with any of your real good 1999, 2000 stretches, and after the Open, we know what happened. Did you sort of feel it coming when you got to Hoylake?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as the comparison, I think it's very similar. I think I've had some great steps in my career out here so far, and this is certainly one of them. Hopefully I can keep it going for a while.

When I got to Hoylake, yeah, the Western was a huge confidence booster for me because I missed the cut miserably at the U.S. Open, wasn't even close to making the cut there, and I didn't play the first round particularly well at the Western at all, either. It was nice to turn it around in the last three days, give myself a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday, and I felt like I really made a huge stride there, got back into the flow of playing again, back into the rhythm of competing, and just felt like I was back to playing golf again.

My preparations at home in Florida before I went to Hoylake were really good, and then once I got there, I hit the ball great and started to find the speed of the greens, so I obviously played well.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: If I'm on the roll, not to get too excited to get to the next event? Yeah, you have that a little bit, the anticipation of getting to the next event. But then again, your preparation is vital. You have to prepare correctly for each and every event.

When I was at home, I was preparing for this golf course. Obviously I played here Monday of the Buick, came up here and took a look at it, so at least I had a visual of what I needed to work on when I went back home to Florida after the Buick, and I felt like my practice sessions went well. I think that's the key is that practice sessions go well, so when you come into an event, you don't have to do much, just get a feel for the golf course and the speed of the greens and go play.

Q. If the points on the Ryder Cup hold up and Tom gets the four or five rookies on the team, is it incumbent in any way on the veterans like yourself, Phil, Jim Furyk, to provide more of a leadership role in this Ryder Cup than perhaps you might have in the past, or do you think that you've done enough in terms of being a leader on the team?

TIGER WOODS: I think we do have to become more of a figure than most guys. They're going to be asking questions, and it's up to us to provide an atmosphere where they feel comfortable and feel like they can play their best golf. That's the whole idea. Obviously we have to take more of a leadership role if it pans out that way.

But if you compare this team let's say if the points are frozen right now and you compare this team to our Presidents Cup team last year, everyone on the team last year had played on a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup prior to that event. We didn't really talk about anything; we just went out there and just played and the guys had no questions, they already knew what to expect, just go out there and just play. The atmosphere wasn't new to them.

Obviously these guys, if the rookies make the team this year, it'll be different for them because they've never experienced something like that. Especially when you have to go play overseas. It is totally different if you're not accustomed to it. I've played in the Walker Cup overseas, and I don't know if any of these guys were on Walker Cup teams prior to that, but it is a different atmosphere.

Q. Seeing as how Ws mean so much to you, you have 50 in your first ten years, 11 majors; when you broke in as a pro, what did you envision for yourself, and would you sum up your first ten years on Tour, please?

TIGER WOODS: A dream come true (smiling). I did not think that in my wildest dreams I could actually have achieved what I've achieved so far. I've been very lucky. I got off to just basically a fantasy start to my career by making the TOUR Championship within seven weeks, so that was something I didn't expect. I was just hoping not to go to Q school. I avoided that.

Then I was fortunate enough to win my first major out of the gate as a professional, so that relieved a lot of pressure there and a lot of people asking questions. If you've gone for a while without winning a major championship, those questions certainly can be annoying. I was very fortunate to not have to go through that.

As you look at my overall career, it's been a fantasy. I could never have dreamt that I could have won this many times in my first ten years.

Q. How is it different playing against a rival like Phil on a Thursday, Friday, than it might be playing with him on a weekend in terms of your competitive mindset and what you're trying to accomplish?

TIGER WOODS: It is different in the sense that you're not in contention to win a golf tournament yet. You're trying to put yourself in position to win a golf tournament. When you're playing against a Phil or Vijay or Ernie or Goose, you play against those guys in a major down the stretch on Sunday, now we've got everything on the line.

But on a Thursday and Friday. You're just getting started, into the rhythm of the round, into the rhythm of the tournament, trying to position yourself and then see what happens on the weekend. But it is different.

Q. You mentioned you didn't have to face those questions about not having won a major. You look at Sergio, and based on what he did in '99, people would have thought he might have avoided that, as well. What are your views on his progress to this point?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Sergio, obviously, as we all know, he's got all the talent in the world. He's come close on several occasions, and it's just a matter of doing the right things at the right time. But he's put himself there. You put yourself there enough times, you're going to get it done.

Probably there's no better example of that than Phil right now. Phil went through a lot more than what Sergio has gone through, and once you learn how to win; he's obviously won three of them now in a very short period. It's just a matter of getting over that first one.

Sometimes the first one can be the most difficult.

Q. My doctor doesn't think that golf is a very physical game, but you have a lot of ups and downs here at Medinah. How would you rate it compared to other courses as far as a walk for four days?

TIGER WOODS: Not that tough. I mean, I think I'm in decent shape. Walking 18 holes shouldn't be that hard. Twenty more years before I can ride in a cart (laughter).

Q. First off, you sound like you might be sick. Are you?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's just allergies.

Q. On another topic, a lot has been made of you playing with Phil. Obviously there's guys you like to play with, other guys maybe you don't like to play with. When you go in, how much does your partner or who you're playing with affect your round and what you do; and if you don't like playing with someone, does that guy generally know it based on your demeanor or do you just generally get through a round?

TIGER WOODS: Generally the only thing for me that would be difficult to play with at times would be someone who's obviously very slow, and if you get put on the clock, that's frustrating. Other than that, you're out there just handling your own business. Obviously I get along with other players better than others, and that's just the way it is. Sometimes I talk, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'm in the mood to talk, sometimes I'm not going to say a word even if my best friend is out there.

You're there to win a tournament. We can always go out for a beer later, but I'm trying to handle my business out there. But as far as distractions, sometimes being put on the clock can be a little frustrating when you get with certain guys on Tour.

Q. A little bit earlier Geoff Ogilvy said about the pairing tomorrow, he thought it would be interesting to see how you and Phil get along. Why do you think there is such interest, and how would you characterize the relationship?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Phil and I are competitors. We've gotten to know each other over the years by being on the teams, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, and we're fine. It's a major championship, and I don't really talk a whole lot in major championships. I'm out there trying to put my ball where I need to put it. I stay in my own little world and try and handle my own business. I really don't talk to Stevie very much, but that's just the way it is in majors for me.

You know, I've played with some of my best friends, played with obviously Marko in a major before and don't say a word to him all day except, "Here's your card." That's just the way it is. I'm trying to win this golf tournament.

Q. As goal oriented as you seem to be, is one of your goals not just to be one of the greatest golfers of all time but one of the greatest athletes of all time, as well, to be acknowledged in that regard?

TIGER WOODS: That's a step in the right direction, if we're looking at golfers as athletes. I think if you're in that conversation, I think you've been very fortunate and had a great career. Hopefully I can continue doing what I'm doing so that I can be part of that discussion.

Q. When you come back to Medinah, what's the first image or memories that come to your mind; certainly after you won that Sunday. And also talk about how you've evolved as a player and a person since '99.

TIGER WOODS: Probably the thing that comes to my mind is no longer there, the 17th green, when Stevie and I read that putt and I made that putt to save par. That green is no longer there. I keep thinking about it in the brain since it's no longer physically there. I can't go back and hit putts there and reminisce anymore.

As far as changing, yeah, I've changed quite a bit as a person. My life has changed quite a bit on and off the golf course, and I think it's been obviously it's a maturation process. I was still very young to the Tour. I didn't really know a whole lot about the Tour yet. I was in my third year, but still, it's I think it takes probably a good five years to really and truly understand the Tour. I was still new and fresh to the whole thing of being a professional golfer. Things have changed quite a bit since then.

Q. I'm curious what you remember about the ping pong match against Phil at the Presidents Cup, and separately, I realize your Hoylake strategy was built because of the course, but are you more willing, given the success you had at Hoylake, more willing to leave the driver in the bag at this and future tournaments because of what happened at Hoylake?

TIGER WOODS: As far as the ping pong, yeah, it was fun. We go at it every year when we're on these teams, whether it's Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. It's usually a few guys that are vying for who's going to be the champion of the week: Kenny Perry, DiMarco and myself and Phil. I think KP had the best week that week. I think he beat pretty much everybody. But Phil and I went at it quite a few times, too. We had fun.

The second part?

Q. Hoylake.

TIGER WOODS: Utilizing the driver and stuff like that? I think you just play the golf course, what it gives you. Certain courses, you hit driver quite a bit. When you play Augusta, I hit driver quite a bit there. But that's the way the golf course allows you to be. Obviously when you play certain Open golf courses, it's 3 wood or an iron off the tee, and sometimes it's a bunch of drivers. It all depends on what the golf course allows you to do.

Sometimes with certain wind conditions, you can be aggressive and obviously take a lot of trouble out of play, but not with the forecast we've got coming up here.

Q. You just talked about reminiscing. At the U.S. Open you had mentioned when you were asked about previous rounds when you think back you tend to remember your bad shots maybe first off or more often, and Phil has actually said that he tends to remember the good shots. I don't want to pick the word for you; does your way of reflecting tend to indicate a little bit of a perfectionism, and secondly, is there necessarily a better mental approach to, thinking back, the good or the bad shots? Does that say anything one way or another?

TIGER WOODS: I think we've both been pretty successful. So I think it all depends on personality, really. For me, that's kind of how I am. I tend to remember how I could have been better. For me that's probably a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.

But as far as hey, it's been who I am and what's gotten me here so far and what keeps me pushing to get better each and every time I play.

Q. How old were you, and was there a specific shot or a specific tournament when you knew that you were good enough to play on the PGA TOUR?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the round that I played in a tournament that I had at Lytham in a British Open, that was probably the turning point for me, whether or not I should go back to Stanford or possibly look at my options of maybe turning pro.

Prior to that, I didn't really consider turning pro at all. But after playing that well in a major championship I think I either tied or broke the amateur record there. It was at least worth a thought of looking at moving on.

But prior to that, honestly I hadn't really thought about turning pro. I was looking at obviously getting my classes organized for the fall.

Q. Best we can tell, the only other time you play with Phil in a major is '01 at The Masters. Can you think of another? Then I have a quick follow up.

TIGER WOODS: I can't remember except for that.

Q. Do you find it more enjoyable to play with Phil in a major or at a Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: You're a beauty. A Ryder Cup is a totally different atmosphere. That's obviously a team event. We're trying to do well as a team, trying to gel and trying to win a match. As far as everything on the line trying to win a major championship, and at Augusta, that was fun. I was lucky enough to win, but to be able to go down the stretch in a major championship is always fun. With a talent like Phil, you always know you have to play your best in order to come out on top.

Q. You kind of made reference to it earlier, 20 years until you've got to ride in a cart. I am kind of curious where you see yourself at 50. Are you still trying to add to your major totals, or are you a soccer dad or what do you see?

TIGER WOODS: No, not soccer (laughter). Hopefully Pop Warner or something more physical than soccer. I know Elin will probably get mad at me for saying that, but who knows.

It would be fun honestly I probably won't be playing out here that much by then, but it would be fun to be a part of my kids' life and doing that and trying to get them to do the right things in life.

Unfortunately as a golfer, you're not home very much. I think that's going to be the challenge that all of us as parents who are golfers, that we all face, that we're not home. It's going to be important to try to be there as much as I possibly can, and I look forward to those days, I really do.

Q. Just curious how you think Darren Clarke handled his wife's illness, how much you admire that, and what do you think of Harrington donating his winnings this week to breast cancer research?

TIGER WOODS: I'll handle the second part of the question. I think that's very admirable, what Paddy is doing. Paddy is one of the greatest guys out here. You know he's got a big heart every time to talk to him, so that doesn't surprise me at all.

As far as Darren dealing with the things he's had to deal with, no one can truly understand what he's gone through unless you've actually experienced it yourself. I could not imagine going through that and watching someone that you were going to spend the rest of your life with deteriorate and go through the hardships and then eventually move on. For him to play, trust me, I've talked to him a couple times about this, and it's not easy for him to come out here and play, but Heather really wanted him to come out here and play and get away from all the distractions at home and go play and go be himself. Heather never wanted anyone to feel sorry for her.

You can see why Darren had so much love for Heather. She's a very strong woman. It's a loss for everyone who ever got a chance to meet her and know her.

Q. Can you talk about some of the things you miss from your life ten years ago that because of your success you can no longer do? And contrary to that, some of the things your success has enabled you to do now?

TIGER WOODS: As far as not doing things, it's pretty much the same. I think you'd have to go I'm sorry, ten years. I was thinking about the PGA, my bad. Ten years, anonymity was certainly one of the things that I certainly miss, to be able to walk around and do things without being recognized. Those are some cool times.

But then again, I've got a chance to do something I love each and every day. If it wasn't for golf and this, I would never have met my wife. Obviously I wouldn't have gotten a chance to go all the places I've ever dreamt about going and doing the things that some of the crazy things that I've done, obviously going to New Zealand and bunge jumping or hanging out at Fort Bragg. These are things that you hopefully dream about doing one day, but I've been fortunate enough to actually have a chance to live it.

Q. Is it okay to ask on the spectator side I know you are a great player, great champion. I've seen this like four times in a row, but no matter what, you are a great player. I remember there was a long time ago at The Masters, you won The Masters, and I think the channel 2 commentator introduced you, and when your father passed away everybody felt sorry. My question is going to be in the near future about a charity in the memory of your parents who have passed on?

TIGER WOODS: I think what we're doing right now with my foundation and the Learning Center, what we've done, and then obviously my father started the Start Something program. We have over 3 million kids in the program right now across the United States, and that's something without my father, these kids wouldn't have the opportunities that they have now in life and the direction that they have.

My father has made a tremendous impact, and we're going to try and grow that Start Something program and make it global and get more kids involved in that, and that certainly is something that my father will always be remembered for so he'll have a legacy in that; there's no doubt about that.

Q. You look at some of the guys who have played you tough in majors, Rich Beem, Bob May, even Chris DiMarco would sort of fit into this category of guys who maybe they wouldn't be the first guys you would think of. This might be a tough question for you to answer, but do you think it's easier in a way for those guys who have lower expectations to play up to their abilities against you, as opposed to guys who are ranked second, third, fourth in the world?

TIGER WOODS: That's a hard one to answer, it really is. You're going to have to ask that to them. All I know is I've had some pretty tough battles with those guys. I've lost them as well as come out on top. But either way, they've played well. And also guys that have been in the final pairing and didn't play well. It's really hard for me to answer that, it really is.

Q. What have you seen in Chris, for instance, those two times you've played against him in majors?

TIGER WOODS: Chris is a fantastic competitor, we know that. He's not going to roll over. He's going to keep fighting, he's going to keep battling. Whether he's got his best stuff that day or not, he's going to keep giving his all until the very end. You've got to admire someone like that. They never bag it. He's always tough to play. When he's playing well, he's pretty emotional. So being an emotional player, he gets on these rolls and tends to feed off the gallery, tends to feed off making big putts, and he seems to do that a lot. He's lost in two playoffs, I think, back to back majors, Whistling Straits and Augusta, then played well at the British Open.

So he's been there enough times. It's just he's had bad luck at the wrong time.

Q. Since you've come on Tour, all the other golfers have had to answer a lot of questions about you. They've also had to deal with trying to beat you, so they've had a lot to deal with in that regard. However, purses have risen exponentially and dramatically since you've come on Tour. How much do you think you had to do with that? Why do you think that is? And do you think some of these guys, if you had something to do with it, owe a debt to you because the money has risen so dramatically?

TIGER WOODS: They don't owe a debt to me at all. I think the game was already evolving. It was changing. We were new fans being introduced to the game. Obviously with John Daly's win at Crooked Stick, that brought new fans to the game already. It energized our sport. I came out a few years later. It was already changing. It was already evolving.

With our sport becoming more global at the time, then eventually the advent of the World Golf Championships and I think more of an influx of foreign players playing our Tour, you didn't have this big diversity between the PGA TOUR and The European Tour like you had before. A lot of those guys are now playing our Tour. So we're seeing such a big increase of foreign players playing our Tour, and I think that helps. It helps bring in new fans from different cultures who are living in the United States.

I know every time K.J. plays anywhere, you see a tremendous amount of Koreans out there following him. Obviously that wasn't always the case until K.J. came out here.

Q. What do you think is your impact on golf in the last decade?

TIGER WOODS: My impact? 50 wins on our Tour. I don't know, hopefully I've made the game better. But I've got my name on trophies 50 times here in the States. I think that's all right. That's a good impact, I think (smiling).

Truthfully, I think hopefully that I've spurred on more younger kids to play the game of golf that probably they wouldn't have looked at golf as something they really wanted to do. I know when I was growing up, golf was not a cool sport to play. You were considered a wuss for playing.

Now I think it's more of an accepted sport and a viable sport, as well. I think you're seeing a lot more juniors out there hitting the golf ball around more than I did when I first came out here on Tour.

KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen. Tiger, thank you very much for your time.

End of FastScripts.

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