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August 20, 2006

Tiger Woods


KELLY ELBIN: Ladies and gentlemen, joining us is the 88th PGA champion, Tiger Woods. This is Tiger's third PGA Championship victory, and today he becomes the first player in history to win the PGA Championship twice on the same course. With his 12th major championship victory in all, Tiger is now alone in second place on the all time list behind Jack Nicklaus.

Congratulations on this historic day here at Medinah.

TIGER WOODS: Thanks. It was a special day out there. I just had one of those magical days on the greens today. I just felt like if I got the ball anywhere on the green, I could make it. It's not too often you get days like that, and I happened to have it on the final round of a major championship. So it was a really neat feeling to have.

I was just trying to get the ball in the fairway, trying to get the ball anywhere on the green, and I knew that I felt like I could make anything. It's a special day on the greens today, and I just happened to make some nice bombs early in the front nine to stay ahead.

Luke was right there, Shaun was making a run, Weirsie was ahead of me making a run. I knew I had to continue making birdies, and I was able to do it and made a bunch of pars on the back nine until 17.

KELLY ELBIN: Could you go through the birdies and the one bogey, please.

TIGER WOODS: No. 1, I hit a 5 wood off the tee and a 7 iron to about 12 feet left of the hole and made that.

5, I hit 3 wood off the tee, a 3 iron to about 40 feet and two putted.

On 6, I hit a 5 wood off the tee, a 7 iron to about 40 feet and made that.

8, I hit a 7 iron to about, again, 40 feet and made that.

11, I hit a 5 wood off the tee just in the right rough, hit an 8 iron to about eight feet and made that.

Then on 17, hit a 6 iron in the back bunker and blasted out to about eight feet and missed it.

Q. At any point were you thinking toward the end about getting to 20 under or as low as anyone has ever gone in a major or in any way running up the score?

TIGER WOODS: No, I had I think a four or five shot lead depending on what hole I was on, and I was trying to make pars. I knew if I made pars all the way in, Shaun was running out of holes, and if I parred in I would win. That was just my mindset, to keep hitting fairways and greens and lag putt out there and get my speed right. If it happened to fall in, great, if it didn't, just tap it in, then move on to the next hole and do the same thing.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about your emotion off the first hole and the birdie putt? Did that just kind of seem to relax you the rest of the way and set the tone for the rest of the tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Fun to hit the fairway there. I hit three of probably the worst drives I hit on that hole. Today I decided to go with 5 wood. It was blowing a little down off the left at the time. 5 wood would get me where I would have somewhere around 180 to the hole. That's fine, just trying to get out of there with a par and move on. I happened to hit a 7 iron up there to about 12 feet. It was a pretty simple putt, just had to let it feed down there and it would fall to the right just a touch. That's exactly what happened.

I felt like once I took the lead there, if I just played the holes correctly, played the par 5s well, then there's no reason why I couldn't maintain the lead.

Q. Congratulations.


Q. Do you feel like you're on the cusp of something here? You got asked this earlier in the week, but of course you hadn't won at that point and hadn't tied a tournament record at that point, three wins in a row and a second place, and guys are starting to make comparisons to years gone by. Your competitors are making those comparisons.

TIGER WOODS: That makes me feel old, too (laughter). I feel like I'm controlling my ball pretty good right now, and more importantly is I know how to if you compare it to how I was here in '99 versus how I am now in 2006, just a better understanding of how to get more out of my round and how to handle the emotions better. That's just through seven more years of experience. I've been through a lot in those seven years.

I've been through a lot of a stretch of events where I've had to try to handle it, but I feel like mentally I'm so much better prepared now to handle situations than I was then. But physically I feel like I'm hitting the ball extremely well. I have a better understanding of my mechanics and my putting stroke now, and overall I think I've made a bunch of strides since the last time I played here in '99.

Q. So that was a yes?


Q. You told us years ago the fact that you'd tape Nicklaus' records on the wall when you were a kid. Well, you're approaching him now, become No. 2 in majors. Can you discuss that, and is that 18 majors now like the big goal now that you've done everything else?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's still a long way away. It's not something I could get next year. You know, as I said, it took Jack over 20 years to get to his. It's going to take a career, and I've just got to keep plugging along and keep trying to win these things.

These are the most fun events to play in, the major championships. I just thoroughly enjoy coming down the stretch on the back nine with a chance to win it. That's why I practice as hard as I do and what I live for. That to me is the ultimate rush in our sport is on that back nine on Sunday with a chance to win a major championship.

To answer your question, I've still got a long way to go. 18 is a pretty big number.

Q. On occasion when you would make a mistake and hit it in the bunker, you still appeared very confident and made some good saves. Which do you think was your best out of the sand today, and why are you so good even when the ball is in the trap?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the bunker shot I hit there at 13 was by far the best bunker shot, even though I had one on 14. 13, I just felt if I could just make par there, I just felt that the momentum would be in my favor, and once I hit that bunker shot I had a good lie, a perfect lie because when it splashed in, it just barely crawled out and set up. So I had a great lie. I could fly it onto the downslope and now it wasn't going to run off. So go ahead and be committed to it, be aggressive, hit it down there, and it came out like Stevie said, "that was the best up and down you made all year." It was a nice time for that, too.

Q. Some players talked about the greens and said they were really able to hold them well, and the reason being is because they're only a few years old and the root structures hadn't set in there. Wondering what your opinion on that is.

Also, you said you prefer major championships to be single digits. Having won at 18 under, do you take that? Is that okay, too?

TIGER WOODS: I'm never going to say no if I win. No, the guys are right. The root structure wasn't there, and every ball is just splashing and bringing up making huge ball marks. We're bringing up dirt. You're never going to get balls bouncing on these greens at all, this week, and then with the rain this week it just made it worse.

You just had the feeling early in the week even when you played the practice rounds that guys were going to make some birdies this week. All the par 5s with good drives, except for 14, so basically three of the four par 5s were reachable, pretty much for all players. You knew that guys were going to be bunched up making a bunch of birdies. Then you had the soft greens, and guys were going to continue making birdies.

One thing they never got this week is they never got the greens quick. Even if you had downhill putts you were never afraid the ball was going to run out. You never were cautious on a downhill putt, you thought you could still ram it in there and knock it in there. That's normally not the case in most majors. But this week it just happened to be an aberration.

Q. Congratulations, Mate. So you win the British Open with a 2 iron, you win this with a 5 wood. Is that your sort of handicap to the field? Secondly, it seems like opponents never seem to do well against you on a Sunday. Could you give them some advice?

TIGER WOODS: Second part I'm not going to answer (laughter). I like the way things are right now.

The way they were at the British Open, I just ran the 2 iron down there. This week was softer. The 5 wood was pretty handy. I hit my 5 wood farther than my 2 iron. As Stevie said earlier in the week when we were playing practice rounds, it fit. If I hit 2 iron this week off the tees, I couldn't have gotten to the corners, I couldn't carry the trees on 16, couldn't carry the trees on 11, so that shot was out. So the 5 wood just was a perfect club this week.

Plus the par 5s bringing in higher and softer just worked out great because I can take a lot off of my 5 wood that I can't take off my 2 iron. I can only hit it one way to try and get the ball up. The 5 wood I can hit and take 20 or 30 yards off without a problem, and also I can juice it, as well, and step it up and hit it further. So it was a nice move having that club in the bag this week.

But I played it basically the same positions I played in '99, just the ball has changed since '99. The ball is going a lot further. But I'm basically hitting 3 wood or 5 wood to the same exact spots I hit 3 wood or 2 iron the last time we played. I basically played it to the same spots I did last time and accepted that, didn't try and cut over any of the doglegs with driver. For instance, today on 5, it was blowing down off the right so I went with 3 wood off the tee because if I hit driver I would have to take it over the corner of the trees down there and I wouldn't have any room. I could run it in a far bunker so I laid it back. That's basically the way I played the golf course in '99.

Q. Can you talk about the way you played No. 7 and how that speaks to your ability to grind out a par when you're in trouble?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit a terrible tee shot there. I spun it off to the right, and I had no shot but to pitch maybe just a little bit forward, but basically straight sideways. I had 254 to the hole, and it was just a choke down 5 wood and just try and put the ball straight on the green. I had basically the same exact shots I had yesterday. Yesterday 259 to the middle of the green, today I had 254. I had a great visual, just hit the exact same shot as yesterday, start the ball at the flag and bleed it into the center of the green. It came out perfect. I had a nice easy putt. I actually hit a putt that I felt like I could make.

To grind out a par like that when I could have easily have hit the ball in the bunker, made a bogey and the momentum turned, it was a positive par. Consequently I made birdie at the very next hole and got things running again.

Q. Well played, Tiger. At Hoylake you spoke about the sense of calmness that you felt all week. A similar experience this week?

TIGER WOODS: It wasn't as calm. You know, yesterday was a pretty neat feeling. I hit the ball really good yesterday. I was pretty calm yesterday. Overall it wasn't the same as Hoylake, maybe just because I was in contention to win in a major after my dad passed. It was just a totally different feeling. I think that had a lot to do with it.

But this week was similar but not quite as good as it was feeling wise and my emotions. I got riled up a couple times, got firey, and I can get that way at times. But I was able to calm myself down and refocus and be committed on the next shot.

Q. A couple of quick things. If you could just give me your impressions of Medinah golf course as a golf club and working with the members here. But first, considering your success here at Medinah, I was wondering if you were considering an application?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as the first part of your question, Medinah Country Club is one of the neat places. I've played here a few times actually, as well as in the '99 PGA. And 2006 PGA I've come out here with M.J. and we've played a little bit. I've always loved playing here. It's a straightforward golf course. We don't get to play golf courses like this. That's why guys love Charlotte, love playing at Firestone next week, why guys love playing Riviera.

These are golf courses that are straightforward, classic golf courses that are just right in front of you. They're difficult but they're not tricked up like how most of the modern golf courses are now. It's a very straightforward the membership has done a fantastic job of getting prepared for us and having open arms and just having a great event this weekend.

Speaking to the second part of your question, I just received an honorary membership, so it's pretty sweet, I don't have to pay dues, either (laughter).

Q. Speaking of that, you have five wins now here in Chicago. Are you as focused when you're away from the golf course, or are you more comfortable in this area that helps you stay focused once you're on the course? Do you assimilate into the neighborhood? What is it that makes you able to be so focused when you do come here?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question. I don't know. I've played well here back in the Western Junior days. I've played well in the Western Open and then obviously in the PGA. I don't know what it is about this area, but I've played well here.

I can't honestly answer your question because I really don't know. I just feel comfortable here.

Q. Did you have your dog?

TIGER WOODS: My dog was here. We've been training. He's been running me a little bit. It's been good.

Q. We've become very accustomed to you winning, and sometimes it's good to take a historic perspective. Can you tell us what it means to you to go past Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Denny Shute, Byron Nelson, Leo Diegel, Paul Runyan, Vijay Singh, Larry Nelson, Lee Trevino and Jim Barnes as being the next person to win three PGA Championships? Only Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen have won more.

TIGER WOODS: That's a pretty elite list. When you go back to it and as a kid and when you first come out here on Tour, you're hoping to just win one. I've been very, very fortunate, to be honest with you. I've been very fortunate to have my game come together at the right time. I've played some of my best golf in the PGA. The last time here as well as Valhalla against Bob May and then here this week, it's been some of my best golf that I've played, and it just happened to be in this championship. A list like that, it really is a dream come true.

Q. Is there a moment where you said sometimes you're feeling it's magical, everything is on. Do you ever feel in a way sorry for your opponents, like, "you guys don't have a chance"?

TIGER WOODS: No (laughter).

Q. Earlier you talked about hitting 2 iron at Hoylake and 5 wood here, and it was kind of jarring both there and here to see you sometimes 50, 60 yards behind your player partner who hit driver. You guys all love to blast a driver. What prompted you to sort of set aside your ego and realize it's okay to attack a course that way?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Hoylake is different because the fairways were so fast and I couldn't control a ball that's going that far. Here most of the holes are doglegged, and I felt like I couldn't take it up over the corner of the doglegs and make the ball stop where I wanted it to with my flight. I felt it was best to play to the corners and then move on.

There's nothing wrong with playing to the corners because if you play to the corners, you're going to have at the most maybe a 6 iron into the green, and that's not a bad club to have. 6 iron on down, you're still in scoring range. With the greens being this soft, there's nothing wrong with being in those spots. Yeah, that's why I put it right at the corners and just moved on where I didn't have to curve any tee shots to get it around the corner. I just played it straight out and straight to the green.

KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Tiger also tied his own 72 hole PGA Championship record relative to par. The record he set at Valhalla in 2000.

Q. I think we're not able to compare you to anybody else in the game. A lot of people are already giving you Jack's record in the majors. But one name that still comes up is Michael Jordan. I was wondering when you grew up watching Michael Jordan play basketball, was there something about him and the way he was able to dust the competition that made you say, "I want to be like him," or was it somebody else?

TIGER WOODS: M.J. was amazing, he really was. We were just playing back home in Florida, he came down and he watched his son play some AU basketball down there and he played at Isleworth. We have an indoor basketball hoop in the clubhouse, so M.J. was in there shooting and showing me some stuff. M.J. is still M.J. He doesn't do it for an amount of minutes. He's only about five or ten minutes now. But the shots he can hit, the fadeaways, the technique, the release, it's just different.

It was just neat to have him, when I came out on Tour, basically befriend me and pull me under his wing and say "this is the way life is going to be out here if you achieve the things you want to achieve. These are the things you're going to have to deal with."

To have that kind of friend who's been through it all, where I could talk to him any time about any subject is pretty neat. Not too many people have an opportunity like that, but I was very lucky to have him as a friend because I grew up admiring him and what he was able to do with his mind and body and the way he was able to lead.

He was absolutely phenomenal. Then as I got to know him as a person, it's been even better.

Q. What did you first think when you saw that Luke came out wearing a red shirt today? And can you recall the last time anyone wore a red shirt when paired with you on Sunday at a major?

TIGER WOODS: I don't recall, no. No, sorry. I didn't think anything of it. I thought it was kind of weird to have a blue belt with it (laughter).

Q. When you won at St. Andrews last year, you mentioned your warmup, how crisply you hit the ball, kind of led into the round. I'm curious if you had a similar revelation this morning with your putting, on the putting green?

TIGER WOODS: I did, yeah. I told Hank that I saw what I did yesterday on 16 on the highlights last night on TV, and I saw how my putter blade went back, and I didn't like that very much at all. I rehearsed it a little bit last night, came out this morning and I just felt like, hey, this is back to how I putted last well, two weeks ago at the Buick.

I mean, I just rolled it on the putting green really well, and then I went on the golf course, and I said just keep doing the same thing, the same body positions, and just let her go. If you read them right, they're going to go in. I just had that feeling today.

I don't have that feeling very often, but it's special when you can have it in a tournament, and then obviously have it the entire 18 holes on Sunday of a major.

Q. Walking with you for most of your round today, not all your tee shots were that accurate. A number of them went awry. What was most impressive watching you, the shots out of the rough seemed to be very accurate today. Can you talk a little bit about that, not only saving par, but coming up with birdie on a number of shots by being able to come out of the rough so crisply?

TIGER WOODS: I've had a lot of experience (laughter). I got a great break there on 11 today. I hit the ball, just spun it just a little bit to the right, just trying to hold up to against the wind. I had a lie that was pretty good but it was really hard underneath, and when the ground is really hard underneath you can usually get the full distance out of it. I hit 8 iron out of the rough, had 164 to the hole, and it just came out perfect.

I was very lucky to have that kind of ground underneath it because if I didn't, more than likely I'd have to try and put the ball in the left bunker or front bunker and try and pitch on and make par, but I had a great lie where I could try and put the ball on the green, and it came out great, then had an easy putt. It was about a ball outside the left, and I knocked it in there.

KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Tiger had 27 putts today. That was the fewest of the week.

Q. You're now halfway to another Tiger Slam. You talked about comparing your game today with 1999. I'm curious, do you feel in this stretch of the last four tournaments you're playing as well as you did in that stretch of 2000 2001?

TIGER WOODS: Yes. Yes. With that and the experience of seven years added to that, six, seven years, depending on what year you're talking about, and understanding how to get myself around a golf course and how to control things and all the different shots I've learned since then, yeah, I feel like things are pretty darn good right now.

Q. When I was out there on the putting green, I found that Phil Mickelson signed autographs for kids every day all the time and you seldom did or never did. What's the reason? And does that mean you don't like kids or you love golf more than kids?

TIGER WOODS: I sign at the range, but I didn't do it around the clubhouse, no. There are too many people, and kids get run over. It actually gets pretty dangerous. We had a barricade go down this week. It gets a little dangerous at times.

Q. And a follow up, I know that you will come to China this November for HSBC Championship. Will you give more autographs to Chinese kids than last year? I think you did it once or twice.

TIGER WOODS: Trust me, I did more than that.

Q. I'd appreciate it.

TIGER WOODS: You got it.

Q. You spoke about how it's such a rush for you to be in contention on the back nine of a major. Is it as big a rush when you're so firmly in command five shots clear, four shots clear, as opposed to being tied with someone or a shot clear?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's just even a better feeling to know that you're in control at a major championship, and basically if you just keep playing the way you want to play, you're going to win it. That's a great feeling because sometimes if you're tied or one up or one down, you may play some great golf but it's not good enough, someone outplays you. I knew if I was far enough ahead, if I just kept doing what I was doing, the other guys were running out of holes. They were getting to a point where it was going to be hard to birdie them all coming in. If I could do my business in the last group, that was going to win it.

Q. At what point exactly did you realize either today or in the past couple days that you would win this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Once I got through 17 and hit my tee shot down 18, I felt I was in control of it. I mean, playing 17, anything could happen. I could put the ball in the water there. I could be there for a while. That's one of the reasons why it was a 7 iron shot all day, but I took 6 and made sure I played to the back edge of the green, if not back bunker or back hill, and took the water out of play and basically played for a 4 and possibly a 3 if I made a putt.

That's kind of how I looked at it. If I made bogey there and Shaun made par at the last made birdie at the last, I'd still have a three shot lead playing the last hole. I figured I could handle that. That was my decision making on 17.

Q. You keep saying you had that feeling today, you were in that special zone. How do you keep that continuity and that feeling going into your next tournament?

TIGER WOODS: That's a challenge. It's a challenge for all of us as players. Sometimes you play great one week and you don't have it the next. Welcome to golf. But I'm going to a place that I've had some success at, and I'm looking forward to going there to Firestone, and it's a World Golf Championship, another big event, so I'll take the next couple days off and enjoy this and start firing back up here probably Wednesday and getting ready.

Q. First of all, congratulations.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

Q. I had a question about hole 10, how you played it this week. Before you've said that all the par 5s were reachable in two except 14, but you didn't play hole 10 particularly well, and the stroke average came out to be 5.2.


Q. Can you talk on why that hole was so difficult for you and the field?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the first day I hit just a terrible 9 iron and ended up making bogey. Today the wind was down off the right, and I hadn't hit the fairway yet, so I decided to go with a 3 wood off the tee. If I hit a 3 wood off the tee today, I could hit 3 wood on because it was playing short. The wind was down off the right. That's the approach I took. I tried to hit some kind of holding fadeup there and keep it in the fairway and I overdid it, spun it off to the right, put it in the bunker, which was fine. Tried to lay it up there and knock it on the green and make a putt.

I figured most of the guys if you look at the board, they weren't making birdies at 10, especially the back nine on major championship Sunday. Things get a little bit more difficult. There's nothing wrong with getting out of there great to get out of there with 4 but nothing wrong with getting out of there with 5.

As I said, I had one of those special days on the greens where I said if I don't hit the ball on the fairway, I can lay it up and put the ball anywhere on the green and I feel like I could make it. That's basically how I played the hole, and I just lipped out on the bottom edge.

Q. I think we all know what the four major championships mean to you, but I think we're less clear on what the Ryder Cup means to you. Could you talk about that?

TIGER WOODS: I'm excited. We're excited to go over and play. We haven't won it in a while, I guess since '99. Hopefully we can get the job done this time. I don't know how our team panned out.

Q. No change.

TIGER WOODS: Top 10 stayed the same? Well, then we're going to have some rookies on the team. I don't know what Tom is going to do on his picks, but we're excited to get over there. I've played The K Club a number of times, being over there right before the British and fishing and playing golf. If they set it up like they did at the European Open last year, it'll be a pretty tough setup because they had the rough extremely high and the scores weren't very good. We'll see. We're excited about getting over there and trying to win the Cup and trying to bring it back home.

Q. Has the Ryder Cup become more important to you in the last few years?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's always been important. It's just that I haven't always played well (laughter). And on top of that, when I did play well, sometimes the guys just outplayed me. That's the way it works out in match play, especially when you have partners. Anything can happen with those partners because you go out there and you can shoot a good number and still get beat.

KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, the 88th PGA champion. Thank you, Tiger.

End of FastScripts.

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