August 21, 2002
TODD BUDNICK: We welcome three-time defending champion Tiger Woods to the World Golf Championships NEC Invitational. Tiger, you played a practice round this morning. First time playing since the '98 PGA Championship?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this is my first time playing since '98. I came out here, actually, to do a thing for EAS Sports, but I didn't play.
But today I played and it was quite softer than it was in '98. We had probably two or three clubs more into the greens than we did four years ago, so it played a little bit different than what we are accustomed to seeing. The fairways definitely weren't giving it up, and it was tough to get the ball down there.
Q. Last time you were here, you bogeyed the sixth hole three out of the four times you played this course. Will you approach it differently, and can you remember the last time a hole treated you like that in a TOUR event?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did. I didn't play it very well. I didn't drive the ball particularly well on that hole for some reason. I've tried hitting 3-wood and driver there, just didn't seem to work.
I hit most of my drives there on the right-hand side, either in the bunker or in the rough. Today, I just hit driver down there. I hit a little soft 6-iron in there.
There's been holes that have given me problems. Three in a row like that, or three out of four? I've made higher numbers in one round, but I don't know if I've played one hole like that. You'd have to go look the stats up.
Q. How are your energy levels on the end of three in a row here?
TIGER WOODS: I feel pretty good. I went home for the last couple days and chilled out at home, hung out with the boys and just put the clubs away and just came out today and felt real relaxed. I felt great.
Q. It looked like you had a good time with your threesome, too?
TIGER WOODS: Playing with two buddies like that, is always fun. Cookie (John Cook) lives down the street from where I live and Calc is a good friend of mine. We go out there, have a whole bunch of fun, talk a lot of trash, and just take a look at the course, as well.
Q. You guys finished pretty quick.
TIGER WOODS: I thought we played slow, for us. For us, we took our time. Usually it's probably a half hour quicker than that.
Q. Can you compare this stretch of trying to win four in a row to what you did earlier in the year at the Memorial, and also the fact that you're in a three-in-a-row stretch here?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Memorial, I didn't really seem to put it together there. I just kind of -- just a touch off, and obviously it showed. But this week, at least I'm playing a little bit better going into the tournament than I was at Memorial. Hopefully, I can put it together this week. I played well the last couple of weeks and hopefully it continues.
Q. You always say you like to give yourself a shot at the weekend, but in this format where there's no cut, is there a different approach?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's the same. You've just got to give yourself a chance to win on Sunday on the back nine. That's where you want to be. Hopefully I can play solid enough to get there.
You know, I think the winning score is going to be probably a little bit lower than it was the last time we were here because the greens are softer and the fairways are softer, so you can hit more club off the tees, and you have less of a chance of running the ball through the fairway, too. Back in '98, a lot of the holes, you were so afraid of running the ball through the fairway because they were definitely bouncing.
Q. Can I ask you about the state of the PGA itself? You guys are cashing big checks, and there are seven tournaments without sponsorship next year, one being Air Canada, because they could not get top players like yourself to come. As a player, obviously you can't be every place at one time, but is there anything that you guys can do to get yourself there once every three years? Do you feel that responsibility?
TIGER WOODS: That's the whole idea of being an independent contractor. That's the whole premise of being a PGA TOUR player. In theory, you have a right, but there is a minimum; so technically you're not really an independent contractor. You force us to play certain tournaments, you know, that -- I don't think that's what the players want to see happen. And I know that a lot of the tournaments would like to see that happen, to guarantee some of the players to come and play.
But, you know, it's tough. A lot of us have different schedules, different times. A lot of the players have families and they take certain times off during the year, play a lot during the summer, when they have their kids, and they are at home during the fall when their kids are at school. So everybody's schedule is different. That's just one of the toughest things about our tour, is that because our schedules are so varying, it's tough to get players to play tournaments consistently.
Q. Any chance of coming to Vancouver next weekend?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm going home. (Smiles).
Q. A tournament like this, such a strong field, not a major, but if you were to win this four years in a row, what would that rank in your career accomplishments? Are you striving to do that?
TIGER WOODS: Am I striving to do it? Yeah, I'm striving to do this week, but it's not something you think about starting out. You don't think about winning a tournament four straight years; just think about winning one.
I've been lucky enough so far to have won it three times. To win it four, that's pushing to elite company. I'd like to be a part of that list.
Q. Are you disappointed it's not at Firestone this year?
TIGER WOODS: Am I disappointed?
Q. Would you rather be at Firestone?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've played well there. I'd like it to be at Firestone, but it's coming back. The Northwest has also been very good to me, too, from amateur golf to professional golf, and I've always played well in the Pacific Northwest.
Q. Those of us in the Northwest know the ball does not carry very far. Can you give us an idea of how far with a 7-iron, 6-iron?
TIGER WOODS: Well, today -- granted, I don't have any adrenaline going through my system today, at 6:30 in the morning, but I hit a lot of 7-irons from 150. The 7-iron I hit last week on Sunday at 17, I think I had 195 or something like that. So, obviously, the situation is different. There's adrenaline in your system and you're pretty jacked and you're going to hit the ball a little bit further, but also the conditions, too. It's warmer, the air is not quite as heavy.
I've played this, two years at Stanford, a lot down at Monterey and SF Club and Olympic and Lake Merced, the ball won't go anywhere. You could hit it with a 2-iron usually. It's different playing up in the Pacific Northwest. The ball does not fly quite as far because the air is a little bit heavier.
Q. How many drivers did you hit today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit one on 6, 15 and 18.
Q. After the majors, what actually motivates you for the rest of the season? What are you going for?
TIGER WOODS: Wins. Why not? I mean, I've told you this millions of times; if I'm playing a tournament, I'm here trying to win it. It's as simple as that.
Q. Do the majors take a lot out of you?
TIGER WOODS: They do. That's why I put the clubs away for a couple of days, got some rest, hung out with the boys and had a great time.
Q. Did you go back to Orlando? Is that where you went back home?
TIGER WOODS: No, L.A.
Q. When did you get into Seattle?
TIGER WOODS: Late last night.
Q. Are you cognizant of it much when you go to a golf course that you've played on TOUR and not won at? Riviera would probably be the best example; you've played there half a dozen times and not won, does that enter into it when you go to a golf course, that you have not won there yet?
TIGER WOODS: You don't really think that way, because I haven't been on the TOUR long enough for it to really be a problem.
Maybe if I've gone 20 years without winning an event I've played each and every year, it might get a little frustrating, but I've only played there six times.
Q. On half of all of the golf courses you've played on TOUR, which is a pretty amazing number, I just thought maybe you might know the ones that have eluded you so far for whatever reason?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't pay attention. Sorry.
Q. Who are "the boys" in L.A.? I know who the boys are in Orlando, but who are the boys in L.A.?
TIGER WOODS: Guys I grew up with, guys I've known -- geez, I've known a lot of them since grade school. We always keep in close contract with one another.
The hard part about our schedule now and our lives is we are all doing different things. It's tough for us all to get together, but when we do, it's pretty cool. It's fun.
Q. What kind of things did you do, if I can ask?
TIGER WOODS: Just hang out. Just get away from you guys. (Laughs).
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much, Tiger, and good luck this week.
TIGER WOODS: You got it.
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