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December 12, 2006
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA: Pre-Round
DAVE SENKO: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods today and we have a special announcement that Tiger has been named the PGA TOUR Player of the Year for the eighth time, he will receive the Jack Nicklaus Trophy and has been voted on by his fellow Tour members.
In addition we're announcing that Trevor Immelman from South Africa is the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year and Steve Stricker is the PGA TOUR Come Back Player of the Year.
With that, Tiger, if you could maybe just start us before we open up for some questions on your Player of the Year honour.
TIGER WOODS: Okay. Just overall, thank you. It's great being back here in southern California, to be back where I was born and raised.
About the Player of the Year Award, that's always an honour to get the respect of your peers, and this year, has been an interesting one to say the least on the golf course as well as off.
But this week, for this tournament here, we're excited to have it back here at Sherwood. The things with Target and Countrywide, the thing we have done with our Learning Center, we have excited our own expectations with our Learning Center. We are going to try to get about 5,000 kids coming through there in year one. We're going to have about 8,000 this year. Our Start Something Program we have done in conjunction with Target now has 4.7 million kids in the program around the country, so we are reaching out doing a lot of great things. With that being said, you guys can ask away.
Q. You mentioned the year that you've had both on and off the golf course, we know about your dad, have you been surprised, were you surprised that you would be able to perform at such a high level after your dad's death, and do you think that it made you stronger?
TIGER WOODS: As far as performing afterwards, I knew I had to go through, like anyone, the grieving process, and I had never done anything like that before. Everyone is different how long it takes you to come out of it.
The hard part is I kept answering after I came back, the hardest thing for me to do with as play golf. Usually people go to work to get away from a loss like that. That's dad, he introduced me to the game of golf. He taught me a lot of life lessons on the golf course. So when I came back and started working on my fundamentals, who do you think I learned my fundamentals from? I learned them from my dad.
I played as bad as I did at the U.S. Open, and to get it going after that, it was nice, because I was playing well early in the year and then in the springtime, got a little bit more; I went back to the same things I was working on at the beginning of the year and they started clicking in and I won a few tournaments.
Q. (Better than you were playing in 2000?)
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about that. As far as hitting the ball, but certainly I didn't putt as well in 2000. I had virtually almost no 3-putts for the year, this year was a little sporadic putting-wise, I'd go through streaks. I had two really good ball-striking weeks at the British Open and then at AMEX where I really hit it good. That was fun. (Smiling).
Q. This will be your first holiday season without your dad, do you think much about that, and does it go through your mind much?
TIGER WOODS: You know, yes and no, because the holiday season the last couple years haven't really been a whole lot of fun especially this past one. I didn't even know it was even Christmas Day, you know, it was one of those kind of things. All the days just blended together because dad was really struggling at the time.
I don't remember, I didn't do anything for my birthday, I didn't even know it was my birthday. I was up three, four, five days in a row just non-stop trying to be with dad. I was here, I just didn't do anything, just hung around him as much as I possibly could, so everything kind of blended together.
So I guess looking back on it, I guess the last couple of years have not been a whole lot of fun. Before that, yeah, dad always looked forward to Christmas Day, always had the Lakers on in the afternoon game. We were huge Lakers fans, just sit back and watch the Lakers play and hopefully win.
Q. Looking at your swing ten years ago to today, it's very hard to see a big change, you look at something, what do you see in your swing that's changed over the years?
TIGER WOODS: Quite a bit actually. Probably the biggest difference is the way I release the club is so different from the way I used to, ten years ago working with Butch and now working with Hank. Their philosophies on how the club is released are two totally different things. That's probably the biggest difference. That, and I've put on a little bit of weight in the last ten years.
Q. Has it helped?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it, yes, I have more strength out of the rough and I have shots I never could have hit before. I don't have the speed like I used to but I certainly have a lot more power, so I guess it's a trade-off.
Q. (Is all of the weight gain from the gym?)
TIGER WOODS: I think that's from certain restaurants of choice. (Laughter).
Q. Do you think it's going to be more difficult for you to concentrate on the course because of all the other things getting bigger and better?
TIGER WOODS: No, actually, it's probably better. I certainly have a lot more tranquility in my life now, now with the Foundation doing so well, obviously progressing of my game, development of my game, my marriage to Elin. A lot of different things have happened. I certainly have a lot more tranquility in my life than ever before, a lot more understanding of how to manage my life. It wasn't always easy starting out. There's no class at Stanford or anywhere else that can prepare you for something like this. Going through the bumps and then the curves and finally understanding how to do it and manage it certainly makes things a lot easier.
Q. For Phil the U.S. Open, one shot away and the whole bit, how tough is that from a player's perspective to rebound from a mental standpoint?
TIGER WOODS: It is what it is. We all make a mistake, we all do. You have to apply it, learn it, and get back on the horse.
That's one of the great things about our game is, is it a season; yes and no. It's not like a season where it's ultimate goal is the Super Bowl or NBA championship down the road where every tournament, every game means so much. Here it's different. You finish the week, forget, it off you go to the next week.
So, you know, plus you still had another major championship to play, two more majors to play. He dedicated himself to those. He just didn't play as well.
Q. So from your perspective is it taking him longer to get over it than anyone else?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just getting back if the hunt, you get back in the hunt, you forget all those things. You look back, I don't think he really put himself in contention Sunday afternoon, or he just played a good, solid round he could win the golf tournament but he had some strokes to make up. You put yourself in contention, you forget all those things and you just come right back out and play.
Q. Do you think you have widened gap between yourself and your peer group, and do you think that would be something that would interest you?
TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily, no. My whole deal is just to try to get better and to keep pushing myself to get better each and every year. And along the way, I'll win tournaments along the way; if I'm able to continue to improve.
Q. Two things. You've re-signed with Nike?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Can you talk about how that relationship has evolved from '96 to the first renewal to now this one?
TIGER WOODS: It's very interesting, because we were not really in the golf business. Now we are a leader in the golf industry. We did not have any hard goods at all and now we have clubs and balls. That's totally changed. Going from basically a person who is just happy to be a part of the Nike company, to now helping out as much as I possibly can.
Q. Are you going to put that thing in your bag next year?
TIGER WOODS: Sumo or Sumo2?
Q. The one that makes the weird noise.
TIGER WOODS: Like K.J. is playing? I've tried it and I do hit it further but launching it a little too high. I don't quite penetrate enough, the ones they have given me to try. That's what this off-season is for to try to dial it in.
Q. Just curious as you go into next year, what's the weakest part of your game do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Probably driving. Probably my short game is not as consistent as I would like it to be. And certainly my putting is not as consistent as I would like it to be.
Q. Any decisions yet or even leanings towards Mercedes and in early January? I know you don't have to commit until the week before.
TIGER WOODS: I haven't really looked forward to that. I'm just looking forward to actually playing this event and then going skiing and just getting away and actually having some time off and then basically evaluate.
Q. Course design, I'm curious, your days are usually pretty full anyhow, your schedule is pretty full. You have been good with time management. When you start to get into that and you're still playing, how much of a challenge is it going to be to add that in and keep up the quality of play and have the quality of that job, as well?
TIGER WOODS: People think, yeah, you've got to design nine or ten courses a year. I'm only entering one right now. You take it one at a time, I'll do this one and see how it goes. And then if it's something I can feel I can handle more, then we'll do more. If I can't, if I only can do one, then one is it. But the main thing is I do it with the same passion, same intensity as I do anything else. That's just kind of how I am. But if I can't give it my all, there's really no sense in doing it.
Q. You talk about getting better and better, and I know periodically you work on your swing, do you foresee any changes in the foreseeable future as far as your swing is concerned?
TIGER WOODS: There's always going to be changes. The game of golf is fluid. Things are always breaking down in this game. We all know from playing it, that's just the way it is, and you've just got to fine tune it, but I'm not doing any reconstruction of my golf swing and doing all of the major stuff. Now it's just refinement. Just a matter of staying on top of it.
Q. In '97 when you showed up at the Nissan, your first full year on the Tour, you were so much of a novelty. E! Channel was there, and non-Golf Channels, girls screaming at you wanting to know about your private life. Ten years later has that novelty gone? In other words can you relax a little bit more you? Were talking about being able to settle yourself but I'm just wondering, when you walk down the street or you go someplace, is it still as bad, or do people respect your privacy a little more?
TIGER WOODS: They respect the privacy a lot more. I guess that's just getting to know me over the last ten years. You know, I was new to golf and people are curious and they wanted to know everything about me. Well, I think pretty much everything has been written about me. (Laughter).
So I guess over time, you do get a better connection with people, and I think that's certainly has happened over the last ten years.
Q. You talked about it a little bit but can you talk about your new golf course and why you chose to have it in Dubai?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's all timing. I wanted to play around the world and play on every continent before I got into the golf course design business. I was able to do that, and then I also wanted to be -- partner up with companies and people who have the same vision as I do for a project. I was lucky enough to have that happen in Dubai. The people there have been fantastic to work with, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun for -- it has been a lot of fun, but it's going to be even more fun once we start moving dirt.
Q. You mentioned your skiing; are you a Black Diamond skier these days? Black Diamond, the hardest?
TIGER WOODS: It's not the hardest.
Q. Double Black?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-hmm. (Laughter).
Q. At the PGA this year, we were talking to Chris DiMarco about who is going to -- one of these young guys is going to have to stand up to Tiger, he says, "I can't do it, I've got three kids and a family." You were talking about the time commitments that you have. When you do look forward to having a family, do you think the commitment to golf and everything you do to keep on top, you're going to be able to do the same types of things when that happens?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's the challenge. Your life has been changed pretty dramatically. I have one advantage, I don't sleep much. I guess that's one thing that's going for me.
But as far as understanding what to do, I think that's just, hopefully when that day comes, I'll be able to perform at a high level, but also more importantly, you know, be a great father.
Q. Also, talking about the young guys, are you surprised there has not been more of a challenge to you from the 20s golfers? You're usually the youngest guy on the Ryder Cup Team, and especially Americans have not been able to make that sustained challenge; are you surprised by that?
TIGER WOODS: Not at all. It's hard. You know, people realise how deep our Tour is now. It's not the U.S. Tour. We have much more of a collection from people all over the world, and when you do that, you don't have the same playing opportunities to develop. How hard is it to get on Tour now? Once you are there, because our fields are so deep, how often can you get into contention to learn how to win? You can fail, I can pick myself backup, but I get back into contention again, but with the field being deeper, how much harder is that now? With that being said, it's not a surprise.
Q. On the Learning Center, is there an anecdote you can share when you've met the kid that would illustrate the obvious pride that you've got in it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I guess probably you'd have to see the letters that we get from the kids that have experienced what we have been lucky enough to create and the atmosphere that we have. If you go there and watch the atmosphere, see the kids feel safe, one, and excited about learning and going to class. We all know when went to class -- some of you guys -- it wasn't always as exciting to go to class.
These kids are all fired up about learning and because we are presenting them with information that can pertain to their life outside of just going to class, and how do I learn, how do I develop, how do I become a leader. On top of that, once I learn this subject matter, how do I, you know, how do I apply it to a working environment? Well, we have mentors that take them through the whole process. And they think that just because you hit a golf ball, that's the only way you can get into the game of golf, there's a lot of different avenues. When they start opening up their eyes, when we start opening up their eyes to other Avenues, other opportunities for them to make a lot out of themselves, they just lighten up.
Q. Have you read them all?
TIGER WOODS: I can't read them all, no. But certainly I look at them and I read quite a few.
Q. Can you talk about everything that you've done off the course, designing courses, your charity foundations, do you feel any part of your thought process in doing all of those things is for life after golf and do you feel like you're pretty set for these new endeavors that you have whenever you retire from golf?
TIGER WOODS: I'm always one that as everyone knows, is always pushing. I try to find other avenues to challenge myself, and I enjoy that. You know, as I've progressed throughout my career, that's what I've done on and off the golf course. I enjoy I guess the challenge of life every day and trying to do something different. I guess one of the reasons why, you know, I'm now in the golf course design business, all of the sports and activities I've taken up and the hobbies I've taken up since I've been on Tour, I enjoy pushing myself.
Q. When you look back on a year like this or a year like last year or whatever, can you share the thought process on how you go about doing that? You just look at wins and losses, you look at certain shots or pivotal shots? How do you go about doing that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, am I a better golfer right now than I was at the beginning of the year? The answer is yes, a successful year, because if I did that for the rest of my career, great career. Understanding how to play the game, how to fix my game, how to hit certain shots, how to manage my game, understanding of the game of golf, you know, each and every year.
Q. I see where you're coming from. Is there one moment where you can say, this is an example of how I learned how to fix it myself or how to manage my game, etc. Can you do that with a tournament, specific shot?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I mean, look at how I played at the Deutsche Bank. I mean, I did not hit it well at all the first three days and I was somehow hanging around. Well, I turned it around that night just by working on it in the hotel room. What did I shoot, 64, 63 or something the last day.
Q. What did you do in the hotel room?
TIGER WOODS: Just try to get -- I was not getting back far enough. The loft on my club wasn't right. Time and time go ahead, I couldn't flight the golf ball properly. The spin was terrible. I was just getting around by putting well and my short game was great. Well, that's not going to beat Vijay on Sunday. I had to find a different way. I had to piece it together, and I pieced it together.
Q. Taking full swings in the room?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q. Just wondered, what kind of advice do you give kids in your Learning Center, how to persevere in such a difficult game, what kind of common strategies do you give them?
TIGER WOODS: That's a hard question. At the Learning Center, one, we have the Start Something program in which they learn how to lead, the steps it takes how to do that. As far as you know, the anecdotes that I may give them, that's hard to do. You've got to actually, you know, you can't just be there just on a one day and give them one little bit. You've got to keep coming in there multiple times, and that's what I try and do, just keep seeing the same kids over and over again and checking up on how they are doing and try and give them, if they have any type of question about what road should I take, hopefully I can help out in some way.
Q. What about with some of the Amateurs you play with in Pro-Ams, are there common faults you see or common tips you give that can benefit a great number of people? Looking for some advice here.
TIGER WOODS: When it comes to amateurs, practice. You know, my father always used to tell me, you get out of it what you put into it. If you work hard, you're going to get results. But if you don't put any effort, you didn't put any work into it, you don't bust your butt, you won't get any results; and more importantly, you don't deserve any.
For the amateurs out there, there aren't any. It's not there in the dirt. You've got to go find it.
Q. Coming up on 31, got any plans?
TIGER WOODS: As far as?
Q. As far as letting your clubs fly.
TIGER WOODS: I'm competitive and unfortunately sometimes, you know, I let my anger get in the way. It comes out. There's better ways at handling your anger. Sometimes I don't always do that properly, there's no doubt about that. I try and will always continue to try because I am very competitive and I like to beat people.
Q. Can you think of something that your father did on the golf course that really cracked you up?
TIGER WOODS: He did a lot of different things, but I tell you what, he always -- it was interesting thing about dad is every time he played, he always wanted to teach a lesson. That's just how he was. So every time we played, every weekend, there was always a lesson to be learned, and he always used to just keep harping on me that; learn something from this round. It doesn't always have to apply to golf. Each and every round, the things you deal with in golf can be life experiences on a smaller scale; it's a microcosm. That's something dad was always harping on me about, to try to get an understanding of that.
Now that I'm a little bit older now and I play a lot of rounds of golf. It's amazing how many things I still learn just by going out and playing nine holes by myself.
Q. At the end of the year when you ask yourself that question, am I a better golfer than I was at the beginning of the year, how many years has it been a yes since you've turned pro?
TIGER WOODS: Every.
Q. How so, you always used the words "own your swing," which I think is a Mo Norman term from a long time ago about possessing the golf swing; what does that mean to you, and how close are you to owning your swing?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. That's a good question.
You know, here is one of the things about a golf swing, is that for me, would you like to own your own golf swing, yes. But in actuality, do you ever get there? No. That's the beauty of it, isn't it. You're coming back tomorrow, trying to be better than you are today.
Q. I'm wondering as far as European players go, I know it's hard to clump everybody together, but in general, maybe some of the guys specifically, what do you like about them and why do you think some of these European players have become so popular here in the U.S.?
TIGER WOODS: They dress funny. (Laughter).
No, they are a great bunch of guys, the guys I have gotten to know every the years and on the teams that we've competed against in Ryder Cups, and as well as the other guys who have been on those teams but who play over here full-time. They are a great bunch of guys. I think it's just their spirit and how they live life. It's so different than how we are here. And obviously you go to Asia and that's very different to how we are here as well. There's a cultural difference, and I think that's what you see and I think that's why, you know, a lot of Americans, the fans, tend to gravitate towards them because they do enjoy life.
Q. You put a lot of Pro-Am events, and you'll be playing probably tomorrow, can you explain how it feels to see someone just light up with excitement just getting to play a round of golf with you out there?
TIGER WOODS: Why? (Laughing) Maybe, you know, just going out there and just enjoying some time. But, hey, playing with me, I don't know, the people get nervous and I have no idea why. We're out there just to have some fun, hit the ball around. I hit the ball all over the place in the Pro-Am. There are many Pro-Ams I don't break 80, so I'm right there with them.
We have a great time doing that and having just great conversations and basically I want to make them take them out of their natural environment and take them out of, you know, every day life and what they do. Let's talk about other things, things that you enjoy doing. That to me is fun, to learn something about them, also to make them feel comfortable where they can do these type of things.
Q. Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus both when they did their design work, built dream courses or home clubs that hosted tournaments, do you see yourself taking on some sort of a project like that that's maybe your own concept for a course, and maybe it's a club just for your friends; and if so, what kind of course and place would it be?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, and hopefully one day. Obviously you have to get the right situation where you can do that, you can go ahead and design what you think is how golf should be played.
For me, I always believe in golf should have open front. You should be able to utilize the ground and don't take away the short game. I play golf courses on Tour and we all see it, miss the green, automatic lob-wedge, hack it out of the rough. That to me is not fun golf. Fun golf is Pinehurst. Fun golf is playing links golf. Fun golf is learning to how to maneuver the ball on the ground and give yourself options. One of the hardest up-and-downs is when you have options. You have so many different ways to play and you see a lot of pros really mess up easy shots because they have so many different options. I think that's taken away from the game of golf now, and ridiculous at how the modern golf courses are designed, that's how they are designed is they have taken that option away and that's too bad.
Q. Just wonder if I can get you to weigh the pluses and minuses on a couple of topics, a, the Golf Channel taking over the brunt of the broadcasting next year with a limited amount of homes limited market penetration, and secondly, if you could share your most recent round of thoughts on the FedExCup as it is now configured, the pluses and minuses as you see it on that front.
TIGER WOODS: As far as the Golf Channel, I think that obviously the Golf Channel has invested an inordinate amount of dollars in trying to grow and obviously with Comcast as their backer, I think they will reach a lot of homes. It's just a matter of getting that out. That's going to be the tricky part. I think it's going to be how it's presented and also the people that are obviously doing the commentating, it has a lot to do with that. Hopefully we can grow the game of golf through that. But you know, we've got to see what happens.
As far as the FedExCup, it's all new to us and we've never had a playoff system before. We've never had big events basically every month. Then the end of the season meaning so much, so quickly. Usually the end of the year is just trying to get in The TOUR Championship, or granted it is, but it's just a different way. You know, I don't quite understand it yet, haven't quite got to -- because it keeps changing.
So, you know, we'll see over this off-season. I know the fields are now shrinking in the playoffs, which I think is what the playoffs should do. You know, it's more of a curiosity I think for all of us. We are all going to go through this new experience together, and it will be interesting to see, you know, how the players handle it, how the fans receive it, and who comes out on top.
Q. You said early on that comparing this season with previous seasons, obviously some of the stuff not to make light of it or to diminish it, but clearly some of this stuff that happened off the course in a lot of people's eyes made the season that much more difficult for anybody to go through, but in your eyes, is this season because of the off-course stuff, statistically what you did on the course, would it be ranked as the most difficult and the best season with the end results you had?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly the most difficult season I've ever had, no doubt about that. You know, you don't ever want to lose your parent, your father, your mentor, and best friend. So you never ever want to have that happen. When that day happens, when you think you're prepared for it, Dad's health hasn't been very good over the last few years and there's been a few times when we thought he was going to move on. But he kept fighting back and he kept coming back and finally this one got him.
It was certainly most difficult year I've ever had because you think you're prepared for it, you think you've gone down this road, you think you can handle it and all of a sudden it happens and you find out that it affects you a lot deeper than you actually thought previously.
Q. And in regards to the Nike driver you talked about earlier, you said you're launching it a little bit higher and it's not quite dialed in for you yet. Nike and Callaway, they have come out with the square drivers, Titleist has one that's almost shaped like a triangle. Can you comment in general about the new driver technology and the new orthodox look that many of the other companies are getting involved with now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they are actually going and just using pure physics. It's not about a classic shape. The classic shape, it's classic to us as players, but if you're a rocket scientist and a physicist, you wouldn't design the drivers we've been playing. That's probably the biggest difference. The ball, if you want to hit the ball straight and launch it consistently at a certain angle with the least amount of spin, well, that's not going to be the drivers that are shaped what we've been playing. You look at all the different innovations we've seen in just the shortest club we have in our bag is our putter, just how we can actually produce more of an efficient roll by going through something that's not a classical shape. So that's obviously changed the game quite dramatic and then obviously now with these drivers, it's doing the same thing.
Q. In the last five years or so, we've seen a lot of I guess explosion really of utility, hybrid types of clubs, even on the Tour players teeing off with them from time to time. I'm curious if you've experimented with any of the hybrid technology and why you have or have not put it into your bag.
TIGER WOODS: Why I haven't put it in my bag? I think I'm still strong enough to hit a 3-iron in the air. (Laughter).
No, the game has changed and you're right, a lot of it has to do with the golf ball. A lot of it, it launches higher, yes, but it produces a lot less spin. So in order it get the ball in the air, you've got to have spin. You've got to have lift and that's changed. You know, with the opportunity to produce less spin, most amateurs cannot get a 3- or 4-iron up in the air. That's one of the reasons why I changed to 5-wood instead of a 2-iron is because the balls just are not quite lifting as high. If I went back to my old golf ball, the balls I used to play, even a few years ago, I would hit them higher.
But the balls nowadays, we've sacrificed spin for distance and that's kind of the nature of the game is trying to hit the ball, the game has been pushed to go further and further and because of that, anything that has less spin launches higher and obviously it's going to carry further and roll further and that's kind of where the game is headed.
Q. Have you even tinkered at all with the hybrid or is it something you wouldn't even bother with?
TIGER WOODS: I've certainly tried like anybody just because that might improve my game. I actually had a hard time keeping the ball down. For me and playing in cross-winds, you know, I'd like to flatten my shot out. But the hybrid, I wasn't able to do it consistently, so I guess as I get older, every ten years, I'll put in a new wood. (Laughter) 40 is a 7-wood and 50 is a 9-wood.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you, Tiger.
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