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May 30, 2007

Tiger Woods


Q. How about that shot on 18? Pretty sweet. Talk a little bit about it.
TIGER WOODS: 7-iron that went the right distance (laughter).

Q. What distance was that?

Q. True you're fighting a cold?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've got a little strep throat going. That's about it. I'll be all right, though. All good.

Q. What did you do with your two weeks off, anything fun or otherwise noteworthy?
TIGER WOODS: I was a little busy, actually.

Q. Tournament stuff?
TIGER WOODS: No, a lot of sponsor stuff that I had to do, and I was back and forth across the country a few times and hosted a concert this past weekend.

Q. How prepared are you for this?
TIGER WOODS: Not as much as I'd like to be, that's for sure.

Q. When is the last time you came to a tournament when you had this much going on minus the golf?
TIGER WOODS: Wachovia (laughter).

Q. What do you mean by that?
TIGER WOODS: Exactly (laughter).

Q. In your words?
TIGER WOODS: That's about how it was.

Q. What did you do before Wachovia?

Q. You didn't have any --
TIGER WOODS: No, I just wasn't --

Q. You just were goofing around?
TIGER WOODS: No, I wasn't really practicing, I was just training, trying to get my body back to where I needed to have it.

Q. Wasn't that part of it?
TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. Versus golf minutes and gym minutes, it's all sort of part of the same end result?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's hard to get both. I've got commitments that I've had to do these past couple weeks, so you've got to pick one or the other, and I picked getting my body in shape for the run to the U.S. Open.

Q. You had a pretty stiff challenge from Phil when he won the PGA and The Masters and had a foot in the door at Winged Foot. Do you get a sense given what he did at THE PLAYERS that he's back for another run at you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, he's playing better, no doubt about that. He's playing a little more consistent. This year he's putting a little better, too. That's something he probably didn't do towards the end of the year last year as well as he did at the beginning of the year. We all know he can hit it great all the time, but you have to make putts. If you do both, you're looking pretty good.

Q. For the first time in like five years both of you are in this tournament. Does that do anything special for you?
TIGER WOODS: It's always a great field here. Last year I wanted to play but I wasn't quite ready to come back and play, but normally I usually play here.

Q. Have there been times over the last ten years where you've felt challenged by someone, whether it was Vijay when he had his great year in '04 or Ernie or Davis? How do you respond to stuff like that?
TIGER WOODS: I've had different guys make different runs. It was Duval and then probably Phil and Ernie, Vijay, Goose, a combination of those guys throughout the years.

Q. Do you find yourself reacting to that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as long as I'm up there in that conversation and I'm always a part of each one of those conversations, I'm doing all right.

Q. I think there might be a perception in general sports that when someone challenges, the other guy reacts to it. Do you react to that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I keep pushing myself pretty hard, regardless. I always try and get better. You can't stay stagnant in any sport, you've always got to keep getting better because you know the guys are training harder, they're finding their game, they're in the gym, you're getting better athletes playing the game, so we've got better athletes, so you've got to keep getting better.

Q. Fair to say you're playing your way into shape for Oakmont since you haven't been doing a lot on the practice range or whatever?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, I had to pick one or the other. I picked getting my body ready, and then I'll start to play a little bit more and start practicing a little harder.

Q. Did you get in there again over your downtime?
TIGER WOODS: No, not yet. I will next week.

Q. What do you think about people trying to make some blood feud between you and Phil and trying to create this rivalry?
TIGER WOODS: Well, ever since I've been on TOUR they've been looking for a rivalry for me. As I said, I've gone through the list with Fergie, what that list was, and there always seems to be some kind of rivalry going on.

Q. Do you remember the first time you met Phil and what that was like?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't know, no. I'm sure I was an amateur somewhere. I was out here pretty early.

Q. It doesn't appear that they've succeeded in finding a sustainable rival for you. You've had to mention about six or eight different guys.

Q. And as you've showed us many times you've always been in the mix, and that's what's important to you, right?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the same, if you look at Jack's career, it was the same way. He had Palmer, Player, Watson, Trevino, Weiskopf, Miller, he was always a part of each mix, which is always a nice thing to have in your career.

Q. Some of those guys seem to have more staying power.
TIGER WOODS: Fields weren't as deep. Fields are so much more deep now that it's harder to win out here.

Q. Talk about the mental test that Oakmont is going to present.
TIGER WOODS: (Laughing) that golf course is going to be one of the toughest tests that we've ever played in a U.S. Open, especially if it's dry. If it's dry, it'll be unreal because those greens are so severe, obviously the speed and the rough that they have there, it'll be everything you want. Only will it help the scores if it rains a little bit and slows it down.

Q. Is there anything unique about this tournament that brings out the best in you?
TIGER WOODS: I've just always liked this golf course. I played here in the Amateur, I believe back in '92, when Justin won. I just thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed how it set up for my shots. I found that the golf course overall played -- it fits my eye. Not a lot of golf courses do that, but when they do, you tend to see the same guys doing well, and it's one of the reasons I've done well here.

Q. Do you feel the course is forcing players to play it more as it was intended with the tweaks Jack has made?
TIGER WOODS: Definitely. He's made it play a little bit longer. I know some of the holes he's lengthened, but some of the bunkers he's deepened has allowed or actually forced us to either make a decision trying to fit them -- skirt them or lay back short of them, and that's how it was intended to be played.
He didn't like it too much when some of the guys were bombing it over the bunkers on 18. That's not how this golf course was meant to be played. We're supposed to try and fit it between the water and the bunkers.

Q. When you come here saying you're not 100 percent ready, are you ever 100 percent ready?
TIGER WOODS: You're never 100 percent ready.

Q. What's missing this week?

Q. When you hear a guy or people say that he stared down Tiger or went head-to-head, do you only believe that's the case when someone is paired with you because when they're not playing with you, you don't have the same effect?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you've got to do it not just once, you've got to do it a number of times in order to get that kind of reputation. You know, you look at some of the guys like Watson and Trevino did that to Jack, but they didn't just do it one time, they did it a number of times. You can't just do it once. Repeatability I think is the key to that answer.

Q. You would have much more of an effect on someone if you're playing with them rather than if they know you're lurking?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, it all depends on the situation. If I'm coming from behind or you're in the last group, if another guy is not playing well, another guy is playing well, whatever it may be, every situation is slightly different. I've seen a lot of different scenarios out here.

Q. You had that notable head-to-head with Phil a few years ago at Doral. Does that stand out in your mind over any other one, or what stands out in your head as far as a head-to-head match in recent years?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it stands out because I was two back most of the day. I had to go get him. I think that to me was something that was important to me is I was still working with Hank and we were just starting to piece things together, and I had to go out and shoot a low round, and I was able to do it. We had a big battle at Augusta before, at the U.S. Open at Bethpage, I believe at the TOUR Championship, and San Diego.

Q. How was it out there today, and are you excited to get it started for real tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. You know, this golf course has certainly changed since two years ago when I played it. A lot of new tees, some new green changes, bunkers are way different. I didn't play it last year so I didn't see what it was really like, but you can still spin the ball now with the way they've raked it this year. Last year I saw all the guys and nobody was actually stopping the ball.

Q. Having been at least around Oakmont a few times, does that give you any more appreciation for Miller's 63?
TIGER WOODS: That was an incredible round of golf. To go out there and shoot that number on that golf course, you've got to -- I mean, yeah, you have to putt good but you have to hit it unbelievably well. We all know once Johnny gets going, he really gets going. He can fire at any flag and you know it's going to be pin high. That's the difference between a lot of players. They get going and they don't hit all the shots pin high, and he does.

Q. When you talk about all the records in golf that may never be broken, is that one of them, do you think? Especially the way the U.S. Open is now, do you see anyone shooting 63?
TIGER WOODS: Well, people don't realize the real story behind it, the lightning storm the night before and the sprinkler system. You know, that kind of luck to go on and then have a magical day. You need to have all of the above. You can't just have a magical day because you'll never get that low.

Q. You have to know somebody on the grounds crew?
TIGER WOODS: Exactly, and then have a magical day.

Q. With those slopes out there, he hit all 18 greens on the last day.
TIGER WOODS: That's incredible. You've got to drive it great there in order to have a chance to hit those greens because those greens are so penal that you can't really run -- you think you can run the ball up there, but you really can't because the bunkers are so deep that you've got to drive it well and hit your irons well.

Q. And he lipped it at 17, lipped it at 18 and hung it on 4?
TIGER WOODS: And three-putted at 8.

Q. You were in Washington yesterday. When was the last time you can remember being at a media day?
TIGER WOODS: It's been a while.

Q. Does that kind of outline your intensity for this golf tournament?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I take great pride in this tournament. It's my tournament. I'm excited, as well as anticipating the tournament, as well. I've never gone through this before. Target World Challenge is a tournament we've never had a full field, a regular TOUR event. The most we've ever hosted is 16 guys. It's a lot easier.

Q. Greg said you are on the phone at least weekly if not more about things to do at the tournament.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, driving him nuts, I know.

Q. What can you be focused on, at this point, that you're so intent on --
TIGER WOODS: I want to make it right from a player's perspective, and obviously Greg is going to do it from a tournament director's standpoint and try and make it sponsor friendly. I understand what the players want and what the players need, and I'm trying to make it as player friendly but also make the golf course challenging and something that guys want to come back and play again and again.

Q. Yesterday you mentioned your golf course project overseas, kind of how difficult it is, maybe more difficult than you expected at the start. What's been most difficult for you in dealing with the project?
TIGER WOODS: There's a lot of logistics over there because everything has to be imported, and the where the golf course is actually located, getting water to the site is a challenge, not only from having lakes full, but also you need to water the golf course so the sand doesn't blow off. That's been a real challenge.

Q. Aren't they all into desalinization over there? There's no ground water?
TIGER WOODS: Right, and everybody wants water, so it's not exactly easy.

Q. A par 3, 288, is that a challenge, is it fun, or is it too much?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a reachable par 4, so you feel pretty good if you knock it on in one and get your two-putt birdie.

Q. What's your thought on the workout regimen here? Are you trying to out-stamina guys in rounds 3 and 4 by hitting the gym?
TIGER WOODS: I feel like I'm in decent shape most of the year, and I feel when you're not feeling 100 percent that all that training prior to that is what gets you through. That's something that I've always believed in and has definitely shown to be the case over my career. This year even though I'm still battling -- not feeling 100 percent, I'll still train. It's just in my nature to train right through it.

Q. Can I ask you about Bob Ford? I know you had to play with him, just what kind of a guy he is?
TIGER WOODS: He's a great guy. I've been lucky to have gotten to know him, and he's also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, so helpful, and he's a hell of a player, even to this day.

Q. He said if he makes it --
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. I'll play every day with him.

Q. Does all the talk about rivalries and going against certain individuals, does that really not fit what a golfer's mindset is all about? You're usually just kind of worried about your own game. Is that why it's hard for a golfer to play into a story line of going against certain individuals?
TIGER WOODS: That's because that's not match play, where you've got to play a certain opponent to match the next. You have to play basically three rounds or three and a half rounds and see where you stand and see who's there.
Generally it's not always the guys who are within a so-called rivalry because, one, they may not be playing well, or two, they may not be playing in that event. Being independent contractors you play your own schedule.

Q. On the flipside, do you understand why there's all the talk amongst media and fans about individual rivalries as a fan of sport?
TIGER WOODS: I totally understand it. That's what fans certainly want to see and want to have happen, and as players, yeah, it would be nice to have that, but also, how do you get that? You've got to play well to get yourself into that position. I think all the players out here understand that.

Q. What do you think was the greatest golf round ever?
TIGER WOODS: Ever? That's a great question. I'll have to think about that for a little bit.

Q. Vijay, Phil at The Masters?
TIGER WOODS: I'll have to think.

Q. Rory Sabbatini won this weekend. Are you happy for him, any reaction?
TIGER WOODS: Well, he's played well. I saw some of the stats. He didn't hit the ball as well as he would like, but he made everything. 19 putts the third day is pretty good. Rory as we all know is a heck of a competitor, and once he gets it going and he's feeling confident and he starts firing at a lot of flags and gets it going, he can shoot some low numbers.

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