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June 20, 2007

Woody Austin


JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you for coming in. Just a couple of minutes of your time, we appreciate it. The first here in '04, you were looking T9 in '05, T5 last year. Obviously this is a good course for you, and then your victory a couple of weeks ago at the Stanford St. Jude Championships. You have to feel really good about the prospects this week.
WOODY AUSTIN: Yes. I'm hoping. As long as you drive it well here you play well. Obviously the last couple of years I started driving the ball well, and I drove it good at Stanford, so hopefully I'll drive it better than I did last week at the Open. If I drive it good, I'm going to play good.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Talk about your experience last week and how that was.
WOODY AUSTIN: I personally like that stuff. I've always said that the U.S. Open would probably be my best chance at winning a major because it penalizes the guys that don't hit it straight, which is one of maybe at the most a handful of tournaments that we play all year that penalizes a guy for not driving it straight. The way the game has gone, the game is all about hitting the ball so far now, not hitting it straight. It's important to play golf courses that penalize you for that.
The only problem that may -- the trouble with like last week that makes it so difficult was the fact that the greens were built in 1900 and they weren't built for 13 1/2 on the Stimp Meter. That's where the golf course got crazy. It's not that the rough is so high and it's hard to hit the fairways, it's just if you get around the greens, if you're not in the right spot, even if you are on the green you're not in the right spot. That's what makes the golf course so hard.

Q. A couple of weeks ago that round you played on Sunday, can you put into words how that felt to be kind of in a zone like that?
WOODY AUSTIN: I said it there, it's like a dream round. We all have gone through it before, whether -- maybe not on a Sunday at a PGA Tour event, but we've all been in that position where the swing feels right and every time we look up the ball is going where you want it to go, and that's basically what I was. I hit the ball where I was trying to hit it all day and I never put myself in trouble. It just made it a simple day.

Q. If you're playing decent you obviously have a chance at it.
WOODY AUSTIN: Like I said, the game is so, I don't know, there's little -- it's so finite as far as hitting a shot off line that it's rare that they all just come off. Everybody has a round where you play great but you'll hit a couple of wayward shots. From the 7th hole on I didn't hit a wayward shot. Like I said, it was kind of like a dream state, every time you looked up the ball was going where you wanted it to go. It made it easy.

Q. Have you learned to deal with yourself better, not beating yourself up as much?
WOODY AUSTIN: I think I deal with myself better. I don't get nearly as upset as I used to. I still get mad, but again I get mad at myself. So again I look at it from the standpoint of at least I'm not fake, I'm not false. I'm not blaming it on my caddie. I'm not blaming it on a volunteer that might have moved in my backswing, or camera. I think that's all hogwash. At least I know where it comes from. I have ultimate control.
A guy can sit there and say the wind changed. That happens all the time. But to blame somebody else, say well, your caddie talked you into that club, ultimately I'm the one hanging on to it, I'm the one hitting it. So I just believe that you take responsibility for your actions. I've never said that I didn't do something, but I'm also the first one to say I'm the one that screwed up. I'm the one who choked. And that's just who I am. I don't have a problem with that.

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: I've choked numerous times. I would say I did it last week. I come off a win where I played unbelievable, and I stood up on the first tee at the Open last week and hit it out of play, the first swing of the tournament. What? Well, because I was nervous as hell the first day of the tournament. Now, what do I do? Do I say something happened? No, I was nervous as hell and I basically choked and I hit it out of play. I ended up making double on the first day of the tournament. That's a battle that I have to battle every single day.

Q. The changes, the range being built, talk about what the Travelers have done.
WOODY AUSTIN: I haven't taken a look at all the stuff yet. I've been busy with the family. Today is the first day I've come out here. I've looked at all the stuff and it looks incredible. And I've talked to the people about it when they started talking about it last year. So it's going to be awesome, which will be nice, because it gets pretty crowded on that driving range and that chipping area, so you really -- on days like today when it's Pro-Am day or whatever, you don't have the room to really work on certain things because there's so much congestion, so it's going to be really good for that.

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: I honestly don't know.

Q. Ten in a row?
WOODY AUSTIN: No, not ten in a row. I know I skipped it one year.
JOE CHEMYCZ: You skipped it in 2000 and 2003.

Q. Do you ever feel an obligation to play a place you haven't played in six years --
WOODY AUSTIN: I feel obligated to a certain extent. Without these tournaments I'm nothing, whether it's a major or what have you, I think that gets blown out of proportion with the upper echelon guys that they don't play because it's not important tournament or it's not a major.
Well, most of the tournaments on the Tour, except for a small few, have been around for 30, 40, 50-some years. Are you telling me it's not a significant tournament because it's not a major. Without those tournaments at 35 and 50 years, there are no majors to be so hyped up about. Again, I think that's blown out of proportion because you guys think they're the greatest things in the world and that's all they worry about is the majors, but I feel obligated to play here because I won here three years ago.
Right now I'm working on my 5th or 6th tournament in a row and I still have three more in a row to go because I won the Buick my rookie year, which is next week. Those are the tournaments that gave me my start. Sure, I'm tired and that's why I haven't been here until today, but I feel obligated. I feel it's important for me to show my support to the tournaments that gave me what I have.

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: I agree there should be, absolutely. It's not that hard to play a tournament when you've got 40-some events and you're only playing 20-something a year. You can move it around where every five or six years you can play a tournament. I don't see how that's -- now obviously when it coincides with the British Open, you can't play Milwaukee. I understand that. But if you're taking four and five weeks off at a time before you play two in a row and then take four or five weeks off and the most you play is two in a row, you can't tell me you can't tweak your schedule to play an event that gave you a start or that's been around for 50 years.

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: He also got eight sponsor exemptions when he first came out and he hasn't gone back to many of those to say thank you. Like I said, it depends on your perspective, it depends on what you think. You can say -- again, it goes back to, I'm not afraid to tell myself I'm wrong or right or this or that or the other, it goes back to what are your beliefs or what kind of person you are.
You can say you love the game or you can say that you respect the game or you can say that you're above the game or whatever, but your actions tell me whether or not, you know, and that's how I look at things. I try to look at things black and white. I try not to look at the political. I'm definitely not politically correct, I'm very black and white.

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: Absolutely. Why not? Again, like I said, we do have a rule for the foreign guys to play 18 and we have to play 18 to keep your status or whatever. Like I said, if you've got 40-some events a year and only four of them are majors that you quote-unquote care about, so there's those tournaments opposite those are the ones that, okay, you can't play. But there's 30-some other events throughout the year, in a five or six-year period, you can move your schedule one week at a time to play an event that you've never played before to say thank you, how hard is that, especially when we're talking about a couple of people that only average 20 events a year, 21 events a year, so have 20-some odd weeks off. It's not that hard.

Q. Have you looked at the FedExCup standings?
WOODY AUSTIN: I know what my standing is. Like I said, the whole thing about the way I look at the FedExCup. It's really -- it was an avenue to get Phil, Tiger, Veejay, all those guys to play together. That's the gist of it. Get those guys together, get a build up to that final event. They say for it to be a Super Bowl or World Series or whatever. That's fine, but it's just for those -- it's only for those four events, and it's to get those guys together. It wasn't predicated to get me to play or not predicated to get one of the rookies to play, it's predicated on those guys, to get those guys to have those shots at the $10 million.
I look at it this way: So Tiger wins. He's 30 years old, 31. He's got to live another 28 more years before he gets to collect.
Again, his is about majors. You win the FedExCup, okay, you won the FedExCup, but your reward for that is almost 30 years off. Is he basing his legacy on winning a FedExCup or is he basing his legacy on winning 20 majors?

Q. (No microphone).
WOODY AUSTIN: Absolutely not, there's no way. He's never played more than two in a row. When he does, he has played three, but those are all the silly season events when he gets a lot more money. No, absolutely not, because then what's going to happen at the final one? Mentally tired, physically tired. His whole talk is that he prepares himself for those events. He rests and he mentally and physically prepares. That's why he doesn't play much. He's mentally and physically prepared. So if he wants to win the FedExCup and he wants to win that last event, do you think he's going to play the three weeks before? No way, he's not going to happen. He's not going to change his way of preparation.
I, personally, if I think I can get to the last one, I'm not going to play four in a row, that's not smart. If that's your goal, is to win it all, unless you have to play to get into the fourth one, otherwise, no, it's not smart.

Q. You haven't been out there yet, obviously. You obviously don't know what the conditions are out there. Have you heard?
WOODY AUSTIN: No, I would assume everything is the way it has been. What makes this course so good on the back nine you have to drive the ball in the fairway, you have to drive it straight, and that's what makes this tournament so good. So I'm figuring there have been no changes to the course. I don't know how much rain they got, if it's a little bit sloppy or soft, but the last few years it's been beautiful, firm and fast, and that's why the scores, nobody has gone too low, and that's what you're looking for.
Like I said, the 15th hole, you can ask all the players around, it goes to show that you don't have to make a 490 yard par 4 to make it a great hole. That is the greatest, if not the best, par 4 we play all year. And you can make a 2 or a 6 based on that first shot.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Woody, thanks.

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