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January 30, 2008
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
RODDY WILLIAMS: Tiger, welcome once again to the Dubai Desert Classic. Not a bad start to the year last Sunday, was it.
TIGER WOODS: That will work. Yeah, it was kind of a long week. The weather was a little difficult but I was playing well enough to get a victory there. Got in yesterday and really looking forward to teeing it up tomorrow.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Obviously showed your liking for Torrey Pines, but slightly different challenge this week, and not always had it your own way.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I tell you what, at least the greens are rolling smoothly here. That's a big bonus. They were typical poa in the wintertime a bit bumpy but it's great to come over here and get some warm weather and really looking forward to teeing it up in the tournament.
Q. You had a ten-week break and won by four shots, and a five-week break and won by eight shots; when you have no break, how many shots do you win by?
TIGER WOODS: Well, hopefully I can play well enough to win.
It's one of those things where I've always played, you know, pretty well coming off breaks, and you feel fresh and my practise sessions were pretty good, and I'm really excited about getting back out and playing. You know, coming over here after playing well last week, really looking forward to teeing it up this week and giving it a go.
Q. Bookmakers in Britain are quoting you 16-to-1 to win the Grand Slam this season. Given that so much can happen over the course of the four events, and remember Muirfield in 2002, do you think that's a good bet?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know. It's about playing well at the right times. It's about getting lucky, actually. You have to have everything go your way. You can play well and still not have it happen.
But it's about, you know, the only thing I can control is my own play, and hopefully I can have it peak at the right time, four times this year and hopefully it will be good enough.
Q. You spoke after the Buick about how you're playing this stretch as good as any time, better than you were in 2000, try to keep that run going as long as you can, obviously.
TIGER WOODS: People ask me if it's a run, but I think it's just improvement. That's one of the reasons why I made the changes that I made is to get to this point. People ask me, why did you make the changes back in '97. Well, look what happened in '99 and 2000, '01 and '02.
Then I made the changes a few years ago, and look where we are now. That's why you make changes is to get better and the work I've put in with Hank over the last few years, you can see the results. And the great thing is, we have a long way to go.
Q. Have you set yourself a target of, say, a hundred PGA Tour events and 29 majors, or do you just take it as it comes?
TIGER WOODS: You just take it as it comes. When I first turned pro, I mean, could I ever have foreseen this happening, this soon in my career? No, certainly not. Not by the time I'm 32 years old and having 13 major championships. I wouldn't have foreseen myself getting to that point, because at the time, my game wasn't good enough. I had not matured and had not understood how to play the game of golf. Over the years, understanding how to manage my game around the golf course and getting most out of it each and every day, that takes experience.
When I first turned pro, there's no way I could ever have foreseen that. I didn't have that experience. I didn't have that knowledge to get around the golf course.
Q. That's a very self-effacing comment about early in your career, and now with the streak you're on, do you ever have any self-doubts now?
TIGER WOODS: Of course you do. Of course you do. That's part of the game of golf are part of life. You have those doubts, and the whole idea is to obviously keep pushing through and keep improving and have a game plan to execute, and you go out there and execute.
Q. When you sort of left the field behind as you did last week, what mind-set do you get into that you can keep pushing yourself rather than think, oh, I've got this won, how do you keep going forward?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the thing is, last week, or I'll say Sunday, the conditions were such that, you know, someone played a good round of golf; there's two guys who shot 67, Rory and Ryuji. So the guys in second place and third place did that, and I did not play well under those conditions. The wind, it was the hardest day of the whole week, and it's very easy to go out on that golf course and shoot 75 or 76.
Next thing you know, I'm in a playoff and lose the tournament. You can't afford to come back to the field. I tried not to do that. I just got off to the greatest start you could possibly have and birdied the first hole right out of the gate and built a nice little lead going into the back nine.
Q. Just talking about your golf course in Dubai, can you tell us what stage it is in, and have you visited the site and are you going to announce any more hole plans like you did for those three holes?
TIGER WOODS: Correct, I have not been out to the site yet. Haven't had time. I will get out there this week and we'll take a look at it. We have two holes shaped now. Working on a third.
You know, the schedule has been thrown off a little bit but now we are starting to really get things cranking, which is nice. No announcements, no plans yet, you know, for any other golf courses, but certainly looking forward to getting more into the golf course design business.
Just having so much fun with the one in High Carolina and the one here. It's been eye-opening for the detail that goes into it. I didn't really realise that, but I've also loved it, too. I absolutely just spend hours, you know, just looking at plans and thinking and creating and then that to me is fun, trying to give the developers what they want. That's my responsibility, and hopefully I can do that and deliver that.
Q. When you look at the major courses this year, did you think they especially suit you, this batch?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've played well at every one. Even the one at Oakland Hills, I played pretty good during The Ryder Cup there.
But yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. Especially the U.S. Open there, it's right basically where I grew up. I missed the one at Riviera, the one that Elk won, but that ought to be great, too, to actually play in my hometown where I grew up. So this is not too far where I grew up. I have a lot of history at Torrey Pines from my junior golf days and all the way through.
I've always wanted to play a major close to where I grew up and didn't get that opportunity at Rivi, but certainly have it at Torrey Pines.
Q. Has there ever been a year when it suited you so much, do you think, just looking at the three?
TIGER WOODS: I feel like it suits me every year, but that's just me.
Q. You've only played once in the last 14, 15 weeks and it appears to have given you a renewed zest for the game. Do you see that as the template going forward, will you do that in future years?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's nice to have an off-season. I've never taken one since I've been on Tour. Amateur golf, yes, but not since I've been on Tour. Usually after our season is done stateside, I usually go overseas and play.
We have a new addition to the family, so that's been just a blast being at home and watching Sam develop and grow and change. That to me has been a lot of fun. I can see why guys thoroughly enjoy having off-seasons. It is nice to get away from the game of golf and recharge and do different things and when you come back out, you're fresh and ready to go.
Q. So you're doing that again at the end of this year?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know yet.
Q. Another strong field here this week, who are the people you're going to keep an eye on or are you at the stage now where you just ignore the field and just concentrate on yourself?
TIGER WOODS: That's all you're supposed to do is worry about yourself. I can't control what the other players do. This is just not a sport where you directly influence someone else. You've got to worry about your own game, take care of your own business and see where you stand come Sunday afternoon.
Q. When you say you've had this off-season, and obviously being with the youngster has been great for you, have you been working on other things apart from golf, you know, the design thing, or was it a total break from everything apart from family life?
TIGER WOODS: No, I did a bunch of other things. I'm the one who -- I don't sleep much to begin with. I'm pretty revved up and I like to go. I thoroughly enjoyed actually working out a lot and getting my body in shape.
Obviously being with the family and my mom came out a bunch of times and Elin's family came over. So we did a lot of different things which was nice.
Q. Just to follow up, how much time has the business of being Tiger Woods consuming your sort of golf time?
TIGER WOODS: That's a tough question to ask because -- or a tough question to answer, I'm sorry. I'm usually thinking about it; whether or not I'm actually participating and playing or not, it's a different deal. Depends on when my practise schedule is and what I'm doing to get ready for an event.
So it's really a tough one to answer, sorry.
Q. You've already touched on your golf design business interests. Can you tell us is there one hole in the world of golf that's your favourite hole, and why, and are you planning to incorporate that into the design?
TIGER WOODS: There's no one hole, no. You know, my favourite golf course is St. Andrews. Obviously it's the home of golf and the history behind it; that golf course, the nuances and the intricacies behind it and understanding how to manage your way around that golf course, that's fun.
The different wind conditions, I just think that's just a lot more cerebral than people think of how to manage your game around that golf course. I enjoy that type of golf.
Q. To pick out one hole at St. Andrews --
TIGER WOODS: There isn't one. I like them all. The only weird tee shot is obviously 17 because it doesn't fit the golf course because there's no other hole that you play that way, but that's about it.
Q. Roger Federer was talking the other week about how he's aware that he's created this monster where everyone expects him to win all the time. Do you empathize with the unique pressure it is brings for you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I certainly understand it. But you know, it's one of those things where you don't win for anyone else. You do it for yourself and your family. That's who you play for. You don't play for pleasing the media, the sponsors, the fans or anything like that.
You go out there and you play to win because that's what you want to do. You don't go out there to tee it up to win for someone else. That's something that my mom and dad has always stressed is that you go out there and compete for yourself, and if you don't want to do it anymore, you walk. That's just the way it is.
Q. We have heard that you're also going to have your design input in the clubhouse, as well as the hotel that is coming up in your project, and we believe you have taken up a residential place over there. How good of an interior designer are you?
TIGER WOODS: Oohh, interior design is obviously not my forte, but I certainly have a feel of what I like. My taste has always been catered to more of a modern feel.
That's something that, you know, that's why this project has been very time consuming and also very, for lack of a better word, cerebral. I've thoroughly enjoyed what it's done to me and how much I had to think and how much I had to think things through. And I've always enjoyed that, and that's part of who I am and part of the reason I went to Stanford is I enjoy that part.
And trying to create this project out here, that's been fun to do for me because it's not just a golf course. There's a lot more behind it than just that, and same thing with High Carolina, same thing. Hopefully I can have a positive impact on both.
Q. How does the course compare along with the changing skyline around it with your previous visits?
TIGER WOODS: I think the greens are a little bit slower than they have been in the past. You have a little bit more grass and I think that's probably because it has rained here.
The rough is up a touch. They have narrowed a couple of the fairways down, and they are certainly playing just a touch longer, so the balls are not really rolling as much.
But all in all, the golf course is, again, it's in perfect shape and it is year-in and year-out. Obviously if wind doesn't blow like it did today, the guys are going to go really low because the greens are running perfect.
Q. Some of your opponents might be interested to hear you say how you've got golfing business projects etc., but can you assure us that winning golf tournaments is still your No. 1 priority at this stage of your life?
TIGER WOODS: Well, winning golf tournaments has never been my No. 1 priority, no.
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. After your family, sorry.
TIGER WOODS: There you go. (Laughter).
Q. I see you're playing with Monty for the first two rounds; your thoughts about playing with Colin again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't played with Monty in a little bit now. It's always been fun. I've always enjoyed playing with Monty. He and I get along great, and it will be fun to go out there and play.
Q. And the second question was: There's a young guy, Rory McIlroy, who joined the Tour late last year. Did you get to talk to him yesterday?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't get to talk to him. I did meet him but you know, we played in different groups, so we didn't have a whole lot of time.
Q. What do you know of him, has he impressed you, and what sort of advice would you give him?
TIGER WOODS: The only thing I've really seen is what he did at the British Open this year. I haven't really followed what he's done since he's turned pro. Obviously he's out here and he's now a professional, and you can see he's got the talent the way he played at The Open Championship, how he held up. And you know, it's just a matter of him improving and maturing as a player.
Q. The general ambition in Dubai is to make this the greatest golf destination in the world. Do you think that's realistic from what you've seen and your involvement?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think certainly, and maybe not just limiting just to golf; I think just the overall destination of the entire region.
What they are doing is frankly phenomenal. I haven't seen anything like this and I don't think really anyone has anywhere around the world has seen this type of growth, and I think golf is just one component of it. The growth that they have had here, just in this area since the years I've been coming here, the skyline keeps changing, keeps evolving and people keep coming here and thoroughly enjoy it. I think certainly golf is a big draw here, and you know, great weather, day after day.
Q. Just to totally change tack, could I ask you a Barack Obama question?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, God, here we go.
Q. Just your thoughts on the way he has inspired a generation of Americans who clearly weren't interested in politics before.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've seen him speak. He's extremely articulate, very thoughtful. I'm just impressed at how well, basically all politicians really do, how well they think on their feet. Especially those debates, it's pretty phenomenal to see them get their point across. But I just think that he's really inspired a bunch of people in our country, and you know, we'll see what happens down the road.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts