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March 19, 2008

Tiger Woods


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome our defending champion, Tiger Woods, here to the media center at the World Golf Championships CA Championship. A lot of streaks going on kind of at once with the World Golf Championships, this course, this event and obviously this year. Just start off by talking about being the defending champion of all three of the World Golf Championships events.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's kind of nice, but this week is a new week, and the golf course is playing a little bit more difficult this year than it was last year. It's a little bit quicker. They've got the greens up a little bit. The greens are rolling great. The speed of the fairways are up. Rough is just a little bit deeper but not much.
But today it's blowing pretty hard out there, so we just had to call it a little early.
CHRIS REIMER: A couple days removed now, talk about the win and the putt on 18 last Sunday.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the putt on 18 was nice, inside left firm, perfect (laughter). As I was saying afterwards, I was just really trying to work on my speed on that putt. The whole week I was trying to make sure I didn't leave myself a second putt on those greens, and the only hole I did that on was the 10th hole on Sunday. I ended up three-putting. I didn't want to have that happen again on 18. I just really concentrated on my speed, and once the green started taking that putt sideways, it looked pretty good from where I was.

Q. How do you compartmentalize things?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just the nature of the sport. Once the week is over, you go on to the next one. You miss a cut, you're on to the next week. You miss a tournament, you're on to the next week. That's one of the great things about golf, is once you're basically done with the 72 holes, you just move on to the next stop.

Q. (Question regarding Arron Oberholser.)
TIGER WOODS: That's a tough question because, one, I'm a little closer to the situation. There is one thing I do know. I know how hard it is. I know how hard I work and how many things have to go your way in order to win tournaments. For instance, last week, did I play a good round on Saturday? Yeah. But if Nick or Vijay went out there and posted that number they could have easily run away with the tournament, and I wouldn't have had a chance to win the tournament. As it happens it didn't turn out that way. That's fortuitous on my part, for me.
A lot of things have to go your way, and right now so far I've had a lot of things go my way and I've also learned how to fix things while I'm playing. I think that's been the best thing about the way I've been playing over the last few years, is learning how to fix my game on the fly and turn rounds that should be 73 or 74 into a 64 on Friday.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: I was knocked at how off I went. I didn't think it was really that bad until I saw it. Yeah, I got pretty excited there, didn't I?

Q. Talk about what makes the 18th hole so tough.
TIGER WOODS: Well, today we played it all the way back. I wouldn't think that it would play all the way back with this wind. They probably should move it up a bit. But where I was driving it is the narrowest part of the fairway. I had 185 front and hit a little cut 3-wood in there.

Q. Does the streak of 11 matter to you, and which of the streaks matters to you most? How do you kind of balance it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, this week is a new week, and I'm trying to get this one and make sure my game is right for Augusta. As I've always said, you want to peak four times a year, and I want everything going positively that way. Last week the first few days was kind of a setback, but I turned it around and still ended up winning the golf tournament, which is great. I think that's the maturation of my game, is learning how to fix it and turning rounds into rounds that don't basically kick me out of a tournament.
As far as number of wins, tournaments I've been in, I've won seven in a row.

Q. Just to follow up, is 11 (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that would be the ultimate. That's obviously winning Augusta. You can win every tournament for the entire year, but if you go 0 for 4 in the year in the major championships, it's just -- you don't really get remembered for number of wins in a career. It's the number of wins in major championships. Those are the biggest events. If you win one major a year, it turns a good year into a great year. That's one of the reasons why I think we as players put so much emphasis on those major championships. They mean so much, and not only to us but in the historical sense.

Q. (Question regarding Vijay and Arron.) Are you in their heads? Do you know that and do you enjoy that? Do you relish it?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know if I'm in their heads or not. The whole idea is just to give yourself opportunities. I certainly haven't won as much as I've lost, but the whole idea is to give yourself enough chances.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: No, but overall. That's part of our sport. We lose a whole lot more than we win. But the whole idea is to give yourself chance after chance after chance. There's no player that's ever been as good at that as Jack has in his career, and hence he's won the most major championships and he's second on the all-time win list because he's been there more times than not.
I've done that the last -- basically since '99. I've learned how to do that more often.

Q. You play a lot of practice rounds with Bubba Watson and you played with J.B. Holmes in the match play. These are guys known for not backing off on the tee box. Would you be curious how you would see them attack Augusta National, and how would you expect them to go about playing that course as hard as they hit it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Augusta has changed quite a bit since when I first played there. It would be interesting to see how they would play with no rough. But with the first -- sorry, the first cut (laughter). Second cut, is that what it is? With that second cut.
It changes your outlook how you play holes, where you hit to the angles that you're now limited to. I remember Raymond Floyd just always telling me on No. 9, just aim it straight right and just hit it as hard as you can, and make sure you hit it way right, so you hit up the green. Now you're in the trees and you've got no shot, and a lot of times you'll see guys pitching out, so you've got to hug the left side. That leaves yourself a terrible angle into the green. God, it would be so much fun to watch those guys play with no cut out there and just have them bomb away and see the angles they could create. They could play it almost how we used to play it.

Q. Have you always been a 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m. guy, or is that something that you've found yourself gravitating to over time?
TIGER WOODS: I used to play and practice a little bit later, but O'Meara got me into playing a little bit earlier. I've always had no problem getting up early. 4:00 or 5:00 is just normal. But I just never really teed off that early until -- trying to get my work done, and it got a little bit more difficult towards the end of '97 getting my work done. People were tugging at my time, and I wasn't able to practice and be as ready as I wanted to be on Thursday, so I had to alter that.

Q. So it was the end of '97 that went to that permanently?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Mark tried to get me to do that through the year. Any time we were at the same events we'd always tee it up early. I ended up saying that's not a bad idea, or golf really late in the evening, one of the two, just as long as I can get my work done so I'm ready to go on Thursday.

Q. What are the good folks of Augusta National going to make of Boo Weekley?
TIGER WOODS: The accent fits (laughter).

Q. As far as him being a bit of a character and also having obviously the ball-striking, how do you figure --
TIGER WOODS: If you watch Boo hit the golf ball, he hits it very well. He hits it solid, hits it very clean. I warmed up right next to him. On Saturday I was warming up right in front of him, and you could hear how clean he hits the golf ball.
There at Augusta, you not only have to hit the ball well but you also have to putt well. You have to do all aspects of the game. Ever since they've lengthened it, narrowed it down and changed a lot of your angles, they've turned it into more of a complete test. You can't just putt well and you can't just drive it well. You have to drive it well, position it well and obviously think well. I think that's going to be the thing that Boo, Bubba and J.B. are going to have to learn, is learn that golf course quickly because there are so many little nuances to that golf course. You have to figure out.
You have to miss golf balls. I mean, a bad shot sometimes, if you miss it only eight, ten feet, you can obviously turn it into 40 or 50 yards.

Q. Trip Kuehne is coming back this year. You stayed with him in the Crow's Nest years ago. He talked a little bit about sneaking around when you guys were up there. Can you talk about what that was like?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we were playing cards most of the night. It was myself, Trip, and I think Tim Jackson stayed up there for a few days. Yeah, we snuck down into the champions locker room and the whole deal (laughter). It was pretty cool actually to -- I mean, that's where you want to be. You want to be in that locker room somehow one day. We were talking about that, wouldn't it be cool if one of us won this week. Obviously we weren't even close.
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I got up early on Thursday and I had to see Gene and Byron and Sam tee off. That was pretty amazing, just the whole experience of my first Masters there in the Crow's Nest, you hear all the roars. You're up there trying to rest in the afternoon. Say you played and you're resting, you still hear all the roars out there.
It made you feel like you never really left -- one, you never left the property, but what you got out of the Masters experience. It's something that you always want to experience as an amateur. You always want to be part of that somehow. Obviously the history of the Masters is built on amateur golf.

Q. Do you expect to lose a golf tournament this year?
TIGER WOODS: I'm sure it'll happy eventually.

Q. You said earlier I know a lot of things have to go your way, and I think we've all talked to you enough to know that you've often felt part of the explanation is you have to have a little bit of luck. How much luck really is involved at this point? How much can we actually accredit to things going your way? I think you would probably not be happy with any explanation about luck, which maybe some people do when you make that kind of an explanation. Where is the intersection between what you're doing that's simply a product of what you've done and how much is --
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and I understand what you're trying to say. I mean, the -- it's hard to -- the only person that really in truth understands it is Stevie because he's there with me. Even Hank when he's out at events can't really understand the luck factor that comes about. You hit a shot, you know it's a borderline shot. It could easily bounce one way. All of a sudden it bounces your way and ends up on the green and you make a putt. It looked like you should have lost one or two shots, and you end up picking up a shot. Little things like that happen.
I hit a couple shots last week that were not good shots, had clear lines into greens and had perfect lies. But also a lot of it is also due to hard work, to be able to put myself there and to work on my mechanics and make sure they're sound, so I'm pretty consistent day in and day out. But you can't win events out here without just having a break here and there. Maybe it happens one time the entire week, but I've never played an event that I can ever remember without having one break go my way or to win an event. But it may be the first hole Thursday, it may be the 72nd hole, you don't know when it's going to come.

Q. You've had different streaks obviously. Going back to '99-2000, can you talk a little bit about how your approach to the game has changed when you're out there, how your course management is different from back then?
TIGER WOODS: It's changed quite a bit. You know, with them lengthening golf courses I can't do what I used to do on golf courses, you know, carry some of these bunkers into some of these lines. You can't play that way. So you have to change your strategy. You have to adapt.
I know that they've made a conscious effort to make the rough higher and narrow the fairways down, and we're hitting the ball 20 yards longer, I think, on average since then. It's been becoming even more difficult to put the ball in play. And then the greens have gotten faster. The pins now are -- I remember a tucked pin when I first came out here was five and six from the side. Now they're three and four. They've made a concerted effort to make the golf courses more difficult, which means they just have to play smarter. You can't short-side yourself as many times as you used to and get away with it. You've just got to at times play more conservative, but there are times when you can be pretty aggressive. Some of the par-4s and some of the shorter par-5s you can just go ahead and be a little more aggressive.

Q. You're going to miss the tennis not being in town. Do you talk to Roger much, and how much tennis do you play?
TIGER WOODS: I try and play as much as I can, but I've always enjoyed playing tennis. It's always been fun. It's a good way to kind of unwind and still keep your cardio up, especially here in the summertime, go out there and play for two, three, four hours. You can lose a few calories.

Q. How about Federer? Do you talk to him much anymore?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, probably once a week. He's been -- obviously I went up there and watched the match between him and Pete. Phenomenal tennis. Pete played unbelievable. Roger hasn't quite come back yet. I think he's lost about 12 pounds. People don't realize how sick he was at the Aussie Open. For him to even get that far, I don't know how he did it. In the hospital, getting IVs and has no energy but somehow to grind it out and win matches. It was a hell of an achievement, really.
Hopefully he can get his game up and get his fitness back up to where it needs to be for the French.

Q. With every win that you get, obviously the fans are more and more in awe and they're trying to enjoy this streak you're on, but when you're actually in the middle of it, how much can you actually enjoy it and savor it, and now what you're accomplishing, all these wins in a row?
TIGER WOODS: That's a hard one to answer because when you're in it, you're concentrating on -- obviously on the moment of preparing and getting ready and obviously trying to win an event. Like this week, whatever I've done the last few weeks is inconsequential. It doesn't count for this week. I have to play well this week in order to win this event.
You've got to put all that aside and get out there and be ready come Thursday and then put yourself in position come Sunday.

Q. Having just said that, when you come out here and those people have been there since 5:30 in the morning, what are your first thoughts when you first look around?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't do it (laughter). But it's nice to have that support, to have people come out and obviously support you and want to see you play. I've been very lucky that my entire career people have really supported me and come out there and wanted to watch me hit golf balls.

Q. You made reference a couple questions ago to Steve being the only one who understands what's going on. Can you talk a little bit about the evolution of your relationship with him on the golf course and how much easier or harder --
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think last week was our ten-year anniversary. We started at Bay Hill in '99. It's been an incredible ride for both of us. We've learned so much from each other and have grown as a team. You know, people make such a big deal of that conversation we had on 16 on Sunday, but that's what we do. We do it on the very 1st hole to the 72nd hole. I trust him. As we all know, as a player, and from the standpoint of the caddies, ultimately it's my call. I love the fact that he's not afraid to give me the info. He's always trying. He'll call me off of shots if the wind changes. Not too many guys out here ever would have the guts to do that.
I wouldn't have won the PGA in 2000 if it wasn't for him. He called me off a shot on 12 because the wind had switched. I changed distance I was going to hit my shot, hit it up there, made birdie and kept myself in the ballgame after Bob just hit it up there to two, three feet.

Q. Did you get him diamond earrings or anything?
TIGER WOODS: He would look interesting with diamond earrings.

Q. You have the ability to seem to forget about maybe the bad shots quickly. How do you work on your mental game?
TIGER WOODS: Can you be a little bit more specific on that one?

Q. Well, you practice all day on the course, but mentally how do you get that mental toughness?
TIGER WOODS: I guess learn from experiences. Not being afraid to look at both the negative and the positive. People always dwell on -- you've always got to look at the positive things. You can't always do that. You've got to keep a balance. You have to look at them equally and not be afraid to tell the truth on yourself. People have a hard time with that, being completely honest with themselves and admitting when they've hit a bad shot. I don't have a problem with that.

Q. People talk all the time about how I don't have that shot in my bag or whatever. But I'm wondering, per club, how many shots do you have in your bag? Per club, how many different shots?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you have to -- probably the simplest way to explain it to you would be you've got to be able to have nine basic shots, right?

Q. Per club.
TIGER WOODS: Nine basic because you've got to look at straight, right to left, left to right, and then three different trajectories, low, regular and then high. But there's an infinite number in between there. Each and every day is different. Each and every lie is different. Every situation is different, and you've got to be able to call upon all those shots at any time and have complete confidence you can pull it off.

Q. Have you ever encountered a shot where you said, well, I don't know what to do with this one?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes that happens, yeah, when you're -- you're in the rough or is the lie really going to come out, should I try and go for the green, should I wedge out, things like that. You have decisions to make. But as far as being in the fairway and not knowing how to -- do I have that shot? No.

Q. You spoke about fan support. Has it changed over the years? Is it a little more frenetic or a little more less screaming and yelling --
TIGER WOODS: A lot less than it used to be. Probably '97 post-Augusta was the most frenetic I've ever seen it. Byron Nelson that year was unbelievable. People were running around and the people that came out to that event, and for most of that summer I've never seen that type of enthusiasm out here.

Q. Continuing on the evolution of the business side of things. Since you've been married and a family man, specifically your deal with Gatorade, how much is having the family involved in the licensing and branding image as opposed to just endorsing? How much does that affect your decisions now?
TIGER WOODS: Quite a bit. I mean, we're a team. That's the whole idea of being married is you are a team through life. E has been incredible. She's been a great sounding board. She has some great ideas on even some spots and how we can even tweak them. It's been fantastic to have her a part of that.
Now that she's over the years gained that experience of really knowing how -- the commercial side of it, not just the golf side but the commercial side, how it all fits together. The hard part for her now is I've involved her a little bit, just showing her course design, because a radio topo map if you've never done it before is pretty interesting. Granted, she hasn't played a lot of golf so it's hard for her to kind of visualize things. Some people, they have a hard time visualizing holes. But so inquisitive. Always wants to know, always wants to learn, and I think that's why she's been so great in my life.

Q. Following up on the question about different shots with different clubs, is it fair to say your ball spins more than probably anybody else's?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh, it does.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about that and why you chose that design?
TIGER WOODS: Well, with my launch conditions, I'm pretty shallow with my long irons. I need spin with my driver and my long irons because I don't spin the ball a lot. If I played some of the other balls, some of the hard balls -- I've tested harder golf balls, and I can't keep them in the air. I hit them shorter, and I can't control the distances because if I come in steeper to try to get the ball in the air, obviously it goes forever because I don't spin the ball a whole lot. If I add spin to that it launches higher and I can control any distances.
I've always told the guy at Nike, build me a ball that spins and it'll be my responsibility to take it off. That's my job. You just make sure the spin is on the ball and I'll take it off. I'll hit more club. I'll do something to take that spin off. But I want to be able to be aggressive around the greens, and with the pins getting more difficult now, I think that's one of the reasons why you see the advent of a lot of players switching to 64-degree wedges because it's harder balls and you need more loft and you need more spin. How do you do that? You need more loft on your wedges so you can swing it harder. As the balls got harder we went to 60s. Now some of the guys have 64s.

Q. There's two weeks off after this before The Masters this year. I don't know if you've ever had that long of a break before playing at Augusta --
TIGER WOODS: I have not, no.

Q. What will that do to your preparation? Will you go up there maybe or will you do something different than you normally do?
TIGER WOODS: I might go up there. I'm looking at maybe going up there for a day, just to see a couple of the changes they've made. But they're minor tweaks, nothing major. I'm playing Monday and Tuesday obviously at Isleworth and then shutting it down for a couple days and then gearing back up. Hank is coming down, and then we're going to start working and getting ready.

Q. At Isleworth?
TIGER WOODS: At Isleworth, yeah.

Q. Does Nike set up a special line to do just one ball for you that's not available to the public?
TIGER WOODS: No, my ball for the first time actually is available now. When it came out in 2000, it's always been probably about 5 percent softer than what they've been selling because no one really wants to play my spin. This one launches a little bit higher than the one I had been playing, but it still spins a little bit. But they've gone to a little bit faster core so it's going a little bit further.
When I switched to it at Target last year, I was probably hitting my irons probably one or two yards further, so it was going a lit bit further, but I still have the spin around the greens. That to me is important. I play a pretty aggressive style around the greens.
CHRIS REIMER: Thanks so much, Tiger. Good luck this week.

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