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June 30, 2008

Tiger Woods


GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thank you all for joining us today. We have a great field of professionals led by defending champion K.J. Choi. We're looking forward to a fantastic week here at Congressional Country Club. Now, I'd like to introduce tournament host, Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Hi, guys. First off, I want to say thank you to all of you guys for being on this conference call. I'd like to thank AT&T, Congressional Country Club and all of its members for all their help and support. This is going to be another outstanding tournament, I believe.
This week we've got, as Greg alluded to earlier, a good field, very deep. This year we've had an entire year to get ready for the event, not just 112 days like we did last year, which was unprecedented.
As everyone knows, I'm not going to be there to play in the event. I had a little bit of a procedure on my knee and will be missing the game for a little bit. So I guess we can open it up to questions.

Q. I'm just wondering, a lot of people are wondering, do you have any -- are you able to come at all either for the Pro-am or for the trophy ceremony this week? That is the first question. And the second question - and I know other people will ask the same thing - can you take us through the procedure and what the rehab and the prognosis is going to be?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. Well, first off, I would love to be there. Unfortunately, I don't think I can make it. Flying, unfortunately, swells up my leg pretty good. When I flew home from the procedure, it ballooned up a little bit.
So my doctors advised me to lay low and stay away from planes. But who knows? I don't really listen to doctors all that well anyway (laughing).
As far as the procedure, it was an ACL reconstruction of my left knee. They did take a graft, basically a tendon out of my right hamstring, and implemented it into my left knee and made it to my new ACL and they fixed a little bit of cartilage damage I had in there, and that was about it.

Q. Can you take us sort of through the rehab? When can you start doing certain things?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as of right now, I'm in a brace, straight leg brace. Letting everything kind of calm down and quiet down for three weeks post-op. Then from there I can start some weight bearing and then gradually start putting a little bit of weight on this thing and flexing it. I will be on crutches for those three weeks. Basically, non-weight bearing.

Q. Would you have done anything differently from when you first tore the ACL after the Open, in terms of the long layoff you had last year or whatever?
TIGER WOODS: No. The reason why I took the long layoff is to develop my hamstring and my glute and my calf - my gastroc, in particular - to basically give it a little bit more -- give my leg more stability. People have played without ACLs and have been very successful. Downhill skiers ski without ACL's, but they've got extreme sized glutes and hamstrings, and that's their checking mechanism. And I tried to do the same thing. That's one of the reasons I worked out as hard as I did to try to develop those particular muscle groups.
I went through the rehab process and tried to get it ready for this year. It held up great. Unfortunately, as I kept playing on it, it became more unstable. The natural rotation of the golf swing without the ACL made it a little bit unstable, and it caused some cartilage damage because of that. I had that rectified after the Masters.
When they went in there they discovered some more cartilage damage that they'd have to fix in conjunction with the ACL reconstruction, and it was going to be kind of a double dip there. And I waited to do that. That surgery I had after the Masters was to get me through the rest of the '08 season, and then have it done after the '08 season. But, as you know, I developed stress fractures and decided to bag it for the year.

Q. As a completely unrelated follow-up, I would be curious with drug testing about to start, just not so much your overall thoughts because I think you've spoken on it already, but have you ever done any testing on yourself in the last, say, six months just to go through the process so that there are no surprises whatsoever?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. I have. I've done it twice, actually.

Q. AT&T, I know you're disappointed in missing that. What is the feeling about hosting a tournament that you can't play in? Also for a guy whose stated mission is to win majors, what is your level of disappointment for not being able to play in the next two?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's very disappointing I'm not able to be there. I missed last week playing the Buick Open there in Flint and then obviously missing this week being the host of the event, of the AT&T National, it's very disappointing. Being laid up here and watching it on TV is really no fun. But those are the cards right now, and I just have to deal with it.
As far as missing the major championships, it is disappointing, yes. Not to go to Birkdale, which is a golf course that I felt like I played well in '98, and then go to Oakland Hills where I felt like I know the golf course. I played in the U.S. Open there and Ryder Cup there. Just had some good feelings going into those two major championships, to a venue that I liked. And not to be able to go, it is frustrating.

Q. You yourself just said at the top of this that who knows, you don't listen to doctors too well. You certainly didn't listen to them when you went out and played against, I guess, their judgment. You wanted to get something done, and you got it done. What are the odds, if you can put any on, you surprising folks here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I would love to be there, you know that. I love that event, I love how everything has transpired in the last year and then overall how everything's gone this year. I would love to be there. We'll see. We've got to wait and see what happens. Flying is not exactly the best thing for me right now.

Q. And your reaction to the Congressional Country Club, their directors have recommended to the membership to go ahead and extend your tournament through 2017. You said you wanted it here forever. I guess the vote comes up here in July, but your reaction at least to that news?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm very excited about the board approving that. Now it's up to the membership to vote. You know, as I said, I want our golf tournament to be there for perpetuity.
But it is an unbelievable golf course, and in our nation's capitol, on our nation's birthday. The stars couldn't get aligned even more than what it is. Hopefully, we can keep it there.

Q. You mentioned earlier the surgery right after the Masters was to try to get you through the year. When did you sort of know after that that wasn't going to be the case? Or was it because of the stress fractures that you're not able to get through the year and you just decided I'm going to get this all taken care of at once?
TIGER WOODS: Once the stress fractures developed, I didn't play Memorial because of that. Then going into the Open I basically couldn't practice, or I really didn't practice a whole lot going into the Open and I couldn't play more than nine holes in preparation for it.
After dealing with that, I decided to make the U.S. Open my last event for the season no matter how it turned out, whether I missed the cut or if I ended up winning the tournament, it was going to be my last event.

Q. It's been a long time since you haven't been in a major. You have to go back to the end of the '96 season. I'm just curious if you remember back to your feelings back then? I think you played in the British Open that year, and then you couldn't play in the PGA. But the British was one where I think you've said that it sort of gave you the impetus to think that you could do this, you could be a pro. Do you remember thinking that, and what your thoughts were coming off of that and knowing you were going to be turning pro pretty soon?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there's no doubt. I think it was either the second or third round, I made 7 birdies on 11 holes. I think I tied the amateur record for lowest round - maybe Iain Pyman may have shot that round as well. I think I tied the lowest 72-hole score for an amateur, so...
After looking at that I felt that maybe I might have a chance of turning pro at the end of the amateur season, and basically after the U.S. Amateur. I wanted to give it one more run at the U.S. Amateur. If I didn't have a very good event or didn't play well after the British Open, it would have made no sense to turn pro and then go back to college. But things turned out differently. I ended up playing well, and ended up winning the Amateur.

Q. How surprised were you at the extent of the diagnosis when you got it right after the Open?
TIGER WOODS: Which one?

Q. The total, the stress fracture, ACL, and all of the things that were announced that Thursday after the Open. Did you know that's what it was going to be?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did, uh-huh.

Q. Also I know it's very, very early in the process. Do you have any sense of whether you're going to be able to swing the same way you do now when you are healed without bandaging or without having a reoccurrences?
TIGER WOODS: I've been trying to adjust over the years to alleviate some of the stress I do put on my left leg. But, basically, my left knee's been sore for 10, 12 years, so it will be nice to finally have a healthy leg.
The doctors have assured me that my long-term health will be a hell of a lot better than it's been over the past decade. So I'm really looking forward to that, and not having pain after I'm playing and while I'm playing. So I'm really looking forward to that.

Q. Wanted to ask about the field this week. Lot of guys who were here last year are not back this year, Mickelson, Ogilvy. Is that disappointing to you? Do you have any idea why that is?
TIGER WOODS: You have to understand, guys have their own playing schedule. They have their own thing, and some of the guys are over in Europe and they have time they want to spend with their family, and other guys want to play the event. So it all depends on everyone's personal preference.

Q. There was some talk last year about the greens not being up to Tour standards. Is it that big of a difference at all?
TIGER WOODS: I understand last year they were bumpy. And well, we didn't have that much time. We only had 112 days to get the golf course ready and primed for a Tour event. That's not a lot of time for our course superintendent to get the golf course ready and prepared at that level. I think he did a hell of a job to do what he did.
As far as this year, the golf course is in much better shape because of it. They've gotten the golf course primed and ready to go. The greens are much smoother and faster, and I think all of the guys will be pleased with the conditions when they see it this week.

Q. I was wondering about the procedure. Was that done with a scope or did they have to cut you open or how did they do it?

Q. Do you think that you will be able to make normal progress and get back with us, say, in the spring? What is your hope on that?
TIGER WOODS: As far as long-term, I really don't know. We have to see how this thing heals. Everyone heals at a different rate. Some people are back to playing sports in six months, some are nine, some are 12. So to be honest with you, no one really knows until we start the rehab process and see how this thing heals.

Q. A lot of your Ryder Cup teammates have said they're going to miss you as much as a teammate and in the team room, on the ping-pong table as much as they would on the golf course. If Zinger would ask you to come in and just be around the team that week, and even perhaps as an assistant captain, would you consider it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm not part of the team, unfortunately. I didn't -- because of my procedure, I'm not on the team. It's about those 12 guys, it's not about me. I'm not part of that crew.

Q. With the stress fractures, did you know you had done the damage as soon as you did it? Or was it kind of a delayed process before you found out you had injured yourself?
TIGER WOODS: When I was practicing it got to a point where I really couldn't walk to the golf cart anymore. And that's not good when the cart's sitting ten feet away, and you can't really get to it. So went in, had an X-ray, an MRI, and they found the stress fracture in there.

Q. When you did the ACL running, did you just step in something and know immediately you had sort of messed something up?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, my ACL really wasn't all that great to begin with. In 2002 when I had my cyst removed from my ACL, there wasn't a whole lot left. So they said, basically, you need to train and develop your hamstring and glute and calf as much as you possibly can to hold it.
Everyone was very surprised it lasted as long as it did before I ruptured it. It was just running on the golf course. Just happened to take one little step, it didn't really take much, and it just popped right there.

Q. The U.S Amateur is coming to Pinehurst later this summer, and, obviously, that's a huge part of your golf story. What did the Amateur mean to you growing up and as you've had time to reflect on it now, what does it mean to you now is?
TIGER WOODS: A lot. First when I was in junior golf, the U.S. Junior was the biggest and greatest thing in all of junior golf. Once I started playing the Amateur, by winning the U.S. Junior, I started realizing this is an incredible event. And you start understanding the history of the game, and you go, Gosh, I'd love to be part of that history.
And once I became an Amateur full-time and I basically started playing it, it meant everything. It's allowed me to have the confidence to turn pro. When I turned pro in '96 it was because of my victories in the Amateurs that gave me the confidence that I knew I could play at a high level. All those different matches and how I won them, all the different scenarios, to have that confidence, it helps a lot.
Look at a lot of the Amateur champions in my era have gone on to play really well on Tour. And I think a lot of that is just because of the confidence that gives you.

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