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August 5, 2008

Woody Austin


KELLY ELBIN: Woody Austin, ladies and gentlemen, at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. This will be Woody's eighth PGA Championship appearance. His best finish came last year, at Southern Hills, when he finished second behind Tiger Woods. Woody also tied for 23rd in the 1996 U.S. Open played here at Oakland Hills.
Welcome back, and a little bit different golf course than what you saw a few years back.
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, obviously not only technology and everything, but they lengthened the golf course. The golf course is definitely longer. I remember it not quite being that long, it was tough, but, I hit driver on 9 yesterday.
So I don't remember a par-3 hitting driver. And today I could have hit -- I had to hit 3-wood on 17. So I don't quite remember those holes being that long.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. As far as the par-3s go, I think they're all, at least the scorecard length is 190 and up with some room to go back, probably some room to go up. But as a group of four, have you ever played a more daunting stretch with no real breather in there? I can imagine that must be like 5-iron or longer for you across the board?
WOODY AUSTIN: Yeah, every one for me, yeah. 13 can probably be the shortest one I could probably hit downwind 7-iron to the front. But the rest of them, it's a good 5-iron to get to the front of green on 3 for me.
The big 3-wood to get to 9. And it was a good 3-wood into the wind to get to 17. So that's a lot of holes. They're supposed to be short holes, right? Isn't that what a par-3 is? Short?

Q. Shorter.
WOODY AUSTIN: Shorter. Yeah.

Q. Do you think too much is made of Tiger Woods not being at an event, and does that kind of like knock the other golfers who are trying to win, as well?
WOODY AUSTIN: To be totally honest, absolutely. I think it was said best I think during the British Open telecast. The guy is the best player in the game, he does win a lot, but he doesn't win them all. So just because he's not here doesn't mean that the tournament should be less or that he was going to win.
So why should it, why should everybody else be downplayed or why should everybody else be lowered because he's not here? So absolutely.

Q. You had some really neat things happen to you at this stage of your career and being inducted into the Miami Hall of Fame and some other stuff, I wonder how you feel about that right now, and if you have a greater appreciation than you might have ten years ago or at any stage in your life.
WOODY AUSTIN: Probably not, because I've been out here long enough now to where I feel like I validated at least being out here. Until you win or win a few times, it's kind of hard to validate in this day and age, because your success is only based on wins; and to be considered really good, you have to have won majors.
So to have finally won multiple times, to have played on a Presidents Cup team, to have a chance to be on a Ryder Cup team and say I've played in all the big -- I played every Major; I've been around the world and played in different events. Now I've played on one of the big -- hopefully, if I get on that Ryder Cup, I'll say I've played in every big event at every big stage that you could play as a professional golfer.
The only thing I would be short of is winning a major. But I almost did that last year, so maybe this year I'll get a little better.

Q. Hall of Fame?
WOODY AUSTIN: What about the Hall of Fame? Oh, it, obviously considering the fact that we haven't had a golf program since 1990, I feel -- I even said in my speech, it's kind of bittersweet, to be the last one is kind of harsh when you any of the University of Miami you think of that weather, you think about all the great golf courses down there; the fact that we don't have a golf program just doesn't seem right.

Q. Talking about the Ryder Cup and potentially making this team, obviously you had a lot of fun, and it was great experience last year at the Presidents Cup, going into this week, are you putting a lot of pressure on yourself? How are you approaching it and what are your thoughts?
WOODY AUSTIN: I'm not putting any more pressure on myself as far as the tournament itself. But I've put a lot of pressure on myself here the last month and a half trying to get in that last spot. I don't want to be the guy that he has to pick. I don't want to put the pressure on Zinger to have to pick me.
So from that standpoint, I have put a little bit, probably too much pressure on myself to make that last spot. But as far as pressure for this tournament, this is a tournament you look forward to every year. So at the beginning of the year, whether it's for the Presidents Cup Team last year or for the Ryder Cup Team this year, I'm trying to win a Major Championship, and that's the only thing that's on my mind right now.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Woody is ninth on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list.

Q. What sticks out in your mind most when you think about the PGA last year?
WOODY AUSTIN: Probably all the media room interviews. I got heckled and ridiculed a lot about being in the media room every day. So that probably stands out the most.

Q. What about on the course? Anything you particularly remember?
WOODY AUSTIN: It was a perfect golf course for me. It's a golf course that I had had success on way back in '97. So I love the golf course, I love the venue. The heat wasn't that -- the heat was pretty brutal, but I'm a Florida boy, so I kind of relish that. So it didn't -- I think it bothered other people more than it did me. So I think I kind of thrived in that.

Q. Do you feel there's a little -- how did people react to you after you challenged Tiger, and also the way things went in the Presidents Cup, do you think people really reached out to you a lot more after that?
WOODY AUSTIN: I think the common public, I think the golfing public understand what I was trying to say and how I approach what I was trying to say. It's just like I like to say; it's not sensational enough if it's not written.

Q. You talked about pushing to try to get on the Ryder Cup team. Given that situation, do you have a little more I don't know if sympathy is the word; there's been a lot of talk about Kenny Perry sacrificing the majors to try to set himself up for the Ryder Cup. Do you have a better understanding of why he would do that to try to push for the Ryder Cup?
WOODY AUSTIN: I don't know if I would have a better understanding of it. I do understand it. I know why he did it. And more power to him for doing it.
But I don't -- I can't say I have a better understanding of it, because the way I interpreted it, he was pretty much in after he won, I would say for sure after he won Buick, he was pretty much locked in. So from that standpoint on, I would have to say he could have tweaked it a little bit, but I do understand it. I do understand why he did it. Let's face it; he is a Kentuckian; he does want to be there; he wants to be in his hometown. And from a potential teammate standpoint, I want him there, because you want as many Kentucky people there rooting for him as possible. So, good for him.

Q. You just mentioned you were heckled for being in the media center a lot last year, was that good natured or was it --
WOODY AUSTIN: Well it depends on --

Q. -- or mean-spirited. Could you talk about that?
WOODY AUSTIN: Just depends on who you're talking to. If you're talking to the other media, then, no. If you're talking to other people, and like I said the common public who took me for what I was trying to say, and understood what I was trying to say, then it was good.
Like I said, I never called him out. I was told I called him out. I never called him out. And other things that went on that week, like I said, it was -- I'm pretty much a straight shooter. I'm going to tell you how I feel. I'm not trying to say -- I'm not trying to give you the politically correct BS answer, and for that you can get ridiculed or you can get -- have it turned around on you, which happened last year.
Other things I was asked; one of the prime examples that kills me is if you go back that Saturday morning, before I teed off, I stopped in the merchandise tent and got my family and me some merchandise, okay. Now I'm walking into the clubhouse on Saturday, with two bags of merchandise, okay. Now by the time I walk through the front door and I get into the locker room, I'm in there now and can look on TV and see on the GOLF CHANNEL, I go from carrying two bags of merchandise into the clubhouse to the putter incident ten years previous whacking it over my head. Now you tell me how you make that jump. That's what I have to deal with. That's ridicule.
I'm not even on the golf course. I'm nowhere near the golf course, haven't hit a shot. I'm in contention. But I go from carrying two bags of merchandise to a putter incident ten years previous.

Q. Have you played the course this week already? Have you had a practice round?
WOODY AUSTIN: Well, I played the front nine yesterday and then I played 17 holes today. It was pretty slow this morning.

Q. How hard is the course? Is it the toughest of the four Majors this year or what's your take on that?
WOODY AUSTIN: It will definitely be harder -- depends how they set it up, obviously -- but it has the potential to definitely be the toughest course we play this year.
The greens are way more severe than Pebble Beach. The fairways are just as tight, and the rough is pretty close. Pretty similar. So these greens, if they get these greens with any pace, it could easily; and then if you throw in any kind of bad weather; if it drys out, get some wind, no question it could definitely be the toughest.

Q. I'm curious, you're better player today than you were ten years ago; I want to know what you attribute that to? And then with the ridicule, do you use that as motivation for basically the rest of the year that you've had?
WOODY AUSTIN: I don't think I use any ridicule -- I just -- if I use the ridicule, it would be just to still be the same person I am. I'm not going to back down. I'm not going to change. Like I said, you know me, I'm not going to give you a bullcrap answer. I'm going to tell you the truth. I'm not going to make an excuse. I'm not going to come up with a reason why things happened that is false, but I can make it sound really good.
But as far as playing better, I just score a little better right now than I did before. I don't think I play any better.
I feel like I'm getting more consistent which is what I used to always thrive to be. I thrived to be consistent. Last year the reason that there's no ifs, ands and buts, it's the reason why I finished where I did is because it's the best putting year I had on TOUR.
This year, unfortunately, I'm back where I was before, I think like 160th or something. You can't play the game from a consistent basis and be that bad at getting the ball in the hole.

Q. You mentioned Kenny Perry winning the Buick Open. You were pretty critical of yourself after what happened the last few holes. How long does something like that stay with you, and how do you feel about the state of your game coming in this week?
WOODY AUSTIN: It still stings. I haven't won enough tournaments to throw those things away, and I definitely threw that thing away. Like I said, I'm not going to give you some politically correct answer and say yeah, I feel fine, it just wasn't my time. I played so well for four straight days there; to give that tournament away after taking control of it is in my opinion giving it away. So that still stings.
But as far as the state of my game, pretty close. I'm not hitting it very bad. I'm driving it pretty good. The part of my game that's struggling is around the greens, which is going to be hard this week. I'm not chipping the ball really well, and putting is always my weakest point. So that's what I'm going to have to figure out in the next day, day and a half.
KELLY ELBIN: Woody Austin, thank you very much.

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