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June 30, 2009
NELSON SILVERIO: World No. 1 and tournament host this week, Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us. You missed last year due to your knee injury and other assorted injuries. Maybe just talk about coming back to AT&T NATIONAL where you are hosting the tournament, doing a lot of great things with the Tiger Woods Foundation and some great military initiatives. Maybe some opening comments.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. We're looking forward to this week. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend last year. I was at home watching it on the coach, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun, but certainly a lot more fun to get out there and participate and play and see all the service men and women, all the kids that come out to this event. It's certainly become a pretty special event in the short history, very short history.
Just overall the golf course is in great shape. We played it this morning, and I think it's certainly drier than Bethpage, but we're looking forward to getting out there and competing. I think overall this week having the service men and women out there makes for such a special week that one I think everyone in this room would certainly agree that we should all say thank you to them personally and shake hands and be very appreciative what they do in putting their lives on their line to all of us.
Q. Tiger, things seem to be going smoothly here, your third year of the event. You and Greg have things figured out and now you're having to uproot and go to Philly. The pluses and minuses that go along with having to leave here already?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. It's unfortunate, with the. U. S. Open coming here, and we have no choice. We have to go, and it's part of what the USGA makes you do. And unfortunately we have to go, but also, then again, we're going to a great golf course.
We are coming back here. We're going to be playing here at Congressional. I think the golf course can be in even better shape with the new greens, and I think the relationship we've built in this community already has been fantastic, the connection we have with them and trying to build a learning center here, I think that's something we want to be here for years to come, for perpetuity really. Hopefully we can all make that happen.
Q. Tiger, you talked about the service men and women. Can you just talk a little bit about how special it is to have the Wounded Warriors with you tomorrow on that first tee?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it hits home when you see one of them come out and to see what they're dealing with on a daily basis and what they have to go through because they're putting their lives on the line for us, and unfortunately have had something happen.
And you know, that's why I said, everyone in this room here and everyone should thank all of them for what they do. They do truly put their lives on the line, and a lot of them have gotten hurt. It's the nature of war. That's what happens, and that is the grim reality of it when you see one of the Wounded Warriors is what does happen in war and in combat.
Q. Tiger, can I have some similar comments, please, about the good work the Foundation has done to date, some of the kids you've helped and why that's such a priority for you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. So far we've been able to help about ten million kids around the country who have been part of our program. I think that's a pretty good stat so far, and we're going to obviously increase that, and especially on a global basis. But as I said, we're just getting started.
This is a foundation that's not going to be here for just the short term. We're here for the long haul. We're trying to help as many kids as we possibly can, but do it right. That's one of the reasons why we've taken our time expanding and growing because we don't want to make mistakes. We want to help these kids the best way we possibly can and be with them and stay with them.
Q. Tiger, can you talk about how hosting it changed your preparation and what you do differently? I know there's a lot more demands on your time.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. There's a few. We have a few more meetings, a few more appearances here and there that you don't normally do. But you know, that's something that you kind of get used to. I've had that tournament out there in Southern California, the Chevron World Challenge for 11 years, been going through that. And so to deal with some of the off-course things you do get used to it.
You learn how to balance your time and try and be as ready as you possibly can. Your workout schedule is kind of thrown off a little bit. Your rest periods are thrown off a little bit, but then again, I'll be ready.
Q. Tiger, how much stock are you putting into winning the event this weekend?
TIGER WOODS: I always put in as much as I possibly can to win an event. Certainly I love being the gritty host. It is fun winning your own event. It's no doubt. It is awfully fun to do that. Hopefully I can do that again this week.
Q. Tiger, you mentioned the USGA is kicking you out of here next year. The USGA is also involved in changing something else on the course. The policy board decided not to delay. It will go into effect January 1. I wonder your thoughts on that.
TIGER WOODS: I think it's great. We've had plenty of time to make our adjustments. We've known for over a couple years now what this decision was going to be, when it was going to come down, and we've had plenty of time to make our adjustments.
All the companies have been testing and getting ready for this, and the guys will make the changes. Most of the guys play with big groups brought their irons. Only new groups they usually have use their sand wedges. But guys will make their changes, their adjustments.
It'll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough. Their decision is how they play par-5s whether they will they try and drive drivable par 4s now. Short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price, and you know, how many more 64-degree wedges you're going to see with the balls being as firm as they are. Are guys going to start going to a spinner ball.
Q. The Learning Center plans in D.C., everybody is talking about the economy, certain things along the way. Have you run into any issues that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Just like anybody. We certainly have felt the effects of that. We're not immune to it. That's one of the reasons why we've taken our time in picking the right spot and having the right circumstances come together for us, and you know, it took us about five years or so to get Southern California started off and running the Learning Center, and this will probably end up taking about the same time for here.
Q. Do you see yourself supporting other golf organizations in the D.C. area specifically the historic Langston Golf Course?
TIGER WOODS: Specifically, no, I haven't personally looked into it. But I'm sure our staff has.
Q. Tiger, are there any plans to see the President this week while you're here, and second, jumping ahead a little bit, I'm not sure if you've played Turnberry before, but how do you get ready for the Open?
TIGER WOODS: As far as seeing the President this week, I have no plans. I've put out an invite for him to come out here. He's a little bit busy. There might be a couple things on his plate.
So as far as getting ready for Turnberry, I've never played it, never been to it. I've only seen it on TV. The last time was in '94. There's only so much you can see on videotape. I'll have to get there in person. But the whole idea before I get there is actually to have everything dialed in, feel comfortable with my swing, short putting, everything dialed in. Then start getting the feel for how to play over there. Then you gotta get your sight lines, and all that means is I have to do more homework once I get there and do more prep work on the greens and make sure I truly understand how to play the golf course and have a game plan come Thursday.
Q. Tiger, I have another question about next year. How important was it for you to get back in the major market? How happy are you to be in the Philadelphia area and to be on a top hundred course like Aronimink?
TIGER WOODS: We're looking forward to it. Aronimink is one of the toughest golf courses there is. We're looking forward to getting there. Philly is a huge market, and for us to go there, I think it's only going to -- it certainly helps us in how we can raise funds to benefit a lot of the kids.
I think the area of Philadelphia will certainly embrace us in what we're trying to do and how many people we can help there in that community, and also, without neglecting what we're trying to do here in the D.C. area.
Q. Tiger, you didn't have one of your happier weeks with the short stick at Bethpage. What's the most creative punishment you've ever handed out to one of your putters?
TIGER WOODS: Let's see. I think one of them was waterlogged, overnight.
One was -- I played -- I think I believe I played 36 holes on one of the days at home, and the putter was along for the ride on the back but couldn't sit in the cart. It was tied to the back. So both of those putters are no longer in the line up.
Q. What about the Bethpage putter? Still in there?
TIGER WOODS: It's still in the bag. It's been okay for a number of years. It's done okay. But yeah. It was certainly altered Monday night.
Q. Who retrieved the putter, the waterlogged?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, I did. It was at home.
Q. Jim Brown has been on HBO's Real Sports talking about a bunch of things, and one of them is taking a pretty heavy shot at you for not being involved more socially. How do you respond to what he said?
TIGER WOODS: I think I do a pretty good job as it is what we're trying to do with the Foundation. We have this event here, the Chevron World Challenge, our Jam in Vegas and our Block Party in Orange County, how many kids we've helped. What we're trying to do not just here in United States, but what my mom's doing in Thailand, all these different things that we've done.
And you know, I want to do it right and not just do it, but do it right. And that takes time, and you have to understand, you just don't jump into something. You want to do it right. You want to have a plan, and I think what we've done so far has been very good, very efficient and it's helped a lot of kids, and taught a lot of kids how to get back and learn, learn how to lead, learn how to give back. Learn how to teach others, have confidence in themselves to be able to do all these different things, and have these attributes going forward. That takes time. And I think we've done it right.
Q. How is the course set up, and did you have as much input as say Arnie and Jack do at their tournaments?
TIGER WOODS: I've had a little bit of say to it. The golf course is in great shape. The only thing we can't control is the softness of the greens, with the weather, but as far as overall setup, I'm very pleased with how it's set up. The golf course, if we can get some dry weather, this golf course will be playing, all the guys want.
Q. Thick rough, no rough. What's your preference?
TIGER WOODS: I want the rough up and the greens firms. I want the build to have the guys get the ball down there on the fairways, be aggressive off the tees if they want, get the ball down there, but also have the greens firm enough where it rewards guys for being more aggressive off the tees and getting the ball down there so they can control their spins coming in the greens.
Q. Your dad told us when you were little and he was teaching you to play and he would assign par on every hole and one of the things was not being afraid to go birdie, birdie, birdie and eventually bring par down. What are your recollections of that? How much did that do for you, that kind of thing?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it taught me that, if I played well, that I could shoot something around par or under par. I wasn't always frustrated with a so-called score to his par, 72 or 70 or 71, whatever it may be.
I grew up on my dad's golf course, par 72. So I wasn't always enamored with that. I was always enamored with shooting under par for me. And I think that gave me the confidence knowing even as I got older my dad kept dropping par, which I didn't like, by the way, because if I could reach the green even once, say if it was a par-4 and it took me four to get there, the first time I got there in three, it automatically went down. The par automatically went down.
So sometimes down the road, he didn't know it that I would, you know, lay up on a couple times, not get the ball to the green, so I wouldn't have to drop par, and then he started catching on and he'd drop par anyways. So it was one of those things where it was his way of being creative enough where it taught me never to be afraid to go low and shoot under par. If I had a hot day, run with it. Don't be afraid to shoot 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9-under par.
Q. How does that translate now, though, to your preference of playing the courses that you do?
TIGER WOODS: I've always preferred playing harder golf courses.
Q. Where it's harder to get under par?
TIGER WOODS: Where it's harder to get under par, because I think it rewards guys who can control their golf ball, who understand how to play, maneuver the golf ball and really think your way around the golf course.
Never been a big fan of having an average 67 or 66 and a half to win a tournament. I've always liked to play a golf course that you have to think and work your way around the golf course, like a chess match.
The reason why I love Hoylake so much is there's so many different ways to play it and I found a way that worked well for me. It's fun playing golf courses like that. It's one of the reasons I love U. S. Opens and major championships because they make you work for it.
Q. What par would your dad have assigned to Hoylake?
TIGER WOODS: The fact depends on the weather and the fact I was able to reach both par-5s, probably would have dropped it.
Q. 68? Tiger, you're playing with Tony Romo tomorrow. What made him want to come to enemy territory to play and will this be the first time a member of your Pro-Am group has been booed?
TIGER WOODS: As far as him coming here, we're very lucky to have him here, to have him come out and Jessica to come out and sing the National Anthem is going to be pretty special for all us. For him to come here to D.C., certainly I didn't realize it was going to be this big a deal.
He is a big golf nut and loves to play golf and has tried qualifier for U. S. Opens before and loves to play and understands how to play, and I've always wanted to play with him, and he accepted our invitation to come out and play, which is awfully nice of him, and it's just going to be a fun round, but also an interesting one. Granted, he's used to getting booed, and it is what it is. It comes with being, I guess team sport, away from home.
Q. Tiger, you've gotten back to 100 percent physically. Have you ever thought that you're kind of embarking on a new phase of your career?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. A little bit. A little bit. To have a solid foundation to play from. That standpoint has been just phenomenal. It feels good to wake up in the morning and not ache, not want to move out of bed, these kind of things.
I went through all of that. I don't want to go through that again. That wasn't a lot of fun. But it feels great to be back. What my surgeons and trainers did to get me to this point has been great. I feel so good getting up and doing things each and every day.
I'm able to play with Sam and carry Charlie around and do all those different things. I was really struggling with it for a while. I wasn't able to do those things. That's one of the reasons why I told Leland we need to do this because I couldn't imagine not being able to do that with my kids. It wouldn't have been a whole lot of fun and I wouldn't have enjoyed that.
Q. I was with Lee Trevino this morning, and he was talking about you and the grooves issue. He thinks you'll have a bigger advantage once they go to the new rule. He said he thinks it'll separate you more from the run of the players here. Do you think it'll be an advantage to you or any effect at all?
TIGER WOODS: I think it'll be an advantage to the guys who play spin golf ball already. Guys who play harder ball are going to have to make a bigger adjustment to the grooves and there are few guys who play a softer ball, and I do play a pretty softball, and I'll have to make less of an adjustment than most.
Q. Tiger, you've always judged your success in golf ball by majors. You've had two. Can you look back on those two and sort of give us a summary of how they went for you, and secondly, does it put extra pressure on you now with the two that are remaining to try and win one?
TIGER WOODS: Well, summarize. If you want to do quick little summary of the two majors. Let's see. The Masters I didn't hit the ball particularly well, but I hung in there, and just by knowing how to play the golf course, I got around and gave myself a chance, but I wasn't hitting it well enough, as well as I needed to.
In all the years that I've won there, I've hit the ball a lot better than that. But understanding how to the play the golf course helps and where to miss it, and I kept missing in the correct spot to give myself a chance. And I did that and I had a realistic chance at it on the Back 9.
But at the U. S. Open I hit the ball really well and I made nothing. I didn't have my speed right, and I hit a lot of putts that lipped out, and when you're putting well, they lip in and when you're putting poorly or don't have the speed right, they're lipping out, and so many of my putts burned on the high side or lipped out on the low side. I just didn't quite have it right. And consequently I didn't win the tournament.
Certainly hit the ball well enough to win the golf tournament, but just like all major championships you have to have all the pieces going. You have to hit the ball well, chip well, putt well, think well and that's the whole idea of majors. You have to have all your -- every single facet of your game is tested and it has to be going well, and just didn't work out.
Q. So you're looking forward to --
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Looking forward to the next two. I am looking forward. I've never played Turnberry, so looking forward to getting there and playing. Hazeltine has been a while, but I came close there, and I like Hazeltine but I can't really say a whole lot about Turnberry, but I've never been.
Q. Steve Williams was telling us that he likened your relationship to a race car driver and his crew chief and he told us he actually has had you in a race car down in New Zealand? How much do you enjoy those type of diversions and what was that like for you?
TIGER WOODS: I actually loved it. I actually loved it. I'm kind of an adrenaline junky, and to get into a stock car down there was just a rush, and to get hit and to jump, bump people, that was fun. I enjoyed that. I absolutely enjoyed that. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
What Stevie does, I can see why he's addicted to it, why he needs to get down there and race because it is so much fun. It is the adrenaline that you face, you have to deal with, and it's just such a rush, and he's damn good at it, tell you that. Watching him race, pretty impressive.
Q. Tiger, it seems like every time you don't win a tournament, the talk shows light up with "what's wrong with Tiger" and debates. Have you set the bar too high for expectations?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. You guys are doing all the analyzing. I certainly have won my share of tournaments, but I've lost more than I've won. And that's the nature of our sport. You know, we do lose a lot of events. But I've won my share, and hopefully I can win a lot more in the future.
Q. Tiger, questions about two of your buddies, first Michael Jordan going into the Hall of Fame this year. Can you reflect on his career and what inspiration he gave you with his talent and work ethic?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Michael going into the Hall of Fame, that was a given. That was a no-brainer, wasn't it? Greatest basketball player to ever live.
You know, getting to know Michael over the years has been a lot of fun. I call him my big brother. To be able to call him and pick his brain on anything at any time and we've done that, you know, and he doesn't sleep, like me. So he may give me a call or text and I may give him a call or text at odd hours and we're both up and we'll talk for a while, and that's just something that it's been very special to get to know him, especially when he was playing, see how hard he worked, you know, off the court, away from the cameras, away from the game time.
You can't believe how hard this guy worked. People think he just showed up and scored 45. That's not what happened. It is what happened, but to get him to that point, I mean God, this guy worked hard, the countless hours in the gym, shooting and shooting and shooting. I'm like, Mike, it's one in the morning. You know, "I'm not ready yet." He kept shooting and shooting and shooting. I'd feed him the ball or watch him go over drill after drill after drill and watch him in game time, he made that look pretty easy. It was just like what he did in practice. He just rehearsed it again and again and again until he had it. And it was fun to watch, watch him dissect games. It's been a lot of fun to get to know him over the years from a player but also from a person. He's helped me a lot.
Q. And another legendary buddy, Roger Federer is a little busy this week in London. Have you been in contact? Do you guys have a competition, first to 20 majors wins? Can you both win on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: Am I in contact with Fed, yeah. We probably text about every day, but what he's doing over there and what he's done throughout his entire career has been pretty phenomenal, just his consistency in the slams, the biggest events, he's always there. Every single Slam he plays in he's in the semifinal or better.
And for him to win 14 and now all four surfaces has been -- all four events has been pretty cool to see him and get to know him. And again, just like him, how hard he works off the court to be prepared, to go the distance to win. He works so hard. It's just frightening how hard this guy works. But he makes it look so easy, and hopefully I can win, but more importantly, hope he gets to 15.
Q. Tiger, few people have ever achieved worldwide recognition to the extent of you. Michael Jackson, I probably would put in that category. Were you a Michael Jackson fan and any thoughts on his passing so young?
TIGER WOODS: You know, Bob, I think everyone here was a Michael Jackson fan. One of, probably if not the greatest entertainer that's ever lived. I think -- I know my entire generation was influenced by his music, and you know, just the entertainer and just the songs, we listened to them -- whatever. It was always happy. You always wanted to listen to his songs.
And his legacy is one as the greatest entertainer, one, I think that his draw, his appeal and his influence and all the artists following him. You watch these guys in how they pay attribute, how they perform, how they dance and how they sing, their mannerisms, look at Usher, Justin Timberlake, their moves, they're Michael's moves.
NELSON SILVERIO: Tiger Woods, good luck this week.
End of FastScripts