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September 27, 2009

Tiger Woods


LAURA HILL: Let me be the first to welcome and congratulate our 2009 FedExCup champion. I know second in a tournament isn't typically what makes you smile necessarily, but you have to be pretty pleased with the way you capped off the season here.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, to win the FedExCup and to be as consistent as I have been all year is something that I'm very proud of. As I alluded to earlier out there on the green, there's so many unknowns at the beginning of the season, and to play as consistently as I have, I think it's nine top-twos this year, I certainly wouldn't have expected that going into my first event, the Match Play, to end up where I'm at right now. I'm very proud of that and proud of what Hank has done and my trainers to get me to this point.

Q. How does this feel? This is kind of a weird one.
TIGER WOODS: It feels certainly not like it did a couple years ago when I won the tournament. (Laughter.) By seven, eight shots, whatever it was. So yeah, that felt a little bit better than it did today. I hit the ball well enough to make a few more birdies, and I just didn't make any putts this week from about 10 to 20 feet. I missed a lot of putts.

Q. Is this something on a morning after you kind of look back at a tournament and say, okay, move on, is this something where you can probably appreciate this trophy more tomorrow than you can today?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. I think so. I think it's just one of those things where obviously I'm a little disappointed I didn't win the Championship because I was right there. But the FedExCup is something very similar to what you have for Player of the Year. It's a cumulative total and something that you have to be consistent the entire year, and it's something that I was.

Q. At least it worked out that way.

Q. Just curious whether you were aware of what was going on with the other guys and your status on the FedEx thing since you had sort of fallen out of contention to win the day. Stricker had actually moved past you in FedEx points there briefly, and there was one interesting scenario where you actually needed Phil to win in order to win the $10 million the way things were bouncing around out there. It was very bizarre.
TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, no. All I know is I was three and four back, and I just needed to push, needed a run of two or three birdies to get me right back in the ballgame. Unfortunately that run didn't happen until 15, and that's a little late.
After I birdied 15, birdied 16, I was there on 17, and I saw where Phil ended up, short of the green. I said, well, if I make this putt, he doesn't get up-and-down, at least I have a chance to force a playoff. And I didn't make my putt. It was a good putt, too. That's basically when it set in. After Phil got up-and-down, I didn't hole it on the last hole to force him into extra holes, and that's a little bit deflating.

Q. Third year of the FedEx points system in the Playoffs and the third different system. Do you like how it is now, how it shakes out? Do you agree with it? Do you think it should be more points towards the end or fewer points?
TIGER WOODS: You know, to be honest with you, there's been three different systems, and I only played it two of the three. You know, this year we had a lot of kind of unknowns going into the Playoffs this year, how it was going to turn out because of the resetting and guys could have gone the entire year without winning an event and still won the FedExCup. But you know, you have to play -- the whole idea is to play well at the end, and that's kind of how it's structured. You just have to -- it is a system. You just have to play well at the right times, for instance, with what Heath did by winning the first playoff event. He all of a sudden jumped right into the third spot.
Yeah, the resetting, you can play well, you can win 20 events throughout the year, and reset and it's a certain number. But it is what it is. And it's very similar to what they do with NASCAR, what they try to do with Playoffs in other sports. It's just kind of our version.

Q. Moving forward, as you approach Jack's 73-win mark, can you articulate what that milestone means to you, considering, of course, in the larger scheme of things, you've also won 14 majors in the mix?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you have to be consistent day in and day out in order to win a lot of golf tournaments. A lot of the events that you -- if you're able to get that high a number, you don't always have your best stuff to still win golf tournaments because you know how to manage your game, you know how to get it around. That's something Jack has always alluded to. You have to understand how to get the ball around, not necessarily win the tournament but keep yourself in the tournament, and you never know what can happen at the end. That's something that I've done over the years and have really learned how to do it.
To get as many wins as I've had, and hopefully I can win some more and win some more major titles, that's what you have to do. I've been in contention a few times this year in major championships to win, and you can't win them all, but the whole idea is to be there each and every time, and if you are there each and every time, just like Jack seemed like he was, you're going to win your share.

Q. Just to look ahead at next year, would you prefer to take a week break after Boston and then go Chicago, Atlanta, Ryder Cup, or --
TIGER WOODS: Considering what next year's Cup, where it's located and what we have to do, you're probably better off to not play -- you probably want to play one event here and then one overseas, the Ryder Cup.
You probably don't want to go two, week off, then three in a row, with the last one being the Ryder Cup overseas. If you want to be fresh -- granted, we could have the Europeans play in this thing and wear them out, too.

Q. Just following up on that, how much of a grind has it been since Buick? I mean, this is basically -- I know there's a Presidents Cup to go, but it's basically the end of the season. How much of a grind has it been?
And secondly, how difficult is it to always bring your best stuff day in, day out?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's been an unbelievable grind. I was criticized at the beginning of the year for not playing enough. But that was -- I didn't want to hurt myself at the beginning of the season. I was coming back from a reconstructive knee surgery. That's the last thing I want to do is stretch out the ligament and now the surgery was all for naught. I didn't do that. I got better and more healthy and more explosive as the year went on, and I was able to finish off these events because of how I managed my year. It was a long stretch to play this much golf.
There are days when, yeah, you are a little bit flat, and you still have to get yourself up to play. That's part of the challenge. When you play a lot of events, and I've been in contention a lot, so that adds to the stress, and you start managing your practice rounds, your practice schedules, how many balls you hit after a round. If you start managing all that to make sure you have enough energy day in and day out to bring it and shoot the lowest score you possibly can the next day.

Q. Just as a follow to that, is it mentally grinding, and does that affect putting more than it does ball-striking do you think?
TIGER WOODS: No. The mental grind certainly is there because you're there in contention a lot, and that adds to how tired you become, and then you do it week in and week out and week in and week out, and it adds to it. I think the Buick, Bridgestone, PGA Championship there, I went one, one, two, that was a long haul there. Going into this playoff event it was nice to have that one week off, to get that break, because I certainly needed it, and I certainly needed the break after Cog Hill, as well, to be fresh for this event, because it is a lot to ask if you're in contention. If you're not in contention, it doesn't really wear on you that bad.

Q. A year ago at this time where were you at in regard to the rehab, and did you pay any attention to last year's TOUR Championship?
TIGER WOODS: I saw the last two holes, actually. That was it.
As far as my rehab schedule, I wasn't even close to making a golf swing yet. That was still way off.

Q. Crutches, just on the couch, or --
TIGER WOODS: It was still swollen. I hadn't got full range of motion yet. Yeah, I was still another couple months away before I kind of felt somewhat human again.

Q. The seven-event stretch here, three wins, three seconds. How would you rate that compared to any of your good runs in your career? It's obviously been a pretty good one.
TIGER WOODS: As I said earlier, I'm very proud of that, how I've played this year, and definitely towards the end of the season. To be as consistent as I was day in and day out, it's not easy to do.
But certainly I've had a few things going my way. You make a few putts here and there, you turn tides, I hit the ball really well at pretty much every event, and I really managed my game well. That's something that I've gotten so much better at.

Q. A unique situation at the ceremony where you and Phil both get trophies. What's your sense of who was happier, you or him, with your respective trophy?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, that's a good question. I'm sure I would probably be more happy tomorrow than I am right now, because you're in the moment trying to win this event. Winning takes care of everything, just like if you win consistently throughout the year, you get the Jack Nicklaus award, you get the Arnold Palmer award, you get the Byron Nelson Award for being consistent. But when you're in the moment out there, I'm trying to win a golf tournament, I'm trying to beat Phil, he's trying to beat me, Kenny, Sean, we're all there, and it was just a great leaderboard. Come tomorrow, I'm sure I'll feel a lot better.

Q. You know that $9 million is cash this time.
TIGER WOODS: This time, I know that. I know. A little different than a couple years ago.

Q. Does it take a couple days before it shows up as a deposit?
TIGER WOODS: I hope not.

Q. I want to get a comment on Phil, who looks like he's back and flying high, and he's been through some family issues which I'm sure I can relate to with your dad, pretty serious crisis, and just your thoughts on what he's been through and being back in the winner's circle after kind of being lost for a while?
TIGER WOODS: You have to understand he's going to take time off after what happens. That's life. Life is so much -- you start understanding, life is so much more important than golf. The priority should never be golf. When you have a loved one like that who is struggling, who is hurting, golf is as far away from your mind as it can possibly be. I certainly have never dealt with what he's had to deal with, just a parent. You don't want to play golf. You want to be there with your family members.
And for him to -- and he's got kids to consider and to take care of. These are all things that once that got situated, once that was more under control and more of a known, then he started playing more golf and started coming out here and playing. It's going to take a little time to build back up into it. You can see that he's started having little bursts of playing better and better until obviously this week.

Q. Just one last on Phil again. You like to obviously get out there and win and everyone is playing good and then you win, and there's something about you that enjoys that. Would you like to see him back there and playing against him when he's at his best next year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, why wouldn't you? If you look at my career so far, I've had probably three main guys I've played against since the inception of my career, Phil, Ernie and Vijay, where we've gone at it consistently throughout my 13 years out here. So certainly I would love to go at it again with him. We've had certain runs where we've battled a lot, and I think with those three main guys I've been consistent throughout my entire career. It's been a lot of fun. That's kind of been my generation of guys to deal with for over a decade.

Q. Similar question, back in the day it was Jack, Arnie, that's when golf was at its best, and it's been said that golf was never better at this high level than when Phil ramps it all and challenges you. Do you sense that yourself?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Phil, as we all know, he's got the talent, and he can make a bunch of birdies, and with his short game, even if he hits a couple poor shots, he can still get up-and-down. That's how you have to be to win a lot of tournaments, which he has. He's won just -- I don't know what the number is.

Q. 37.
TIGER WOODS: 37? Yeah. I mean, look at Vijay, and as I said, the three guys I've played against, Vijay, and Ernie hasn't won as many here, but globally he has, and obviously Phil. All three guys have great short games. And when their ball-striking comes around with a combination of that short game, they're not making a whole lot of bogeys. It is fun to play against guys when they're in full flight like that.
LAURA HILL: Tiger, congratulations. Thank you.

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