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November 3, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We are going to start with world No. 1 player, Tiger Woods. So Tiger, I guess my question to you is really, I would like to pick your brain on your thoughts of the global significance of having this event and having this event converted into a WGC tournament; your thoughts on that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that obviously it couldn't have got to this point without the support of HSBC. To have the crowning jewel of all of Asian golf be this event a couple of years ago, and now a World Golf Championship, is unprecedented, for it to happen so quickly, and done with such class, it's been fun. I've been a part of it on two occasions, and how this event has grown to where it's at now is truly remarkable.
To see the excitement level here of all of the Chinese fans and the media and the players, all throughout Asia and the world to come here and support this event and how much obviously it means to everyone; as I said, it's great to be a part of, and this year with the field that we have, it's going to be a lot of fun. I think everyone is going to be thrilled to see a lot of layers that they have not gotten a chance to see before and we are looking forward as players to going out and competing in such a great event.
THE MODERATOR: Phil, you have described winning in the year 2007 as the biggest victory of your career outside of the United States, and you said after the British Open, you couldn't think of anything better (a better run tournament) than this tournament outside of the United States. Now will you say that this upcoming WGC - HSBC Champions, that has already become second on the list to the British Open, as the most important non-American event outside of the United States, on your calendar?
PHIL MICKELSON: This is an historic event; to have a World Golf Championship here in China. I want to thank HSBC for spearheading this and bringing world-class golf to China.
Now it has become an Olympic sport, I am hopeful and believe that the game of golf will grow around the world and I believe that the commitment that China has made to sport, to all Olympic sports and the commitment they will make to golf will help grow the game of golf throughout China.
Having been able to win this tournament, having been able to be a part of growing the game in China means a lot to me and I want to hopefully continue to compete here and help the game of golf grow throughout China, through course design and golf academies, to help see the young players here in China grow into some of the best players in the world.
THE MODERATOR: Y.E., we would like to know, HSBC Champions has been able to help grow the sport of golf in Asia, and from your point of view, this platform will allow Asian golfers to compete with the world's best golfers now, has become true? Would you see yourself as living proof that HSBC Champions has reached that objective?
Y.E. YANG: As we know, in the year 2006, I actually won here, a great honour for me, and this event has definitely provided a platform for a lot of Asian golfers, particularly from Asia, to showcase their skills.
THE MODERATOR: (To Sergio) More and more people are really referring to this tournament as being Asia's major. Would you summarise the quality of the competition coming up very soon; each of this year's majors and WGC events have been won by a different player, this is what's been happening. Your thoughts on that and also on the quality of the competition?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, this really shows you the growth of the game and how many good players we have worldwide. I think we are all very happy to be here. We are thrilled about the opportunity of playing this WGC-HSBC Champions. Me being the defending champion is a great honour. I'm going to try to do my best to defend it, and I think this everybody here is behind it, and HSBC should be very proud of the field that they have. I think that it's amazing to have players the calibre of Y.E. and Tiger and Phil and some others here. So I'm just thrilled to be a part of it and I'm looking forward to hopefully do well and see if I can defend my title.
Q. In just five years, HSBC Champions has reached WGC level, and this year golf has become an Olympic sport; how do these two major events affect HSBC's future investment in the sport?
GILES MORGAN: I think on behalf of all of my colleagues, we are delighted that golf has attained the big status Sandy (Flockhart - CEO, HEBC Asia-Pacific) has already referred to. I think that combined with updating the HSBC Champions to World Golf Championships status is a reflection of the investment we have tried to make this country in the development of golf over the last five years.
The recognition from the IOC means that the game can be taken into new markets around the world and is very significant. Golf is going global and going beyond the traditional heartlands of Europe and on the U.S.
We are very proud to have played our small part in the development of golf in Asia with the support of the two largest golf tournaments, the HSBC Champions, and the HSBC Women's Champions, and our commitment to junior golf, particularly here in China. So we are delighted and look forward to great growth in the game to come.
Q. What is your biggest hope in 2010? And the second is that of all the tournaments that you have played, but didn't win, this one, the WGC-HSBC, is it the most important, and what is the expectations of this year's tournament?
TIGER WOODS: As far as 2010, I'm looking forward to hopefully building on what I've done this year. After coming off of the surgery last year to playing consistently I think this year was a big bonus, and I'm really looking forward to continuing to hopefully try and improve on that, and obviously win a few more tournaments and maybe hopefully get a major in there next year.
More than anything, I think that the second part of your question, I've come close here a couple of times. I've played here twice, and I think I finished second twice. So I've come close and unfortunately just didn't get it done. Hopefully this week, I can put it together and improve on that finish.
The third part of your question, if I can remember it correctly, which I don't --
THE MODERATOR: Two parts already. Your expectations.
TIGER WOODS: For this event? Well, I think it's just great that this event has become what it's become. I think this event being a World Golf Championship and being here in Asia is truly remarkable; and how fast it happened, I think that's the thing that has surprised all of us is the growth of this event, but also the growth of Chinese golf, I think they are correlated. But to have an opportunity to play in an event this big here in Asia, it's one of the reasons why you see a lot of the top players are here, because it is a great event and we are really looking forward to competing and playing.
Q. How do you feel about being defending champion and your chances to do it again?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think that like I said before, I think this event has grown so much, like we all talked about. I think it's definitely going to be a bit tough, when you have the kind of field we have this week, it's all difficult to win, but it's always a challenge. That's what we come here for, and I'm looking forward to that challenge. I really enjoy this golf course. I feel comfortable on it. I've done well on it.
So I'll hopefully be able to tell you exactly on Sunday if I have a chance or not. While, in fact, we hope that in 200016, golfers can participate in the Olympic Games. We hope that they can get qualified, and also, we look forward to the excellent performance.
Q. You are Asia's first player to win a major championship, so what is your feeling about competing in this year's WGC-HSBC Champions?
Y.E. YANG: We can say that no player can be the winner all the time. I have very high expectations for this WGC-HSBC Champions but I will try to be calm and play; I need to achieve a better result step-by-step.
Q. Before 2007, you played not so often outside of America, but after that, this is your third consecutive year to play HSBC. So what attracts you so much to come here, and besides, what's your idea on the growth of a world-scale event in China?
PHIL MICKELSON: A big reason why myself and other players are able to play more golf outside of the United States is that we changed our schedule a few years ago to end with the FedExCup in September. This has given us 2 1/2, three months, in the end of the year, to be able to play elsewhere throughout the world. And I have always wanted to spend time in China.
My children are ages six, eight and ten. I have wanted to take them to different cultures and different parts of the world. They have been with me the last two years, and have been able to see many of the wonderful things that China has to offer; whether it was going to the Bund, a beautiful place like the Bund, or going to a Canal City, or going to see the Terracotta Warriors when we flew over to see them. Seeing different part of the Chinese culture has been very educational for my family.
Being able to see different parts of different cultures throughout Asia down in Singapore has been very fascinating to see what the country of Singapore has done without any natural resources and we have learned from that, and so I have used this as an opportunity to help play golf throughout the world, hopefully grow the game of golf throughout the world, but also educate my family on different parts and cultures of the world.
Q. This will be the first of its kind in Asia, WGC, how do you view this kind of honour that you have? And also, the game will continue to be held in Sheshan International Golf Club next year, so what kind of preparations will you make for this event this year and next year?
RICHARD CHENG: Well, thank you very much for your question. Without any doubt, the Sheshan International Golf Club is a very famous club in China for the golfers, as well as for the viewers.
Well, this is our great honour to have the opportunity to host this tournament. Without the support from Shanghai government and without the support of HSBC or other organizations, we wouldn't have this opportunity. This couldn't have been possible. But honour is not our priority. Starting from the inception of our club, we focused on two things.
First of all, we are the leading private club in China, so we want to create a very good platform for our members, for them to have communications and to do more socially. And also, according to international standards, we have to always operate our softwares and hardwares so that we can make the best preparation for international events and competitions. Honour, it's not our priority, but it's our driving force for further development.
We will try to do our best to host events like this. If the event continues to honour or grace our club next year, we will face up to the challenge and try to do a good job. You know, Shanghai has been developing quite rapidly economically and socially and I think there will be more and more clubs in Shanghai like us that are qualified to host events like this.
So we hope that we can maintain our competitive edge and I believe on that note, we should really improve our capabilities. So we should make full preparation, a perfect preparation for the event. In the area of Sheshan Mountain, a lot of facilities are being built like the light railway, it has a station very close to our club.
So this is an advantage that we have. This will help to draw more audience or attendance at the event, and also, we will also help to improve the facilities and infrastructure in She Shan Mountain area, so we will spend a lot of time cooperating with related partners or the governments in upgrading the She Shan Mountain area so that the events can be best held.
Last but not least, I would have to thank everybody that have made efforts to make this event possible. We hope that the golfers when they come to Sheshan, they feel that the Chinese golf course is also okay. So I think that will be the biggest surprise for us. Thank you.
Q. How do you balance your family and also playing golf?
TIGER WOODS: That's the thing that most athletes have to juggle, juggling being there for your family as well as being committed to what you're doing on the golf course. It certainly is a challenge, but I've been very lucky to have just a fantastic wife who has been just tremendous with our kids, and it's been a lot of fun being around them and being a part of their growth.
It is getting a little bit harder to leave home, but I'm sure that's only going to get worse as they get older. It's part of what we do, unfortunately, as athletes, we do travel and as golfers we travel all around the world. So unfortunately it's just part of the job.
Q. The status of golf in China is increasing so much and compared to the neighboring country, Japan, there used to be so many tournaments going on there, as well, where you will have a lot of prize money. In China, this is the first time for a WGC-HSBC Champions to be held here with a tremendous amount of prize money. What do you make of it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's been great history in the events there in Japan. A lot of the players have played there in Japan, have played there many a times, and we have all enjoyed it. It's just a tremendous tour. But China is obviously a growing market, and the growing power in the game of golf and obviously is reflective of this event; to be at the level that it is now or the World Golf Championship, or by no means that it is detrimental to the Japanese Tour; they have been a fantastic tour. They have great players, a new up-and-coming player in Ryo, and their tour is very strong.
But this event, I think it's a celebration of what all of Asia is trying to do for the game of golf and how it's trying to grow. And to have a World Golf Championship for the very first time in Asia is tremendous.
Q. With golf becoming an official Olympic sport, will you compete to win a medal in 2016?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I have to qualify first in 2016. Christ, I'll be 40 years old in 2016.
THE MODERATOR: Still young.
TIGER WOODS: Younger than Phil. (Laughter).
But I think it's tremendous for the game of golf to have an opportunity to be in the Olympics. We are I think what the ambition is of Olympic sports. We make a statement on the golf course; if there's any kind of indiscretion, if the ball moves, we call ourselves on it, and you don't see that in any other sport. So I think that golf fits in the Olympics and the Olympics fits golf. I think that it's going to be tremendous to see how it shapes up and how exciting it will be in 2016. We as players certainly look forward to having an opportunity to play for an Olympic gold medal.
Q. You've come here before, both of you, do you feel as though you have a responsibility to the game as being players that impact the game to play around the world?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that we would love to help grow the game throughout the world. I think that with the addition of golf becoming an Olympic sport, that is the greatest thing that can help grow the game of golf throughout the world. Our participation in certain events will hopefully grow awareness in those countries, spark interest in some of the youth and the young players in different countries to get them started. This is what we call a grass-roots movement, and I believe that if we can get the kids interested in the it game, 15, 20 years from now will be the time when we start to see the game of golf prosper throughout the world.
TIGER WOODS: As Phil alluded, it's part of our responsibility as players. I've played all around the world and I've played on every continent except Antarctica. They haven't had a course down there yet. But the whole idea is to grow the game throughout the world and grow the game and that's what our responsibilities are as player and as world-class players. The game has grown, certainly, globally, as well, and with the inception, or the inclusion of us being in the Olympics, it reflects that.
So the game of golf I think is pretty healthy. We are getting more -- as Phil said, more grass-roots involvement around the world, and 15, 20 years from now, we will certainly see what some of these -- for instance, what China is doing now with their programs, as they are creating a base, they are growing more players. It is going to be exciting to see what the future holds in game of golf.
Q. Golf is to be included in the Olympics; as a player, do you think it is too big of an event to be played in the Olympics, or do you think it can provide Asian golf or especially Chinese golf a very good opportunity to grow? And in the next 20 or 30 years, do you see maybe in the golf field, Chinese players will become the winners?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think that as you said -- is it too big? No. We are proud to be a part of the Olympic Games, and 2016, I think that I alluded to earlier, I think it's a perfect fit for how golf and its ambitions are and what the Olympics stand for. It's just a perfect fit.
Q. Do you think that can help Chinese golf?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely it will help Chinese golf develop. I don't know what the future holds as far as government funding and how golf can be played that way. I remember when Sweden got involved and got the behind it and had federations and the teams travelled; and hence you look at how many Swedish players that are on The European Tour and the American tour. If China gets involved with that, I think certainly the Olympics games will help that. There will be a lot of good Chinese players in the next probably 15, 20 years.
Q. Last year you played quite well and you reached the top two of the world, but now since this year, your performance is not that good as last year. How do you think of your defending situation?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously, this year I haven't played as well as I have towards the middle of last year obviously. I'm looking forward to it. I think that obviously I've gone through a tough stretch of the year in the middle of the year where I lost a little bit of confidence and it cost me a little bit.
But I feel like my game is getting back. I feel like I'm starting to put some good rounds together, and it's just a matter of get gaining a little bit more consistency.
You know, like I said before, I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's a great event, and I think that everybody should be very proud of the work they have done here, and now it's up to us to perform and you know, I came here to try to win. So that's my main goal.
Q. The competitors in the tournament what do you think?
Y.E. YANG: We have three gentlemen here who have won a lot of honors in the world -- so the competitions will be very competitive and we are witnessing some top-notch competitions in this tournament.
Q. How important is it for China to coach golf for broader participation in China? How can it be done?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, that's a good question, I think the China golf foundation will be the one to help grow the game of golf. It's important to provide places of opportunity tore kids to play golf. 25 years ago, there were no golf courses in China. Now, there are a few hundred, and a lot more are coming. It's important to have facilities where kids can go play.
When I grew up playing golf, when Tiger grew up playing golf and everyone else, we were able to play par 3 courses or work at a driving range or go play public golf courses, and we have a lot of great private golf courses. It will be important to have public access so that all players can go play fairly inexpensively so that is it doesn't cost too much money. That gives all of the people an opportunity to play.
I've noticed that in China, it is a very hard-working culture and there are great athletes in China. When the country of China and the people of China committed to the Olympics, they became a dominant force in Olympic sports. When the country of China and the people of China commit to the game of golf, they will become a dominant force in the game of golf.
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