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May 4, 2010

Tiger Woods


LAURA HILL: I'd like to introduce Tiger Woods and welcome you to the 2010 PLAYERS Championship. You got a couple of nine-hole practice rounds in. Give us your reaction on how the course is playing and your feelings going into this week.
TIGER WOODS: Well, the course is a little bit spotty. There's some spots around the greens and edges of the fairways are a little spotty. So it's going to be interesting to see how the rain affects that, if they're going to be a little bit muddy or not.
But the greens are absolutely perfect. They're rolling true, very little grain in them actually, and not cold outside. So that's about it.

Q. What's the state of your game? I guess it's million dollar question. I heard today was spotty, to use your term you just threw at us. How are you feeling? Did you see Hank?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's getting better, no doubt. It couldn't get any worse.
It's just one of those things where just a little bit of work, tighten things up a little bit, and get refocused for this event.

Q. You don't miss many cuts, but when you have you've responded pretty well in your next event, not necessarily the next week but the next event you play. Any particular trick to that or any particular reason you could cite as to why you come off a missed cut and play as well as you do?
TIGER WOODS: I don't like missing cuts.

Q. Do you get mad?
TIGER WOODS: What do you think(laughs)?

Q. There's been a lot of chatter in the last couple days about your swing and status with Hank. I'm just wondering if you could say what your status is with Hank, for one.
TIGER WOODS: I'm still working with him, yeah.

Q. And secondly, last week would you say the errors you made, more physical, more mental?
TIGER WOODS: All of the above. Didn't hit the ball very good, didn't think myself around the golf course very well, and didn't putt well, didn't chip well. I teed up the ball well to start off, and then I kind of -- I teed it up really well.
I didn't have any balls fall off tees. It was good. It just kind of got worse from there.

Q. How different has this comeback been for you than the last time you had a long layoff, both with everything on and off the course for you?
TIGER WOODS: Very different. This is more taxing certainly away from the golf course, with a lot of the things, paparazzi following me and all those kind of things.

Q. And how has that kind of impacted your preparation? Last time you had a lot of time to prepare. You were able to chip and putt and things like that. How has that impacted your preparation?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's certainly different. You know, certainly didn't have the distractions last time getting ready for events. You know, helicopters don't normally fly over you on the range and kind of hover and film you. That wasn't the case then, but that's the case now.

Q. What specifically are you working on with your game right now?
TIGER WOODS: Same. Just trying to get my posture, my takeaway a little bit more organized. Certainly trying to make sure I get enough width in the swing. As we all know, I tend to get a little bit narrow at times, and making sure that that gets organized again so I can get the ball up.

Q. Do you have a certain go-to shot that you'll go to now when everything else isn't working for you?
TIGER WOODS: It's always been the same, always kind of fade the ball.

Q. Would you say this is -- I know obviously personally it's difficult, but is this the lowest ebb of your career in terms of your life since you've started as a pro?
TIGER WOODS: They're different -- I've had two different low moments. Obviously what I'm going through now and then my father's death. Those are two low moments that I've had so far, no doubt.

Q. But emotionally?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, definitely.

Q. And that's impacted physically in your golf swing?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely.

Q. Have you ever had an issue as far as your confidence level goes going into an event? And is it an issue for you this week?
TIGER WOODS: Have I had issues with my confidence?

Q. Yeah, just where you really didn't have --
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. I've had moments where I didn't hit the ball very good coming in, and you've got to turn it around. That's the whole idea of practicing and really working on being focused on what I'm doing and being committed to what I'm doing.
I know what the fix is, and I've proven it to myself, and it's just a matter of going out there and executing it consistently over 72 holes.

Q. Do you have that this week? Do you feel like you have confidence issues going into this week?

Q. Were you angry, surprised, I wondered what your reaction was to the SI poll that had 24 percent of players polled said they thought you had taken performance enhancing drugs in your career. What was your reaction?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've never taken it. I've never taken performance enhancing drugs, never taken HGH, never taken any of that stuff. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Q. You weren't angry about it, surprised?
TIGER WOODS: After what's happened in my life?

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the dynamic of separating what's going on outside the ropes and performing inside the ropes? And if you -- A, how difficult that is; and B, do you find yourself - even though they're completely different circumstances - drawing on however you did it when your dad passed, because obviously initially it wasn't good, but you did come back and win the British not long after.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's just a matter of, for me, having the -- getting my mind where it needs to be. And certainly I've made a lot of adjustments in my life, and I've gone through a lot. A lot.
And just trying to make sure I get everything organized so I can play. I remember the hard part when my father passed is I really struggled with practicing. That's when I mourned the most because that's when my dad taught me all the basics, the fundamentals, and I really had a hard time practicing and working on my game initially, and my performance showed it at Winged Foot.
This time around, practicing has been a place where I can get out there and enjoy it again and get out there and work.

Q. Is practicing a little bit of a respite for you to some degree?
TIGER WOODS: I've always loved to practice. I'd much rather practice than play, any day. That's always been my entire life. That hasn't changed, and it feels good to get out there and be able to practice all day.

Q. The process that you said about making these adjustments, are these adding to your distractions off the course in trying to get yourself ready to play?
TIGER WOODS: Explain that again.

Q. Well, obviously you're going through different things than you were before, and so it takes time to do that. You're adjusting to those type of things. Are those adjustments and going through that process distracting from your ability to get ready for golf tournaments?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have the same opportunity to go out there and practice long hours and get out here and compete.

Q. First, your comment or thoughts about the eBay listing. Obviously you control most of your equipment. And secondly, some players have said the difference now with the game that we saw last week from you with the 79 is people are questioning your golf game but they're also questioning you as a person. And that's the part that hasn't been in your life before. What is more difficult for you to hear? People question your golf game, question your life, and what's the difference between the two in your eyes?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've had a lot of people question my life over the last six months. A lot has happened. So that hasn't changed.
As far as the eBay one, he may have my set of irons, but they're not from those tournaments. They're in my garage.

Q. So there's a second set or you don't know?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know where they're from, but the sets that I won all four major championships with, they're in my house.

Q. You hung onto those?
TIGER WOODS: What do you think? (Laughter.)

Q. You mentioned earlier that the emotional has kind of affected the physical. Could you be a little bit more detailed in that? Is it just fatigue or is it something a little more in terms of how one has carried to the other?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've been trying to make life adjustments and make life changes. You know, a lot of people when they go through treatment, they're able to make these adjustments in anonymity; I'm not. And that makes it a lot more difficult.

Q. We hear a lot these days about how pros' drivers are set up for power. We don't hear a lot about how they're set up for accuracy. What is it about your current setup that enables you to keep it in the fairway or where you're aiming?
TIGER WOODS: For me it's been shaft, and that's one of the things that I've struggled with over the years is finding shafts, because I've always been very simple with 431/2 inches, just an X100, just tip it.
And now when you vary the lengths of the drivers, it varies the kick points so much that I've had to just try a gamut of shafts.
Once I find a certain shaft that -- certain shafts fit at different lengths and feel great. The shaft that I used at the Masters is great at one length. The shaft I use now is at a different length. So that's one of the experiments. Once you find one that works, it's pretty good.

Q. And the fact now that you can click them in or screw them in instead of waiting for the glue to dry, does that shorten the process for you?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't like that because it's a different driver head that I use, so I have to go with the glued versions. And it makes it a lot more work for the staff.

Q. It's possible that you could lose your World No. 1 ranking, that Phil could mathematically overtake you. How disappointing would it be to lose your World No. 1?
TIGER WOODS: I've had it happen Before, Double-D and Vijay. I've had it happen before, and the whole idea to be No. 1 and to continue being No. 1, you have to win golf tournaments. And I haven't done that in a while. I haven't played in a while.

Q. One of the initiatives you said you really wanted to go through with is making sure you reconnect with your fans. What kind of fans do you find that you have here in northeast Florida, and what's the reception been like?
TIGER WOODS: Well, each and every year the galleries have come out and supported this event. When we had it in March, I think it was more -- I would say more youthful because it's right around spring break, and a lot of the college kids were out. But still, here in May, they still come out. And the fans around 16, 17 and 18, they certainly get into it.
It's always been fun to play here. The excitement, especially as you make your way through the golf course and you come up on the last few finishing holes, you can hear a lot of the roars as you're playing. And this golf course is so unique, and it is the first stadium course. The spectator mounding has been improved, and there's more people on more holes now than we had in the past.

Q. What did you make of an 18-year-old shooting 58 and a 20-year-old shooting 62?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's just -- I think it's how the game has evolved. It's become -- with the advent of technology, these kids are able to view their swings via a camera, videotape, and analyze their swings and make improvements so much faster and earlier, and their golf swings are so much better at an earlier age, even from when I grew up.
So to see these kids performing -- I mean, these are extraordinary rounds, but still, Ryo and Rory were performing well at an early age for a long time. Before that it was Sergio. I mean, Baddeley won two Aussie Opens as an amateur. So you can see these guys have got wonderful swings at an earlier age.
If you go back and at 20 years to my age, you had so many more unique swings, but now a lot of the swings are very similar and so much more efficient. And these kids don't have the bad rounds like they used to.

Q. Just to follow up on the eBay question real quick, how many sets of clubs did you use through that Grand Slam streak? Is it just one set, or do you have more than one set in your garage?
TIGER WOODS: I have two sets, yeah. I usually switch every eight, nine months, and even to this day I switch every nine months.

Q. Irons?
TIGER WOODS: Irons, yeah. I wear them out.

Q. Grooves get dull?

Q. Do you have both sets?

Q. Just to follow up, the question on Rory and Ryo, you mentioned Baddeley and Sergio. It's more than ten years since they were first on the scene and neither has won a major championship. What advice would you give to Ryo and Rory as far as continuing on with their upward trend? We've seen a lot of great players that just have never produced the results.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not easy. Winning major championships are not easy. The whole idea is to keep improving, keep becoming more efficient. And these two kids are just unbelievably talented. I mean, I played with Ryo last year at the British Open, then against him at the Presidents Cup, and couldn't believe how good he hits it. And he's just got a beautiful putting stroke.
I've never played with Rory, but I've seen him hit balls and watched him play on TV, and it's pretty impressive. I think the first time I saw him play was in Dubai, and he played really well there.
You know, just keep improving. You don't have to win right now. Just make sure you keep improving each and every year, and that's one of the things that I think all the great players that ever played, that they keep improving.

Q. Did you watch Rory on Sunday? Did it excite you? And did it remind you of anyone, perhaps yourself?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did watch him play -- I saw the bunker shot on 14, and then the next time I picked it up was he was on 16 with a fairway bunker shot, and then that was it. I thought after he hit that shot the tournament was already over.
As far as -- I never hit the ball that far, so I -- Rory hits it past me. I shrimp it out there now.

Q. You remarked when you saw him in Dubai at that time he was ahead of you at that age. Does that tie in with what you said about the equipment?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the equipment and just the advent of technology and being able to watch your swing and analyze your swing. We had his VHS cassettes and they had squiggly lines and you had to use the tracking to try and figure it out to see if you could maybe see your swing, and it looked terrible. Now the guys have got -- you can videotape your swing on a phone.

Q. But you would agree with Mark O'Meara's assessment of Rory's game? He was ahead of you at that age?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt. I wasn't a pro until almost 21, and he was pro at what, 18, I believe it was?

Q. 17.
TIGER WOODS: So I wasn't even near ready to turn pro at that age. I wasn't good enough.

Q. Do you think Earl would be surprised we have a black president?
TIGER WOODS: No, not at all.

Q. What do you think he'd make of this guy?
TIGER WOODS: He was hoping that he would see that day. There's no doubt he was hoping he'd see that day.

Q. What do you think he'd make of this guy?
TIGER WOODS: He'd be very proud.

Q. Have you accepted your invitation to play in the Champions event before the Open Championship this year at St. Andrews? And secondly, Americans do really well in the Open, and by rights shouldn't really with the golf that they're used to playing. Why do you think that is?
TIGER WOODS: Have I accepted my invitation? I haven't really gotten one.

Q. The Champions thing that he's talking about, play four holes with all the old guys at St. Andrews.
TIGER WOODS: Is that what it is? No, I haven't seen it.

Q. You're going to be at the Open?
TIGER WOODS: I'll play, yeah.
As far as Americans doing well at the Open Championship, you know, that's just kind of one of those weird things, but then again, a lot of Europeans don't play links golf. They don't grow up on links golf. A lot of park land courses now. This generation of players is different than the Lyles, the Woosnams, the Seves and Ollies and the Langers. They play more on links golf than they do now.
How many tournaments do you guys have on links golf courses besides the Open?

Q. The Irish Open.
TIGER WOODS: So you have two.

Q. Dunhill is at St. Andrews.
TIGER WOODS: So not that many.

Q. There's been sentiments from a couple players, mostly overseas and not necessarily U.S. Tour members, but winning a World Golf Championship would be more meaningful to them than THE PLAYERS, maybe a little more emotional attachment. Any thoughts on that from your perspective, having won both, one more than the other? Can you understand that perspective, and if you would go about rating it, how would you?
TIGER WOODS: I would say I think this event is much bigger. The field is so much deeper. Generally you probably get, what, 95 or above of the top 100 players in the world each and every year, yeah. And you don't really get that in all the World Golf Championships. Usually the cutoff is around 50.
This field is so much deeper, and I think it's played on a much more difficult golf course.

Q. Phil has kind of gotten you the last three or four times you guys have played in the same field. Is that something you take notice of? And I know your relationship with Phil is good, but the fact that he can catch you and the fact that he's won a few tournaments with you in the field, does that motivate you any more than usual?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think if you look at our careers, it's gone in streaks like that where I'll get him, he'll get me, and it kind of goes in like little spurts. And granted, we've been going at it for, what, 13 years. So yeah, right now he's won a few, and hopefully I can win a few myself.

Q. And I know you were playing at the time, but have you seen any of Phil's final round of Augusta, some of the shots he hit? And what was your reaction just to that day in general?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was just blown away that he can hit 8-iron 205 yards on 15. Westwood was telling me he had 208 and he hit 6-iron, and Phil had 205 and hit 8-iron. I don't normally -- I've never seen anyone hit 8-iron 205. Good shot. (Laughter.)
LAURA HILL: Tiger, thanks for coming in. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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