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June 29, 2010
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA
DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the defending champion of the AT&T National, Tiger Woods. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes. How about just some opening comments, kind of how you're feeling as you're heading into the week.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I just got here, so it's pretty exciting to see the fans out there that are already into it. I've talked to some of the players. Some of my good friends have already played the golf course. The golf course is in phenomenal shape. It's going to be a great week. I think what we're doing for the charities that are involved and bringing an awareness to those charities involved, giving back to our military and making sure everyone appreciates what they're doing for our country, I think this is going to be a very special week.
Q. Last time you were here you had some back pain and neck pain. Where are you now physically, A; and B, your golf game compared to where you think it should be right now.
TIGER WOODS: Well, your golf game is never where you want it to be. Even when you're having your best days, it can always be better. But the neck is better than it was then. Is it where I want it, no, but it is what it is. But as far as the game, it's always a work in progress.
Q. Can this weekend be an opportunity where you kind of break out and come close to winning, if not winning a tournament again and kind of getting back to where you were a year ago?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I certainly trying to get my rounds in and put myself there in contention to win events. The last event I played in, I was close. I was right there and just didn't put it together for the final day. Things are starting to come around, which is nice to see. It's just a matter of just getting more and more consistent with what I'm working on and putting together better rounds.
Q. You mentioned St. Andrews is probably your favorite site for a major. Other than your success there, why is that? And do you feel that winning a major this year is important as you move closer to 18?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as winning at St. Andrews, it's the greatest golf course in the world for me because I've always enjoyed it. I played there as an amateur. That was my first introduction to links golf was Carnoustie, Scottish Open the week before, and St. Andrews. It doesn't get any better than that as your introduction to links golf. I fell in love with it the first time I ever played it because I played it on a very interesting day. I played it when the tide changed right when I was at the turn, so I played all 18 holes into the wind. Absolutely fell in love with the golf course.
I've played there in the Dunhill Cup when it's been freezing, couldn't change the cups because the ground was frozen, hitting a sand wedge in the first hole, landed it on the front edge and it went over the green because the ground was frozen, wouldn't stop.
We've all played under different conditions there, and it's still a great golf course. It's one of the reasons why I love it so much.
Q. Just to expand on that a little bit, do you recall what you were expecting when you first turned up at the Old Course and what your very first impression was?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I thought it would be a little bit more narrow than it is. Getting on that 1st hole and seeing how wide it is, how wide every fairway is, but then again, once you start playing you realize it's not that wide. To get the angles you need to have into these flags, it narrows up very quickly. And then you add wind and where you need to put the golf ball to give yourself chance of getting the ball close, it gets really narrow. You can hit every fairway there and still never have a shot at a flag. And I think that's a pretty neat feeling.
Q. Your title sponsor, the AT&T, is no longer a sponsor. Has that changed your role at all here this week as far as being the, quote-unquote, host of this event?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'll still part of the event and working hard behind the scenes as always. This is a great event for our foundation. We're very lucky and very excited that the AT&T wanted to still be a part of this event, which is great. And to come back here or come here for the first time and come back to the Philly area, they haven't had a golf tournament here in a long time, and everyone is pretty excited about it.
Q. Just to expand, can you talk a little bit about the unique nature of having them as the title sponsor continuing for many years but also when they said they would not continue to carry on a relationship with you, the unique sort of relationship of having one versus not having the other?
TIGER WOODS: If you're going to have one over the other, you choose it this way because we're trying to help as many kids as we possibly can, and this is the way to do it, to bring awareness to the foundation. For them to be a part of this event is a tremendous impact for our future and growth as a foundation as we build globally, and stepping towards that direction, yes.
Q. To follow up on my last question, when you take to the course for practice rounds and everything else, what do you want to work on specifically, and what do you need to do to start winning again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's taking what the golf course -- see how it's playing. The speed of it, from what I hear, got some rain not too long ago and softened things up a little bit, but the greens are still pretty firm. They're not making too many ball marks. But certainly the fairways are giving up a little bit but not a lot yet. They'll probably dry out as the week goes on. The rough is certainly up, which is good to see. And it's going to be a very difficult golf course, and that's what I like to see.
This is a golf course that has hosted major championships. There's no reason we can't play it tough.
As far as me winning, just got to be more consistent and string together more rounds like I did on Saturday at the Open. That was a nice step in the right direction because I would play so far this year two or three good holes, then hit a bad shot and I would take that air out of what I had built. During that stretch, I put together about 12 really good holes, and it's something I hadn't done all year.
Granted, the amount of rounds I've played so far this year is about what I normally play through March. I'm starting to head in the right direction.
Q. Sean O'Hair is a local guy and he'll have a lot of fans in the crowd this week. What do you like most about Sean and what do you like about his game?
TIGER WOODS: Sean is just a great kid. I'll tell you what, he couldn't be a more humble and down to earth, just nice guy. I've always enjoyed playing practice rounds with him, getting to know him, having him part of The Presidents Cup team. I missed the Ryder Cup team last time, but him being part of that Presidents Cup team was absolutely incredible.
You know, he's a pretty funny guy, loves to tell jokes, absolutely loves it, and pretty much every day I think I've ever seen him, I think he's told me a joke.
Q. And his game?
TIGER WOODS: His game has improved a lot, and it's good to see. He's making progress each and every year, and that's what you want to do as your career unfolds. You know, he's starting to play well at the right time, the right venues. He won at Quail Hollow, which is not an easy golf course. He has the talent and the tools to win more consistently, and I think it's just a matter of him just to go out there and prove it to himself.
Q. I wonder how Tiger Woods the student and how Tiger Woods the teacher are getting along as you work toward building your golf swing to your satisfaction.
TIGER WOODS: Great question. It's pretty simple. I'm using video. Video does a lot. If you can get the proper angles, it's pretty simple whether the club is on plane or not, very simple.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Playing at the Open? I think for about 12 holes, yeah.
Q. Do you have another set of eyes at all for this?
TIGER WOODS: The camera.
Q. That's it?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh.
Q. I'm just curious what you think of the LeBron hoopla, and do you have a place you'd like to see him go?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, actually I would love to see him go to the Lakers. (Laughter.) I'm an LA guy, can't help it. That would be interesting, wouldn't it?
Q. I'm curious, what do you find to be a more obnoxious sports tradition, the vuvuzela or the "get-in-the-hole" guy?
TIGER WOODS: Well, considering it's my sport, I'd have to say the "get-in-the-hole" guy.
Q. People have talked a lot about the role that your father played in being your putting teacher.
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Has that been stated accurately over the years, and if so, what do you do in that regard, to work on your putting?
TIGER WOODS: My dad, he taught me all the fundamentals and everything I know about putting. I have always gone back to his teachings when it comes to putting. I've worked with Butch and Hank on my putting occasionally here and there, but I always go back to my dad's teachings. Under pressure, under the gun, when you need to make putts on the back nine, I always revert back to my dad's teachings. That's what I know. I mean, it's worked for 30-plus years.
Yeah, when I hear -- when I get out there, sometimes I'll even hear his voice coming down the stretch on the back nine. That's pretty neat.
Q. Do you have notes written down?
TIGER WOODS: I don't have notes because I know it by heart, everything he's ever taught me about putting.
Q. You've talked a lot about how this has been a process. You've also talked about how everything outside the ropes has been a distraction in terms of preparation. Can you talk about where you are in the process and how far or close golf wise and if there are still distractions outside?
TIGER WOODS: Outside the ropes there are certainly still distractions. It is what it is. I think everyone has had distractions in their lives. I think that my life out here on TOUR is becoming more normalized, getting out here and talking to you guys about the game of golf and why I haven't won a tournament yet this year or why I hit that shot or this shot, and it wasn't like that at the beginning of the year. But now that certainly has changed, and for the good.
Q. Is there anything you can or will say to Dustin after what happened to him Sunday at Pebble?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it happens. And just because it happened doesn't mean that you can't ever win again. I mean, it happened to Mike Weir. I was playing not too far away from him at Medinah, and he shot 80 in the final round and came back and won the Masters. If he has the talent and the game to give himself that type of lead at a U.S. Open, there's no reason why he can't do that again and finish it off. It's just a matter of picking yourself up and doing it all over again.
Q. Can you talk about the impact of people like Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder and Calvin Peete had not only on your career but golf as a whole and talk about your relationship with these men?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Charlie I think has had the greatest impact on me because I've gotten to know him over the years. Charlie has been -- I call him my grandpa, I do, even to his face, because he has been, he's been like a grandfather I've never had. I never had grandparents; they had all passed away. He's been like my grandfather. To be able to talk to him and see him at Firestone each and every year, it's incredible. It's great to see that he's finally getting recognized for what he had done or what he had contributed or what he had to go through to chase his dreams. And that's something that I think we all can learn from, is that he didn't let anyone get in front of him from chasing him dream, what he wanted to do, and that is play golf, play golf at an elite level.
He did it, he inspired me, he inspired countless others, and he's a hero in my book.
Q. Talk about the competitive field every year, the field of golfers this year and the challenge of playing this weekend against these guys.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we've got a really good field, and the golf course is going to certainly test all of us. I think that's something that we've been very lucky so far with the AT&T National, to have two just incredible venues, one being Congressional and here at Aronimink. Both have hosted major championships. I think all the guys will be tested this week. It'll be a good one.
Q. Today is charity day. There's a lot of kids out there from Boys and Girls Clubs. We've been talking to a few of them, and who's your favorite golfer, Tiger Woods; whose autograph do you most want, Tiger Woods. How seriously do you take your position as a role model now in light of the events from the past year?
TIGER WOODS: No, I certainly have made mistakes, no doubt about that. I take full ownership of them, and I think that's what a lot of, I think, kids can learn from that, is that you're not always going to go through life perfect. No one does. When you make a mistake, step up to the plate and take ownership of it.
Q. The last hole you played at the Open looked a lot like the old you. I'm wondering how close you are to that point now in your golf game and how much you're looking forward to getting back to the old course.
TIGER WOODS: I thought I played pretty good at the U.S. Open. I thought I really did. Saturday in particular was nice because I had had stretches like that this year, but I haven't done it for at least nine holes. To do it at a U.S. Open when I needed to, to get back in the event, that felt really good. Especially on that golf course when guys were not making putts from above the hole, you had to leave it below the hole. On Saturday I left it below the hole all day and was able to make those putts. Positioning my golf ball correctly is something I hadn't done this year yet, and it felt good to be able to do that.
And as far as getting to St. Andrews, I'm really looking forward to that. I know it's playing fast already, and I think -- I talked to some of the guys over there. They're actually thinking about slowing it down a little bit because it actually is getting too fast as of now. But you never know, though, Scotland could get some rain (smiling).
Q. Besides Aronimink Philadelphia has Merion, Pine Valley. I know you've never played any of those courses to my knowledge. Jack during his honeymoon squeezed time in at Pine Valley. Do you have a temptation to go over there?
TIGER WOODS: Would I love to go play there, yeah, I would, but not this week. I'm pretty busy this week, and we have a big event, and I'm giving everything I possibly have to this event.
Q. Do you have hope of ever getting on there?
TIGER WOODS: Do you know anybody? (Smiling.)
Q. You talked about the 12-hole stretch at Pebble. I wonder if you can relate that to this week in terms of momentum.
TIGER WOODS: I think it was nice to have that happen, but I think it was even more important to have it happen in a major championship, especially when I needed it. To get back into the event, I needed to make a run, and I was able to make that run and give myself a really good chance to win the championship. All I had to do is shoot under par on the final day and I would have won the tournament. That was a nice feeling to have and something I hadn't had this year yet.
TIGER WOODS: It certainly has carried as far as momentum into my practice sessions because the things that I was working on that I had been working on finally came together at the U.S. Open. So that felt really good.
Q. After the Open, some of the comments you had made, three mental mistakes, it seemed at times that the questioning of the advice you were getting from Stevie was being pointed out. Was that discussed, the status of that relationship? Some people thought maybe there was some tension there.
TIGER WOODS: There's no tension there, not at all. You guys are reading way too much into it. I was asked what happened out there, and I made three mental mistakes out there, three mistakes I don't normally make. Do Stevie and I make mistakes on the golf course? Of course we do. We're not perfect. We made mistakes at the wrong time. It happens. It is what it is. We're great competitors and we both want to win. I just made a couple mistakes, and hopefully that won't happen this week and we can win an event.
Q. Going back to charity day knowing that there's young fans from this area coming out here just to see you, what does that mean to you knowing that they will benefit from this event?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's incredible. So far the participation, the enthusiasm, the support we've gotten from this whole Philly area has been just unbelievable. This is a great sporting town, period, and for us to have an opportunity to come here and play on another great golf course and then have the support we've had, it's a really warm feeling. And with the kids that are out here, what we're doing for the military, I think it's -- it'll be a very special week.
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for your time, and best of luck this week.
End of FastScripts