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July 13, 2010
ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll make a start. We're joined by three-time Open Champion Tiger Woods. Tiger, thank you for joining us. Thanks for coming in. Two times a winner at St. Andrews the last two events here, in a unique position of winning three in a row at St. Andrews. No one has won three Open Championships here. Take us through your thoughts and expectations for the week.
TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. I got in here on Sunday and played, so I've played three rounds so far. It's great to be back. Great to be back playing this golf course, and it is playing a little bit differently than it was the last two times we've played here, or the last three times actually I've played here. The greens are a little bit slower, and granted, they had to be, especially on Sunday when it was actually unplayable.
It'll be interesting. I know the weather is not supposed to be very good coming in for this week, so all the players are going to have to make some adjustments. But this golf course is still in spectacular shape, and I'm looking forward to another great championship.
Q. How long does it take you to get back into the feel for the course not having been here for several years? Does it come right back the first practise round, or does it take you a few days?
TIGER WOODS: Probably by the end of the first practise round I start getting a pretty good feel for it. Granted, it was unplayable on Sunday, but still, hitting the shots, seeing what the ball was doing on the ground, the lag putting, some of the breaks, all these things started coming back. So making the adjustments to bringing the ball down a little bit and how much the ball is releasing, how much it's going. It's been different the last three times I've played here. It's been a little bit different. And again, this year is a little bit softer. But the fairways are giving it up pretty good. The fairways are pretty quick. You've got to be conscious of that.
The greens aren't up to speed. Today one of the guys was out there doing a stimpmetre and it was under 10, so obviously not up to speed, at least not yet.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the Road Hole, you know, your observations of the changes there. Do you like them? Do you not? How is it changing your approach to playing the hole?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a tough hole to begin with, no matter how you look at it. I know that they wanted us to hit more club into the greens, into that particular green. They did this whole study in '95, and the average player was hitting a 5-iron. Come 2000, 2005, I think it was like an 8-iron, so they wanted to get it back to a 5-iron in there.
It's the same angle, obviously a little bit longer. When we played it on Sunday, it was almost impossible to try to hit -- you actually had to hit the ball into the hotel because the wind was blowing off the right. Granted, it was blowing 40, but today it was in off the left, and it was a lot easier to hit that fairway. It caters to a left-to-right wind. Today was much easier.
But still, it's a hole where you've got to put the ball in the fairway and then your real work begins, just trying to figure out how should I play my second shot. Should I play it up on top, should I play it short, should I play it left, so many different options. But it's a hard hole no matter how you look at it, whether it's played short or long.
Q. So you don't like it or do you have an opinion one way or another?
TIGER WOODS: I'm pretty neutral on it because you're hitting -- all you're doing is basically hitting a little bit more club into the green, but it's the same tee shot. It's the same angle. You're taking the same line off the tee.
Q. Obviously your public image is somewhat different to the last time you were here. How is that likely to impact on your week at St. Andrews?
TIGER WOODS: It doesn't impact it at all. I'm here to play a championship, and this is the Open Championship at St. Andrews. I mean, this is as good as it gets. It's the home of golf. I'm just like every other player in this field, really looking forward to getting out there and playing the Open Championship.
Q. Do you feel that a win here offers you some kind of road to redemption?
TIGER WOODS: I would like to win no matter what. It would be nice. It really would be nice. A lot of work ahead of me, but to win here is certainly one of the bigger highlights I've ever had in my career, because it is the home of golf.
It's amazing how many great champions have won here, and to be a part of that history is a pretty neat feeling.
Q. What do you make of what stays in the bag or what goes in the bag in preparation for playing the course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this week I have the 2-iron back in the bag. I have a 2-iron I've used for years, and it's a little bit strong -- I carry two 2-irons and a 5-wood with me at most tournaments, and this is my stronger of the two 2-irons. I've used it for years.
I also have a new putter in the bag. I've switched to the Nike putter for this week. It comes off faster, which on these greens is something that I've always struggled on slower greens. I haven't had to make that much of an adjustment because the ball is coming off a little bit quicker.
Q. Tom Lehman has said that he expects the Scottish fans to give you a warm reception. Is that your own expectation? And also, what's your take on the Scottish golf fan?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the Scottish golf fans have always been fantastic with respect to golf and all the players. They've been great to me over the years. I wouldn't see anything different than what they've been over the years.
Q. Obviously you've won the last two Opens here. Do you feel like it was just a matter of you playing better than everyone else those weeks, or do you hold some kind of specific advantage on this course?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say a specific advantage because there's a lot of guys who can hit the ball as far as I do. But this golf course requires placement. I mean, you really have to place the ball correctly. Just because it's wide off the tee doesn't mean you can blow it all over the place. You have to hit the ball in the correct spots. And the two years that I've played well here, I've done that. I've managed my game really well, and more importantly, I've lag putted beautifully.
You're going to have some real long putts here no matter how you hit it, and you just have to get down in two. So many times you can three-putt, you can go around here and hit 18 greens and shoot a number, a high number, because you're just so far away from the hole. And if the wind blows, hitting a wedge 30, 40, 50 feet happens a lot.
The two years that I've played well here, I've lag putted beautifully and I've also hit the ball in the right spots.
Q. Tom Watson has said you need to clean up your act on the golf course. He's gone on record. Many of us over the years have heard you use the F word, we've seen you spit on the course, and we've seen you throw tantrums like chucking your clubs around. Are you willing to cut out all those tantrums this week and respect the home of golf?
TIGER WOODS: I'm trying to become a better player and a better person, yes.
Q. Your public image has been transformed in the last year or two. Does it bother you what the public at large thinks of you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, most of the people have been fantastic. The places that I've played and the people that have come up to me have been great. As I said, most of the people have been so respectful over the years here, and I wouldn't see anything different.
Q. Would it bother you if there was a perception of you as a different sort of person now?
TIGER WOODS: Hey, it's their opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Q. Kind of a two-part thing: Generally you've won -- you started late, but you've won by now in this year. Does it feel a little bit like unfamiliar territory not having won yet, and then so much obviously has been made of how well you've played here and your success here. Is this week to some degree, because you embrace this course, so much a bit of a measuring stick for where your game is at and how far you've gotten it back?
TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah, you're right, I haven't gone this long into the season without winning a championship. I think '98 was the longest time, and it was like nine events or something. But again, I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing, and I understand how to play this golf course. It's a matter of going out there and putting it together and putting it together at the right time.
Q. Just as a follow there, because you've done so well here, there's almost a perception that if you don't do well here, it's -- where is your game at? People are thinking if you don't win here and get on track, when are you going to -- when is it coming?
TIGER WOODS: Right, well, I've done well two out of three times I've played here, so that's kind of how I look at it.
Q. On the putter thing, 13 majors, goes back to, what is it, Byron Nelson of --
TIGER WOODS: '99.
Q. That's been your gamer for a long time. It must be like kicking a member of the family out or something. That seems like a pretty big decision, a pretty drastic move. I know you're not happy with the way you've been putting, but if you'll sort of elaborate.
TIGER WOODS: It's one of those things where I've always struggled on slower greens. I've always putted well on faster greens. This putter does come off faster with the new groove technology. It rolls the ball better and rolls it faster. It gets it rolling faster. So these greens, I've had to make very little adjustment in how hard I'm hitting it compared to if I had my older putter. That's something Stevie and I have been talking about over the years together, is what can I do on slower greens? I always seem to struggle on them and can't wait to get to the fastest greens that we play on Tour.
But this week has been a little bit different.
Q. Does have the similar type look to it?
TIGER WOODS: It looks very similar.
Q. How much more work do you have to do to rebuild your public image do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Well, just the same thing I'm doing each and every day, just trying to become a better person.
Q. Do you think you'll ever fully be able to do it?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know.
Q. Is that part of the challenge then?
TIGER WOODS: No. As I said, just trying to become a better person, and that's all that really matters is that I have two beautiful kids, and I'm trying to be the best dad I can possibly be, and that's the most important thing of all.
Q. How many people do you feel that are real opponents for you now as opposed to 2000, especially with the strength of the European contingent?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think just the fields in general have become deeper. You know, when I first came out on Tour, I don't ever remember cuts being at 4-under par. But now a few times -- well, probably about two times a year, you see a cut at 4-under par. Guys are just going lower.
The difference between someone making the cut and someone that's leading is not that big a difference sometimes; it's only 10, 12 shots, and yet 70-plus guys between 10 and 12 shots. So the fields have become deeper. Guys are just better, they're more athletic. Look how much longer the guys are hitting it now than they did in 2000. Some of the new, younger kids are better, stronger, faster, they're more athletic, they work out, which when I first came out on Tour, not too many guys were training, and now everyone is training. Big difference.
Q. You obviously had to break your normal routine to go home and see the kids last week. Are you able yet to discuss whether you have resolution with Elin because it obviously is affecting your professional life?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I went home and had a great time with my kids. That was an incredible experience to hang out with my kids. Normally I don't come over, play two days and then go back home. But the reason why I did is obviously for my kids, and we had a great time.
Q. This is kind of a grass, hard court-clay kind of a decision, but a dozen or so of guys who have won multiple majors in the last 50 years, are the ones who have won an Open in that mix regarded differently because of the difference in style?
TIGER WOODS: I think in order to win an Open you have to hit the ball and control your trajectory more so than what we do in the other three major championships we play. Here you're bringing the ball down, creativity is coming out, because obviously you're trying to judge bouncing, how much it's going to roll on the ground. You're playing so many more shots here, and I think that's one of the reasons why some of The Open champions in the past have been wonderful ball strikers. So that's -- I think that's how you kind of have to look at it. Most of The Open champions have been very creative players that can really control their trajectory.
Q. The way your private life is at the moment and your efforts as you were saying to become a better person, have they forced any compromises in your golf game? I'm thinking in particular obviously about your preparations maybe for tournaments.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that preparing for tournaments has been the same. I'm still able to go out there and practise and do the things that I have done in the past. The biggest alteration, of course, in practising was when I had kids. I don't practise as much as I used to because of the kids, nor should I. They're the most important things in my life.
Q. I understand that you had a two-hour interview with the FBI a couple weeks ago. Can you confirm that was the case?
TIGER WOODS: That was the case, yes.
Q. And are you able to go into any details as to why they specifically wished to speak to you? And also why you felt it necessary to use a doctor from out of the United States, who apparently is not registered to --
TIGER WOODS: Well, I can't go into any of that because of the fact that it's an open case so far. So that's an ongoing case, so I can't comment.
Q. Did it bring any fears to yourself that --
TIGER WOODS: As I said, I can't comment.
Q. There's been some speculation this week that your divorce may have already been finalised. Can you comment on that at all?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to go into that.
Q. At the Masters you made a big point that you wanted to interact with the crowd a lot more. You seemed a bit unhappy this morning during your practise round. Will you continue to try to interact?
TIGER WOODS: I was fine this morning. I don't know what you were talking about.
Q. You looked a little upset out there this morning.
TIGER WOODS: Not at all.
Q. Do you think that since the Masters you've fulfilled that obligation that you said you had to interact with the crowd more?
TIGER WOODS: I have. Uh-huh.
Q. Can you tell us how the Tiger Woods Dubai development is progressing, and further from that, can you tell us how your design and build golf course operations has been going the last 12 months?
TIGER WOODS: Okay, right now our Dubai project is on slow-down right now. We've got I think six holes grassed and working on the others as of right now. We've had numerous opportunities to do things around the world, and we're still exploring that. Right now it's -- granted, the economy is tough around the world, but we're still getting quite a few opportunities, and we're looking for the right fit.
Q. Have you decided not to use a coach at all in the future, or have you been working with anyone since Hank?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't been working with anyone, no. Never, ever going to rule out ever using a coach, but as of right now, I'm not working with anybody, no.
Q. Not to belabor the putter switch, but obviously if I'm not mistaken, you have not switched even once during that whole stretch. Was there ever any temptation to do so before now? And how big of a change is it for you to do this at this point?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've always been tempted to change my putter on slower greens, and as I said earlier to Steve, I've always struggled when greens are really slow. My stroke has always been, even from when I was a junior golfer, was built in -- I always feel more comfortable when the greens get quick. Some of my best putting rounds were when the greens were running at 14 or something like that on the stimp like at Memorial. I feel so comfortable on those type of greens.
But on slower greens, I've always had a hard time. I've always experimented with other putters throughout the years, but I've never put one in play until now.
Q. Could you summarise why the Old Course has been able to withstand the onslaught of bigger players, better technology, and still remain relevant as an Open Championship venue?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's the angles and the wind. You get this on a calm day, you feel like you can shoot 65 every round. You get on a windy day like on Sunday, the leader might be 80. So it's just amazing what wind can do, and there's so much movement out there on the fairways and the greens that, boy, you've really got to hit the ball well, and as I said, lag putt well.
But I think that's the brilliancy of how this golf course was designed, that it's still able to withstand the test of time. Players have gotten longer, equipment has changed, but still, this golf course is still relevant, and it can still be very difficult.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Tiger, thank you very much for your time.
End of FastScripts