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March 5, 2014

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  World No. 1 Tiger Woods and 7‑time champion here at the Cadillac Championship, if we can make just start with the state of your health and we'll go right into questions.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I feel better; how about that.  I feel good.  It's been a long couple days of just treatment nonstop, trying to get everything calmed down, first of all, get all the inflammation out and from there, getting the firing sequence right again, getting everything firing in the proper sequence.  And once we did that today, feels good.

Q.  You've done a lot of things in your career, and what's the one highlight of your career, the one pinnacle would you say out of everything you've done?
TIGER WOODS:  I think that I have to go back to probably '97, my first Masters win.
It was my first major as a professional, and it was the way I did it and the way I played and the circumstances that came about with my dad and his health and him coming down.  It was just an amazing week, and then for it to be culminated with a win like that, that was my first time out, it was pretty special.

Q.  There's been a lot of conjecture; we know you like to go to the gym and you're fit and you like to work out.  Is there any point at which you say to yourself, maybe this is not good for the back or do you think it actually is good for the back?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, the muscle stuff we do is all preventative stuff.  So it's not like‑‑ I used to be bigger than I am now.  I'm actually much smaller than I used to be.  So it's not what people might think it to be; put it that way.

Q.  Aside from this week and the injury that you had with the back, you've had a few withdrawals over the last few years.  Can you elaborate a little bit on what you're doing from a career standpoint, a longevity standpoint for your health?  You put such a torque on the knee, you've had surgeries; do you talk about that with your team or what do you do?  Can you elaborate about what you're doing from that standpoint?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, obviously that's been constant throughout my years working with my team, ever since I turned pro, is what can we do to make sure I have a long career.
Unfortunately there are times where I've damaged my knee pretty good and I've had surgeries over the years.  I've had knee injury, wrist injury, elbows, you name it, now I've had back, neck.  It is what it is.  It's the nature of repetitive sport.
We do the same motion.  Some guys do it a thousand times a day, but it's the same exact motion.  So you have repetitive injuries and most of my injuries are that.  So that's the nature of why we lift, why we work out is to try to prevent a lot of these things and keep us healthy and keep us out here.
As we get older, and I've learned it as I've aged, I don't quite heal as fast as I used to.  I just don't bounce back like I used to.  That's just part of aging.  There's times that‑‑ watching my kids run around; I wish I could do that again.  They just bounce right up, bruises and they are gone in a day.  It's just not that way anymore.
But you've just got to take a more global look at it sometimes and take a step back.  You know, we try to manage that all the time.

Q.  Jason Day yesterday said that he thinks your indomitable will to win is what has separated you and made you able to win and made it look easy when it really is not.  Wonder how the over the years with the wear on your body and having kids, how hard is it to sustain that, that will to win?
TIGER WOODS:  The will to win hasn't changed.   It's physically, am I able to do it.  There are times when I've learned this through the injuries that I've had.  A bad back is something that is no joke.
When I had my injuries over the years, it was always after impact.  So it's fine; the ball's gone.  It's going to hurt like hell, but the ball's gone.  So I can do my job and deliver the club and deliver the final moment to the ball and hit the shot I want to hit.  It's just going to hurt like hell afterwards.  I played that way for years.
But with the back, it's a totally different deal.  There are certain moments, certain movements you just can't do.  That's one of the things I've started to learn about this type of injury; it's very different.

Q.  The Masters is now so close, do you have any concerns that you won't be‑‑ you say you want to be or your preparation won't be what you want it to be ahead of the Masters?
TIGER WOODS:  I'm still kind of constantly looking at that, looking at managing myself through there and making sure everything's good.  I want to be strong and fit and healthy to be able to play that golf course and give it my best.
So looking at scheduling and practice sessions and training and all that stuff, we have taken a really good look at it and really tried to come up with a good plan so that I can compete and play and be ready and try and win my fifth jacket.

Q.  Adam can take over No. 1 this week.  He said he senses that it means a lot to you.  Curious at this stage of your career, how much does being No. 1 in the world mean to you?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, it feels good, because you have to earn it.  You have to win golf tournaments to get there.  And you have to be pretty consistent.
I have won, what, eight times in the last couple years to get back there, and that wasn't an easy task, especially coming from outside the Top‑50 to be able to come back from that and get to where I'm at is something I'm very proud of.  A lot of you in here have wrote me off, that I would never come back (smiling) but here I am.

Q.  How familiar are you with the course changes, have you been out there at all?
TIGER WOODS:  I haven't.

Q.  What do you plan to do this afternoon?
TIGER WOODS:  Bob, I've got no idea about what that golf course holds out there except for what is on video, that's it.  Joey came down here and tried to describe some of the holes and I'm like, "What, there's water on that hole?"  Yeah.
So there are a few changes I need to go see.  So as soon as I'm done with you guys, I'm going to go out there and walk the course and try to get a good feel for how the sand is.
I'm not going to play.  I'm just going to chip and putt and get a feel for how the grass is and if it's different from what it was the last time we played, green speeds, slopes.  Joey has a couple books he wants me to take a look at on the place, and we are going to go from there.

Q.  Have you hit any shots since Sunday?
TIGER WOODS:  I hit some balls yesterday.  Furthest ball I hit I think was 60 yards, just trying to make sure I keep my feels.
So I chipped and putted for a while, just making sure I had my feels in my hands and I didn't lose that over the last couple days.

Q.  Leading up to the Masters, what do you think is more important at this point, playing competitive tournament golf or just being able to be fit enough to work on your game and practice away from tournament sites?
TIGER WOODS:  No.2.  No.2.  I've done it where I think it's just trying to be fit enough to be able to do that.
When I came back from the surgery that I had in '08 after the Masters and I came back and I didn't play a tournament until the U.S. Open, I putted and chipped all the time, but I didn't really play.  I didn't play my competitive golf and I was still able to win in The Open.
But I think it's more important to keep my feels and making sure I can have my own feels I can call upon, and that comes from practice.  I didn't hit a lot of balls back then because my leg was busted, but I chipped and putted a ton.  And so I still kept the feels in my hands and I think that's what saved me that week, that particular week, and has saved me in a bunch of week throughout my career.

Q.  With so much emphasis on your leg over your career, when did you first have a back issue?  Was Barclays the very first time?
TIGER WOODS:  No, I had my first back issue in college actually.  I had a back and shoulder and elbow and a wrist.

Q.  Is there any warning?  Let me put it this way; after Barclays, how much longer before it felt good or decent?
TIGER WOODS:  Probably ‑‑ Deutsche Bank didn't feel that great, but by THE TOUR Championship I was fine.  But then it comes and goes.

Q.  I guess what I meant, was there any warning when it's coming?  Like did you sense anything before warming up on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS:  No, actually when I was warming up, it was tight.  Wouldn't loosen up.  The fascia gets tight and starts pulling on different parts of the body and it's like Cellophane; that's what fascia is.  It starts pulling on certain parts and next thing you know, things start shutting down.  And I'm like, I don't need this to shut down now.  I thought I could play through it, and evidently I couldn't.

Q.  Did you think it might go away?
TIGER WOODS:  Sometimes it does.  Sometimes we are able to self‑adjust when we are out there and it just will feel better.  Other times, you've just got to just deal with it.

Q.  I know you'll fight like crazy to keep that No. 1 spot, but what is it about Adam Scott that would make him a worthy member of that group if he was to get there?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think this is his progress he's made.  In the last probably, what, three years, he's really made a dedicated‑‑ he's taken a more dedicated approach to how he schedules events, what he plays in, how he practices, how he prepares, and I think that's really changed his performances. 
He's won all around the world.  He's won a major championship, and he's slowly progressively gotten a little bit better. 
He's put himself in contention in a number of major championships, not just the one he won at the Masters; the British Open and a few others, he's been right there.  I think his new approach has certainly changed, and I think that's allowed him to be more consistent when he wants to play.

Q.  Any concern that's going to be any hesitancy when you start taking full swings tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  My treatments have been fantastic, anti‑inflamms and just a bunch of treatment‑‑ it's annoying being poked and prodded all the time, but it's got me to a point where I can do this today, and tomorrow I'll be able to hit more full shots and go all‑out.

Q.  When you have so many new holes that you've never played like this weekend, does that change your aggressiveness or your strategy going in?
TIGER WOODS:  We are going to have to figure that out right now.  So I'm going to go out there right now and take a look at it and figure out what a game plan is.  Certain holes, they are completely different holes.  Other holes are virtually the same.
Obviously with a few tweaks, bunkers moved, a little longer positions, do we need to hit driver, do we need to lay‑up short.  Joey and I were working through the book yesterday and come up with kind of a general plan about how we might attack the golf course, but we need to get out here‑‑ I need to get out here and see it and see what it's going to be like; and check the forecast, too, what that's going to be like and where the wind is going to be coming from and try to figure out what we need to do.

Q.  Your success over the years elevated a certain level of expectation obviously with the results and whatnot to the point where every time you turned up, people expect you to win.  Rory has gotten himself near or at that point now and obviously struggled on Sunday last week when everybody expected him to go wire‑to‑wire.  Can you describe the psychology of that and how you dealt with that and learned to deal with that over years and how you put that into play?
TIGER WOODS:  It's not easy.  Look at my first go at it when I had the lead going into a Sunday, I lost to the Gripper.  It is what it is.  (Laughter).
But you learn, and you apply it.  I applied it throughout the years.  How I approached that round‑‑ at the time, that was important to me.  If I won that tournament, I would have my TOUR card.  I would have an exemption and I would be on the TOUR the next two years and that was huge.  That was coming off just turning pro, so I really wanted that win.  Didn't happen.
But I learned from it, and you know, won two times that year.

Q.  Six months ago, after The Barclays, and before the Deutsche Bank, you said that you weren't worried about the long‑term effects of the back issue.  So same question now:  Are you worried about the long‑term effects?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think we have to take a more global look at it, yeah, absolutely, because it comes and goes.  We've got to make sure that we do preventative things to make sure that it doesn't happen and adjust certain things, whether it's swing, lifting, whatever it may be, you have to make certain adjustments.  We've done that throughout my entire career and this is no different.

Q.  You're famous for winning a U.S. Open on a broken leg.  How is the pain different, and within the context of that, was it the pain that took you out the other day or were you thinking long term towards the Masters?
TIGER WOODS:  It's totally different, as I was explaining to Karen, it's after impact.  So my leg was busted.  I could deliver the club to however I wanted to on the golf ball.  It was just going to hurt like hell afterwards.  The ball is gone; it's already left the face and the pain sets in; okay, fine.  This was different because it effects downswing, follow through, and it was getting so tight that I felt like I couldn't move.
So I was telling Sam when I was walking off that, "Hey, Daddy can handle pain," but I just couldn't move out there.  I got to a point where I couldn't twist.  So try and explain to your six‑year‑old daughter why you quit is certainly a very interesting concept and topic.

Q.  Was it because of the Masters that you pulled out or because you just couldn't go anymore?
TIGER WOODS:  I just couldn't twist.  I literally couldn't twist anymore.  To get the club back, if you watch a couple of the swings towards the end, I was just dumping it towards the top to try to get my momentum so I could hit the ball.
I said, this is absurd, I'm going to be hitting it a hundred yards either way right now; I don't know which one is coming.  Like on the third hole, I hit it a hundred yards right of the way and on 6 I hit it 50 yards left of the fairway.  I don't know what's coming, and it's to a point where I'm going to be doing probably more harm than good.

Q.  Quickly about being prepared for this event, obviously you talk about going out there and chipping and putting.  Can you remember the last time that that was all the preparation you had going into a major event, A; and then, B, how much does what happened at Honda change your ways in regard to going into the Masters?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, actually, pulling out here at Doral is what allowed me to win at Bay Hill.  So I did a ton of chipping and putting then at the same time because I couldn't hit full shots and that worked out pretty good.
It's the same thing.  It's the same concept.  But now I have to go out to a golf course I don't know yet; so I don't know the feel of how this course is going to be playing.  So we're going to do a lot of homework out there today and try to get a good feel of how we're going to attack this place.

Q.  You shot the 65 on Saturday and seemed to feel pretty good about where you were going, feeling pretty good about getting it turned around and then this happens, basically the next time you're hitting balls, you're feeling this.  How frustrating is this at this point in the year, knowing what's up ahead here in the next month.
TIGER WOODS:  It was very frustrating, there's no doubt about that, not being able to compete and play, and who knows, if I would have shot a good round here on Sunday, could have stolen one there.  Looking at it, I had an opportunity there to basically steal a tournament, and not being able to finish it makes it even more frustrating.

Q.  Some golfers swear by yoga.  Have you ever tried yoga?

Q.  Is it helpful to your back or other‑‑
TIGER WOODS:  It does help, there's no doubt.  I'm not real good with the patience part of it, but yes, it does (smiling).

Q.  Do you chant? 
TIGER WOODS:  Are you kidding me?  In front of him? (Laughter).
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Tiger Woods, thank you very much.

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