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August 19, 2019

Tiger Woods

CHRIS REIMER: It's been an exciting few days here as we are thrilled to have 16 players who qualified for the Presidents Cup. We really look forward to getting to the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in December. Special thanks to Visit Victoria as well as our global partners Citi and Rolex.

There's just been a tremendous amount of support and enthusiasm that we've already seen from the fans and community in Melbourne as they get ready for what I think will be the best Presidents Cup that we've had. Thanks to the media in Australia for joining on the call and for their coverage and excited to host many of the U.S. and international media that are joining us on the line, as well, and really show off everything Melbourne and Australia have to offer.

Finally, thanks to our U.S. Team captain, Tiger Woods, who's here on the line with us, for all he's done for the Presidents Cup in the past, but especially as you guys will learn, his enthusiasm and attention to detail when it comes to being a captain for this year's team.

Before we open up for comments or for questions from the media, Tiger, if you wouldn't mind just having a chance to see the top eight players that have qualified, your opening comments about the team and the way it's shaping up as we approach this year's event.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's an amazing team of younger guys. Most of the guys, they've had team Cup experience, and we're excited. The team is pretty fired up about playing in Australia. Some of the guys haven't been to Australia before, so this will be new. A couple of those players have not been on a team before, so this will be their first experience. And so they're excited.

I mean, it's everything you could dream of, having an opportunity to be the captain of this great young team and to be a part of it, and it's something that I'm thoroughly looking forward to, and can't wait until December.

Q. Will you be urging the eight players that are on the team now and any of the number of players that you would be considering as a pick to play enough golf in the fall to stay sharp?
TIGER WOODS: 100 percent. We've already talked about that. It's one of the things that we talked about at Liberty National when we had our first meeting of the top 20 guys in points. I think 18 came that night.

But yeah, we talked about that, how important it is to be committed to the team and to the event and to each other, and that means playing and being prepared. The only time that we have ever lost a Cup was in Australia, and quite frankly, some of the guys didn't play or practice that much. It was our off-season, and we got beat pretty badly.

It's something that I try to enforce to the guys, reinforce to the guys, that it is important to be solid, be fresh, and to be sharp because we're going into -- we're going overseas and we're playing against an amazing team, and it's on their soil. These guys are going to be tough to beat. So we're looking forward to the challenge.

Q. Tiger, did it come up during your meeting at Liberty, is there like a minimum tournaments you'd like to see someone play to be considered?
TIGER WOODS: No, not a minimum, not at all. They'll see what the number is. Each player is different, but I would like to have them play a little bit in the fall and stay sharp, whether it's playing on U.S. soil or going overseas or whatever it may be to play and to be sharp and be ready to go.

Q. Does that rule you out if you only play Japan, as a pick?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, that's up to myself and the vice captains and eight guys. I'm going to keep an open line of communication with my players and my vice captains to find the four guys that they want to go down there with and who best fits the team. This is a team, and we want the guys that are going to be a part of it, that are going to be a part of this experience and that they want to go to battle with.

Q. One less thing: If Phil doesn't warrant a pick based on your process, would there be any consideration to having him as a vice captain?
TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question. Right now I have three vice captains. I'm very excited about my three guys, an amazing amount of experience with -- well, three of them being -- well, two of them being four-time Presidents Cup champions and Zach being a Masters champion, and he's been a vice captain before. That's not something that's different. It's something we're excited about, and we're going to have a great time.

Q. Tiger, when you look at the times that you've been a vice captain, now it's been a few times, is there anything that stands out that you're going to take into this year's matches as the captain this time?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I can tell you it's very exciting. Being a part of it at Liberty, to see the inner workings of it, the pairings, that's very different than a Ryder Cup. You just throw -- in a Ryder Cup you just throw four teams on a sheet and submit it. Going head-to-head against the captain, that was a lot of fun, and having Fred -- Fred was sitting next to me, and he was amazing at calling out the pairings. That's one of the reasons why I think he put us in a position to win the three times he was the captain. Stricks, being the captain of a team that was arguably one of the most dominant teams we've ever had as far as points.

It's going to be fun for all of us, and I'm really looking forward to that part of it, and to me getting the pairings of the guys who we want to play with who, but also who do they want to play against. You know, sometimes we can arrange certain pairings and have guys that they've had success with, and it's worked in our favor over the years.

Q. I just had a question regarding slow play. It's obviously been a major talking point recently, and two U.S. guys, Bryson and Brooks are on opposite ends of the argument. I wanted to know where you stand; should guys be quicker or should guys put up and get on with it and has there been any tension between the guys on the team over the issues?
TIGER WOODS: No, there's been no tension among us as teammates, no. I think that the thing I keep going back to is that we can only play as fast as the group in front of us. So if we're keeping pace with the group in front of us, that's as fast as you can go.

Now, there are going to be slow players out there, and there are going to be fast players. Some players like to play in a certain amount of seconds, they play quickly or they play slowly. But as long as we're able to keep up with the group in front of us, we can't go any faster than that.

Q. Tiger, two things real quick: One is as it regards yourself playing, what do you need to see from yourself to even be in that mix? What, if anything, needs to happen over the next couple of months before you pick?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's practicing, it's playing, it's staying sharp. Obviously I'm playing in Japan, and so that's going to help.

But you know, I think it has to do with a lot of my competitions I'm going to have down here. I'll be playing with a lot of the guys here. They're going to be getting ready for some of the fall events, we'll have some matches, and that's always fun because we're able to talk trash and have a great time and try and get in one another's pockets. That will be something that I will definitely rely on, and obviously the event in Japan will be a big deal.

Q. There's a sense that you are going to get pressure to play, whether it be from the TOUR or your peers, the tournament itself, TV. Can you address that at all? Has that happened in any way so far, and how might that impact you if that does come down here as it gets closer?
TIGER WOODS: Well, my job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys. That's what I'm trying to do. We'll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice captains. That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play. Ultimately it's going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.

Q. Tiger, when you and Commissioner Monahan first started talking about the idea of you becoming a captain for this Presidents Cup team, it seemed like, oh, here's Tiger entering his elder statesman or middle-aged statesman, and I don't think anyone would have guessed then that you were going to win the Masters just the following year. But I'm wondering how did it feel to you? Did you feel like you were entering a new stage because you would have been a young captain?
TIGER WOODS: I think that I served a role as a vice captain in two Cups, and that was the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine and the Presidents Cup at Liberty National. It was a natural progression and transition into the captaincy role. I'm excited to be our U.S. captain and to represent our country down in Australia, and it's something that I don't take lightly.

We're going to have quite an amazing team going down there. Our core group of guys that we already have, the top eight guys, have had an amazing last couple of years, and what they've done, it's something that -- I think as I said earlier, it's a transition from -- a natural transition from being a vice captain in two Cups into the captaincy role.

Q. Ernie has talked about switching things up with analytics and pairings and picks. He's trying anything basically. What are you expecting from his team this time around, and if you were on the wrong end of a 10-1-1 record, how would you approach things?
TIGER WOODS: Well, hey, Ernie is trying to rebrand his team, trying to infuse new young talent, which they have. They have new guys that are going to be a part of the team, just like we do. We have two new young players. So that's nothing new. I think what Ernie is trying to do is trying to win a Cup. We're going to be doing the same thing, and whether Ernie is doing it through analytics or whatever he needs to do, he needs to do. We're trying to put our players in the best possible position to win, whatever that may be, and he's going to run his team the way he thinks he should, and he's going to try and win for the second time in Australia.

Q. Can you be beaten?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that, yes, we could be, yes, in theory. But you have to look at the fact that it hasn't been played, and it's played out there on the golf course, not on paper. I've been a part of some pretty amazing teams over the years. We had a pretty solid team going down to Australia in '98. We've had some pretty solid teams in Ryder Cups, as well, and I've been on the losing end of those. It's played out on the course. So that's something that I've told my players, and I'm sure he's doing the same thing.

Q. Obviously coming to Australia, I wanted to ask, what's one thing that gets you the most jazzed to get on that 20-hour flight, other than obviously the Presidents Cup itself? What keeps you coming back to Australia? And when the team comes together, are there groups of guys that get along more or less with one another, and does that translate into team chemistry on the course, and who are some guys that you know really click?
TIGER WOODS: As far as what keeps us coming back to Australia, it is one of the most beautiful and gorgeous countries there is on the planet. Melbourne is one of the greatest sporting cities on the planet. Australia is known for their sport, and in particular Melbourne. That is something that we're excited about. Some of the guys who got a chance to play some events on Sand Belt golf courses, it's a unique experience. It's some of the greatest golf that you'll ever play.

And as far as in the team room, we come together as a team. That's probably one of the things that I've learned over my, what is it now, 20-some-odd years of being a part of the teams, it's just the friendships and the experiences that you get a chance to be a part of. These are lifelong. The guys I got a chance to play with -- for example, I played matches with Freddie down there in Australia, and now he's -- I played for him on his Presidents Cup teams, and we've been co-vice captains, and now he's my vice captain, and that's a lifelong relationship that I will always have, just by playing in a Presidents Cup.

Being a part of these teams is something that is -- guys who get a chance to be a part of, they thoroughly relish about being on another team because it's -- these are experiences that they'll have for a lifetime and they'll cherish, and the bonding that happens is truly amazing and great to be a part of.

Q. A bunch of the 2011 Presidents Cup team, you included, played at the 2011 Australian Open before the Presidents Cup. What preparation advantage as a team is there to gathering in the Bahamas the week before at your Hero World Challenge, and I guess what pluses do you want to get out of that gathering, and how many of your top eight are committed at the moment to the Bahamas?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know how many of the top eight are committed. That's something that we'll figure out here in the next month or so. I'll let the guys just kind of focus on playing through the Playoffs and the TOUR Championship and decompress a little bit before I start picking their brains about where they're going to be playing.

That's something that they all have their own way of preparing. Would I like for them to play in Albany, in my Hero World Challenge? Yes, I would. It's up to them. I know that we'll have, I'm sure, the guys who do play, we'll have some meetings and some good little bonding time down there, and then we have a pretty long flight ahead of us, and I'm sure there will be a lot of harassing and needling and joking like there always is on flights, so that will be a fun trip and also a long one, but we'll make it fun.

Q. There's been some criticism recently, particularly from Adam Scott at the BMW about the need for longer courses. Royal Melbourne is not really renowned for its length, but it can be pretty tricky depending on how they play the pins and the greens. What are you expecting from the makeup of the course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, no, Royal Melbourne is not one of the longer golf courses we play, but it is, as you said, tricky. And if it gets fast and if we get hot weather, we get the northerlies coming in there, it can get quick, like it was in '11. It was quick the first day. The greens looked kind of blue. Putters were slipping on greens, the balls were oscillating on the greens. I mean, it was quick. The guys who did play, whether it's Webby, me, Dustin, we saw it. I mean, it was just pretty amazing to see. You have a sand wedge in your hand and you can't fire at a flag, you have to fire 15 or 20 feet away because honestly you can't get it close. And that's where it's going to be fun for us to go down there and play that type of golf. It's unique. It's very different. It's a combination of playing links golf and Augusta National all in one.

Q. Has there been any banter or joking from you or within the team about, hey, guys, we've only lost this thing once, I don't want the second one to be on my watch?
TIGER WOODS: No, there hasn't been, not like that. I've just tried to state the facts that we only have lost this event one time, and it was there on that golf course in Australia. We did win it one time, as well, and hopefully we can win it for a second time.

Q. I wanted to take you back, you mentioned about selecting the matches, take you back to '98 and your decision to put your hand up to play Greg Norman. What significance did that have for you in that time, and what made you go to Jack with that request?
TIGER WOODS: Well, playing against Greg in his home country, that is -- what more can you want as a player? I got a chance to play Ernie in South Africa. And so that is -- and I played Mike Weir in Canada. You know, I've gone against their top guys. And that's fun. Are you kidding me? As a competitor, as an athlete, that's what you want. You want to go against the odds and have -- they may have the home-field advantage with the crowds, but to go against that person head-to-head, one-on-one is something I thoroughly relished.

Q. What are your memories of that day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I remember playing pretty well. I didn't give Greg a whole lot. I think I got to -- we got to the 18th green, I believe I got him 2-up. It was a tough match. I mean, Greg played well. He was playing well at that time, and to go against him, that's something that -- it was fun that Jack and Peter were able to set that match up and allow that to happen.

Q. What's going to be in the team room when you arrive in Melbourne? What are you going to stack in the team room for the guys?
TIGER WOODS: Well, when we first get there, good food. I'm sure the guys will be starving. That's the first thing. And then from there, we'll have some nice little surprises for them.

Q. Unless I'm leaving somebody out, I think D.J. and Brooks and Justin are the only players who have qualified for the last two U.S. teams. What about that surprises you and that doesn't?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that that's just a natural turnover. We have had turnover like this happen before in the past, and we're getting a new infusion of young players, and they're in their 20s, and being a part of it is something that's going to happen. You're going to get guys that are going to get older and start falling off the teams, and you're going to get the new guys in their mid 20s, maybe late 20s being a part of the teams for the first time, and they're going to be a part of the teams for a very long time. That's just a natural progression. I was a part of it. I was a young guy when I first played in '98, and as I said, I played with Freddie, and now he's my vice captain. That is just something that just naturally happens.

Q. Just as it relates to your own golf at the moment, I'm just curious if you woke up this morning and kind of thought, I should be getting ready for a tournament this week, or if there was any sort of like it's sunk in a little bit more that you won't be.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, no, it was disappointing not to make it, just the fact that I turned -- last year culminated in a great win, and it turned into what happened, I'm sure, at Augusta, because I was able to prove to myself that I could win again. I had come close a couple times and wasn't able to take it over the line, and finally I was able to do that. And now I didn't qualify for that event, to go back there, and I wouldn't say quite defend it, but at least be a part of it and play in it. I wasn't able to do that. So yeah, it is frustrating. It is disappointing. But that's the way it goes.

Q. You mentioned there's a couple guys who have never been to Australia, never seen Royal Melbourne. What do you remember from the first time you went out on that golf course and went out on the Sand Belt golf courses there in Melbourne? What do you think those guys are going to feel, if it was anything like what you felt?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I thought it was just an amazing experience, to play something that quick, that fast and that tricky where you really had to think all the way around. The wind plays such a major factor in how the golf course is played. If you get the northerlies coming in there and it gets hard and fast and it's hot, that place is one of the trickiest golf courses you'll ever play.

I don't know, I forget the par-3, what is it, maybe 5 or so, somewhere around there -- the routing, I don't quite remember it, but that little short par-3 is one of the hardest greens you're ever going to hit with a 9-iron. That is one of the things I think the guys will thoroughly enjoy. They'll thoroughly enjoy the fact that the ball runs, it'll move, it'll move on the fairways, it'll move on the greens, and I love the bunkering. I love the faces of the bunkers and how it stands out, and you know where not to go, but it's also the opportunity to always play from the bottom. The balls don't plug in the faces, they come down to the bottom, and you've got high bunker shots that you need to hit with a lot of spin.

So that's something that I thoroughly remember and really enjoyed playing.

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