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May 21, 2007

Tiger Woods

AL ABRAMS: I'm Al Abrams. I want to welcome you to Buick Open Media Day. Please welcome the tournament chairman of the Buick Open, Buick golf marketing manager Larry Peck.
LARRY PECK: Great to be here today. Beautiful day for those who will be golfing. If you're not, you should reconsider. Great to be back at Buick Open Media Day. This is a very special day. Just happy to be here.
Before I begin, I'd like to introduce the tournament director, who I think most of you know, Mike Mattucci. We started out the year with a bang this year, the Buick Golf Program with Tiger winning his fifth Buick Invitational in La Jolla in January, then also kicking off our Buick Clubhouse Owner Rewards Program.
This year's Buick Open is right around the corner and earlier this year than in the past, as I think most of you know, however we're really proud to have a great new spot on the FedExCup schedule and looking forward to another fantastic field filled with the world's best golfers.
This year's tournament marks the 49th anniversary of the very first Buick Open in 1958. We're already in early preparations for next year, which will be a big one, the 50th anniversary for the Buick Open, back here at Warwick Hills.
At Buick, we're continuing to use our golf marketing platform in a very big way, as a title sponsor of two tournaments, the official car at over half of all PGA TOUR events, and as the official car of the PGA Championships and Senior PGA Championships.
The platform will help us to get the word out on the totally new lineup of vehicles, including the exciting new luxury crossover Buick Enclave.
We're very excited to continue our partnership with the world's No. 1 golfer, Tiger Woods. I've gotten to know Tiger well through the years. As I think most of you know and will agree, he's really a class act. Tiger has played a very important role in the Buick Open and has literally dominated the tournament. He's wracked up seven top 10 finishes in eight tries, including two victories in 2002 and 2006. The one time he didn't come in the top 10, he was 11.
I'm sure you'll all remember last year's celebration when he captured his 50th career win right here at Warwick Hills. He now has 57 career victories, fifth on the PGA TOUR's all-time list. At age 31 is only behind Snead, Nicklaus, Hogan and Palmer. He leads the official world golf ranking by a wide margin and is once again on the top of the PGA TOUR Money List and is the leader in FedExCup points. Please welcome the world's No. 1 golfer and the Buick Open defending champion, Tiger Woods.
Tiger, thanks for being with us today. Glad you dressed up for us.
TIGER WOODS: You know how I am (laughter).
LARRY PECK: We're happy to have you certainly as defending champion and with us to say a few words. To start out, do you want to maybe make a comment about how you're feeling about your game at the moment and anything you want to mention about Warwick Hills and the tournament.
TIGER WOODS: I'm really looking forward to coming back. I know everyone thinks the tournament is kind of up in the air for me, but I intend on playing the tournament. We're very excited about our impending family extension here shortly, but I intend to be there, intend to play, intend on defending.
LARRY PECK: We're certainly wishing you and Elin the best in that most important endeavor, certainly hoping to see you up here in Grand Blanc. With that, I think we'll open it up to some questions.
TIGER WOODS: You got it.

Q. How is Elin feeling?
TIGER WOODS: She feels great.

Q. You mentioned the arrival of the baby. How excited are you getting? At what point are you in those preparations and your thoughts on that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we're pretty excited. It's coming faster than we thought. You know, time goes by a lot quicker. We've been pretty busy traveling back and forth across the country, doing a bunch of different things. So time's been flying.
It's coming up quick.

Q. Can you give us an idea what your schedule is going to be like between now and the U.S. Open, then the Buick Open?
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to play one tournament, Memorial, next week. I got to go out to Vegas this weekend for my concert. I'm hosting Bon Jovi this year as well as Hootie and the Blowfish on Friday. We've got some pretty exciting things. Then off to Memorial, then the U.S. Open.

Q. How do you feel your game's been going lately? You say you're going to play this coming weekend, then take some time off. Is that just kind of to focus on some basic fundamentals?
TIGER WOODS: I really haven't had a whole lot of time off. These two weeks are more sponsor weeks. I do them several times a year, and this is one of them. I've been a little bit busy. My best buddy just got married this past weekend on Saturday. That was pretty exciting. I was on the West Coast for that. Now I'm back here in Florida. I got to go back out to the West Coast this weekend.

Q. Last year with your win here at Buick in '06, it really kicked off a stretch of some terrific play, maybe some of the best of your career. From the '06 Buick with your second win to this point, has it been the best and where does it rank if not?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's been a pretty nice stretch. I had a stretch of nine out of 12, three this year. I think it's nine out of 13 now. It's been a nice, nice stretch of tournaments. On top of that, too, I won a major in there. Actually two majors and a couple World Golf Championships. I've won some of the bigger events, which is nice.
Dealing with the things I had to deal with last year, coming back, my game rising to another level, that was pretty exciting.

Q. Tiger, can you talk about last year's win here and what does it mean to you getting No. 50? Did you enjoy the cake afterwards?
TIGER WOODS: I did enjoy the cake. It was hard to realize at the time that I'd won 50. I was 30 years old. It came by so quickly. When I first came on TOUR, I was just hoping to keep my card. All of a sudden I got a couple victories. Lo and behold, here we are at 50. The time went by so fast. To do it there, Warwick Hills, a place I've always enjoyed playing, in front of all the Buick family members, it just made for a wonderful, wonderful celebration.

Q. Not that you haven't conquered other skeptics, but there have been those that suggested once Tiger is a father, has a family, golf will be tougher for him. How much of a challenge will it be for you to try to manage fatherhood and your golf game?
TIGER WOODS: Well, my priority has always been family first. Our child will be our No. 1 priority. Golf will be secondary. It will be harder. Obviously, everyone knows I don't really sleep all that much. I guess I get all the night duties. So that will be interesting.
It will be a fun challenge, also a very interesting one, as well, because we're both I guess inexperienced in that. We've never gone through this before. Obviously, we've got just a boat load of advice of what to do, what not to do. I guess when that day comes, even with all the advice, you still have to go through learning experiences and the learning curve yourself.

Q. You said you enjoy playing here at the Buick Open. What is it about this course at Warwick Hills that keeps you bringing it back?
TIGER WOODS: I've really enjoyed the layout. It's very simple. We don't get a chance to play golf courses that are like that any more. It's straightforward. The greens are always in fantastic shape. Over the years I've become very fond of being able to play a golf course that's old and traditional. We play a lot of tournaments that are like elephant burial grounds out there, mounds everywhere. We don't get a chance to play tree-lined golf courses very much. That's also one of the reasons why I think a lot of the players tend to gravitate towards the older venues.

Q. What's the drill as far as if the baby hasn't come, you're playing in the Buick Open, are you going to have a cell phone, Stevie going to have it?
TIGER WOODS: That's a good question. We haven't quite figured that out yet. I'm sure I'll have some form of communication on board.

Q. We all know about your relationship with your father. What are you hoping that you learned from him that you're going to pass on to your child?
TIGER WOODS: Hopefully I can gain the respect of my child. My father always said, you know, love is a given, trust and respect are earned, and that takes time. My father earned my respect and trust. Hopefully I can do the same for my child.

Q. Whenever a top player in the world changes coaches, a whole lot is written and said about that, whether it's you or Phil or whoever it happens to be. When that change is made, how much of it is for confidence reasons versus technical advice? How do you know when you've found the right coach?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's a feel thing. Everyone's different. Sometimes people change coaches and they regress instead of progress. You have to believe and buy into what that particular coach wants you to do, and you have to believe that's the best way for you to swing the golf club.
Not every technique can work for each individual. I mean, hopefully you can pick the right one that will enhance your skills, enhance your ability to shoot lower scores.

Q. The only stat that really means anything on the PGA TOUR are wins. You take care of that quite handily. Do you concern yourself at all with your driving stat? 2000 you hit 72% of the fairways. In 2007, you're about 54%. You cover statistics quite well. Do you care about that?
TIGER WOODS: If I hit it as short as I did in 2000, I would hit more fairways. The game has changed quite a bit. Now I have the ability to hit the ball 30 and 40 yards longer than I did back then. Those balls that were borderline on the fairway in 2000 are now in the gallery, just on the line, keeping that line going for another 40 yards.
The game has changed quite dramatically. We've gone from - at least I have - in 2000 from a steel 43-and-a-half-inch shaft that weighed 115 grams to a 45-inch shaft now with a hotter face, hotter golf ball. Things are going a lot further now. I remember back then, I was in, what, the top two or three in driving distance. I'm nowhere near the top 10 any more. The game has become bigger and longer. The distances guys are hitting it, it's hard to keep the ball in the fairway.
But if I did happen to go back and hit the ball shorter, like I did at Hoylake, I led in driving accuracy that week.

Q. You were at Oakmont a couple weeks ago. What are your thoughts on how that golf course is going to play for the U.S. Open in a couple weeks?
TIGER WOODS: When I played it, I had never seen it before in person. I just remember from the old highlights of it being tree-lined, these big, big beautiful trees there. Well, that's gone. Now it's more like a links, inland links. That's basically how it was originally designed. It changed in the '50s. Now it's back to its original design.
When I played it, it had snow the week before, so they were just coming out of their winter, late spring. The greens were not quite up to speed. The rough wasn't quite up yet. The golf course was still playing pretty difficult. I would like to take another look before I play the Open.

Q. Did you ever really think you were going to be a father and how exciting is it to have your own family, really build a new life together with your wife?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I always wanted to have a family and look forward to that day. That day is quickly approaching. We're excited about it. It's a step that we've been wanting to take, and here we are. We're just so excited about it.

Q. It's really rare in golf for trash talking to take place. It's pretty much in other sports. One of your fellow Nike team members is kind of a loose cannon these days. Would you comment on the oddity of having to deal with that? Looks like you had fun with it.
TIGER WOODS: He hasn't been doing it just these days. He's just that way. Rory is very opinionated, very fiery. Not too many people get to say what's on their mind all the time. Rory, when asked, will definitely say what's on his mind. Sometimes he doesn't have that filter on. It just comes out. That's why he's Rory.
LARRY PECK: That's it, Tiger. We really appreciate you being here with us today as our defending champion. We wish you all the luck in the world with your upcoming tournaments, the Memorial, U.S. Open. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas later this week. We wish you well in generating a lot of money for the Tiger Woods Foundation this weekend.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks. See you out there.
LARRY PECK: Tiger's presence makes a huge difference at Warwick Hills, generates so much excitement, helps us with our ultimate goal of generating money for Southeast Michigan charities. Earlier this year we were able to announce a record donation from the results of last year's tournament of $832,000. We're very proud we've raised almost $9 million since we began keeping track here in 1982 of the money that we raise from the Buick Open. When you include our other tournament cities, that number is over $38 million. That's a great thing about the game of golf, it continues to give back to the community in such a big way and does so much for Southeast Michigan.
A little about the '07 tournament. It's early this year, the week of June 25th through July 1st, coming up soon, about a month earlier. But we're excited about it. We'll be ready to go. Things get started on Monday, June 25th, with the Buick Dealer ProAm. It's a great opportunity to see a number of the up-and-coming professionals play as well as a number of not-so-good amateurs.
Tuesday offers a great opportunity to see the players practice. On Tuesday afternoon, we'll again hold the Buick Family Golf Experience out on the practice range that features a trick-shot artist that the kids and family will surely enjoy. New this year for the players is the GM Driving Experience at the Waterford Hills Racetrack. PGA TOUR players will be invited to have the chance to drive some of GM's hottest products on a competitive track. That will be something, another player amenity that will encourage a world class field of players to come here. That event is not open to the public.
Of course we have the Wednesday OnStar ProAm. Another great opportunity to see the PGA TOUR's top players, the last day to take pictures, as cameras are not allowed on the course after Wednesday.
I'd like to offer a special thanks to OnStar, the title sponsor of our Wednesday ProAm. We appreciate their continued involvement in the tournament, their support. This year's Buick Open champion will walk away with a record $882,000 and the keys to a 2008 Buick Enclave. Tournament week is very important to Buick from a national standpoint as we use the Buick Open to officially launch the new Buick Enclave, the finest luxury crossover ever. I can tell you firsthand, I've been driving one for about two months now, and it's really the finest vehicle I've ever driven.
As I mentioned earlier, with our new date, we expect to have a very strong field. We do have some early commitments that we're happy to announce. First, former Buick Open champion Jim Furyk has signed up early. Fan favorite John Daly will be back to play. Other players that have committed early are Charles Howell III, Trevor Immelmen, John Rollins, Brett Wetterich, Lucas Glover, and several former Buick Open champions Woody Austin, Rocco Mediate, Tom Pernice, Jr., and Billy Mayfair. In addition, Tiger mentioned driving distance, the longest driver on the tour, Bubba Watson, will be with us tournament week as well. We're happy to have that early list. Obviously we'll have many more commitments as we get closer to the tournament.
So why not get your 4th of July holiday off to a great weekend with tickets to the Buick Open. For tickets fans can call 1-800-878-OPEN or go to TicketMaster.com. We also have some great hospitality opportunities available as well as a few precious spots in the OnStar ProAm.
That ends the formal part of the press conference here. Thanks for your support for being here today. Enjoy. Look forward to seeing all of you here during tournament week.

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