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June 3, 2015

Tiger Woods


Q.  Tiger, thank you for kind of delaying your plans as we went long with Mr. Nicklaus.  You're making your 15th start here at the Memorial, you've had success here with five wins.  Talk about your thoughts coming into this week and something about the course that you just played in the Pro Am?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it's always great getting back.  I've always loved this golf course.  I got a chance to come here, I think I received the Haskins Award or something like that as a college student and had a chance to win around here and it was pretty incredible.
As a pro, to be able to come back here and play, I've always loved the golf course.  He's changed it quite a bit over the years, but it's still a heck of a golf course.  It's always in impeccable shape.  Fastest greens we putt on all year, he plans them that way, especially on Sunday.  Some years he likes to get them over 14, and he's very proud of that.  So it's always a heck of a test.
This year it's pretty soft out there, the ball is not really rolling out.  The greens are perfect, they're really fast.  But they're very receptive.  I think you're going to see some pretty good scores.

Q.  Also you run a couple of your own events from your Foundation.  This is the 40th year of the Memorial that they're celebrating.  Put that in perspective on what that means and how Jack has done over the years?
TIGER WOODS:  He's done an incredible job over the years, not only the golf course but the community itself.  I mean, how it's grown because of this event, and all the people that he's helped.  Him and Barbara have done this incredible job, and to do it for 40 years is a long time, and to do it as well as he's done it.
It seems like every year he tries to elevate this event and tries to make changes to the golf course to make it better, to make it more difficult, to make it harder, more playable.  He's not afraid to make the changes.  And that's a testament to Jack's dedication to trying to make this golf course better, this tournament better.
It's evident, you look at the fields he gets here every year, people want to come here and play.

Q.  How is your game, Tiger?  Where are you at since we saw you last at The PLAYERS?
TIGER WOODS:  I feel very good, very good about the changes we've made.  And we've just implemented a couple new things.  But it's still evolving, but it's getting better.  It's nice to see.

Q.  How much were you able to work on it the last couple of weeks?  Was it intense or steady?
TIGER WOODS:  It was‑‑ no, took a little bit of time off right after the PLAYERS.  It was the height of our soccer season, I love soccer, so I was focused on that.  And tried to eat a lot and get my weight back up.  And then we started some pretty good practice.

Q.  We know your kids play soccer, can you see them competing, either of them competing in golf?  Where is golf on their radar?
TIGER WOODS:  Charley is a natural athlete, just period.  Whatever he picks up, whether it's hand‑eye or foot‑eye, he just seems to have it.
Sam is‑‑ she's more into foot‑eye sports.  She just gravitates to it; anything that's foot‑eye, she gravitates towards.  Charley can do either one.

Q.  As a parent, do you see firsthand the challenges of the game that has in general to attracting kids to the game?
TIGER WOODS:  I did the same thing with Charley that my dad did with me, and went out and played.  And Medalist is a hard golf course for us.  It's marsh everywhere, it's all about forced carries.
And my dad, when I played, I was so little, I mean a par‑4 is not a par‑4.  It's not two shots and on and two‑putt.  So my dad created my own par.  So every time I would play the hole, whatever shots it took me to get to the green, reasonably, plus two.  So sometimes it was a par 12.
And as I got older and I got bigger, it became like a par 10, par 9, it kept dropping.  And that's what I did with Charley and he enjoyed it, because he's now‑‑ is this for a birdie?  Yeah, it is.  You chip this in or make this putt for birdie, it's a birdie.
Forget the number.  It's about them enjoying the attention that it takes to try to get to par.  And that's what we do out here.  That's what we all do as players, but kids don't really think of it.
What my dad did was genius because it kept me interested.  It kept me focused on, my dad shot 2‑over par and I shot 3, and I almost beat him.  Even though I was making 11 and 12 on holes, but in relation that's about right.

Q.  Someone said he has a gorgeous swing, Charley?
TIGER WOODS:  He's got some parts in his swing that I'm trying to do (laughter).  It's a little frustrating at times.

Q.  This is not a tournament where a lot of 20‑somethings win, young guys win?  What's the theory on that?  What makes this so tough for young guys?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, if you look at most of Jack's golf courses, you have to think your way around it.  And he gives you some open places on some of the tee shots, but the greens are always complex and you have to miss balls in correct spots.  You've got to have the ability to hit the ball high.
Most of the winners here at Memorial, especially, have been high ball hitters.  It's rare to get a low ball hitter, but then again it gets soft and you can get away with it.  But generally you have to hit the ball high.
Most of Jack's courses are that way.  And I think that's one of the reasons I've played most of his courses well over the years, all around the world, actually.  I've played them well because I've always hit the ball really high.

Q.  Give us a brief run‑through of how you consider Chambers Bay.  And another U.S. Open question, maybe some of the things you've done with the importance of your last U.S. Open win at Torrey, could you put that in context with what it meant to you growing up there with your dad, the relationship you had with that and how important that was to you to win that tournament?
TIGER WOODS:  Okay, the first part of your question, Chambers Bay.  It's very challenging in the sense that Mike has so many options that he can present us as challenges off the tees or into the greens.  There are so many different numbers that you have to know off the tees and how that's going to play.  There's just so many options.
Generally you look at old school U.S. Opens, it's narrow fairways, high rough, miss it, hack out, try and make a par from the fairway.
Here at Chambers, there's so many different landing areas and aggressive or passive lines, run the ball up, 40 feet, 50 feet, even sometimes 30 yards right of the green or left of the green, and it comes back ten feet.  It's a different type of golf course.  We don't even see this in British Opens because they're not banked like this.
Yeah, I understand that you can run the ball up on every hole.  You have the opportunity to be able to have the opportunity to run it up, but some of the holes you can't because they're too long or too steep, they're up the hill too much.  We spent a lot of time there, a lot of homework, a lot of getting numbers, getting a feel for how we're going to play it because there's so many different options.
I think that's where Mike was trying to allude to earlier is you need to get there and play a lot, because he is going to present you with so many different challenges, so many different options.
Going back to what you said about the '08 U.S. Open, that was a pretty important tournament for me, because I knew that was the last one for the year, the way my leg was kind of busted up.  My dad took me down there to the old Andy Williams and so that was my first event I ever watched.  And I watched all the Southern Cal guys, whether it was O'Meara, Cook, I watched all of those Southern Cal guys, and I thought it was neat to go out there and be able to watch that tournament.
Probably one of the shots I remember is Andy Bean hitting a 1‑iron on the last hole on the green.  Back in those days, it was a different golf course than now.  But it was neat to go down and experience my first PGA event there.
And then my second one obviously being Riviera.  But that '08 U.S. Open was very important to me, because I knew I was done for the year after that event.  And then to go to a golf course I loved so much, I won there when I was 15, beat Chris Riley to win the junior world there.  And actually Pat Perez beat me when I was 17.
It has so many great memories for me to go back there and actually play a U.S. Open on the course I had played so many times.

Q.  And Father's Day?
TIGER WOODS:  And Father's Day.  And people don't realize that on the Sunday prior to The Open, it was the prior Open week, is when Elin told me that she was pregnant with Charley.  So that made it even more special when I won, because Sam wanted to be with me.  And Charley was going to be the next addition to the family.  So that win, itself‑‑ a lot of things came together for one special week.  I don't ever want to relive that moment again, the pain I was in for that week.  But there's a lot of positive things that happened.

Q.  Full circle, he was born the week of Torrey the next year, if I'm not mistaken.  You didn't play it?
TIGER WOODS:  No, he was born‑‑ yeah, he was, actually he was born the week of Torrey.

Q.  What did you think before you got to Chambers, what did you think of Mike's comments, that anyone who plays only two practice rounds, has his caddie walk, will not win the U.S. Open, what was your kind of reaction to that comment before you got there?  Did it change when you arrived and played for two days?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I thought it was interesting that he would say something like that, because normally‑‑ at Olympic, he changed a few things, and we were going to be forced to make some adjustments.
But when Mike says something like that, you got to pay attention to it, because he's an extremely bright man.  And we got out there and it was‑‑ it was like, oh, my God, there's so many different options here.  You have to know.  We spent‑‑ I don't take a long time in practice rounds, but we played in three and a half hours, just the front nine, had lunch, kind of sat down there and talked about it and played another three and a half on the back.  So we spent a while.
And the next day, yesterday, was a little bit quicker, because we knew what to do, what to expect, what lines to take.  We just knew how to play the golf course.

Q.  And secondly, what was the sand like out of some of the bunker complexes, if you played from them?
TIGER WOODS:  It's black sand.  It's a little bit different in color.  I probably can't say it's going to be like this during The Open, but we played when it was raining, so it was a little muddy.  There were different‑‑ how can I put it‑‑ different densities to it.  Some balls bounced out of there, some dug.  But all the bunkers there around the greens we were able to spin, so that's‑‑ you don't always find that out of some bunkers where you're able to feel like you can hit‑‑ no matter how long a shot it is, you can hit a spinner in there.

Q.  When players go back and forth on surfaces and you have to make adjustments, you've just gone from what sounds like the polar opposite golf course to this one.  And then you'll be going back there in a couple of weeks.  How much is going on with your bag, your game, where you're having to make adjustments or you're doing this long enough so there's really not a big transition between the two?
TIGER WOODS:  The biggest adjustment is not to hit the putts so hard.  I was practicing 40‑, 50‑yard putts, because that's some of the shots that we're going to have to hit out there.  The greens are running just over 13 right now, a little different feel.
And today, every putt I hit up to today, I blew past the hole, I'm so used to seeing that.  Downhill putts I got a feel for pretty quick on the first three holes, but I need to do a little bit of work on my uphill putts to make sure I get those right.

Q.  Is this an important week for you to get you to exactly where your game is, adjustments to your swing?
TIGER WOODS:  I would say yes, but sometimes there are times when I've won all four events right before the majors and didn't really do that.
So it's about peaking at the right time, getting everything organized.  The main thing is I want to be able to start playing again, being in contention with a chance to win.  I'd like to get there more often and give myself more opportunities to win.

Q.  Tiger, the anticipation you had going into PLAYERS, how much different is that to the work you've put in coming to this week?
TIGER WOODS:  A lot more comfortable coming into this week than certainly the PLAYERS.  We had to do some pretty good work going into the PLAYERS.  But this one's a little bit easier.

Q.  Do you like Chambers Bay?
TIGER WOODS:  Do I like it?  Depends how it's set up.  Because it can be played so many different ways.  If you tip it out, it's over 7,900.  And so obviously it's not going be to be that.  So what combinations are‑‑ is Mike going to present us?  It could be a golf course in which, hey, this golf course is pretty easy.  You hit long driver down there and drive it on three of the par‑4s.  You can hit a lot of wedges into the holes and you tear it apart.  Or he's going to set it up the other way.
It's going to be frustrating, you hit driver, 5‑wood on a couple of par‑4s, that are 510 yards straight up the hill.  I smoked a driver, and had a 5‑wood to the green that I can barely get to.  One of the par‑4s down the hill is 546.  It's a little bit different.
The par 5 here is 529, shorter than the par‑4 we play at Chambers.  It's a combination.  I don't know what he's going to present to USGA.  He could make it to where it's just brutal or he can make it to where it's pretty easy and give us a combination of both, and then switch it up on every other hole.  That's going to be the interesting part is just trying to figure that out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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