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May 30, 2018

Tiger Woods

Dublin, Ohio

MARK WILLIAMS: The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide the Memorial.

DOUG MILNE: Okay. Like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room here at the Memorial. Thanks for joining us. Making your 16th start here at the Memorial, first since 2015. A tournament you've won five times. So with that said I would imagine it's got to be pretty exciting to be back here this week.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's great to be back. I obviously haven't played in a few years and a lot of great memories here. I've always enjoyed playing Jack's place and this year is no different. It's in perfect shape. Hopefully the rain holds out a little bit because this golf course is going to be tough, it's fun. And it's just great to be back playing a golf course that I've always loved.

DOUG MILNE: You had success so far this season, coming off a tie for 11th at THE PLAYERS in your last start. Feeling good about your game coming into the week?

TIGER WOODS: I am. I took a couple weeks off and was able to recharge and get ready for this stretch through the U.S. Open. And I got a chance to play Shinnecock last couple days, take a look at it. Unfortunately it rained the day before I got there and the golf course played really long. I'm sure it probably won't play as long as we played it. 7500 yards, par 70 is a long golf course. And they've made some pretty significant changes from since last time that I have seen it. I believe there's over 500 trees that are gone since last time I played it. They added 500 yards to it. So it's quite significant.

DOUG MILNE: Okay, questions, please.

Q. Jack said yesterday that we all have to learn how to win again and then talked about that you have to learn how to win again. That's one barrier you have to overcome. One, do you agree with that and two, what does that mean?
TIGER WOODS: Well I think that's understanding what it takes to finish it off and get a W.

I've been on runs where it just came pretty easy, getting W's, and other stretches where it was very difficult. This is, to me this is a little bit different because I'm coming back off of not really playing for awhile. And I remember the feelings when I was at Valspar, I had a chance to win there, finished second. It really felt comfortable. The last few times that I've had a chance, I've been up there on the board, I've felt very comfortable. Hopefully I can just shoot the low round when I need it.

Q. Jack was also saying that he never played that well typically when he was paired with Arnie in early rounds. I'm just curious, specifically in early rounds, do you prefer playing with marquee players, with bigger name players or can that be challenging because you start playing the player?
TIGER WOODS: You know whether I'm playing in one of these new marquee groups or in years past where they didn't have those groups, they were just past tournament winners, I just felt that I still had to deal with large galleries and a lot of people moving inside the ropes. So just because the pairings have changed and been more marquee-type, it's still the same amount of people out there and so that hasn't changed for me. In the first couple days I'm just trying to get myself up on that board somehow and whether I'm playing with guys I've played with for a very long time who won a bunch of tournaments or playing with some of the newer guys out here, it doesn't really change for me. At least the environment doesn't.

Q. Just kind of a two-part thing. First of all, with obviously with the U.S. Open coming up, does 10 years since the last major win feel like a long, long time ago or does it kind of just feel like yesterday to you, even though a lot's happened since then, for starters.
TIGER WOODS: It's felt, the last couple years have felt like a very long time. I have not felt very well or very good in the last few years and it seemed like, a second seemed like 24 hours. I was struggling for awhile. The last couple years that definitely felt a little more like 10, 20 years. But the last 10 years have gone by quickly.

Q. As a follow, aside from all the injury stuff at Torrey Pines, what are your, just what are your greatest recollections when you look back on that week?
TIGER WOODS: Just how I was able to convince myself that the shots were going to hurt, yeah, because my leg was busted, but I could make a golf swing at impact. Post impact is when I was going to feel it. And just convinced myself to go ahead and suck it up and hit the shot. It's going to hurt afterwards, but I can still hit a good shot. That was a pretty special week because I've had probably four majors where I've putted like that,'97 Masters, 2000 U.S. Open, 2000 British and then that 2008. I don't think I really missed a putt inside 10 feet in any of those four major championships. And that was a week that I needed it because I didn't really hit the ball as well as those other three majors that I mentioned.

Q. Given the back issues that threatened your ability to do something that you love and were so good at, how much do you appreciate just getting out here again and being able to play at that kind of level, just the general appreciation of just being on TOUR again?
TIGER WOODS: There was, well, last year in September I didn't know. I just didn't know if I would ever be able to do it again. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to be able to do this again because I just didn't know. I was just hoping to be able to walk again without hurting, be able to sit down again without having this burning pain down the leg. That went away, but I didn't know if I would be able to play golf out here. My surgeon said yeah I would be able to play golf and play weekend rounds with my buddies, but whether or not I could play on TOUR would be another story and that was a big leap. To somehow be out here now doing it again, it's a blessing.

Q. How special is this tournament in particular, given that you haven't been here since I guess 2015?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always enjoyed coming here. I've always tried to play at Jack's events. What he's meant to the TOUR and he's meant to all of us has players, I've always tried to support his events and I just happened to play well on his golf courses too. So that helps. Whether it's here or most of the Nicklaus Design courses that we play, I seem to play them well. But this one in particular is very special to him, it's very special to us as players. Obviously because of what he's done to the golf course, but more so what he's meant to us as players.

Q. On that 10 years again, I know obviously you missed a lot of majors when you played a lot in that span, the 2009 PGA is the obvious one. But outside that, what major would you say that you had the best chance and why, in that span?
TIGER WOODS: I would have to say that run, I forget what year it was, where I made that run on the front nine at the Masters.

Q. 2011, maybe?
TIGER WOODS: Was that 2011? Yeah, when I was turning, what, 31? And made a 3-putt at 12. If I would have just somehow I think played 3-under coming in, I think I might have stolen that one. And I had two par-5s left, 12's a 9-iron, and 14's short and so I felt like if I could somehow play them 3-under I might be able to steal this Masters. And that one, that one still leaves a little kind of a craw in my mouth there, because I felt like I had all the momentum and granted -- Phil too, Phil was playing great. But I just felt like that was one of the ones that I could steal. I won 14 majors, but I've kind of been there, I was in the final group or tied for lead or leading, but I thought that was the one I could have gotten.

Q. Two questions about Torrey Pines. I think all we knew about your health or situation is that you hadn't walked 18 holes from Augusta I think until Thursday, is that right?
TIGER WOODS: 18 holes, no, I have walked nine holes in the practice rounds and that was it.

Q. Twice and then 18 holes there?

Q. How many people, and if you could name them it would be even better, knew the scope of your situation?
TIGER WOODS: Not many.

Q. Is "not" the first name or the last name?
TIGER WOODS: No, there was obviously my trainers, my surgeons, my coach, Elin, and so there weren't a lot of people.

Q. Half a dozen, maybe?
TIGER WOODS: If, maybe, if that, maybe a little bit more. Yeah. It's definitely a single digits.

Q. This may be the dumbest question of all, but why didn't you tell us?

Q. Were you tempted at all?

Q. And then lastly, and this is kind of I talked to Mike Davis the other day, that's the first time they did the 1, 2, 3 pairing and last thing needed was for Phil, Adam and an amateur qualifier in case you didn't play. Was there ever any point where you were, you were not a hundred percent certain that you were going to tee it up on Thursday?
TIGER WOODS: Probably on the Sunday prior to the U.S. Open. I played Big Canyon, my home course, I played throughout my amateur days and was a member at. And I believe I shot 54 for nine holes.

Q. 53.
TIGER WOODS: 53? Well, there you go.

Q. Loss seven balls.
TIGER WOODS: Eight balls. One of the par-3s.

Q. What's wrong with that?
TIGER WOODS: Nothing wrong with that. For you, Dave, that's normal, right? No, that was, at the time that was, I was still trying to figure out how in the hell I was going to try and play with a knee brace. Because my knee was obviously moving all over the place and it was broken, so I didn't know how I was going to play with a knee brace. So I said, okay, I'll give it one last chance with the knee brace. So I played and shot 50-some-odd and then on the way down there I threw it out the window and in the trash and I was done with it. So I said, alright, I'm going to have to figure out how to play without a knee brace with this leg, and I'll try Tuesday. So that's what happened.

Q. Two things, one, real quickly, your most favorite and least favorite U.S. Open venues.
TIGER WOODS: My favorite? I would say probably Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines for me. Of the classic venues I think nothing -- the two that stand out in my mind are Winged Foot and Oakmont. I don't think as a classic venue they don't get any better than that. But to host it at Pebble and Torrey Pines, and then obviously probably Bethpage, public golf courses, that happen to be, actually, that's the only Opens I won on are public courses. But I think that the fact that those two, for me in particular, because they're both on the West Coast, I'm a West Coaster and Torrey Pines in particular for me because it's, you know, it's where I, my dad took me down to watch my first professional event. It was the old Andy Williams. So that was near and dear to my heart being down there at Torrey Pines.

Q. Got a least favorite?
TIGER WOODS: Well a few on that list.

Q. Secondly and we're, it's a long way off and you've got a lot of golf to play and you really haven't played much golf this year, but you're an assistant captain for the Ryder Cup. Are you being fitted this week also as a player and are you thinking about --

Q. -- wanting to play in the Ryder Cup or as even as a pick?
TIGER WOODS: Of course I want to play. I want to play as a player, I haven't played in a while. I have a lot of work to do between now and then to be part of the team as a player. I'm going to be part of it either way as an assistant captain. And I know that the players and the captain wear different outfits as part of the Ryder Cup and I would really like to screw that up.

Q. Tiger, the last time you were here, despite all your success here, it didn't go that well. Obviously we know that there was a lot of physical issues for you in 2015, but do you recall what you felt in that, on that Saturday? I mean is your pride taking a bit of a beating when you shoot a score like that and it's been so rare, and also and you your ego or do you not even think about it? How do you deal with that end of your career?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I tried and unfortunately that's all I had. I take great pride in, if you guys watched me throughout the years, of never bagging it. I've tried into every single round and tried to fight to the end and unfortunately that week I think I shot 85, I believe. But I think I hit two or three rounds in the 80s in my career and unfortunately that was the highest one I've ever had. It didn't feel very good. But it is what it is. I tried and unfortunately on this golf course hitting it as bad as I did it just wasn't good enough.

Q. Was it difficult to go out by yourself the next day, something you would have never had to do either?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't want to have anyone watch me play the way I was playing.

Q. It looked like you had a moment there with Jack on 10 tee. Was that just the usual glad handing? It looked kind of heart felt from him. Was there some advice or anything he might have passed along?
TIGER WOODS: No, we hadn't seen each other since the Masters dinner and we just kind of caught up a little bit. He was saying that my swing's starting to look a little bit better. And I said, yeah, I'm really not that far away and he totally agreed. He just kept urging me to be patient with it because he could see that I'm, I've made some pretty big strides this year and not far away from putting it all together.

DOUG MILNE: Tiger always we appreciate your time.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you, guys.

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