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August 21, 2018

Tiger Woods

Old Westbury, New York

TIGER WOODS: Really looking forward to being out here and testing it and working my way towards Atlanta.

Q. Some comments about Ridgewood and coming back to this course and your memories on this venue?
TIGER WOODS: Memory is a little lacking; I only remember the last two holes. I have some work to do the next couple days and reacquaint myself with this great golf course.

Q. Tiger, you're committed to play the next three weeks and you'll very likely play five of the next six weeks. How much concern is there for your back and were you thinking about not playing one of these first three?
TIGER WOODS: I'm playing the first three right now and that should get me into Atlanta and on the back side is obviously The Ryder Cup. Yeah, that is a lot of golf. As I was explaining to you guys back in Akron, it's about pacing myself and making sure I don't practice too much, don't overdo it, and make sure my training schedule goes well. That's one of the hard things this year is trying to find the right balance, and as the summer has gone on, I've gotten better and felt better, and this is a pretty important stretch.

Q. What was your process after the PGA? I'm assuming you decompressed a little bit. What was your take out of that as you assessed the week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I took a few days off. I didn't put the clubs away. Was going to soccer practices every day, so I was doing that. I didn't -- it was exciting to make a run but I lost by two at the end. I did make a push on Sunday which was nice. I just couldn't, you know, I shot a low round but it just wasn't enough, on a golf course that soft, we needed to make a few more birdies.

Q. Jim Furyk did a good job Monday after the PGA of fending off questions whether he would pick you or not. Do you expect to be picked for The Ryder Cup, and on the back of that, would you be disappointed if you didn't get picked?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I want to be picked. I want to be part of the team. The interesting role here is that I'm a vice captain, so we're talking about myself in the third person a lot. So that's one of the more interesting conversations we were having. We were having a lot of fun with it but yeah I'm one of the guys on the short list and sometimes I've got to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.

Q. Do you dream about or think about wanting to be a member of the year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I do. I started at the very beginning of the year, I told Jim I wanted to be a part of the team, not just as a vice captain but as a player. I'm very close to making that happen. It's been a long year and one that was one of my goals was to make that team, because to be part of that team, you've got to be one of the 12 best players and I'm kind of trending towards that.

Q. Did you talk to Jim about the consequences of being on the team as a vice captain --
TIGER WOODS: It's an ongoing conversation. It is an ongoing conversation about, you know, trying to talk about myself and the rest of the guys and be objective about it all.

Q. Do you sense that you're more relatable to fans now than you might have been even at the peak of your game, having gone through some physical problems in your 40s?
TIGER WOODS: I think that everyone can relate to that because they have all gone through it. Everyone has got aches and pains, and whether you've had kids or not, you get to your 40s, you're feeling it, and I'm not the only one. The only difference is I'm an athlete and I'm playing at a high level and one of the best players in the world as what I do for a living. That's hard. People understand that. They understand, trying to compete against the younger generation, and it gets a little more difficult.

Q. On that same level, do you feel like you've ever been rooted for in a more passionate way than you were in St. Louis?
TIGER WOODS: No, this entire year has been so different. I've had excitement. I've had people into it over the years, but this has been so different. We go back to how everyone received me at Tampa, that was very special and I had not received ovations and warmth like that.

This year has been -- I guess everyone knows I've struggled and I've had some back pain and I've gone through four surgeries and I'm trying to work my way back, and it's been tough. People understand that.

Q. How would you characterize the difference? It looked like they were wrapped up in the excitement --
TIGER WOODS: Not just last week. Not just last week. But I think that people are more, I guess appreciative. I don't want to make that sound wrong or anything but they know that I'm at the tail end of my career, and I don't know how many more years I have left. But I'm certainly not like I was when I was 22.

42, it's a different ballgame.

Q. In that context, do you think this is one of your best years when you look at it, even though you haven't won but you've almost won two majors?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt. No doubt. To have a winless year, but to go through what I've gone through -- I didn't know if I was going to play last year. I didn't know if I was ever going to play again. I was just hoping to be able to play golf with my kids and with my buddies at home. I wasn't thinking about the Tour and now here I'm contending in major championships and had a chance to win a couple major championships. This has been, as I've said before, this has been a blessing, but man, it's been so special to have this opportunity again.

I'm certainly not taking it for granted, that's for sure.

Q. You've been asked a lot about Jack's record over the years but Snead's record is within close reach. Is Snead's record as important as Jack's?
TIGER WOODS: In order to get to Jack's record, I have to pass Snead's record. Just simple math. Yeah, in order to get to Jack's ultimate 18, I've got to pass Sam's, and I want to make that happen. I'm close. I have been close to winning tournaments this year. I think if I keep giving myself opportunities, I'll get the job done.

Q. Do you think 80 in a sense would feel almost like a major, given everything you've gone through and just to win again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it almost was a major (laughter). I don't know but I need to make that happen first, then ask me again.

Q. Your iron play at Bellerive, especially the fourth round, what did it confirm to you about the work you were doing? What made you say, yeah, that worked out?
TIGER WOODS: I've hit my irons pretty good all year. I had a struggle there with my wedge game around Augusta. I wasn't sharp but I fixed that. Pretty much most of the year I've been pretty dialed in.

You know, when I can start flighting the ball like I am and shaping it either way, I really can control my trajectories, any shot I want, then it's pretty good.

Q. Do you have a new discipline or do you have the old way when you were winning a lot?
TIGER WOODS: No, the discipline is different now because I can't do the things that I used to be able to do. So I've had to figure this out, whether it's golf-swing-wise or it's recovery; how much I can do; how much I can't do. This is all new.

So yeah, the discipline has changed. It's certainly become more cautious. I can't go out there and start sprinting with the kids at home. I've got to take it easy, and so that part, my mind still wants to do things like that but just being more disciplined.

Q. Over the past two years, how much did it help to be able to throw yourself into that vice captain role in The Presidents Cup and how much were you obsessing over pairings and taking those things on?
TIGER WOODS: Being part of the last two teams, it really gave me a chance to know the younger generation, the younger kids. I had not played that much with Pat or Justin or Jordan. It was just a few group of guys that were going to be the fulcrum of our team going forward. Because I was out for a few years, these guys were coming in when I was on the way out; so I got a chance to get to know them and their games, and their families, and it's been a lot of fun for me.

And yeah, one of my tasks with Davis was to make sure that we had some good pairings, good options, so that in case Plan A happened, then we could go with Plan A; but if something happened, we go to Plan B, C, D. I had to have all those options so Davis could make the decisions. So he was free to make the decisions and I was there to give options.

Ultimately he was our leader and he made the decisions, and it's just like what Stricks did last year.

Q. An issue, you were not driving the ball as well as you would like in St. Louis, have you found anything in the practice you've done?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well. Just trying to figure it out. Same thing with my 2-iron. Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.

Q. Going off of that, coming into this week, are you planning on going ahead and attacking these holes with the driver or are there some scenarios where you see yourself dropping back and going with reliable iron play?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't know. I need to get out here today and hopefully I can get in tomorrow, because obviously we have thunderstorms coming in, hopefully I can get some holes and figure out a game plan. I know it's going to be soft and it's going to be wet and the rough thick. I'm going to have to drive the ball well, and whatever club it is, it is.

Q. Considering how well you've been playing as of late, how would you describe your attitude and optimism that you'll be in the mix Sunday in the back nine as you enter a tournament compared to months ago?
TIGER WOODS: At the beginning of the year, I didn't know. I was trying to get in rounds and get my playing feels back again because I had lost them for a couple of years. It's taken me months to get my playing feels and make my adjustments.

As I've gone through the year, my body has evolved and has changed, and so trying to keep ahead of that and make the swing adjustments, as well, that's been interesting. I've become a little bit more mobile than I was the beginning of the year. I was just fresh off a fusion and didn't know what to do and had to protect myself a little bit. Even though my speeds were up, I ws doing it in a different way than I had, and over the course of the year, my swing has evolved and it's gotten more consistent and I think it will continue to get that way.

Q. For the first time in a while, there was back order on the red shirt on Nike.com, I can't remember when there was a back order there. Describe your relationship with Nike?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've been with them since, what, '96, so it's been a very long time. I've had a great relationship with them. We've worked well in trying to create product that people will enjoy and make them feel comfortable, and you know, for a number of years, we created a hard good side and that was fun to be a part of. We are trying to create things that are trending and people that will like and that I can play better in.

Q. Has it been different with you not being in the mix?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think it has. I was gone for a number of years there, and you know, there's been a new generation of guys that have come up and they have done advertising around, and on top of that, we've gone out of the hard good side. So a lot of my testing and lot of things that I've done since 2000 for a number of years, for over a decade, that we didn't do that anymore, and so there's a big transition there, what are guys going to do, and I was one of them. What am I going to play? What are we going to where? Is a glove part of the hard good side or soft good side. These are all things that took a little bit of time for transition, and we've got a pretty good stable of guys now that are young and are going to be keeping the brand alive going forward.

Q. Koepka winning two majors -- Player of the Year --
TIGER WOODS: You win two majors, you've got it. It's not real complicated. It was very similar to what DD went through in '98, with Marco winning two major championships, I think that trumps -- what, DD won four times that year. I think two majors trumps it.

Q. Talk about the crowds being different this year, are you more likely to soak it in than you were ten years ago and appreciate the reception you're getting out there?
TIGER WOODS: At times. But then there are times when I'm locked in and doing what I need to do. Unfortunately I've gotten to know a lot of them because I've hit a lot of wayward balls. I've signed a lot more gloves this year than I have in the past.

Q. Do you see the emergence of the trophies coming clear?
TIGER WOODS: I feel my next wins are coming soon. How soon, I don't know, but I'm putting myself there in tournaments now. I've done it two of the last three tournaments I've played in and they were big events, so I'm not that far away from getting it done.

Q. On the subject of the crowd, can you speak to the New York crowd and how that is a little bit different? You've won in front of a New York crowd before. How is that different for you?
TIGER WOODS: They are into it. It's a huge sporting town. A little bit more opinionated than most cities (smiling). Certainly becomes a lot more opinionated when they tip back a couple. We'll hear some of that this weekend.

Q. When you were talking about being hopeful to play with your buddies and that was your lot in life at the time, was that frustrating? Were you resigned to it?
TIGER WOODS: No, I had resigned to it because I had lived in a pretty difficult situation for a while. I just wanted the pain to go away. It was painful sitting, laying, moving, anything. It was just constant pain in my leg and down my back -- in my back and down my leg. I just wanted that to go away, and the fusion solved that.

So anything beyond that was going to be a plus considering where I was coming from, and so to get to where I'm at, didn't think that would ever happen again. If you look back on those days, I never thought that was going to happen.

Q. After multiple surgeries, must have been hard to believe that it was over?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was a last-ditch effort. I've done three other procedures prior to that. I tried everything else to try and, you know, avoid fusion, because fusion is the last-ditch effort and nothing beyond that.

So didn't know what my playing career would be like. I know Goose had a replacement at L4-L5, but mine was one level lower. So I had a chance of possibly having more rotation coming back than, say, Goose did. But you just don't know.

So this is all uncharted territory.

Q. Did you have a moment in St. Louis where you felt, wow this, feels like old times, whether it was making the birdie on 9 --
TIGER WOODS: After 9? No, I think after I messed up on 14 and piped a drive down 15 and stuffed it there and had a kick-in. To do that in a major championship, to bounce back like that, and I striped it right down 16. I had a good opportunity to make birdie there.

Hit a bad drive there at 17 and to fight for a par there, to give myself an opportunity going down 18, that felt good. Just the fight coming in like that, and birdied two of the last four holes, that really did feel good. I've done that before in the past.

I was telling Joey that we need to birdie the last four to have a chance. I said, I did it to Rich Beem in 2002; I birdied the last four holes, and I lost. But I needed to make four birdies in a row to put a little pressure on Brooks. I birdied two of the four, and if I birdied all four it would have been a playoff. So I called the number.

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