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September 25, 2018

Tiger Woods

Guyancourt, France

MICHAEL GIBBONS: And off we go, Tiger. Bienvenue. Welcome to France. Quiet week last week, Tiger? Looking forward to another quiet week this week.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, last week turned out okay. It was a great week. We had a great travel day yesterday with the team and last night was a lot of fun hanging out with all my teammates and everyone who is associated with the team. Today was nice to kind of stretch our legs out and get some fresh air and play some golf, and actually play golf in not a 100-degree temperature, which was nice. So I didn't have to change any shirts, which was great.

The golf course was very much on par with what Jim has been describing, and it's going to be not exactly setup like it was at Hazeltine. It's a little bit tighter. There is quite a bit of rough, and the greens are extremely deep. Some of the greens are -- I think one of them is like 58 yards deep, so very different setup and it's going to be a fun event for us.

Q. Honestly, could you have seen this -- only three weeks ago in France?
TIGER WOODS: I was trying to make the team this year. I was going to be here anyway; at the beginning of the year, Jim asked me to be vice captain. To have now earned my way on to the team to have not only the vice captains but all the players who want me on the team, because I was picked; that means a lot to me.

I felt like I've played well enough but I still have gotten the nod from our captain, vice captain, and as well as the players, and so it just feels great to be part of this team.

This is a pretty young team. But also a team that has played quite a few Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, as well. So they have been through it.

Q. At any stage in your career, has your game ever suffered from trying too hard, and if so, is there any chance of that potentially happening this week?
TIGER WOODS: You know, the only -- honestly, the only time -- you guys probably know the story; I've told you a number of times. In 2006 at the Masters, I tried way too hard and tried to do it for the wrong reasons. My dad was dying and I knew that that would be his last event that he would ever watch me play and I tried to win it for him.

And I tried too hard on that back nine, missed a bunch of putts, and ultimately lost the event. Then I had a talk with him post-Masters, and he basically chewed me out; "I thought I taught you to play this game for your own happiness and for your own self and your own joy. This is what I've taught you your entire life." And he was right.

Lo and behold, I go ahead and win The Open Championship a couple months later. That's the only time I've ever gone outside of the window and tried too hard, just because of the circumstances of what was going on at the time.

Q. On Sunday, one of your friends, Phil Gordon, Tweeted that last year, you told him that you just wanted the young guys to feel the heat of playing the back nine with you in the lead one more time. Why? Why was that important?
TIGER WOODS: Well, a lot of these guys were -- well, the younger guys were on their way in when I was on my way out. You know, they had never really played against me when I was playing well. It's been, what, five years since I've won a golf tournament.

And a lot of the players were just coming on to the scene, whether it's J.T., Jordan, now Bryson, Brooksy was just getting out here, getting started, coming off The European Tour. So a lot of these guys just had not played against me yet.

I think that when my game is there, I feel like I've always been a tough person to beat. They have jokingly been saying that, "We want to go against you."

All right. Here you go. And we had a run at it, and it was a blast because I had to beat Rory head-up in the final group. Rosey was tied with Rory. Obviously I had a three-shot cush, which is awfully nice, but still, I had not done it in five years. These guys had both ascended to No. 1 players in the world, they have won major championships, they have won golf tournaments all around the world, and I have not really played a whole lot of golf the last few years.

Q. Did you celebrate Sunday night at all, or did you not have a chance to do that, or did you not want to? And also, have you been aware of the scale of the reaction to your victory, which even by your standards has been incredible, the world over?
TIGER WOODS: The last part of your question, the scale, no, I really haven't because I'm trying to return the text messages I've gotten, but I'm still well north of 150. So it's going to take me a little bit of time before I answer all that.

I really haven't looked online and read any articles about it yet because, one, after I finished, I had a big media tour I had to do there at East Lake, and then as soon as we left there, we went to the Renaissance Hotel to all meet together, and we have a big signing that we normally do. Got that all out of the way and then hopped on the flight, over here, training, and then playing a practise round.

So no, I haven't really had a lot of time to soak it in. I will post-Ryder Cup. I'll take a look back and reflect on it. I haven't seen any videos of -- I saw a couple of them on some French news channel that -- the people rushing behind me, but I haven't sat down and watched it yet. I still have this event to do.

Post-Ryder Cup, it will be a different story. I will look back and soak it up and really reflect on what really transpired that entire week.

Q. I don't know if anybody in the media has said thank you, but for all of us that earn our living in the golf business, a big thank you for what you did Sunday.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks, Bob. There's been a lot of you who have supported me, you know, through a lot of the years, and many have doubted that I'd play golf again, and win again. So I want to say thank you to all the people that have supported me.

Q. There are some incredible statistics surrounding your career, but one of them this week that's relevant is being on one winning Ryder Cup Team in seven appearances. Is that something that, A, bothers you, and if so, how much?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it certainly is something that -- looking back on my entire Ryder Cup career, that's not something that I have really enjoyed and I've really liked seeing. I've played a lot of the matches. Of those seven previous Ryder Cups, I've sat out one session, and that was the last session at Medinah. Otherwise, I've played every single match.

We haven't done well. You know, the year that we won in 2008, I had reconstruction knee surgery after the U.S. Open and I didn't play. And I was a vice captain in 2016, but it's different being a player.

It was neat to be part of the team, to be a part of helping the guys in any way I possibly could to make them feel comfortable, to get them into the right circumstances to allow them to play their best golf.

You know, as a player, it's different because you focus -- as a player, you focus on your playing partner you're playing with and earning your point. As a vice captain, there's so many moving parts that you're in charge of, and so that was very different in 2016, but my overall Ryder Cup record, not having won as a player since 1999 is something that hopefully we can change.

We haven't won as a U.S. squad here in 25 years on foreign soil, so hopefully that will change this week, as well.

Q. You mentioned that 1993, the last win here. Obviously there's various reasons, but if you were to put it down to one or two reasons as to why you think the U.S. hasn't won here in that long a period, what would it be?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the best way to describe it, I remember being a part of some of the Presidents Cup teams that Jack had captained. He says it's plain and simple: Who wins the 18th hole? Those were the matches that swing. If you're 1-up, you lose the last hole, go to even, or you win the last hole and you get a point; these little half-points to point swings are enormous over the course of the entire Cup.

The teams that we've been a part of in The Presidents Cup wins, at least that I've been a part of, we've handled the 18th hole well. In The Ryder Cup, we haven't. The blowouts that we either have received in The Ryder Cup, we didn't play the 18th hole well; and in the blowouts we've had in the Presidents Cup where we've blown the internationals out is because we won the 18th hole.

The matches are very tight, and usually who plays the last hole well determines the Cup.

Q. Could you describe the dynamic of the first hole and the whole atmosphere at a Ryder Cup, and do you remember the first shot you did hit, I believe in '97? And what do you make of the massive gallery? What do you think it's going to be like with that grandstand this week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's going to be fun. It's going to be -- it's an awesome environment. Because when we had -- I'm sure you were there in Wales. It was -- for some reason, I don't know what it was acoustically, but they were so close together that it was reverberating. It was so loud.

We could hear it on the putting green, which was right next to the first tee, but when you get on the first tee, you could actually feel it. That was fun to be a part of. I loved it. I think this week will be exactly like that, but I think the decibels will be up a little higher.

My first Ryder Cup, I remember going out with Mark O'Meara, and I was telling him -- well, he was the vet, so he says, "The way the golf course sets up, you should tee off the odds."

And I said, "Well, I kind of like the evens."

Because at the time we were playing foursomes first, and he said, "No, no, no. Odds are good for you and the way it sets up for us."

"No, I like evens."

"Why do you want evens? Because you have to hit the first tee shot."

And I said -- then he says "No, you're hitting the first tee shot. He's the vet."

So I listened. I hit a 2-iron, tracked it down in the fairway, and phew, it was all good.

Davis was part of that team, as well, and he went through a similar experience with Tom Kite in '93, feeling the same thing, going to the first tee, he was telling Tom, "Hey, why don't you hit the first tee shot."

So there's a lot of nerves. It's excitement. I mean, it really is. It's something we don't get to experience in that regard because basically it's the final round of a tournament on the very first hole and every match you tee it up. It's a different atmosphere and one that we absolutely love.

Q. You've played a lot of foursomes matches, a different game with a different rhythm. Could you describe how you've evolved with your comfort level there, and to you, what's the importance of the golf ball? How important is that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is very different now than when it was when I first started playing the Cups. Initially it was the old one-ball rule, so a lot of times, you were paired up with guys that played the same exact ball. So we didn't have to make that many adjustments.

Now, it's more basically the player. We have so many damned different devices that can check golf balls and how they fly that you can figure out how the golf ball is flying; what are the distances and all these different things, and make those adjustments.

Before, it was just, okay, well, you played that ball; you played that ball, you guys are going out together.

Yeah, but we never see each other throughout the entire year.

But you guys play the same ball; go ahead and go.

Now, it's very different. Some of the golf balls spin more than others. I play a very spiny golf ball, whereas others play a ball that doesn't spin as much. So there is some adjustments to be made.

The most important thing is whoever is hitting the iron shot into the green, that's the guy -- that's the ball you're playing with off the tee because you don't want a player to have to adjust his iron game and the distances he's hitting, and sometimes you've got to make an adjustment on par 5s whether you go for it in two or not.

And if the guy is hitting it -- you know you're going to a par 5 in three; well, if that's the case, then the guys hitting the wedge shots, obviously hitting the tee shots, are going to play that ball.

Q. Looking at the television viewing figures from Sunday, which were remarkable, the best of the season and a lot of the majors, are you ready for America to start looking to you the way they used to, so soon after you've come back?
TIGER WOODS: Honestly, I didn't see the ratings, so I don't know.

Q. They are huge?
TIGER WOODS: Are they good? (Laughter) okay.

Q. They are really good.
TIGER WOODS: Sorry (laughter), I've been a little bit busy, so I haven't looked.

Yeah, if the ratings are, as you said, huge, especially against football on Sunday; you know, in the States, that's a big deal, and for us to be able to promote golf like that; and for me to experience a scene like we had on 18, the people, you know, running behind us and getting that excited.

You know, the art -- I've described this to you guys before. The art of the clap is gone. People don't clap because how can you clap when you have a cell phone in your hand? People are now screaming and they are pretty loud, and especially late in the day when it's hot and they have tipped back a few, it gets even louder.

I think this week will be the same. But even louder.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: I won't ask for a round of applause, Tiger, but thank you for your time. Cheers. Thank you.

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