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December 7, 2004

Tiger Woods


TIGER WOODS: All right, guys, welcome to the Target World Challenge. It's great to be here again. We've got another great field this year. Hopefully this weather will blow out so we have some great weather on the weekend. Again, this is a great event for us and the Foundation. We raise a great amount of money to go to our learning center as well as fund the grants that we give out, so this is a big event for us.

Q. Assessing the year, where you started and where you ended up -- (inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm really excited about 05 just because of all the work I've done this year. I've put a lot of work in and changed my game, and I started seeing signs of it in the last three, four months, but it was kind of spot at this. You see one great round here and then all of a you'd I'd lose it and then get it back. The TOUR Championship was a positive success, even though I had those two bookend 72s. Middle part was very encouraging, then I just tried to do the same thing in Japan, and I played four solid rounds there. I'm very excited about it, and I've worked really hard this year. I'm trying to change a few things.

It's finally nice to see some positive results.

Q. Start to finish, getting married, obviously in your life, it's been a very interesting year.

TIGER WOODS: It has been. The marriage part is probably the easiest thing to do. The hardest part was obviously with my swing changes, a lot of different things going on, didn't have the results I wanted, and obviously I was struggling with the confidence of it because I could do it on the range but couldn't do it on the golf course. Obviously with dad this year, it was an interesting year.

Q. When did you start your swing changes?

TIGER WOODS: I started tinkering around early in the spring.

Q. Did you make a conscious decision -- (inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I felt like something needed to be changed because I wasn't having the results. I won at La Costa, but I won because I putted great. I hit it all over the map. My iron play was not what it normally is, and I just made everything. Even though I won the tournament, I knew that I wasn't going to do it for the rest of the year, so I had to start changing a few things.

Q. You're not hitting the fairways as often as you did. Is that one reason you changed your swing?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's just coming together. It starts with the sand wedge, and then you've got to work it all the way up to the driver, and the driver is the last thing to come around.

In Japan I hit almost 80 percent of the fairways that week, which for me is unheard of. Going back to 2000, I never hit that many, or any day I never hit that many. I always seemed to hit nine fairways a day, maybe ten on a good day. There were times I hit 12 or 13 fairways, so that's very exciting, and that's how I won.

I'm excited about next year, Kapalua, you've got to throw that one out, but I'm excited about Buick and the rest of the tournaments where the fairways aren't landing strips out there.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: You know, so much of what I did in 97, 98 and 99, that's basically two years where I won one golf tournament, two around the world. That's not many compared to how I started out playing the Tour. Going through that stretch there was very similar. I had a lot of high finishes but I didn't have any solid events, solid weeks where I struck the ball just unbelievably well. My mistakes were coming -- they were coming in, which is great, and becoming more consistent I had more Top 10s.

This year is almost identical to what it was in 98 numbers-wise, and I'm excited about the prospects of next year, and hopefully it'll be similar to the results I had in 99.

Q. Are you starting to think more about playing the game of golf than fixing your swing?

TIGER WOODS: Even when I'm playing really well there's always a swing thought here and there, but that's just the way I've always played, as long as I don't have a laundry list of things I have to go through. Sometimes you may have a swing thought, hit the ball low or hit the ball left to right or right to left. That's normal, but this year it was more than just one.

Q. Now that Vijay is No. 1, do you consider yourself more the hunter than the hunted?

TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt about that. I'm ranked No. 2 and he's No. 1, so all of us behind him are doing the hunting. That's just the way it is. The key to it is how do you get there. How do you get to be number one in the world? You have to win golf tournaments, and there's no one better at it in the last two years than Vijay. He's won more golf tournaments than anyone else in the world, so he should be No. 1 in the world.

Q. When did you start working with Hank Haney?

TIGER WOODS: A while. Does that answer it? You're unbelievable. It's been this year.

Q. You've been under scrutiny your whole life. Why were you frustrated this year?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was, just because I had to defend myself after each and every round. I was always getting questions, Singh shot 66 today, what was the difference between your 66 yesterday and 69 yesterday? Why were you able to shoot much a better score? At the end of the year my worst finish was in Ireland -- I looked back on the stats, and I looked at my results from Wachovia to the end of the year, and I had two tournaments outside the Top 10. That's a pretty good run. For most people that's pretty good. But I had to defend myself the entire time, what's wrong with you.

If you look at it in the context like that, you see why I was getting frustrated because I wasn't winning, but I was close, and all it takes is just a putt here and there. At Byron Nelson and Wachovia I was one shot out of the playoff both times. That's one putt or one fairway or one green, whatever it is. Constantly through the entire year I felt like I was defending myself after each and every year, so I was getting frustrated with that.

Q. When did you feel that coming on?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it started last year. You haven't won a major all year. Well, I've won five tournaments, two World Golf Championships, but I was getting it last year. It was kind of funny, my mom pulled out a nice little thing about 2001, beginning of the year, and it says in one of the Golf World deals, "What's wrong with Tiger?" I was about ready to win my fourth major in a row, coming off of winning three majors in a row, them asking, "What's wrong with you?" I've gotten it my whole career. That's just the way it is.

Q. At first you were somewhat coy about whether he is actually your coach.

TIGER WOODS: Because he doesn't like to refer to it as a coach. He says, "I'm your friend, I'm just trying to help you out with your game." When he worked with Mark all these years, he never referred to himself as a coach. He's not on the sidelines pacing back and forth and trying to call plays. That's a coach. He's always wanted to say "I'm your friend and I'm just trying to help you." He's a friend who's hired to help me (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Well, not the way I play, no, not at all. Not when I'm playing, no. I'm trying to put a ball in the hole as fast as I can. That's what encompasses me when I'm playing. That's probably the only place where I feel I don't have to answer anything. I can just go out there and play. Once I'm done, it's a different story.

Q. Do you feel pressure to win a major championship?

TIGER WOODS: You always feel pressure to win a major championship. Once you get on Tour and you feel you're good enough to win major championships, you always feel that way. I felt that way in 97 when I had my first opportunity at Augusta, and I feel that way going into this year. Nothing has changed in that regard. If you feel like you're good enough to win a major championship, you should feel pressure because you have a chance. You should be a little nervous and apprehensive and excited, all these different things. That's part of it.

Q. As far as being good for the game of golf -- (inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I mean, it's something you guys have to answer. No (laughter). It certainly was a lot more fun when -- you know, it felt like I was winning every three or four tournaments I was playing in. That was a nice little stretch there.

Q. As your swing has changed, has your physical workout changed?

TIGER WOODS: Never. Never changed.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I think what golfers are starting to realize is what I realized a long time ago; this is a sport. This is not just golf. People would look at it just you don't have to work at it, don't have to do anything, don't have to stretch, just get stronger. This is just golf; you can get away with it. Yeah, you can get away with it, but to be an elite athlete, you have to train, and I consider this a sport. I feel like I am one of the elite players in golf.

I came from a different background; I ran track and cross country, so we always trained, always lifted weights, always ran, always tried to better ourselves and kept pushing the envelope, kept pushing, kept pushing, and in order to get better you had to push physically. I apply the same principles to golf, and I think that's why -- I have no problem when I go overseas where some people struggle there -- Gary Player, I mean, he's probably the pioneer, and he traveled more than any other golfer who ever lived, and he was flying all over the world and he had no problem with it, and I think fitness plays a big part of it.

The guys who travel the most or the women who travel the most in any sport are tennis. It's a global tour. They don't have any trouble going from China down to Australia back to the United States over to Europe for four or five straight weeks. That's just fitness level and that helps you.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Always taxing when you have to work a little bit harder to shoot the same scores. It's always that way. It's just like Jordan going out and scoring 35, but most of us try not to get pounded in the paint because his jumper was off. It was just more taxing. I felt that this year. If you have a stigma like that, you're proud of that because it shows -- I try as hard as I can each and every time I play. There are times when I had very little out there when I was playing, but I got through it because I wanted to. I think that's one of the things I'm very proud of in my entire life.

Q. How would you change things to get back to No. 1?

TIGER WOODS: You don't change anything. All you do is just try and win tournaments. Back when I first came on Tour, trying to become No. 1 in the world, how do you do that? You win golf tournaments. When Duval was No. 1 in the world, how did he get to that point? Well, he won golf tournaments. That is the only way you can do that. I mean, you can't become No. 1 in the world by not winning golf tournaments. That's how I got there. I got there a few times, and hopefully I can do that again.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: On Tour? American Tour, yeah, you'd have to say American Tour, yes.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Excluding that one? Probably the British Open this year because I really hit it good that week, and I made one birdie on the back nine the entire week, played 36 holes with one birdie on the back nine hitting it well. I didn't putt well and it showed. I felt like I should have won that tournament the way I was playing. I was controlling the ball, driving it well, hitting my irons well and getting it on the greens and just didn't have it that week. It was a very frustrating week.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's kind of worked out there way. I don't know why. It just happened to be that way.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: It was always something. Some weeks I may have hit it better than others, I just didn't putt well. Other weeks I may have hit it atrociously and putted great, and finally I put it together in Japan, so hopefully it won't be like that all year. Hopefully it'll be like it was in Japan for the next year.

Q. Do you ever feel like it'll never get better?

TIGER WOODS: You always know it's not going to be like this forever. That's just -- it's part of playing sports. You're always going to have down cycles. Unfortunately we go through those times. You don't ever want to go through them, trust me, it doesn't feel good, but it's just part of playing sport, and especially in our sport, longevity is just huge here. You've got a career that could literally span -- for me, 30 years on the regular Tour.

There's no other profession really like that, that you can play at a high level for that long. No, you're going to have periods like that. You can't win every tournament.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: This is true. You can't go up there and put an elbow right in their gut. It would make it an awful lot more interesting, though (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Right before Japan. LA, here. I went there right before I went to Japan.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I saw that, yeah.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I never did the high jump. I was always running.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea. I've never even tried it. One of my problems, I can't jump off one foot. I can dunk a tennis ball or a softball, but it has to be off of two feet. It wouldn't be any good.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: What happens? Whether it's distractions or whether it's you work on a few things or you've got a lot of information loaded in you and you've got to hit a golf shot somehow and there's very little place to put the ball, that's just part of playing the game. We all go through it.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, sometimes we do, and it's unfortunate it does happen, but sometimes I'll hit some of my greatest shots by doing that. There's no rhyme or reason for it. Sometimes it turns out terrible, sometimes it turns out great.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us.

TIGER WOODS: You got it.

End of FastScripts.

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