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April 6, 2004

Tiger Woods


BILLY PAYNE: Ladies and gentlemen we are delighted to welcome to the Masters this year, making his 10th Masters appearance, three time Masters champion, holder of the tournament scoring record, Tiger Woods.

Questions, please.

Q. Do you have a lot of people send you e mails or letters trying to give you advice on how to play golf?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah (Laughter).

Q. I just read your record, it's pretty strong; what's your reaction to that?

TIGER WOODS: I get it all the time. Even when I may be having a good week where I've had some pretty good numbers, I'll be at the grocery store and somebody will say, "I saw you hit that one shot." I just shot like 26 under par like in Ireland I shot 25 under and bogeyed the last hole I know what happened on that last shot, that 4 iron to the right (Laughter).

So, I get things like that, yeah.

Q. What do you say to them when they offer suggestions?

TIGER WOODS: Under my breath or to them? (Laughter.)

Q. Off the record and on the record?

TIGER WOODS: Off the record, I'll tell you later.

For the record, they mean well, they are trying to be helpful. Hey, we are all when we're watching basketball games or football games, we are all kind of couch coaches. Golf is no different. We still have those.

Q. When was the last time you took advice from someone that you, in fact, used?

TIGER WOODS: Quite a few times.

Q. Most recently.

TIGER WOODS: Probably last week.

Q. Can you elaborate?

TIGER WOODS: No, just Stuey and I were messing around chipping and putting at home at Isleworth, seeing what we need to do for spins and shots around this golf course, so we were kind of picking each other's brains.

Q. You reacted when he said 10th Masters.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, can you believe that? Ten years here.

Q. Is that sounding old?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I played with Nick Flanagan yesterday. He was telling me the story, the reason why he took up the game, because I won in '97. I said, "Well, it didn't seem like it was that long ago." (Laughter.)

Today, Casey, I played with Casey today, and he's 19. I was trying to remember back when I first played in my first Masters and I was 19 years old. It's hard to believe that it was ten years ago. Kind of goes by fast, doesn't it?

Q. The back nine on Sunday we've seen over the years Nicklaus shooting 30, some crazy things. Do you think the course changes, so long and so difficult now, maybe we might see more guys lose it on the back nine than we see winning on the back nine?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, correct. You won't see too many 30s now. Not with the conditions, especially the way they are this year, being hard and fast and difficult, the wind blowing, the whole bit. With 13 being as long as it is now, you know, it's hard to make eagle there.

15, you can't use that speed slot like you used to on the right hand side; you've got those trees. It's just different than what it used to be.

17, after a good drive, you're looking at having a short iron in there. Now you're firing some kind of mid iron in there.

And 18, obviously, we're teeing off almost on 15 fairway. So it's changed quite a bit.

You'll see more guys shoot higher numbers on the back nine than more guys shooting 30 or 31 to win the tournament.

Q. What is your most vivid memory of your first time here ten years ago, and what advice do you give people when they are coming here for the first time?

TIGER WOODS: I always tell this story to every amateur I play with. I played with Ollie the first round. It was kind of raining a little bit, and I just busted this driver right over the top of the bunker. I was just so jacked just to be in the tournament, just adrenaline flowing, just busted right on top of the bunker. I had to decide between pitching wedge and sand wedge, figured it was soft, pin is back left, pin high right, the greens are pretty fast, looked fast on the putting green, hit the putt and missed it just on the topside and it kept rolling and rolling. And actually the gallery is parting (Laughter).

I keep telling every amateur that story because no matter how bad it seems, how nervous you are, more than likely you'll never have that experience of putting off the green on your first putt in competition. (Laughter.)

It was a great 2 putt. Pitched it back and made a putt. So that's a 2 putt technically, I guess.

Q. It's been ten years. Can you imagine 40 more?

TIGER WOODS: I hope I'm not fertilizer by then (Laughter).

I swear, playing 40 more of these, it's incredible, absolutely incredible. For one thing, to have the luck of never being injured in this tournament all of those years, and then being in good enough shape to play, and having the desire to compete each and every time. Obviously, he had prostate cancer and came close to missing, but he came back and played. So that could have been one year where he could have missed.

Q. You mentioned young Nick Flanagan. He's the first Australian in our long history here to stay in the Crow'S Nest. Can you give us a feel of what it was like staying there and what he can expect?

TIGER WOODS: Well, for me it was just like the dorm life. Because I roomed with Trip Kuehne that year, I think it was Tim Jackson I think was the mid amateur champion that year and Buddy was the runner up. I forgot who won the Public Links that year. It was basically just Trip and I the entire week up there. So it was kind of like we were playing cards and having a good time. It was kind of like being in college, really. So for me, it wasn't anything different than from what I was accustomed to.

Buddy stayed in there one day and I think Tim came up and stayed one day, but they were different days, so basically, just Trip and I were telling stories of what we experienced each day and just had a great time.

Q. You mentioned a moment ago Arnie playing 50 years here. What kind of thoughts come to mind when you think of Arnold Palmer?

TIGER WOODS: Just a legend, a living legend. If it wasn't for Arnold, golf wouldn't be as popular as it is now. You know, he's the one who basically brought it to the forefront on TV. If it wasn't for him and his excitement, his flare, the way he played, golf probably would not have had that type of excitement. He was at the forefront and that's why he's the king.

Q. Can you talk about how you feel you're playing coming into this week, first of all? And second of all, what's your reaction to the mass hysteria about your game is off? There's a lot of analysis about the way things have been going.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, first of all, I feel like I'm playing well. Things that I've been working on are starting to come together, which is great. It's exciting.

As far as, as you say, the mass hysteria, hey, it's just one of those things where people have an opinion and they have been voicing it quite a few times with me. It's different for I know that and I'm sure all of you know that; it's different for me versus any other player. Some other player has a bad week, misses the cut, it's no big deal, slips through the radar; whereas if I shoot one bad round, it's a little bit different.

I think it's just expectation levels. It's not like I'm not trying out there.

Q. You're not as far off as people may tend to think you are?


Q. I assume there's pressure to win your first major. Is it mentally any different trying to win your eighth?

TIGER WOODS: I've got eight (Laughter).

Q. So that would be no?

TIGER WOODS: I felt pretty confident going after my eighth no (Laughter).

Hey, just winning one major championship is one heck of a task. You're nervous any time you come into a major championship week because you know how big it is. This is what we dream of as kids. This is why we practice all of those hours. This is what it's all about, playing major championships and being ready for the biggest events.

I think this one creates a little bit more excitement because there's such a long time span between the PGA and here versus the other upcoming three majors. It seems like it rolls every month after this. That huge build up between the PGA and here just gives it that little bit more excitement level.

Q. How do you think the voluntary driver testing has gone this year, and how do you feel about the fact that they are not testing drivers this week at this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't know that, first of all.

As far as voluntary testing, some of the guys have switched drivers this year. Actually quite a few guys have switched drivers. I think it's definitely worked.

Q. As a past champion, how much do you look forward to the dinner and the back and forth at the dinner, and are you a caribou eater?

TIGER WOODS: Am I a caribou eater? Never had caribou, no.

As far as the dinner is concerned, I absolutely Love it. To go in there and just to rap and tell stories and just listen to all of the jokes that are being told, all of the stories that go around in that room, it's very special.

It's always fun to hear well, we used to hear Byron and Sam go at it. It was always so much fun to hear the banter back and forth, just the stories that you're not privy to. If you're not not in that room, you never hear these stories.

I'll never forget my first Masters dinner. In '98, I'm sitting there with, you know, Byron Nelson and Ben Crenshaw and we're talking about our grips, with knives in our hand. This is what I believe the grip should be, this is what I feel, this is our pressure points and things we work on, how my grip has evolved. Byron is telling me how his group used to be back in 1920 something and how it was in 1930 something. I'm like, oh, my goodness.

You're just not privy to that and I think that's what makes it so exciting.

Q. Assuming conditions remain the same, in your opinion, does that bring in more guys or fewer and why?

TIGER WOODS: Probably fewer guys. You've really got to hit the ball well here, and your short game has to be on. Because these greens are so fast and so firm right now, if it doesn't rain on Thursday, these greens are so fast and so firm that good shots are just going to get repelled, you know.

The greens are very similar to how they were in '99 when Ollie won. They are starting to get that sheen to them.

We'll see what happens. We'll see if they soften it up a little bit by watering it, but I doubt it. They haven't had this type of setup going into the tournament before since they made the length changes, so I think they will probably just leave it.

Q. Third hole, can you just take us back to, you had troubles there last year and how you tend to like to play that hole?

TIGER WOODS: Well, last year was the first time I had ever driven it when the pin hadn't been back right. I've always made a point, if the wind is not blowing or it's downwind, I'm driving it when the pin is back right. I put down that bowl, and even if I'm in the rough it doesn't matter because I've got this uphill pitch with, what, 60, 70 yards, which is no big deal, with that much green to work with.

Last year, it was blowing just a touch down, and I decided to hit driver, hit a bad shot, and consequently, you know, decided to mess up the hole even further from there. It was the first time I've ever hit driver when the pin has not been back right. I just got out of my game plan and it ended up costing me a chance to win the tournament.

Q. What's your opinion on the fact that this season we have 14 winners after 14 tournaments?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it?

Just, it's different. Last year we had a lot of the same guys winning tournaments. The year before we had nothing but first time winners winning tournaments. This year, we have every tournament with a different champion. So it is just one of those weird coincidences, I think.

Q. A lot of times you see guys achieve a great goal in their career, be it winning a major or another milestone, and they go into a little bit of a lull. You've obviously avoided that. Why do you think some guys do fall into that and what's the key to not falling into that?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just how well you've played, I think besides just winning that one major championship. Do you play well week in, week out? If you do, you're going to win multiple majors. Look what Ernie has done. He wins all around the world; he's won three major championships.

But if you're a player who has not had a lot of success away from major championships, it's understandable for them not to have won more majors, as well as other tournaments. They just had one great week, and it happened to be in a major championship. Hey, it's just, you'd rather have it there than any other tournament, and they just happened to outlast and gut through some pretty tough circumstances and beat everybody that week.

I think it's the overall package that you have to look at in order for it to have in order for someone to have success in the years to come.

Q. Where would Mike fit in that?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, look, he's won some big tournaments, and he's been very consistent. If you look at how he's played year in, year out, he's gotten a little bit better. So I think that's a good sign for him in the future. He's been there. He's learned from his experiences,'99 at the PGA on Sunday, and he applied it and he took care of business last year.

Q. Talk about the pressure after winning one major and trying to win another. How much pressure is there to try to do it back to back? When you look at what Mike Weir is facing going out this weekend, how much pressure is there?

TIGER WOODS: There is a lot of pressure. But, you know, the great thing about it is you're the only one that has that opportunity.

O'Meara told me the best way to look at it is that, hey, no matter what happens this week, I'm coming back. I'm exempt for life. So from that aspect, there should be a little bit less pressure.

I know how to handle that coming down the stretch. Mike can say that. Past champions can say that. You know what it takes to win on this golf course and how to handle the nerves, and you've proven it to yourself and everyone else.

Q. Do you look back at your swing of 2000, and is that the benchmark for you? And secondly, how is your swing different now than it was then? And then secondly, can you talk a little bit about Adam and how he's evolved into a favorite here?

TIGER WOODS: Okay. How's my swing different from now and then? It's pretty close to where it was then. The takeaway isn't as solid as it has been. That's one of the things I've had to work on to get back to that so the rest of the positioning takes care of itself. If you don't set yourself up on the way back initially, then you have to make a lot of compensations throughout the entire golf swing. I basically went back to basics on that.

As far as Adam is concerned, he's worked extremely hard. He's won a big tournament. Obviously he's a little bit disappointed how he played last week, but I think he had a little time to practice and get ready for this week. I think he should be all right. He's playing with a lot of confidence and he'll just go out there and just play his own game.

Q. You've talked a lot lately about needing to trust your swing. Why is that difficult to achieve?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not easy to trust your swing if your mechanics are not quite sound. It's great that you can trust your swing all you want on the range. It's not that hard. It's no big deal.

But you add a little wind, a little water or tucked pins, and you have to feed the ball with the correct spin, then it becomes a lot more challenging and your fundamentals have to be more sound. That's one of the things that I've been trying to work on, trying to get my fundamentals of my golf swing more sound so I can go out there and don't have to think anything except for the shot I want to hit, and everything else will just evolve.

Q. Do you have one specific memory of Arnold here at Augusta that sticks in your mind, maybe he said something to you as an amateur or anything like that?

TIGER WOODS: I had a chance to play with Arnold and Jack on Wednesday of my first Masters. We played a Skins Game. I'm a little college kid, so I was kind of asking Jack, saying, you know, "Do we really have to pay"? (Laughter.)

So I'm down a little bit. We get to 18, and everyone is watching us, we're having a great time, and Arnold makes about a, I don't know, it was a 20 footer or so to take all of the skins on the back nine. I'm really feeling kind of shooken up now because I don't know if I've got to pay or not.

So they put their arms around me and said, hey, you want to join me on the par 3 contest? I said, oh, this is sweet.

We go play the par 3 contest. We get to No. 9. Jack hits first. He hits it about, three or four feet just left of the hole. Arnold hits next and darn near holes it, just missed it on the left edge.

Well, I've played that par 3 course probably about two or three times that week, just trying to prepare and trying to hit some iron shots, right. I have yet to touch the green on that (Laughter). I've hit water left and water right and water short, nothing but water. So I'm feeling really nervous now.

I hit the shot out there. I hit it on the green. Arnold putts his arm around me, and we're walking up, he says, "Great shot, but I got you on closest to the hole." I said, Arnold, I'm just trying not to embarrass myself out here."

It was really neat. That's my Arnold story here.

Q. How much did you lose?

TIGER WOODS: They didn't let me pay. Even though I was down a little bit (laughter).

Q. Is there a kicker to that or anything? Did they string you along?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah.

Q. And then just kind of say, don't worry about it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm a little college kid. Anything these two say I'm going right with it (Laughter).

Q. When you said a few minutes ago that if the conditions stay this way and that fewer guys can win, what do you mean by that? Are you talking about a style of game?

TIGER WOODS: No. I mean someone who has to be precise. You can't get away with mishitting golf shots and not hitting the ball correctly.

When the greens were soft out here, yeah, you can hit some marginal golf shots and really get way with it, but not this year, no. You've got to hit proper golf shots.

We were talking about No. 3 today. Mark hit a little draw in there. His ball landed on the front edge, zipped over the back. I hit my little fade in there, same distance. My ball stayed on the green, about halfway into the green.

As we're walking up, he says, it's just amazing how you have to hit the proper golf shot, and if you don't hit the proper golf shot here this week, you're really going to pay the price for it because everything is just zipping off the greens. The landing areas are that much smaller now. It puts more of a premium on being below the hole and missing the golf shots in a proper place, if you can. It's going to become more apparent who is really hitting the ball well as the week goes on because you can't get away with having a bad ball striking day.

Q. You got away with that last year, you could get away with it the last year or last two years?

TIGER WOODS: When it's softer, you can. The fairways are softer. They were playing a lot longer because of it. At least you could keep the ball in the short grass. Now the fairways are kind of zipping out there and they are running into the first cut. It just makes it that much more difficult now.

Q. You're going to North Carolina to be a part of the armed forces training. What piqued your interest in doing that and what are your expectations?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always wanted to do something like that. If I can't if I I was telling my dad this. If I was never introduced to golf, that's where I would be. I would be doing something hopefully in the special ops arena. Now, that to me is very interesting. The physical and mental challenges, I like that.

So, hey, it's one of those things where I was lucky enough to have a father who has been in the special ops and he knew a few generals here and there throughout the years and made a couple of phone calls. Lo and behold, this is what's transpired.

Q. How do you feel about that double standard that you alluded to earlier, if you have one bad round it's more of that mass hysteria? How do you feel about that being your reality?

TIGER WOODS: That's the way it is. It's actually the only thing I've ever known since I've been out here. It's just different. I was compared to Nicklaus when I first came out here or now I'm being compared to what I did in 2000, 1999 and 2001. It's just the way it is.

Q. It's been a while since you've won a major. Is there any urgency to win again in a major championship, and is the Masters still your best chance in a major?

TIGER WOODS: As far as urgency, no. There's no urgency. You can't look at it that way. If you look at it that way, you won't win.

I've never looked at a major championship like that. You look at it as a long marathon that week and you go out there and you play one shot at a time, and you really try and stay as patient as possible. That's all you can do. Hopefully you're around there on Sunday with a chance.

If you start looking at it that way, you're going to throw your rhythm off, your concentration is not going to be right, you're not going to be able to stay on an even keel like you have to in major championships.

So as far as my Masters being my best chance, I like my chance in every major. That's just me. (Smiles).

Q. Can you give me a couple of examples of what you're hitting into greens this year as opposed to last year?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, last year I hit driver and 3 woods on 2. Yesterday was a little bit down and I hit driver, 6 iron in there, ran it down the hill. Last year we were not even thinking about getting to the hill.

Let's see, where else, 18, I hit driver, 7 iron today, but I've hit 6 irons in there. It hasn't really changed that much.

It's holes that run out; 11, I haven't hit a drive down there that far for a while, almost since they have changed it.

Q. How about 10?

TIGER WOODS: No, 10 is just my 3 wood so it's not going to roll very far. I've hit driver, yeah, but since they moved the tee back and to the left a little bit, a couple of years ago, it becomes very difficult for me to hit driver there.

Q. What does Amen Corner mean to you, and were you just enjoying it today when you let everyone go ahead of you coming back?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we were just playing around. We were just having a good time.

You know, when you play Amen Corner, you try and the hardest part is trying to get committed on the wind. The second shot into 11, trying to get committed to what it's doing out there, because you look at the flag on 12 in the distance, it's probably doing something totally different.

Same thing when you're on 12 tee, trying to get committed to that wind and hit the proper golf shot, because it can switch on you in a heartbeat.

I remember playing here in '98 when I was playing with Davis, and we both hit 6 irons on 12. His 6 iron carried over the back bunker and my 6 iron barely got into the front bunker because the wind switched. It was two totally different winds. So I think that's the hard part is trying to determine where it's coming from and hit the proper golf shot and hopefully get a little lucky, too.

Q. When you mentioned Arnold, you were talking about how you sort of almost critical figure as far as television in his impact on the game. We see all of the time athletes who maybe have the ability to approach the levels that yourself and Arnold and Jack have but still personality reasons, do you think there's something about yourself or them that's maybe almost predestined for superstardom, the ability to embrace that kind of limelight and spotlight?

TIGER WOODS: I think everyone in here can probably safely say that there has not been any other player who has played at a high level like Arnold or any champion that's been as comfortable in his skin as Arnold has. Whether that's in a major championship, waving at people, saying hello and looking at everybody and making them feel welcome, feel like they are part of his little world that he's in right now that he's playing in. I think that that's been his gift to the game of golf is that he's made everyone feel comfortable and welcome. I think everyone whose ever met Arnold can say that.

Q. Is that the rarest of talents that maybe not even you quite have to that degree that Arnold had?

TIGER WOODS: I can't play golf that way. That's not how I play golf. I would have a very difficult time looking around and smiling and waving at people when I'm out there playing.

When I focus, it's a little bit different than he does. He can still be focused on what he's doing and still do that. Trevino is the same way. You can't compare Trevino to Hogan; they are two polar opposites in personality. They have found what works best for them in competition.

I've done that and Jack has found that and Arnold has found that, and everyone champion has found that. It's not easy to do, and you stick with it. Luckily for all of us in the game of golf, that's been Arnold.

Q. You've spoken this year about being more content; you've settled in your personal life. Can you talk about how that effects your golf game either positively or negatively?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's affected it positively. I remember having just a terrible time when I would go home after a bad round of golf and just it would affect me physically. Hogan used to do the same thing, he would be physically ill because of how poor he's played.

My dad has always tried to tell me, there's more to life than just golf. It's not just golf. You have to have balance in your life, and once you obtain a balance, you'll find that life is just so much better.

And he's right. You've got to have a balance. Golf is what I do for a living. I love it. I love to compete. But it does not define me as a person. That's been something that I've always tried to do when I've come up as a little boy playing the game of golf. But it's always been so hard to do. You've got to have the right people around you, have some great friends, some great family. Now with Elin in my life, it just made it that much better where golf is still I still love it, I love to compete, I love to play.

I still work my butt off, but it's one of those things where you've got to have a balance and that's the only way you can survive over the long haul.

Look what Jack did and look what all of the great champions have done; they have had a balance over their entire life. The guys who have had the best balance have had the longest playing careers.

Q. Looking to next week, Ft. Bragg, shooting guns, blowing stuff up, do you know what the day to day itinerary is going to be and what all in four days they are going to be able to put you through?


Q. Do you know any of the details?


Q. Details, roughly?

TIGER WOODS: I know the details, yes. (Laughter.)

Q. Elaborate a little bit so we know what they are going to be, the paces you're going to be facing?

TIGER WOODS: I'll tell you on Friday, next Friday. (Laughter.)

Q. I'll call you.

TIGER WOODS: After I'm done. (Laughter.)

BILLY PAYNE: Tiger, thank you very much and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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