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September 24, 2002

Tiger Woods


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, we have, for the first time at the De Vere Belfry, Tiger Woods, on a roll after the American Express Championship. Your first real view of the course. You might as well tell us first of all what you think of it.

TIGER WOODS: The golf course is in fantastic shape. The rough is up. The fairways are a lot narrower from what I've been told it played in '93. But it's one of those golf courses where you're going to have to keep the ball in play and I think that's where it all starts, because the rough is up pretty high this year.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you remember watching in '93.

TIGER WOODS: I remember watching it, yeah. I was entralled by it, because of some of the guys I've gotten a chance to play a little bit with and want to see them play in a big event like this, and it was pretty cool to see players that I knew.

Q. Tiger, it appears that you'll be playing with Calc on Friday, if that indeed is the case; your thoughts on that pairing?

TIGER WOODS: I think if it happens it will be a lot of fun. One, we're good buddies, and we've played countless practice rounds together. So I think it would be a fun experience for both of us.

Q. What's your earliest memory of watching the Ryder Cup on TV?

TIGER WOODS: Probably Kiawah.

Q. What do you remember of that?

TIGER WOODS: Remember of it? That the golf course was almost unplayable. I mean it was brutally hard. I think Raymond and Faldo when they played, Faldo wound up shooting an 84 that day.

Q. Could you talk about what Hal Sutton brought to the team at Brookline, and what intangible so he might bring to the team this year, even though he's not maybe playing his A game?

TIGER WOODS: I think Hal in his spirit alone, he's real competitive, as we all know. And I think what people don't know is how positive and upbeat he is all the time about everyone else. Sometimes he gets down on himself a little bit. But he's so positive and upbeat about everyone on the team. And we all feed off that a little bit, I think, because it's always a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable to be around someone like that.

Q. Scott Verplank was telling us there was a team Ping-Pong match last night. Did you play? Are you any good at Ping-Pong, who did you beat?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I played. I'm all right. And I beat a few people (laughter.)

Q. What's your handicap, as it were? How good, when you say you're "all right"?

TIGER WOODS: I'm probably double digits, probably. I know that my freshman dorm, I thought I was halfway decent, because I could beat about anybody in high school. In my freshman dorm at Stanford I played the Polish National Champion, I had no chance.

GORDON SIMPSON: You know how others feel on the golf course, then.

Q. Tiger, think back to your rookie season, and I know there was a lot of expectations for you, rookie Ryder Cup, there were a lot of expectations on you. But what was it like to be a rookie on a team, on a Ryder Cup team, and what do you see in particular in the U.S. rookies this year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the U.S. rookies this year have had a lot more experience than I had playing professional golf. That was only my first full year as a professional. So these guys, they may be a rookie in the Ryder Cup sense, but they're not rookies when it comes to playing professional golf and competing at the highest level. These guys all know how to handle pressure; they've done it before or else they wouldn't have gotten on this team.

I know back in '97 I was pretty nervous, it was my first Ryder Cup. And I was lucky enough to be paired up with my best buddy. And he kind of nursed me around Valderrama a little bit. And we had a lot of fun together.

Q. As you probably gathered there's been quite a bit of talk this week about your comments last week about a million reasons to want to win the American Express more so than this tournament, and also about being out of rhythm at the Ryder Cup. Hal was asked about that, and he says he knows you well enough to know every time you put a tee in the ground you want to win no matter where you are. He feels you'll be more juiced for this event than maybe you've indicated, because you've not had tremendous Ryder Cups up until this point. Is he right, can you address the other stuff, as well?

TIGER WOODS: The other stuff, I was trying to be funny. I was just trying to be funny. And obviously things were taken way out of context. And that's what happens if you just read it. You say, "Oh, my God." But if you actually saw me on videotape and how I said it, you would say, "oh, okay. I understand."

Q. What about your desire here, because of the past Cups and you've dominated everywhere, in everything, maybe, except for this event?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's just one of those things I've played well and I've gotten beat in this thing, and I've played poorly and won matches. It's just one of those things that anything can happen, as we all know. In match play in 18 holes anything can happen. It's not a 72-hole event where usually a transition wins. This is a boat race for 18 holes. And guys with less experience can go out there and get hot. And guys with more experience can get hot as well. Anything can happen. That's what's fun about it. That's the most challenging thing about Ryder Cup, that you're in an 18-hole match. And things do happen. And it's a lot of fun.

Q. Do you still -- would you still rather win a World Golf Championship event or Disney Classic than a Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: I think in the overall individual aspect, yes. But from a team aspect, obviously it's totally different. You can't really compare the two. I think that's what the hard part is, I think what people misunderstood what I said.

Q. Take out Monday through Thursday, which do you enjoy more? Let's keep majors out of it as well: Golf tournaments or the Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: Depends what tournament it is. If it's a major championship --.

Q. Throw those out.

TIGER WOODS: Throw the Majors out or throw them in?

Q. Throw the Majors out. (Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: Just a normal PGA TOUR event versus the Ryder Cup; is that what you're saying?

Q. That's exactly what I'm saying.

TIGER WOODS: I think they're two completely different animals. It is a lot more -- you're a lot more juiced on the first tee here than you are in a normal TOUR event, just because if you get off to a bad start and lose a match, you get off to a bad start in a tournament and you can still win the tournament.

Q. Tiger, with regard to the passion of wanting to win the Cup, it seems like there's a perception that the European side, because of the way they're brought up, Ryder Cup and the Open Championship is what they live for. Is there -- is it a misconception to say they're more passionate about wanting to win the Cup than the U.S. and how much does passion come into play in terms of winning this Cup?

TIGER WOODS: I think in the past they might have been a little more passionate because back before they had expanded it to the whole continent of Europe, I don't think they were getting the best players, and they wanted to prove, especially when it just started that the European Tour was the equal to the American TOUR. And that's the gist I've gotten from the European players, and from the American players who played during that time. And I think that's one of the reasons why you saw the atmosphere the way it was. Now that's -- now you know that's different, now that the fields are deeper on both sides. So I think that whole theory is thrown out the door. But this generation of players don't have that same outlook that the past generation did, but nevertheless they're still very passionate about the Ryder Cup, and we are as well.

Q. Every player who comes in here talks about how experience, especially in this event, is so important. What have you learned in your two Ryder Cup experiences that will help, perhaps benefit you, as you go about this for a third time?

TIGER WOODS: Just the same thing I've learned about playing stroke-play events, and playing in major championships, it's not life or death. You go out there and you go out there to compete, best you possibly can, and no one's being held hostage, here. And that's the thing that we all tend to get a misconception on, that it's life or death out here. It's not. This is an athletic event, win or lose we'll shake each other's hand and go have a beer afterwards.

Q. Tiger, Sergio said that during practice rounds players should be allowed to take their time and not be hurried. How frustrated were you out there on the third today during your practice round?

TIGER WOODS: They can play at whatever pace they want, and we play at our pace. And I asked the rest of the guys in the group, what do you want to do? And they all wanted to go and play at their own pace. And we play at a faster pace, plain and simple. We don't chip around as much or -- I saw Bernhard and the guys lining up putts on the third hole. We definitely don't do that, especially on a Tuesday. For me, I like to just take a look at the golf course, get a feel for it and I'm out of there. I'd much rather get my rest, and that's what I tried to do. So we hopped over, we played. And there was no ill intent. There was no disrespect at all. We went on and played and we came back and we played those holes.

Q. Hal Sutton mentioned the fact obviously all you guys play high school team golf, and a lot of you university and college golf. Then you go out on the Tour, and you're on your own. He said it's so different. This is one week, maybe a year if it's with The Presidents Cup or every two years, can you just explain, there's a difference rooting for guys that basically you're playing against all year?

TIGER WOODS: It's a completely different animal. I'm telling you, 51 weeks out of the year, you're trying to beat these guys brains in. And now you're together, which is different. And it's really cool. These weeks that I've been on teams, whether it's the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, I've actually loved them, because I've gotten to know the guys a lot better. I've gotten to know their wives, their girlfriends, and I think that's what's cool about it. Because a lot of times you can play, at the beginning of the year -- for instance one of my buddies, I never saw him for four or five months, because we're at the other end of the draw. And we were never -- we're in the same tournaments, but we never saw each other. And here some of the guys on the team, Stewart, for example, I haven't seen him in I don't know how many months. But that's the way it is. And we play stroke-play events. This week we're all together, we hang out together, we have a great team room. We're all watching TV and having a great time.

Q. Could we go back to the question of passion briefly. In the recent years some people have felt that that passion, on both sides, has gotten a little out of control at times. In view of Brookline, do you think there's an emphasis in getting a different perspective this time?

TIGER WOODS: I think it went over the top from all aspects, not only the players, but the fans, the media and everyone. I think everyone crossed the line there. Everyone went over the top. But I think we all realize that, too. And all of you realize you probably did that. I know the fans realized it. I know the players realized it. I think this atmosphere is going to be completely different, it really is. It already is different. Today playing a practice round, it was a lot more subdued. And fans from -- you could hear the European accent, but they were cheering us on, saying "nice shot." I think that's the way it was meant to be played. That's the reason why the Ryder Cup was started and how it was meant to be played. Unfortunately it's changed. But I think because of what transpired last year, I think we all have a better understanding of where this thing needs to be put.

Q. Tiger, a lot of players are bemoaning the fact that they won't be able to give 10 a go, because it's all the way back?

TIGER WOODS: Not only back, but they moved the whole tee box, they moved it more to the right, probably about 10 or 15 yards.

Q. How will you play it?

TIGER WOODS: I'll play up every day.

Q. You hit 3-wood on the green today?

TIGER WOODS: 3-wood, but unfortunately it's 262, I think to the front, and yeah, I can hit 3-wood there every day, and get there. But the problem is I have to come through the trees. And they've got 60-, 70-foot-tall trees there. Before, with the tee on the left, you could carve it around there. If you hit a good shot, you had absolutely no worries about the tree. Here, you hit a good shot, you have to come down through the trees and anything can happen when that happens.

Q. Do you think it would be a better hole the old way?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. It's a lot more fun. And that's what we all loved about that hole. It was the perfect match play hole, because anything can happen. You can make 2 or you can make 6. And I think that's what made it so much fun to play. But that's not going to be the case this year.

Q. Do you think maybe Sam made that decision to take an American advantage out of play?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think so. Because it would fit everybody's style of play. I know Tom Kite is not exactly the longest of hitters, and he got there no problem with a wood. He's the shortest on the team. Those that are short on both sides would have gotten there with no problem.

Q. Let's get back to this team thing, but could I ask you do you -- you do consider yourself a good team player. Could you put into words why you consider yourself a good team player?

TIGER WOODS: Why I'm a good team player?

Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: That's a good question, because I'm certainly not the rahrah-type of guy that's going to give great speeches before I play. That's not my personality. I'm going to be the guy that's going to go out and compete, and everyone knows on the team I'm going to give it a hundred percent. I've done that in each and every tournament I've ever played. And I think that's what I might bring to the table; that no matter how bleak it may be, in my matches I might be 7 down, they know I'm going to keep fighting no matter what. And hopefully that will help.

Q. Do you think there is something in it, the perception that perhaps you're not as good in team events because you are so exceptional in individual events? Can you see that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I can see that. I certainly can see that. I can also see the fact that if you play poorly, no matter whether you're in a team event or individual, you're going to get your butt beat. It's as simple as that. I've played poorly, and I've played well and I've lost both ways. It's frustrating when you go out there and play that way, both ways, and lose. Because if you played poorly you could have played better in one, and you played well, how could I lose? But in either case you chalk it up and move on.

Q. Therefore, do you feel that your record in Ryder Cup isn't as good as it should be?

TIGER WOODS: Isn't as good as it should be? I wish it was better. That means I would have contributed more points to my team. But I haven't done that. And I would like to do that. I'd like to contribute more points to my team, certainly.

Q. Earlier today Davis Love was talking about how nervous he got in the Ryder Cup, more so in some years than others. Have you been more nervous, does this event affect you more emotionally than any other major championship or anything like that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think -- I don't know who on our team said it the best, but I think when you play in the Ryder Cup, every match is like playing the final day in a major championship. And that's the kind of atmosphere it is. And it takes three days in a major to get to that point, and hopefully you're still in it. But, yeah, I can certainly relate to Davis being nervous. I've been nervous on both ends, individual as well as in team.

Q. As a sort of former U.S. amateur champion Walker Cup player, you're well versed in match play. Can you give us your thoughts in match play, certainly regarding the Ryder Cup and whether or not you think players are born match play winners or born stroke-play players?

TIGER WOODS: Well, considering the fact that I had to ask everybody how to play match play, I think you all can learn, because I didn't have a clue. Because I thought you had to play it like a normal stroke-play event. When I first got beat in Southern California Junior match play, that was a first event, I lost in the quarter finals. And I couldn't understand how I lost, because I was more under par than the guy I was playing. It just didn't make any sense. But that's match play for you. And so, yes, you can learn. You're not just born for it. But I think there's a certain attitude you've got to have in match play that you have to be able to step up there and answer whatever your opponent does. If he hits in one stiff, you have to step up and hit inside of him. If he makes a putt, you have to bury it on top of him. If you're outside of him, you have to make that putt first. There's certain things you have to do. You have to know when the critical moments are in the match, when it's starting to turn, and how can you turn it to your side. These are just the things that come with experience. I've played a lot of match play experiences, and I've won matches a lot of different ways. At times you know when something is happening in the match, when you need to be able to turn that tied.

Q. So you play the man; not the course?

TIGER WOODS: You have to play both, because a lot of times if he's in the water, that dictates what you're going to do. You take a 5-iron out and put it in play, who cares. He's probably going to make five or six. There are times when you have to just -- as I said, you have to gauge it. You have to know when you're playing the man, when you're playing the course, and play it by feel and play it by ear, and that comes with experience.

Q. Every year everyone usually says on paper the American team is much stronger and favored, and we've heard it longer than you've been playing. I'd be curious if you think that serves as a motivation for the European team and if because that paper is so jumbled this year with so many guys on both sides all over the map, that kind of hype or mindset might be altered or different?

TIGER WOODS: I think it definitely is -- I think it's definitely different in the media's eyes, because no one is really talking about that, about the American side is favored or whatever it may be, just because of world rankings or wins or whatever you guys come up with. But I think in match plays I've tried to explain, anything can happen, whether they're experienced or not or whether we have more rookies or not. Anything can happen in match play. And this 18-hole match play, we're not playing 36 hole matches. If we were playing 36-hole matches, I think you would see the better play, whoever was ranked higher would probably win, because you have more holes to play.

Q. You don't think that when the European team hears over and over and over again how great the American team, which has been the case for who knows how long, that it motivates them? They can't ignore it?

TIGER WOODS: I'm sure they may get motivated by it. But ultimately when you're out there playing, you could care less about that, you're out there playing.

GORDON SIMPSON: Have a good week at the golf and the Ping-Pong.

End of FastScripts....

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