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May 8, 2002

Tiger Woods


Q. How do you feel this morning?

TIGER WOODS: Not bad. Yourself?

Q. Talk about your game since the Masters and your preparation leading up to the Open.

TIGER WOODS: I haven't done much of anything really. I have been kind of just getting away from it and had some sponsorships I had to take care of. And my concert which went really well, and I have just been kind of laying low.

Q. Excited about getting back to playing golf?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a little bit. I wish I had another week or two off, but for some reason it seems to be going by faster and faster nowadays.

Q. After a long break are there things you have to work on to get back in shape?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just the feel of playing. You can play all you want at home but it is a different type of playing, trying to get into a competitive atmosphere where adrenaline is flowing a little bit and your distances are going to be just a little bit different than what they are at home.

Q. When you look ahead at the Open, do you start preparations now or --

TIGER WOODS: I haven't really done anything for the U.S. Open because I haven't seen what kind of golf course I am going to be playing so I really can't tell.

Q. You are going to go there early?


Q. How early?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, that's a good question. But I will check it out before I get there for the week of the tournament.

Q. Pretty good fishing there?

TIGER WOODS: That's what I have heard. I have definitely heard that too.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: It's too many things, playing a few more tournaments before then.

Q. What is your relationship like with Byron Nelson and this event.

TIGER WOODS: It's always one I have always enjoyed playing. Mr. Nelson has always been extremely nice to me. We have had numerous conversations, just whether it is just chilling out and just talking or the fact that he just wants to give some advice, whatever it was, it's like he seems to have bent over backwards to do that, and I know he does that with a lot of people. But it is just the feeling you get from him. That's how warm and how gracious the gentleman really is.

Q. Justin Leonard talked yesterday about receiving letters -- (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: He does that quite a bit, he doesn't have to do that. That's one of those things about Mr. Nelson that makes him different is that he's in a class by himself.

Q. You won this tournament in 1997. You came close a few times. Anything about these two courses that suit your game?

TIGER WOODS: I have always had a good feeling when I have come here. I felt like this golf course has set up well for me. Sometimes I haven't always played well, but for some reason I will be able to shoot some good numbers on Sunday here, I think the last two years, especially, come close, and hopefully this year I can get a little closer.

Q. (Inaudible) what do you try to keep in your mind come Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: Say again.

Q. What thoughts do you keep in your mind on Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: I am just playing my own game, whether I am out of it or not, the game doesn't change, I still got to go out there and hit my shots. I got to shoot the best score I possibly can that day and hopefully it will be good enough to win, whether I am in the lead or I am chasing or I am completely out of it, always want to go out there and shoot a good round.

Q. How did you swing it today?

TIGER WOODS: Not bad. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Q. How much does the wind like this change --

TIGER WOODS: Quite a bit. This golf course, especially the TPC side, can be pretty tough when the wind blows. On 17 today, with that wind into your face left-to-right, that's a tough wind, and you are finishing holes were you feel like you can maybe a squeeze birdie out, especially at 16, no one can get there in 16 today it's blowing so hard. So it's tough enough where your club selection is going to be different, it is just going to be a tough week if the wind stays like this, especially out of this direction.

Q. Have you considered this tournament next year (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: That's next year. I have been asked that already. And hopefully I can win both tournaments. That would be a nice problem to have.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I heard it's about, what, 7,200 par 70, converted par 70, something like that.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea. Maybe I just haven't played well those weeks. You can't play well in every single major, and sometimes you just don't have it that week.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Anyone in this field, anyone teeing up has a chance to win. As we have seen this year there's a lot of first-time winners, and that just goes to show you how deep the field are getting nowadays.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I have been over there and I have played in Asia quite a bit, and from what I have seen the players are just getting better and better just like they are here in the States. Whether or not they want to make the decision to come over here and play over here full-time, it's a decision they have to make. Over there it's a comfort zone playing at home, but the guys who have made the move and have come over here have been very successful.

Q. Your thoughts on the USGA going to a truly public golf course for the first time?

TIGER WOODS: I think it is great because the U.S. Open is supposed to open to everybody, and should be played on a public golf course and I think that's absolutely wonderful.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Probably if you didn't grow up on a country club growing up on a muni it's totally different conditions, that's how I grew up. That is how I played the game for a lot of years, and going to a country club is -- it's like, wow, I am going to a country club, I am going to have some good greens to putt on; I am not going to be putting on velcro anymore. It's always been neat to be able to play on a golf course that has been in good shape but then again, if I look back at my memories playing on public golf courses that's where I really learned how to play - learned a lot of different shots. You have got to play a lot of different lies. You learn so much about the game of golf by playing on a public facility.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. You are always going to have -- not going to have perfect lies. You have to know how to play out of a lot of different lies and be successful especially when you are playing in junior tournaments, against guys who are pretty good.

Q. With the greens being so flat (inaudible) do you think the USGA is going to do something to --

TIGER WOODS: All you have to do is just have the wind blow. That's one of the things that obviously they can't control, but in any major championship, I don't care what kind of golf course it is, the wind blows it is going to be tough to shoot a good number. Any U.S. Open, especially out there, on an island like that, anything can happen. You can get days where it is dead calm or days where it is howling and whipping out there. You go out there and shoot 1, 2-over par and you have done a heck of a job.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I like the TPC side. It's definitely more challenging, but I don't know, that's a good question. Might have to go back and look at the score cords of the past. But I have enjoyed playing here and enjoyed a lot of the different holes they have had. You have got to play so many different shots. I think that's the fun of it.

Q. 7 of the top 8 players are here. I know you concentrate on your game. Knowing that the field is competitive -- (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: When you have -- you always -- when you get the top players in the world playing it doesn't always mean that we're all going to be down the stretch, you know, with a chance to win, going head-to-head. But in theory, starting out the week, yeah, it should get your juices flowing a little bit more, but the more you think about it, though, you just got to go out and play your own game and they are going to do the same thing; not really worry about who is playing.

Q. Outside of (inaudible) what was the most meaningful (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: This last one? A lot of my close friends obviously called, but I guess significant people, people that know about I guess, I guess Mr. Nelson wrote me a nice note, Jack, Arnold, some of the older players took time out to write me a nice little note.

Q. Did they say anything you want to share?

TIGER WOODS: Just said congratulations and well done and keep up the good work. Just nice things to say, but just the fact that they took the time out to do that.

Q. Did you hear from Barclay?

TIGER WOODS: Of course.

Q. What did he say?

TIGER WOODS: He was so happy I won and I played well and he's one of my best friends and obviously the comments he made, that's just typical Charles, but the fact that he called he was so excited and that meant a lot to me.

Q. Does he amuse you more -- (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: No, I got a few good ones.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I haven't looked at the schedule for that far, no, sorry.

Q. Talk about the scheduling. Obviously you are here and (inaudible) how hard is scheduling when you have a short period of time to get ready for an Open?

TIGER WOODS: How hard is scheduling? It's not easy. That's the trick of it, to make sure that you play competitively in tough environments but then again, you also have enough time to rest and prepare because going into major championships they are a long week and it takes a lot out of you and some guys like to play their way into it and I am not that way. I kind of like to go home and practice in peace and solitude and get away from everything to feel like I am at my best when I get to the tournament week.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: It wasn't mental. I was more physical because I went 26 on Saturday. Then teed up on the final group on Sunday, and that took a lot out of me. Especially Saturday going -- I was at the golf course a little bit before 6:15, I didn't leave there until after 7:30. When you are there for over 12 hours it is a long day.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I never really shot that many low scores because the golf course I played on was -- the greens weren't good enough to really shoot low numbers. You can never get rolling with the putter. You hit good putts, that doesn't always mean it's going to go in. Some of the best scores I shot was when I played other facilities that weren't public, then I could hit good putts, you know they were going to go in.

Q. Talk about what went into the learning process -- (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: I think people don't understand you have got to have the mental side of it but then you have to be playing well. I have always understood how to play a US Open and what to do; it just didn't look like that because I didn't hit the shots where I wanted to put it. Consequently it added up to scores where I didn't have a chance of winning. But people don't -- people have to understand that you have to play well that week, more so from tee-to-green than anything else. If you are not striking the ball well there you are not going to have a chance to win.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think you have to have a good attitude any time you play. But you know that everyone is going to be dealing with that. Everyone is going to have bad breaks happen. In a major championship or not in a major championship, anyone who plays out here in a tournament week they are going to get bad breaks. Even the winner is going to get bad breaks, but it is how you cope with it mentally and also how bad the break really is.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Sometimes the guys may complain but they actually play better, but I don't know. All I know is that you have to play well and you have got to give yourself a chance. Whether or not it is the top player in the world or it's a person that we're not familiar with, in either case, I am going to try and do my best, whether they are complaining or not.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Course management part of it, started early, understanding how to play the game better and just trying to get tougher as a competitor. Obviously he's gone through a lot competitively as well as in the military and he's tried to share the same things that he's learned and passed on -- try to pass those things onto me, those experiences and how he learned to be that way. I think that's what really has helped me.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think mom has just always been so competitive, so juiced up, and so excited, but her drive is I think more out really than my father is, outwardly. There's no doubt about it.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: She used to play. She used to be pretty good. We used to shoot a par 3 course and she used to shoot regularly 2, 3-over par, just about every time she played. She was actually a pretty good player, but once I started playing more junior golf tournaments she gave it up.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: When I first beat her? Probably when I was about 6 or 7.

Q. She quit?

TIGER WOODS: She kept playing for a little bit.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Dallas/Sacramento series. I really don't care about that series. There's other series on the west that I really care about.

Q. San Antonio/Lakers?

TIGER WOODS: What do you think? I am from L.A.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think the governing bodies are going to have to get together and somehow figure out a way not regress the game, but just limit it so that it doesn't go any further. Because the guys are going to get bigger and stronger. They are going to get taller. They are going to have more leverage; they are going to hit the ball further. It's just a fact of reality. Look at every other sport, guys are just getting more physical, and our technique out here on Tour, as a whole has gotten so much better and because of that, the guys are hitting it further, and that's only going to improve. The governing bodies are going to have to get together and figure out what is best for the game. I don't think that's regressing, in going backwards, but going to have to put some type of cap on it.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Probably for a good two weeks, maybe a little more.

Q. (Inaudible) how much does luck play in winning a major?

TIGER WOODS: A lot. You are going to have to -- I said over here to Jeff, your bad breaks are -- they are not going to have to be not that bad. You are going -- you are going to hit some bad shots and end up in some spots that are tough. You also need some spots that you can play out of. Sometimes you get such a bad break you can't even play out of them. Luck has a huge role in it. You get a marginal shot, you can end up in a bunker or end up on a green, somehow ends up on the green you make the putt for birdie and you move on, it's like a two-shot swing. Things like that do happen and seem to happen more for the guys who are coming down the stretch on the back nine.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: A lot of young guys are playing well, whether it's Charles Howell, Sergio, or Matt, there's so many good players now, David Gossett, is a good player, Adam Scott, so many good young players, it's great for the game. Another generation of players. I just saw another young Spanish kid over there in Spain playing really well, finished T.-4, and the game is-- kids are just getting better earlier. Technique has gotten better. Now there's videotape where you can change your swing and see your swing and change it immediately. Guys are just getting better and this generation of players are going to have quite a bit big impact on the game.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think because of the tragedy that happened I think we just want to play it the way it was, and not add any team members even though they do deserve to be on the team because they are obviously playing the best, but I think everyone who reflects over that tragedy will understand this is probably the best thing to do.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, some guys aren't playing too well, but then again, that's the way it is and we didn't ask for September 11 to happen either.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Pretty much anything and everything. No, we just go out there and we just play, whatever it is, whatever we decide to play that day.

Q. (Inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Be honest with you, it's anyone who is playing well. It's not whether they are short, whether they hit it long, you just have to play well. Each and every major championship I think if you look at the guys who finished in the Top-10 you are not going to say that, God, how did he make the cut as bad as he hit it. I don't think you have written any articles like that. That's because that's what major Championships are all about, you have to play well.

Q. Finally get to Bethpage and get around 18 holes and sitting around having a beer or whatever, what would you really like to see at Bethpage that you think would benefit you the most?

TIGER WOODS: My golf balls going in the fairway on the green in the holes faster than anyone else in that field. That's what I would like to see.

End of FastScripts....

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