home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 20, 2002

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Okay. We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods, defending champion of the THE PLAYERS Championship.

Tiger, thanks for coming in and spending a few minutes with us. If you could, talk a little bit about your first victory of the season last week, as well as your expectations this week.

TIGER WOODS: Well, last week was a tough week, with the conditions the way they were. I just basically hung in there and gave myself a chance to win on the back nine and didn't really make any mistakes; I made all pars and three birdies. I just kind of hung in there and was able to squeak out a win there.

But I'm looking forward to this week. The golf course is a lot softer than I thought it would be, but with the wind blowing today, it should dry up. And the forecast for the weekend, it's going to be quite a test this week.


Q. Of the Masters, U.S. Open, British, PGA or this one, which is the hardest to win and why?

TIGER WOODS: The hardest to win, U.S. Open.

Q. Why?

TIGER WOODS: Conditions are so much more severe.

Q. Course conditions?

TIGER WOODS: The narrowness of the fairways, the high rough, the greens are always firm, unless they get rain that week. If they have the right conditions, it's always going to be the most difficult to win.

They are all different. British Open, you may have to be mentally tested for creativity and the wind howling. The U.S. Open, the conditions, just the course setup could just get you, and the Masters, the way the greens are, your feel and your touch.

Q. Where do you rank this in degree of difficulty?

TIGER WOODS: It all depends on how it is set up. If it's dry and firm like it was in '99 when David won, that year, I shot -- I think I shot 150 on the weekend and I moved up. (Laughter.)

If it's hard and fast, this golf course can be one of the toughest we play in all year.

Q. You don't sound that optimistic about that happening?

TIGER WOODS: Not this year. I'm stopping 2-irons on these greens right now, and that's not how it is usually played.

But they are protecting it for this weekend. The weather is supposed to change and get a lot drier and a lot cooler.

Q. Can you talk about watching this golf course evolve over the years that you've been playing it? Has it gotten to be a better golf course over the years?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't play when it first -- when they first came over here. But I've heard stories of it. (Laughs).

They have done a heck of a job in getting it to where it is now. They've cleaned up a lot of the holes, so they are much more fair and it's become a lot more fun to play, from what the players told me of how it used to be.

I know it has played differently since -- when I first came here in '94, I played the U.S. Amateur. I played here between No. 1 and No. 2. You could not see No. 2. It was nothing but shrubbery and palmetto bushes. Now that is all cleaned up and now a shot pulled on 1 or 2 can run pretty far in the trees. I think it's a lot more fair this way.

Q. When you finally did win this one last year, how did it rate for you in your career achievements, knowing the strength of the field and how you finally got over on it last year?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was a tough win because, obviously, Jerry playing really well and Vijay making that run at the end, especially with that great shot he had on 16 for eagle; it was certainly a tough win. It definitely ranks up there with my major championships.

Q. Butch was talking to a couple of us at Bay Hill last week and he brought up that issue of you using last week and this week to sort of tune for Augusta, and sort of shaping shots and things out there for the way Augusta is shaped. Now, are you doing -- is most of this during practice rounds? Are you using some shots under live fire that maybe might not be exactly conducive to the shape of a hole here for down the road? Is it an exaggeration?

TIGER WOODS: I think it might be a little bit of an exaggeration. You're out there playing, you're just trying to play the best shot you possibly can at that time. When I'm out there on the range, that's a different story. When I'm out there practicing, which practice is, I do most of my work usually away from tournament sites, anyway, where I can get away and just have peace and quiet and work on things I'm going to work on.

But this golf course, this practice facility is perfect for Augusta, in the back, the chipping. You can hit a lot of the shots you're going to face on Augusta if you miss greens here. So from that aspect, yes, I do practice for Augusta out here with my pitching.

Q. But not so much under live fire?


Q. If I may, you've got such a record on so many courses, is there a different attitude that you, all of a sudden, walk on to Bay Hill with, or Memorial with, or NEC with, or Firestone? Is it just a different attitude or do you just feel like, "I own this course"?

TIGER WOODS: You don't really feel that way, but any time you win on a golf course, you're going to have that confidence when you go back; that you've done it before. And if I've done it before, I can do it again. That's kind of the sense that I have.

Even if I'm playing poorly going into an event, I know that I can play this golf course well because I've done it in the past. All I need to do is just relax and play, and that's kind of how I just kind of go about it.

Q. Why do you think no one has been able to defend their title here, and is that an added challenge that you like?

TIGER WOODS: I think, one, it's a very difficult golf course, because a lot of different things can happen.

There's so much trouble out there, that if you're not hitting the ball precise, you're not going to have a chance to contend on the back nine come Sunday.

This golf course puts such a premium on ball-striking that, you know, if you're just a little bit off, if you're missing slopes by, you know, three or four feet, that's a big difference in some of these slopes from the putts you're going to have. One is an easy birdie putt; another one, you're just hoping to get down in two.

Q. A lot of attention is being paid to public courses this year like Bethpage. Can you talk about what role public golf played in your development as a young player?

TIGER WOODS: Well, that's all I played. For me, it was really cool playing southern California golf tournaments when you get to play in country clubs, because i had never belonged to a country club growing up. I've always played public courses. I grew up on a military base, playing military courses and I grew up on a par-3 course, so those are courses I played on.

I thought it was really neat to see a private course, where, you know, the tees were more manicured, the greens were faster. It was neat for me. I think it's neat for us as tour players to go back and play these public golf courses. That's how most of -- just about every one of us started playing, that's how we played.

Q. What were some of the characteristics of those courses, like mats instead of grass tee areas?

TIGER WOODS: Definitely. I had to wait in line numerous times just to be able to hit off grass and usually it's just dirt; it wasn't really grass. So it was a great experience growing up that way, because certainly when you get to this level, you appreciate it a lot more.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the drama of 17 here, and the nerves that come into play, particularly during the weekend?

TIGER WOODS: When you play on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's a pretty easy hole, a little flip 9-iron, no big deal. You get out there in the tournament, all of a sudden there's a pin location that's tucked in the corner or over a slope, and the green seems to shrink up a little bit. You know you've got to step up there and be committed. The hardest thing about that hole is that you need to be committed on the shot and you know you can't really hit a poor shot and get away with it.

When it's really difficult is when the wind is blowing down that corner and swirling a little bit, that's when it plays extremely difficult. I've hit as much as a little chip 6-iron on that hole and I've hit as little as a wedge. It depends on how the wind was blowing.

Q. Do you like that as a golf hole and do you like where it is in the lineup of holes? Do you like it so close to the finish?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because there's so much drama there on 16 and 17, where you can make -- if you go,3,2 there on Saturday or Sunday, you're moving up on that board. (Smiles). It's proven in the past, I've watched a highlight package last night on what Freddie did. He made a 3 on 16 and a 2 on 17 and next thing you know, he's coasting going down 18 for his second PLAYERS Championship.

There's so much drama there and everyone can see it, too, which is really neat, especially as a player, you can see what the other person is doing in front or behind you and you can try and dictate your play based upon that.

Q. How much luck is involved when the wind is --?

TIGER WOODS: There's a lot, because you can hit a good shot and get a gust of wind and look like you hit a terrible golf shot.

Q. I've talked to several players this week who at one time were the No. 1 player in the world. What does it mean to you to hold that spot?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it means that I've played well, and I've been very consistent at a high level. In order to be No. 1 in the world, you're going to have to win golf tournaments, and that's something that I've been able to do so far and hopefully I will continue to do.

Q. It's not going to happen for awhile, but if you would ever fall out of the top spot, would that be a goal that you would want to get back?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because obviously if I've fallen off the No. 1 spot, then obviously I have not played to my liking or to my expectation level, and that's what I pride myself on, going out and playing to my level of play. That's what I try and do.

Q. Can you go back. On the West Coast, where you didn't score real well or didn't finish real well, was that to your liking? I know you're sort of priming yourself for the next month, particularly Augusta, but when you're playing out there and you're not playing maybe the way we expect you to play, how do you feel about that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was showing signs of progression, and that's what I kept focusing on and when I was asked the question, you know, "How are you playing, " I would say, "I'm getting better."

Things were starting to come along. They were starting to fall into place, which is nice to see. And April is coming up; obviously late March for THE PLAYERS Championship is here now, and that's where you want your game kind of headed towards.

I'm very pleased at the progress I was making on the West Coast. The only missing link was to get on smoother greens to get rewarded for good putts.

Q. Was it too early, like say spring training in baseball where you have to go to October, where here if you have this long season to really get your game going in January or February, it would not be there in July or June and July?

TIGER WOODS: You know, you would like to say that's sometimes the case, but you know what, the game is very fickle. You can have it one week and lose it the next week and all of the sudden you get it right back.

I've always tried to get my game ready for the four majors, and that's what I try and do. Along the way, hopefully I can win a few tournaments along the way.

Q. Do you have a different mindset going in when, all of a sudden, the calendar hits March? Do you approach it differently?

TIGER WOODS: I just look at the things I'm working on, and the thing I want to progress to. Those are the things I work on. They change from day-to-day. I'm not shaping the ball correctly from right to left; maybe I'll work on that. I'm not hitting my low fades correctly the next day; so I'll go work on that. So everything evolves, but you want the game coming together where you're hitting the ball well and putting well and chipping well and everything coming together for these four tournaments.

Q. Have you gleaned things from -- I know you always talked about Jack and the way he focused on majors, which is the way you operate -- have you gleaned things from Jack in terms of how he prepared for those major periods of the year?

TIGER WOODS: No. We do it differently. From what I've been told and from what I've read and being able to talk to Jack about how he did it, he would go to the major championships and decide to play 36 holes or even 72 holes prior to the week of the tournament and I would never do something like that. That's just too much, for me. For him, that's what he needed to do to feel comfortable on the golf course, so when he got there, he would not have to do much. I just want to get a look at and get a feel for how it's playing visually. That week of the tournament, that's when you dial in and get your feel for how the golf course is playing this week.

Q. Whenever you finish a round, it's always a pretty crazy scene for autographs. What are your thoughts on autographs and how do you approach that situation, where some of them are going to be trying to sell them and some of them are just little kids, how do you approach that?

TIGER WOODS: It's frustrating because a lot of the kids now are being paid to go out and collect autographs and then they give it to a collector and they will go mat it, frame it and sell it. That, to me is frustrating because that's not why we sign autographs. It's a personal gesture between me and that person, and I would hope they would value that, that gesture. But times have changed and that's not the case anymore. It's become a business and it's just unfortunate to see kids out there doing it that way.

But they don't know any better, that's the thing. And the thing that I don't like when I'm out there signing autographs is when a parent pushes their child to go out there and do something, or run under the ropes and go get this autograph; that teaches them to break rules. In order to get what you want, you've to break rules and that's not the lesson we want to teach kids. I won't sign an autograph unless they say please. If I didn't say please around my mom, I would be smacked. I always said "yes, sir", "yes, ma'am," and that's the way it was. Kids have changed nowadays and it's not necessarily their code of conduct.

Q. I have a question that I hope you won't think is ridiculous -- thank you, ma'am. But anyway, I have noticed in like the last six months, you'll hit a shot, and that baby will just take off and go like crazy and you have this questionable look on your face and you look at the club and you look at Steve, and then you wonder what happened. Are you possibly getting too strong or hitting it too solid at times?

TIGER WOODS: Well, there are times when that usually happens is I wasn't swinging the club properly and I was delofting it but I could not feel it. It was not necessarily that my training has gone onto a point where I'm hitting the ball a lit further; that's not the case. When I get the club coming from just slightly the wrong position, I squeeze it just a little and I can hit the ball another five yards further and that kind of surprises me because I thought I made a swing that should be pin-high or just short of pin-high and next thing I know it's flying over the hole and bouncing over the green. That is a little disconcerting.

If I work on it, and I have, the realization was my swing was just a little off.

Q. Back to the chronology of this year and last year in comparison, even though you are a California native, are these courses more to your liking than the courses you play earlier in the year? I know Pebble is I favorite.

TIGER WOODS: I love playing the West Coast. That's where I grew up and I played all those golf courses as a kid or in college. That's just where I'm from.

When you play out there, you know you're going to deal with usually adverse conditions; it's going to be cool, windy, the greens are not going to be as smooth as they are here. The growing condition are a little better at this time of year. That's just the way it is. I love playing the West Coast, don't get me wrong, I do love it. All of my friends and family are out there. So it's neat for me to go back home and play there.

But also, I love playing in the warm conditions out here and smoother greens, too.

Q. You were under a great deal of pressure at this point last year as we headed into the Masters and even mentioned later that it was -- could have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it four in a row. What's different about it this year? How is that situation different for you this year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think from the time I won PGA last year, or two years ago, I was asked at every tournament, you know, "What are your thoughts going into Augusta"?

Every week, week after week I played, that was the question and that was kind of the theme. Especially once I got to Florida. So it was a lot different than it is now. I guess from the standpoint I don't have to deal with that question. I don't have to deal with people asking me, "How do you feel going into the Masters completing the Slam"?

I'm just going out there trying to win a tournament now which is good.

Q. How does two weeks between this tournament and the Masters affect your preparation for the Masters?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't want to take two weeks off, but I'm going to. I don't have play the week before the Masters. I can't play Houston next week because my best friend I've known since I was in first grade, and I think he was in second grade, he's getting married on Saturday; so I've got to go to that. That's very important to me and very important to him.

Q. Last year after winning Bay Hill you come here and win and then you win at Augusta and a lot of the guys are acutely aware of that; Sergio even mentioned it yesterday. Is your game in the same shape as it was last year when you were able to come here and able to win at Augusta? Do you have sort of a dejavu feeling about that?

TIGER WOODS: I've progressed -- my game has progressed very similar to what it did last year. I'm starting to hit the ball a little bit more clean and crisp. I'm putting well again. And just the overall feeling that everything is starting to come together, which is nice. It's nice to feel, because I've worked pretty hard to get to this point. It's nice to see that hard work come together.

This past weekend I didn't really hit the ball that great, but I scored. I got it around. Sometimes that's what you've got to do.

Q. Do you look at Bay Hill and then if you play well now, it's the springboard to not only Augusta, but your entire year?

TIGER WOODS: You don't look at it that way. For me I just look at getting ready for the first major of the year and I look at getting ready for the second one and so forth and so on.

Q. Shot-making under pressure is what the game is all about, but it seems like decision-makes under pressure is just as important. Is that part of your game that has gotten better since you've been out here? And talk about how important that is.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it has certainly gotten better. But I think what's misleading is that people think I'm playing smarter, but I'm not necessarily playing that much smarter. Actually I'm a better player, so it looks like I'm playing smarter. My shots are not as bad. I have always tried to putt the ball in the correct spot, but I just couldn't. Now, unless I'm swinging poorly, I know I can miss in a certain direction and I can get it over here, and I know where I can play. Before. I had a two-way miss and I didn't know what was coming from.

Q. Before at the British Open, U.S. Open, you would try for the hero shot more often than you seem to now. Do you think that's betting smarter about course management?

TIGER WOODS: I would try it because I didn't -- I didn't feel comfortable with, you know, pitching out, because my wedge game was not very good. My swing plane and my wedges was not shallow enough, not arced off where I can control my distances and control the spin. So, what am I better at, getting the ball closer to the green, I know I can hit a flop shot; so let me get it down there. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

It's nice to have my game sound so now I have more options. I think that's what people see now. It may look like I'm playing smarter, but I just have more options now because my game is better.

Q. When you do face a risky shot, what goes through your process, to weigh the pain versus the gain?

TIGER WOODS: You weigh where you are in the tournament, first round, second round, third round, the circumstances; if you try it and do miss it, where are you going to miss it at and can you get up-and-down. That's kind of your thought process.

Let's say if I blow this shot, it's going to put me out of the tournament. So do you try it; and sometimes you don't.

Q. How much do you consider if you're not leading who you're trying to catch up to and the likelihood of that person making mistakes?

TIGER WOODS: Well, a lot of times if you're playing a person who has not been there before, they may make one mistake coming down the stretch.

Q. And you'll factor that in?

TIGER WOODS: A lot of times you factor in the winning score, what that will be going into the back nine or going into the start of the final round, what you think the final score might be.

For instance, at Pebble Beach when I caught Matt from behind, I knew if I could just post that number, he has not won, and I was just trying to getting in the clubhouse with whatever number, I think it was 15. If I could somehow post that number and make him have to work coming in and he has not been there before and anything can happen. That's kind of how you go about it. That's kind of the thought process when you're out there playing.

Q. Did you know that last Sunday was the 100th anniversary of Bobby Jones -- what did it mean to you? What do you think about him?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think he's obviously one of the greatest players of all time. Certainly his record, retiring with 28, and accomplishing what he's been able to accomplish is absolutely amazing.

At his day and age -- at his day, he was by far the best player; it wasn't even close. And the way he conducted himself, a true gentleman, I think was even more impressive.

Q. Do you aspire to be like him?

TIGER WOODS: No, I don't.

Q. You don't want to retire at 28?

TIGER WOODS: No, I don't want to retire, not yet. (Laughter.)

Q. You've had tournaments where you obviously have not played very good, have not driven well or putted well or scored well. Have you ever had tournaments where you didn't think well? Have you ever lost the tournament because of a decision?

TIGER WOODS: A bad decision?

Q. Yeah. Besides Bighorn. (Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: I'm going to get you for that one. (Laughter.)

I think probably the only recent past, I think my decision at Dubai on the 18th hole, the tee shot where I hit the wrong club off the tee. I don't sweep my driver that much from right-to-left, and under those conditions, wind is coming off the left and I tried to hit a big banana ball, big sweeping hook and I didn't hit it, slight draw, and it carried into the bushes. A smarter play, it crossed my mind, to hit 3-wood, just to get it in play. I didn't trust my instincts there and it cost me a chance to win on the last hole.

Q. With your record of winning after leading after three rounds, when is the first time you felt like you choked on the golf course?

TIGER WOODS: I've choked a lot of times, actually. I made some poor swings down the stretch where pressure has affected me, yeah. But that's just part of playing the game. Part of playing sports.

Q. Do you feel like you choked and lost a tournament in when is the last time?

TIGER WOODS: I really don't know, honestly.

Q. The tournament director said yesterday that they have increased the police presence here by 30 percent. Do you wonder sometimes where the game is going, when you see police officers all about the course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we've done it not only in our sport, but I think in all sports, have taken more of a precautionary act and try to provide an environment that is more fan-friendly and player-friendly and try to make everyone feel comfortable out there once you are on the premises.

Q. You walked around as defending champion the week of a tournament -- compare to doing that here?

TIGER WOODS: You know when I came here, I didn't really feel like I was defending because I've always felt that when you've won the tournament the previous year, you're only defending champion for 51 weeks. Once this week starts, it's up for grabs for anyone on the feel.

Q. Have you picked out anybody for a Monday battle? Last couple of years it's gone that extra day.

TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to finish one on Sunday, though.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297