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May 9, 2001

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: We will, Tiger, thank you so much for spending some time with us this afternoon. I know you've been busy since winning the Masters, but maybe a couple thoughts about how that has sunk in, after you got to go home and relax a little bit, and secondly, I want to remind everybody, obviously we have a larger room than we are usually using. If you can, raise your hand and speak as loudly as possible so we can hear your questions.

TIGER WOODS: Well, after I won, I didn't really celebrate that night. I went home and packed up my bags and wasn't feeling too good that day. Went back to Florida and stayed in bed for about four days. Had 102 fever; had the flu pretty good, so I didn't really celebrate anything. But I've been busy. I've done two clinics and had my concert out in Vegas, so everything is going well with the Foundation. Been practicing a little bit here and there. Pretty excited about getting here and teeing up again.

Q. Since winning the tournament back in '97, the overall purse here has really skyrocketed by some $3 million or so, attendance is way up, do you feel responsible for improving the economics of not only this tournament, but all the way through on the PGA TOUR? Do you feel responsibility for that?

TIGER WOODS: I think I've helped in that, yes, especially in concession sales, for the beverages of their choice out here. (Smiles). But obviously, the tournament has been great. I've enjoyed coming here, and if I can just make this tournament a little bit better, so be it. But it's been fantastic coming here over the years, even when I came here as an amateur.

Q. Mr. Nelson told me yesterday that every time you do something unique or unusual, he likes to correspond. What does that mean to you, having that correspondence with him?

TIGER WOODS: To have a gentlemen like that, to accomplish what he's accomplished in his career think enough of just to sit down and take the time out to right a little note to you, that's very special. I've always admired Byron. Always looked up to him. And to get notes like that, it's very special. You don't find that in too many sports, and in this sport, it's just commonplace to do that.

Q. How much golf have you played since the Masters, and how do you feel coming into this event, competitive-wise?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't played hardly at all. I've just been kind of laying low, practicing a little bit here and there, but I haven't really done much.

Q. You won the Masters and the Nelson in '97. Do you look for a nice repeat this year?

TIGER WOODS: That would be nice. That would be really nice if I could do that. I got off to a good start in '97. I think I shot back-to-back 64s, I believe, starting out the week. If I get off to a good start tomorrow at Cottonwood Valley, obviously with the early-morning time, I'm going to have to post a good round tomorrow.

Q. For the Pro-Am round, what kind of crowd did you sense, compared to what it was like in '97?

TIGER WOODS: It wasn't even close to'97. '97, I think I was like the first group off in the afternoon, so there was a lot more time for people to come out. This morning at 7:00 A.M., not too many get up that early. I sure don't.

Q. How did you do?

TIGER WOODS: I did all right. I skanked a couple here and there.

Q. What about the level of Tiger Mania? Obviously it was different in '97. Now that you've come off this sweep of the majors has it reached a level that it is going to level off or can it get higher or what do you expect?

TIGER WOODS: I've said this before. I don't think you can ever eclipse what it was in '97, just because I was so new to the golfing scene. I had just turned pro, not even a year, like eight months, and I had accomplished a little bit within those eight months. So I think the newness factor just made it that much more intense. I've been around for like five years now. It's just a little bit different. I think people have seen me. I've played here enough times now; it's not my first time here as a pro, like it was in '97. So I think that has a lot to do with it. And do I ever think it will get like it did in '97? I don't think so. I don't think it can ever eclipse what it was then, just because it was -- I accomplished a lot, quickly, and it just kind of built.

Q. Can you describe your friendship with Byron a little more, and also, talk about whether you think your impact of the game impacts some of that he has had?

TIGER WOODS: My friendship with Mr. Nelson has obviously been very special to me, to have him take the time out to either right me a note or pull me aside and we just talk. I remember when he pulled me aside over at Bel Aire and we had a nice conversation there about my future within the game and what he thought about my golf swing, which is pretty neat. He didn't have to do that. But he took the time out to do that, that was very special. That meant a lot to me. Our impact on the game of golf, I think his impact was probably a little bit more impactful than mine, because I think the game of golf was just getting started. The Tour was just growing. What he accomplished, you know, after the world wars, to get the game started again, because obviously, it was, it, really wasn't that popular then, and he took it from a game that was predominantly for amateurs, and the pros were not really looked upon as highly as they are now. He took that and changed that. He was very influential in getting the professional status to where it is at today, where it is recognizable.

Q. How old were you when you first met him and what did you think -- (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I was 15, I think. I was a freshman in high school. I was there performing a clinic with Jack Nicklaus, and Byron pulled me aside and liked what I -- liked how I went about my game. He'd been reading news clippings, he said, for a while, keeping up on my performance. He says, "Just say the track. Keep doing what you're doing, because obviously what you're doing is right."

Q. When you are as big a sports fan as you are and what you have just accomplished, called by many not just the great accomplishment in this sport, but all sports, is it tough to digest that you are responsible for that?

TIGER WOODS: It really is, because I'm too close to the situation, and also too close to the moment that it transpired; it has only been a month. It is hard for me to get a clear perspective on what actually happened. I'll watch the tapes. Yeah, it's great that I was able to squeak it out at the end. But to get a complete understanding of it, I don't think it will happen for a while. I understand from a historical point of view, from within our sport, but I wasn't around for a lot of those things that happened in other sports. I've only been alive for 25 years. A lot has transpired for before me.

Q. How much is your swing streak on your mind?

TIGER WOODS: What win streak? (Laughs). Yeah, I won three in a row, I think it is. Big deal.

Q. No big deal?

TIGER WOODS: This is a new week. I need to start off tomorrow and then get off to a good start and hopefully I can get myself in contention to win.

Q. With your win streak that's no big deal, is your mindset gearing towards getting your game read for Tulsa, as opposed to winning here?

TIGER WOODS: The ultimate goal is getting ready for that, and having your game peak for that and hopefully I can not embarrass myself and break 90 a couple days and get to the weekend. But I'm just going to go out there with the intent just like I always do, go out there and try and get myself in position to win and try and win this thing. I feel like my game is pretty solid for the time off that I took, and hopefully, it will come together and I can get it going again and get myself where I can peak at the U.S. Open.

Q. Tiger, are there certain shots that you're going to play here that you'll be thinking about Southern Hills, too, because of similar topography or something like that, certain shots you'll be working on?

TIGER WOODS: I may work it on the practice tee, but I don't work on the golf course, not while I'm playing.

Q. Talking about what you've brought to the game, what Annika has brought to the LPGA TOUR, she challenged you to a match last week, what do you think about the reaction, what she has brought to the LPGA?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's been -- it was Annika for a while, and then it Karrie and now it's Annika again. It's just been fun watching how she performed; and more importantly, how she's handled it and the class she has handled it with. That, to me, is indicative to what kind of person she really is. To have that kind of humbleness when she's shooting 59s and come-from-behind victories and things she's been doing. It's just been fun to watch as a spectator of the sport.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, after I pretty much won, that's what I was doing.

Q. Can you talk about you and Mark were supposed to play Southern Hills yesterday, that was your original plan?

TIGER WOODS: That was our plan, until obviously what transpired.

Q. Will you try to get back there and play?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. If we have time, then great, but right now, that's not on our minds. What happened this past week was obviously very tough, and Southern Hills can wait.

Q. Looking ahead on this two-week swing on the Tour, what would it take to get you to come back to the Colonial next week and the years after that to Fort Worth?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. The only time I've played there, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being there and I had a chance to win on Sunday. Just didn't do it. But I had a lot of fun playing the golf course. I enjoyed the fans and their support, but, you know, I also enjoy playing globally, too.

Q. When you go to major championships, do you pay very much or any attention to who is playing well at the time or is your focus solely on your game?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I can't really control what other players do. I need to go out there and execute my golf shots the way I know I can to get myself in contention. When you're playing a major championship, that's -- whether you are hot or not, it's irrelevant. You just need to go out there and play, because, obviously, there's different emotions. The golf course is set up completely different than what we play on TOUR week after week. Your mindset is going to be a little bit different.

Q. Heading into last summer, the setting for the U.S. Open, British Open, seemed to be ripe to do basically what you did. With a couple of weeks off after the Masters, is your outlook any different heading into the summer as to what you want to accomplish?

TIGER WOODS: Still the same. No, it has not changed from last year, or any year, quite frankly.

Q. Sunday at Augusta, Phil said he could not continue to make the mistakes that he did during that round whenever you are in the field. How much of an advantage does that give you, knowing that other players, including the guy that is right behind you, are thinking that way?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think any time you play any big tournament, you can't afford to make mistakes, just because it's so much more difficult to make birdies and make up those strokes. You know, par is a wonderful score, especially at Southern Hills. Par is a wonderful score there. When you go out there and you play, you just -- when you're playing in major championships, you know you can't afford to make a whole lot of mistakes. You know, Phil made his share at Augusta, but he also made a lot of birdies; broke the birdie record. But playing majors, you just have to plod along and grind it out. It's a four-day, 72-hole-long marathon, really.

Q. Back in 1992 when you were 16, the television station I worked for did an interview with you, and you were standing out by the statue of Byron Nelson and he asked you: "What does all of this tradition mean to you?" And your answer was: "Really nothing. I'm really looking for this week and trying to do this week." Can you talk about how your attitude has changed from that? And also you said you didn't really like the media at the time. How has your attitude changed?

TIGER WOODS: My attitude about tradition has obviously -- really hasn't changed. It's still the same. I just didn't want to talk. You guys got me at a bad time. (Laughs). I do remember doing that interview, too. I was coming off the day and I just didn't want to talk that day. Obviously, I didn't. But my attitude towards the media has changed a little bit. I have gotten to know a lot of people within the media, especially the guys who travel from week to week; I see them every time I play. I understand my responsibilities a little bit better than back when I was an amateur. Back when I was an amateur, I was not the person that -- I didn't think the media should be talking to me. There are so many guys that were so much better than I was at the time that -- go back to them; those are the guys who deserve it. Those are one of the reasons why I think I was a little more distant from the media, is I didn't think I deserved it. I had not really earned my right to have the media ask me questions or have the attention I was getting because I really haven't accomplished anything at this level. At the Junior Golf level and Amateur Golf level, that's fine, ask me questions at those tournaments, but not at a professional event, because I have not really performed like the guys have out here week-in and week-out.

Q. Having a month since winning Augusta, which victory there do you feel gave you the most inner satisfaction, the first or the second, and also which one you think was more difficult?

TIGER WOODS: More difficult, obviously this one, coming down the stretch with Phil and David. With the battles we had, the whole day, really, with David making a move early and I had to answer with some big putts on 7, 8, 9 and 10. That was a lot of fun. The tournament that I won in '97 was a little bit easier, because I was playing better. I was playing a lot better then. I was driving it a lot longer, too. I've gotten a little shorter as I've gotten older. Just kind of bunt it out there now. (Laughter.) In '97, it was a different from -- I think it was nice to be able to win a major that early in my career and accomplish that, rather than keep plugging along and have the media and the pressures mounting within me to try and accomplish that. I was fortunate enough to get it done right away, and that's a big deal. I don't think I would want to just keep plugging along, major after major, without a title, because the pressure you put upon yourself is pretty great, and then it mounts when you are not winning. I was able to did it right away, my first major as a professional. So I think that relieved a lot of stress and a lot of attention -- tension.

Q. Building on that, do you feel that gives you an advantage now maybe because there are other guys who are in that category now, some of the top players haven't won, and maybe that pressure is building on them; that's not something that you have to deal with. Is that an advantage for you?

TIGER WOODS: I think it is an advantage from two perspectives. One being that I've already won mine and I've gotten that out of the way, so I don't have to answer those questions day-in and day-out when, obviously, you guys want to know why. And the second is I understand how to win those championships. I think that's probably an even bigger deal, because once you understand what it takes coming down the stretch, how to control your emotions, how to control your game, your mind, your focus and your outlook. I think that is only going to serve you down the road when you've encountered those situations again. And I've gone through those and I've come out on top because I've had a chance to reflect and say, you know, "I've done this before, why can't I do it now."

Q. We saw a picture in Sports Illustrated of you all wired up in black making a video game, I guess. Describe what you had to do and how it felt?

TIGER WOODS: It felt very tight, I'll tell you that, the Spandex, tight suit, body suit I had to wear, motion captures for EA Sports. And all of those dots you saw all over me, that's basically for the lasers, they can get my skeletal imprint, my exact movements, which is kind of neat. Because I may make a swing, and five minutes later, it's on the computer and they have already got a skeletal frame of my golf swing, and I kind of look a look at it saying, "Well, I didn't like that position, let's do it again." So I can kind of fix is, so it looks good.

Q. You mentioned Annika's 59, and Stankowski made a run at that number last week. The other individual scoring barrier is no one has shot lower than 63 in a major yet. Do you feel like one of those two is going to go do you know sooner and for you personally when you are playing well, which is more attainable of those two numbers, 58 or 62?

TIGER WOODS: Probably the 62, because you don't really have to go quite as low. But it all depends, I think, on the par you play in a major championship. If you play a par that's 70, I think it's a little bit easier, because all you have to do is shoot 8-under, rather than going out there and having to shoot 10-under par. I think on a par-70, I think it can be done, but again, either way, you've got to play some great golf. You've really got to drive your ball, hit your irons sharp and make everything you look at it. It's not easy, either way. I've shot 59 before, and it felt easy, but in hindsight, it wasn't easy, because I made absolutely everything I looked at.

Q. Based on how you hit the ball today, what do you think needs the most attention with your game between now and the time you arrive in Southern Hills?

TIGER WOODS: I think you'll have to ask me after a couple tournaments.

Q. Too early?

TIGER WOODS: I've taken a month off. I've hit a lot of golf balls. Yeah, I can hit a golf ball great on the range. I can rake another one and hit that good, too. But to hit one in competition I think is a much better barometer. After a couple tournaments, I'll have better feel for what I need to work on and what I need to improve on heading into Southern Hills.

Q. Based on what you did last year at Pebble, do you anticipate the USGA taking some extra measures to try to --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they already have.

Q. What have you heard?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think either the fifth or sixth hole, the par 5, dogleg-left down the hill, the fifth, they moved that tee back. It's almost 650 now or whatever it is, 620. And they moved the tee back on 18 across the -- across the creek on the right. So now it is more of a dogleg. Brought all the fairways in and you get four- or five-inch Bermuda rough, man, it's not going to be easy.

Q. Mr. Nelson gave us 100 reasons why this field is so strong. He left out himself. How much of it in your mind is him?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's all him, quite frankly, to have that type of quality individual associated with an event, guys just gravitate to that. This is a perfect example of that. Guys keep playing here because of his association with the tournament.

Q. Since winning Masters for your fourth major, what's the most meaningful phone call or letter or fax or e-mail that you've received from somebody, and what are a couple of the most interesting things that have happened to you since Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: I've had a lot of interesting things happen, not just after Augusta. Probably the most meaningful phone call I've received was probably from my dad.

Q. What did he say?

TIGER WOODS: We just talked for a while and said how proud he was of me. Obviously, he didn't go out there and watch; he wasn't in good enough condition to go out there and watch. But, you know, we talked for about an hour or so. Maybe a little more than that. It was just really neat to talk to my dad like that. We talked about a whole bunch of different subjects, but we predominantly talked about Augusta and what it meant for me to have him there, him watching and him there just in support. It just meant a lot to me. My mom and I talk all the time, so I talked to her the next day and she just sold me, "Go get some chicken soup."

Q. Getting back to the U.S. Open, you the last time you played competitively at Southern Hills was in the fall, which is much different. How much different do you have to prepare for June Southern Hills? Is it important for you to get on that course before then?

TIGER WOODS: If I'm able to get there, great. If I'm not, then so be it. I know the layout. I know how the holes shape. I think seeing it in the summer with it dry and fast, it's going to be a lot harder than how we played it. We played it when it was soft. We had a rain storm or a front come through there Wednesday of the Pro-Am; it was like 28 degrees, it was actually freezing. That year was a tough year for me individually, especially that week, with my father. But I think with the conditions being dry and fast, you're going to have to shape your ball more off the tees because with the slope and the pitch in the fairways, you're going to have to try to keep the ball in the fairway. And probably hit more 2-irons and 3-woods off the tees at the corner of the doglegs, versus back when I played in '96, when you could hit driver down there and you know it's just going to plug.

Q. Did you feel it was tougher for you to play the course because of your emotional state at that time?

TIGER WOODS: Quite frankly, that tournament was not important to me at all, with what happened to my dad that night, it was just -- it wasn't important, golf. It puts things in perspective real quick for you and that was one of those things.

Q. I asked Mr. Nelson this and I'd like to ask you the same question. Which is more -- (inaudible) his 11 consecutive wins or your consecutive majors?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. That's a tough question. For me, I just had to peak four times. He did it 11 consecutive times. That, to me is pretty impressive. I did mine in major championships. He only won one that year because that was the only major they held that year. He had the Slam, I guess in, one year; the only tournament they played. It probably would be unfair for me to answer that question because both of them are unique in different ways. Obviously, his is for consistency and mine is just for peaking at the right time.

Q. One last thought on Augusta. When you won it, it was the last piece of that particular puzzle, winning four in a row. Moving forward, I assume your mentality is not going to change much, but was there any sense at all that day, that week, that win was sort of like last page of a chapter, and now you move on to the next stage of your life and try to build on that chapter?

TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. Quite frankly, Scott, I don't really look at it that way, just because I just want to have my game right for the majors. And I've been very fortunate to have my game come together at the right times, and I've got some good breaks, too, along the way. But it was a nice way to, I guess, to end that chapter of my life, to win four in a row. But it's hard to say that I'm ending it, because I'm just five years into my career. In golfing terms, I'm just getting started. I'm still in my infancy stages. So I really don't look at it the fact that it's an end, just because of the fact that I have so many years or possible years that I can play at a high level. When I'm older and look back in hindsight, that may be the end or that may be the beginning. But when I'm right here in it right now, I just like where I'm at right now.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, we appreciate it.

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