August 23, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: Well, we have with us the 1999 World Golf Championships NEC Invitational champion and the champion from last week, as well. Tiger, maybe just take us through the mental process of what you go through with a victory last week, and then coming in and competing against a world-class field like this.
TIGER WOODS: Well, last week was a very special week. I had a chance to play with Jack the first few days, obviously, and went on to win. Played a great nine holes on Sunday afternoon with Bob. And then, you know, making a couple putts in the playoff to edge him out by one. But it was just a great week. It was a very long week. A week that I'll always remember. And then after that, went home and just kind of relaxed for a little bit, worked on a few things, and came up here today. And I'll be ready to go by tomorrow.
Q. As weeks in your career go, how would you rank last week? Was it the best or near best?
TIGER WOODS: It was one of them. Definitely one of the best. And it was such a great week, I mean, it's hard to say that my other four major championships were bad weeks, as well as my U.S. Amateur comeback. So, I've had some pretty good weeks. That one definitely ranks up there, though.
Q. You looked to be quite drained last year when you won at Medinah. Have you had any reaction to the emotion of last Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was -- just like any time you win a tournament, you have a tough time sleeping at night, because your adrenaline level is still high, still kicking. I was up that night, got home real late, and didn't get to sleep for a while. And just kind of relaxed Monday and yesterday, and I felt a lot better, a lot more energized. And I was out there working on my game.
Q. Does the publicity, the media attention, the people following you everywhere, the crowds, does that ever wear and tear on you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think more than anything, the media attention, granted, is a level that is pretty high. But then again, all of the people here, I know all of you now, and it helps out a lot. Because as the people in the media have gotten to know me and I've gotten to know them, we've all learned each other, basically, and when is the best time to talk to you guys. And you guys understand when it is the best time for me, getting ready for tournaments. It's been a mutual understanding, and it's gotten a lot better.
Q. What exactly were you working on when you got back? What did you feel needed addressing?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I said on Sunday night, my two drives in the playoff, my last two drives were wonderful 3-woods, wonderful 3-wood and driver. They were great. 50 yards right and 50 yards left. So, I had to work on a few things. And that's just going back to my same thing, my swing plane. Just trying to get that a little bit better. And I feel a lit bit more comfortable with it now.
Q. By your own admission, the putts that you hit on the first three holes on Sunday were not your best?
TIGER WOODS: The 3rd hole was a good putt, though.
Q. Misread then?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, just hung on the lip.
Q. By the end of the round, end of the day, you one-putted 11 of the last 15 holes. Did you make some kind of a mid-round adjustment?
TIGER WOODS: No, didn't have to make any adjustment. Just stepped up there and hit the putts. It's just part of playing the game. Putting, you hit good putts, they go in; you hit bad putts, they go in, too. That's just the way it goes. Sometimes you do go up there in certain days, you step up there, feel just as committed, just as good, you hit good putts and they lipout. I felt that I just needed to keep hanging in there and keep staying committed to my stroke and the line that I had intended with the speed I wanted. And, you know, from there, whatever happens, happens. Fortunate enough that it went in. I didn't make any mid-round adjustment. I just stuck with the same thing, stay committed, stay steady, release the blade, and the putts started going in.
Q. To follow up the putting question, there's obviously a difference between putting and pressure putting. And you have the ability when you get up over putts that you really have to make to get them in the hole. What is different in those situations? How do you -- does your mindset change? Are you still totally technical?
TIGER WOODS: No. I think it is just because your concentration level is a little higher that you tend to make putts. Granted, if you try and do that all the time, just physically, I don't think you can. You try and get your same concentration level on the first hole of a normal Tour event versus the last hole on a major championship. You try and have them the same all the time, but it never works out that way. I guess it's human nature. But, if you try and stick with the same things, but for some reason you do get a little bit more focused coming down the stretch in a tournament, and especially in a major.
Q. Is that will? Like the putt at Pebble at 16, the par putt when you were with Jack at 17, the putts down the stretch, is it will or is it something other than that?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think -- you'd like to say: "Let's will it in the hole," but I don't know if that's what happens. I know that under those extreme situations when you need to make a putt, your focus is so good that you get out -- you get out of the way. And you -- for some reason, if you remember back over the putts in hindsight, you say: I released the blade better than I do normally because I am not thinking about it. I am thinking about the hole and how am I going to get it there. I just put it in there. We'd like to say we try and do that all the time, but it's just impossible to do that all the time.
Q. Did you get a chance to watch the conclusion on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: I have not, no.
Q. Are you keen to do so? And will you be able to learn from it or relive the fun of it?
TIGER WOODS: Probably both. I had a lot of fun. Definitely going to try and learn something from it. I know I made a few mistakes with my swing, and I like to see what those were, exactly what happened, how far the shaft laid down. But, yeah, I would like to see it just for -- because I'm sure it will be different on TV. And going through it on TV, you get a different perspective. It looks a lot more difficult on TV than when you're in person.
Q. How difficult is it -- you've won majors and had to play soon afterwards. How difficult is it now to go from that to playing here, defending your title?
TIGER WOODS: I think it is easier because this is such a great tournament; playing a wonderful golf course with a world-class field. And it makes things a little bit easier to adjust and get your mind ready and focused to play in a tournament, especially in a golf course like this. This golf course is such a wonderful golf course that I look forward to coming back here each and every year.
Q. Did either of your swings (inaudible).
TIGER WOODS: No. I just laid the shaft down. My same flaw I've had -- I keep saying to you guys: Got stuck. Hit it straight right. Or sometimes I may chase it, try not to hit it right, and hit it dead left. Just didn't get the club down in front of me, which means that my plane going back was not right, was probably too deep, too early. And I definitely didn't have the club in the right position to get the club down in front of me.
Q. When Michael Jordan was winning his six, people loved him or hated him. When the Cowboys were winning, people loved or hated them. When Jeff Gordon was winning, people loved him or hated him. Have you reached the point in your career where people are jealous of your success, and how do you handle that?
TIGER WOODS: I think there are people who are out there who are not exactly thrilled when I play well, and that's just -- that's fine. One of the greatest lines that Fluff told me, "that you can't have everyone love you," and that's just true. There's not one politician out here that exists that everybody loves them. That's just the way it is. It's back to reality. And no matter how much you succeed or what you do in life, there are people in this world that just don't like you, whatever the reason is.
Q. Two guys that really love you and don't mind your dominance in the majors, Ernie Els and Paul Azinger -- who will now be in the PGA Grand Slam with you and Vijay Singh. Your thoughts and comments?
TIGER WOODS: Ernie has had a wonderful year this year, and he's played well. And Paul has obviously played well, too, winning in Hawaii and getting his game back together. It was great to see him do that. We're going to have a lot of fun over there. I've played it before. Ernie has played it -- in '97, Ernie beat me on the second round. Beat me pretty good, actually. And we're going to have a lot of fun over there. It is going to be -- I don't know what the pairings are going to be, whether it's the Masters versus PGA like they normally do. I don't know how they will do it. We're going to have some good matches, and we'll enjoy it.
Q. Ernie did beat you when it was stroke play, and then it changed to match play in '98. Did that move into your strength?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I enjoy match play because we never get to play it. We played it in amateur golf. We played it actually all the time in amateur golf. Most of the big events are match-play events. It's just unfortunate in this day and age it's hard to have a match-play event because of TV. I enjoyed match play. Always enjoyed it, to be able to have a one-on-one battle like that for 18 holes, for 36 holes whatever it may be. I've enjoyed that kind of competition, just because of the mere fact that in most tournaments, it takes you 3 1/2 days to get to the point where you have a match-play situation on the back nine on Sunday. It takes you a long time to get to that point. Match play, it happens right there on the first tee. Off we go. I've always enjoyed that, that kind of thrill.
Q. Last year here, there was a lot of good-natured jockeying between the players from the U.S. and European Ryder Cup team. This year -- in fact, yesterday, we had a couple of Presidents Cup players here, and there was some talk about the one-sided nature of that match, and you seem to get incentivized for those. Are you looking forward to the Presidents Cup and a reversal of fortunes from the last time?
TIGER WOODS: Hopefully, we can play a little bit better than we did down there. I know that in Australia we didn't play very well and they played wonderful. They made all the key putts at the right times, and that's what you need to do. I wasn't part of the other Presidents Cups when they were held -- was it in Virginia? I was not part of those. I watched them on TV, and we made the key putts at the right times. So it all comes down to who can make the key putt at the right time in a match. In match play, that's what it comes down to. There's a point in time in each and every match you play someone needs to step up and make a shot or hit a putt to turn a match around, and they were able to do that. I was on the green playing against -- I forgot my partner. I think it might have been Freddie. But we were playing Maru and Craig Parry, and they chipped in on the last hole to win the match. And we were right there in position to possibly halve the match, and they won it right there. That's what you need to do. You need to go and have those kind of momentum swings. One match sometimes even turns a whole week around, gets momentum going, and off they go. And that's exactly what happened with them. Hopefully, this year, we can do a little bit better job.
Q. The majors, World Golf Championships, are the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup events the kind of events you point to to try to peak for?
TIGER WOODS: No. I hope I can get on those teams. I've played well enough going into them. But I've always been a person who -- I want to win the majors. Those are the four tournaments I want to be a part of. And getting -- if I play well in those events, obviously, that will take care of myself going into those tournaments because I will qualify for them.
Q. Has there ever been a time when you're playing back-to-back weeks and you're coming off a big victory where Monday was not enough to rejuvenate you, and you were kind of dragging?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, that's why I took Tuesday off, too. I thought about coming up yesterday, but I thought I'd rather just lay on my own couch, my own remote, know where all the channels are, that kind of environment, just to relax. Last night, went over and had some tacos over at Mark's house. Just kind of chilled and relaxed and enjoyed it.
Q. More people than ever watched Sunday's finish. It seems like this has become more than a sports thing. Do you get a sense that you're bigger than the game, and how do you keep that in perspective?
TIGER WOODS: You never will become bigger than any sport you play. That's a fact of reality. If you think you are, then you have the wrong perspective. You are there to compete, play in the sport you enjoy, and more importantly, enhance it.
Q. I wonder if you are very familiar with Ben Hogan's career, if you've ever talked to Butch about him. I know Butch knew him as a young man.
TIGER WOODS: I have, yes.
Q. What are your thoughts of equaling Hogan's '53 performance?
TIGER WOODS: I guess it's pretty neat to be able to be a part of an accomplishment that a great player like that was able to accomplish. He won three majors that year, right there in a row and played well. And I've kind of done the same thing. So, it's -- it is pretty neat to be a part of that.
Q. Is there any aspect of his life that interests you?
TIGER WOODS: I've always wanted to know whether it was true legendary or like a -- you know, his ball-striking ability, was it, I guess, enhanced through time, or was he really that good.
Q. What did Butch say?
TIGER WOODS: Butch said he liked to work the ball and he was very good, but considering the equipment that they had then, he was extraordinary. Now, if he had the equipment now -- there's a lot of players he said out here now that hit the ball comparable to how Hogan hit it because we have the equipment that's so much better now. It's a joke. Shafts are so much better, the ball is so much better, the agronomy is so much better. It's hard to compare the two. Like I was talking to Jack about it, and in his prime, "Jack, how much longer were you then than you are now?" He says, "No more than about 10 yards." I mean, that's not that much considering -- if you think about it back when, how far he used to hit it compared to everybody else, and now he's 60 years old and is only 10 yards shorter. That shows how much equipment has changed.
Q. Hogan had a ticker tape parade. Would that interest you?
TIGER WOODS: No. I much rather just go home and relax.
Q. I know it's hard for you to get a grasp on your fame, but when you're flicking through the remote and seeing yourself on TV, playing your own video game, what's that like to see yourself in pop culture?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's funny more than anything. It's funny to see -- I guess see me on the other side, because I lived the moment; I was there. And to see it on a different perspective, it's kind of funny. Like that -- that run after the ball on 16 in the playoff -- I didn't realize how fast I got there. (Laughter.)
Q. That reaction to the putt at 16, a lot of people were talking about it; never seen you do that before. I guess it was spontaneous. Where did that come from?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, to be honest with you, I don't know. I hit the putt -- the whole scenario was that I saw Bob hit the same putt. He was probably another six or eight feet deeper in the green in regulation, and so his putt was a little different angle. But I remember his putt breaking quite a bit as it goes back up the hill; the last four feet, it goes really uphill, and it just dove. And I just happened to be right behind him when he told his caddy, he says, "Can you believe that ball snapped like that?" And I guess for some reason, it was -- kind of stuck in my head. And I had a similar putt, six or eight feet closer down the slope. And I remember his putt snapped. And I said, "You know, I'm going to play this ball a little higher." And I played the putt two more balls out to the right. I felt that I released the blade beautifully there, and I saw the ball rolling. And it started to take its break as it was going up the hill. I knew it was in. I just wanted to go pick it up. I just wanted to go get it. And there I was. There I was right there next to the hole.
Q. You never did that in a match with O'Meara when you take one hundred out of his pocket?
TIGER WOODS: What you do then is you hit a putt, you run after it and you put your hand in the hole before the ball gets there. (Laughter.)
Q. What would you have done if that would have lipped out?
TIGER WOODS: It wasn't going to lip out. (Laughter.)
Q. At Disney last year, you talked about wanting to run out the string, you didn't want to end the year with the PGA Championship and this victory. Can you talk about the rest of the year in bigger terms?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. I have a very hectic schedule at the end of the year. I play eight tournaments in a row, eight weeks in a row, all around the world, and I'd like to be able to finish that off, and then I could say my year is over. And once that is over with, then I'll take a relaxing break and get ready for next year, but the year is not over yet. I still would like to win a few more tournaments this year and play well. The season is not over yet. I still need to finish out the season and go overseas and play a few more tournaments.
Q. For as long as you've been out, the aspect of your game people have always talked about is your length. This year people are starting to say you are by far the best putter out here. Is that a particular pride to you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's a product that is a result lot of hard work. I've worked very hard on my putting. Even back in 1998, I struggled quite a bit on my putting. I worked very hard on it. I said it is a matter of time before it turns around. Putting is just that way. It is going to turn around. You are going to have highs and you are going to have lows. Hopefully, you'll get over those lows pretty quickly and ride those highs for a long time.
Q. To follow up on the Hogan stuff, as much film as you look at, I'm sure you've seen films of him swing, what do you think of what you've seen on film?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I understand why he had to hit a lot of golf balls, with the move that he had to make off -- one, the shafts were pretty weak. So obviously, that's why he lagged it so much. And the real weak grip and the lag coming down, tried to prevent hitting the ball left. He cleared it an awful lot. He cleared and tried to hold on and bow it so it doesn't go left. But you could see with that action, the timing that it required; that's why he hit so many golf balls. And same thing with Lee Trevino. Trevino had a very unorthodox swing, and look how many golf balls he had to hit. Vijay is similar to Hogan because they are so loose coming down. They have to hit a lot of golf balls for timing's sake. When you get in that groove, when you hit a lot of golf balls, you can trust the timing, to understand the feel of that move when it is right and when it is wrong.
Q. So much in sports is about confidence. And when you were winning by 15 strokes, by 8 strokes in majors, you could tell the other golfers seem to feel a little bit demoralized by the margins that you were winning by. The fact that Bob May challenged you, put all that pressure on you, do you think that that gave some hope to some players; that down the stretch that you were vulnerable. Thomas Bjorn was talking about it yesterday; that he was not quite as good playing stroke-for-stroke when he was up by eight and 15 strokes. Do you think that you opened the door a little bit for some confidence to the other players?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know about quite as good. For 8 out of 13 holes, I made birdies. If you're trying to tell me that's terrible, I guess I'm not very good. But I've -- to shoot 31 on the back nine on Sunday in a major championship, I think I did pretty good.
Q. A story has emerged that you are playing with a ball that is not available to the general public. I wonder whether you feel that maybe all equipment should be available to all people in golf?
TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously there have been a lot of different shafts and golf balls out here -- a lot of players with balls that are not on the market, a lot of shafts especially, and club heads that we use are tinkered around with, the gram weight of it, the face structure of it, the way it is shaped. There are a lot of different things that we tinker around with that the general public cannot have access to. That's just the way it is.
Q. The general public are able to buy the clubs --
TIGER WOODS: But not the way we have them.
Q. But they are not able to buy the ball that you play?
TIGER WOODS: It's the same thing. That's equipment. We have clubs that are not on the market out here, and we have balls out here that are not on the market. But I don't think the general public would really see that much of a difference, especially on the club head. I don't think they could tell if a club has one degree more roll and bulge. I mean, they could care less. They just want to see the ball go 30 yards further.
Q. Did you have input into the construction of that ball?
TIGER WOODS: I did. Yes.
Q. Could you tell us what you like the ball to do?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I like the fact that it goes a long ways, it's pretty accurate with my irons and it goes in the hole, quick. (Laughter.)
Q. I think you have something to do with that, don't you?
TIGER WOODS: It helps.
Q. Is that what Jack was talking about when he said that you had a ball tailored to your requirements?
TIGER WOODS: Correct.
Q. That you can, in fact, hit short irons a long way with it?
TIGER WOODS: Actually I don't really hit my short irons that much further. I think that's just part of my game. I do try to hit my short irons a long ways. I really can't see an appreciable difference between my Titleist ball and the Nike ball. And distance, I really can't tell the difference there. But the feel is a little bit different.
Q. Paul Azinger was talking yesterday, he is one of the few guys in the Presidents Cup who plays the Nike ball. When you get into alternate-shot competition, will that be a factor? He was saying that you would play with Notah because he plays the Nike ball?
TIGER WOODS: That's always been the case. And in every single team event in alternate shot, you try and pair the guys who have comparable games, but more importantly, comparable golf balls. And hopefully those two gel together. Sometimes they don't, but a lot of times they do, and that's what you try and have happen. You try to have guys who, for instance, they put Furyk and -- who was it, I think Furyk and Sutton played together in match play. I think they played together, they both play Stratas, and I remember when I played with Mark, in '97, TK didn't want to put us together because I played Titleist and Mark played Strata. So those are things -- that's a big factor in what ball you use. From there, if you're in the same brand, what sub-brand do you use.
Q. That was the other thing?
TIGER WOODS: These other guys are using the same ball you use or is it a little different.
TIGER WOODS: Paul uses I think the spin-control ball; the ball spins quite a bit, and Notah uses the Tour Accuracy. Notah and I play a ball that is almost identical to one another.
Q. And since you've been playing the Nike ball, have you used the exact same Nike ball or do you experiment?
TIGER WOODS: No, I play the same one.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate it.
TIGER WOODS: No problem.
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