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March 19, 2000

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: All right. We'd like to welcome our winner of the Bay Hill Invitational into the interview room, Tiger woods. Let's begin with some quick comments.

TIGER WOODS: Well, today starting off the day, it was -- obviously it was spitting a little bit on the range. I knew that it was going to be a very difficult round today with the wind blowing as hard as it was, and I figured if I could go out there and stay away from the big number and just make a lot of pars, I figured the way I'm putting, I'd make a few putts here and there that I'd put a little pressure on Davis. 1st hole, I got off to a -- I hit a good drive, just a little too straight, hit it right through the wind and ended up in the rough. Hit a bad second shot, made a great chip and made a very important putt from about eight feet. And I felt that was a big boost in my corner that I was able to make that putt. But from there, I hit a lot of good, solid shots and made the putts when I had to.

Q. Your short-range putting from 10 feet in has really been spectacular the last few weeks. Is that a key to keeping good rounds going and from letting bad rounds out of hand?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. If you can make those par putts, every once in awhile that it keeps the momentum going. For some reason, I keep going back to the bogey I made on 8 the other day; and I hit the ball in the bunker and hit it right in the water, hit up there to about 12 feet. And those are putts you just need to make for bogey. And I was able to make it, because if you don't, you know you feel like the wind is out of your sails. But if you feel like you snuck away with a bogey. You feel pretty good about going to the next hole. That's the way I felt today' that I made a couple key putts for par, like on my 1st hole. And I had to keep the momentum going.

Q. Davis said that you were essentially at an A-Minus game every single week that you play. Could you talk about any kind of pride you take in the fact that you seem to be near the lead on Sunday just about every week?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's where you always want to be, and that's one of the reason why I changed my golf swing in '97 to now is that I felt like I couldn't be in contention every time I teed it up with the swing I used to have. Now, it's a little different. I feel like if I go out there and play my game, and play smart, then I figure my golf swing now can be a little more consistent. My bad shots aren't that bad. My good shots are always going to be pretty good, but it's the bad ones that are the key to shooting good, solid numbers.

Q. Why can't anyone else do that?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. David did it for a while. He had a little run there.

Q. Not this long, though.

TIGER WOODS: It's hard to sustain it for a long period of time. But I think it all depends on how much golf you play, you know, what you want to accomplish in the game of golf, and the belief that you have in yourself.

Q. How long do you envision yourself sustaining it?

TIGER WOODS: Hopefully, for a long, long time.

Q. Could you give a brief description of the differences in your swing from 1997 to now?

TIGER WOODS: Jesus, that's not brief, that's for sure, no. I've changed a lot of different things, no. But I think the main thing in the changes I've made is I've become more of a consistent player. My bad shots aren't that bad anymore. My bad shots are in the first cut of rough, not two fairways over. That's a huge difference when you can play a game of golf and go around there and not really have it that day, and still hit 10 fairways and 13 greens or something like that and not feel like you hit the ball that well. That's where you want to be.

Q. So it's simpler, your swing is simpler?

TIGER WOODS: I don't have to rely on my hands and timing as much as I used to. I still do every once in awhile, if I get the club in a bad position, but it doesn't get there as often.

Q. Davis's two birdies, 10 and 11, did that kind of bring back some fun, or the game is back on a little bit, wake you up or anything?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, just because of the fact that there was so much golf to be played; that we still had seven holes to play, with a lot of things that could happen. And we've seen in the past where a lot of things have happened down the stretch here at this tournament. I just need to keep hanging in there and make the putts when I had to. And making that putt over on 12 was big when he did make it. It looked like we both were going to make birdie there with irons in our hands and we both hit marginal shots coming into the greens. And he had an easier chip shot than I did, but I walked away with 4.

Q. 5-iron into that green?


Q. This is a prestige win at a prestigious course. How does it feel to win a TOUR event here?

TIGER WOODS: It feels very nice to go out there and get a victory on this golf course, because this golf course is not that easy, and especially under these conditions this week. The wind has been blowing. It's been gusty, a little swirly, but to go out there and play a golf course this demanding as solidly as I did, it feels pretty good.

Q. You've had 13 straight times now on Sunday where you were in the lead or tied for the lead and you've won all 13 times. Do you go back to the same mental place on all those Sundays? Is it a grinding thing, is there a pleasure in the challenge? What's the emotional, mental feeling that you try to get?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's both. It's exactly what you just said. It's both. You are grinding out there. You are working. It is a lot of fun to go out there and compete and know that you have a chance to win the tournament. We play -- in this sport, it's a little different than most sports where you have to play three rounds to give yourself a chance at winning. Whereas in most sports, you can have one day and you already know the winner or loser. And this sport, it takes a little longer, almost like cricket.

Q. Yesterday you said somebody asked about your intimidation factor over other players and you said you'll have to ask them. But beating one of the best players on TOUR like you did today, does that send a message in your mind just how good you are right now?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's more satisfying than anything else, because it makes it that much more special to beat one of the top players in the world because they have earned that right. You know they have won tournaments and they have been consistent in big tournaments to get into that position. So you know they have a very high quality of game, and to go out there head-to-head like I did today with Davis and to come out on top, it definitely feels pretty good.

Q. How much of Payne's presence was felt this week compared to any other week?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think as much as, you know, people might think. Just because it's been a long time now and we've all -- we all have gone through the grieving period, except for the immediate family. I think, obviously, that's going to be a lot different.

Q. Have you ever talked to either Arnold or Jack or any of the other living players who have been really dominant in their eras about what it means to be dominant?

TIGER WOODS: I've never asked that question. I don't know why. Maybe I just don't want to jinx myself or something like that. But I don't know, I've never asked that question. I've always just kind of asked them, "What it was like playing in your day, what did you have to deal with?" Obviously, things were a lot different back then.

Q. What's your relationship with Arnie?

TIGER WOODS: I guess we're not close friends. I'm closer to Jack than I am to Arnold. I've talked more with Jack than I have with Arnold, but Arnold has always been there. Any time I've needed him, I've come over and talked to him, to hang out. He's always been very open-armed.

Q. He's made references over the past couple of years that your behavior and other aspects of how you carry yourself are improving or getting better. Do you feel like he's got a special standard for and you do you feel like that you're any more obligated to meet that, because it's Arnold?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. I've been trying to get better and trying to maintain my composure as much as I can. And I think that just comes over time, and understanding that you're not going to hit every shot good and it's okay to hit a bad one every now and then and to move on. But I've been a competitor and always want to hit a good shot, and knowing that -- what I can do, sometimes gets me a little angry.

Q. NBC showed a graphic yesterday that showed you are winning about 23 percent of your starts on this tour, and the second all-time was Nicklaus around 9 percent. Is it realistic to keep up that number that you're at?

TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously if you play more tournaments, it's not going to be as easy. You're going to go through spells when you're just not going to win as much and you're not -- like you hit the ball well for a few years or you may lose something, or changes off the golf course might interrupt your play on the golf course. Those are unforeseen things that we as players don't really know until we go through them. But Jack -- I don't know if the statistic they put on Jack, it was 9 percent, but I don't know through what stretch of tournaments was that; was that all the way up until now or was it until early 80s when he was still playing really good golf.

Q. They didn't break it down. It just said for his career.

TIGER WOODS: Obviously, if it was from early 60s until early 80s, obviously, that percentage will probably be a lot higher.

Q. What would make this a successful year for you?

TIGER WOODS: Successful year?

Q. For you?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I have my own goals I'm trying to achieve.

Q. Is it equaling 1999? Surpassing 1999?

TIGER WOODS: They are a little different, but just trying to keep improving.

Q. They said that you missed 13 greens in the last two days or something, yet you didn't make a bogey. Do you have a mind set, like even the 1st hole where you had a tough chip to get this close, is that one of the strengths to keep you that consistent?

TIGER WOODS: I think people overlook my ability to get up-and-down. That's always been one of my strengths in my game is to hit chip shots around the greens and get them up-and-down. I went through a stretch there where I was chipping the ball well, but I wasn't making any putts. And then there are stretches where you hole-out everything and you look like you're a genius, even though you've had 10-footers all day. But this week, my short game has been pretty good. And it's nice when you lay and then off of this type of grass, ryegrass instead of Bermuda. If you were playing off this length of Bermuda, it would be a little different story.

Q. You answered that question a moment ago talking about things you don't know about until you go through them, all of the changes a player goes through in a lot of his career. That's a lot of foresight for someone early in his career, and also sounds a little like Jack. Have you talked to anybody about those kind of things, sort of imagine the future and the difficulties and the complexities?

TIGER WOODS: Obviously, I've talked to Jack about it, but not in great detail. We've just talked about, you know, his interests off the golf course, how that changed. Went from, you know winning major championships every year to gradually going into other things off the golf course, like his own business, course design; he had new sponsors that would come and go. But those are things that, from a business standpoint, that do change, and that do evolve.

Q. You seem seemed to almost mean more personal, that life was going to happen to you over the next 20 years.

TIGER WOODS: There is. There are going to be times where I'm not going to play well at all. That's just part of playing golf. But what you try and do is not have it last very long.

Q. Do you see yourself getting involved heavily into other businesses like that?

TIGER WOODS: We'll see. I mean, there's something that right now, I'm probably in no position to say because that's not what a 24-year-old normally does is start up their own club business.

Q. Because of the way of -- how much you've won and how much you've been in contention over the past year or so, do you feel like the expectations or maybe the hype around you going into the Masters is greater now than it was in '98 after you had won?

TIGER WOODS: I think it might be -- it might be higher. But I truly believe that since I'm no longer a new face, that that newness, that excitement of seeing someone new for the first time out there is gone, and it's a little different. And also the fact that I'm probably used to handling it.

Q. Could you talk about two changes: One, influence of your caddie on your game, and the influence of the laser eye surgery, and how much that has helped the game as well?

TIGER WOODS: First of all, Stevie is a great caddie. He's out there very diligent, very supportive, very positive and upbeat. He knows when to step in and say something to get me going and other times when to just leave me alone. And something that I was surprised at, how fast he learned. But more importantly, I think he's just very positive, and that makes you feel more at ease on the golf course. As far as having my eye surgery, I felt that it's nice to see the world for its actual size. You know, when you have a prescription as strong as mine was, that it was -- everything is magnified, and anyone who wears glasses or contacts knows that when they take their contacts out or the glasses off, the world is a little bit bigger. And for me, it was very difficult to go through life with seeing everything as small as it was. I didn't know any better, but more importantly, I had to deal with a lot of different things on the golf course. You tear more because of the -- the wind blew like today, it would have been a very difficult today with all the pollen in the air. It feels like you have sandpaper in your eyes. It's not very easy to do. And now that I have -- my eyes feel good and not have them tear as much and see better than I ever have, that's pretty good.

Q. Are you down to 20/15 now?


Q. So now when you're on the course, does the flag look closer, bigger, smaller? Does the hole look bigger or smaller?

TIGER WOODS: The first week I came back at Disney after I had the surgery done, the hardest thing was that all the slopes looked bigger. And that was interesting to try and read putts for a while. And I took more time reading greens, and I played well; I shot three 66s to start off the tournament. And it was very interesting to look at some of these putts and say, Golly, I know that putt doesn't break so much, but that mound is so big. But the good thing is when I set my 2-iron down to shoot over the water, that little blade doesn't look so small anymore; it looks a little bit bigger.

Q. Is it special for you to win at home?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's always special to win at home. You have a lot of friends out there. They are out there supporting you and you can see hem out there, and I think that's what makes it more special. Just like it is when I compete in L.A., and to have a lot of the people I grew up with out there following. That tends to make it more special because we play all over the world and a lot of times the only person you know is your caddie.

Q. Do you celebrate victories still?

TIGER WOODS: Celebrate, as in go out?

Q. Anything special?

TIGER WOODS: Right now, I'm really hungry.

Q. How easy is it for you to switch into the mode of playing conservative, smart golf and the way did you today? Do you enjoy it any more or less than if you're trying to make birdies?

TIGER WOODS: Two different things. One, you're trying to get in position to win, and if you're already in position to win, obviously, you don't have to. You just need to go out there and make a lot of pars. I figured today with the conditions as difficult as they were today, the wind is howling; it's blowing pretty good, a little gusty. If I make 18 straight pars, Davis has to shoot 69 to beat me in these conditions, and that's not easy to do every time. And I just tried to play real solid golf, stay away from the big number and give myself some chances with the putter, because I knew I would make a couple with my stroke the way it feels right now.

Q. We've talked about the changes in your swing over the last year or two. Does it even amaze you that you won the Masters by 12 shots with a swing that you were not satisfied with or one that was not where you wanted it to be?

TIGER WOODS: Does it amaze me? Yeah, it amazes me because I wasn't able to control the golf ball as well. Luckily, it wasn't that windy that week until Sunday. But more than anything, I was longer then, though. One of the things I look back on and say I, geez, I wish I could hit that far now. But I'm hitting a lot more fairways, which is nice. I go out there on a bad day, struggle with my tee shots and I can hit 10 fairways, and that's not feeling that well over the ball. That's a big difference than going out there and hitting two or three like I used to. When I played at Augusta, for some reason I was able to drive the ball so well that week; I was hitting high draws and getting wedges all day. It's hard to mess up a wedge each and every time and I was able to make a few putts.

Q. You couldn't hit it that far if you had to, absolutely had to, life on the line?

TIGER WOODS: Mm-mmm. I'd have to go back to my old swing and try and time it like I did, and I'm not used to trying to time it like that now.

Q. Tiger, that was a good question about the celebration. How will you celebrate, or will you? What will you do?

TIGER WOODS: Right now, as I said, I'm really hungry.

Q. Go out to dinner?

TIGER WOODS: Go have some dinner right now. Kick my feet up and sulk a little bit that the Cardinals aren't going any further.

Q. What did you hit into the 4th hole?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know what I had to the hole, but I had 205 to the front right, and it was blowing about two straight downwind. I had 7-iron straight up in the air, because if I hit 6(-iron), I felt that if I landed ball on the top shelf with a 6(-iron), that ball is going to the bunker. So I hit 7(-iron) real hard, throw it right up in the air and I know it will just stick. It won't have a chance of going over the green.

Q. How much did you have in on 12 and what did you hit?

TIGER WOODS: 12, I had 212 to the front. And I don't know what it was to the hole, but I had 212 to the front and I hit a 5-iron and pulled it left, landed on the green. I think it landed pin-high.

Q. Davis seemed to think that was a great drive. Did you drill that one?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I stepped on that one a little bit. I stepped on it, but I didn't -- to be honest with you, I didn't hit the ball with the right trajectory to get the right roll out of it. I'm sure it kind of just stuck in the ground when it got out there. It wasn't one of those drives, when I hit on 4 the other day on Friday; I hit a good one on 4.

Q. Bay Hill is different than Sawgrass next week. Will you bring the exact same game to Sawgrass or will you change it around a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: It all depends what the conditions are. Just got to play it by ear. If the conditions are like they were last year on Sunday when everything was brown, then obviously it's going to be a little bit different story. I'm going to have to play pretty conservative, hit the ball high and get some spin. If it's soft, you can throw darts and hit the ball low or high, it doesn't matter. But the conditions with the way they are at The PLAYERS Championship in recent years, they don't like seeing guys go low. So I foresee a very tough golf course.

Q. How are you able to maintain this level week of after week and how does it relate to preparation for Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I'm heading in the right direction for Augusta, and hopefully, my game is peaking towards that. Hopefully, next week, I'll have some signs that I'm actually playing a little bit better. And the ultimate goal is to peak four times a year. The that will be the ultimate goal to win those four, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: You know, it wears on you if you play a lot of tournaments consecutively, but I like to take a little break every now and then and take a few weeks off. Like I took two weeks off and I didn't touch a club for the first 10 days. Just put them away and never saw them. They were in the travel game. If someone put a banana in there, it would have looked pretty ugly.

Q. Is there yet more work to be done, specific things that you have in mind?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'd like to shell out my approach to the golf ball. Today I stuck a few on the ground. When I'm swinging well, I don't do that, and when I'm really swinging well, I don't do that. I was hitting a lot of low shots, but there's a correct way to hit a low one and a little bit of a cheating way to hit a low one. Today, I tended to put the shoulder on it, got a little steep over a couple balls, and over the long haul, that's not good. You take the ball too high, it has too much backspin and I like to come in a little shallower than that.

End of FastScripts…

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