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October 31, 1999

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Maybe just a couple thoughts about today, and then we'll open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: Well, today was obviously a very difficult day, conditions-wise. It was blustery; it was kind of cool. I wanted to go out there today and get off to a solid start, which I did. Unfortunately, I wasn't hitting the ball as good as I'd like, but I just said: Just trust my putter because I'm putting well. his is a wonderful golf course to try and protect the lead on. If you're not comfortable, dump it on the center of the green and 2-putt, 3-putt every hole and you can walk away with a lot of pars, which is nice. I was able to do that until I felt my rhythm come back together, and I was able to control my ball flight however I wanted, and it felt pretty good. Down the stretch I hit a lot of good shots. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make any putts; every putt burned the edge. If you hit good putts around the line and they don't go in, they don't go in. I played a solid round of golf, which is what I needed to do today.

Q. Tiger, how emotionally taxing has this week been?

TIGER WOODS: Man, it's been tough. I don't think -- I'm sure you guys would know. You guys have seen not only myself, but every player, to see what we've gone through this week, and you can understand from what you guys have to go through internally as well, because you guys knew Payne as well, and it's not easy.

To go out there and do your job, which takes a lot of concentration, and not only that, play 27 holes which is longer than you normally would go, take a day off, it really wasn't a day off. But it has been very draining week, and, you know, thankfully this week is over.

Q. Can you explain briefly why you decided not to wear the knickers?

TIGER WOODS: I figured you don't have to wear knickers in order to honor and feel resolve for someone. If you have an internal resolve, and that's the way you handle it -- just like I said to all of you. I believe it was on Thursday or Wednesday, whatever day I came in here, and I said, "I like to handle everything internally. That's my way of handling things". I don't need to show it outwardly, the pain that I feel inside. And for how much I hold Payne Stewart in honor. I don't need to do that. Other players may feel differently, but that's the way I feel.

Q. I'm sure you saw the portrait of Payne. Can you just talk about how different winning this week feels to you, compared to other tournaments you've won?

TIGER WOODS: As I've said, it's been a very difficult week, because of how -- we've all had to come to grips with everything, and the barometer of emotions from -- from making a birdie to having to go to the service on Friday. Those are two completely different spectrums, and two different ends of the spectrum, and we all had to go through that. It's been a very draining week, and I can honestly say I'm pretty drained.

Q. Earlier in the year, you remember how well Duval was going and he won the fewer tournaments. Right now, you're $2 million ahead of Duval. Has that sunk in?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't know that until you told me. I was out there trying to do my job. But that is nice to catch him the way I've done, and not only to do that, but to win the number of tournaments that I've won. I've won seven times since May. That's a pretty good little run.

Q. Tiger, were you aware that Stuart Appleby was (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Butch told me.

Q. What was your reaction?

TIGER WOODS: Well, after -- I can understand it with the tragedy he's had in his life, the last year, and to go through the loss that he's had; that's understandable for him to do that.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's what Butch said as well. I was hitting balls on the range and there's a huge Jumbotron on the left side of the range, and the way he walks is a little bit like Payne as well. If you look at it, they had a behind-view, and the looks are very similar. His shoulders are a little wider than Payne, but that's about it.

Q. Tiger, we all love you, but I'm just curious, even you had to be amazed at how great you're playing -- (Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: I don't know how to take that. (Laughter.) But I appreciate you. (Laughter.) You know, to answer your question, (laughs), I have been on a bit of a run here. It's been nice. But more importantly, it goes to show you what hard work will do for you. It's nice to work on the things that we've worked on, and to have the results finally coming together. I knew -- I don't want to say all of you -- but I know some of the people in the press last year said, "How could you be a better ?" I was saying I was a better player in '97. "How could you be a better player and not winning?" Well, I am a better player. It's a just a matter of time before I

would win, and I felt that I would win bunches because of the work that I have done. It would give me more chances to win, and that's exactly what has happened. I've hit a lot of good shots, and it's just a matter of time before putts would start falling. I hit too many good putts last year that didn't go in. It's just a matter of time before that came around, but more importantly, I need to give myself a lot of opportunities to make birdies, which I've done this year.

Q. How much better are you than you were in May?

TIGER WOODS: A lot better. Reason being is because I can -- the move that I'm -- not move, but the moves that we've worked on now feel more natural than not -- okay, I need to get here, here, and I need to get the club there; now I can let it go. Now I don't have to feel that. I can go up there, picture the shot, see the shot and just hit it. That's a huge difference, especially under the gun, down the stretch to know that you can go ahead and hit the shot and shape it the way you want to naturally, instead of having to be very mechanical.

Q. How much better do you think you can get?

TIGER WOODS: Well, we'll see. A lot of hard work. You never know.

Q. Tiger, a lot of folks talk about your swing being better, but is your focus and mental state much better than it was two years ago?

TIGER WOODS: I think it is better because I have come to grips with my life changing. If you look at '96 and '97, to go from virtually unknown to a person of -- in the spotlight as much as I was, that's a different kind of change, especially when you're 20 and 21; that's a huge impact on your life. From -- before the Masters to after the Masters, not -- from not being recognized inside a restaurant to having the entire restaurant give you a standing ovation, that's a big difference in your life. I've come to grips with that. I understand it now. I've made my share of mistakes. There's no doubt about it, but I've learned from them and I feel a lot more comfortable in my life because of that.

Q. For those of us who are hazy about Valderrama, what can you tell us about the golf course from what you remember, set up of the course, what it might look like, what we can expect?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know if Seve has gotten ahold of it or not. The last time he made sure that the fairways were cut in at right around 280, 290, 300 yards, shape them in there because our entire team was a long-hitting team and he took the driver out of our hands. I don't know what they are going to do now. If they are going to leave it open for us and we can actually drive the ball down there. We'll see what happens. But I do remember one thing that was very odd. It's weird having trees overhang greens. And the hole after the par 5, I think it's the 5th hole, a dogleg-left tee off down the hill and up left, there's a tree that overhangs bunker right on the green. You can hit a ball right over the flag, and with normal height, hit the tree and go in the bunker; you don't normally see that. I remember a couple times having trees inside of bunkers, and I thought that was kind of odd.

Q. What would it mean to you to equal Johnny Miller's record of 8 tournament wins in a year?

TIGER WOODS: Honest truth?

Q. Sure.

TIGER WOODS: I already have. Oh, on our TOUR? (Laughter.) I've got to count the one in Germany. That was a good field. Well, since the game is moving more global, we've got to include those events, right? I'm pushing for it. It would be nice to win 8 times on our TOUR, yeah. There's no doubt about it. But to accomplish what I've accomplished since May, I think that in itself speaks volumes. I've been on a great run. I think it's 7] out of the last 10 or something like that, 6 out of the last 9 or something like that.

Q. 7 out of 10.

TIGER WOODS: 7] out of 10. That's not a bad run.

Q. Do you ever want to pinch yourself?

TIGER WOODS: No, no. I just want to continue playing and continue my routines.

Q. How does your eyesight factor into all of this?

TIGER WOODS: More than anything, it's been nice to go out there and play in windy conditions and not have your eyes tear up and not have it feel like sandpaper underneath the contact. The biggest change is to have everything look it's actual size. When I first came back, the golf ball looked bigger, the clubs looked bigger, the hole looked bigger, the greens looked bigger, the slopes. It was tough to get used to. The greatest thing about it is when I put my 2-iron down it doesn't look like a little blade anymore. I can actually feel confident hitting over water. So I have this little bitty blade down there.

Q. I'm sure it's every golfer's goal to get better year by year, and after this year, what will you look at and say there's something else that I can -- some type of agenda?

TIGER WOODS: I think every part of my game has improved, and hopefully it will continue to improve. I think the strides I've made over the past couple years with ball-striking has really given me a lot of confidence, obviously. But in the future, I would really like to be able to -- to be able to shape the ball and move it around at any trajectory. I'd like at any given time and have the divots where I want them. I can hit a lowball, like Mark O' was telling me. He likes to hit the lowball and pick it. Well, I like to hit lowball and dig it. A couple times out there, I went for the picker because of the Bermuda rough. You have to make sure you shallow out and pick the ball up and make sure it doesn't juice on you. I'd like to refine that a little bit more and make sure that I can shallow out and come in at the correct plane and make sure that I can hit those shots, those half-shots out, digging them, and make sure my divots are nice and shallow with the correct spin.

Q. (Inaudible.)


Q. What's the goal in that? If you can't get (inaudible) --?

TIGER WOODS: What do I want to get to? I guess like the Army commercial, "The best I can be." Whatever that is, I don't know, but I will continue to work and just pay my dues. I don't know how much better I can get. I don't know. We'll see. Over the course of the next 20 years, we'll see what happens when I look back on my career. Then you'll be able to understand when my peak was. I don't know what that is, but I can tell you one thing: I will continue to work very hard.

Q. Tiger, did you -- how did you feel about playing this week? How do you feel about next week, just in general? Did you want to play?

TIGER WOODS: I think with what has transpired this week, I think, for me personally, it was the best thing to do, was to play, because I don't think you want to sit around and think about it is. At least when you come out here, you can have a chance to let your mind focus on something else. I was out here playing with my Pro-Am partners. Pro-Am was optional. I came out here and played with them, and it was a great time to get away from everything for a while. And then after you finish, you start thinking about it again. But to come out here and put all of your energy into something else instead of letting your mind wander about memories and what could have been, you know, how things could have changed, and all different things that you go through, coming out here and playing was definitely good for me, emotionally.

Q. Your schedule for the year on out, what will it be the rest of the year?

TIGER WOODS: Hectic. I played last week, this week, Valderrama, Taiwan -- the Johnny Walker, it starts the 2000 season for the European TOUR, and then to Malaysia, play in the World Cup, Japan for two days, leave Japan, Tuesday night get in Tuesday morning in Hawaii and tee it up at 10 in the Grand Slam. Then I'm retired.

Q. Tiger, how much do you think your physical conditioning has played a role in what you've been able to do? Davis Love said he felt if he had hit a rock today, he would have had to withdraw for six months, but you were able to come back the next day?

TIGER WOODS: The thing is, actually, God, I don't want to say -- I want to say this the right way. I hit the ball -- obviously, you can see the physical conditioning I've gotten a little bit bigger. But I think hitting the shot on Thursday and not playing on Friday was -- I don't know how to say that without being mean, but was a good thing for me, physically. But emotionally, we dealt with other issues. But if I would have had to have come back and played on Friday, it would have been a difficult round to play because my neck was still a little stiff, a little sore. My range of motion wasn't there. And I didn't have the strength. I was maybe at 60 percent, 70 percent and that would have been tough to play at. But I came back and felt a lot stronger on Saturday and got a little treatment right before I played and felt pretty good.

Q. Obviously, you spend a lot of time keeping yourself in shape, how much of a role do you think that plays in your overall success?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you've got to look at one of the greatest players to ever play the game was Gary Player. He kept himself in phenomenal shape all those years, and look at the career he's had. It just goes to show what happens if you do take care of your body, your body will take care of you. That's what I've done and it hasn't been easy at times. Times when you don't want to go in that gym, but you know that that's the best thing for you. I've been very dedicated to it and it's paid off, there's no doubt about it. Plus, also, I'm at that age where you're going to start filling out naturally and putting on strength, which it's been -- I've enhanced that process; so I've gotten stronger naturally as well as through hard work.

Q. Do you think that this week, with all of the things you went through, there's a sense of closure and next week things will be become back a little closer to normal?

TIGER WOODS: I think so. I felt more towards closure after watching Tracey speak. I said that on the green out there, that Tracey gave me a lot of strength. If she can have that type of resolve after what has transpired, why can't I. And I've taken what she's done and the strength that she's showed and demonstrated up there on that podium speaking; that's unbelievable to get up there and say the things that she did, and the way she said it. And I took a lot of strength through that and that carried me through this weekend. And I felt as if I was more towards closure after watching her speak than today. There's no doubt about it.

Q. Would you be licking your chops if you had to play Augusta next week, and as a major slam, do you think playing the way you're doing, is it feasible to play like you are next year?

TIGER WOODS: I always felt that anything was possible. You can, as I said in '97: I won four tournaments, but I didn't win the right four. This year, I've won 8 times, and I wish I could have won the other three in there. I think it's just you need to get lucky is what you really need to do. You can play well. Hogan demonstrated that, as well as Nicklaus. Guys have come close. But you need to get lucky. It's -- I've always felt that it was easier to win the four majors, not in succession, but not in the same year. Let's say some guys wins U.S. Open, PGA comes back -- I'm sorry. British Open, PGA and comes back and wins Masters, U.S. Open. I think that's a little more feasible than winning in one calendar year, because it's -- you might not find your game at the beginning of the year. Just like for me, for instance, I found my -- I put together everything in May. By then, the Masters had already concluded, and I had to get myself a great chance in the U.S. Open and in the British Open and ended up winning the PGA. If I would have got lucky, I would have won the British Open, the U.S. Open the PGA. Yeah, you can win the Masters the following year, but it's very difficult to win the same calendar year.

Q. As a 16-year-old golfer, what do you think is the No. 1 thing young golfers need to really focus on?

TIGER WOODS: I think more importantly, just having fun and enjoying it and not making it -- I say it's my job. Well, it is. But I can't wait to go do my job. Most people in this world don't have -- aren't as lucky as I am. To wake up every morning and go do your job. That's the frame of mind I have, and have had, that I can't wait to get out to the course and go out and play and have fun. Most people I see with kids, they don't want to be out there. Either their coach or family forces them to be out there, and that's not right. It's got to come from within.

Q. Other than being all you can be, can you say what your goals were coming into this year in terms of number of tournaments you hope to win and money?

TIGER WOODS: I guess I'll have to let you in on a little secret I told Butch. After I came off the West Coast Swing, I told Butch that -- "Don't be surprised if I won seven times this year." And I've won 8 times; so I've already superseded my own expectations, which has been nice, with actually a few more events to go.

Q. (Inaudible.) Where does that instinct come from, to close the door?

TIGER WOODS: I've always had it. It's something -- you can't teach somebody. You've got -- I've always felt you have to love the situation. You have to love everybody chasing you and having all the pressure on you. I don't think Michael Jordan -- would he rather have the lead and have the ball in his hands with the chance to win or come from behind and do it that way. You'd always rather have the lead, chasing you; you're the one. And I love that feeling of having everybody come after me, give me your best shot. And if I can fend them off, great, and if I can't, I learn from it. And I've been able to do that. I've had it since I was a little boy. It's not something that I feel that you can teach. You have to love the situation. That's why we play. We play to win. And if you don't want to be out there to win, then obviously, guys are going to start folding and going away.

Q. Tiger, this is a year, clearly -- also a year you started to indicate maybe how powerful you're coming into sports figure in the golf world, etc. Can you share your feelings on the impact you're having in the world?

TIGER WOODS: Granted, I would have given you a different answer in '97 than I will give you now. At the time in '97, I wasn't quite comfortable with it. I've come to grips with it. I understand it. The better you play, the more you have to deal with it. That just comes with the territory. I've learned from my mistakes. I've been there are before. I think right now, if you want to call it this, you know, media label, "Tiger Mania" it's nowhere near what it was in '97 because I was new, I was fresh. Being new to the scene, obviously, you're going to have more attention. Once you've been there for a while, people see you from tournament to tournament, no big deal. You don't have quite the impact. For instance, Sergio is on the scene now. He has had a wonderful start, and all the media pressure is on him and all the fans. Three or four years from now that won't be the case. "Oh, yeah, I've seen him play. I know what he can do. I've seen him do this I've seen him do that". The curiosity factor is not quite there. But I really do feel a lot for comfortable in my life now, and I understand the impact that I can make. And that's one of the reasons why I have my foundation, the things that I'm doing trying to get more minority involvement in the game of golf and grow the game and try to make golf look like America. That's what I'd like to end my career as.

Q. You have the opportunity, when you choose to exercise it, to exercise a lot of power in the game. Have you had conversations about when to choose your moments?

TIGER WOODS: I think that all comes from within. If you have a situation that you truly believe in, and then, yeah, I will voice my opinion, and not be afraid to voice my opinion. That's something I have done in the past. Sometimes I've been wrong. There's other times I've been right. But it's all dependent on the situation, and not something I go home and think about it try and pull a power play. That's just not me. I just like to go home and relax and watch my little TV.

Q. If earlier this year you said quietly, "Don't be surprised if I win seven times," last year, even though the desire certainly was there, did you know inside that you probably weren't going to --?

TIGER WOODS: No. Last year, the way my swing was, no way. No. I was in a process of changing and I understood that. Which meant that I had to rely on other factors in my game. And because of that, I've gone through that ordeal; it made me a better player.

Q. Also, are there some people out there today that should never get close to knickers again?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I saw a few. I definitely saw a few. I'm definitely not going to say any names. No, no, no. I don't want the guys coming after me. (Laughter.)

Q. You said yesterday, I think it was in May when you called Butch during the Nelson and said you found it?.

TIGER WOODS: The week before the Nelson.

Q. What made you tell him back in what, before March, that you thought you were going to win seven times?

TIGER WOODS: I could feel it coming. It wasn't far off. As I said earlier in the press conference, I felt I could win in bunches. It was just a matter of time and I had to be patient. Swing changes take time. If you start forcing it, you are probably going to end up making mistakes and go down the wrong path. I just kept patient with it. I just knew it was a matter of time before it all came together. I remember on the range back at Isleworth, I hit one shot and said, "That's it right there; that's the motion I want and let's see if I can duplicate this again." I didn't do it for a few balls, but I ended up doing it more and more and it became more frequent and it's just a matter of time now. I went to the Byron Nelson and shot 16 in the first round. I said, "This is it, I'm right there." If it wasn't for 17, I would have really given myself a chance to win that golf tournament. And I went ahead and won in Germany the next week, hitting the ball the best I've hit in a long time.

Q. Do you remember the club?

TIGER WOODS: I don't. I just remember the position of the swing felt so pure.

Q. Coming in, knowing you were playing really well, did that help you stay more focused on the golf?

TIGER WOODS: No, sorry. It didn't, honestly.

Q. Tiger, you mentioned how you've come to grips with Payne, can you explain how that's helped you this week?

TIGER WOODS: I understand the correlation you're trying to draw. I have to draw with my own past experiences in my own family. With my father having heart surgery in '97, then having emergency surgery, again, and then having to go out and play in the L.A. Open with my dad in the hospital, that's not easy to do. And coming that close to losing my father was very tough to deal with. He told me he says, "Son, just go out and play this week. Just get on TV so at least I have something to look forward to this in this room." That's something I took away from it, how close I almost lost my dad. I know the feeling I have of seeing him there with tubes all in him after having surgery, and then having complications; it was just such a tough ordeal to go through. That enabled me to go through this week a little bit easier.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't, no. It's been a very hectic week this week. And I can also tell you, I don't know how much first place was this week. It's been, you know, we've played 27 holes, gone to a service, 27 more holes, and we played today. It's been back and forth all across and I haven't had any time to look at anything.

Q. It was good to see your dad this week. Did he share any sort of life messages with you this week about, you know, given everything that has gone on? What did you guys talk about in terms of what has happened here?

TIGER WOODS: He said it was obviously very tragic, what transpired. But what you really need to do is go get it resolved at the service, which I was able to do, because of Tracey. And with that in mind, this weekend became a lot easier than it was on Thursday. Without basically Tracey's strength as she demonstrated, there's no way I could have been as resilient the way I've played this weekend.

Q. What was the last event that he was there to see you win?

TIGER WOODS: I think PGA. The one in Akron -- no, it was the PGA.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate your time.

End of FastScripts…

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