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August 25, 1999

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Thank you so much for coming to visit us this afternoon. I know you had a special guest today that you wanted to maybe say a few things about, and we'll open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: Just a cute little boy named Dan and his family. Dan was stricken with leukemia, and he wanted to come out and watch a few holes. And he came out and walked the entire front nine. It was really neat to have him out there and tell him stories, have him hit some lag putts with my putter. And he putted with Mark O's putter and closest to the hole. He had a ball out there, and it was really neat to see.

Q. How did you hook up with him?

TIGER WOODS: I believe it was Lee Rinker. I had a request from him and his family, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Q. Make-a-Wish?

TIGER WOODS: Make-a-Wish. He still has three more years of treatment to go. He's so positive, it's scary.

Q. How old is he? Is he from this area?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he's from Dayton. Drove down here this morning -- last night. Stayed the night. I believe he told me he was ten years old.

Q. Do you know his last name, by chance?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Dan the Man.

Q. Did you call him that?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. Danny Boy. Dan the Man. He was just having a great time talking to all of us. I said: Don't hesitate to ask questions. He was curious about a couple things and -- more than happy to talk to him about anything. It was just a really neat experience for him and all of us, really.

Q. Ryder Cup didn't come up?

TIGER WOODS: I've never heard of the term. I'm sorry. (Laughing).

Q. Was he pretty knowledgeable?

TIGER WOODS: He was. He plays. He tries to play as much as he can.

Q. Did he hit any shots with you?

TIGER WOODS: No. He putted. He had some unbelievable putts, actually.

Q. Tiger, I presume that you have lots of requests from various charities, situations like this. How do you make a decision?

TIGER WOODS: I try and do as much as I can. All my clinics that I do, I have Make-a-Wish kids that come out. We'll fly them out to my clinic sites and hang out all day. I'll perform the clinic and hang out with them and their families, and we have a wonderful time.

Q. Does that have an impact on your game in terms of well-being?

TIGER WOODS: I think, more than anything, it does put things in perspective for you. These guys are going through a debilitating disease, and there are positives. They are not only positive, but they are very knowledgeable. For some reason, they are very worldly. It's really a pleasant surprise to see them interact at a level that you don't really think -- for instance, today, Dan did; to talk to you -- he's talking to you like someone who is 19 or 20, not someone who is 10. I think that's just a product of the environment and all of the things he has to deal with and all the terms he hears. His vocabulary grows rapidly.

Q. Did you learn anything from this?

TIGER WOODS: As I said, you get a nice perspective on life.

Q. I was talking to Dan coming off 9. He said it was the greatest day of his life.

TIGER WOODS: It was a lot of fun out there. So to share a moment like that with him all the way around, to have him smiling the entire time -- more than anything, I was really worried about his endurance, whether he could walk nine holes. I said: "Are you tired?" "Okay, I'm fine." Like that. "I'm fine." So all right. He clubbed me on a couple holes. Told him: "Okay, you're the caddie. You tell me what club to hit, and I'll hit it." He did on a few holes. We had a lot of fun.

Q. What do you think of the concept of this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Concept of it? Since I'm on the team, I don't mind it. It's a neat concept, because it's obviously taking the best of -- best of the best, in essence -- the Presidents Cup teams and the Ryder Cup teams. But I feel bad for the people who are -- who finish just outside and who didn't get picked. For instance, like Karlsson finishing 11th right there, and he's not in this event. He's close enough where he should be in this event.

Q. I know that it's not like stroke play, 72-holes and you're not playing for yourself or anything. Was there any feeling since you're seeing the guys you're going to be playing in four weeks, anything that affects the atmosphere?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think so at all. It's just another stroke-play event, as far as we're concerned as players. Maybe it would be different if it was Americans -- all the guys who finished on the American side on both teams were going to compete against, obviously, the Presidents Cup team, International squad and the Ryder Cup team and the European squad. Like a three-way-match kind of thing or a triangle. But since we're all here playing stroke play -- it's very similar to what we play anyways, the World Series of Golf. Tournament winner, it's almost the same feel.

Q. What kind of captain do you think Ben Crenshaw will be?

TIGER WOODS: I think Ben will do a wonderful job. Ben has already done a pretty good job of things so far. And he's been under a lot of scrutiny and a lot of pressure. He's handled it well, except for that one little time at the PGA. But other than that, he's done a wonderful job.

Q. Will there be any carry-over from that, or is it forgotten?

TIGER WOODS: We've all talked about it. It's out of here, you know.

Q. Your thoughts on his pick of Steve Pate. It may have surprised some people with Freddie and Lee Janzen and what have you. What does Steve Pate bring to this team?

TIGER WOODS: It didn't surprise me at all. Steve has played wonderful this year. I think at the time through the PGA, he had like 1.4 million -- something like that. He went to the finals of the Andersen Consults. He almost won the Bob Hope. If it wasn't for David playing as well as he did in the final round, Steve would probably have won the tournament. He's a pleasant guy to hang around with. He's not intense on the golf course; he's so much fun to hang around with. He'll keep everything very light.

Q. Can you talk about Sergio Garcia, what you admire, don't like?

TIGER WOODS: One thing I like about Sergio is the fact that he has charisma. He handles himself very well. He likes -- obviously, he does enjoy what he's doing. He enjoys playing golf and traveling around the world. He turned pro and went back and forth across The Pond playing. He played Dallas, then went to Germany, then came -- then he came back for Memorial, then went back over for a couple other tournaments, and then back for the U.S. Open. He was going back and forth. And for someone to travel that much, obviously, he loves playing.

Q. Do you see a rivalry in the making?

TIGER WOODS: A rivalry in the making? Presswise, yes. No doubt about it. Before the PGA, so was David. But I think there's a group of players who are going to take the game into the next millennium, and all of us are young. You have Sergio, being the youngest, and then probably myself and, age-wise, probably Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, David Duval, Darren Clarke is pretty young, Ernie Els -- all of us about comparable in the same age, only a decade apart, and hopefully play well for a number of years.

Q. You've only played in one Ryder Cup. If you were on the other side, that would make you the third most-experienced guy on the team. How valuable is the experience? Overrated? Underrated?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's overrated in the sense of playing, because we've all played on Walker Cup teams. We've all played in either the British Amateur or the U.S. Amateur. So we understand a match-play atmosphere. We understand playing in matches. Matches are very difficult to win. We understand that part. But I think the hard part is, more than anything, is dealing with the stuff leading up to the tournament. As I told you guys many a times, I have never gone to a tournament where I've had to do something every night -- for what I've read in the papers, the biggest spectacle of golf, I'll see guys going out to dinner every night, not like before a major championship trying to get your rest. That's the hard part for me. When I played at Valderrama, by the time I got to the tournament, I was already a little tired because I didn't get enough sleep.

Q. I know when you were on that side of the ocean two years ago, you went down and played Valderrama beforehand. Many of the European players who are first-time guys seem to be adopting the philosophy: We're going to have four practice days, so we'll see it when we get there. Is this a mistake in your mind?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think it's a mistake, because Valderrama, you really can't compare the two. Because Valderrama, they played every year. We don't play the Country Club every year. The advantage is out the door. The local knowledge of where certain putts break is probably out the door. Plus, if we played a few rounds early, we would gain some knowledge of the hole shapes or maybe some putts. But don't forget, by the time we get to that week, the greens will be at a completely different speed. You may see a putt break an inch this way or an inch that way. By the time you get to a tournament, it's breaking four or five inches. It's going to be a different speed. Because of that, you go there to get ready for it early, I think you probably do yourself more harm than good.

Q. Tiger, a couple weeks back you guys took advantage of a wet Medinah and got off to an early start; turned out you needed it. Is that the thought in your mind here: Let's take advantage of Firestone now? And also, how are you playing coming into this championship?

TIGER WOODS: I'm playing all right. I played last week and didn't make the final cut. Finished one shot out. I've been playing all right. I've been pleased with my performance so far. It's been a very good summer for me. I think last week has been the first week since Nelson where I finished out of the top seven. I've had a pretty good run in three months. I'm going into this week with soft conditions who sets up for someone who hits the ball high and long and will carry the ball out there. I notice there's a tremendous advantage out there. On No. 9, when I hit driver and soft 8-iron, Jim Furyk hit driver and 2-iron; and Mark O' hit driver and 3-iron. There's certain holes where it will be an advantage to hit the long ball and get up in the air and fly them. But as soon as the golf course dries out, I believe we are all going to be on the same playing field.

Q. Do you feel that you've got to get off to a fast start to take advantage of it?

TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say you have to, because I would put too much pressure on yourself. I just need to go out there and execute and play the golf course as it comes. I remember last year it played completely different than it did two years ago. In '97 it was wet and soft and the scores weren't that long. I believe only 6- or 8-under won. It's a golf course in which it's wet; yes, it does play a little bit easier. But when it's wet, they hide the pins a little more. When they do that, you can put the ball in bunkers and not get up-and-down. It will be a test. You have to be very patient.

Q. Tiger, winning the Masters as early as you did and then playing so well after that without winning another major in between, having won the PGA, do you feel any relief, any difference about your game, anymore secure about your spot in the game?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I've been telling everybody that my game is getting better. And nobody believed me when I said I played better last year in '97, even though I didn't win. I said my game is on my way. It was headed in the right direction. I have stayed patient. I understood the changes I was going to make were going to take some time, and they are starting to come to fruition. And to win the way I've won in the few tournaments I've played this summer, I'm very pleased with the progress I've made. That just goes to show you that Butch and I were on the right track.

Q. You've tried to learn pretty much at every stop along the way. You learned patience in the majors this year and applied it at PGA. What did you learn from Valderamma that you hope to apply at Brookline?

TIGER WOODS: I remember getting booed on almost every green, playing Constantino. That was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that. It was just a different atmosphere. And I remember being pretty crazy. But I hope -- I hope our fans don't be as loud as they can be and as boisterous. I don't want them to go overboard where they are rooting against the other team. Cheer for both sides. Maybe bipartisan in how loud the roars are. I understand that. But make sure that you be fair and understand that golf is a gentleman's sport.

Q. Did you learn anything in the pairing match-ups, a better way to approach it?

TIGER WOODS: Play better. I didn't really play that well over there. I drove the ball pretty well, but I just didn't have enough irons. It's just one of those weeks. Just can't do anything about it.

Q. You mentioned the crowd reaction at Valderamma, and coming away from Medinah, as well, where you had a little trouble. How important is it, the reaction and the -- (inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: I hope they are fair. That's all we can ask. As I said, bipartisan, that's fine. I understand that. I understand that when I was over in Europe, and I understand that when we're over here. I think that's part of the game when you have two opposing sides. But just make sure that they are fair. I hope they don't get out of hand where they are either booing or yelling for someone to hit a bad shot. That's not part of golf. That's not why we love playing this game. I really hope that U.S. fans -- and European fans, as well, who are there, that they would all behave and all understand the tradition of the game.

Q. You guys talk about changes in the swing that you and Butch have made. This is your third time around this track, if I'm not mistaken. Has your approach to this course, the way you play it, evolved at all since this first trip here in '97?

TIGER WOODS: Has it evolved? Not really. It's the same game plan. Because this year, because it has rained, it's softer and more like how I played it in '97, where I hit driver off of -- one day, I believe I hit driver on 12 out of the 14 driving holes. And that's a little different, considering most of the time you don't face that on the U.S. TOUR, or any TOUR, matter of fact. A lot of times, I hit irons or 3-woods off the tee. When it's soft like this, you can go ahead and take a rip down there and get it in the air. Because, if you don't, the ball is going to land in the airway and stay in the fairway. I had four balls land in the fairway and backup with drivers. Just goes to show you how soft it is.

Q. Would you outline the dynamics of the restructuring with Nike Titleist that was reported this week, and what bag you'll be carrying as a part of that?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I can't say anything, because obviously, if I did, I'd probably be in a lawsuit.

Q. It's not a done deal?

TIGER WOODS: It's not a done deal. And those numbers are awfully nice. I wish the numbers were that high. But it would be nice. It definitely would be nice. But we'll see what happens.

Q. Are you saying they are not that high or can't be that high?

TIGER WOODS: They are not that high.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the young man that was following around with you today, Dan. I know his request didn't reach you through the normal channels. I was wondering why you decided to grant this particular wish?

TIGER WOODS: It's just a nice thing to do. You try and do as many of these things as you possibly can. I've done my fair share already, but I've also turned down a few, too, because the fact that I don't have that much time. But when you do have some time, and you do have a window of opportunity and you can give of yourself, I say there's no reason why not to. And I took today as a day to spend with Dan, and we had way wonderful time, and I hope that his family had a wonderful time as well.

Q. Did you ever have a chance to hang out with like a big golf star when you were a kid?


Q. In light of your day with Dan and all the -- you've said many times, the Tiger Mania has lessened somewhat. Is it hard being you or is it a blast?

TIGER WOODS: It's not easy.

Q. Why not?

TIGER WOODS: Well when you come out there and you're whacking, you'll see. You walk right next to me and see how many pin marks you get. .

Q. When you were talking about the golfers going into the next millennium, you mentioned Sergio being the youngest. Is it nice you're no longer the youngest?

TIGER WOODS: It's going to happen. I'm not going to be the youngest forever.

Q. When you say it's not easy being you, what about the next hotshot young guy, what advice would you give?

TIGER WOODS: For one thing, you've got to always be yourself. And I understand that you're going to make mistakes. You're going to have your ups and downs. Basically, what my father has always taught me is that if you come from truth, everything will be okay. And you can always tell the truth. What I found is that out here, you have to always tell the truth, but you can also be diplomatic, too, because I've been ripped before for telling the truth. And now I've kind of changed my position and kind of softened it, but still get my point across. Just learning how it all works out here, and that takes some time.

Q. In regards to that, becoming more diplomatic, but still getting the point across, how have you changed the last three or four years as a person? It seems like you're growing up and maturing before the eyes of the camera. How has that changed?

TIGER WOODS: I just feel like I can handle things a little bit different than I used to. It's just because I understand how it all works now. I've been out here for a few years. It's like starting a new job. You don't really know what to expect. When you guys were first writing you probably didn't know what to expect, and after a while you start getting comfortable. You start to understand the people you're working with, your environment, what's expected of you. Eventually, you start to feel where almost -- I won't say "at home," but at ease, not only with yourself, but with people around you.

Q. Have you become more guarded, just surrounding yourself with people you trust?

TIGER WOODS: I always have. I always have in the sense that I've done that since I was a very little kid. I've had my close friends and I've always kept them. My same friends I've known since second grade are still my best friends. I have a close -- a few close people that I confide things into, but there are people I call good friends, but they are not my best friends.

Q. Tiger, with this golf course and this event, how do they go together in do you like Firestone as a layout for an event of this caliber?

TIGER WOODS: I love Firestone as a layout. I always wondered why they haven't come back here since what, Nicklaus won the PGA here, I believe? I wonder why they have not come back here since then. This is a wonderful golf course for a major championship. You have to drive the ball well. Long golf course. Summertime, you can get some thunderstorms that makes this golf course play extremely long. I just think it's one of the greatest tests to play. It's so much fun, even though people say it's boring because it's straightforward. But I think that's one of the beauties of it is that it's not tricked up. We play so many golf courses that are tricked up. This golf course is just straight for the record, straightforward and come and get me. I've always enjoyed that, the old, traditional golf courses. It's just natural land. They didn't move anything. You've just got to go out there and execute your own golf shots.

Q. People will look at this tournament and say these guys don't get paid for the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, but they get paid because they are getting paid in this. Do you agree with that?

TIGER WOODS: No, because it's another week we have to play in order to make the money. If we didn't play here, obviously, it wouldn't be official money, and we give up an opportunity at the Ryder Cup to make money. That's the only thing I see against that. Against your question.

Q. And secondly, the Showdown at Sherwood, was Stevie fined?

TIGER WOODS: No. It was just handled improperly.

Q. Do you take more satisfaction out of the way you started your career professionally, the Masters and the Byron Nelson, or more out of what you've done this year because you changed your game?

TIGER WOODS: None of the above. I take more satisfaction out of making the TOUR Championship in '96 out of the things I've accomplished so far. Out of coming out of absolutely nowhere in seven weeks to get my card and not only get my card, but win twice to get in the TOUR Championship in seven weeks. I think that's one of the best accomplishments I've ever had.

Q. What do you rate your chances of doing that?

TIGER WOODS: I never even thought of it. I would never even put it down as a goal. I just wanted to get my card. After four weeks of finishing in the top 5, in a row, then I had my 5th opportunity at -- I had the win at Disney in order to get in the TOUR Championship going into the tournament. I knew that and I wanted to get in because that ensures that you're into the majors the next year. And I wanted to do that and, boom, I was in.

Q. Given that Europe has seven rookies and the U.S. team looks like the '27 Yankees, is there any fear of be being overconfident going into Brookline?

TIGER WOODS: No. That's one of the beauties of match play is the unpredictibility of it. You can put together a team that on paper may not be -- may not be as complete. But, the fact that it is match play, anything can happen. And it has to do with momentum and it's not the fact that it's four-day event of stroke play where everyone has not go play. It's 18 holes of anything can happen and anything can happen in 18 holes. I've got beat by people that I thought I should never get beat by, and I've beat people that I thought should never have been beaten by me. That's one of the beauties of match play and that's why we all love to play.

Q. Will you be going to Brookline before Ryder Cup week?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I will.

Q. How many times do you think you will play it? Once?

TIGER WOODS: Depends. I may go out for a second 18, but who knows.

End of FastScripts...

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