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August 26, 1998

Tiger Woods


TIGER WOODS: It is -- well, it's not welcome at 8,000 feet or wherever we were last week. But playing the thin air and walking up and down those hills does take a lot out of your legs and you are going to get a little more tired and a little more winded and that's probably the reason why I was so tired.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I went home for one day and I was down there on Monday, flew up here yesterday. So it was nice getting back home to a place that I'm sort of familiar with called "home". So it was nice to see all of the boxes that have collected, all the mail I've got to go through. It was real nice.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: It is a little unusual, but I felt more fresh at this time than I did last year and I felt like I could handle it and I tried to go ahead and play four in a row. But, you know, I am a little tired and maybe next year I might take a look at mixing it up a little differently.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Normally, I don't really swing that hard for myself. People may think I'm swinging pretty hard, but I'm really not. Even when I'm going at it pretty aggressively, it's still no more than 85 percent of what I got. Most of the time, I'm just cruising. But if I do start swinging hard, it's because I got the club so far behind me, I need to get the club down ahead of me, so I need to get ahead it pretty quick and get my body around on it and try and get the club zipping in there or I may not hit it right. A lot of times, you'll see me go at it this way just because I'm in a bad position.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: These two years -- this is my 2nd year I'm going to be playing it. It's different than what I've seen in the past. Usually, it's hard and it's fast and it's running. Last year, it was cold, wet and rainy. This year, it's really soft again. So anybody who can drive the ball very well, drive it high and hit it pretty long. Last year, Greg won. If you look at most of the guys who were at the top of the leader board were longer hitters because it made it that much easier. A lot of times, clubs were backing up in the fairway. Today, I hit a couple of drives that did back up. It is pretty soft out there, the ball is not rolling. Consequently, a lot of times balls were backing up in the fairway. Today, I hit a couple of drives that did back up. So it is pretty soft out there. The ball's not rolling. But consequently, I can be a little more aggressive and hit the driver off the tee because you know your borderline shots are not going to go into the rough. So guys that hit the ball long and high are going to have a huge advantage.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I like-- I definitely like it because I am hitting the ball higher now. If you asked me a couple of weeks ago, it might have been a different story. I'm starting to swing a little better and get the ball airborne.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I've had goals set out the entire year in different areas. I've broken up different parts of the year and where I wanted to be and, overall, I've accomplished a lot of goals this year. Not as many inside the win column as I would like to have, but it's still been one great year and I am very excited about the improvements I've made in my game overall and I'm not adjusting anything because I'm right on track. I'm right there. And for a guy who's supposedly in a slump, I don't see it. It's -- I really don't. Because I've had more top finishes this year than I did last year.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I found that to be the case last year around the British Open, Western Open, British Open. Around that area in July, I was pretty tired because I wasn't used to playing that much golf. And this year, I feel very fresh because I've mixed up my schedule, had more breaks. Took some advice from other tour players and just kind of created a schedule in which I would be able to last the entire year and, actually, what I need to do -- if you're going to do it for a long period of time, you need to do that.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Well, that's going to stop, too. Because it makes no sense for me to do this every single week when I'm not the defending champ and I've already been to the site before. It really makes no sense to do it every single week. But if I am defending champ or it's a site I've visited for the first time, then, yeah, I don't mind doing it. But every week, to be obligated to have to do it where some of the other top pros don't have to do it every single week they play, then I think that's a problem that we're going to have to try and address.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Winds are perfect right now. The fairways are some of the best fairways we play all year, very close to -- almost identical to Memorial. The fairways are real tight, the grass and -- it's awesome because you know if you hit the ball in the fairway, you can have a nice, tight lie and you can be aggressive and spin the ball into the greens. So that's -- You know, that's definitely a bonus. But it's playing longer than I've ever seen it on TV growing up just because it's so wet. Maybe can I get here in future years when it's dry and actually see how it really place.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: It's almost become an obligation. It should be a sensible approach, something we need to work out and Lee and I have discussed it before and we're going to work out something where it's not so taxing on me; whereas, if you want me to do it, then that's fine, then make every other top pro do it, too, every single week they tee up.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: You just asked me a question. Don't ask me for a ten-page article. It's just being fair and it -- this was easier because we had so many requests but, you know, just ask me a question or two, it's no big deal. Yeah, if writers where being more fair and instead of going in there and probing all the time for a huge article which I've had in the past, guys want to sit me down for 10 or 15 minutes, I don't really have 10 or 15 minutes. If it's just a question of a question or two here and there, that's fine. I don't have a problem with that at all.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: You've seen it; you've been out here or for what, the last three or four weeks now, it's the same ones, same questions.

Q. Tiger, how do you manage to handle some of the many social-type requests that you've had for your time, space, doing ads for golf clubs, minority groups et cetera?

TIGER WOODS: I've just tried to manage my time where I do the best I can and I've got to say no, too, unfortunately. I can't go around saying yes to everybody because then I really won't have my own life because there is a balance that you need to find. And I've pretty much found it as best for me and I'm very pleased with what I've done and as far as balancing my life off the golf course.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: As far as in the past, I remember watching Ollie destroy the field here but I also remember most of the time they have played, some of the guys that I see would take a go at No. 16. And the two times I've played here it's been so wet there's absolutely no way you can get there. Some of the guys where hitting 3-woods off the tee and putting it on the fairway and laying it up. I've never played it that way. It's just different from what I've seen growing up, but as far as the but as far as the future of this tournament, it will be very interesting between having anywhere between 40 and 48 players playing here depending on the crossovers on our American teams. But it will be -- it will be fun playing for as much money as we're playing for against some of the -- basically some of the best players in the world at the time. And it will be a pretty good shootout on a great venue.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: The scoring average, by far. Oh, because it shows consistency over the entire year. In order to win a scoring average title, you can't go out there and have a tournament where you shoot 75, 79. You've got to be consistent the entire year. And there's one thing this year I'm very proud of, even though I haven't won. I've kept my rounds there right around 70, 69, week-in, week-out and consequently my finishes where better.

Q. Tiger, since you got on the pro Tour, where the greens are much harder to read than in the amateurs, where they harder to read or do they have a little more subtlety?

TIGER WOODS: As far as reading the greens, I wouldn't say that. It's more difficult out here but I would have to say it's more difficult getting your speed because you're changing venues, changes grasses, week-in , week-out. If you look at amateur golf, you play probably a tournament once every two weeks, maybe three weeks, so you're not playing week-in, week-out say on bermuda one day then bent. Here you're switching all across the country and basically in amateur golf, you've got the south and you've got the north. It's very simple. You've got greens that are bent or bermuda and that's it. Most of the bigger tournaments you've played in were going to be on grass greens up in the northeast, so it's very simple. But as out here, it's more difficult because you've got to go from all different types of green and textures and you've got to be -- to be able to change your stroke and your speed week-in and week-out and eventually it will start creeping into your mind and you can get some faults in your putting which really aren't there.

Q. Tiger, did you have friendly-type rivalries with the likes of Mark O'Meara, David Duval?

TIGER WOODS: No, there are no rivalries out here, man. I don't see any rivalries ever happening out here. Yeah, there are going to be some good head-to-head battles but as far as Nicklaus-Watson rivalry or a Nicklaus and Palmer rivalry, I don't ever see that happening just because of the field depth. It's just too great now.

Q. Now that the Majors are over, is there a letdown for a player, after the major portions of the season is over, looking into the final months?

TIGER WOODS: A letdown? You know, there is maybe a sense of that, but I wouldn't say a letdown because I have my own goals that I'm trying but I still have my goals that I want to accomplish for the rest of the year for the entire year, back in January to try to accomplish. So no, I have my own goals and I'm very pleased the way I've played in the Majors this year. I'm just trying to finish out the year the way I know I can. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it.

Q. Would you say it is more important to have the leading money win, or have the lowest stroke average?

TIGER WOODS: You can go ahead and say that, whatever you want to say.

Q. I mean is that a sensible --

TIGER WOODS: I would say it's sensible, wouldn't you? No, I can't tell you my goals. I just want to keep them nice and private and try and accomplish them within myself.

Q. Tiger, what would be the difference between this year and last year, just your year as a player, just talk about the difference in the season.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm a totally different player than I was last year. I'm hitting the ball differently than I did last year. My ball flight's completely different than it was last year. My strategy is different. I just kind of matured, not only physically, but also as a player and that's going to happen for a number of years and hopefully it will happen until the day I quit playing and I'll keep learning and keep progressing in this game.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I am on this new program with my trainer, Keith, out in Vegas, and boy, I've put on -- since I've turned pro, probably about 12 pounds and this year alone I've put on a good 8 pounds and I dropped my body fat down between six and seven. So I'm very pleased in my progress that I've made that way. My flexibility has increased where it's -- I've never had that much flexibility before and I'm stronger and bigger so it's a pretty nice combination.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: No, I try to just do light stuff when I'm on the road. But when I get back home that's when I can go ahead and hit the gym and work on putting some mass back on because when you're out here on week-in, week-out you can't really do the kind of training you'd like to because it will start affecting your game. So I get home, say I have three weeks off, I'll go really hard the first week and then lighten off, back off on the poundage that I'm lifting and go for more reps to try and build some endurance and some speed in my muscles.

Q. Oftentimes, Tiger, your game seems to be somewhat erratic, shall I say, and do you attribute that to your body still growing?

TIGER WOODS: That's in any sport. I don't care who you are, Michael Jordan or Mohammad Ali or whoever you are in sports, you're going to go through some periods where you're just not at the top of your game. That doesn't mean that you're going to stay there, that just means that just like anything, it comes in cycles and you've got to ride the highs when you're there and get through the lows as quick as possible.

Q. Speaking of riding the highs, when I came in here, Vijay was 5-under after like 8 holes and he's won obviously the last two weeks. Would you say that he's on one of those highs now, is he the man to beat this week?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it, he is on those highs. The last person that was on a high last year would be Duval last year when he won the last three tournaments. Yeah, he's playing very solid, but more than anything, if you watch -- if you watch Vijay, he's always hit the ball really well. His putting has always been one element that's held him back. He's gone from long putter, short putter, long putter, short putter, back and forth, normal, cross-handed and he's finally found something that works. He tried cross-handed at the Western Open and he won that week and he's been on a roll and he's playing great golf. And more than anything his ball-striking hasn't really changed. He's always been a good ball-striker but now he's making the putts and it's amazing what happens when you make the putts. You just get on these great rolls, positive rolls.

Q. What's it like to be in that place, you've been there, two or three weeks --

TIGER WOODS: It feels great because you know that -- you know that you're not going to be hitting the ball well every week but you know that you're going to be making the putts to save yourself. And more than anything, you make key putts in a round. Say you make a 10-footer for par and you just came up for birdie make a 10-footer for par and keeps the round going next thing you know, you birdie three, four in a row. Those birdies, three, four in a row probably wouldn't have happened if you didn't make that par putt. So little key things that people overlook in a round of golf, I think what's what Vijay is doing. If you watched that PGA, he had some great par putts, some great saves.

Q. Tiger, what's the greater thing you've learned from last year to this year?

TIGER WOODS: The biggest thing: It's a long year. It's a very long year and playing, as I said last year, this was more golf than I've ever played. I played three months at a time, that's it. I played for a full, solid 10 months and the last two months of the season, it's usually been going overseas. So with that in mind, I had to develop a schedule in which I got plenty of rest, and when I did go home is was just to put the clubs away and get some rest; get my body back where I'm feel lively, full of energy.

Q. Was that tough to do, put the clubs away?

TIGER WOODS: Not tough, when you think: "I've got another 8 months to go".

Q. Last year?

TIGER WOODS: Last year, I had some faults in my game I wanted to work on getting them better and I wanted to work on them and get rested and I would come out here and I wasn't really excited to play because I was tired and that's just part of learning. And look at any great player who's ever played the game, they take two weeks off. The first week is just nothing, then the second week, you gear back up.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: Why? As I said, blowing my nose is not exactly an event.

Q. But you know what I'm saying, right?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, totally. I think it's -- people have become used to me, getting to know me a little bit more. And I think that when you're new on the scene that people just want to know more about you and eventually they know you and they just want to watch you play golf instead of digging in and trying to figure out what kind of person you really where.

Q. Tiger, how have you handled that? Last year certainly had to be overwhelming for you at some point either last year or this year, you feel like you're able to handle that better or maybe not at all?

TIGER WOODS: No, I think I'm handling it a lot better than I did last year. Last year at this time, I was a little tired, dealing with all the periphery that happens around me, wore me out. But I understand that now. I know how to basically build in a buffer zone, say no. Because you don't want to be mean to people but you can't please everybody. And that was probably one of the toughest lessons for me to learn is I always wanted to please everyone and just be nice but you really can't if you start doing that. You're not living life for yourself and eventually you're going to go down the tubes very quickly and you just have to say no in a nice way and I think I've learned that and it's only going to get better over time you about as a person my age who is 22 years old dealing with the things that I've had to deal with.

Q. Tiger, this is for the ladies. If you're dating how has that affected your life?

TIGER WOODS: If I'm dating, yes, I am dating and it's -- it's been very nice and very difficult, too, at times because I haven't had the time to devote as much time as I'd like to in relationships because I'm traveling so much. It's very difficult to get know somebody. But I'm very pleased with some of the friendships I've made and the people I've gotten to know and that's only to continue as I get used my life out here. And maybe I can find someone that can fit into this life.

Q. Tiger, is there any on somebody like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sousa, they are under similar scrutiny that you went through your first year just day in, day out, just intense feeling. What would you say, how would you say is the best way to handle it?

TIGER WOODS: Probably the best way to handle it is somehow you're going to have to get some time yourself somehow. I think it's up -- since they are in a team-oriented sport, the team can do that. The team can be the buffer zone, the manager, owners of the team can create a buffer zone in which these guys can get their rest, rejuvenate themselves and get their mind clear so they can go out and do their job and not dole the pressures and expectations of chasing Mr. Maris's record. And if you -- if the organizations don't do that, I think that these guys where going to get a little worn out. The guys where already getting a little snappy. You've seen some guys kind of -- you know, Mark kind of snap a couple of times and that's going to happen. And I think it's up to their ball club, do somehow create some space for them to breathe and when that happens, these guys will be more than willing to -- to talk to people, because one, they are going to be in a lot better mood and it's just amazing when that happens.

Q. Tiger, you are talked about watching this tournament on TV and as you were growing up and this being the last year of this format, this isn't a Major but how special would it be for you to win here this week in the last year of the tournament in this current format?

TIGER WOODS: Well, considering that it was an All-American Classic or whatever it was, then the World Series of Golf, it would be -- it would be a great accomplishment. Because if you look at the names on the -- on the list of champions, it's unbelievable. Right down the line from all the great players that have ever played the game and you can see why. Because it takes a lot of game to win here. You've got to have all facets of your game to win here. And to put my name on that list -- I would be very proud of that. No doubt about it.

Q. Do you have a little like extra excitement maybe about this more than maybe another fall tournament, as opposed to one of the majors?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm just happy to qualify. And if I could play in this tournament for the rest of my career, obviously, I'm doing something right.

Q. Tiger, how much will you play? You talked about the scheduling. How much will you play till the President's Cup and have you decided about the Grand Slam?

TIGER WOODS: I'm playing a few more tournaments. I'm excited about the Grand Slam. No, I haven't yet. But I've got to take a look at that, whether I need a little more rest or whatever it is. But I'm definitely looking forward to. I've got some exciting trips built in right now and I'm looking -- I've going to places I've never been before and so I'm pretty excited about that.

Q. With Norman gone, how has how has the Tour changed, has he been missed on tour?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. He has friends out here as well as the tournament sponsors, definitely no doubt about it because he's a huge draw and they lost some money that way. But as far as your next question is -- have things changed since he's been gone? I don't think they have changed. He hasn't been gone that long. It's not like he's been out of golf or five to ten years and we went from wood to metal. (Laughter).

Q. You mentioned Grand Slam. Is it possible that you would not play?


Q. When would you have to tell them?

TIGER WOODS: Soon. Soon, that's what I was told.

Q. Soon?

TIGER WOODS: Soon. That's tomorrow or three weeks from now, whatever "soon" means, I don't know. It's something I need to -- that's something I've to ask my agent.

Q. I just had a quick follow-up up about how your game has matured. You say you've been using a different ball flight. I assume that means you're trying to hit the ball a lit higher?


Q. And as far as maturation goes, is discretion getting the better part of valor now in terms of you battling back?

TIGER WOODS: Am I battling back? No. People think I'm battling back but just my swing maybe has changed than last year, so I'm not hitting the ball as far but I still have it in there when I want it. And when I do let it go. You'll see the difference but it's night that my trajectory has changed so that I can keep the ball in play and that's what it's all about; keeps ball in play so you can find it and be able to play the next shot without being in too much trouble.


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