March 3, 1998
Q. How about your first venue here in South Florida, and playing the Doral Ryder Open?
TIGER WOODS: It's my first PGA event here, I played in the Orange Bowl down at the Biltmore. And it is nice being back. I didn't play here, I was at the All Star Cafe opening last year. This is my first trip around the course. And it was a lot better than what people were telling me, because of all the sand they had last year in the bunkers, this year they've watered it down, packed it down, and made a few changes, made it more playable. And I could tell, because I hit some of the balls from the tee box in the bunkers, not on purpose, but hit some bad tee balls, and the balls were sitting up. Last year I watched some of the guys imbed balls.
Q. How would you assess your play right now?
TIGER WOODS: I'm playing very good. I've had a good start to the year, I haven't finished out of the top three yet. So I've had a pretty good start.
Q. Are you amazed by the fan reaction you get everywhere you go, do you get used to it?
TIGER WOODS: You know, the fan -- the number of people, I've come to grips with that, that's not a problem. I actually kind of enjoy, a lot of kids come out, which is kind of neat. One thing I don't enjoy is how aggressive they are. I remember looking at a clip back from Wilt Chamberlin was in his prime, coming off winning a NBA Championship. Thousands of people there, everyone wants an autograph, and everyone patiently waited. Nowadays -- one kid got hurt last week, started crying, he was cut up a little bit against the fences, so it's a shame how aggressive they are right now.
Q. Tiger, has it alleviated any at all last year, the crowds or tournament, people doing a little better controlling the situation for you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think overall it's a lot better, with the staff. They know what to deal with now, whereas last year we were kind of funny, the security would tell them, you haven't experienced something like this, you haven't experienced this many people being that aggressive. And -- we've been doing this a number of years, we have the staff, we'll take care of it. And you get to the tournament site and everything is chaotic and hectic. People are getting hurt, people are being trampled, that's not right. Now the Tour has taken some measures, taken some steps, and it's good for everybody now. Not only myself, but for all the players. The access we have between clubhouse to putting green and driving range, these accesses now are much more efficient, a little wider for us to walk through and we don't have any problems.
Q. Is it any better going to watch a Magic game, let's say, or still a little bit of a hassle doing things like that, personally?
TIGER WOODS: The only thing that's kind of bothersome, is when you've got food in your mouth and people want to take a picture and have an autograph.
Q. How do you block out all the distractions?
TIGER WOODS: When you're out there playing it's not that bad. You're inside the ropes, that's your job. Now, it's time to get down to business, and let's focus. But it's like when you're off the course -- we'll say not out there playing, you're out there hitting balls, and people want to come up and say hi to you, sign an autograph here and there, that kind of stuff starts getting on you, because you're still working, you're practicing, and you're trying to groove something, so at times I can be -- that can be a little more bothersome.
Q. Has Michael Jordan given you any advice on how to cope with being a 24-hour celebrity?
TIGER WOODS: MJ, and every other celebrity I've talked to, no matter what we say, no matter how we handle it, you're going to have to find your own -- find your own way through. MJ has his way, Kevin Costner and Magic Johnson have their way. Some guys need more space, some guys don't need a whole lot of space. Some guys need a lot of rest, others don't need a lot of rest. You have to find what you need.
Q. What do you do?
TIGER WOODS: That's my secret.
Q. Have you found your way yet?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have.
Q. Can you expound on it?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. You've been quoted as saying that the aggressiveness that people have shown in trying to get your autograph and getting close to you that they don't do that with Nicklaus and Palmer, because they give them more respect. Why do you think you haven't got that kind of respect?
TIGER WOODS: It's age, strictly age. I remember last year at the J.C. Penney Classic, Tampa is an older community, and at the tournament they had a lot of -- I have to say people that would be like my grandparents, that was the type of crowd, and little old ladies were just grabbing my arm, sign this, you're my grandson, sign this for me. Stuff like that, you can understand. But they would obviously never do that to Jack or Arnold, because of their age.
Q. Can you see where this course -- people have said if you play this long, if you can hit it long, you've got an advantage, can you see that, where long helps here?
TIGER WOODS: Long does help. There's no doubt about it. But today we're playing with the hardest one they have here from the Northwest, and with this wind, length is pretty much taken out of the ballgame. Because what Raymond did is he -- most of the carries over the bunkers between 265 and 280, sometimes 290, and with this northwest wind most of the carries are now into the wind, into wind left or into it off to the right, you've still got to fight the wind. If it's prevailing out of the southeast, the course built for a longer hitter, with no problem, because the longer hitters can carry that between 260 and 290, downwind with no problem. And we'll have a lot of wedges.
Q. For us on the East Coast, would you go over briefly on the last two holes in LA, your thought process?
TIGER WOODS: I hit driver both times, both of them were a little bit right, didn't get the club in the right position, got a little open behind me, and hit the ball out to the right. First time I had 235 the front edge and had to hit a pretty big cut and was trying to put in the right bunker, if not on the green, if I could catch a solid shot, if I didn't cut it as I did, I cut it probably about 30, 40 yards, if I wouldn't have done that, I would have put it on the green, but I was in the right bunker, which I thought was a pretty good shot. Until I got up there, and it was a little bit of a hog's back, and most of the green I had to fight going down to the pin. I tried to miss it left, so I'd have the uphill putt, and unfortunately I didn't spin it enough coming out of the bunker, so it rolled long, and I made about a 15-footer. The second time I played the same kind of 3-wood out to the right, but I didn't hit it as solid, I thinned it. And I tried to play a little soft shot, because up front most people would think out of the first cut of rough I should have played the lower shot, but the problem is we've had so much rain there, all up front, you could see all these footprints and see how soft it is, anything that landed short on the uphill wouldn't come close to getting to the hole, it would pretty much just plug, so I took -- tried to hit a high shot. But I hit it bad, hit it too hard. And instead I carried it 8 or 10 feet short of the hole, I flew it pin-high, and that cost me, then I was above the hole, and missed a pretty tricky putt.
Q. Tiger, you have a terrific record since you've been out here on Tour, and people come out to see you win, obviously you can't win every week, what's a realistic expectation of how much you can win in a given year?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I honestly don't know.
Q. Would you say if I win two or three times a year, that's a good year for you?
TIGER WOODS: It all depends how many opportunities you have. If you're in the ballgame right there down the stretch, week in and week out and only win two or three times out of 20 some odd times, you say, "I missed a lot of chances." But if you had a bad year and didn't play all that well and you were there two or three times and you won all of them, then you've had a great year.
Q. Do you have any goals that you could tell us about?
TIGER WOODS: Huh-uh.
Q. This lack of privacy in your life, is that the biggest down side of what it's meant to become a PGA TOUR player?
TIGER WOODS: I think lack of privacy, yeah, that just comes with being in the limelight. You can't fight that, it's just the way it is. I can tell you one thing that I wouldn't necessarily say I'm proud of, but I lead the Tour right now with National Enquirer covers (laughter.)
Q. The paparazzi issue is the thing that's still being hashed out in the press even now after Diana's death, is this something that's worrying you, that it's going to go on like this, and you will never have any privacy?
TIGER WOODS: Put it this way, I think the paparazzi will end when the general public stops wanting to know what everyone does in their private life.
Q. Tiger, you seem to be playing better at this stage of the season than you were last year at this stage, is part of this having gone through all this twice?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. Last year I was very excited to play, and I played a lot, didn't really know what to expect. And also you have to understand, I played a lot of these courses for the first time. But this one, this is one of my first stops here. So that starts to add up. And not knowing what to expect, how long the season is, and how to pace yourself correctly on and off the golf course. Yeah, that took its toll on me, even at an early stage. But I think this year it's also a reflection of good, hard work, too.
Q. Is there any one part of your game that is noticeably better than last year?
TIGER WOODS: I think overall I'm a lot better, I've driving better, my iron play is more crisp. My distance control is better, I'm putting better. My sand saves are a lot better. So my overall package is better, and I think because of that you've seen me in contention this year a majority of the time. And that's awfully nice.
Q. Tiger, at the end of last year you said you really wanted to take a hard look at this year's schedule and maybe budget or manage your time a little better, have you been able to do that or is it more of the same as it was last year, in terms of how busy you are?
TIGER WOODS: It's about the same, but I've had more breaks. What I'm saying by more breaks, I wouldn't say frequency, but I have to say extended period of time. And I think that's the key to lasting out here for -- look at Jack's career. Jack never played more than 17 tournaments a year. 18 was unheard of for Jack. And nowadays you see guys playing 29, 30 tournaments and it takes its toll on you. You've got to understand what your goals are and trying and achieve those.
Q. Tiger, Buzz ^ Taylor was talking about he thinks one of the biggest concerns is courses becoming obsolete, equipment becoming so strong, and he wanted to talk to the young guys, like yourself, to get a consensus, what is your belief on equipment? Is it in danger of becoming almost too easy and some of the courses become obsolete, people hitting it so far?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I have to say some courses have already become obsolete, i.e. Merion, we'll never play a major championship there. You see long hitters like John Daly, I hit a 5 off the par four's, they're no longer on the rotation, and that's a shame. But I think overall equipment has had a lot to do with it. But if you look at the players nowadays, they're not 5'9", 5'8", 5'7", 5'5" anymore, a lot of them are over six feet, hence more arc. The clubs are lighter now, hence more club head speed. We're working out more, nutrition experts, we're working out in the weight room. If you look at it comparatively, ten years ago how many guys were going into the weight room versus now on Tour, you see probably a thousand percent jump. And I think because of all those added together, not just equipment, but the whole package is why golf courses are becoming shorter. Not to mention, too, that fairways are cut shorter, as well. And the balls are running now.
Q. Tiger, talk a little bit about your relationship with Fluff, if you can. What has he done in the off-season and what has he done so far this season that's helped make you a little bit of a better player?
TIGER WOODS: I have no idea what Fluff did off-season.
Q. You don't work with him in the off-season at all?
TIGER WOODS: Fluff does his own deal and I do mine.
Q. What has he done so far?
TIGER WOODS: Fluff has just been Fluff. He's been my caddy and friend and companion. He's a person I trust. And being under the gun, and coming the last few holes, Fluff has the guts to call you off a shot, and he'll say I don't think that's the club, I think this is the club and I think this is why.
Q. How do you separate or do you separate the employment relationship you have with the friendship you have?
TIGER WOODS: It's just part of it. I think Fluff and I -- our attitudes are very similar, so we can separate the two, with no problem. I don't have a problem with it. At times you'll see us out there just laughing and giggling and just having a great time, and that's our friendship out there. But then we'll calm it down and then go to work, and it's time to take care of business.
Q. You talk about courses becoming obsolete, does Augusta National have any opportunity to become obsolete?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't think so, because the greens are the protected mechanism there. No matter how long we get, we've got to play those greens and still putt them. At the speeds they are now and how hard they are, yeah, I don't think that golf course is going to become obsolete.
Q. Is there a solution for some of these other courses that are becoming obsolete, is there anything you can do to prevent it?
TIGER WOODS: I guess the only thing you could do is make more courses like a U.S. Open, where the fairways are more narrow, the rough is higher. Yeah, bring the fairways in and grow the rough up a little bit because that will penalize you for being long and crooked. Nowadays there's so many people out there, you can hit a driver and spray it off, to get a perfect lie in the rough. And I think that's the only way. Golf courses now are 66, 67 hundred yards. You see guys like in Milwaukee, it's a pretty good golf course, and not the longest course on Tour, and average winning score is 20-something under every year.
Q. Tiger, do you feel like one of the guys on the Tour now or because of the notoriety you get, do you still feel somewhat isolated?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm one of the boys, now.
Q. A lot of guys talk about Augusta count down starts this week, are you of that mindset or is yours a little later?
TIGER WOODS: Mine started, probably, at the beginning of the year, working on things I needed to work on to be ready for Augusta. And I had some weaknesses that I needed to take care of that I had some time, I had three full months to take care of it. And I'm working incrementally on them, and hopefully everything will peak like it did last year, that one week in April.
Q. Being in the limelight to the degree you are, is it harder to find a friend like Fluff, people that you can really trust, and, two, how important is the Michael Jordan relationship to your life?
TIGER WOODS: MJ has his own thing, he has a lot of things he has to worry about. I don't bother him and he doesn't bother me. It's nice we can bounce things off each other once in a while. Fluff has been a great friend.
Q. Is it harder to find friends to that degree, to that magnitude?
TIGER WOODS: Now it is, now, yes. I think most of the people would have -- I think agenda might be too strong a word, but that's the general motive that I'd have to say. People have something to gain off of me instead of just being a good friend.
Q. That sounds sad?
TIGER WOODS: It's just the way it is. If you're the greatest writer in the world, everybody would try to get something off of you, learn something from you or get something off of you, maybe that they could benefit from. That's the way it is. It's the nature of the beast.
Q. But it's still a beast. Do you feel alone?
TIGER WOODS: No, I've got a lot of good friends, trust me.
Q. Tiger, slightly territorial question for me, in light of the New World Golf Championship events coming up next year, where do you think players in your age group -- where does THE PLAYERS Championship fit in the priorities of wanting to do well, wanting to win it, where does that stand with you right now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, PLAYERS Championship is one of the biggest tournaments we have. And I think that even with the World Golf -- the three big tournaments that we've got next year, even with that THE PLAYERS Championship is still the best field we have, up until that day. It might even be better than The Masters, because The Masters is such a small field. I think THE PLAYERS Championship, even with the World Championships of Golf, there's a lot of history at THE PLAYERS championship, a lot of great players have won. We all know that, we all recognize that, and I think that's why we all want to win.
Q. Can you tell me how you play No. 11, briefly?
TIGER WOODS: There it all depends on the conditions. I've played it when it's been really firm, I've played it when it's wet. When it's really wet I try to hit the lowest drive I possibly can so it doesn't get very high off the ground, so it will hit, even though soft it will hit and run the butt off the ball, because it's very clayey out there, very muddy, not a whole lot of grass on that fairway, when it's dry it's bombs away, and try to carry it over the region, the left side, if I hit a good drive I'll run the down slope of that. I try to carry it onto that and run it off so I have an iron onto the green.
Q. Do you get excited to play new courses and new areas like Miami, the Doral?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, definitely.
Q. Did you play 18 today?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh.
Q. How did you play and what do you think of the change, I know you weren't here last year?
TIGER WOODS: Today with this wind it's dead downwind, and I hit driver, sand wedge to it.
Q. Did you get over the left bunker?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, down the middle of the fairway. I had 106 yards to the hole today. But as I said, it's -- it was howling downwind when I was playing. If it switches on that hole I could hit driver, 2-iron on that hole easily.
Q. I'm wondering how much of your time away from the golf course is spent on business pursuits and do you enjoy doing that type of stuff?
TIGER WOODS: I spend enough time so I'm aware of what's going on in my life. But as far as ever letting that consume me, no, I don't every let it get to that point, nor do I ever want to. I enjoy playing this out here. I have a lot of people around me that I trust and it's their job. My job is out here, their job is in the office.
Q. Tiger, Jack and Arnold have advocated rolling back the golf ball 20 percent, to make the obsolete courses come back, how do you feel about that?
TIGER WOODS: That's one idea. Another idea you could do is build more traditional golf courses that are longer. We have a lot of land, and you just hit a lot of stadium golf courses, go back to the old style courses, and make them 75, 100 yards. There's a whole bunch of different ways you can do it. Or as I said, I explained to Steve, here, you can narrow the fairways down every week and grow the rough up, and that would eliminate a lot of longer hitters from hitting driver.
Q. Tiger, after last year's Masters there were a lot of comments about, of course, he won, the golf course was made for his game, there was a few others that anytime he goes to Augusta he should be the favorite, because the golf course was made for his game. Are you not getting enough credit for how you played or how do you feel about those remarks?
TIGER WOODS: They can say whatever they want. I got my green jacket.
Q. But do you agree?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think the greatest thing I did there was not drive the ball, because I can hit the ball that length any day, it's the way I putted. I didn't have a 3-putt all week. You know you're going to have 6 and 8 footers no matter what for par, even after a good first putt because the slopes are so severe. To go around that golf course and never have a 3-putt I think was more of an accomplishment than anything else.
Q. Tiger, in the last year, have your parents given you any advice about how to deal with the fame, the lack of privacy and the hero worship that kids have for you or have you been able to teach them anything, because I'm sure their privacy is not what it was?
TIGER WOODS: Actually it's very simple, just be yourself.
Q. Tiger, you were just mentioning a little while ago about how overall you feel you're better this year. Does that -- when you say that and you think back to The Masters last year, does it amaze you that you won by so much knowing that you're still getting better?
TIGER WOODS: As anyone out here can have a hot week. And I just happened to put together a great ball-striking and great putting, three and a half rounds. I drove the ball that well all -- I guess for probably the first six months that well, but my iron play was a little suspect and actually I putted pretty good early in the year, so the fact that I putted that good did surprise me that I made that many putts, but my speed control was good, probably for the first half of the year. And that was something I've been working on and it finally paid off.
Q. Do you have a favorite golf course over the ones you all play on the Tour?
TIGER WOODS: Huh-uh.
Q. Do you think any one is particularly better than the next?
TIGER WOODS: Huh-uh.
Q. When you look back on the last three majors last year, and you were disappointed with your performance there somewhat, what lessons did you learn, where did you go wrong trying to peak for that time and where will you adjust this year?
TIGER WOODS: I think last year's -- I think you guys probably won't believe this, but it's something I've never gone through before is that throughout my junior golf, collegiate golf and amateur golf days there's always been one tournament per year, that's it, it's either the Junior World when I was real young, then the U.S. Junior and then it became the U.S. Amateur. Nothing else really mattered. There was no other tournament that really came close, those were the big ones to win. Now there are four of them out here. You have to peak four different times. And I've never had to peak four different times. And so that was very unusual for me to have. I won The Masters, whew, wow, the U.S. Open is right here, it's coming up pretty quick, then the British Open is three weeks after the U.S. Open. It's tough. And I've never had to prepare so quickly for a major championship. And that's something I've adjusted my schedule for this year for, and I've adjusted my practice schedule to try and peak four different times. And that is a true art form of doing it. Jack was by far the best doing that, peaking four different times a year.
Q. What was his secret as you look back on how he did it? He would show up early?
TIGER WOODS: He did, he showed up early. He'd play -- let's say he'd go up to Augusta two weeks before or so, play maybe 36 holes one day, and come on home or go to another venue on a Monday when nobody is out there. And then he'll go up there early Monday and play from Monday through Wednesday, and play and practice. But I think that's what Jack needed for Jack. Other players like, who was it, Jimmy Demaret and Hogan would go down to Texarkana in Arkansas and play before Augusta. So it all depends on the player, and what they need to get ready.
Q. What Justin did at the British Open I guess may be copied by some, do you see yourself doing something like that?
TIGER WOODS: For me I don't like playing that much golf, but Tom Watson, and Trevino, they were very good over on the Links courses, the reason being they were over a week before. And they would go play in Ireland, go play in Scotland, all the great golf courses in Ireland and Scotland before the British Open and get used to those conditions.
Q. But you probably wouldn't do that?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's something that I may try in the future, who knows.
Q. How many times will you go to Augusta before that week?
TIGER WOODS: None.
Q. Not going to go at all?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Have you been back?
TIGER WOODS: Huh-uh.
Q. Is there anything about your life at Stanford that you miss?
TIGER WOODS: I miss my friends, miss hanging out in dorms, just cooling out with my buddies, you know.
Q. The quiet, privacy?
TIGER WOODS: Just cooling out with my buddies. We had a great time, and just to hang out with them and just kind of shoot the bull. That was always a lot of fun. We talked about a lot of interesting subjects, because everyone is so smart at Stanford and has such an interesting perspective on whatever subject it may be.
Q. Can you tell me about the time table to finish school?
TIGER WOODS: We're working on that right now, on developing a program and a major right now.
Q. Tiger, you did Augusta in record breaking fashion, did that put any pressure on you for the other majors, were the expectations that much higher?
TIGER WOODS: I guess one thought was that so-called Grand Slam, but, granted, I was the only one that had a chance at it. So that was an assume abdominal assumption, but I don't know. I guess the way I played at Augusta people thought I could do that on-call, put everything together at the right moment. People have no idea how hard that is to do. And especially when you're playing under the most extreme conditions, under the most extreme pressure and against the best players in the world to be able to do that on-call, it's pretty tough.
Q. But did you feel any extra pressure because of what you'd done at Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: No, outside pressure I didn't really care. After a while I quit reading whatever you guys were putting out, quit watching whatever you guys put on TV. So I knew what I had to do, I knew what I did for Augusta to get ready and I tried to do the same thing for the rest of the Majors.
Q. Did you have a favorite shot at the tournament last year, Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: A favorite shot? Probably the most pressure I felt was that last putt, I knew I had to make that for the record.
Q. I guess maybe we're overdoing it, but not winning in eight months on this Tour, how much does that bother you, because you show up every week, planning to win, expecting to win, is that getting all frustrating?
TIGER WOODS: It is frustrating that I haven't won, but it's also pretty good that I've been in contention every week. I haven't finished out of the top three so far this year.
Q. With your standards and your goals, is part of you --
TIGER WOODS: Part of me is saying I'm disappointed, but part of me is saying I'm very excited. Last year I had one victory, but a lot of finishes outside the top five, outside the top-10, I wasn't in contention every single week with 9 holes to go on Sunday. This year I have been, tournaments that I finished, that is.
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