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December 6, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: We want to thank Tiger Woods for joining us. Give us some information on your foundation, on Target, anything else?

TIGER WOODS: Right now it's the seventh year in the tournament, six years here. We have over 3 million kids involved in our program, in conjunction with Target. We've been partners since 1999.

It's pretty cool that we have our learning center opening up now. Our staff is in. The kids are going to be coming in mid January and we'll have a huge, obviously, big grand opening in February. But the kids will be in next month. They'll start the programs and start their way to becoming leaders themselves.

Q. It's hard to believe that next year is going to be your 10th full year on Tour. You're also turning 30. A milestone for a lot of golfers. I know you still have goals. Can you look forward and see even better things happening on this side of 30?

TIGER WOODS: If you look at most of the guys' careers, it looks like their peak years are in their 30's. Hopefully that will be the case for me. Hopefully my 30's will be better than my 20's. That would be pretty neat to have happen. Obviously there is a lot deeper competition, a lot more work I need to do, work to accomplish those goals. But obviously winning major championships is what I want to do for the rest of my career.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: If I play the way I know I can play I think I can get there. But as I say, I have a lot of work ahead of me, and a lot of things I need to do to make myself peak at the right times and get all the things coming together like I did this year. This year I put all the pieces together at the right time, four straight times.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I wanted to get my card. When I first came out I had no status or exemptions. I was praying not to go to Q School, just praying. That was certainly one of the biggest goals. I thought, at the time, '97 Masters, I thought it was big for me in a number of different ways. It was my first major as a professional. I got a 10 year [exception |exemption] there, too. Grandfather clause made that change. That certainly allowed me to feel more at ease that I was able to be on Tour for a full decade and not have that pressure that I did 'in 96 when I first came out.

I just want to win golf tournaments and hopefully win major championships. I didn't foresee it happening so quickly, but it certainly relieved a lot of tension on me to have won so quickly.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Because anything can happen at Q School. It's six rounds, and at the time I was I had my application sent in, because I had no status, and I had to go to first stage. I was hoping that it wouldn't happen, because anything can happen.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I wasn't a pro. I was an amateur.

Q. When did you know you wanted to open the learning center? How old were you and why is it so important to you?

TIGER WOODS: I really wanted to do it once I got out here. I wanted to have something tangible that kids could touch, kids could feel, they could be inside of. I thought what we were doing by going around the country and trying to inspire youth was great. We're just starting. We're in infancy stages. But I didn't think we were doing enough. We were kind of a circus, coming in for one week and we're gone. What about the other 51 weeks?

I wanted to do something that was going to be there permanently, something we could call home as a foundation for kids to come in, for kids to learn and grow, and I wanted them to create their own programs. The entire curriculum is based on their wants, their desires and their needs.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: A week before the L.A. Open, Friday before the L.A. Open.

Q. Michael Campbell was saying that he thinks he noticed some swing changes at the PGA Grand Slam. Have you been working on some things? He said your swing looks a lot different. What have you been doing?

TIGER WOODS: Working on the same things, but they're coming together. It's the same thing I've been working on since basically midsummer, but I'm starting to make it more fluid looking and more natural looking, hence it's going to look different. Before it looked robotic in a sense. It didn't flow. And I wouldn't do it consistently. Now things are starting to come together.

The way I played in Japan was pretty cool. The way I played in Hawaii is the way that I know I can play now, with all the swing changes.

Q. On the theme of looking back, Tiger, did you envision when you started ten years ago you would be going through all these swing changes?

TIGER WOODS: No. You never foresee that. When I was an amateur I knew that I needed to be make changes, but I didn't think I needed to make significant changes when I started working with Butch. And then to tear it all down again after the '97 Masters, retool it in July, took almost two years. I would never have foreseen that when I turned pro, to tear it down like that. But I did it. And then you never foresee to have to do it again, but I did it again. Hopefully I won't have to do it again.

Q. When you were at Stanford coming out, did you think at that point you had a swing that was good enough?

TIGER WOODS: My swing was good enough to compete on Tour, but I didn't think it was good enough to compete consistently on tour. I had a lot of holes in my game. I wasn't a very good driver of the golf ball. My distance was terrible with the short irons. I would fly it over a bunch of greens. And my putting was way too aggressive. I had holes in my game that I needed to rectify in order to be consistent week in and week out.

All the great champions that have ever played, that's what they did. I didn't think my game was good enough to come out on tour to do that week in and week out, so I needed to make changes.

Q. You've always been a long hitter, but in the era of super long hitting, have you changed the nature of the strategy of your game, which is now, drive the golf ball 350 yards? Is that good for the game?

TIGER WOODS: It's how the game has changed. It's evolved. In essence, it's evolved in the fact that we're able to hit the ball greater distances. But again, the long hitters are still able to carry bunkers that the average guy can't carry. And that's how it used to be anyway.

The bunkers weren't putt there on 18 at Augusta until Jack went deep. A lot of the golfers of the past, such as Jack or Watson, when he first came out, he was super long. It was to cut corners on Par 4s and Par 5s. We're able to do the same thing, but it's a longer distance now.

I think technology now has spread out the guys a little bit more with the added physical strength of guys, too, guys getting to the gym and really working on becoming stronger and more flexible, are able to get a lot more speed. Add to that technology, in the shaft and heads. And more importantly, be able to marry up the shaft, the head, and the ball, because that was never the case. We all had persimmon drivers and let's just go play and hopefully we can get it out there.

But now you match it up so you don't have to change your swing at all. You hit it and you have perfect ball flight.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: A long par 4 was for 430. 440 was really long. I figured I was wild enough back then, if I hit driver down there I would have 9 iron to the green, versus hitting a 3 wood and having 6 iron, 5 iron to the green. The thoughts haven't changed that much, I think the numbers have, because we're hitting it so much further.

Q. When do you think that you will know that you do not want to play anymore? And do you see yourself playing in the Masters when you're 46?

TIGER WOODS: If I'm physically able, yes. I will quit playing when I can't play anymore. When my best isn't good enough anymore. When I can't get up there and tee it up and feel in my own heart I'm playing my best right and I can't win. That's when I walk.

Because I've been to the top where if I play my best I know I can win, and all of sudden my best isn't good enough so why am I out here anymore. I'll go home.

Q. An excellent year, I wonder if you look back on it and you mentioned we were questioning you, other people were questioning you, you won this year also, it's your last year in the 20's, do you think much of that?

TIGER WOODS: For people to question me, as I understand it, why would you make changes when you were so successful. I went through the same process in '97, '98 and half of '99 before it came together, so I kind of had a blueprint of how to deal with it, because I've gone through it before. But it didn't make it easier when you're getting criticized for shooting a round of 70, when I can't do that consistently. I'm making changes. It's hard.

What people don't see is at home when I'm making the progressive changes and how much better I'm hitting it at home, but I just wasn't able to carry it to the golf course in a tournament situation. And that was the most frustrating thing.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: It frustrated me because I know what I can do, but I wasn't able to do it in a competition, and that's when it matters most. And then ultimately to do it in a major championship, and I wasn't able to do it there either, so it was doubly frustrating in that regard. But I stayed true to the past and here I am.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Everyone kids me about it. Are you kidding me? Because I guess the hair, I'm trying to grow it on my face and it's not growing there well either.

Q. There was a story in Golf World last week about performance enhancing drugs and steroids in golf and the possibility of it. Do you think there is a possibility that players are using anything and should there be perhaps a Tour policy or testing on that, either steroids or any kind of enhancing drug?

TIGER WOODS: There's always a possibility. Unless you're tested, there's always going to be a shadow of doubt on any sport. I don't see anyone out there who I would think would have finds of it, but who's to say there aren't. We don't know. We don't see any guys out there, 6 5, 240, 250, in shape, cut up, all ripped up. We don't have guys out there like that.

Q. Are you in favor of testing or do you think that's something that should be treated with a little more study?

TIGER WOODS: I think we should study it a little bit more before we get into something like that. Obviously it's a path that where do you draw the line? Do you do it on the PGA Tour nationwide but don't do it on any other tours leading up to that, or all professional golf.

Obviously there is a lot to it than just, okay, there's mandatory testing. Where does it start? Who does it? Who is in control of it? What are the substances that you're looking for. In the Olympics you can't take aspirin. A lot of guys live on aspirin out here.

Q. In regards to Tiger Jam, you had some pretty impressive acts show up. Do you have anything planned for next year to trump what you've had already?

TIGER WOODS: We've actually got this guy is pretty good, I think. It will be we've been trying to get him for a few years now and it finally happened. It will be one of the best ones we've ever had.

Scheduling, he's traveled all over the world doing other things and it just hasn't worked out on the schedule and it hasn't worked out with us, with Mandalay Bay being open that particular date. We've tried a bunch of different things and we've put it all together.

Q. If you could indulge us, you had somewhat of an epiphany last year in your swing before going over to Dunlap. Where would you say you were percentage wise in terms of grasping and being able to call upon your swing a year ago and how much farther along are you right now, and how much farther would you say you have to go, not to perfection but

TIGER WOODS: I understand your question. I would say it's a lot. I'm going to probably exaggerate a little bit, but tenfold, to feel and understand what I'm working on day in and day out now. Before, I kind of had a grasp. I have this ball flight going, I have this feel, what's causing it. Now I can rectify it.

If I see a certain ball flight I know what I have to do, and that's huge because I can rectify it on the golf course when it matters. If I hit a couple of loose shots I know what I did. I'm on the path to hitting good shots now. I didn't have that feeling before last year.

Q. (No microphone.) Between 20 and this year?

TIGER WOODS: This one is better.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I think it was the ability to contend in each one on the back nine on Sunday. As I've always said, if you put yourself there enough time, you're going to win your share. I put myself there four times and I won two. That's what you have to do. I didn't do that in 2002.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Of course it did. I hit it great that week. It was 80 guys.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Well, that week was one of my best ball striking weeks, and I just happened to putt atrociously. I took a huge positive out of that. Putting that badly isn't very good. I normally don't putt poorly, but actually, to putt that poorly and still have a chance on the last few holes to win a U.S. Open, that means you're playing pretty good. Coming out of there I felt really excited to go to the British Open. I'm usually a decent putter week in and week out.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's both. You're not on, and those greens, if you hit it three feet too far, you could be chipping it from the gallery. When you don't have control of your speed, that's not a good feeling.

Q. (No microphone.) Are you surprised that hasn't happened yet?


Q. No, you haven't.

TIGER WOODS: Are talking about majors or tournaments?

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Odds, but hopefully never.

Q. If you allow yourself one mulligan this year, where do you think?

TIGER WOODS: One mulligan? Can I just have a different putting stroke for the U.S. Open? (Laughter).

I'll be selfish just by saying if I could have putted normal at the U.S. Open and we'll see.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I think it could be done. I think so. I've won six times. If you win the right four out of six, you're looking pretty good. It takes four wins. Everything has to come together at the right time, the moon and stars, and there is a lot of luck involved. A lot of different things have to happen.

If you look at it, I had a great stretch at the Masters this year where I got it going. But ultimately you don't think I'm going to make two on 16 on Sunday, from where I putted it. And that's luck. And you need to have good breaks like that happen in order to give yourself a chance to win. I got a good break. Things like that have to happen.

To win four in a row, you have to have more things like that. It's a marrying up of timing of your skills coming together, but also maybe one bounce here and there can carry you and get something started. Because I thought the Masters kind of hinged on one shot for me this year.

People don't even know this. I got up and down on No. 6 to the back left pin on the green. I chipped it. I was on the top right. The pin is back left. I hit a sand wedge and put a little spin on it and held it on the fringe and let it roll down into the hole and I made par. My whole day turned around and I got it going. That's when I went on that big run.

It was on Friday, but it allowed me a huge spark of confidence, because I'm looking at making bogey. I made a bogey a year ago in the same spot. Same shot, made bogey. I wasn't going to bogey this time and it turned the whole tournament around. Things like that have to happen. People may not know these things, may not even see them.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I would have to say in no particular order, how about that? The first two, it's a toss up, to me it is. Winning the four majors in a row and making the TOUR Championship my first year in seven events. To me, that's kind of a toss up.

Probably are you talking about golf wise? The '97 Masters.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I won't remember it.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: It was the first. It had so much more significance because it was my first 2000 U.S. Open. I had already won two, but still, the '97 Masters, especially given all the circumstances surrounding that particular year. It was more special because of all the

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Four U.S. Opens, four majors in a row.

Q. How often do you talk to Scotty Cameron? And when you do talk to him what do you discuss putting wise?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't talked to him a lot. I've been putting well. Have I got too much loft, am I releasing too early, too late, am I dragging the blade, my path good, not good. You look at these things. High speed cameras help a lot, because I can't always feel it. I may sense something and I say this is what I sense, but it can lead me down another path that we need to get to.

This year I haven't really talked to him a whole lot because I've been putting well, except at the U.S. Open.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: The PGA just named it's year end award winners. For the Champions Tour, 2005 Player of the Year, Dana Quigley; Nationwide Tour, 2005 Nationwide Tour Player of the Year Jason Gore, and for the 7th time we have Tiger Woods who has been voted Player of the Year by his peers on the PGA Tour.

Congratulations, Tiger, and make a couple of comments about being named for the 7th time.

TIGER WOODS: It's been nice. I've had a lot of things happen this year. It's been exciting to finally get back on it and winning golf tournaments. I won two majors this year. To see, obviously, Dana and what he did on the Senior Tour, and what Jason, one of my good buddies, what he was able to do on the Nationwide and eventually out here, it's been an exciting year for all of us.

Q. Is there any way you could tell us which of these seven Player of the Year awards are more meaningful or are they all about the same?

TIGER WOODS: The first one in '97 was the most meaningful. It was my first full year on Tour. To be awarded Player of the Year from your peers and get the respect from your peers the first full year out was more than I could ever have imagined.

Q. I was curious how, now that you're entering your 30s, how do you view yourself? Do you see another seven Player of the Year awards? And have you looked at what other players have done in their 30's, Nicklaus or Watson or whoever?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't looked at the seven Players of the Year, because that's something that is a result of playing well and is a result of winning. Winning takes care of money titles. It takes care of Player of the Year awards. Ultimately what you want to do is win championships and major championships. Hopefully my 30's can be more productive than my 20's and I can win more major championships.

That's ultimately what I want to have happen. It's not about winning Player of the Year awards, it's about winning tournaments which allow you to get these awards.

Q. I recently had a chance to see your learning center and it was very impressive. I know I missed a couple of the statements you said earlier about the center. Can you talk about the significance of where it's located. It's located near a course where you grew up playing, and also the area, the makeup of that area. I didn't realize that there are that many kids who are in need of that kind of a center, that kind of educational outlet. Can you talk a little bit about that?

TIGER WOODS: Our learning center is being held at HG "Dad" Miller, and it's where I used to play my high school golf for all four years. Anaheim City and that district, Magnolia District, is basically underserved and we need to have something obviously I went through that area and grew up in that area, and obviously it's not something that we think is okay. I think it can be better. And for us to have an opportunity to go back to where I grew up and where it all started for me was a no brainer.

And the City of Anaheim, for get them to get behind it the way they have, it was huge for us at the foundation and all the kids that we're going to help in the future and currently helping.

Q. Earlier you mentioned the other golfers sort of hit their peak in their 30's. I'm curious, in what specific ways do you think you're better prepared to succeed in your 30's than in your 20's?

And as sort of a semi follow up to that, in these swing changes, how much do you think that will reduce stress and decrease injury to your back looking into your 30's and 40's?

TIGER WOODS: That's the whole reason why I made the changes, to relieve some stress on my body parts that were taking a pounding. The end result is I've relieved some stress there which has been great. I've been more healthy and feeling better day to day, which is just great, and from those surgeries. That's also a positive.

But starting in my 30's now on Tour is infinitely different than when I first came out. I didn't know what to expect on Tour. I hadn't been on Tour. I didn't play the the majority of the sites I played when I first turned pro, I hadn't played any. So to play in these events the first time, not knowing where to stay, little things, not knowing where to stay. Don't know any of the guys on Tour, only knew a couple of guys, because no one my age was on Tour. There was a distinct age difference. Some of the guys, I just couldn't relate what they were going through and they couldn't relate to what I was going through.

Now that I've been on Tour and have developed numerous amount of friendship, it makes going to Tour events so much easier than it used to be.

Q. One question for the schedule in 2006. Given it's the 10 year anniversary of you turning pro, the fact that it might change dramatically in 2007, would you be inclined to return to Milwaukee next year if it was your last chance to do so?

TIGER WOODS: When it is?

Q. A week after the British.

TIGER WOODS: That's certainly a possibility.

Q. Just wanted to follow up a little bit about the swing changes one more time. I'm wondering specifically if the changes you made were to play certain courses, all courses or in fact give you an ability to play certain courses better than you played them, I'm thinking specifically like Bay Hill or Augusta National.

TIGER WOODS: No, it was basically to become more consistent, a better player, and relieve stress on certain parts of my body that were taking a pounding.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I've never had lower back pain.

Q. Looking back, has your career gone the way you thought it was when you turned pro? Did you envision having that kind of success, that dramatic start?

TIGER WOODS: No, I did not. In my wildest dreams I could never imagine winning this many times and winning this many majors in my 20's. Yeah, you have wild expectations and hopefully they come true, but when you exceed your own expectations, it's very special.

Q. This tournament, the way it's grown, did you expect it to be like this or has it exceeded what you thought or hoped for when it started?

TIGER WOODS: When it first started out, I thought this could be a very special event. We got a bunch of support, but over the years it's been incredible to see the guys turn out and see all of us competing, the best in the world, and to have it a world challenge is the whole idea. We have got a bunch of players. The game is expanding. The game is growing. It's now a global game. It's not just here domestically in the United States. The whole idea is to get more foreign players in the field, because I think that's indicative of how the game is evolving.

If you look at most of our picks, that's kind of what they've been, is to try to get more a collection of foreign players in there.

Q. Have you spoken to Fred Funk about proper attire for this week?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, it certainly is a male dress code, standard PGA Tour issue, pants. Color, now days guys where that kind of color, so I can't really say anything about that.

Q. (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: Yes, there is a chance. I'm looking at that right now. I could do a 3 week stint there, yes. I don't have to travel very far.

Q. Obviously these events have small fields. What's it going to take for world class events like this during the off season to gain World Ranking points?

TIGER WOODS: It's something we're working on right now with the commissioner as we speak. It's something that we've asked. Our committee, our PGA Tour committee, and obviously the World Rankings committee to evaluate whether or not we can get that, how can we do it. And we may have to make some changes but we may not. It's going to take some time and we're working on that process right now. Hopefully next year we'll have World Ranking points.

Q. Do you find that your priorities have changed as you've gotten older? In terms of when you first came out it seemed you had tunnel vision in terms of winning Tour events and competing. Changing your personal life, do you find yourself changing your priorities and how difficult is that to balance?

TIGER WOODS: It's actually become a lot easier to balance. To have other outlets in your life makes it more balanced. You don't want to have one thing dominate your life, which when I first came out here, that's what it was, nothing but golf. It had to be, I had to get my career started.

But as I got closer to O'Meara and being around him, he made pointedly aware of how important it is to have balance. If you want to survive out here for a long period of time you have to have balance, you have to have outlets. That's when I started getting other hobbies. He took me on a bunch of fishing trips. And now I've kind of gone away from the fishing that he does, fly fishing, I've gone to spear fishing. Obviously my personal life has changed by being married.

It's been fantastic for me to have that balance, it's tough playing out here all the time with all the things and distractions and pressures you have to deal with. But it's nice to have other outlets to get away. Other players have hunting, family. I don't have a family that Elin have started yet. So there's been a lot of different things that guys have used to get away from the game of golf. I didn't have that when I first came out, but now I do.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you media for joining us on the phone and congratulations Tiger named 2005 PGA Player of the Year.

End of FastScripts.

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