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November 7, 2000

Tiger Woods


GORDON SIMPSON: All right, everyone. Tiger, welcome back. The money race was not nearly as close as the Presidential race over in the States, I see. But you're back with us to defend the American Express Championship and in good form, the start of a long run, isn't it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this is, I believe, my fourth week out of eight; and so far things have been all right. My game's all right. It's not the greatest in the world right now. I'm just kind of getting by. But I got a few things I need to work on these next two days, and I should be ready.

GORDON SIMPSON: How about last year, your memories of that last afternoon. It was pretty dramatic, wasn't it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I played so well the entire day. Even the shot I hit on 17 in the water was a good shot. It was a wonderful day. I played well, and I was able to squeak out a victory at the end of the playoff.

GORDON SIMPSON: Questions, please.

Q. Florida's the big swing state in the election. Were you able to vote before you left?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did.

Q. They've changed 17. Does that make you happy? Are you pleased to hear that? I know you haven't been out. Are you pleased to hear about the changes to the green on 17?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't heard what kind of changes. I don't know if it's more severe, less severe.

Q. They've leveled the green, and the grass is slightly longer on the front.

TIGER WOODS: Well, that's good I guess. (Laughter.)

Q. There's ten Americans in the top 20 in the world rankings and there aren't many here. Your reaction to that?

TIGER WOODS: I felt like the year's over with, and this didn't feel like (inaudible). Traditionally, our season ends with our TOUR Championship. Just like people over here, it ends with the Volvo Masters. That's how it's going to be next year, but these two years, a lot of guys didn't come over, and they're trying to get ready for the holiday season, take a little time off, and I think that's probably the best way to look at it.

Q. Can you tell us about your trouble and whether there was any temptation for you not to come here?

TIGER WOODS: I got here this morning. Left yesterday, got here this morning nonstop. It was a good flight.

Q. Did you have any connections?

TIGER WOODS: No, I flew right here. Orlando to here.

Q. With the season ending effectively in a miracle last week, you get asked a lot to put your accomplishments in perspective. As you get near the end of this year, how do you look back on this year as you get a little further removed from it, the accomplishments you've had?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the overwhelming sense of pride and joy and the fact that I was able to work on a lot of things I haven't been able to work on in the past few years all came together in the biggest events. That's what you want to have happen. You want to have your game peak four times a year, and I was able to do that for about three and a half events. First two rounds of Augusta, I didn't really play that great, but I got it going on the weekend. I feel that this year, even though I've won a few times throughout the year, the fact that I was able to play as well as I did in the big events, in the major championships, our PLAYERS Championship, TOUR Championship, the World Golf Championships, so far I've been able to play really well. That's ultimately what you want to have happen.

Q. Do you see yourself as an international golfer more so than American peers, and do you also feel an obligation to the game around the world?

TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say necessarily an obligation. I just enjoy it. I enjoy playing around the world. I've always figured in order to be the world's best, you have to play around the world. You have to win in various countries and various conditions. There's different grasses all across the world that you need to play in and learn how to play in. It's just, that, to me, is just part of the educational process of playing the game of golf. There are a lot of different things you need to learn, and they will help you down the road by playing all around the world.

Q. How do you handle the pressure? You're the big favorite. How do you actually handle that pressure? Double question, if you don't mind. How do you have to play here at Valderrama to win the World Golf Championships in Europe anyway?

TIGER WOODS: First part of the question, just be myself. I just go out there, I just play as hard as I possibly can. I try on every shot. And I know that sounds pretty simple, but that's all it is. What people want to expect of my play, it really has no bearing on how I play, because ultimately, not that you guys here or anybody in the galleries have ever hit a shot for me, I'm the one that ultimately has to hit the shot. I focus on what I can do. I know what I can and can't accomplish holing the ball, and I try to do my best. As far as playing this golf course, I know that the times I've played here, the two times and the tournaments I've played here, you have to drive the ball well. You need to -- in the past, I've hit a lot of irons off the tees because the golf course has been fast, it's been short. I don't know how it is this year. But the last year, I remember hitting just a 10-iron, 4-iron off the tee, just because the fairways were so fast, the ball was running. From there, you hit a tap on the small greens. You get the ball on the green, you're going to have a legitimate birdie chance.

Q. Do you find it ironic that last weekend Pierre Fulke had to win Masters or come second at least to play here this week? Whereas in your event in the States, Phil Mickelson had to win that event to lock up second position and thereby avoid coming here. Do you find any irony in that?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. I never looked at it that way. (Laughter.) I think that Phil played well last week. He won, and just decided to stay home, as he said, enjoy the holiday season. It's the first time he's gotten to be away from the game for a while, taking six weeks off, just getting away from it. He's played a lot throughout the year, and he just wants to take a little time off.

Q. In Valderrama you have a chance to break the $10 million mark in your career. It was one of your goals after the PGA, at this point.

TIGER WOODS: No, it wasn't one of my goals at PGA, no. One of my goals at the beginning of the year.

Q. A chance to break the $10 million, it was your goal after you won the PGA in August?

TIGER WOODS: No, it was one of my goals at the beginning of the year, a very good goal.

Q. What were the others?

TIGER WOODS: I have a few. I tell you at every tournament, whether I accomplish them or not.

Q. Just want to follow up, one more question on the season that you had. In your thoughts, do you think about that that year may never be duplicated, or is it "you haven't seen anything yet" in your thinking?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I think the best way to look at it is the fact that I've had a wonderful year; I've played well. Ultimately, what you have to do is put yourself in a position to win. This year I was able to do that. Most of the tournaments I've played in this year I've had a chance to win. There are a few tournaments where I didn't. I either made a mistake down the stretch, or my opponents just outplayed me. That's the way it goes. The key is to keep putting yourself there time in and time out. Your wins will come. I think that's something that I'm very proud of this year, is I was able to put myself in contention on the back nine on Sunday in most of the events I teed up in.

Q. I'd like to ask you two questions. Were you tempted not to come here yourself?

TIGER WOODS: Second part?

Q. Second part, next week you're playing in London. Can you talk about 10,000 tickets sold to watch you?

TIGER WOODS: Was I tempted not playing here? No. I was going to play here anyway. I support this event. I think I'm -- I'm really excited about it. From what I've been told, a lot of people are going to be there. I just hope the weather holds out, and it actually will be a fun little clinic where I can get a few shots and put a little smile on their face, maybe educate them on how I play some of the shots I play, why I play them. I've done this in most of the World Golf Championships that I've played on, done a clinic a Monday after an event. It's been a lot of fun.

Q. Having won three majors this season, what is your thinking now on the Grand Slam, how attainable is it?

TIGER WOODS: I've always said it is possible. You just need to win four events. Phil Mickelson won four events this year. You just need to get lucky and win the right four. (Laughing.) But a lot of it, one, you need to have your game come together four times throughout the year. That is attainable, but you need to get some lucky breaks. You can't play well each and every day you play in a major championship. It's just not going to work out that way. You're going to have to hit a tree and come back on a fairway, hit a ball in the rough, have a great lie, make a birdie. Things like that, that you kind of just get away with shots here and there. This year, I've got a few lucky breaks. I had a couple bad drives at St. Andrews this year, should have been hops and somehow skirted them, and I'm making pars and birdies.

Q. With your sense of history, would winning at Augusta next year constitute a Grand Slam, or are you of the rigorous school that says it has to be the four majors in one year?

TIGER WOODS: If I'm holding all four, I think that's it. That's just me.

Q. All four in one year?

TIGER WOODS: If I hold all four at one time. Whether that's in one year or not, all four is all four.

Q. One stage earlier this year, you said you felt the Grand Slam was four in one year?

TIGER WOODS: I never said that.

Q. No?

TIGER WOODS: No. You guys said that. (Laughing.)

Q. How interested in the Presidential election are you? How many hours will you watch tonight, for instance, or wake up especially early tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I think I'll just wake up when I wake up, and I'll see it on the highlights. I'm sure it will be all across the news. I put in my vote; and I'm nervous, just like everybody else.

Q. People actually speculated whether you could be a president. Are you at all interested in politics?

TIGER WOODS: I've been a president before.

Q. Yeah?

TIGER WOODS: President of my class. (Laughter.) That's about it. No, I think there's a little too much to do, that kind of stuff. I'd rather go out there and play golf. And when you're President, it's kind of hard to get away and play a nice, quiet round of golf.

Q. What did being president of your class constitute?

TIGER WOODS: Making sure that we had our lunches longer, try to get our lunches longer, less homework. You know, the important things. (Laughter.)

Q. How successful were you in achieving these?

TIGER WOODS: Not very. Teachers overruled.

Q. When do you expect to get your course designed?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't done any. That's one of the things I do want to get into eventually. But to be honest with you, I really think I need to play more around the world to try to get a better understanding of course design and, more importantly, what kind of style I like. I understand a lot about courses and how they set up, why they set up certain ways. I want to get a better understanding of grasses and textures and why some of the indigenous grasses they use here, why not use it there, things like that. That, you can only gain from experience, and playing around the world is the best way to gain that experience. And don't forget, I am I guess somewhat young, and there's plenty of time for that. Right now, my plate is kind of full, and I'm enjoying what I'm doing now. There will come a point in time, yeah, where I will do that.

Q. You actually turned down approaches already?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, lots of them.

Q. You've played a lot of wonderful golf in the last year. I wonder if you felt that the golf you actually played at Valderrama was as good as you've ever played since you turned professional? That's part one.


Q. Part two would be: Do you generally feel that more testing in golf courses brings out your best?

TIGER WOODS: Last year, when I played on Sunday, it was probably -- you're right -- one of the best rounds I've played as a pro considering the conditions. I was 7-under or something like that through 16 holes, or 6-under. I really played well. I had a nice little stretch there in the middle of the round, hit a few birdies and an eagle. I really got things going. I played really solid. I put a lot of good, solid shots. The wind was howling out there. I was able to really execute the golf shots I wanted to. Second part of your question, yeah, I truly believe that I enjoy playing harder golf courses in harder conditions. I think that's the ultimate right there, just because of the fact that you have to use every facet of your game. You have to think well, you have to execute your shots, place the golf ball in the correct spots. You can't just wale away and put it on the green and move on. You have to place your shots, and I enjoy that.

Q. Could I go back for a moment to your vote? Could you please tell us the circumstances in which you actually voted in Florida? Where was it?

TIGER WOODS: Where did I vote? I voted in Orlando.

Q. Could you please tell us the circumstances in which you voted. Was it in a school house? Did you have to join an --?

TIGER WOODS: It was an absentee ballot.

Q. At this stage in the season, having been in contention for so many of the big events of the year, the majors and the World Championships, how do you maintain the mental strength to keep challenging in such a long season, so full of large and major competitions?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's one of the reasons why I don't play that many events. It's one of the reasons why I take big breaks. I've taken a month here, five weeks here, and that's just in order to get myself ready to play these big events. I don't play 30-some-odd events like some of these guys do; I play a limited schedule. That's the best way to maximize my focus.

Q. Is there any mental tiredness at this stage of the season, having come to Europe, having been in America for so long for the past few months?

TIGER WOODS: No, there isn't, because I took -- right before the Presidents Cup, I didn't play after Canada. I took five weeks off and got away from the game for a while. I went fishing, enjoyed myself. Then I came back. I've played the last three weeks, but I'd taken five off prior to that so I was pretty anxious to get back to playing.

Q. Is there anything you do to train yourself mentally as much as you train your own golf game?

TIGER WOODS: Not really.

Q. It's just natural?


Q. Were you asked to support a particular political candidate? Did you complete your studies in school? And if not, would you prefer to go back to do so?

TIGER WOODS: Let's see, first part. Was I asked? No. Second part, have I completed my studies? No. I left after two years. The third part is yeah, I would like to go back. Right now we're looking at a way where I could do a lot of it on-line and talk to my professors that way and do a lot of reading and writing while I'm still playing, competing throughout the world.

Q. Who do you actually want to win the election?

TIGER WOODS: "NC." No comment. (Laughter.)

Q. Do you think everybody who could be here should be here? It is a World Championship.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but it's also, then again, the end of the year. It's a long season. A lot of the guys just have played a lot this year. Either they have -- some of the guys have nagging injuries they want to rest, they don't feel like they want to throw the season and put their body through that anymore. Some of the guys just want to enjoy the holiday season with their families.

Q. In their absence, Tiger, do you think the field should have been extended to give other people in the world rankings further down in their place?

TIGER WOODS: I guess that's one way to solve it, but then again, I think -- I don't know how that would be received amongst the fans, because it is -- you have to qualify to get in, and you don't play, you fill a spot. I don't know how the fans would receive that. The players would be fine with it, but I don't know how the fans would receive it.

Q. Do you regard this as the height of hypocrisy that Greg Norman criticized you a few weeks ago, questioning the fact that you were not planning to attend the Andersen Consulting Match Play in Australia next year?

TIGER WOODS: Ironic, isn't it? I said that same thing at Disney, yeah.

GORDON SIMPSON: Tiger, thanks very much. Do well this week, and thank you for coming in.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you. I appreciate it.

End of FastScripts….

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