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August 23, 2006

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: World No. 1, Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us here in the pressroom at the Bridgestone Invitational. Congratulations on winning the PGA Championship last week. You're back in some familiar territory where you've won four times.

Maybe some opening comments.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't been out there yet. I'm looking forward to getting out there and looking at the golf course and seeing what it looks like. I've always enjoyed coming here and playing this golf course and I think it's one of the neat courses we play all year, one of the old style golf courses that's right in front of you, no tricks. If it's hard and fast, it it can play brutally hard here. We'll see what it's like out there.

Q. If you had to play one course and you had to win, couldn't play Augusta, it was closed that day, would you play Torrey Pines or here?

TIGER WOODS: Can I add one more in there? St. Andrews?

Q. Your passport is expired.

TIGER WOODS: It would probably be here.

Q. Because?

TIGER WOODS: I've always felt this is one of the neat courses we play. It's a treat to get to play a golf course like this because most of the modern golf courses aren't like this. They don't have trees like this or defined fairways like this golf course. Every hole looks like it's an alleyway. The greens aren't really that difficult, but it's more of a ball striking golf course.

Q. Do you mind if I ask you this question again in February?


Q. Same answer?


Q. That being said, next year this is the week before the PGA. We all know you generally don't do that, play the week before, but will you intend to come, I assume?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I mean, as of right now, yes. I've played the week before the PGA before. I think it's the only major. The Buick Open used to be the week before the PGA and I used to play it. So I have played before the PGA, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all because there's three weeks off between the British Open and PGA. It's nice to get a tournament in there.

Q. Looking back, can you talk a little bit about when you came onto the Tour, the enormous expectations that came with you onto the Tour? And part one and part two, there's a guy here from Akron, LeBron James, that kind of came in with a similar situation into the NBA and both of you guys have met, if not exceeded those expectations. Can you talk about your part and what you've seen that LeBron has done?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't if you're comparing the two, I wasn't as obviously physically gifted to turn pro as early as he did. I mean, LeBron physically had a body that was 28, 30 years old at 17 or 18. I did not. I looked like a 1 iron (laughter). And I didn't have the skills to turn pro right out of high school. Going to college was the best thing for me.

After I turned pro, I had expectations that were really high after what I had done in the amateur ranks, but I hadn't done anything in the Tour events I played as an amateur. To be honest with you, I was just trying to get my card. I didn't want to have to go to Q school, and that was my main objective. I was pretty lucky to even the dream came true, I got in the TOUR Championship in '96. It has been a dream start to my career, and to win as many times as I have, it certainly has exceeded my own expectations.

Q. In the last two majors you pretty much left your driver in the bag and used other clubs. Is this a different approach on your part or do the courses dictate that, and how much do you use your driver here?

TIGER WOODS: Here I use it quite a bit, always have, just the nature of the golf course. Last week I played I mean, people say I didn't use my driver that often, but I used it exactly the same amount of times I did in '99 and I hit balls to the same spots. The ball is going so much further down with technology than it did in '99. Instead of hitting a 2 iron off the tee I hit a 5 wood and I still had the same 3 wood. Even with all the added length, I played to the same spots. Basically I had the same irons into almost every green.

Q. How far do you hit your 3 wood and 5 wood under normal conditions?

TIGER WOODS: 5 wood I feel comfortable carrying it 250 and 3 wood comfortable carrying it 280.

Q. I wanted to get your comments on the Ryder Cup captain's picks.

TIGER WOODS: Well, they bring experience. Scottie is one of the most accurate guys we have out here on Tour. We need some foursome guys. I think we've got plenty of guys who can make a bunch of birdies in best ball. I think that's one of the reasons why Tom chose both of them, very straight hitters and both pretty good putters. All the Cups I've been on, whether you win or lose is basically dictated by how well you putt that week. If you don't putt well, you're not going to win a Cup.

We putted great last year at the Presidents Cup because we won. We putted terrible two years ago at Oakland Hill, and we got beat pretty good. It's basically dictated by who putts well, and those two guys are two of the best putters out here.

Q. Tom Lehman said that you called him on the way to the airport from Chicago to talk about Ryder Cup issues. Could you just kind of share with us what you talked about and what was the impetus behind you doing that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I called him but he was busy doing other things. Then I hopped on a flight to go to Houston for a couple of hours and then head home, and I never got ahold of him. We kept missing each other. I'd call, leave a message, he'd call, leave a message, and we unfortunately didn't get to talk.

But we talked early in the week about possible picks. I just wanted to give him my two cents on what I thought the team needed, the two picks. That's why I called him Sunday night. We just kept missing each other.

The two picks are great picks.

Q. Not to demean what the picks are, but could you share with us what your thoughts were that the team might have needed with the ten that they had at the time?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that I liked Lucas a lot, but Lucas hadn't played well in major championships, and unfortunately he didn't play well at the PGA, as well, and I thought that was pretty important to be able to play well in the biggest events.

I think we looked at Corey, talked about him. I talked about Tom himself. Honestly I liked J.D. a little bit, too. I think he would have been a good addition to the team, but he wasn't playing well, either. Davis had been off and on all year and has had some injuries. Those were my opinions.

Tom just wanted to hear from me. We kind of just basically rolled through it and ebbed and flowed our conversation based on that.

Q. I don't know if there's such a thing as a turning point in your career so far. Could you assess the impact of winning The Masters on your career?

TIGER WOODS: Well, winning the Masters was huge in, I guess, several ways for my career. One, I never had to deal with having to answer the questions all the time like Phil had to for so long. That's an added strain that I didn't have to deal with. Learning how to win a major so early in my career made it where I could always if I ever came down a stretch in a major championship, I could always say I've done this before and say it with confidence, and that helped me a lot in subsequent major championships.

Even though I did not win in '98 at the British Open, I felt like my play at The Masters set me up for the way I played at the end at Birkdale. Subsequent majors after that, I started to win them, but I think winning in '97 was huge. And plus, also, that was the grandfather clause, too, was a ten year exemption. That was kind of nice, too. That runs out next year (laughter).

Q. Everyone and you yourself focus on the 18 majors, 19 majors. This may be a "how high is the sky" tournament? Could someone win every major more than someone else has won every major?

TIGER WOODS: Is it possible? Sure. Whether or not it will happen is two different things. Anything is possible. It's just a matter of staying healthy for that long, being good enough and lucky enough over the course of your career to have it happen, and it's going to take a lot of years for that ever to happen.

Q. It seems like last week you were so dialed in mentally, and can you talk a little bit about your mental toughness? It just seems like the great athletes, somebody mentioned LeBron earlier, they almost have the ability to almost will things to happen. When you're that dialed in, do you feel like you can will things to happen?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that your mind will carry you. The mind controls the body, so if the mind tells the body what to do, it'll do it; just a matter of getting the mind under control to make your body respond. And under the most extreme circumstances when the competition is that fierce and that heightened and my concentration is that high, yeah, I feel like I can make things happen. It doesn't always happen, though, but yeah, I feel like I can.

Over the course of my golf career I've had it happen enough times where I can always say to myself, "I can do this, I've done it before." That in itself gives you a lot of confidence.

Q. Lehman said Monday you're looking more forward to the Ryder Cup than any major championship this year. Would you agree with that?

TIGER WOODS: I think we're looking forward to it, there's no doubt about that. We're all excited. I'm excited to get over there and play and compete and get our team together. You know, playing in a Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup is two totally different things than playing our normal week in, week out.

One, you're playing with a partner for the first four matches, and you're playing match play. You play different formats. So I think it's important for us to come together as a team and play well.

Q. For him to bring it up that way almost goes on the defensive, and I'm just curious why he might have to do that; in other words, why you've gone through this for seven or so years of being questioned whether you enjoy or look forward to the Ryder Cup. Why do you think that is?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I put my heart into it each and every time. I hate losing, and I go out there and I play with all my passion. It's just unfortunately sometimes I do not win. I've had some of my best matches where I've shot some of my best scores. Shot 64 twice and only won one match in best ball; 65 two times, and again, only won one match. And one of the matches I shot 63 with Davis in best ball and barely won that.

So I've played some of my best golf and haven't gotten all the points that I felt I could have. There's times where I've played like a dog, as well. So I don't know. I try so hard, and unfortunately sometimes you just don't win.

Q. Just touching on that theme, four years ago you gave an honest opinion saying you'd rather win this event than the Ryder Cup. Is that still a scale of priorities?

TIGER WOODS: Well, right now I'm focusing on this event. That's what I was trying to tell you guys, is the event I'm playing in is the one I'm focusing on. The Ryder Cup was the following week. I'm trying to win the event, which I believe was the American Express at the time in Mount Juliet. I was trying to win that. So, yeah, the Ryder Cup is in the future. I've got three tournaments prior to it, so hopefully I can get all three of those before I get to the Ryder Cup.

Q. Considering the way you're playing now, is your 259 here attainable?

TIGER WOODS: If it's soft it can happen to win, but generally this golf course plays firm. If you get to double digits you're looking pretty good. That year we happened to get a bunch of rain and balls were plugging, just like it was last week, 5 irons just spinning back. The fairways widen up where you can hit driver and not worry about it running through the doglegs here because most of the fairways are pitched. You can't have to worry about it that year, just bomb it down there and plug in the fairway, hit it on the green and it would splash and you had pretty easy putts.

Q. Besides the answer that you obviously need skill, what do you need to consistently hang on and win with a 54 hole lead?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you've got to play well at the right time and you've got to make the right shots at the right time to turn momentum around. A lot of it is I think making the correct par putt usually does it. If you make a bunch of bogeys in the last round, you're not going to offset those with a bunch of birdies.

It's about making the correct par putts and getting those things around like I did last week. Last Sunday I made a nice putt on 9 for par, made a good up and down on 13. Those are key things that you have to have happen.

Q. Along those lines, can you see a difference in the way you felt when you got to the 1st tee at The Masters in '97 to a couple days ago at Medinah? Were you more nervous in '97 than you were in '01 and '02 and could you see the changes as they gradually took place? Does that make any sense at all?

TIGER WOODS: No. Help me out here.

Q. People talk about like DiMarco made some comments that made it sounded like you should be the one that feels all the pressure, and there's a way you just transfer it to Luke or Sergio or whoever it might be, that they feel the heat, that that's your comfort zone where it's usually most people's panic zone.

I'm wondering how you felt in '97 playing with Rocca in a major, if you've noticed changes how you felt when you've gone on these 12 times based on experience?

TIGER WOODS: You know, you're right, there has been a transformation over the years and a comfort level because I've done it before. Winning breeds winning, and the fact that I've been down the stretch and I've been down there enough times where I've had to handle the heat and I've been successful, that gives you an added confidence.

Any time I'm in that position I haven't always won being in that position. But I've been there enough times where I have. As I said earlier, I can always say that I've done this before because I have.

In '97 I hadn't done it. I had a huge lead, but I hadn't done it yet, hadn't won a major yet. Yeah, I was extremely nervous starting out.

As the years go by, you still are nervous, but probably not as, because I've been there before.

Q. How was your feelings, if you can remember, different when you were tied with Weir in '99 and tied with Luke this time?

TIGER WOODS: I've had that much more experience of handling my emotions and learning how to deal with them and learning how to maneuver around the golf course, and I think that's been the biggest thing is learning how to get the max out of my score per day.

Back then I didn't really understand that yet. I had won enough tournaments, but a lot of it was just happened to be hot that week, the learning how to manage my way around the golf course and get the maximum out of it when you're not playing well. I think that's what's allowed me to win as many times as I have.

Q. What to you is going to be the significance for you for the FedEx Cup? Do you feel like you're going to put it at a level as you have it seems like with the World Golf Championships, that you're going to be committed to them and they're going to mean something to you historically?

TIGER WOODS: Well, first of all, it's our first go at it, and we don't know. I'm more curious than anything, myself, just like anything else, just like I was the World Golf Championships.

First of all, I've got to qualify for them. That's what's different about it is that when we're playing the entire year on a point scale and then I don't know how the points exactly work, and I don't know that anyone really does, but does that alter your playing schedule, and then how am I going to peak for the end of the year when I've got a World Golf Championship, a PGA, four weeks in a row, then a presidents or a Ryder Cup.

That's a lot of golf right in a row. How do you peak for all that? That's going to be hard. It's going to be hard to try to feel how your body is going to do and how your mind is going to do. So I think most of us are pretty curious.

Q. Is it your sense that you will go through that, six events in a row or something like that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, if my body can hold up. I don't normally play that much golf. It's going to take a lot, and I hope I don't have that falloff from playing that much golf. I guess the only light at the end of the tunnel is that you get to have a nice break after that, but it's having the Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup right after that, it's going to be hard on the guys that do make the teams to go through all that.

Q. Wentworth and the Match Play, can you tell us what you remember from the last time, and what did Wentworth mean to you in the grand scheme of things, what you remember of it?

TIGER WOODS: I remember a lot. I didn't win. My best bud won. We had a great match.

Q. You didn't concede a putt. There was a short putt he wanted.

TIGER WOODS: He hadn't won a hole yet, that's why I didn't concede a putt. We were best friends, but once the gun goes, I'm trying to beat him. He's my competitor.

Afterwards we can go out and have a beer and do whatever we want, but not between the ropes, no.

Q. And the place and anything else about it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I remember the golf course but it's obviously different now, Ernie making all those changes. I'm curious to see what the changes are. A lot of European players were really skeptical about the changes and said actually they were pretty positive except for a couple of them, but we'll see. I'm curious more than anything else because I remember how cold it was playing over there and we had frost delays every day, and 36 hole matches, it takes a toll on you. It was a long, long way to go.

Q. Somebody needs to know how many drivers you hit on Sunday.


Q. The other one, four years ago, do you have any cause to regret saying what you said before the Ryder Cup about wanting to win a World Championship more? Do you think there was a misconception of how much you still want to win the Ryder Cup?

TIGER WOODS: I just answered it right here.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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