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July 18, 2006

Tiger Woods


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger Woods, the defending Open champion.

Tiger, coming here to a links course, which is in true links condition, you've been here for a few days now, how do you find the course playing?

TIGER WOODS: It's not playing slow. The golf course is definitely fast. It's hard. It's a little bit slower the last couple of days because obviously they're putting some water on it, trying to keep it alive.

But overall it's going to be a fantastic challenge this week to play a golf course this fast. We don't get a chance to do this very often, but when we do, it sure brings back shot making and creativity back in the game.

Q. The last time you had the 2 iron in the bag before this week, and kind of talk about that.

TIGER WOODS: The last time I played with it was probably it was Dunlop Phoenix last year. Yeah, that's the last time I actually have used it in competition.

Q. Can you talk about that?

TIGER WOODS: The 5 wood just definitely is not rolling, obviously. That's the reason why it's in the bag, on most golf courses. But this week, I like the feeling, I'm trying to take advantage of the fast fairways and roll the ball out there. And the 2 iron enables me to do that.

Q. You've used it roughly how often?

TIGER WOODS: Most of the day. I hit a few other shots with either a 3 iron off the tee or a driver or 3 wood, but the majority of the time it is the 2 iron.

Q. You obviously missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Now you've had a month to prepare and you seem to be very much ready for The Open. How do you get ready for this? Is it mental?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just getting back into the playing again. I took a lot of time off prior to the U.S. Open and I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I wanted to in competition. But I fixed those mistakes prior to the Western and I got back into the competitive flow again. And I got things going and it's nice when you play four rounds. I had two extra days there at the Western to get back into the flow of things and the weekend I played great. So I feel like I'm back into playing again after taking such a long time off prior to the U.S. Open.

Q. I was going to ask about your father. Those of us who saw you in THE PLAYERS and then The Masters and the U.S. Open have seen you in different and obviously very understandable circumstances, and those of us who have lost parents understand. When do you think you can say I'm clear of it, I've come out of it, I've learned how to deal with it, and do you still think of your father every day?

TIGER WOODS: Well, there's not a day that I don't think I'll ever go through life without thinking about my dad. I love him dearly. And everyone I've ever talked to that has lost a parent, they think about them every day and they always miss them, and especially if the bond that we've had, you know, I think it transcended just a normal parent/child relationship. And I think that's probably why I will think about him more, and especially when I'm out here playing and practicing, because a lot of the fundamentals actually all the fundamentals that I learned were from him.

Anytime I go back to my basics and work on grip, posture and stance and aim and all those things that I learned from him, I always think about those younger days. I honestly don't think there will ever be a day that I won't think about him.

Q. But there will be a day when you say to yourself, yes, I've come to terms with it, I've worked it out. Have you arrived at that day or when do you think it will come?

TIGER WOODS: I've come to terms with it, there's no doubt about that. He's not here anymore. It's not like I can pick up the phone and call him and say, "Pop, what do you think about my putting stroke?" Those days aren't here anymore. So I've got to come to terms with it and understand it, it's just not there. I have so many wonderful memories that I'll look back on it with smiles every time.

Q. Was your dad with you when you first played at Carnoustie in the Scottish Open?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, he was.

Q. What were your memories about your dad and this Championship and links golf?

TIGER WOODS: He absolutely loved it when I played at Carnoustie, because it was one of the very few times that he thought I was able to use my imagination and create shots, because in the States we don't get a chance to do that very often because it's always soft and the balls are plugging. On links golf courses you have to use your imagination to create shots. It presents so many different options.

And he thoroughly enjoyed it, watching me go out there shaping shots and hitting all these weird shots. He always got a big kick out of that.

Q. On the same thing, do you think that need to use imagination to conjure up shots is going to limit the number of potential winners? Do you think it makes your test that much easier?

TIGER WOODS: I think playing an Open Championship you always have to hit different golf shots, because of the golf courses we play. We don't play golf courses like this each and every week. And then we certainly don't ever play a golf course this fast. There's only very few, rare occasions we do. And those times you have to be able to control your golf ball in the air, you have to control your spin.

It's not like you can go out there and hit a marginal shot and expect it to be okay. You come in with a wrong spin in the fairways or even on the greens, you're going to pay a consequence of that.

Q. Given how unusual it was for you to miss a cut in the U.S. Open, what were the practice sessions like the next couple of years? How significant was it to sort of feel that Sunday pressure and get in the chase again at the Western?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it was nice to get back out and practice after The Open and work on the things that I did not do well at The Open. And I felt like I rectified that at the Western. And after the first day I didn't really I didn't putt all that well and got it going on the weekend with the putter, but I also hit the ball better. It was nice to be back in the mix with a chance on the back nine, even though I didn't pull it off, but I had a chance. And I would say it's been a while, but it's only been two tournaments. I had a chance at Augusta and my next tournament was the U.S. Open. Tournament wise it was only two tournaments, but time wise, it was a little longer.

Q. I'm curious, with regard if there's anything fun you've done with the Claret Jug, having it, and if so, what did you do when you had it, showing it around, bringing it to places?

TIGER WOODS: Just filled it up with beverages of my choice (laughter).

Q. At home, or did you bring it around at all?

TIGER WOODS: What, would I bring it out to I wouldn't do that, no.

Q. You've had some early practice rounds. How have you been received by the public here in Wirral and Liverpool, and what have you been doing with your leisure time and the rest of your days since you've been here?

TIGER WOODS: The people have been really nice. They've been out there early in the morning and watching myself and my playing partners play. They have been very respectful and just watching us try to prepare and get ready for the Championship.

As far as my time away from this, it's usually been either resting or working out and getting my body ready.

Q. You've been drawn with Nick Faldo the first few days. What's your current relationship with him after the way he criticized your swing a year or two back?

TIGER WOODS: We really don't talk much.

Q. You don't talk much? Will you be talking on Thursday and Friday?

TIGER WOODS: I've only played with him two times since I've been a pro. And there wasn't a lot of talking there, either.

Q. So does that mean you'll shake hands on the first tee and on the 18th green, and that will be it?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I really don't know. It's up to him and I'll be in my world trying to compete and trying to win the Championship, and I'm sure he'll probably do the same thing.

Q. If he wants to talk, what will be your reaction?

TIGER WOODS: Surprised (laughter).

Q. If we could talk about the golf course for a second. It's not often you have a course with [] bunkers like this. Is it as much of an issue as some of us are making it to be?

TIGER WOODS: It depends on what you're trying to do with your tee shots. I don't know what most of the guys are doing on 3, but you have that option of driving it over, if you want to. On 18 they can come up on you a little quick, if the wind is down off the left. But other than that it really doesn't come into play.

Q. Two thoughts, how often do you use the driver here, because it is so fast? Are you using a 2 iron off the tee more than the driver?


Q. And secondly, after you missed the cut at Winged Foot, there were some theories there by some residents when they saw you on the boat, they wondered if sleeping on the boat created any kind of an inner ear problem that may have affected you.

TIGER WOODS: I won at Doral.

Q. Tiger, before the U.S. Open you said that you felt ready to compete. After missing the cut there, do you did you rationalize missing the cut as basically the fact that you just hadn't played competitively since The Masters?

TIGER WOODS: I was ready to compete, there was no doubt about that, I was ready to compete and I was ready to play and I just didn't play well. I just didn't get into the competitive flow fast enough. By the time I did get into the flow of the round, I was always behind the 8 ball, and you can't wait that long to get into the flow of a round.

Taking that much time off and then coming back to well, as it is, the hardest U.S. Open venue we've ever played, it made it really difficult. Subsequently I didn't execute. I didn't execute fast enough. As I said, I got into the flow too late. If I had gotten down to a flow a little earlier, things might have been different.

Q. Comparatively speaking to other Open Championships you've played obviously over here, the preparation level here, it has been different this time, you haven't played in Ireland two things, really; why didn't you do that; and two, do you feel as ready as you ever have done for an Open Championship?

TIGER WOODS: I've only played in Ireland actually three times, in all the years that I've played in this Championship. So I haven't gone over there each and every year. There's only been three times. Of those times we've had a lot of fun, fishing and hanging out and practicing and preparing. But I wanted to spend a little more time at home and work on a couple of things prior to coming over here. I came over earlier to this venue than I normally would because no one had seen it. There's no video of it, no one has ever seen this golf course. So I wanted to come over here and take a look at it, and I got here a couple of days earlier than I normally would.

Q. Going back to what you said about how you would want to ring your father and say "Pop, what do you think about my putting stroke," who do you ring up now? Do you talk to Mark O'Meara or your mum?

TIGER WOODS: I always talk to my mom, I talk to her all the time.

Q. Does she give technical

TIGER WOODS: No, no, no, no (laughter). No. She usually gives words of encouragement from mom. As everyone knows, she's pretty fiery. So it's more from that side than it is from a technical side.

Q. Who would you ring for the who could you say, "What do you think of my putting stroke," Hank or Mark?

TIGER WOODS: Hank. That's why he's my coach.

Q. You wouldn't go do you speak to Mark about things, as well?

TIGER WOODS: I do occasionally, but for some reason this year has been very odd for both of us; we haven't played in the same tournaments this year. I haven't played much and then we've been at opposite ends of the draw. A lot of times when we're on the same event we don't have a lot of time together, which has been odd. But hopefully the rest of the year we'll play in more practice rounds and spend more dinners together.

Q. You're going to play with a young French player who won the British Amateur. And I just wanted to know what advice could you give to him, because he's quite impressed with you. His name is Julien Guerrier.

TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to play with him.

Q. I think so, because for the first game, I thought the winner of the British Amateur was supposed to play with the sorry.

TIGER WOODS: I think I have Shingo. I wish him luck (laughter).

Q. You played very well at Royal Birkdale in 1998, which is just along the coast from here. How would you compare Royal Liverpool to say a Royal Birkdale; is it different? It seems flatter.

TIGER WOODS: Birkdale is a more difficult golf course. This one you can make more birdies here than at Birkdale. At Birkdale, granted, we played, I think, two of the three well, the middle two days it blew pretty hard. And Sunday it blew a little bit. Saturdays averages were 73, 74, which is three over par. You would have to have a lot of wind for that to happen here, because there are playable birdie holes here.

But then again, if you make a mistake, you can make a few bogeys here quickly, just because the fairways are so fast and the greens are, again not necessarily fast, but they're definitely firm and they are springing a little bit. But I think overall Birkdale is a more difficult golf course.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the imagination you need to use specifically here at Hoylake? Some of the guys were saying they couldn't keep their balls on the greens on the par 3s on the front.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, some of them. Yeah, if you get downwind it's really hard to keep it on the green, unless you get a chance into the wind to use the wind as a backboard. But when it gets going downwind and the greens are this firm you have to to a front pin, it's going to be really hard to get it close. A lot of good shots here downwind are going to be 20, 30, 40 feet away and it's going to be a good shot.

That's one of the neat things about playing over here is that the galleries certainly understand that. You hear the types of applause; we play around the world and a lot of times the ball gets airborne there's always applause. Over here if you hit a good shot and they know it and it's 30 feet away, there's a pretty good roar, because that is a good shot. The people are very knowledgeable when we come over here and play an Open Championship.

Q. You mentioned playing the birdie holes. There's already conjecture that you might see the first sub 63 in a major this week. And your 18 under par in St. Andrews, could you talk about that? You mentioned the support. Do you think you've been more of a crowd favorite because of the way you handled everything surrounding your dad's death?

TIGER WOODS: Wasn't it 19? I got to 20 and bogeyed 17. Sorry. Give me a little credit.

No, I think it's if the wind doesn't blow, you can make some birdies out here. The par 5s are reachable and there are some short par 4s out here. You can get the ball in pretty close. You would have to take no wind in order to have a chance of going to sub 63. But as far as the 19 under par mark, I think it obviously can be done, but will it be done is obviously a different story. And as we all know, it's all dependent on the weather. We played St. Andrews in 2000 with almost no wind.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: You never know. You just don't know. But if it stays down, I'm sure the guys will be making plenty of birdies out there.

Q. Do you look at it as sympathy?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think of it as sympathy. We all have things that go on in life. I'm not the first one, I'm certainly not the last one. It happens to everybody. Everybody goes through moments like this. You've got to handle it and move on. It's been fantastic to have the people, all the letters and the e mails and the phone calls we've received. I think mainly because of the impact my father has had on the game of golf, and as a person. That to me means so much to me.

Q. In terms of getting to know the course and feeling comfortable with it, is it easy, is it hard to get familiar with it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's a little bit more conducive to getting accustomed to a golf course if the weather stays constant. If the wind keeps changing each and every day, it's really difficult to try to get accustomed to a golf course. The weather, since I've been here, it's blown out of three different directions. So you've had to adjust your game plan off of every tee. So from that standpoint it's been a little bit tricky. But also a little bit fun, too, at the same time.

Q. Given all you've been through in recent times, how do you feel for Darren Clarke and his current situation? And how difficult is it to play the game at your level mentally with so much going on in the background? How much harder does that make it?

TIGER WOODS: The fact that he's been in contention the last couple of weeks has been absolutely remarkable. God, the things that he's going through, I truly feel for him because it's not fun for anyone to watch someone you love deteriorate right in front of you, and they're not the person they used to be, and they can't do the things that they normally are accustomed to doing. And you watch that each and every day, it's very, very difficult to handle. And for him to have to go through it and the way he's dealt with it, with playing, competing and with all of you and all the fans has been absolutely remarkable. It shows the character and the type of person that he is. And as a friend to watch him go through it, my heart goes out to him and his entire family. It's been like that for a while.

But I got a chance to play with him this year at THE PLAYERS Championship and we could kind of sympathize with one another, what we were trying to go through. And he's a very remarkable man to have to go through that. And so is Heather, is a remarkable person.

Q. This is such a demanding game mentally. Darren, for example has contended in tournaments, but coming to the climax, it's just that little push?

TIGER WOODS: It's draining, it's very draining. I don't know if it's a mechanical problem in his game or is it just his mental edge or just not getting the right breaks at the right time, you don't know. I wasn't there and witnessing it; I haven't really talked to him about it. So I don't know what it might be. But in any case, just for him to be out here playing and in contention, hats off to him.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Tiger, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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