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November 2, 1999

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Well, Mr. Woods, we appreciate you spending some time with us. I know we talked the other day, and a lot of hard work has been showing lately. Make just a couple of comments about the last couple of weeks and we'll open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: I played well the last couple of weeks. The last couple of weeks has been, from a golf standpoint, it's been very good. From I guess a personal standpoint I guess it's been very tough. But overall I'm very pleased with how my game has taken shape. And it is nice to be reaping the rewards of good old-fashioned hard work.

Q. Tiger, you had an experience here in '97. Can you talk about how you found the course then, and how your improvements might help you cope with it this time?

TIGER WOODS: In the middle of '97, from there on, I really didn't play all that well. And coming to the Ryder Cup I really wasn't playing my best, and unfortunately it showed. And I wasn't able to hit the shots at the right time and make the crucial putts at the right time. This year it's been different, I'm playing a little better than I was then. And the shots that I have in my repertoire now are far better than what I had in '97. I'm very excited about getting out there and playing in a tournament. It will be a lot different this year from the standpoint of it being stroke-play versus match play.

Q. Tiger, the media are building up consistently here in Southern Spain as the battle of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, does that frustrate you that that major attention is on that point?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you I just got here, so I didn't know that. I just got in this morning. Well, if they focus on that, that's fine. I have no problems with it. It's just that I think that if they do focus on just the two of us they're doing an injustice to the rest of the field, because this is an elite field. There are some great players in this field. I think Sergio and I, we have our work cut out for us to give ourselves a chance to win this week. We both need to go out and play well and see what happens. Because having such an elite field a lot of players are really playing well right now, out of the top 50 players, and it's going to be really interesting to see what happens.

Q. Does it put exceptional pressure on you, knowing that you're such a big player for the tournament?

TIGER WOODS: It really doesn't, because I go to every tournament to try to win, regardless of what the expectation of the public is. And this year I've done a pretty good job of doing that, accomplishing my goals, and hopefully this week I can do it again.

Q. Tiger, is there a sense of taking on Colin Montgomerie in his own backyard. He's been very successful here?

TIGER WOODS: He has been very successful here. He won this, I believe in '93 it was. He's obviously played very well. He always contends here, when the Volvo Masters was played here. He's had an exceptional year. I think this will be No. 7 Order of Merit for him, I believe. And it's extraordinary what he can do with a golf ball. And hopefully he'll play well and hopefully I'll play well, and we'll see what happens. He and I both know there's a lot of holes to be played and a lot of great players in the field. But we just need to get ourselves in position to see what happens.

Q. Giving your recent success, Tiger, do you feel your intimidate your peers?

TIGER WOODS: I really don't. I think it's a question you have to ask them. I go out there just to play and see what happens. Coming down the stretch of course I'm trying to put pressure on them by hitting good shots, and they're trying to do the same to me. Whether I intimidate somebody, I really don't know. I think that's something you're going to have to ask the other players. I know what the answer will be. But you go ahead and ask them anyway.

Q. First of all, what is extraordinary about what Montgomerie does with the ball?

TIGER WOODS: He's so consistent. Seven straight years Order of Merit winner, I think that says it all right there. And the number of wins; six wins over here this year. And he does the same every year.

Q. Secondly, what other plans do you have for this week? You talked at the Ryder Cup that you didn't have any time to go see anything that week. What are you going to do this week?

TIGER WOODS: Well, again, I've got some requirements that I have to attend to this week that I'll have some fun at. But that's about it. I'm not going to do any sight-seeing or anything like that. I got in here too late for any of that stuff. So I won't have enough time for that.

Q. Tiger, how do you feel when you're coming down the closing stretch these days, it's getting to be a habit, isn't it?

TIGER WOODS: It's a nice habit. How do I feel? I feel just the same as everybody else. I'm as nervous as they are. I'm trying to win a golf tournament. I'm not immune to feeling nerves and pressure. I don't think anyone is, if you really care about something. And coming down the stretch I feel the heat and the nerves. It's just that I've been there I think enough times where it's -- I understand how my body reacts under these kind of conditions, and because of that I have a better understanding of how my shots are going to end up and what my tendencies are, how far the ball will go under certain situations. That's just a product of being there enough times where you start to understand what your body is capable of doing.

Q. Tiger, what's the best piece of advice you've ever had in all your days about coping with pressure?

TIGER WOODS: Just be yourself, simple.

Q. Tiger, do you find the game is getting easier now or as you get better is it -- is it still as elusive as ever?

TIGER WOODS: It's still elusive, there's no doubt about it. Is it easier? It's easier from the standpoint I'm not playing as many trees as I once was. That makes things a lot easier. I'm not putting myself in the trouble that I used to, because my swing has improved. And I think that goes for anybody whose swing improves. You start to put yourself in situations where you're not in the old predicaments. And I've been able to do that very well this year. My swing has really come around, a lot of hard work and basically about two years of it and it's nice to have the shots that I have in my repertoire right now that I can rely on. Just in case if one doesn't work I can go to that one, and if another one doesn't work I can go to another one. It's nice to have that variety.

Q. Coming back to Sergio, do you think this tournament can be a kind of revenge from the PGA Championship?

TIGER WOODS: A revenge?

Q. For him.

TIGER WOODS: If he wins, that would be great for him. He's played very well this year. He's had a phenomenal year, turned pro, and he's had a lot of success. I don't think he will ever look at it as revenge, no, just from the standpoint that's not his personality, that's not the way he is. He's too carefree and too lighthearted and too good a guy.

Q. Do you think he's the only player who could put any shadow over you, not only as a player, but as a phenomena, as a star for 2000?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. There are a lot of great young players in the game of golf right now. There's obviously Sergio, and myself, David Duval. People forget, David won four times before March, and in the month of March -- I'm sorry, from January to the month of March. So people forget those things. He's a young player, as well. There's a lot of great young players in this world. If Sergio can separate himself from them, then great. Then it will be great not only for him, but for the game of golf and for Spanish golf, as well. He's got a lot of work ahead of him, so do I and so do the rest of the players to try to elevate our games to where that might be the case. Only time will tell.

Q. Could you tell us the weakest points of his game?

TIGER WOODS: The weakest point of his game? From what I've seen it's possibly just experience. He just hasn't played long enough. He's only 19. And as he plays more and more he'll start to understand more about the game, about playing the game, understanding the shot making. He has a wide variety of shots, and that will continue to increase. He's going to become a better player, which is going to be great to see. Speaking from my own experience, when I first turned pro, I was 20. My game has become so much better, just from the lack of -- I had a lack of experience then as compared to what I have now. And three or four or five years from now Sergio is going to be that much better, and it's going to be great to see.

Q. Tiger, your process of retooling the swing was probably in the early stages at Valderrama in '97, correct?


Q. With that in mind, is there part of you looking forward to this week because you want another crack at Valderrama?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, not really.

Q. Okay, go ahead and lie, then.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I really am. (Laughter.) I've had such a good year this year, and if I don't play good here, then that's fine, too. I'm not going to put any kind of added pressure on myself. I just don't think that's needed. After the year I've had this year, I just want to go out there and play solid, just like I do every week, try to give myself a chance to win. Versus '97, my game then versus now, it's improved a lot. And I don't think that if I go out there with the attitude that I need to show this golf course what I can do, I don't think that's the right attitude. The right attitude is what I've had and that's to go out there and try to give myself a chance to win, play very smart and patient golf and we'll see what happens on the back nine on Sunday.

Q. There's been lots of comments coming everywhere about the perceived inadequacies of the World Championship as it now exists, do you have any things that you would like to see develop in the next couple of years?

TIGER WOODS: I think they've done a wonderful job of getting the best players in the world together. I really like the change of format, the match play. I felt that was a wonderful job there, because we play stroke-play day in and day out all year-round and it's nice to have a little break from that and play sometimes different. And what they did about putting the teams together in Akron, I thought that was a wonderful job. And what they're doing this year, the season-ending event, and bringing the whole world together, I think that's a great concept. As far as inadequacies, I really don't know if there is any. From what I've seen on the outside and from playing, I don't really see any.

Q. Some people had second thoughts about coming here, was it ever in your mind not to come here?

TIGER WOODS: No, I was going to come here regardless. This is our season-ending event, and I've had a wonderful year this year and I want to end it off on a good note.

Q. Do you think Sergio is the contender who gave you more problems this year?

TIGER WOODS: Sergio gave me more problems to win this year -- a contender?

Q. Is he the one that gave you the most trouble?

TIGER WOODS: No, Sergio and I only played head-to-head only one time in the PGA. And we played together in a match against each other in the Ryder Cup, but it was an alternate shot format the first day. So I really can't say that's head-to-head, one-on-one. But the PGA was it. And I can't say that he was my biggest contender, because there's a lot of other great players that I had to beat. I was fortunate enough to come out on top. There are a lot of great players that I played against this year down the stretch, and if I said that Sergio would be or was my biggest contender, then I would be doing an injustice to those guys.

Q. Tiger, you said this is an important tournament for you, because it ends the season. What would you say to the ten players who decided not to come and play here, what would your comment be to that?

TIGER WOODS: They have their own reasons. They're all different, I'm sure. I only know of one, that's Marco. Marco -- he hadn't been playing that well. He wasn't -- didn't qualify for THE TOUR Championship, and hasn't really found his game. He felt that coming over here -- I don't think he was going to find his game. He needs to take some time off. He's had a busy year, played all around the world. Played more events this year than he has in a long time and he's a little wiped out and a little tired.

Q. Tiger, when you talk about Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie, one name that's not been talked about is Jimenez, with local support he could be a contender in this tournament.

TIGER WOODS: Three events in Spain he's gone first, first, second. With the fourth event in Spain, you've got to look out for him, as well. And coming off a great win last week and the way he played in the final round. To hold off some of the great players, it's just -- he's definitely a player that will probably be there on Sunday. But you have to keep in mind there are a lot of great players here this week. It's very hard to single out just a handful because this field is elite. And because of that you could probably see some people that you probably didn't think of before come out and be contenders in a tournament down the stretch.

Q. Tiger, how much room for improvement is there left in your game?


Q. In all areas?


Q. Tiger, along the lines of the ten who didn't show, obviously it's been a long year, there's been some comments on both sides that indirectly a European could decide the American money list and an American could indirectly affect the European money list. Are there any thoughts of moving this so that you could still end the year with THE TOUR Championship. And maybe also on the European side, maybe move this when it's played in Europe earlier in the year, so you still have the traditional end of the season. Do you think that would make a difference?

TIGER WOODS: That's a great idea. And I remember I think it was at Disney, Rosie asked me the same question. And he suggested that it might be placed after the British Open. And the only problem with that would be that you'd have the U.S. Open, three weeks off, a British Open, maybe like a week off or the very next week have World Golf Championship, two weeks off, PGA, two more weeks off and then another World Golf Championship. There's too many big events together. And the only time we ever all come over to Europe to play is the British Open. So I don't know where you could place this event, when we're all over here in Europe. It is different for us as players to end it not as our season ending, I guess our TOUR Championship. It is different, yes. I don't see how they could change it, to be honest with you. There are going to be some issues that are going to arise, just as you said, about deciding the money list. And we'll see what happens. I think you need to let this play out for a few years and then take a look at it. Just like what they did with the world rankings, they saw some problems there and they're rectifying it. And it's going to take some time. But just give it -- I think give it a little test period to see what happens.

Q. You said that there's a lot of room for improvement in your game still. But how close is your swing now to being a finished article?

TIGER WOODS: You know, to be honest with you, I don't think you're ever finished. As soon as you feel like you're finished, then I guess you are finished, because you've already put a limit on your ability and what you can attain. I don't think that's right. You should always strive to become a better player. Right now my game is becoming more natural. The moves I've been working on are becoming more natural. But they're always going to come periods of time when it's not going to feel natural. You're going to slip back to your old faults, which I've done in the past. I don't care who you are, you change your swing, you're always going to revert back to your old tendencies. I still do that. I did it last week a couple of shots. And that's just the way it is. We're all comfortable with our natural shots. And I think that am I close to getting there? I don't know. But ask me in about 20 years, I'll probably have a better answer for you.

Q. Would you like your name to be on the European Order of Merit, because if it was, you and Colin Montgomerie would be No. 1?

TIGER WOODS: Would I? No, I wouldn't. The reason being is because I don't play over here enough to have my name included on their list. And that would not be right, because there are players that play over here for a living, and have played a number of events -- played the required number of events, and I haven't. And I don't think that would be right for me to take one of their spots.

Q. Do you realize that Steve is probably hurting a bit at the moment, and how are you going to raise him up after the defeat on Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: We found out before we teed off. I said why don't we go out and take care of business on our own, and I'm sure you'll feel a lot better. And we did, and he does feel a lot better. He said the Country of New Zealand is not feeling too good right now.

Q. At the moment, would you plan to play in Australia the first week of January?

TIGER WOODS: This year?

Q. The World Championship?

TIGER WOODS: 2001? I don't know. That's a long way away.

Q. A lot of players are saying that that is a no-no, because they would have to leave home New Year's Day.

TIGER WOODS: You know what, I haven't taken a look at my schedule for next year, let alone for 2001. Ask me late next year.

End of FastScripts….

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