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May 2, 2007

Tiger Woods


Q. When was the first time you played with Michael Jordan?
TIGER WOODS: First time we ever played together? '97, I believe, sometime right after Augusta in Chicago.

Q. Has he gotten any better?
TIGER WOODS: No, he's gotten worse, actually. Back then, don't forget, he was playing so he was being stretched every day, was working out, strong as can be.

Q. How did it come to pass that you guys were paired up today? How did it happen?
TIGER WOODS: That's a good question. We know a few people (laughter). No, the tournament was nice tough to put us together. He's been like my big brother, so it's been great to have him part of my life, but we had a great time today. We always have a great time.

Q. Why do you enjoy playing with him?
TIGER WOODS: Because I think that we can relate, you know? There's so many different levels that not too many people have -- I guess have gone through the same things we've had to go through. He actually did it first, so because of that, I was able to kind of basically share and pick up all the knowledge that he's accumulated over the years.

Q. He said when we stopped him just off 18, he said he thought you've had it tougher than he ever had. What's your reaction to that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's different. Out here you're not shielded by a team. You know, as he said, I don't know how you get ready. I mean, that's one of the hard parts with all the attention is how can you get ready to play?
For them they're isolated on a court where no fans allowed at practice, nobody is yelling at you. They can actually go to work. Here it's a little more difficult in our sport to actually get the job done and to be prepared for the first day.

Q. What do you think you got out of today?
TIGER WOODS: Probably burned a few calories (laughter).

Q. You seemed to be having a great time.
TIGER WOODS: Oh, man, we always have a great time. Whether it's playing golf or playing cards or just hanging out, whatever it is, we're always having a great time, always needling each other. There's always a wager of some sort on anything we do because we always want to one-up one another, and that's the nature of how we are, and I think that's also one of the reasons why we've been able to accomplish the things that we've been able to accomplish.

Q. Who won the trash talk battle today?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, he always does. He always does. He wins all the time. I'll just throw out a jab every now and then, but basically this is my home court, so it's a little easier for me. On the course it would be a little different deal.

Q. How many strokes?
TIGER WOODS: Not enough today (smiling).

Q. How long did it take you to get used to playing against him but in such a public setting with everyone following your every move?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we've never done that. We always play at home and we're in carts, we're flying around, we're playing probably 36 or 54 holes and just getting it around. Today was a little different.

Q. Why didn't you continue on 9? Was there any reason, your back or anything like that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I tried to stop on a downswing. Somebody took a sequence photo and I tried to stop and didn't really like it very much. My body didn't just quite react the way I wanted to react, so I took a hole off.

Q. But you're fine?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, just took a hole off and now I'm good.

Q. Can you talk about sort of the mental side of iconic stature and coping with that kind of stuff? He said you talked mostly mental. I don't know if that's what he meant specifically, but just about dealing with the circus, for lack of a better term.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's how -- how do you get prepared, how do you motivate yourself each and every day to become better, how do you deal with all the people chipping away at you trying to get a piece of your time when actually you need to be spending time getting ready and keeping focus on what you need to do. That's the hard part.

Q. What about people that want more than just a piece of your time that are writing the letters and making the comments?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's just part of what we've had to deal with.

Q. For both of you?
TIGER WOODS: And we're not the only ones. But because we're such great friends, I've been able to have a person I can talk to on all these subjects because he basically went through it before me, and actually probably without -- next to Muhammad Ali, probably the most iconic figure athletic wise that America has ever had.

Q. Where do you fit in?
TIGER WOODS: I'm somewhere down the list.

Q. JV?
TIGER WOODS: Right. Am I that height?

Q. What was it like playing? Does he take some of the crowd away from you?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, he took all of it. It was great. I just hung back and let him kind of take the whole wave of people.

Q. Is there anything comparable to that that you've ever experienced, playing with somebody where it's all about them?
TIGER WOODS: Not in this setting. I've played with presidents before, but it's been away from the public eye. People haven't had access to the golf course.

Q. Like when you played with Jack and Arnie in practice rounds at Augusta 10, 11 years ago, was it like that then?
TIGER WOODS: I can't remember. I was numb that day (laughter). I was 19 years old playing with two of the biggest figures that the game has ever seen, and I was just like in awe just like everybody else was outside the ropes.

Q. How is his golf game and how is your basketball?
TIGER WOODS: His golf game is a lot better than my basketball. He's still MJ on the court when he shoots; he just can't do it for 48 minutes. It's now like five minutes (laughter). But the shots, you know, the fadeaway, the drop step, he has it all still. It's just amazing to watch. He just physically can't do it for as long anymore.

Q. His golf, is he better?
TIGER WOODS: No, because he's not lifting like he used to, he's not being stretched by the trainers all the time. Obviously his body is not in the shape that it was when he was playing at his peak. Golf you have to be loose, you have to be strong, you've got to be fit, and there's a price to pay when you're not.

Q. As you get ready for tomorrow's first round, how did the course play out there today?
TIGER WOODS: It played great. Yeah, it's fast, it's firm, it's moving out there, and it's great. I hope we don't get the rain that's supposed to come in tomorrow and we get to play it this way because this is fun.

Q. Are you amazed at how quickly this tournament has become what it is?
TIGER WOODS: Well, when you have a great golf course and the guys will come, and this is one of the neat golf courses we get to play all year. It's straightforward, right in front of you. You have to shape the ball both ways, and on top of that, you've really got to putt here.
I think a lot of the guys thoroughly enjoy playing a golf course where you have to maneuver a golf ball. You don't step up and just hit it with no game plan, you've got to actually think about what you're doing and how you're going to execute because if you don't, more likely you're going to be making bogey or worse.

Q. Is the course the primary reason so many top players are here, or are there other reasons?
TIGER WOODS: That's why I'm here. I go to tournaments for the golf course, great field, but any time you've got a great golf course, the field is going to come.

Q. Can you talk about being back here this year after last year, teeing off tomorrow one year to the day that your dad died?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was in a totally different state of mind obviously this year versus last year. This time last year was not a fun period in my life, but now a year later, here I am, looking forward to becoming a father. Times have changed.

Q. Does it seem like the year has gone by quickly, slowly?
TIGER WOODS: At the time very slowly, early on. But then once you start moving on and you get through the grieving period, it starts moving along at its normal pace. But still, there are times when I thoroughly miss my dad. I just wish I could talk to him, hear his voice and ask him for advice on certain things. I just miss having -- basically he was my best friend. Not only did I lose my father but my best friend.

Q. Being this close now, you can really see it's getting ready to happen, you're going to be a dad. How does it feel now that you see this is coming really soon?
TIGER WOODS: It's pretty exciting, actually. Now I'm starting to realize that it's basically a couple months away. Yeah, Stevie says those couple months go by pretty quick, especially now that we're playing in the middle of summer here, getting ready for THE PLAYERS and the U.S. Open now. Time will really start flying and all of a sudden you'll ask, what happened.
When Stevie had his, he had it the week of The Presidents Cup and we were playing all the way up until The Presidents Cup, and all of a sudden it was there. It was like, wow. He didn't know how to change diapers, either.

Q. Have you learned how to install a carseat yet?
TIGER WOODS: No, I never had one as a kid. My mom just threw me in there and said, "sit down."

Q. You said you can talk to Michael about anything. What subject do you enjoy talking to him most about?
TIGER WOODS: Probably not just one subject, it's just our outlooks on all different subjects are basically the same. From a competitive nature, when we start talking about our individual sports that he used to play and I'm still playing, and interesting to see how we go about it or how he used to go about it because it's identical, even though one is a team sport and one is a an individual sport.

Q. What would happen if someone saw you with Pings in your bag?
TIGER WOODS: No comment.

Q. You and Michael are both really obviously competitive. What was the friendly wager out there today?
TIGER WOODS: We're not allowed to bet on the TOUR.

Q. Just for fun.
TIGER WOODS: (Smiling).

Q. First tournament back since Augusta. Where are you golf-wise, where you want to be?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm really excited to get back. I took probably almost two weeks off and started cranking up pretty hard over the last week and a half or so, and I'm starting to really get back into it.

Q. After you tested the noisy driver at Oakmont, still not ready to go?
TIGER WOODS: No, I never could get -- I hit my driver a little bit further. Yeah, I hit the other driver slightly straighter, but I still liked being able to maneuver the golf ball both ways for now. It's a loft issue. I haven't quite got the right loft yet. As soon as we get that dialed in, I may switch.

Q. How big of a month has May all of a sudden become that you have such good tournaments back-to-back and then the Memorial later?
TIGER WOODS: Right, right. It used to be basically April and then you'd have to wait a while until the third week in June. Now basically we have a World Golf Championships or PLAYERS or a major every month of the season. It's pretty exciting, it really is. You have time off, but also, then again, you'd better gear up for the next biggest event. I think it's great to have all the European guys, all the international guys come over and play and add to our TOUR and the depths of our fields.

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