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July 17, 2007

Tiger Woods


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Open champion, Tiger Woods. You played yesterday morning at 6, and the same time this morning in dramatically different conditions. Tell us how the conditions affect the course, being so different.
TIGER WOODS: Let's see, where do I begin? Yesterday rain was coming down a little bit. It was a little bit cooler. I certainly hit some different clubs off the tees on the second shots. But that's links golf. Winds can blow two different directions. And it makes for a very interesting experience. But also I'm glad I got out there and see the golf course in different conditions. So far I've played three practice rounds. I've played in three different winds, which was good.

Q. I read your post on your website, and if you ever said it I couldn't remember, you called the British your favorite. What are your recollections from the first time you came over here, and when did this realization come over you and why is it your favorite?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I love playing over here because it allows you to be creative. Augusta used to be that way. The U.S. Open is obviously not. The PGA is kind of similar to a U.S. Open setup. Over here you can create shots. You get to use the ground as an ally. We play so much in the States where everything is up in the air. If you had a day like we did yesterday you really couldn't play a States course, because you can't use the ground. Everything needs to be in the air.
To be honest with you, you couldn't carry the ball far enough. So I think that's one of the great things about playing over here. I love coming over here my first time in '95. I played here at Carnoustie and over at St. Andrews. My first two experiences on links golf were probably as good as they get.

Q. Just the differences?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just fantastic, the fact that you get to hit different shots. As I said, utilize the ground. You just don't get that opportunity in the States.

Q. Just off a little bit what you're talking about there. At Hoylake last year, you meticulously worked your way around there with course management, didn't use a lot of woods off the tees. Can you do that here? Obviously the weather is a factor, but everything being equal, can you do the same thing here on this setup?
TIGER WOODS: It all depends on the weather, because today and yesterday are two different winds, completely 180 of one another. Yesterday I was -- some balls I was laying up short of bunkers. Today I was flying them, and vice-versa. It's two totally different setups. It's a hundred percent dependent on weather.

Q. Just as a follow-up, when you look at Hoylake last year, was that maybe one of your best course management weeks at all? Obviously you are very good at that. In the major championships you've won, the way your game plan worked out?
TIGER WOODS: Last year was probably the only opportunity I've had where the golf course I thought forced you to do that, just because it was so fast and so firm. For a British Open, that was faster than we've ever seen. At times last year I tried to -- I saw guys hitting driver off the tees, which I did in the practice rounds, as well. I got it down there where I had a 9-iron and wedge in my hand, but if I was just in that wispy stuff, I couldn't spin the ball, couldn't keep it on the green. But I had a better chance of spinning the ball with a 6-iron on the fairway. That was the nature of my game plan then.

Q. You're becoming a father, how has that affected the way you're feeling during a week like this?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I miss them, there's no doubt. Elin and Sam are doing fantastic. They're at home. Everything has been going great on that end. It's one of those things where we're very excited to have Sam in our life and really looking forward to the future with her.

Q. Do you think it's a positive for the game?
TIGER WOODS: I don't see how it can be negative.

Q. A while ago I believe you said that the general public doesn't really have an idea of how hard you or other golfers work to prepare for tournaments, when you're away from tournaments. Could you provide a view of a typical day of your hard work, maybe at Allworth or wherever you are when you're not at a tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on when my training schedule is. When my cycle is. Usually it involves a lot of running or biking, lifting, interval training, practice. It encompasses a full day. If there's daylight you have plenty of time to practice.

Q. Depending on what you're working on, how many hours might you spend on the range, just hitting balls?
TIGER WOODS: Hitting balls? I don't spend that much time hitting range balls. Probably at the most, maybe three or four hours, not that much.

Q. For all the different kind of exercising going on, when the Tour starts to test for performance-enhancing drugs, would it surprise you if players tested positive? If a player did test positive, what would you want the punishment to be, the suspension to be?
TIGER WOODS: If anything, probably out here it would be -- test positive for maybe being hung over a little bit. But that's about it. I know some guys have taken Medrol packs for inflammation in their wrists, but other than that I really don't see anybody doing anything or have heard anybody doing anything. I'm interested just like anybody else to see what happens.

Q. If a player did test positive -- in tennis, for example, it's a two-year suspension. Would that be something you would be in favor of or do you want it to be longer or shorter?
TIGER WOODS: That's fine. It could be either one.

Q. Perhaps as a result of '99 there are people going around now who are posing the question that perhaps the course is too easy. Now, would you please -- does a smile break out on your face when you hear people saying that and if it does, can you explain why it isn't?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've never heard anyone say Carnoustie is easy, even the times I played the Scottish Open here it was more benign than this, and the scores really weren't that low. There are so many holes where you're forced to hit long irons into the greens. Obviously if you miss the ball in any of the pot bunkers off the tee you have to go sideways, if you can. You can't advance it forward.
I think that's probably a misconception. If you watch guys play practice rounds you're going to see them hit a lot of long clubs. Granted there are some short holes. It depends on the finish. If the wind is into you coming home, it's all you want on the golf course.

Q. In this room yesterday afternoon Seve Ballesteros announced his retirement. Could you give your opinion on what he's meant to the game of golf?
TIGER WOODS: Seve has been probably the most creative player who's ever played the game. I've never seen anyone who has had a better short game than him. I've been lucky enough to had an opportunity to pick his brain on several occasions around the greens, watched him hit just shot after shot after shot and have him explain how he did it, why he did it. It was just phenomenal. And to see the creativity. He was a genius. It's unfortunate that he's physically -- his back acted up and he had a hard time swinging the club again. We're certainly going to miss him.

Q. When you're at home in Florida preparing for this championship overseas are you on line checking weather reports? What kind of preparation can you do when you're in Florida, four thousand miles away?
TIGER WOODS: Just trying to keep your game sharp. Being able to control your golf ball. The greens are going to be different, the grass is different. The wind is obviously different. The temperature is a lot different. But you're trying to get where your mechanics are very sound and you can maneuver the golf ball either way, in any trajectory that you want. That's kind of the things that I've tended to work on when I've been at home preparing for major championships in general. So when I get here I really don't have to do a whole lot of work, just mainly getting the feel for the golf course and go out there and play.

Q. Going back to Oakmont, what was your thought process knowing that Elin was in the hospital, and what was it like knowing that in the back of your mind for whatever number of days it was?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was hard to -- harder than normal, I'll put it that way, to stay focused all day, but you have to do it. Time to play. You go out and concentrate and give it all you've got. The doctors assured me and she assured me she was doing fine. They said there's nothing you can do here, so just go win The Open. Well, I didn't quite do that. But the day in itself was the greatest day I've ever had. Win or lose the Open, in the end seeing Sam being born was the greatest thing ever.

Q. This week, are you more triggered by the fact that you can be the first one to win three straight Opens?
TIGER WOODS: I won't be the first one.

Q. The first one in 50 years.
TIGER WOODS: In 50 years? Yeah, that would be nice. There's a lot of work to be done before that happens. All I know is that I feel good about my preparation so far. I've got one more day to prepare and we'll see how the tournament builds.

Q. What do you think are your chances?
TIGER WOODS: My chances? If I continue doing the things that I'm doing, I like the way I'm swinging, I like the way my short game is, I like the way my speed is on the greens so far. I just have to carry that into the tournament.

Q. What do you think of the way Jean Van de Velde won in 1999?
TIGER WOODS: It was unfortunate. Three shot lead, and he goes into a playoff. He got a good break off the tee, and a bad break off the second shot and it obviously escalated from there. Not too many people really realize that Paul Lawrie won the tournament, Jean ended up not winning the tournament. It's unfortunate, very unfortunate. But we've seen some weird things happen in this game.

Q. You designed a golf course in Dubai. Could you tell us more about Tiger Woods Golf Design?
TIGER WOODS: We're excited about that one. That's my first course design there in Dubai. We are working on other potential sites around the world. But right now this has been a very testing job. There's been a lot of different things we've had to work out just because of the location of it. But one that I've been really looking forward to and I've learned a lot, I really have. I've picked brains from all the architects, throughout my years out here on Tour. It's really helped to have that information going in because I certainly have needed it since we've got under way.

Q. With respect to the international players here, we haven't had a winner since 1999. Nick Faldo said one of the reasons we're in the drought, is the players are too chummy, friendly to spend time together. When it comes to single-minded focus, you're right up there. Could you explain your approach to your relationship with other players and how you think you've won through that approach?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've had, and still have a lot of great friends out here. Some of my friends have moved on to the Senior Tour. I've got to know some of the younger kids coming out here and played practice rounds with all of them. I just think the game has changed. Obviously when Nick first came out I think he would be the one to attest that you had to win in order to get notoriety. You had to win in order to get money. Today you can just get top-10's and make over a million dollars, throughout the entire year. That's a great living. I think a lot of guys may fall into that. I don't know if that's true or not, but maybe.
I think that overall I think that the talent pool is certainly deeper now than it has been, which also makes it more difficult to win and it's more difficult to gain the experience that you need to have at the top to put yourself in contention time and time again. 30 years ago I'm sure it was a lot easier to get yourself in contention more often, the fields weren't as deep.

Q. People have said now that you've become a father, that maybe you're more vulnerable, what would you say to those people?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they have been saying that a lot. First it was getting engaged and then it was getting married (laughter), and now having a child. It's always something.

Q. Are guys lining up to give you dad advice, and also so far what's the most favorite thing about being a dad and what's your least favorite thing about being a dad?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as advice, it's been anything and everything. Everyone seems to tell you their own experiences. One thing I've noticed is that each and everyone that tells you the experience with their child, even though they're kind of weird ones, they have a smile on their face. You can see how people just light up when they talk about their child when they're infants. And I think we're the same way. You get that glowing feeling and it's fantastic.
As far as the good and the bad, the bad is probably getting a little bit less sleep. I don't get a whole lot of sleep to begin with, but it's even less now. It's nice to come over here and get some rest. And obviously when I go back home it will be a little bit different. But it's been great. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Q. You were talking about perhaps winning three in a row. Federer goes in and he continues to play well, say at Wimbledon. A golfer has to go to a different venue every year. How much tougher is it repeating in a Major championship?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that if you're comparing tennis to golf, we can't physically influence other people in our sport. And I think that's one of the glaring differences between what I'm doing and what Federer is doing. Coming to different sites, well, they go to different sites all the time.

Q. In other words, Wimbledon is the same every year, roughly.
TIGER WOODS: Roughly. We play Augusta every year, but obviously that changes, too (laughter). But I think it's hard to compare because it's apples and oranges. The only thing you can probably compare is an individual sport. Other than that they're both very difficult to win. Mine is over four days and his is over two weeks. A lot of things can happen in his sport physically over that two weeks and somehow he's been unbelievable at getting through it and playing through it. He's been hurt a few times I know of and he's played right through it and still been able to win.

Q. When you first came here with your dad in '94 and '95, when you first went on to the links, was it shock, was it love at first sight? What was your impression the very first day you played the links?
TIGER WOODS: I absolutely loved it. It was the first time I could actually use the ground. I grew up on kikuyu grass golf courses, and you never would bump-and-run a golf ball there. I thought it was neat to putt from 40 to 50 yards off the green, hit 5-irons from 135 yards and run the ball, because the conditions dictate, and it allowed you to do it as well. That to me was fun. I immediately just loved it. I just wish that we could play more golf on it. But you only get one time a year, basically.

Q. Having known what a great golf course Carnoustie was, when you came back in '99, and we all know what happened then, do you feel this year, what you've seen so far, the golf course is the way it should be and will be a fair test that will reflect well on Carnoustie?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, it's extremely fair. It's not like it was in '99. It's probably a little more difficult than it was in the Scottish Opens I played. So it's roughly right in between. And if we have wind like yesterday morning, conditions like that, or any kind of wind on this golf course, it just becomes a lot more difficult than you think. You really do have to hit the ball well here. The greens are extremely subtle, just like all links courses, they're hard to read.

Q. The thing with Paul Lawrie, do you think that Paul ever got the credit he deserve in '99?
TIGER WOODS: No, he never did. I think everyone probably looked at the fact that Jean lost the tournament, just like I said earlier, that Paul was the champion and he ended up having his name on the Claret Jug, but people remember Jean for what he did, rather than Paul coming from 10 down and winning a playoff.

Q. Would you like to have more of this type of challenge over a year? When you're playing great in the PGA, does it sometimes get representative and dull?
TIGER WOODS: I think that -- yeah, do I wish we played more? Golf courses like this? Yes. Obviously we only play one. The only thing that's different about probably playing the Tour would be week in and week out, maybe it's the rough length and that's probably it. The golf courses are virtually the same. There are differences going from the new, modern venues to the TPC golf courses, to the old-style golf courses like Oakmont. I think all the players can attest to this that they enjoy going back to the old-style golf courses now and then. I think it's one of the reasons why the guys really enjoy playing Quail Hollow. A lot of guys enjoy playing Congressional, because we don't get a chance to play venues like that much anymore.

Q. Would you like to see a Ryder Cup played on a real links course?
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice. I can't remember the last time it's been played on one. I wasn't around.

Q. (Events at the Glasgow airport.)
TIGER WOODS: The R&A makes a good effort to make everyone here feel safe and secure. And they've done a great job over the years, and I don't think this year will be any different.

Q. Just clarifying Oakmont, was it a possibility that you would have missed the birth by completing the four rounds and did you consider pulling out during the four days?
TIGER WOODS: It all depended on the situation with Elin and how everything was going. As I said, doctors assured me that everything was okay for the time being and it was what it was.

Q. At the time it actually worked out?
TIGER WOODS: It worked out okay, yes.

Q. Talk about creativity and imagination for a minute, is that something you can train yourself to be good at or does it come naturally? If it comes naturally how did you learn it when you didn't get to a links course until you were older?
TIGER WOODS: I always enjoyed playing different shots. I enjoyed playing and maneuvering the golf ball and would always do something with the golf ball. I wouldn't just hit a normal shot. That's one thing my instructors tried me to do, just hit a normal shot. I like to maneuver it a little bit, I like to do something with it. That was always an enjoyable part of the game of golf. Coming over here enhanced that.

Q. What made you want to be abnormal as a shot maker?
TIGER WOODS: I thought it was the right way to play. It depends on which side of the green you want to work it in there. The golf ball and the way the hole and to shape a shot, you shouldn't be afraid to hit it. And I just think that a lot of guys just get into a mode where they hit one normal shot all the time. And I just think that if you're limited to just hitting one shot, and that shot goes awry for the day, you have no shots to go back on. If you understand how to hit multiple different golf shots, you can always play something else to get you through.

Q. If we've come to the conclusion. I wonder if I could ask you to stay for a moment. Those of you who have come here as often as you have will know that Stewart is retiring, those who haven't come that often will not know, but we couldn't let the opportunity pass without saying thank you on behalf of the Association of Golf Writers, and on behalf of the photographers. I'm going to ask Tiger if he'd be kind enough to hand over something he has signed to Stewart as a gesture to our appreciation of all these done for us. (Applause.)
STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much. I know Tiger is wondering why is a gray haired guy of 40 is retiring (laughter). That's bye the bye. Thank you very much, John, and thank you Tiger for being fantastic over the years. I expect we'll see you over the next few days before the championship finishes.

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