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August 30, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome our defending champion Tiger Woods to the interview room. Tiger, another great year for you with wins at World Golf Championships and recently at the PGA, had the chance to rest up a little bit and take the first week off of the FedExCup Playoffs, and you come in this week No. 4. You lost your lead, but maybe just talk a little bit about your time off, your rest, your preparation, and then we'll open it up for some questions.
TIGER WOODS: Yes, it was nice to get away from it for a little bit and get recharged and get focused for the next four out of five weeks.
I'm looking forward to it. I know I've slipped back in the standings, but there's plenty of points out there, and just going to go out there and get some Ws.

Q. When you look at where you finished up and three guys passed you, is that about what you figured might happen?
TIGER WOODS: That's about right, isn't it? Between three and five guys, somewhere in there. There's so many points available, and then obviously with the TOUR Championship, I believe there's double the points. It makes things pretty exciting coming down to the last few weeks.

Q. What would be meaningful about winning the FedExCup?
TIGER WOODS: Well, any time you win something that's never been done before, it's always meaningful. This is an experiment for the TOUR, and I equated it out there to very similar to what NASCAR went through. No one really understood it until after it happened, and then after a couple years people really got behind it. As we can all see, it's been flourishing.

Q. Several players have said this week, Rich Beem the other day said, let's be honest, without Tiger in the field, the Playoffs -- a Playoff event doesn't really matter. What's your take on the reaction you've received for taking a week off from players, from media, from fans? What's your take on you taking a week off?
TIGER WOODS: As far as the players, I really haven't heard much. I know that a bunch of my buddies were giving me some grief (laughter). But as far as any of the media stuff, I haven't seen it. I've been out on the boat and getting away from it.

Q. What kind of grief?
TIGER WOODS: Any kind of grief imaginable, just like we always do. We do it each and every day.

Q. No details, though?
TIGER WOODS: We just need to find an excuse and we're going to needle each other.

Q. One of our local sports celebrities Tom Brady just had a baby, and I'm wondering do you have any new dad advice for him?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you don't sleep, that's for sure (laughter). It's fantastic. You hear from every parent who's ever had their first child that it's an experience that you'll never forget. You always want to be there. It's the little things. I've only been a dad for about two months now, but it's just the little things each and every day.
I'm away from home this week, and you miss those things. Granted, when you're at home it drives you crazy at times, especially late nights, 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning gets a little tough. But those times actually you really do sort of miss them, as well.

Q. Can you talk about coming back here as the defending champion, and also now that you've played a full Pro-Am round, what about the changes on this course? What are your thoughts about that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, every time we've played here, this has been one of the greatest sporting towns you could ever play in front of. These fans, they love their sport, and they've supported this event. I know they've changed the golf course several times, and this time they've really done I think just a heck of a job and made it much more natural to the surroundings.
They made it probably slightly more difficult. The greens are a little faster right now, the fairways are giving it up a little bit, and you're really going to have to make sure you manage your game a little bit.
Before in some of the years we've played, we just had to make a bunch of birdies, just go super-low. It's going to be a little more difficult to do that this year.

Q. You were at Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox-Yankees game. Can you tell us who you were cheering for (laughter)?
TIGER WOODS: I'm a Dodgers fan, yeah (laughter).

Q. Does winning two tournaments suck more life out of you and energy out of you than finishing 18th or something?
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt.

Q. Because people say, okay, he's played four in a row before and why can't he play four in a row now. Can you sort of articulate the difference there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not just four in a row, it's seven out of nine. That's what people don't realize. You've got to look at the bigger picture of it. It would be seven out of nine, and especially given what we went through temperature-wise those two weeks. I lost quite a bit of weight, and it's not easy for me to put weight on. I lose it pretty quickly and need a little bit time to get it back up.

Q. Going forward, apparently there's going to be no movement next year, it's going to be four in a row and then a Ryder Cup. What do you suppose that does to Ernie and Tiger and Phil and their capacity to play five straight?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a challenge. We're not the only ones that haven't played. Ernie is not playing this week, other guys didn't play last week. We'll see.

Q. When you were walking up 18 on Sunday at Southern Hills, when you got to the green you pointed at something and smiled. What was that about?
TIGER WOODS: I'll tell you later (laughter).

Q. If you would talk about your foundation and how tournaments such as these benefit that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, without Deutsche Bank's help, we couldn't have created the Learning Center like we did out in LA. They've been a huge supporter of us and what we've tried to do for kids. We've been extremely thankful for allowing us to do the things we want to do.
Also all of their help and resources have made a tremendous impact in how we've been able to grow, especially over the last six, seven years, we've really grown a lot, and a lot of it is due to Deutsche Bank.

Q. Can you talk about drivable par 4s and specifically the 4th hole out here this week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've always thought that's been a neat attribute to a golf course if you have one par 4 you can drive. But generally if you don't play it well, you're going to probably make bogey or even double. I think that's one of the neat things about having a par 4 like that.
You've got to hit -- you think you ought to just blow it in the bunker up there or whatever, but that's one of the harder bunker shots, too. You've got to make sure you know what you're doing, where the pin is, and it's a little more strategic than you think. It's very similar to No. 10 at Riviera. You think, oh, this is no big deal, driver down there, and up-and-down easy. We see a lot of bogeys for some reason on that hole when guys take a run at it.

Q. Have you been paired with Phil and Vijay in the same group ever before? And you're always in the cauldron, but can you imagine what that's going to be like for two days?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think the only time we've been paired together in a threesome is at the Grand Slam.

Q. So a regular TOUR event never?
TIGER WOODS: No, not the first two days, and usually on the weekend we're probably in twosomes, so it's been really rare that the whole timing that all three of us can be at the same score on the weekend to get the pairing where all three of us were in the same group, I don't think it's ever happened. The Grand Slam is the only one that I can recall.

Q. With the three of you together, obviously you're always in the middle of it, but it'll probably be extra this week for a couple rounds?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you're always trying to get yourself in position. Yeah, you can have a great pairing, but just like anything, you've just got to keep playing along, keep plugging along and see where you are come Monday.

Q. Getting back to the week off, in summary of some of the media reports, they said it was unfair of you to skip, in part the TOUR shortened the schedule and created the Playoffs for people like yourself, and some said you owed it to the game of golf to play last week. Your reaction to you owing anything back to the TOUR to play in the first Playoff event?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think if you're ready to win, there's really no point in playing. And that's how I've always played. That's why I've played a very limited schedule, and when I come to play, I come to win, period. I want to give it my best in order to do that. That's allowing myself to prepare both physically and mentally.

Q. In follow-up to that question about the 4th hole, how did you play it today and what is the game plan?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I drove it just short of the green probably maybe about two yards short of the bunker. I just hit kind of a flop shot. Pin was right in the middle of the green.
You know, if I hit a really good drive, I might be able to fly it to the front. I've got to really hit a good one. But generally my normal shot is going to be just slightly short of the green. A lot of it just depends on the angles you want. Obviously the green goes basically from back left to front right is the angle. To try to hit the ball to the right you've got to hit it a lot further, which makes it a little more interesting.
It's a very clever hole. You think it's pretty easy, you think you should be able to walk away for the week playing it 3-under par, 2-under par at the worst, but you'll see some bogeys there.

Q. Does the playoff system change your mentality at all? How does it affect your mind frame going into this week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we've never had this type of system where it's points. Our TOUR has always been about the Money List. So it's been switched around a little bit, and we're trying to get used to thinking of points. As I said earlier, with the whole NASCAR reference, it's -- we're trying to get accustomed to it, and it's going to take a little bit before we're all, I guess, sound and able to understand it and we start routing off the points that you need, how far are you behind, what kind of place, what kind of finish, but as I said, Ws take care of everything.

Q. Speaking of which, could you handicap your performance at the next three sites? You've had pretty good luck over the years and sort of going forward how you think that maybe plays out for you vis-á-vis the FedEx Cup and of course the crucial question whether you can catch Rory?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, we've got three weeks. I've played well here in the past. I've really had some good success at Cog Hill. Even though I've never won in Atlanta, I come close a few times. I like East Lake. I think it's a very neat golf course in the sense that there's really not a whole lot of trouble, but it's hard to go low there. The Bermuda rough is always very penal. I think you find that guys have a hard time shooting some really good numbers there. Granted, usually it's really cold, too, that time of year.

Q. Jack yesterday talked about wanting to feel as fresh at the end of the year as he did at the beginning. Can you talk about the challenge of that, and do you feel as fresh now as you did when you rolled out to San Diego?
TIGER WOODS: No, but that's the thing. It is a long season, and that's the whole idea of not playing a lot throughout the year so that when you do play, you are fresh. You're able to go in with the same energy level each and every time.

Q. If you can go hypothetical for a minute, how do you think it would feel if you were to finish two, two, two the next three weeks and win the FedExCup?
TIGER WOODS: What do you mean?

Q. You wouldn't have won a tournament --

Q. But you would have won a trophy.

Q. What would be the difference there?
TIGER WOODS: I'd rather take the three Ws instead of three twos. Just me.

Q. Even though you've got a trophy, it wouldn't necessarily feel the same as winning an actual --
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's like -- you know, I guess it would be like an Arnold Palmer Award or the Byron Nelson Award; it's a year-long award. But would you much rather have Ws throughout the year than win that award at the end of the year, and if you ask any guy out hear, they'd much rather win tournaments.

Q. Calc would want to win the $10 million, I think.
TIGER WOODS: (Smiling.)

Q. Are you presently designing any golf courses? If yes, where are they; if no, will you do some in the future?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, one in Dubai and one in Ashville. We have two that we're working on. You know, we're probably going to limit it to that.

Q. Yesterday Jack was in here talking about his history of designing courses over the last 40 years, and we spoke about yours, and he said you might have a lot of problems that you might not even be aware that you'll encounter as you put these first courses together.

Q. I want you to talk about maybe a couple of things that you've learned as you've started these first two projects.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there's quite a few headaches that are involved. Just like anything, you're trying to create something from nothing, so there always are going to be some impediments along the way.
For instance, like the Dubai project, we've -- how do you get water that far into the desert? You think, okay, it's pretty easy, build a couple lakes, dump the water in. Well, it's 130 degrees, it's humid, everything is evaporating and all gone. Trying to create and shape the golf course and keep the dirt from blowing away, the wind blows there, too, it's not like it's calm every day, is a challenge. This is something that we didn't really think about at the beginning. We thought, okay, we can get around this, no big deal. All of a sudden it's a reality and it's presenting quite a problem.

Q. Did you get a chance to watch any of last week's at all and did you happen to see what the TV ratings were?
TIGER WOODS: No and then yes. I didn't watch any of it, but I read the paper on Monday.

Q. Were you a little surprised it was as low as it was given kind of the hype and the lead-in?
TIGER WOODS: I was surprised.

Q. It got whacked by the Little League World Series both days.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, it's this time of year, though. It's a tough market to try and get into with obviously the Little League World Series, it's our -- the fall with baseball coming up, everyone is making a playoff push. You've got football kicking up. You know how big that is.

Q. U.S. Open this week, too.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, U.S. Open, and then obviously you've got NASCAR. So it's a very tough time of year. We've trying to create a niche within that in one of the more difficult times of year.

Q. What's the longest break you've had minus a knee injury, minus knee surgery I should say? Last year with your dad?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I would say that, but I remember one other time taking that long. Might have been last year -- no, I played Target.

Q. I guess the more direct question would be the longest time you've taken with nothing really on your mind except relaxing, and is there any part of you that --
TIGER WOODS: I would say one of the winters I took six, seven weeks off where I didn't touch a club for probably five of that.

Q. Do you ever find yourself itching to go play?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and that's the great thing about it. You just don't go do it for a little bit.

Q. Even when you want to go play?
TIGER WOODS: Even when you want to, don't go do it to try to build that excitement level up so when you do come back, you're so fired up and ready to go, you can practice all day. Have light, will practice. If not, drive the car up on the range and continue going.

Q. How long does that last, a week?
TIGER WOODS: Actually it lasts months.

Q. How much did you take, two weeks off just to hit balls?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't touch a club for almost ten days.

Q. And then went back to the regular routine?
TIGER WOODS: Yep, the preparation of -- I lifted and trained through that time, tried to eat as much as I possibly could to get my weight back up from the PGA. I'm almost there.

Q. Do you think of the '99 Ryder Cup when you come to town?
TIGER WOODS: Actually I don't, no. But now that you bring it up, yes. That was a great memory, are you kidding me? Watching it all unfold on that Sunday is one of the greatest events I've ever been a part of, if not the greatest.

Q. You mentioned practice. Over the last couple weeks there have been a couple reports about Hank and you guys' status and how much he's going to be intimately involved. Can you give us your view on how that's going to go going forward?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we're still working together.

Q. Just not as often?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely not as often. He has some things that he needs to take care of, which is totally understandable, and he really should be there.

Q. When they showed you the other night at Yankee Stadium it looked like you were watching the game pretty intently. Do you just enjoy that as a fan, or is there anything you pull out of a setting like that as a competitor?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I grew up around baseball. My dad played baseball. He played in the Negro Leagues. We'd always go to Angel games and Dodger games as a kid, especially Angel games because it was only 15 minutes from our house. He'd always show me the nuances of the game of baseball.
That to me, I love the strategy involved, how the shortstop controls third base and what goes on, the communication between Jeter and A-Rod, and I just love that stuff. Are you kidding me? That's what I grew up with. So for me to go there and sit right behind home plate and see everything unfold right in front of me and know what to look for, it's like going back to your childhood days, really, but just on a much better scale.

Q. When it comes to your courses and your design and the structure of them, I know they won't all be tied to real estate, but the first couple having the design part and then the real estate part on the back end for years to come, why is that? And can you just talk a little bit about the structure of that? And some other players, Jack has done deals like that that have kind of backfired on the real estate part of it for him. What are your thoughts on having it structured that way, and can you talk a little bit about it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that structure has its faults and can be fallible. But also if you're lucky enough, you can hit the home run, too. So it's a hit-and-miss.
But yeah, you definitely do take a chance when you do that. But that's the whole idea of being around people who are reputable, who understand what they're doing, and who have created projects in the past that have been very successful. And these people are the ones you want to partner up with.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Tiger, thank you. Play well this week.

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