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May 5, 2009
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome the 2001 PLAYERS champion, Tiger Woods. Tiger, maybe some opening comments about what you like about this event and maybe how the course played out there today.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I just played nine holes this morning, just played the front nine. And the golf course is in perfect shape. You couldn't ask for the golf course being in better shape than it is right now this week so far. The greens are running perfect; there are hardly divots on the fairways. The rough was a little bit spotty here and there, but this golf course is hard and fast.
CHRIS REIMER: How about some comments about this event.
TIGER WOODS: Obviously it's the best field in all of golf and played on a golf course that is very demanding, and if the wind blows it's very tricky.
Q. How was that second shot on 4 today?
TIGER WOODS: I had the right distance (laughter). I had 115, and Stevie said, "You have 115 on top and 115 and a half to the hole." They put the pin obviously right there, trying to save the four spots. But I hit one good shot, which was nice.
Q. Johnny Miller remarked last week he felt your best chance to win this event was to leave your driver in the bag. Would you ever consider doing something like that?
TIGER WOODS: No, no. We've got par-5s out here; you've got to be able to use it. I don't normally hit driver on 2. Sometimes it depends on wind. You've got to hit driver on 9 and got to hit driver on 11. And it depends on the wind what you do on 16. So if Johnny says you can't hit drivers on 9 and 11, you're giving up two opportunities to get close to the green.
Q. As a follow-up, when you didn't use it at Hoylake, why even keep it in the bag? What was the importance of having it with you?
TIGER WOODS: Just in case the wind changed. Just in case the wind came up and came out of a different direction. You never know seaside links. Our game plan was not to use it but just to have it there just in case the wind came up. And it never changed.
Q. You hit a few different drivers this morning on the range, had shaft changes the last week. Can you talk about that a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I tried a couple of different shafts last week, trying to get a little better flight to the golf ball, but I went back to my old driver. This morning I was trying different lengths to my driver. Again, stuck with my same old driver, so I haven't changed.
Q. When did you switch back to the old driver?
TIGER WOODS: For the weekend.
Q. Yesterday in your press conference or teleconference you did with the U.S. Open, you talked about how you didn't hit the ball as well as you liked to last week, I think more like the last weekend. Historically you've been one of the best GIR guys out here. What do you attribute to why you're struggling with that now? Is it because of timing? Is it because you haven't been able to practice as much? What exactly is it do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Last week was different. Last week those greens -- it was tough to get the ball close to the hole. And I played that golf course a little bit different than I would most golf courses, just because of the conditions and where I was in the tournament. You can throw that one out.
And then my tournament prior to that, Augusta, if you're not on, good shots are going to end up in bad places. So it's the last couple of weeks.
But my best ball-striking week so far has been Doral. I hit it great the entire week there. Didn't putt, but I hit it week. And didn't hit very good at Bay Hill, but I putted. It's just one of those things where I haven't put all the pieces together yet.
Q. Does it make it hard to practice when you just can't go out there and say, damn, the 3-wood killed me today, and you fix that, and you show up the next day it's a wedge, and you show up the next day and it's driver. It seems like 1/14th of your game has been kind of absent.
TIGER WOODS: Like I said, last week is the first time I've been able to practice after a round. If you haven't been able to practice for a year and a half after a round, it makes things more difficult to get ready for the next day. But now I'll start doing that and start to rectify some of the wrongs for that day and get them right for the next day. And that helps. There's only so much rehearsing you can do. You do have to hit physical golf shots to feel comfortable and improve and see some things change.
Q. Since winning in 2001 you've had un-Tiger-like strings of finishes here. Is this a course that doesn't fit your eye like Augusta or Bay Hill or Torrey Pines or Firestone?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't hit the ball well here. I have come into this event and for some reason haven't hit it well. The year I did, the last year I played it, I did, but couldn't make a putt. But it's been, as -- just kind of typical how this year has been; I haven't really put all the pieces together, and you have to have that in order to win this tournament. It's very similar to a major championship. You have to have all the pieces. You can't hit the ball well and not putt well or vice-versa. You have to have everything going together at the same time.
Q. Is this golf course playing at all similar to what it did when you won the Amateur here? And secondly, how firm and fast do you like a golf course to be?
TIGER WOODS: I love a golf course firm and fast, the faster the better. I think it brings back creativity, hitting shots, and especially when the greens get hard and fast, to be able to have to land a ball in a certain spot and see it roll out, expect it to bounce and I think that's how golf courses should be played. You can't always have that because of the weather. But if you can, I think it's great to have it.
As far as this golf course playing, like I played '94, it's close. It was a little bit faster in '94. More palmetto bushes were closer to the fairways, and they cleaned it out. You couldn't see between 1 and 2, and you couldn't see between 10 and 11. Back when I played the Amateur, it was all palmetto bushes all throughout there. But they've opened that up. But it is getting close. Not quite as fast, but it's getting close.
Q. Tiger, you mentioned not having been able to put all the pieces together yet. How do you assess your play so far this year?
TIGER WOODS: Not too bad, after I've taken as much time as I have off and to be able to come back and play as well as I have in the stroke play events. You know the first event, only won one match, but in the stroke play events I think I've done all right, all things considered.
Q. What was that gallery like at the U.S. Amateur when you won out here?
TIGER WOODS: Not very many people. Who would want to come out here? It was 98 degrees. I had to, I had to work on my tan.
Q. I want to ask you if you could -- you talked about this last week about getting some pop back and some speed back. What a lot of us saw from the final round of the Masters was Phil getting it out there longer than you on most of the holes. And then last week, amongst kind of the top echelon of power players, your driving distance was relatively down. Have you having to make adjustments for that, what's going on?
TIGER WOODS: It's just I've been away from the game for a long time. And it's going to take a little bit of time before my body gets back to where I can hit the ball the same distances. I don't hit the ball the same distance with my irons or my driver. But it's coming. Each and every week I'm getting a little better. And the body is starting to get a little more comfortable with everything. When you're away for that long, and I have a whole new leg, it's going to take a little time.
Q. Is distance a big deal for you?
TIGER WOODS: Not really, no. Just get the ball in play and obviously hit the ball in the right spots on the greens so I can leave myself putts. But there are certain holes that it would be nice to be able to take on a little bit more. Like I couldn't -- even if it was downwind, I couldn't carry the bunker at 8 in Augusta this year, I had to play a little bit left. Downwind usually if you take that out, it's only a 320 carry, but downwind you should be able to carry it that far. And I wasn't able to carry it that far yet, and I'm starting to get there again.
Q. When did you notice when you started hitting balls again that you weren't full strength?
TIGER WOODS: The first tournament back, I just didn't have the pop in my body, nor should I. After going what I went through and coming back, I mean, it takes time. It takes time for anyone to have a reconstruction to come back and get the speed back and the agility and all those different things. Most athletes take over a year to get back. With my sport I've been able to get back sooner than that, just because of the nature of my sport.
Q. In terms of playing, how much longer do you think before you get your full --
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know. Hopefully soon.
Q. I come from Colombia. In Colombia, there are kids watching you every day. What would you say to those kids there in Colombia, who are following your time, your golf and hopefully want to be like you on the course one day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think they've got a pretty good role model in Camilo. I think that we're all trying out here to do our best and win golf tournaments, and hopefully they're trying to do the same and get the opportunity to play. This is a great game of golf and hopefully they can accomplish what Camilo has accomplished and get out here and compete.
Q. I meant to ask you about this last week and completely forgot. If you could give us some detail on your White House visit and where you went and where it took place, what room it was in, what you recall from that?
TIGER WOODS: Anything else?
Q. Walk us through it, because most of us will never be there.
TIGER WOODS: Talk about the bathroom and everything, too?
TIGER WOODS: It was a great trip. He's obviously very busy. It was awfully nice to have him make out just a little bit of time to say hello. And overall, I mean, they had the White Sox there and I was able to meet with him for a couple of minutes. But the guy is busy. He's got a few things on his plate right now.
Q. Oval Office?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Just to follow up, was that impressive to just stand in there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was. It's a little bit smaller than you might think. Granted, I mean, when it was built. You see it in the movies and everything, but it's a little bit different to see it in person.
Q. Did he hit you up for a loan?
TIGER WOODS: I pay my taxes.
Q. I just want to follow up on that. Right now you have this all in perspective for the comeback and everything. Obviously you've never been through anything like this before. Did you hit a point -- when you started playing again out here competitively, did you hit a frustration point? Did you have to come back and work on your patience during this comeback? Does that make sense?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I understand what you're saying. You know, it was just -- I was getting better each and every week, physically. That was the main thing, not to have any setbacks. And I haven't. Just be able to get out there and compete. I didn't know the first week what was going to happen. I was very pleasantly surprised that I wasn't sore. There wasn't any swelling. I recovered from day to day, and I started to get my game back at Doral. Each and every day, I started to hit the ball better. At Bay Hill I didn't hit the ball very well but I putted great.
I'm starting to feel a little bit better. I think that's probably been the surprising thing is how long it takes. I've had knee surgeries before, and you pop right back, because obviously they weren't as extensive as what I've been through.
Q. This is at least a year now since you played back-to-back events. So how does that affect you getting prepared? Obviously if you were working on something, you'd go home and work on that, but now you don't have that opportunity.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's the unknown. That's one of the challenges we were looking at at the beginning of the year, is how are you going to do back-to-back, because obviously we didn't know. And as I said, I haven't had any setbacks so far this year. That's a big thing going into my second week playing in a row. You would think that's no big deal, but to me it is. I haven't played, as you said, back-to-back events in a very long time.
Q. You actually waited for Sean O'Hair after the round at Quail Hollow to give him congratulations. It seems that a lot of players have great respect for the kind of game he has. What is it about Sean that really makes him one of the players, more popular competitors? What is it about his game that shows he can be a great player?
TIGER WOODS: He's got every part of the game. He can hit it long. He can chip and putt. He's got a great feel. But I think more importantly just the kind of person he is. That's what everyone really appreciates about Sean. He's such a great guy. And I'm lucky enough to call him my friend. He's been a great friend and I've always enjoyed playing with him and competing against him and hopefully will do it for a long time.
Q. You said earlier that your play here is simply a matter of you not hitting shots well. Is it really that simple or is it -- do you think that the layout has anything to do with it in terms of -- I mean, the fact that the layout seems to bring more golfers into the leaderboard equation?
TIGER WOODS: It does, no doubt. It does bring more players. More players have a chance to win here. You can say the same for last week, as well. There's certain golf courses that have bunched leaderboards, and this is one of them. Generally if you make the cut here you're going to be probably ten shots or less from the lead and you feel you can win, where some tournaments that's not the case.
Q. What would be your one-word definition of this golf course?
TIGER WOODS: Probably "tricky."
Q. Is that a good thing?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is, it is. It's not just visually, but also if the wind blows here. It can be very, very tricky to play.
Q. Secondly, last week you would probably say the way you hit the ball you didn't deserve to win. Do you ever take anything out of the fact that you still could have or --
TIGER WOODS: No doubt.
Q. -- do you look at the end result?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt. That's always a positive where you don't hit the ball well and you've got a chance to win a golf tournament. I didn't hit the ball well, I had three three-putts. You take those away and I'm right there. You can hit look at it, I hit it all over the place and I didn't hit my irons that well. But I wasn't that far away from winning the golf tournament, as well.
Q. During the interview the other day with David Feherty, how can he get away with that, and what were you thinking when he was going in that direction?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's typical. David kind of -- he kind of lost his train of thought (laughter). He kind of goes off in tangents, and that's certainly one of the tangents he went off on. I know David has been a good friend of mine over the years, and I know what he was trying to say, but it didn't come across that way. But I thought it was actually pretty funny. It was good.
Q. I also wanted to ask, what is it like leaving home as a father? You've got the baby, the two year old. How hard is that and what do you miss when you're on the road?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they're here this week, so that's nice. Last week was different. Last week was -- I missed them quite a bit. I never really understood how players would say that, never understood why they would feel that way, they can't wait to get home. All these different things. And now I understand. I truly understand, over the past almost two years now how badly you want to get home and be with them.
That's something -- you can't imagine how that feels until you actually go through it. People can describe it to you, but you can't until you actually feel it.
Q. I know you've been to the White House before, but you are saying that was the first time you've been in the Oval Office?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. I want to ask you about two stories that were written about you a decade ago, one by Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated and the other by Charles Pierce in GQ. I'd like to know about the impact, how those stories impacted you. One focused on your father's hope that you would be a transcendent figure and that you would impact people beyond golf. Charles Pierce caught you in a candid moment, and it was focusing on you just being a kid. How did those stories impact you and how do you feel about those themes here ten years later?
TIGER WOODS: Let's see, the first part about my father, well, that's a proud father, a father who wants you to do well in life and wants you to give back and help. And that's what every person should do, not just me. Every person, every one of these guys in this room and everyone else should help others; that's what he was trying to convey.
As far as the other piece, the other piece obviously, you have to be careful who you say things to and where you say them and trying to be funny, and obviously didn't come across that way to a lot of people.
Q. I'm following up on the father theme. You mentioned some stuff about how you miss them. Are there mayday moments where all hell is breaking loose and you say, oh, hell, I've got to go hit balls?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I might do another session of cardio or something (laughter). There are times, absolutely no doubt. And they'll only get more like that, too. But it's also so much fun, too, at the same time, trying to figure everything out. That is part of the challenge of being a parent.
CHRIS REIMER: Best of luck this week. Thanks for coming in.
End of FastScripts