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September 13, 2009

Tiger Woods


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome the champion of the 2009 BMW Championship, Tiger Woods, into the interview room. He picks up his 71st PGA TOUR victory and in the process moves back into the top spot of the FedExCup standings. It may have been a different Cog Hill this week but the same result. If we can just get your comments on a great week.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was a good week. I hit the ball well. I felt like I basically hit the ball the same as I have been. Only difference is I made a few more putts this week and got some momentum. As we all know, you have to make putts to win championships. This week I certainly made my share.
JOHN BUSH: A couple holes stand out; take us through 9 and 15.
TIGER WOODS: 9 was a good tee shot; I hit it about 60 yards right of the fairway (laughter), then hit a 3-iron through the trees. I think I had either 106 or 109 to the hole. I just kept telling myself it's a 9-iron, but I just got to hit it about 50 yards in the air and just make sure I hook it. I didn't want to carry it any more than 50 yards. If anything, make the mistake of hitting it short of the green, it's an easy pitch from there, instead of hitting it long, and it came out perfect. It carried the bunker, turning, and rolled up there to I guess about 15 feet, and I made it.

Q. To get back on track with the putting, did you make any adjustments, or what did you work on --
TIGER WOODS: Not a thing. I didn't change anything. You know, it's just one of those things where I was hitting a lot of lips, they just weren't going in. That's the way it goes. You're not going to make every putt, you're not going to -- you're going to have stretches where that happens. I kept telling myself through those stretches, I was hitting good putts, they just didn't go in. So be it. As long as the ball starts off on-line and I've got my pace right, that's the way it goes. You read the putts better, eventually they'll start going in. It's just a matter of time. I was patient, and here we are.

Q. It seems like you do a lot of your damage on these public courses; Torrey springs to mind, this one obviously, public access. I'm wondering if there's any throwback vibe with that since this is all-access. Second, totally off point, I was wondering if you were aware of what Snedeker's situation was when he did what he did on the 18th.
TIGER WOODS: As far public access, certainly I never played public golf courses that were in this good a shape growing up. They didn't look like this. And they certainly weren't this hard and they weren't in this good a shape. I guess that's kind of how it's worked out for me so far.
Yeah, the entire group knew what was situation was. You feel bad for him.

Q. Tiger, obviously you've won 70 times before; it's not a new thing for you to win. But does it still get your juices going? Is it still cool to win? And is it cool to win just in light of a couple of ones that you let slip a little bit? Is it cool to get back there again, and also by so many strokes?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it always feels good. Winning, that's the ultimate goal. And to play as well as I have of late and not get the W's has been a little bit frustrating, no doubt, because I've been so close. It's just been a matter of making a couple putts here and there and I would have won the tournaments. That's all the difference it was.
And lo and behold, boom, I hit the ball just as well, just as consistent this week, and I made a few putts, and that's how it happens. That's how close I've been to putting it together and scoring well. I've been playing well, I just haven't gotten a lot out of my rounds yet.
This week I did, and especially yesterday. And you know, it does feel good, there's no doubt about that.

Q. Six wins, and you've had this nice run in the Playoffs here, but it doesn't really give you much of an advantage in Atlanta. Obviously it'll make it a lot more interesting, but what do you think about that, the way the setup is? Obviously it's not favoring you this time. But are you okay with that? Could you just talk about that, please.
TIGER WOODS: That's just our new system. I didn't play last year. Evidently Vijay pretty much hit his first tee shot and it was already over. I was in a position the year previous, that it was kind of almost the same situation. The TOUR wants to have excitement on the last event.
I mean, that's ultimately what has happened with this new format is that Top 5 guys, if they win the championship, they automatically win the FedExCup. No matter what kind of year you have, it really does pay to be in the Top 5 to give yourself a chance. That's not to say that the other 25 spots you can't win the golf tournament, but to win the FedExCup if you're in the Top 5 and you win the tournament, obviously you automatically get it. That certainly builds some excitement certainly different than the last few years.

Q. Obviously you have the TOUR Championship yet to come, but at this late juncture coming back from the knee surgery, what do you think you learned this year, and also maybe a high and low?
TIGER WOODS: If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year, any of you guys probably wouldn't have predicted I would have had a year like I did; to be as consistent as I have been this year, I'm very proud of that. That's something to have had an opportunity to win just about every tournament I've played in this year, that's something that I am very proud of.
I've been extremely consistent all year, Top 10'd just about every week I played and obviously had six wins. To come off a knee surgery and to have this type of year, and as I said, to be this consistent is something that I'm very proud of.

Q. How about a high and low? What sticks out in your mind as low point of the season and maybe the high point?
TIGER WOODS: The low point, certainly probably the question marks coming into the first event, didn't know. I hadn't walked even 18 holes yet. That's something that is kind of -- you can walk at home, but you're not actually playing. That's something to get out there on a mountainous golf course like that, off those tee boxes. I didn't know how my leg was -- how I was going to handle it. So many question marks starting out the beginning part of the year. And then the work that I've put in with my trainers and Hank to get to this point, as I said, it's something I'm very proud of.

Q. Kind of a related question, you might not put this year up with 2000, but given all that you just talked about, is it one of your best years?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, it's one of my best years. There's no doubt about that. You know, I haven't won as many times as I did in 2000, didn't win any majors this year, but certainly I was -- I've never had a year where I've been this consistent, either, this many high finishes and the number of events I've played. To have, as I said, an opportunity just about every time I tee it up to win the championship on the back nine, you know, that's something that, as I said, I can't tell you how proud I am for -- the job that my trainers and Hank did to help me get to this point.

Q. Given your record here, is it your hope that Cog Hill would continue to host a FedExCup event until you retire?
TIGER WOODS: I know we're going to be here for a couple more years until we have to move out of here. I think the year of the Ryder Cup we have to get out of here, but hopefully we can come back.

Q. Kind of two unrelated questions: Given that the TOUR has decided to make East Lake so compelling for five guys and maybe even ten guys, what then becomes the value of winning the FedExCup beyond the obvious check? Is it as big as it would be if it were more, as it was in '07, or even the way it was last year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think it's different now. It's more of what you do later in the season or basically the Playoffs. For instance, Heath wasn't having a very good year and wins one event, and then all of a sudden, boom, he's right there. No matter what you've done the entire year, it's basically erased.
Yeah, it's about what you do in the Playoffs, I think, in order to win the FedExCup, not necessarily what you've done the entire year.

Q. And secondly, and I think the answer is pretty obvious, but you keep mentioning consistency over and over again. You've pretty much been consistent since 2005. What was it about this year that made you so pleased to be consistent? Were you worried that you weren't going to be because of stability, because of walking or what? Will you explain that a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as I said, there was so many uncertainties at the beginning of the season. I didn't know how the leg was going to respond. I've never had a leg that was stable. I can't remember the last time I had a leg that was stable, that didn't hurt when I played. What kind of shots could I play? How was my recovery going to be from day-to-day? Am I going to hurt again? A lot of these things I didn't know. Am I going to stretch out the graft, which I -- there was so many different things that I didn't know, and I hadn't played competitively since the Open. A lot of guys had played well, and I hadn't played at all. So there was a lot of uncertainty.
To come back and be, as I said, this consistent feels pretty good.

Q. It sounds like the recovery is probably the biggest event.
TIGER WOODS: Well, you don't know. As I said, you just don't know. Most sports you come back after what I had and usually they strap a brace on you and you go play your sport. I can't swing in a brace on my left leg. That does more harm than good. You have to do a lot of your bracing with your muscle work, and that's countless hours of getting strong enough to keep this leg stable.

Q. Did you have a brace on it at Torrey?

Q. You never played with any type of a wrap or --
TIGER WOODS: Nothing. Nothing.

Q. You've won a couple big tournaments, but with the good Playoffs and this tournament here, is this as well as you've played all year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, if you include the putting, yeah. Tee to green, as I said, I've hit it this way for, geez, probably the last -- probably post-British Open I've hit the ball like this. Only difference is I made more putts this week.

Q. If you were looking at this year, you've won six times. Next guy has won three times. Each major was won by a different guy, none of whom have really carried it on. Is there any doubt in your mind that Tiger Woods is the Player of the Year, irrespective of what happens in Atlanta?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we'll let the players vote on that.

Q. What would you say?
TIGER WOODS: I'd say my name is up there on that list.

Q. On a day like this when you're up a bunch at the start and nobody is really putting pressure on you, how do you keep your focus shot after shot?
TIGER WOODS: My whole goal for the day was to shoot under par. If I shot under par, I would force the guys to have to shoot the same number I shot yesterday to force it into extra holes. So that was the whole mindset. I made bogey there at 5, and I got it back at 7, birdied 9. I was 1-under par, and I figured if I shot just under par on the back nine, it's over. And I was able to do that.

Q. You're probably going to think this is a flip question, but it's not. When you fly home tonight, what are you going to do the next eight days? I'm guessing it will not include golf clubs.
TIGER WOODS: I'm practicing all day, every day. (Laughter.) Dawn till dusk. I'm taking a few days off, and these clubs are -- whatever Stevie might have left in the bag is going to rot and mold in there for a few days.
JOHN BUSH: You mentioned the bogey on 5. Take us through that real quick.
TIGER WOODS: I hit a bad tee shot there to the right, laid up with a 9-iron. I hit a sand wedge in there to about 15 feet short of the hole and missed it.
Birdie on 7, I hit a 5-wood off the tee, a 9-iron just past the hole, putted about 12 feet and made it.
15, I hit 3-wood and a 3-iron to about eight feet and made it.

Q. This is going to sound really stupid, but if you've got to peak four times a year for the majors, is the TOUR Championship now kind of in the same boat, not in importance but preparation-wise, given the way the system is now you have to peak for one tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, you have to play well in the Playoffs, first of all. And then --

Q. You could have sat out three and probably still been there, though.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but would I have been in the Top 5? The whole thing is to be in the Top 5 to give yourself a chance. That's the important thing that I got from a lot of players is they were all trying to get into the Top 5 because after they win the TOUR Championship it's over. So the whole idea of the Playoffs was for us to get into the Top 5. And now it's basically a sprint. It's one tournament, a sprint, assuming one of the Top 5 guys wins the tournament. But if it doesn't, then what you've done in the Playoffs previous to that will certainly help you to win the championship if none of the top guys win the tournament.

Q. In terms of your priorities, with the majors at the top, is the TOUR Championship your priority in terms of this is your TOUR and it's the thing you want to win because of your TOUR? How important is it to you? I'm guessing $10 million obviously is nice, but how important is it to you?
TIGER WOODS: It is very important because it's -- well, before it was always the Top 30 money winners, so you always had the Top 30 hottest players of the year playing the season-ending event. Obviously it's a little bit different this year, but generally you have the guys who are playing the best. So you know that if you can beat this field, it's the guys who played the best all year. That's something that all the guys will allude to, that this is the hottest field you'll probably have all year. Granted, it's small, but it's the hottest players.
I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of guys want to win the TOUR Championship.

Q. This is the 10th time you've won by eight shots or more on this TOUR. Does that mean anything to you? Do you take any extra satisfaction out of that?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't know that, first of all. And two, there are certain times when I get rolling and I can make some birdies. Sometimes -- well, you have to have the right golf course, first of all, to do it on. You're not going to win by big margins on some of the easier venues because everybody is going low. You have to have the right kind of golf course.
This golf course, you look at the beginning of the week, you'd say somebody who got to double digits under par was going to win the golf tournament. So you need to have a golf course that's difficult and you need to get hot on a tough track.

Q. Federer is going for another major this weekend. I know you're friends with him.
TIGER WOODS: Is he playing right now?

Q. Tomorrow. Do you consider it a friendly rivalry with him, or how do you guys -- is there banter back and forth?
TIGER WOODS: Of course, of course. That's the fun part. He gives me a lot of grief and I give him a lot of grief, but also, we have an understanding and a great friendship that's built upon -- first of all, it was understanding what it took to get to that point. But then after we got to another each other, Mirka and myself and Roger and Elin, we've all become pretty close. But it all started and stemmed from understanding how playing individual sport -- granted, I have a great friendship with Michael, but he played a team sport. It's so much different than an individual sport when you're out there by yourself all the time, the difficulty. It's a different difficulty and a different challenge, and that's something that Roger and I, we connected on.
Our text messages are pretty funny. We do needle each other pretty good. But also, a lot of support. He's one of the first ones to always congratulate me and vice versa. Wherever I'm playing in the world, he's always following what I'm doing and I'm following what he's doing.

Q. Have you heard from him at all recently or this weekend?
TIGER WOODS: Just about every day, yeah.
JOHN BUSH: Tiger, thanks for coming by. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts

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