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September 23, 2009

Tiger Woods


LAURA HILL: Tiger, thanks for coming in. Let's just start off with your thoughts and expectations coming into this week and the finale of the FedExCup.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's been a good year so far, culminating here at East Lake. I'm surprised, I just played nine holes, I'm surprised at how playable the golf course is. The fairways are pretty wet, obviously, picking up a little bit of mud. But the greens are unbelievable. They're firm. They're rolling out. You know, the deal with SubAir, these greens are -- it's pretty impressive how it takes the moisture out.
Overall I think we're looking forward to the week. We've got a great field here, as always, on just a wonderful golf course.

Q. We might have to go all the way back to Las Vegas to get an answer for this one, but have you ever thought about money standing over a putt in a pro event, and what is the possibility of $11.35 million on the 18th green here on Sunday do to you?
TIGER WOODS: You don't look at it like that. Even when I was playing my rookie season, you know, you just looked at just trying to beat everybody in the field, and that would kind of take care of itself. You look at -- at the time I was always looking at Money List because I was trying to get in the top 150, trying to get the unlimited exemptions the following year.
But other than that, it was just you'd play as hard as you can, and at the end then you'd like a look at it. But when you're inside the ropes, you don't look at it like that. You look at where do I place the ball and beat these guys.

Q. Even this week?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. Winning always takes care of itself.

Q. Outside of majors, how do you rate the quality of your victories? Is it the strength of the field, the difficulty of the course or how you played, something like that?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I think that if you look at this year, I've won on some pretty good golf courses against I think some pretty good fields, and that's something that I've always been proud of is if you can beat some of the tougher fields of the year. Obviously not winning a major, those are the best fields that we get, but outside of that, most of my victories came at some of the more difficult golf courses and more of the top players played in some of the tournaments I played in.

Q. Besides just the monetary rewards, what are the characteristics that you see in this event that does elevate it to being something more than the garden variety stock?
TIGER WOODS: You know, if you look at years past before we had this format, it was basically the hottest players for the year. Now it's a little different because you get some of the hotter players towards the end of the year who are in this event. But generally you get the Top 30 players. Most of these guys have had just very consistent seasons, and equate it to the old Money List, the Top 30 players meant that you had a very consistent year and you had, as I said, the hottest players for the year.
This is a little bit different, though, because you actually get some of the hotter players that have played later in the year, for instance, like Heath. He played as well as he did at the end of the season. Or Marc Leishman playing as well as he has. So we get some of the hotter players who are playing right now. It adds for a little bit more excitement.

Q. Obviously the scheduling of this tournament, there's the break because there's The Presidents Cup and guys have talked for the first couple years of how the scheduling should come about. There seemed to be this year a lot of momentum going through the first three and then the week off and then this. Do you have any sense that there was a loss of momentum in the TOUR schedule, and is there any solution to that?
TIGER WOODS: The guys have talked about it I think since the inception of how to go about it, three in a row or two on, one off, two on. Just trying to get the right balance. This year I think it worked out pretty good. Going forward it might change it, depending on where the Ryder Cup falls, things like that. But I think this year it was a pretty good balance.

Q. How would you describe your season this year, and do you still in part define your seasons by how you do in majors?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. I mean, major championships are the biggest events, and unfortunately I didn't win any of the four. But as far as the season, it's certainly been one of my most consistent seasons I've ever had. To have this many high finishes, I think it's pretty good. I think excluding a match play event, if you just do stroke play events, two of them outside the Top 10, and one of them I was in 11th, I think that's a pretty good season.

Q. When the Olympics were held here in Atlanta in '96, there was a big press conference in Augusta to try to get golf in the Olympics, and it's kind of a long shot thing that failed. Now America has a strong chance to get an Olympics this year, and golf has a very strong chance to get in the Olympics for the 2016. Do you think it's been kind of an evolutionary path maybe? I don't know if it started here, but to get golf into the forefront of the Olympic movement?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. Just like most sports, it takes time. Golf I think is a wonderful sport to have in the Olympics just because of the history and tradition of sportsmanship, how we play the game, the etiquette. Our sport is second to none in any of these regards. Guys call shots on themselves. You know, you don't find that in any other sport, where if you make a mistake guys will call it on themselves. I think it fits perfectly into the Olympic spirit.

Q. In 2006 when you didn't play here, what kept you away?
TIGER WOODS: I can't remember. (Laughter.)

Q. 2006.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm sorry. (Laughter.)

Q. Adam Scott happened to win. Was that not the year you went to Shanghai?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. You'd have to research that. I'm sorry.

Q. Tiger, do you look at this as a must-win in terms of -- I mean, there's always various scenarios like Furyk had finished second, and you could finish fourth and not win the thing, and there's all of these strange little scenarios. A, does this matter, and if you don't win the FedExCup, do you still think, I've had a pretty good year; and then B, do you look at this as some kind of a -- I don't want to use the word Super Bowl, but some sort of grand finale that I must win this week?
TIGER WOODS: You always have the same approach and same attitude that you try and win every tournament that you enter. So whether it's a regular TOUR event, a playoff event, World Golf Championship, PLAYERS, whatever it may be, it's the same intensity. You bring the same attitude to play.
There are a lot of things at stake this week, but as far as my season is concerned, I think I've had a very good season, a very consistent one, and one I'm very proud of. Obviously you'd like to win the FedExCup and win the whole thing, but we still have 72 holes and we'll see how it turns out.
As you said, a lot of scenarios there that could pan out, but you play well, you win it, and you take care of everything else.

Q. As a quick follow to that, do you look at it as like people say the Patriots go 18 and 0, lose the Super Bowl, it's a bad year. So for you it's not like that?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's not. Golf is a little bit different. The nature of our sport is a little bit different in that regard. You try and have this season-ending championship be our big event, but there's four other ones that are pretty big, too.

Q. You said you just played nine holes outside. You checked the conditions of the course. At this stage in your career, do you feel like you need less time on a layout that you're familiar with and have had success with to get prepared?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, you just know how to play the golf course. You know the sight lines. You know where to aim it, how to play it, where the ball is going to finish. I always play 18 holes if I haven't played the golf course before. But this golf course I've played for so many years, even though it's changed just a little bit, I wanted to play the back nine because I know 17 has been changed since last time I played it. It's been moved down the lake, and I didn't play last year. I wanted to take a look at that hole. Even the grass is different on the greens. How you play the hole itself is the same.

Q. Just to follow up a minute, in your view what would winning the FedExCup mean?
TIGER WOODS: It means that I've had a very consistent year and a very -- I played well at the end, because you have to do that.

Q. Given the soft conditions out there and the fact that so much is at stake, do you change your strategy at all going into this tournament? Is it more like a boat race? Or are you going to kind of do your usual plod and see what happens?
TIGER WOODS: The way the greens are receiving, you can't be too aggressive, especially if we play the ball down. Like today we picked up quite a bit of mud on every tee shot, so you can't be as specific on where you land the golf ball coming into the greens, so you have to be a little bit more conservative. We'll see how the guys play and how the guys attack it.
And also a lot depends on whether or not you have a clean ball or not. If your ball hits and it rolls off, or we play it down and it rolled out, at least you've got a pretty good ball, it's clean. And then you can get a little bit more aggressive. But other than that, I don't see the guys shooting really low numbers.

Q. Because the money is so big, I mean, I know you just said you don't think about that or you can't think about that, but if you did have a putt on the 18th and knew that was at stake, does it in any way compare to the putt at Torrey Pines last year, the 2000 at Valhalla, where you knew you had to have those? Can you equate it at all to that?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I'll probably equate it to this: When you have a putt like I did in 2000 to get into a playoff for the opportunity to win three straight majors and do something that hadn't been done since Hogan, when you're over that putt, all you think about is where you're playing that ball. All the other stuff takes care of itself. It's nothing else but starting that ball on that line with the correct speed; that's it.
You know, when I had that putt last year at the U.S. Open to get into a playoff, again, it was all about starting the ball on that line and making that putt. All the other things, they kind of -- you don't really think about that. You think about just making that putt.

Q. Is that maybe the reason you've been successful with that? Most people would think about what it means.
TIGER WOODS: Why? You have plenty of time after that.

Q. Was that ever a lesson you learned as a kid.
TIGER WOODS: I've never had a problem with that.

Q. Ever?
TIGER WOODS: No. As you know, you've seen me play enough, I kind of get into the moment of playing and I get into my own little world and my own little zone, and I think that's just how I've always played.
I get into my little world and my intensity just allows me to kind of go there.

Q. We saw you at the football game the other night. Besides the friendship, what do you gain from watching Peyton in a situation like that as opposed to Jordan or Federer or some of your other buddies who are pro athletes?
TIGER WOODS: Well, no one is trying to rip Jordan's head off, maybe unless he's playing the Pistons. (Laughter).
But overall it's just amazing the speed and how fast a decision he has to make. As we all know, I mean, the Colts, their defense is not the most powerful defense, so he has to score just about every single opportunity, and he does. He brings his team right on down there. You know he's got to throw it, and you still can't stop him. That's impressive.

Q. I know it's a win and you win the whole thing, but at some point do you kind of take a look at what the four others behind you might have to do and where you would have to finish? Do you take a look at that at all before or during?
TIGER WOODS: If I'm on top of the leaderboard, I look at the next four guys, yeah.
LAURA HILL: Tiger, thanks for coming in. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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