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June 2, 2010

Tiger Woods


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the defending champion of the Memorial, actually, the only four-time champion of the Memorial Tournament. Tiger, thanks for joining us for a few minutes. We know you had to cut your Player Championship a little bit short with a nagging neck. If you could just maybe start out talking about that and just some comments on being back here this week.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, actually, my neck feels pretty good. Still not where I want it to be, but the inflammation has calmed down. I got range of motion again. It's a little bit sore after a good hard day of practice, but I can recover for the next day, which is good.
And get back at it, you know, repeated days in a row, which is what I haven't been able to do consistently.
DOUG MILNE: Before you came in, the Commissioner and Mr. Nicklaus were in here announced the Presidents Cup in 2013. Thoughts on that?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's great. It's great for Jack. It's great for people here in Columbus.
As we all know, this is an incredible golf course. The people come out to support this event each and every year. They hosted a Ryder Cup here, too. So they're known for having big events here. I think that's -- that would be fantastic.
DOUG MILNE: We'll open it up for some questions. We do have microphones.

Q. Tiger, can you fill us in on when you were able to get back to practicing. It sounds like you put the clubs away for a little while after the diagnosis and then what it's been like since then?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was off for three. So it was about a week and a half before I picked up a club and then gradually got into it.
And then the past probably five, six days, I've been going at it pretty good.

Q. Tiger, given your track record here, are there many better places for you to come back from an injury and also try, of course, not only try to add to a record but prepare for the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: Right. I've always liked this golf course. I played here in the Amber, and I absolutely loved it then and loved it as a pro. I've always had good memories here. It's nice to come back to a golf course when obviously I haven't played a whole lot this year, but it's nice to come back to a venue where I have played well.
Maybe this time I'll get four rounds in and get ready for the Open.

Q. Since we last saw you, there's been obviously a development on your coaching front. Are you self-diagnosing now and basically doing it on your own, or are you going to go it alone for a while? What are your thoughts on replacements or use of video, or how do you plan to proceed minus Hank?
TIGER WOODS: That's the great thing about technology. We can use video. That's what I've been doing and been working on it that way.

Q. Tiger, just kind of a similar thing. You're using a driver with a lot less loft. Is that indicative of maybe a different approach to especially tee shots? Maybe a bit more of an upswing?
TIGER WOODS: No. I only changed it by half a degree, so not a whole lot. I just found that I wasn't -- I was spinning -- the other driver's good, but in the wind I wasn't getting full benefit. I was spinning a little bit too much. So I changed it about a half degree.

Q. And also just, you know, when we saw you at especially, I think, Charlotte, you just seemed quite down. I know a lot of things are going on in your life. How would you characterize your mood and your attitude now vis-a-vis as it was at, let's say, Quail Hollow?
TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah, I think that life is moving forward. I was there at a point in time -- the last six months have been pretty tough, and I'm now starting to get into golf and starting to play golf again and get into my routine of playing, which is something I haven't done in a long time. So hopefully I can get back into that and play the rest of the summer and into the fall.

Q. Would you say Quail Hollow was the low point in terms of your -- we see you publicly, I know, probably closer than November 27th was. But in terms of generally how you were looking at life back then, it was --
TIGER WOODS: No, there have been a lot more low moments than that.

Q. Tiger, you said you were going at it pretty good the last few days. Have you actually played a full round, and how much rest do you expect there to be?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have played a full round. The other day we played 54 holes. So yeah. No cart, in shorts and fast.

Q. How did you play? How did you hit it?
TIGER WOODS: I hit every shot forward. It was great. And a little bit longer than the shot I hit at No. 7 at TPC.

Q. Tiger, another question about Hank. When Hank and you split, Hank seemed to indicate that he didn't quite want to be part of everything that was going on with your life and such. How much does it bother you at all, you know, for him to come out and kind of say that and another person along the line to kind of separate from you?
TIGER WOODS: I understand it. I mean, there's a lot going on, as we all have seen. I totally understand it.

Q. Also, as far as you're working with yourself essentially now, but do you have plans to have another coach work with you? Have you been talking with people? What's your plans going forward?
TIGER WOODS: No plans.

Q. Compared with other years, how critical is this week as it relates to preparation for the open?
TIGER WOODS: Well, since I haven't been in this position before, it would be nice to get four rounds in and be in contention and hopefully win this thing. That's kind of wore I'd like to be.
I'd like to see where my game is at going into the Open, and I should get a full tournament in, which I haven't had since The Masters.

Q. Tiger, you mentioned the video lessons, if you will. What are you seeing in those that you should be doing, and what are you seeing that maybe you aren't going to be doing, should be doing?
TIGER WOODS: Same thing. Club's behind me, just like it was when I was working with Butch, just like it was when I was working with Hank. That's just my fault, and that's just one of the things that I tend to fall into.
When a club gets out in front of me, I hit the ball pretty good, and I just need to get back to that.

Q. Tiger, in regards to the neck, it seems like you didn't really understand what was going on with that. Sometimes you seemed to be maybe not as forthcoming with some of the information. Do you see that as a competitive issue, why you may not tell us exactly what's going on with some of the injuries you have.
TIGER WOODS: You don't need to know.

Q. Tiger, I think you're not quite where you want to be physically. Would you be playing with the injury if it weren't for the U.S. Open being just around the corner and you're wanting to have more reps?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm good enough to play, definitely. That's the thing, as I said earlier, the swelling has gone down. I've got range of motion. I'm just a little bit sore at the end of the day after good practice sessions. But I've been able to recover for the next day, which I wasn't able to do prior to this. That's a good sign.

Q. I think every beat guy in here is working on some story on ten years after Pebble Beach and what you did there in 2000. Why did it all come together for you then, and did you ever have a sense when you were playing that you were running at 99.9 on the scale of 100 that week?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I never -- my practice rounds were good, but it wasn't like I've had practice rounds -- I've had practice rounds like that before. I just got off to a good start the first day, 66 or something, 65, 66, whatever it was.
I played really well the first day, and that was just like the -- kind of the whole thing with the U.S. Open. You just have to get off to a good start. It's so hard to make up ground. I was able to do that. It just went off from there.
Actually, it was a pretty interesting week, because I didn't miss a putt inside eight feet for the whole week, on poa annua greens. You don't have weeks like that. I don't have weeks like that, on bent you do, but not on poa annua.

Q. Is that the best you've ever played? I mean, relative to everyone else.
TIGER WOODS: '97 Masters was actually pretty good, I think. 2000 British Open wasn't bad either.

Q. Top 3, safe to say?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. There we go.

Q. Tiger, what kind of regimen are you doing for the neck? After you practice, do you ice it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, ice it, and I'm doing strengthening exercises on it now finally to get the proper muscles to activate. Some of the muscles that were impinging, tightening, and spasming, those have now relaxed, and now it's just trying to strengthen and develop.

Q. The other thing is 15 shots, beating a U.S. Open field by 15 shots, obviously, you broke the record by two that had existed for a very long time. Could you anticipate that record being broken any time soon?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it could happen. I just think that there's only certain venues or certain tournaments in which that can happen. I think that has to happen on hard venues, and that's the only way. If you get everyone playing a simple venue where everyone is shooting 4- or 5-under par, it's not going to happen. You can't separate yourself like that. You have to get on a venue where par is a good score and you happen to get super hot that week. That's the only time you can separate yourself. And it just happened to be that week for me.

Q. Tiger, how much did the neck actually have to do with your performance?
TIGER WOODS: Quite a bit, quite a bit. I had a hard time turning back. I had a hard time turning through. And the headaches were just unreal at times. That was the hard part.

Q. Are we talking like Quail Hollow through the Players?
TIGER WOODS: Starting from basically just before the Masters.

Q. Tiger, I want to go back to 2000 for a minute. Obviously, putting was such a huge part of the week. Do you remember what night it was that you were on the green until basically dark?
TIGER WOODS: I don't remember that.

Q. You don't remember what night it was?
TIGER WOODS: I remember, but I don't remember what night.

Q. And at what point did you come up with the swing key that you needed for your putting with those greens in that week?
TIGER WOODS: Probably Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon, I was just putting, and I think I was telling Butch, I was making putts, but they weren't going in the proper way. Like my speed was kind of slightly off, and they were still going in, but anything outside of 10, 12 feet, they weren't going to go in, not on those greens. You have to putt so good on poa. Just found something.
I can't remember what the key is. I should remember. I need to remember. But it was just one of those weeks where I just found that one key, and off I went.

Q. Did you talk to your dad that week on the putting?
TIGER WOODS: I talked to my dad, I think, every day, yeah.

Q. Tiger, you won three U.S. Juniors and three straight U.S. Amateurs before you started building your swing a couple times. I wonder, is there any remnant of that swing left in you? Is that something you could go back to? Because you mentioned video or something you want to go back to.
TIGER WOODS: I can't make that swing anymore. I don't have the speed. I'm getting older. I can't make that swing anymore, no, not like that.

Q. One more thing on the neck. I just wondered how long into the process did you find out you didn't have surgery? Was that just a huge relief?

Q. Because I was just thinking that you could be looking at God knows how long out.
TIGER WOODS: Exactly. The symptoms were such that it could have been anything. Worst case scenario would have been a bulging disk. That would be the worst case. It wasn't. The MRI just showed a lot of inflammation in the joint. The joint has since calmed down. Just now getting the muscles to activate now and fire, the proper ones that support the neck.
And that's something I've been doing each and every day. Doing my exercises -- tedious little exercises, but you have to do them.

Q. What are you doing?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to tell you. It would take too long.

Q. Just what a relief that was.
TIGER WOODS: The relief, yeah, once I saw the reading -- when I saw that it didn't show any bulge, and then I had the specialist read it, and he said there's nothing. Just a lot of inflammation around the joint. You could see basically the joint was sprained.
You're just going to have to rest it, ice it, treat it, and then ultimately strengthen it. And that's what we've been doing.

Q. So getting back to the swing for a minute. If you got back to that swing, even prior to Butch, but certainly during your Butch years, are there things of that swing that you could still utilize if you wanted to? And do you think that Hank may be -- under Hank you may have become a more solid iron player than you were back then, more consistent distance control and what not, but maybe lost a little bit with the driver? And then secondly, we were talking about Pebble Beach, and obviously that year you putted great, and you putted great for many years. Do you think maybe the putts haven't gone in as much over the last few years, and maybe that's something to do with it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's a hard one to answer, Robert, because most of the years under Hank I've won five or more tournaments per year. It's not like I've had a bad stretch. I'm much more of a consistent ball striker than I was then.
As far as driving, if I bring out my old driver, yeah, I'd hit it a lot straighter than I do now because it goes shorter. It's a little bit longer than my 3 wood that I have now.
So, yeah, I've gained the ability to hit the ball probably 20, 30 yards further than I did then, but then also that brings in more trouble. You know, the game has changed so much now that you just have to hit the ball out there. You can't play golf courses laying back because guys are just too aggressive. Guys are going to have hot weeks.
For instance, Angel. He played every week driver everywhere. When he gets hot, you can't beat him. We have a whole field of guys like that, that play the way the game is played now. On most courses, that's the way you have to play. There are certain venues where that's different.
Last week at Colonial, Hilton Head, where you have to shoot the golf ball a little bit more or hit it to doglegs. That's the way we used to play it, but now, even this golf course, Jack's had to lengthen it, move bunkers down there because guys are able to now carry the ball 320 yards. And also that brings in a lot more trouble.

Q. But you were also hitting that 43-inch steel shafted driver 315. You were, I think, 30 yards ahead.
TIGER WOODS: If I had that same speed now, I would hit my driver a lot further than I do now. But I don't have that same speed. I don't have that same body. My body is bigger, more stable, but I'm older. Not too many of us can say we have the same speed in our teens that we do now.

Q. What about the putting? Do you feel like you just --
TIGER WOODS: The putting has actually been -- I've had stretches where I've putted well, and that's kind of when I've played well, my years I've really played well, I'll have 200-plus holes and no three putts, things like that, a couple times a year. And that's when I win five, eight, nine times in a year and around the world.
I've done that under Hank, but also I've had stretches where I've kind of lost it, where I've been more streaky than consistent, and that's just a function of speed, just really concentrating on my speed, and something that I feel like I have to do more of is really start focusing on my speed.

Q. Looking back, do you think you overdid it in trying to get ready for the Masters? And leading to the neck problems. Was there any one moment in practice where you did something that it really stood out that you hurt yourself?
TIGER WOODS: It wasn't one moment, it was a cumulative. Because I'd taken so much time off and was away from the game and didn't do anything that physically resembled the game of golf, then come back and try and hit the same amount of golf balls that I was hitting right before the Aussie Masters, I wasn't physically ready for it.
And the body started breaking down then, and I just kept playing through it. Oh, it will get better. It will get better. Just never got better. It just kept getting worse.

Q. Tiger, you said prior to competition at a press conference at the Players, that you were tremendously confident with your swing. Now that you feel better, now that you've had time to work on your game at Isleworth, give us your sense of confidence with your swing heading into this event.
TIGER WOODS: Certainly a lot better than it was then. I've hit the ball much better. It's just like anything, though. It's great to hit it at home, but I need to bring it out here. Ultimately, once you bring it out here, you've got to bring it to a major championship. Once you do that, you've got to bring it to the major championship on a Sunday on the back nine. There's steps to it.
It's that process that I need to get back to, and I've just got to be more patient with myself on that because I haven't played. I've played nine competitive rounds this year. So most of the players have played a lot more than that. It's going to take a little time, and hopefully that time will be short. That's something that takes me six more months from now.

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