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July 6, 2010

Tiger Woods


SCOTT CROCKETT: Tiger thanks for coming in and joining us as always. Always nice to see you this side of the Atlantic, and we look forward to welcoming you in a couple of weeks' time at St. Andrews.
JP is a special man in this part of the world, as you know, and you have a special relationship with him. Start off by talking with that and the two days you've had with him.
TIGER WOODS: JP and I have become great friends over the years. I think it's a testament to what he has done and is trying to do for all of Irish golf and Ireland in general. Just look at the field of people who have come out and supported what he's trying to do; it's pretty phenomenal.
I think everyone here is just so privileged and honoured to be a part of something like this. A lot of the guys have come over from the States and have come over here for this event, and we have all enjoyed it. I've had a great time the last two days, and unfortunately the weather wasn't as cooperative today as it was yesterday.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Obviously you've played here the last two years and gone on to play St. Andrews, and we know what's happened there; that would be a unique hat trick next week, wouldn't it.
TIGER WOODS: That would be nice if that happened.
SCOTT CROCKETT: It is a special event, you played with two special people today, AP McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald, legends around here, just talk about that.
TIGER WOODS: It was incredible. These guys, what they put their bodies through. We had a chance to talk about their injuries and they have broken pretty much every single part of their body and still want to get backup there and ride, which is quite remarkable; a testament to how tough these guys really are.

Q. We saw you congratulating Graeme McDowell on the first tee box today. Can you give us your thoughts on his win at Pebble Beach?
TIGER WOODS: He played great. He played consistent. He played wonderful U.S. Open golf and that's what you have to do. You have to plod your way around and he did that. He made the fewest mistakes and that's what always wins open.

Q. Would you have any advice for him as a multiple major winner having to go on now and trying to win another one or two?
TIGER WOODS: I think any time you win one, it only gives you confidence to give the second, because you know what it takes. If you can't won one, it's hard to get up there and have the same confidence level as someone who has. He's proven it to himself that he can do it, and he certainly did all of the right things at the right time to win a championship like that.

Q. And can you just give us your thoughts on the reaction you've had here from the Irish golfing fans?
TIGER WOODS: It's been incredible. Yesterday, couldn't ask for a better day. The weather was perfect; the amount of people that were out here. Everyone was just thoroughly excited to come out and support this event, and for me as a player, it's always fun to play in front of people like that.

Q. Can you tell us where you feel your game is right now and how important it is for you to do well, if not win, next week, given it's on one of your favourite courses?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt I made some pretty good strides last week. I hit the ball -- I drove it great last week, and just putted terrible. Consequently, I finished way down the board and that's something I'm going to work on and really work on my lag putting and make sure that's organised, a lot of big, long, lag putts at St. Andrews.
I'm really looking forward to getting there and competing.

Q. What will your build-up be to St. Andrews?
TIGER WOODS: Practising.

Q. Where?

Q. Why not try and play some links golf beforehand?
TIGER WOODS: I need to get home.

Q. Personal stuff?
TIGER WOODS: See my kids.

Q. If you're unlucky enough not to win the British Open, who at the moment has the game and the form to win?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of guys are, some of the young players, and even some of the guys this year that have good years that now they are 40, being Ernie and Phil. But it's an Open. That's the beauty of it; there's more players in this field than any other. It will be a good test.

Q. How do you deal with this media intrusion into your life and keeping your private life private? Speaking to fans, there's a lot of support out there for you; how hard is it to get back to golf and forget about last November?
TIGER WOODS: That's been the nice thing about playing and competing. I have a lot of friends out here and it's nice to see a lot of my friends that I haven't seen in a while, especially touring pros. And the fans have been incredible since I've come back and started playing again. That part has been -- couldn't ask for a better return.

Q. You said that if you don't win the Open, there are plenty of other people that have the game to do it; do you think Rory McIlroy has the game to win at St. Andrews?
TIGER WOODS: Like I said, there's a lot of people, including Rory. He's already won on our tour. He has the talent. There's so many young players now that have had a lot of success around the world; one being Ryo. It will be a fun test for everybody.

Q. Did any of the Irish give you a run for your money today?
TIGER WOODS: In golf? My playing partners? Is that what you're referring to?

Q. Yes.
TIGER WOODS: We had a good time.

Q. You said you got good support today; how did that make you feel?
TIGER WOODS: It wasn't just today; it was yesterday, as well. They have come out and supported this event and supported what JP is trying to do, and I think it's just absolutely incredible.

Q. At the moment with the Europeans playing so well both over here and in the States, how are you Ryder Cup players looking forward to the challenge of coming over here and playing in the autumn?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't even thought about it. I'm not even on the team yet. There's still a lot of tournaments to be played. We still have two more major championships and a World Golf Championships, so there's some big events coming up.

Q. Was there ever any doubt that you were going to play in this competition? I know it's your first time back in Europe after your break; had you targeted this as your return?
TIGER WOODS: I always want to support what JP is doing. The charitable efforts that he's made over the years; it's one of the reasons why I'm come back. This is my third time doing it.
What he has done is just remarkable. You just look at the field and you look at the people, the participants who have come out here and supported this event; if I can help out in any way, I will. That's one of the reasons why I play.

Q. You said at Pebble Beach that St. Andrews, by miles, was your favourite major championship venue. Can you talk about the journey you've made to get to that decision, when it happened?
TIGER WOODS: The first time I played it. The first time I played it in '95. My introduction to links golf was Carnoustie in the Scottish Open that year and St. Andrews. That's as good as it gets for your introduction to links golf. I just fell in love with it, because the lines and the angles is not what everyone says it is. People say you hit it miles left; you hit it miles left, that's fine, but you have no angle.
The R&A sets up the pins pretty well; so it forces you to be a little more strategic in how you play the golf course. You have to be so creative and your touch has to be great, because you're going to have a lot of long lag putts over putts that break three and four different directions.
It takes a lot of imagination to win. You look at past champions of St. Andrews, a lot of them have great short games and great imagination and ball control.

Q. When do you plan to get there and what sort of reception do you expect to get?
TIGER WOODS: I'll be there Sunday or Monday, and I'm looking forward to it. Looking forward it for sure.

Q. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the standard that you were at, but does golf ever feel like a trivial matter, given everything you've been dealing with over the last year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, golf is something that I've done for a very long time, and there are times in one's life when things get put in perspective; one being when my father passed, and obviously what I've been going through lately.

Q. You've had a pretty fixed schedule over the past few years. Is there any chance we might see a bit more of you in Europe in the coming years or not?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know yet. It's hard to say, sorry.

Q. When you came back, are you further ahead than you expected to be, or further behind than you expected to be, six tournaments in?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hurt myself early. Unfortunately that kind of put a damper on things. But I feel like I'm right on pace. Normally this is about April and the amount of tournaments I've played. That's about right.

Q. Have there been any other doubts with what you've been through that this will affect you and you might never come back; has that entered your mind?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-mmm (shaking head no).

Q. Never?

Q. You were saying at Pebble that if you could, you would have every major played at St. Andrews. Does that put a little bit more pressure; do you go there with perhaps something to prove that you do need to win this one if you're going to catch Jack?
TIGER WOODS: No, I never look at it that way. I've just always enjoyed it, and that's why that comment was made, not how you were looking at it. I always enjoyed playing it, I enjoyed playing it in '98 in the Dunhill Cup, two totally different setups, which is pretty neat, and then the two Opens that I've played there subsequently.
I think it's just a fantastic golf course, and the genius it took to lay it out that way.

Q. And also, obviously suits your game very well. Will you regard it deep in your own heart as a must-win?
TIGER WOODS: No. I've never looked at any tournament as a must-win, ever.

Q. You've been talking about how well you've been received by a lot of people here the last two days; a little girl breaking through security to get your autograph yesterday and people standing on the range watching; with the recent behaviour and the problems you've had, at a time like this, where you risk losing family or you risk losing the sponsorship that accompanies it, do you ever reflect, was it worth it?
TIGER WOODS: I think you're looking too deep into this.

Q. It's not something that you would --
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

Q. I understand you're flying back this afternoon; this must be one of your shortest trips to Europe on record. Is there any other event that you would take such a time-out from your schedule to come and honour?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think any time you support friends, and JP has meant a lot to my life; and I truly believe in what he's doing to help others, and that's why I'm here.

Q. Five years ago, we spoke about your foundation, and encouraging kids to play golf, and at the time you said you possibly might bring it to Europe. Any plans or on track?
TIGER WOODS: I think that's one of the reasons why we opened up the campuses in D.C. we have two new campuses -- what we call campuses. I think that might be our model going forward in how we can expand globally. We are going to let that play out a little bit and see how that goes. But I think that could be our blueprint to expanding globally.

Q. Have matters off the course been sorted out to the point now to where you can concentrate as much as you want to on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, everything is working itself out.

Q. Do you feel that in a way you would rather The open wasn't next week and you would like a bit more time to prepare for it?
TIGER WOODS: No. I look forward to major championships. The only one that came really fast was the Masters this week. I only had a few weeks to prepare. But we are in the major championship flow now. They come once a month now. Once, basically, the U.S. Open hits -- as soon as the Masters hits, we have a big event every month. So you're kind of into that mode.

Q. And are you able to get sort of the excitement you would normally get in the build-up to a major championship, or do you feel that there's too much else going on outside to allow you to concentrate fully?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm asked at every press conference that I do about major championships and the next one that's coming up. So is there a build-up? Yeah, because after every round last week I was asked and I'm asked again today.

Q. Why do you think that in these six tournaments since you've come back that your two best performances have been at the two hardest events, the majors?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Just call it one of those things. Tried just the same in every one. For some reason, those two have been my best results.

Q. Do you approve of what they have done to the 17th at St. Andrews?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't seen it.

Q. Well, you know they extended it.
TIGER WOODS: I know they extended it, but I don't know what angle they put it at.

Q. Would you be fearful that technology could ultimately destroy a great venue?
TIGER WOODS: We are kind of seeing what people are doing now, extending golf courses; St. Andrews has been one of them. It will be interesting to see how we play Merion, which is one of the shortest golf courses, and see how that stands up against equipment nowadays.
It will be interesting to see how they set up The Open Championship, it really will be, because you can play -- you can play it long, or you could play it short and it doesn't matter if the wind blows. I've only played it in one Open Championship where it's been windy and that was in '95 on Sunday.
The Dunhill Cup was different; the course was just slow and soft. Depends on weather.

Q. Given the off-course distractions, the neck injury and the fact that next week is at St. Andrews, what would it mean to you to win next week?
TIGER WOODS: To win at the home of golf? It's what I think every champion wants to have happen in their career. This is where it all started, and to win at the home of golf, it has such a special feeling walking up the last.
So I've had that feeling in major championships before and other ones, but this one is different because of the history behind it.

Q. It's the 150th anniversary, as well. What does that 150 years of The Open Championship mean to you when you look at the list of previous winners?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you go from the belt to how it's at now, the look of the names on the lip of the Claret Jug there, all the way down to the base; and also, I think we are going to do a pretty neat thing on Wednesday, too, with all of the past champions. I don't know if Seve is going to be able to attend.
It's something I wanted to have happen in 2000. I had not won the British Open yet. My buddy, O'Meara, was out there playing, and I came out there and watched a couple of holes. He says, "One day, your name will be on here." And just happened to be my week that week, and now I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing it.

Q. I want to ask you a little bit about your future and where you see yourself in the next ten years, and the pressure from top players coming through and staying No. 1; how do you stay No. 1?
TIGER WOODS: Well, always try and get better. Always work and pay your dues. I mean, you have to work at it. I didn't get into this position just by luck. I worked hard for a long time. I take great pride in what I do, in my job, and you know, the fields are getting deeper and deeper. Guys are more fit, more athletic, much more powerful. A lot more tall golfers than there used to be. A lot of guys are 6-3 and 6-4 and have that much more leverage. It's pretty interesting to see how the game has evolved. But still, lowest score still wins.

Q. Has JP informed you of the importance of your visit this beak in particular given what you've been going through and how much it's appreciated by the local fans and communities?
TIGER WOODS: He has, yes.

Q. In any way in particular?
TIGER WOODS: We've had a lot of long talks.

Q. You spoke there of looking at all of the great names that are on the Claret Jug. With everything that's happened, have you had more time to reflect on what you've achieved in your career or are you still very much focussed on the next event, the next major?
TIGER WOODS: When it comes down to golf, it is preparing for the next major and making sure my game peaks four times a year, and that's ultimately what you want to have happen.
You know, I've done it 14 times and hopefully I can make it peak again next week.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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