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November 30, 2010

Tiger Woods


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome tournament host Tiger Woods, four-time winner here at the Chevron World Challenge. Tiger, I know this is a special event. Not only does it support your foundation, but it's also near where you grew up, so if you want to talk about coming back after two years off and then we'll take some questions.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we're looking forward to it. I mean, this is going to be another great week. Our field is the deepest, the strongest it's ever been. The golf course is in amazing shape. Weather looks like it's going to hold out pretty good for the rest of the week, and we're really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully putting on a good show for everybody.

Q. After being No. 1 in the world for as long as you were, "were" sounds kind of strange right now, and then there are those doubters who say he'll never win another major, he'll never do this, he'll never do that, how much does that motivate you to get back to that dominance that you had?
TIGER WOODS: Actually it really doesn't. That's not why I play the game. I learned that from a very early age. My dad has always been adamant, all throughout my childhood, only play the game of golf and go after what you want to go after, don't let anyone else influence you, play from your heart and soul. That hasn't changed.
My goal is to win every tournament I tee it up in and be prepared for every event. But that does entail right now learning a new golf swing that requires a lot of work, some new motor patterns. It's not exactly easy, but it's a fun challenge.

Q. How seriously did you consider leaving golf during this year's hiatus, and if you had, what would you have done?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't. I love playing the game of golf. It's fun, it's certainly challenging, and it's also something that I know when I do it right, I'm pretty good at it.

Q. There's a quote in Tom Callahan's book saying he wouldn't have been surprised if you had gone into the military, followed your dad. Where do you think he got that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always wanted to become a Seal. That's something that I told my dad from the very get-go, either I'm going to become a professional golfer or I'm going to go become a Navy Seal. A lot of my friends are spec ops operators, and that's not new. A lot of people know that.

Q. I asked you before at the time of the Masters how you thought sponsors would react to you and how the reaction would be over this past year. Kind of turn the page a little bit and sponsors are starting to discuss you as a potential endorser again. How do you think you play right now to sponsors, and what do you expect in the future on the endorsement point of view?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's up to the sponsor. If they feel that I can help their brand in some shape or form, it's up to them to decide that. My whole goal is to try and become a better person and a better golfer each and every day, and that hasn't changed.

Q. Over the past year we've heard golfers talk about -- some of your contemporaries talk about how difficult it is to play at a high level out on the TOUR when there is turmoil in one's life. How difficult was it looking back for you to focus on the game of golf when you were on the golf course this year?
TIGER WOODS: Harder than anyone could ever imagine unless you've actually gone through it before yourself.

Q. I wanted to ask you, in Newsweek you talked about being a new man and having learned a lot in this last year. How would you describe this past year, and how do you look forward to the one ahead?
TIGER WOODS: It's been difficult, but also it's been very rewarding at the same time. It forced me to look deeper into myself and look where -- how I grew up and how those things didn't match with the person who I am, and getting back to that, getting back to how my parents raised me basically. It's been good. I'm very excited about the future because of that.

Q. One follow-up. So you said you're a new man now. What does the next year bring us, the new man?
TIGER WOODS: Just live it day by day. That's all I can do. Each and every day just try to become a little bit better.

Q. When you go through what you've gone through, do you yourself put some kind of plan in place to make sure that there'll never be any kind of repeat? I don't necessarily mean the same kind of stuff, but just your own discipline, your own integrity, do you think about, okay, this is how I need to lead my life and have that discipline?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. It's creating boundaries, and like I said from the very get-go, there was certainly some boundary failure, and it's about creating proper boundaries. I'm excited about the future because of that.

Q. You mentioned talking about your swing. In your opinion what is the main reason you haven't won since you came back? Is it mechanical? Is it mental? Is it the long game, short game, putting? What exactly is holding you back?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's been all of the above. I think I've dealt with a few things off the golf course, and on the golf course I've had to make some changes in my game. You combine all that together, it's very hard to be efficient for 72 straight holes.

Q. How is it different being back in southern California compared to other places that you have lived?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, this is home. This is where I was born and raised. I grew up about an hour from here, and I remember coming up here and watching the guys play, watching Mark and Curtis play in the first Shark Shootout, and that was a long time ago. It's actually when O'Meara had hair.

Q. Speaking of home, have you had any discussions about coming back to Riviera this next year? And a little bit about has the passion for winning changed at all because of the outside distractions?
TIGER WOODS: As far as coming back here to Riviera, I don't know yet. As far as the passion goes, that hasn't changed. I love winning. That's just fun. Coming down the stretch on the back nine with a chance to win, I mean, that's the rush and that's the thrill of why my practice, and it's why we train, why we hit all those balls tireless hours is to put ourselves in that one position. Whether you succeed or fail, it's about being there, and once you get a taste of that, you want to be there time and time again.

Q. You've referenced a couple times now already the personal difficulties you went through this year. Was there ever any point during that time where you were able to think about the foundation and maybe have -- obviously you've got a lot else going on, but your concern for maybe hurting it or --
TIGER WOODS: We had to deal with that on a daily basis, as well. There was a lot -- people don't realize how difficult it was. There was a lot going on. Yeah, the foundation was certainly one of the items that we were thinking about and talking about on virtually a daily basis.

Q. Was that difficult for you, though, because it would seem you had other things more important for you personally, but as important as this is to you, and obviously you got your golf game and everything else, I mean, how did you --
TIGER WOODS: Well, the great thing about the foundation is that all our sponsors and donors as well as our staff, board members, everyone stayed. Everyone believed in what we were doing, and we actually grew this year. You know, with everything that's gone on, our foundation grew, and I am so proud of the staff for what they've done and all of our supporters and board members and everyone who's involved in our local communities. To have the belief in what we're trying to do for kids and how we're doing that, that's so important, what we're doing, that we actually grew this year.

Q. As a follow-up to the brand question, you said it's up to a sponsor whether or not they think you can help the brand. Do you think you can help a brand in the current state of your golf game and in your personal life? What are your thoughts on that? And I have a follow-up if I could.
TIGER WOODS: Yes. Go ahead.

Q. Why so do you think you can help a brand?
TIGER WOODS: I think I've helped out brands in the past as well as currently.

Q. And the second question on schedule, as the year comes along there's been some reports or suggestion that Tim Finchem has spoken to you about your schedule and possibly playing more events, playing different events than usual. Has he, and your thoughts on that, and what is the most important thing that will determine your schedule this year?
TIGER WOODS: Has he? Yes, he has. He's done that every year since he's been a commissioner. So that subject hasn't changed. That's on more than one occasion per year every year that I've been out here that he's been commissioner, yeah.

Q. Are you thinking about changing, adding things?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we'll see what the schedule holds. There are a lot of things that we're trying to adapt to, our new living conditions. That's most important. We're trying to figure all that out, and then obviously I still want to play golf at a high level and win golf tournaments. But it's about getting a balance and trying to find what the right balance is going forward is the key.

Q. It seems at some point throughout this year it became a chore, it became difficult to go to the golf course to play in PGA TOUR events. Has that changed at all over the course of the year going into next year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as things got more solidified off the golf course it certainly became much easier to go to the golf course and enjoy it and enjoy practicing and enjoy the trials and tribulations and the struggles of the game of golf and trying to become better each and every day.

Q. Did you ever think you had it? It looked like a few rounds you'd play very well and then all of a sudden you'd lose it. The last round of the year, 65, 66, did that make you think, oh, boy, here it comes?
TIGER WOODS: You know, over the last I'd say probably five to six tournaments I played, I'd get in these hot streaks where I'd do it right, and before they would come in as a streak I'd get it going for two, three, four holes and now they're lasting close to nine holes, and now I've got to get it for 18 holes, eventually all 72, and then eventually down to the entire major championship. So it's a process.
I've been through this process before. I went through it twice with Butch, I went through it with Hank and now with Sean. So I'm excited about the process of it becoming more sustained, and I showed some good signs over the last two tournaments, actually last three tournaments including the Ryder Cup, with what I'm doing.

Q. When people change their swing many times they have to believe and they're afraid because they've done the same thing for so many years. Do you have that feeling now? Do you believe in your swing?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's what I explained to you guys at the PGA and in subsequent weeks. It's wrapping my head around making another change, and once I make the change, I'm full go. But it's committing to that. And there was times, yeah, where it was like, okay, I've got to do this again. It's my fourth time since I've been out on TOUR that I have to rebuild this thing. Am I committed to it? Once I made the decision yes, then I'm full go. There's no looking back. It's about moving forward and getting this thing better and more refined.

Q. I know you said you've rebuilt it and you certainly have, your swing, but in a sense you didn't change the angles a lot of your swing, the way you looked at the ball more from behind the ball. Now you seem to be like really on top of the ball, and a lot of guys have in the past kind of struggled with that because since they were kids they always saw the ball coming off the club face a certain way and seems like now you're more on top. Have you felt that that makes this change maybe even more difficult in some ways?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I know what you're saying. In years past when I was a junior I used to get into the same impact position I'm in now, but I used to get into it a different way. And that's why I've said during this press conference that I've picked up on some of the things quicker, but some of the other stuff is very new. So with that being said, yeah, the staying over the golf ball like I am now, that's something I've never done. We're always taught to move off and drive ourselves back onto the golf ball. Well, I used to drive myself onto the golf ball in the same position I'm in now when I was much younger, but I'm just doing it a different way now. I'm getting to the same impact position a different way, and that is very different. But also some of the motor patterns when I feel impact, I've been here before. So that's not that new.

Q. When was the first change with Butch?
TIGER WOODS: First change with Butch when we shortened up my golf swing?

Q. What year was that?

Q. From the time you returned at The Masters -- are you going to clarify?
TIGER WOODS: Early '94, yeah.

Q. From the time you returned at The Masters, how soon did you realize you had to change your swing, and why did you need to change it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I played throughout the summer, I kept trying to do the things that I was working on with Hank over the years, and it just wasn't working anymore, and it got to a point where I just couldn't do it. It's kind of hard to try and play tournament level golf, major championship golf especially, when at the time I was struggling with which way the ball was going to go, was it going to go right or was it going to go left. That's not fun.

Q. Did it ever work for you?
TIGER WOODS: It did, it did, and for some reason it just wasn't, and it was time to go a different route.

Q. You've said in the past that your evaluation process at the end of every year was usually asking yourself if you have gotten better and improved. Can you kind of walk us through the evaluation process from this past year and what you've concluded?
TIGER WOODS: As a golfer I learned so much more this year than any other year, and as a person infinitely more. So it's been a very successful year even though it was a very painful year, as well.

Q. You were talking about this past year. With all the talk about this past year, are you tired of or is it --
TIGER WOODS: Yes. (Laughter.) Did I answer that too fast? Oh, sorry.

Q. The other part of it is is it still good therapy for you?
TIGER WOODS: I love coming out here. I love coming out here and playing. You've seen me for over 30 years now, man. We've known each other for a long time, and you know how much love playing the game of golf. It's been fun to get out there and start shaping shots and hitting the ball the way I know I can hit it. Now I just need to get myself there in contention and eventually start winning golf tournaments.

Q. You're a sports fan; you watch a lot of sports on TV. The TOUR has its contract coming up and they're going to start doing negotiations on that. As a fan, what would you like to see done differently with golf on television, if you are a golf fan and watch it when you're not playing?
TIGER WOODS: I'd like to see me win more tournaments (laughter), as a golf fan, yes.

Q. As a viewer?
TIGER WOODS: I am a viewer.

Q. Can you just talk about the support you received since you came back from the fans, especially in places like China and Australia and Thailand and how gracious they've been?
TIGER WOODS: I was blown away actually. The reception this year has been just -- I'm so grateful. The support I've received day in and day out, not just at golf tournaments alone, just from when I'm just out, out and about. You know, people really do care, and it's -- it was eye-opening for me to see that because I haven't seen that side, and how many people really want me to do well and be happy again. So that was -- I mean, that was so nice of everyone to be that way.

Q. You were talking about being committed to the new method and not looking back. When exactly do you remember saying, okay, I'm going for it? And secondly, you had a great Saturday at Pebble at the U.S. Open. A lot of people were excited, here we go again, he's going to do this on Sunday. When you went to the golf course Sunday morning, how confident were you that you were going to be able that win that golf tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I was very confident, and I just didn't -- I didn't putt well at all starting out that Sunday, and then I hit that one terrible tee shot on 3 which really hurt. But that's the way it goes.
But as far as deciding when to make the commitment to whether I'm going forward or not, I talked to Sean at length every night during the PGA Championship, and we worked every night, and he was trying to explain his methodology, and it was certainly eye-opening because there was a lot of terms I didn't know, just about coming to grips and understanding the terminology, and then how I can even implement it and whether I even can.
And then after the PGA Championship I had that little break before we played Barclays, and during that break is when I got committed to what I was doing and moved forward with it.

Q. I hate to bring up the winless season again, but first time in 14, I guess 15 years that you didn't win on TOUR. Would you think it's more lack of confidence, distractions or what? How do you attribute --
TIGER WOODS: I think it's all of the above. There was quite a bit going on this year.

Q. Curious if you go back to the start of your golfing season what you find more surprising, not winning or being on Twitter?
TIGER WOODS: It's definitely both. Definitely both.

Q. In years past on some of your really big margins of victory, you've been asked if you enjoyed those as opposed to maybe having a closer win, something maybe more competitive, and I'm wondering now as you go forward and you want to start winning tournaments again, do you want to just win or do you want to dominate again?
TIGER WOODS: I'd prefer winning by double digits or more. It's certainly a lot easier. Yeah, that's a lot more fun.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Tiger.

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