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February 9, 2011
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
STEVE TODD: Tiger, welcome to the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic, many thanks for joining us. It's always a pleasure to have you on The European Tour and a great privilege for us, at a tournament that's been very kind to you in the past, 2006 and 2008 winner. I just wonder if you can start by talking about the ongoing attraction of this tournament for you. This is your sixth visit here.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I remember O'Meara told me about this tournament. He played it and he said, "You'd really enjoy it." Came over here, and came over here the following year. Just had a great time and I've been back, tried to come back every year. It's been a lot of fun to come over here. I enjoy the golf course. I've had a little bit of success on it, and looking forward to getting out there and playing this week.
STEVE TODD: It's the first time since 1994 we have had the world's top three players playing in a European Tour event. You're obviously drawn with Martin and Lee for the first two rounds. Wonder if you could just share with us your views on the prospect of playing with them.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's fun. The last time I played in a pairing like this was the U.S. Open in 2008, the top three guys, and we had a lot of fun. It was fun competing and playing in a group. I think tomorrow will be the same.
STEVE TODD: And you have the chance to play with Mark O'Meara last night in the Par-3 Contest, and that looked like a lot of fun.
TIGER WOODS: It's always fun to play with Mark. We don't play as much as we used to. Obviously he's on the Senior Tour now and it's nice to catch up and play and we'll have dinner this week. It's always fun. He's like my big brother and it's always fun to get out there and play with him.
STEVE TODD: And some success, as well.
TIGER WOODS: I hit some good shots and he made all the putts.
Q. You have already played your first tournament of the year, and given the performance over there, what do you think, where is your game at right now when you come to Dubai?
TIGER WOODS: It's progressing. I'm putting pieces together and working on the same things. Sean and I, we are sticking with the game plan and just trying to get better each and every week.
Good things happened at the last event I played in, and it's nice to have some things that showed up that I had not had in practise. So we were able to identify that, work on it, and I feel a lot more comfortable coming this week.
Q. For the last several years, you've chosen to come to this tournament, as opposed to the AT&T at Pebble Beach. What is the attraction? When you look at those two tournaments, why do you choose this one and do you think you'll ever play at Pebble Beach again?
TIGER WOODS: It's warmer. (Laughter).
I played AT&T a few times. You know, I've played with different partners and had a lot of good times, but I just like to come over here. This is fun to me. Rounds are much quicker here, too.
Q. Today Lieutenant Colonel Micheal Rowells played with you in the Pro-Am round and obviously you have a relationship with the Army in the States. Did it mean anything special to you having someone like him play together with you?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. We don't get a chance to thank our servicemen and women enough for what they do. He has a little bit of a connection to my dad which is nice. He worked with I think the 12th group, which was a reserved unit in the SF. My dad was in group two, so it's nice to talk about things like that.
Any time the servicemen and women, we get a chance to thank them in any kind of fashion, it's special for us.
Q. It's obviously been a couple of years since you've played here. I just wonder some of your memories of specifically this course, and good memories that you have here.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've had, as I said, I've had a little bit of success here. I think what's different this year is we have not played without overseed on the greens, and that is a bit different because there's a lot more grain on the greens. They are running very true. They are perfectly true. Just going to be a little bit more aware of the grain.
We'll see what happens as the tournament progresses, see if they dry out or not, because they have the potential of being pretty firm. You know, today, this morning, it was pretty soft. We picked up a few mud balls. Balls were holding on the greens and I suspect if you get any kind of wind or warm weather, it will dry them out and it will be a really good test come this weekend.
Q. You may have been asked this question. What are your sort of goals this year? What are you expecting of yourself this year?
TIGER WOODS: Same as every year. Win. (Shaking head, laughing).
Q. We all know that.
TIGER WOODS: Doesn't change.
Q. Without sort of driving on a negative, it's been some time since you've been a winner's circle; how much is that sort of a goal in this event?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the same. That's why I tee it up. If I'm in the event, it's to win. That's just plain and simple. I don't always win. I've certainly lost a lot more tournaments than I've won. But it's the goal every week you tee it up and that doesn't change.
Q. Obviously coming in as No. 3, you're used to over many weeks, many months of being No. 1. How does that change your strategy at all or do you still approach it the same way?
TIGER WOODS: It's still the same. It's to win a golf tournament. Winning takes care of all that. That's how I got to No. 1 in the world. That's how I was able to sustain it, is to win golf tournaments. That's what Lee did to get to No. 1, and you have to play well. You've got to be consistent, but you also have to win. So the goal is still the same, it's to go out there and win.
Q. There's a lot of talk that Lee was saying the rankings, there's too much focus on the rankings. He said the same thing, just get out there and play. Do you think there is, every week we are talking who is going to be No. 1, who is going to be No. 2 is there too much attention on that do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as players, I just look at it, I've been out here for enough, long enough now, that it's about sustainability.
The guys that have been No. 1 when I've been out here, how they got there, they won golf tournaments. That's how David got there; that's how Vijay got there; that's how Lee got there.
And you have to do it for long periods of times. I think the only person who has been as consistent over the years was Norman. He won all over the world, and he won a lot. That's what you have to do. That's what's fun about playing all over the world, trying to win events.
Q. You know Ryder Cup, 2018, France has the French bid. You played in Le Golf National in 1984 for the World Amateur Championship. So what are your thoughts about that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, who was on that team, it was John Harris, Todd Dempsey, Allen Doyle and myself. A long time ago. I remember I missed my first week of school that week. Bad mistake there. (Laughter).
No, it was a great time. We had a good time there. We were able to win the tournament. But it was -- we had a great time, we really did. Obviously it's a great venue, and we'll see what happens.
Q. What about Paris? Do you like this city?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Paris was great. I haven't been there too often. I think I've only been there twice. But I've had good times.
Q. And the course, do you think it's a good Ryder Cup venue, this course?
TIGER WOODS: I can't really remember. I remember a few holes. I remember 17 and 18. That's about all I can remember about the golf course.
Q. I'm just wondering in terms of Tiger Woods Dubai the golf course that's been suspended, can you confirm to me whether you signed an amended contract for your fee on the 22nd of August 2008?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm not going to talk about that, sorry.
Q. Do you think you'll have a re --
TIGER WOODS: Sorry. I'm not going to, sorry.
Q. Just more positively on Tiger Woods Dubai, still hopeful it will finish and any plans to meet with Dubai Properties whilst you're here?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's what we are doing. A lot of it depends on what Dubai Properties wants to do going forward. And we have a few meetings set up this week.
Q. Obviously over the past year, you've made a lot of changes, rebalancing things. Lee talked about the struggle of being No. 1 and all of the distractions. In rebalancing, focusing on family and things like that, has that taken it -- in terms of your golf game, is there less attention to that or how do you -- is it a little bit of a struggle to try to find that balance?
TIGER WOODS: No, the balance, I was able to find that balance. I don't practise as much as I used to, but that's a good thing. I'm able to spend more quality time with my kids, and that's more important than what I do on the golf course.
But what it means is I have to be more focused when I do practise. My time is more limited and when I do get out there, I have to really grind, and the window is a little bit shorter. It did put things back in balance where it should be.
Q. Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic where I think you've never been before. Question is, how much is influenced by who you play with, do you change your style of the game?
TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't. Whatever the field is, the field is. I'm trying to play my game and try to figure out what my game plan is going to be for the week.
I was surprised today at how soft the golf course was playing off the tee, and certainly not as fast as it has been in the past. But that could change if the wind blows in the next few days, we'll see what happens.
Q. And the amount of money, for what you play, is it an influence for what you play?
TIGER WOODS: No, not at all. As I said earlier to Bernie, it's about winning golf tournaments and winning takes care of all of that.
Q. Just on the grouping, in terms of the excitement, do you like the fact that you're partnered with the two guys that are ahead of you in the World Rankings, and can you talk a bit about the challenge of trying to get past them, because they are trying some pretty good golf at the moment?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they are. I think it's going to be a fun pairing. As I said earlier, I played in a similar pairing at the U.S. Open in 2008, and it was a blast. Traditionally in the past we have never got pairings like this. Usually split up the top guys and they go off different nines or in different waves.
So I think that -- I know our tour back in the States is trying to make a concerted effort at putting some featured pairings together and I think that's good for the game and I think that's the way they are doing it here this week. I think it's great for us. It's great for us as players and I think for all of the fans.
Q. Do you also believe if you get back to playing your very best golf that you are the best player in the world?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just about playing. If I win golf tournaments, all of that will take care of itself.
Q. A smile doesn't appear to be too far from your face in the press conference, despite the flash bulbs and amount of people here. I just wonder how you feel in yourself, away from golf, how you feel today compared to yesterday, last week, last month, last year. How you feel personally?
TIGER WOODS: I feel good. I feel happy. And certainly balanced, and that's a good thing.
Q. And that presumably, that helps in preparation for your golf game, as well?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. Absolutely. We are always trying to find that right balance as athletes, and as a person, you're trying to do that, as well. I'm the same as everyone else
Q. If you can express as a percentage where your game is at right now, and if, looking at the spread of talent across the world, is it possible that even if you get back to your best for to you dominate like you did?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not about that. It's about me trying to get to where I want to get to, and the efficiency that I know I can play the game at. And you know, whether it is what it is, if it is by me winning golf tournaments or not, we'll see what happens. But the whole idea is I know what I can do on the golf course, and hopefully be able to do that going forward.
Q. And as a percentage?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to get into that one, no (smiling).
Q. You mentioned the fact that you now practise less and you focus more; is there any particular part of your game now that demands greater attention than it used to do because of the fewer practise opportunities that you get?
TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously my swing, that made a complete change in philosophy and movements. So that takes an awful lot of time.
And obviously still got to pay attention to the short game and my techniques there, all of the different shots, as well as the putting stroke.
You try and find practise time when you can, but we have had to do a lot more work on the golf swing. And I've made a complete overhaul on my swing, so that's taken quite a lot of time.
Q. It's going to be another important year for you, but I was just wondering, what kind of schedule have you set for yourself this year, are you going to play a little more, or are you going to go out to events in Australia and Shanghai? What kind of planning are you doing on that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the schedule will be about the same. Still playing globally. Obviously spending the majority of my time in the States and playing our tour, supporting our tour. There are some tough times ahead of us on Tour, we'll see what happens with your TV negotiations and all that. Obviously a lot of the players will be playing a little bit more to try and influence that.
But I'll still be playing a global schedule.
Q. And this is your last year of your four-year contract with golf in DUBAi, have you already thought ahead, or is it something that you're going to decide and discuss?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have not. I'm here just to win this week and we'll see what happens going forwards.
Q. The longer it's been since you've won, does it get harder to do in terms of remembering how to do it?
TIGER WOODS: No. Because I've been through this period before. People forget, I went from '97 to '99 with only one win. I went through a two-year period. But from '99 through '01, I had a pretty good run. So it's not like I have not been here before. I've been through stretches like this.
When I first started working with Hank, I went through a year and a half where I didn't do anything. It takes time to change, and especially a change in philosophy, which I've done on two other occasions and now this is my third occasion.
Q. How would you characterise this philosophy? What's the philosophy now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, some of the positions, I've been here before. That's one of the reasons why I've made the changes a little bit faster, because I've actually been here before, some at impact position, some at key positions in the golf swing I used to do. But some of the stuff is different how I get there, and that's what has taken a bit of time.
Q. You always seem particularly comfortable playing with Lee. Would he be one of your favourite people to play with, and if so, are there any nice anecdotes?
TIGER WOODS: No, I've just always had a great time with Lee. We have been on Tour for about the same amount of time. He's maybe been out here for a couple more years than I have. We seem to have been paired together early in both of our careers, and obviously a lot lately.
So we have been paired together at a few major championships, and I've always gotten along really well with Lee. I've just always had a great time playing with him.
Q. As time goes by and you're now No. 3, and the new generation comes through, to know that at some point, you're in the pack rather than dominating; is it important for to you regain that dominance to No. 1, or would you be don't as years go by to be part of the pack and picking off tournaments as you go?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just about that I know what I can do in the game and Sean and I are trying to get there.
I feel like I can still win golf tournaments. I'm not that old. (Laughter) I figure I've still got some years ahead of me.
Q. But would you be comfortable being part of a big Top-10 pack, or is it all about being No. 1 for you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if I win the same four tournaments every year and four big ones, I think I'll be all right.
Q. There was a lot of anticipation about Torrey Pines, a new year, a fresh start, a course that you dominated. And just looking back on that, on your performance there, is it disappointing that the year did not start off better for you? Were you able to look and really analyse why that was not as successful a performance as you might have wanted?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as I said earlier; that it was good to actually play that event and have some of the things that came up swing-wise, because as I said, this is a new swing, and new fixes. So some of the fold fixes don't work. And that's what takes time is being able to identify it and know what the fix is going to immediately be, and hit proper shots. It was good. It was good. We had a lot of long, long talks, Sean and I, to analyse it, and it was good to have an event like that.
Q. Your young partner that day said that he thought you had nailed it in the last round and I wonder if you have a response to that?
TIGER WOODS: I was grinding pretty hard but I just didn't have much.
Q. The World Ranking, when you came here in 2001, there were only two Europeans in the Top-10 and you come here this week and there are about six. You've travelled to Europe a lot, wonder if you can put a handle on why Europe has so many players in the Top-10 at the moment?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's the next generation of players. You had Faldo, Lyle, Langer, Woosie, Ollie, Seve, all of those guys for a number of years and then there was a period where these new young guys had not come up yet. And this is the next generation of players. As we all know, it's cyclical. It goes in cycles, and this is that generation.
Q. Talking about that next generation, you're playing with one tomorrow, Martin Kaymer, who is obviously a great fan of yours, never played with him. Just wonder how much you know of his game and what you're expecting tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've only seen him play, whether pairings that are either behind or in front of him, or on TV occasionally. But he hits the ball a long ways. You can see the tremendous power he has, and just a wonderful mentality how he goes about playing. It will be fun to get out there and play, because I haven't played with him. Hopefully it won't be the last time.
Q. You mentioned, you talked about Torrey Pines, is there -- I guess a two-part question. These things take time but is there some frustration that -- you must be as someone who is very competitive and who has been No. 1, there must be some frustration that it's not coming together as quickly as you'd like, or how do you -- what can you say to that?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly it was frustrating that I didn't perform the way I know I could. But as I said earlier to the gentleman over here, I've been here before. It takes time. I went through, as I said, a two-year period where I didn't do anything and I went through a year-and-a-half period where I didn't do anything. It takes time to make these changes. You don't make changes and just start winning a bunch of golf tournaments. It doesn't work that way. It takes time. No, it was good to have these problems kind of show themselves under tournament atmosphere and it was very good, to identify and fix it.
Q. You've had a club in your hand the best part of 33 years. Do you ever reach a stage where you think, I'd quite like to do something else?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q. Where would that be? Where do you see yourself going in the next 20 years?
TIGER WOODS: I won't be in front of you guys. (Laughter).
Q. What would you like to be doing?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not telling you (laughing).
Q. No idea?
TIGER WOODS: I do know. I do know. It won't be here, though.
STEVE TODD: Thank you, good luck.
End of FastScripts