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September 5, 2012

Tiger Woods


MARK STEVENS:  I'd like to welcome Tiger Woods.  Tiger, just got done playing part of the pro‑am.  If you want to talk about the course and the conditions and then we'll go ahead and take a few questions.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I played 16 and change.  Golf course is a little bit drier than it was yesterday, that's for sure.  Still pretty wet.  The rough is up.  The greens are soft, and a touch on the slow side.  But you can be pretty aggressive.  I think the guys will be firing at a lot of flags this week.

Q.  Anything else about the course?  Does it favor a long hitter?  Does it favor any kind of player?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it does help to be on the long side with it being this soft.  Depends on what the staff does.  If the staff sets it up all the way back like we played in the pro‑am today, yeah, it was advantageous to hit the ball a long way.  But you've got to hit it in the fairway.  If you do hit the ball in the fairway, drive it out there, you can attack a lot of these flags.  A lot of these corners don't really come into play with it being this soft.  The ball is just going to hit and plug.

Q.  Soft on the TOUR is often a code word for low scores.
TIGER WOODS:  Generally it is.  It is.  It is, but also, we've never played here.  I don't think anyone in the field was here in '91, and I don't think anyone was in the field when they played the Senior Open.  With that said, it'll probably take‑‑ guys will start getting a feel for it, and you'll see‑‑ I'm sure you'll see some low scores, but then I think the guys will start going lower and lower.

Q.  Do you still burn the way you used to, to win majors, to win tournaments?
TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely, yeah.

Q.  Has age and trials and surgeries and just living life, having kids, has that changed you at all in that regard?
TIGER WOODS:  It hasn't changed me in that regard, but I think it's put a different perspective on things.  Losing a parent and having the birth of two kids put things in better perspective for me.  The wins are fantastic, but the losses aren't what they used to be, because I get to talk to my kids at night.  It makes things‑‑ it puts things in a proper perspective, for sure.

Q.  Talk a little bit about the success that you had at the Deutsche Bank, four great rounds, four rounds in the 60s in a very pressure‑packed kind of situation, and how you carried that forward into this week and into the TOUR Championship down in Atlanta.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I hit the ball well, but also I putted a little bit better, which was nice.  I made a few putts, and I certainly gave myself enough looks to get up there on that board and certainly go a little bit lower than I did.  But I had a really great putting day the first day, and then the next three were good, but they weren't great like the first day.

Q.  You played with Buddy Marucci today.  Any strolls down memory lane from '95?
TIGER WOODS:  Not really, because we see each other all the time, and he's out here quite a bit now.  He's working with Ernie, and he was involved in the Mercedes events for a number of years.  I see him all the time, especially at Augusta.
It was nice playing with him.  I hadn't played with him since probably the Walker Cup that year, and it was nice to get out there and play with him again.

Q.  I wonder if you could talk about the Ryder Cup picks a little bit.  Obviously it was a tough blow for Hunter.  I wonder if you spoke with him at all and just what you thought about how hard that decision was to leave him off.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, it's a tough one.  It's tough for Davis and it's tough for Hunter.  Any time you're in that one spot out of the guaranteed spots, it's a tough one.  And unfortunately it just didn't go Hunter's way.  I know that he's pretty down about it, but he's got two big events to play in, and I'm sure he's got some overseas stuff to play in the rest of the year.  He'll turn around and he'll just start playing well.

Q.  You talk about the work with Sean Foley being a process.  You talk about it in terms of maybe differently than you did earlier in your career about what you had to go through in order to get to this point.  Obviously you've had some great success this year.  Give us a quick hint of where you are in that process and how maybe last week's performance figures into that.
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think I've really hit the ball well this entire year, especially this summer on, I've hit it really well.  It was just a matter of making a few more putts and a couple up‑and‑downs here and there.  I'm starting to do that now.  So that's a good sign.
You know, the work I've put in with Sean, it's really coming together.  I'm driving the ball probably better than I ever have.  I'm hitting it further, I'm hitting it straighter, which is a nice combo.  I think my statistics kind of reflect that, which is great.  It goes to show you where I was and how bad I was driving it to now how well I'm driving it.
If you can drive the ball in the fairway and hit the ball right around 300 yards, it's going to be a big advantage out here.

Q.  For those of us who have not done quite as well as you on the golf course, how does it feel to be golf's first $100 million man?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it just means that I've come along at the right time.  We've had purse increases.  We've had a lot of things go our way.  I've won some tournaments, yes, but as I said last week, Sam Snead won more tournaments than I did, and obviously he didn't make the money that I did, just because it was a different era.  I happened to come along at the right time when TV was booming and our commissioner did some fantastic deals with TV, and our purses just leapt by a lot.
I think that all that said, I'm not opposed to it; put it that way.

Q.  Do you think another $100 million could be in the works somewhere along the line?
TIGER WOODS:  God, I hope so.  That would be nice.  That would mean I would have won some more tournaments.

Q.  Another Ryder Cup question:  A lot of guys say playing it for the first time, it's unlike anything they've experienced, even majors.

Q.  I just wonder for you if you can recall if that was the same way for you and if you have any memories, and also what advice you'd give to‑‑ there's four guys who are going to be in it for the first time on the U.S. side.
TIGER WOODS:  You know, some of the guys have never played in a Ryder Cup, but then again, they've played in a Presidents Cup.  I think Brandt might be the only guy that's never played in either.  It is different playing a Ryder Cup versus a Presidents Cup, but it does help playing at home as your first one.  Playing overseas as your first one (laughing), it can get‑‑ it's interesting.  Being a bipartisan crowd, yeah, you have some things said that you probably aren't quite used to hearing, and they're right there in your face saying it, too.
Thankfully we're here, and the guys like Brandt, who's never been on a team before, he gets to play in front of a home crowd.

Q.  You mentioned being really close with what you're doing with Sean.  Can your third incarnation, if you can call it that, be as good as the first two?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think I'm hitting it‑‑ I'm certainly hitting it further and straighter.  I don't curve the ball as much as I used to.  Granted, it's a function of the golf ball just not moving as much, but also I think where I'm coming from, I just don't arc it, I don't come as far from the inside like I used to.  With that being said, my shot pattern is much tighter now.
And the only thing I really struggle with is my aim, is aiming closer to the middle of the fairway or closer to flags because I'm used to shaping it so much either way.  That's something that's taken me a little while to get accustomed to because I've done it for so long.  It's just an adjustment that I've had to make gradually over time.

Q.  The PGA TOUR Player of the Year honor would seem to come down between Rory and you.  How big a deal is that, and how much focus is on that?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it's always nice to get the respect of your peers.  It's voted on by us.  It's not voted on by anybody else.  To have a year where the guys that you're trying to beat day in and day out think that you're the best player of the year, that's saying something.  That's something, that's an award that we take‑‑ it's a great honor, and it's something that the guys who have won are very proud of, because as I said, it's voted on by us.

Q.  You talked about the first three events being about positioning for the FedExCup.  I'm not sure if you can drop out of the top 5 this week, but are you going to be cognizant of where you stand inside the top 5 at all?
TIGER WOODS:  I'm just going to try and get a W this week.  That's the goal.  That's why I'm here.  That's why I entered.
This is a different format than I've played the FedExCup.  I didn't play last year.  I wasn't even in the damned thing, so it's nice to be here and be able to contend in this thing.
It's interesting, you can go and win the first three playoff events, finish second in the last one and not win it.  So it's a different type of format, but it's what we have, and the whole idea is if the guys who are near the top 5 or just outside the top 5 win the last two events, you know you're going to win it, so the idea is to go out there and get Ws.

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