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May 29, 2013

Tiger Woods


CHRIS REIMER:  We'll go ahead and get started.  We want to welcome our defending champion, Tiger Woods, here to the media center at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.  Tiger, welcome back to a place you've had obviously tremendous success.  You are coming off a great series of golf this year, as well.  You must enter the tournament with a lot of confidence, I would imagine.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I'm looking forward it.  I played a really well the last tournament at the PLAYERS.
And yesterday I played Merion, took a look at it.  And I don't think it will play quite as long as what we played it yesterday.  It was just low 60s, raining all day and windy.  I don't think it will quite be like that in June.
But it's been a nice two weeks off, and now it's time to get and play and come to an event that I've always loved playing.  I got a chance to come here as an amateur and watch a little bit.  To have Jack be a part of this event and what he has done for the game of golf and to come here and support him in this event has been fantastic for me and lot of the players.

Q.  Tiger, going back to Merion, can you talk to us about your initial thoughts?  It's your first time seeing the golf course, if I'm correct.
TIGER WOODS:  As I said, I did not have‑‑ from what everyone said, I did not have the inkling that it was going to be as long as it was.  As I said, it was raining sideways and it was just an ugly day.  We played it as probably long as it will ever be played.
In June, obviously the weather won't be like that.  It will be hotter.  The ball will be flying.  The clubs will be different, but the lines will be the same.  It was nice to see and get an understanding of what I need to visualize and my prep next week and get ready for that.  Have a nice understanding of where my sight lines are going to be and where I need to land the ball.  Obviously it will be different clubs.  Won't be quite as long as it was playing yesterday.

Q.  Two questions.  Will you go back before The Open?
TIGER WOODS:  No, I won't go back, no.

Q.  Secondly, more specific, have you ever seen a stretch like the middle there of such one short par‑4 after another not only at a major but any golf course at a tournament level?
TIGER WOODS:  Excluding the length of some of the holes, those par‑3s are really long and some of the par‑4s are really long.  The middle stretches, if it drys out and it plays firm and fast, it's very similar to what we face in the sandbelt courses.  It's sometimes 5‑irons off the tees.  The ball is going to be running, it's going to be chasing.  You have a wedge in.  Doesn't mean you are going to make birdie.  Some guys will be making bogeys.  It's hard to hit some of these fairways even with those clubs.  If they start tucking these pins and start getting them as fast as they want to have them, you will be firing away from the flags even with the sand wedge.  As I said, very similar to what we face on the sandbelt.

Q.  Tiger, I think you are 5 for 13 here.  Jack said it obviously fits your eye.  Why do you think you play so well here?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, it's interesting, I think I've always played Nicklaus courses well.  Look at my career, I generally have really played his courses well.  I've won on quite a few, whether it was junior golf, college, and now professional golf.  For some reason, I've‑‑ I just feel comfortable in his golf courses, the way he sets it up.  There is ample room off the tees.  The greens are really severe.  If you miss the greens, it tests your short game.  Those are the things that I think I do well.
And this course now that it's more towards the June date, the June month, it can get fast, can get quick.  This course is tricky.  And to be able to shape the golf ball to keep it in the fairway, and these greens‑‑ I know it rained yesterday, but still.  They have picked up speed.  They were drying out as we were playing and they were getting quick.
Last year, they stimped it in the morning at 14 on Sunday, and I can tell you that it wasn't 14 when we played, it was faster than 14.  Jack has it right there where he wants it now.  And if we get the weather to hold up and no storms, it will be one hell of a test.

Q.  All the majors are obviously special, but when you think of Merion and the connotation of great history and so on and so forth, does that bring a greater meaning to play at a place like Merion as opposed to another?
TIGER WOODS:  If you look at the list of champions, they have all been really good shot‑makers.  They have all been able to shape the golf ball.  I think that's what it lends itself to.  I mean, you have to be able to shape the golf ball.  And you have to be so disciplined to play that course.
And if you look at the list of champions, they are very disciplined players.  You play to certain spots.  You play to certain spots on the greens.  You leave yourself certain putts and you deal with it and you move on.  Sometimes you may have a short iron or wedge into the hole.  Even like the 13th, you are teeing off with a pitching wedge.  They have an up tee that they've cordoned it off, so you might be hitting a 60‑degree or sand wedge into a par‑3.  If they put the pin right, you are not going to be firing at it.  So you have to be disciplined.
It's like when we played at Pebble and that seventh hole, they moved it to the up tee, far right pin, you have 60‑degree sand wedge in your hand and you are not taking a run at that flag.  You're putting it 15 feet left of the flag and moving on.  This is a golf course very similar to that.  You have to be able to put the ball in the correct spots and be disciplined about it.

Q.  If you don't perform well at the Masters, you have three more majors in a year to redeem yourself.  Do you have a different perspective or appreciation of just the chance you have to play four majors a year when you see Lindsey, the sense of urgency she has to get back because her major moment in time comes once every four years.  I'm just wondering if it's changed your perspective on your approach to an appreciation of the Majors?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, that and ours is, what, four days, sometimes even fivedays, and it's five hours a day‑‑ well, slow play, six hours a day.  Hers is two minutes.  So it's very different.
I have some friends who ran track at a high level and world class level and for them it was under ten seconds and that was their job for the day.

Q.  Earlier today Jack was kind of emphatic in saying that he doesn't think somebody can hit two or three drivers around Merion and win The Open.  I just wondered, given him saying that and you seeing Merion yesterday, did you get a sense in those messy conditions of how many drivers you might hit around there?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, yesterday I hit quite a few just because of the conditions.  You know, it's all dependent on where‑‑ if it drys out or not.  If it plays long, there are certain holes that are long holes.  You have got to get it down there.  If it drys out, you know ‑‑ for instance, we hit at the PLAYERS this year, I hit a few 3‑woods that were going over 300yards because the conditions were right.  If we get the same conditions where it drys out and you start running with the slopes getting the ball to go 300yards plus and with 3‑woods, that's ample far to get to the spots you need to get to.  As I said you are playing to spots.  There are a few times, yeah, you want to be aggressive, you want to get it down there and be able to take a run at a ‑‑ well, there's only one par‑5 you can basically reach, that being 2.  But there is a few holes that you can be aggressive and get it done there.  They give you some wider areas to drive it.  If you miss those spots, you will be paying the price.

Q.  As you know, a lot of pros credit you with the importance of fitness in golf.  What was your own motivation for incorporating so much fitness?  Was it advice from your father, another athlete, another sport?
TIGER WOODS:  I think it was a few things.  I grew up with a father who was in the Special Forces.  Those guys aren't in bad shape.  You know, they are strong, fit and they can go forever.  I ran track and cross‑country and played baseball.  So I always lifted and tried to get faster.  I had to do all those things to compete in my sport and I just happen to bring it over to golf.
I think golf is a sport and you have to train as such.  You have to train to be an athlete.  Unfortunately, I think some of the guys missed the boat on that.  I want to be able to be fit and not feel winded, heart rate low all the way through, and be as good as I felt, you know, on the 72nd hole as I did on the first hole.  And sometimes we may have to end up playing 36 in a day and still feel fresh and be out on the golf course for nine, ten hours in a day and still feel fresh.  That is a good feeling.  Granted, training to get that feel something not a good feeling.

Q.  In spite of the weather at Merion, were you able to assess whether this course sets up well for you?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, I think it's‑‑ there are a few holes in which I want to reconfirm some of the lines with the dryer conditions, but I think we did a really good job.
Joey went out there a day early with one of the assistants and scouted the golf course and got all the bracketing of where all the blind shots, where we need to keep it between.  If you want to shade it to one side or the other, you want to get it down there farther, we've got to be on this side, and these interest different lines.  He did a great job with ‑‑ I think it was Sean who was the assistant pro there.  It really helped out.  And there are a few holes I would like to see what I would do when it's a little bit drier, because we got no wind yesterday.  It was some of the holes where we had a different wind, it normally comes out of the south during the summer.  Obviously we had‑‑ there was a northwest wind yesterday.  The complete opposite of what it should be come June.

Q.  Unquestionably, you're coming in playing about as well as, maybe perhaps you ever have or certainly close to it.  Just wondering about, do you feel‑‑ how confident do you feel?  Can you quantify the confidence you have to, say, 2000 or 2005?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think it's ‑‑ I feel comfortable with the motion I'm making, and I think that's‑‑ all the stretches where I've played well for a few years, a few tournaments, five plus or whatever it was, I just felt good about what I was able to do as far as my misses, and being able to fix it on the fly.  I finally was starting to get to the point towards the end of last year.
And I'm at a point nowthat ‑‑ Sean and I really don't really do a lot of work.  It's just alignment and basically it's little things.  I have a better understanding of how to fix it on the fly and make adjustments.  That's huge.  You're not going to feel good every day.  To be able to make those tinkerings from shot to shot and day‑to‑day and know where within this model what my tendencies are.  That took a little bit of time, and I finally have turned the corner to that.  And I think that's what you're seeing this year is that I've gotten more precise and I've been able to work on other parts of my game and made them strengths.

Q.  One question at Wentworth, was there any consideration to letting Sergio apologize to you in person so it's one less thing you have to fool with when you get to Merion at a U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS:  Is that with Wentworth?  I was at home.

Q.  On the phone or whatever, however he wanted to reach you just to be done with it before you reached the Major.
TIGER WOODS:  That's already done with.

Q.  Has he apologized to you?
TIGER WOODS:  Not in person, no.

Q.  Now that the issue has been addressed, are there any other things that you think should be addressed or you'd like to see?
TIGER WOODS:  As I was answering Karen's question about slow play, I think we need to speed that up.  It's one of the things that‑‑ I know the USGA is trying to make an impact in that and trying to get things to be sped up a little bit.  Who wants to go out there and play for six hours when the game of golf should be played a lot faster than that, three or four hours, and be enjoyable.
And later in the day, longer players, you're sitting on public courses when you've got two or three groups on the tee, that's just not fun.  And I think‑‑ I know the USGA is making a big push to speed up play.  And I think over time I think it should help.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS:  I don't know.  I know there are certain guys who have been fined and who have had plenty of bad times.  And same guys, same repeat guys.  I don't know.  I know we're trying to‑‑ we're trying to make adjustments to that each and every year and each and every meeting.  And they've made solutions and made adjustments over the years.  And maybe by the time they'll do it again.

Q.  Tiger, you and Jack are talked about in the same breath so often, does on one of his courses here or anywhere else help give you any sense of him as a golfer or how he thought t he game or give you any kind of extra connection with him when you're playing on a Nicklaus course?
TIGER WOODS:  Jack always was one of the best course managers that's ever lived.  And how he managed not just the emotions, but just managed the golf course and the strategy behind how he played it.  He gives you options and shots to shape to play his courses.  If you don't hit the ball in the right spot, you can get penalized.  Some courses are more severe than others, he gives you room to hit the ball in certain spots.  But you have to be committed to hit the ball in that certain spot.
He played very disciplined, and times he was very aggressive, but those were at the right times.  And he gives you opportunities to do that, the way he designs golf courses, you can be aggressive, but you have to be disciplined and put the ball in certain spots.
A perfect example of that here is 12.  You can hit the ball pin‑high to the back right pin, but if you hit the ball pin‑high left, you're in the bunker.  You have a shot.  But if go to the left side and you put it short, that means you can't hit the ball at the flag.  You can't miss it at the flag.  You have to hit the ball in certain sections.  And he gives you options.

Q.  I know you responded via Twitter to Sergio's comments, but more broadly, 17 years or so in your career, what's your reaction to the fact that remarks of this nature continue to be made?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I live it.  It's happened my entire life, and it's happened my entire career.  So that doesn't surprise me.  It exists all around the world, not just in the sport of golf.  It exists everywhere.  I know that a lot of people are trying to make a difference and trying to make it more fair for us all.

Q.  What's your reaction about the fact that this year so much of the news in golf is being generated outside of competitive rounds, from anchoring to Vijay, to what Tom's alluding to?  What is your reaction to that?  Is that good for golf?  Does it show it's entering the realm of the NBA or NFL or where do you stand about that?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I've won four times this year (laughter).

Q.  Hey, Tiger, talked to Davis yesterday after the PAC meeting which was called because of the USGA and R&A's rule last week.  He said maybe there's a bigger issue to decide if the Tour should establish their own rules and not follow along with the USGA and R&A.  What is your feeling about that possibility?
TIGER WOODS:  I know that's all in theory.  That's all well and good, but I think that we should all be playing under the same rules all around the world.

Q.  Curious to go back to the training question.  Hogan, I think, hit 6‑iron in the morning on Saturday at Merion in 1950, and then the famous 1‑iron in the afternoon because he didn't get his drive out as far or he didn't have as much strength, et cetera.  Was there ever a time early on when you had a 36‑hole day, either a rain carryover or Ryder Cup or what have you, where you found yourself going with longer clubs in the afternoon than when you started with in the morning?
TIGER WOODS:  Huh‑uh.  Usually the other way around, you start hitting it farther.  You get stronger when you get more loosened up.

Q.  You're paired with Freddie Couples the first few days.  Him being a champion here and in charge of the Presidents Cup, what are you looking forward to the first two days?
TIGER WOODS:  I know there's going to be a lot of kneeling, that's a given, both directions.  And we're going to have a good time.  Freddie is one of my best friends.  And obviously Joey being on the bag with him 21 years or 22 years.  There's great chemistry there, and it's all fun.  It's competitive, too.  But we always enjoy each others company and I'm sure my phone is being blown up right now with him texting me.  I'm sure he's probably watching this.
CHRIS REIMER:  You brought it up, so I get to put my Tour hat for a second.  Just talk about this venue for The Presidents Cup and how you play in a team competition.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I'm shocked to see the clubhouse, how fast it changed from last year.  And Jack made‑‑ he redid 16 a couple of years ago and basically I think the numbers 16.2 holes or 16 point something holes is the average match.  So there was an add on 16, so he wanted to have a dramatic finish, which worked out okay last year for me (laughter).
I think this is a great venue.  The fans are absolutely incredible, they come out in droves, especially that time of the year, kids are probably in school, but you have the crowd.

Q.  Aside from trying to win this week, is there anything you can get out of this that helps you a couple of weeks in Merion.  Obviously the golf courses are not really similar, but is it more just the confidence to take care‑‑
TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely.  It's about playing well, hopefully winning the event and carrying that confidence into The Open.
I already have, as I said, most of the lines and the things that I've been working on next week, but it's about this week and it's about winning this event.  I've won it in the past, I'm defending this year.  I'm looking forward to the next four days.  This golf course the way it's drying out and getting thunderstorms later in the week, it's going to be a heck of a test.

Q.  There's a teen sensation in the world of golf, how would you compare the exposure to when you first came out on Tour?
TIGER WOODS:  A lot of teens out here now.  Kids are playing out here at early ages.  They're playing out here, obviously high school, but pre‑high school now, to even when you're in college the first couple of years, the top amateurs will get spots in their local towns.  And maybe a few others during the summer, when they're not playing other amateur events.  But it's about getting experience.
When I played in my first event I was 16, and I played the LA Open and a few others after that, it helped me so much.  Because I knew what I needed to do to get better.  These are the best players in the world and look at the gap, and how bad I am compared to them.  I have a long way to go.
And that's one of the reasons whyI was never ready to turn pro right out of high school.  I wasn't good enough.  And I went to Stanford and had a great time there.  And I had two great years there and I felt like by the time I was 20, I had a really good year that year and a really good summer, and it was time for me to turn pro.  But it wasn't time before that.  And I hadn't really done much in Tour events, but I hadn't given myself the rhythm of playing Tour events.  After I gave myself the rhythm of playing Tour events, I felt I could do all right, and it turned out all right for me.

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