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November 6, 2013

Tiger Woods


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the magnificent Maxx Royal Hotel, the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.  Thank you for joining us this morning.  Tiger, give us your thoughts on being back in Turkey.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, last time, obviously it was last year here, and we had a fantastic time.  Completely different format, playing match play last year, and some of the guys wearing shorts (smiling) working on their tans.
But this has turned into one of the biggest event on the European circuit so excited to be here, excited to go out and take a look at the golf course today and see how it's playing and come up with a plan to play it the next four days.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  And just before we go into questions, tell us about your trip yesterday.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I tell you what, I've ever in been up one before.  I've hit balls down airports before on runways but never down a bridge.
And the scary part was, yeah, just flew in from 12 hours, and hop off a plane and have to hit driver down the narrowest fairway I've ever seen.  The wind was coming off the left a little bit, all these cars were driving on the right, so if I lose any balls to the right, there's an international incident right there (laughter).
So that was a little bit nerve‑wracking.  Trust me, every ball drew.  But it was pretty cool.  I think somebody was telling me I hit one 550 metres or something like that, so, not bad.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Take that this week.
TIGER WOODS:  I'll take that, yeah.

Q.  With The Race to Dubai and just two events left, would you ever sort of consider being involved in the European Tour?
TIGER WOODS:  I didn't hear the last part.

Q.  We've asked you this question before and you've sort of said no.  Would you ever reconsider joining The European Tour, being in a situation like this and the four Final Series?
TIGER WOODS:  You mean becoming a full fledged member of The European Tour?   Yeah, I thought about it years ago back in the early 2000s.  We had probably, what, maybe seven, maybe even eight events that were I guess co‑sanctioned events.
The minimum number to be a member, I think it was 11 at the time.  I obviously just had to add a few more.  But I didn't go that route, and Monty ended up getting a few of those titles those years.
But it was certainly something that I did consider, and decided not to do it.

Q.  Just on that, Ernie is not playing and Sergio is not playing nor Charl because they felt they were being forced to play two‑out‑of‑three in The Final Series.  Similar to the FedExCup, do you have sympathies for the players, and what are the dangerous of that?
TIGER WOODS:  You have to play two‑out‑of‑three, three out of four, to get to the final.  You have to understand a lot of those guys are also full‑fledged members on our tour, as well, and they are playing a full schedule, plus what we have to do all the way through our Playoffs; and then International guys one year and European guys the next year have to play Cups post the FedExCup.
And then I think basically have to go to Asia for a couple weeks and then obviously to the Middle East.  So there's a lot of golf to be played through that stretch and I think some of the guys are a little worn out.
Even some of the guys like I know Adam used to play The European Tour, I don't know if he does anymore, but guys like Ernie, Charl, they go back home and support their home tours, as well, down in South Africa.  So they are playing year‑round, nonstop.  They are playing a global game.
Not everyone plays around the world all the time but there are a handful of guys who do.  And Ernie is probably, of my generation of guys, someone who has travelled more than anyone to play golf, and I can certainly understand where he's coming from.

Q.  There was a report yesterday out of the United States about in one of the hearings in regards to Vijay Singh against the PGA TOUR where his attorneys have evidence that the TOUR has not been applying the drug policy fairly across the board; nor in some cases people that had tested positive in other cases, yet giving them lenient fines versus penalties for other players.  Does that concern you, and have you heard anything like that and if you have any concerns about it?
TIGER WOODS:  I've never heard it until you just said that.  I know that we get regularly tested throughout the year.  I think it's‑‑ I may have been tested like five times this year.  That's usually about the number for most guys.  But that's all I've heard about it until you just mentioned it.

Q.  Would it be a concern to you if that was, in fact, the case?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, if it is the case, but it's all‑‑ I don't know any of the facts.  Until I know, then I really can't give you an answer.

Q.  What sort of shape do you feel your game is going into this week?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I have to say that when I played against Rory, I was a little bit on the rusty side, because I really had not touched a club for a couple of weeks.  After The Presidents Cup, I shut it down.  We played, and actually I started getting better as the day went on.  I think I shot 5‑under par.  So that wasn't too bad.  Obviously clipped me by a shot.
But I've been playing in Singapore and doing some exhibitions there, as well as in Macau.  So I've been playing a little golf.  The rust is starting to come off a little bit and going to do a little bit of work today.

Q.  Can you give us an idea of your reasoning for not playing the World Golf Championships last week, sort of touching on the scheduling issue, and kind of when that's actually going on and you see all the other guys playing and knowing your record in World Golf Championships, I just wonder whether when you're playing exhibitions, you kind of think, oh, wish I was sort of competing with the other guys.
TIGER WOODS:  Independent contractor.

Q.  I realise that, but just in terms of‑‑ what's your thinking then as an independent contractor?
TIGER WOODS:  That's it.

Q.  Going back to 1895 was the first golf course built in Turkey, took a hundred years later before they started building a second course, which is right about the time you turned pro, mid‑nine tees.  Now almost 20 years later, almost 20 courses later, you're hitting a tee shot on the Bosphorus Bridge.  Turkey is hosting a Final Series event, and this room is filled; and are you still overwhelmed at times of the impact you can have on a country like this that's investing in the game of golf?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think it's exciting for me as a player to have seen certain countries develop and get involved in the game of golf; Turkey being one of them, and the other one, as we have all seen is the impact China's had.  I went there, what, 12 years ago for the first time and to see the amount of kids with clubs in their hands and the amount of kids with really good swings, it's just staggering.
And Turkey is trying to do the same.  I mean, you can't have this happen unless you get the government behind it, and we've seen it in certain countries like Sweden, they have done it, where they have had the government provide subsidising to these junior golf programmes and amateur golf programmes and they travel all around the south of Europe and they play in all of these team matches and tournaments, and they gain experience.
Without the government support and trying to drive this, I don't think it would happen.  But I think that what's really changed a lot in our landscape is the inclusion of the Olympics.  Countries that haven't really traditionally been golf countries are now getting involved in it and getting behind it, and they want to have their country's athletes represented in the Olympics to try and get a medal.
It certainly has‑‑ we certainly have seen that in China and I'm sure we'll see that in other places around the world, as well.

Q.  Can you tell us what you thought of Brandel Chamblee's interview on the Golf Channel last week, and also have you received a personal apology from him?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I've said everything I'm going to say.  I talked to Bernie about it when I was in Hainan Island, and that's it.

Q.  When we saw Tom Watson at Gleneagles, he indicated that he will probably want to contact you to sit down and have a chat and make sure there weren't any outstanding issues from his criticism of you in the past.  Has that meeting happened and if it hasn't, would you be happy to sit down and talk those things through?
TIGER WOODS:  No, we haven't spoken yet.  I'm sure we will.  Still got a another year‑plus, probably about a year or, so right, till then.  I'm sure there's a lot of time between now and then that we can sit down and talk.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our conference for the morning.

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