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Tiger Chats about Various Subjects & His Chevron World Challenge
Tiger Woods met with reporters on Tuesday for a media session to herald the upcoming Chevron World Challenge, an annual elite-field for which he serves as the host and which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. The 2011 event will be held November 28-December 4 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the site since 2007.
Since it began 12 years ago, the event has raised over $20 million. Among the players in the field are six first-timers, including Martin Laird, PGA champion Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, FedEx Cup winner Bill Haas, Jason Day and Webb Simpson. In all, there will be 14 Americans and four international players.
During his session, he touched on a variety of subjects, including his play this year, his fondness for the Los Angeles Dodgers, his foundation's efforts, the chances of catching and surpassing Jack Nicklaus' all-time total of 18 major titles (he's been stuck on 14 since the 2008 U.S. Open), and other subjects. Here's what Woods had to tell the media during the Q&A.
TIGER WOODS: First off, it's great to be back. I know this is an event that's been incredible for us here at the foundation. Chevron has been an amazing partner over the years and we're really looking forward to this event. It is, as you can see, pretty American biased, American based. It's a pretty busy time of the year for a lot of the guys. A lot of other tournaments going on around the world, but we're happy to have this type of field, this depth. The world rankings now are a part of the event. It's also one of the lures of why we're getting such strong fields. More importantly, I want to thank the committee for picking me to play an event. So thank you very much to the committee and the foundation. I really appreciate it.
Q. Along those same lines, Tiger, did you find it kind of ironic that you almost didn't qualify, almost didn't get in?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, unfortunately, it's been one of those frustrating years because I've been hurt for so long. I missed the majority of the big point tournaments. I missed the major championships. I didn't play well in the World Golf Championship I played in Akron, and I missed the cut at the PGA. So those are four huge events that I've missed. Even The Players, I only played nine holes. So those are big point events which I didn't get any. I had points rolling off from '09. I had a very good year that year. I won, what, seven times around the world, so all those points are coming off. Unfortunately, I fell quite a bit, and I fell fast. Good news is, by playing next year, I have no points coming off, so I can start rebuilding.
Q. In the future, are you going to play in more tournaments? And what is your experience at the Frys.com this past week tell you about getting back to where you want to be?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I'm certainly going to play a full schedule next year. It's something I'm looking forward to. I thought this year would have been nice to have played a full schedule, unfortunately I got hurt. Just didn't heal fast, so I'm looking forward to this next season, there is no doubt. Playing Frys this week was a lot of fun. It was nice to get back into Cali and especially up where I went to school for two years in that area, and had a lot of people that I knew out there following and supporting. So it was kind of like a home away from home.
Unfortunately, I did not win, but I also had some very successful parts of the event where I played really well, and in stretches, which I hadn't done yet. I had stretches there where I didn't miss a shot for seven, eight, nine holes, and that's something I hadn't done yet. So I just need to clean it up a little bit, because I made a couple mistakes here and there. I think I made like one, maybe two, mental mistakes per round and a couple of them cost me bogeys, others I got up-and-down saved it, but still can't afford to make those type of mistakes. And if I had putted well the first day, it would have been a different story.
Q. It's been a couple years almost since you've won. Are you dealing with it well internally? I can only picture you like five years ago how you might have dealt with it. Is it different now? How does it feel? It's just not your nature.
TIGER WOODS: No, it has been a tough time in that regard. But then again, I have to put it in perspective too is that I've been hurt. I haven't been able to practice or play. And then on top of that, how are you supposed to implement swing changes? I changed coaches during that same period of time. So it's like, okay, well, yeah, I hadn't won, but in order to win there are steps and there are building blocks to get to that point. I went through a very similar process back in '97. Changed my swing, and after, won the Masters. After July that year, I won the Western, and I didn't win for almost two full years. So I kind of know what that feels like.
But the thing about that change is that I had the same coach. This has been a totally philosophy. This has been hard to grasp early on, but now I've got it, so that part is exciting. We've done all the major changes that we need to make, and now it's just fine tuning, and that's what's fun. I hit a couple of bad shots, and I fix it immediate. I couldn't do that this summer because, one, I didn't practice, I didn't play, and then when I did play at the end of the year, I just still didn't know. After the PGA to Frys, I got a chance to literally just practice a ton, play all day. The minimal I played was 36 holes a day, sometimes we played 54. So it was nice to get out there and play, play, play, play, play. And then my playing instincts came back. I hit a bad shot, okay, I can fix that for the next one.
But still you start playing away, and navigating -- sort of navigating my way around the golf course again. When I got into a tournament situation here at Frys, it really wasn't foreign to me, whereas, when I got to Akron, it was foreign. So it's a totally different deal, and that's why I'm really looking forward to going down to Australia and playing because now I have that feeling of playing again, not just hitting ball after ball after ball on the range.
Q. What was it like to have Joe on the bag?
TIGER WOODS: It was great. It was great. Joe and I had a great time. I made a conscious effort and told him that I'm not going to ask for anything from him the first day. I just want him to observe, just watch. No reads, no club selections, just watch and just get a feel for how I play, what shots I hit, what my misses are, and then each day I brought him a little more and more and more. I asked him one question, then two, then a few on Sunday. So it was more of a tournament for him to get a feel for me. To see what I do on the golf course, what I'm capable of doing, because he caddied for Freddy for 21 years or something like that, 21, 22 years something like that, and he knows how Fred plays.
It was kind of funny and ironic, when it rained on Thursday, we had four towels in the bag. I've never seen four towels in my golf bag. Well, Freddy doesn't use gloves, so out of habit he just had all these towels in the bag. I was like what the hell are you doing with all these towels (smiling). So I said we don't need that many towels. But it was great to have him on the bag. Very supportive, and he was very into it, very focused on each and every shot. I certainly will bring him more and more in and let him be more a part of each and every shot.
Q. Speaking of Freddy, I'd like you to talk about your personal feelings since Freddy has you on the Presidents Cup.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm very grateful, first of all that Freddy believed enough in me to pick me for the team. It was a hundred percent his discretion whether or not I was going to be part of the team. I certainly wanted to be a part of the team, but it was his call. He made the call, and I'm certainly very appreciative. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about it. It's one of the reasons why I added the Frys is to get some more tournament rounds in and to play. Make sure that I'm kind of headed in the right direction to make sure that I'm ready for Australia. I have two events down there. Yeah, it's exciting for me to be part of the Presidents Cup team. We have a -- I don't think there are too many guys who are around. I think maybe Jim, myself and Phil, I think, are the only guys around from that '98 loss. So it's been, obviously, it's been a few years, but still we didn't like any boat race like that, and certainly we'd like to go back and win this event.
Q. With all the things going on around here, I know how much you love this foundation and giving back to the community. Why did you hang on in there when, quite frankly, other athletes would not have?
TIGER WOODS: In what way?
Q. In sticking with the Chevron and the foundation and continuing to give back to the young folks?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's how all of it starts. If we don't develop and build into our future with our kids, they don't have much of a chance. Unfortunately, I grew up in an area where I wouldn't say it's not -- it's not silver spooned, but it's certainly not impoverished. We certainly had our violence, we certainly had our naysayers and our troublemakers. I had a very easy opportunity to go down the wrong road and I had great mentors that pulled me aside and said, hey, this is the road you need to be on. I'm very thankful for that. So that's one of the reasons why my dad and I started the foundation, and it's grown exponentially since its inception in '97. And we're ecstatic about what we're able to do now and how many kids are going to college and now graduating, some of our older scholars are now graduating college. It's pretty exciting for all of us.
Q. Why do you think it was that the fan at Frys didn't rattle you more? Was it one of the things where the next day it could have happened, maybe?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we certainly have, you know, part of the lure of our sport is our access. Fans can literally reach out and touch you. Whereas, other sports, you don't ever touch football players unless they jump in the stands. They're not part of -- you're just observing from a distance, usually up on high, whereas in golf, that's totally different. That personal interaction is what makes golf so special. It's also one of the things that we've been very fortunate over the years to have everything turn out positively. This guy was just trying to gain attention for himself, which he did. I've had another fan throw an orange, I think, in Phoenix one year. But, you know, unfortunately people have a few of their libations of choice, and do things that they probably don't normally do (smiling).
Q. Can you give us some insight into the selection of Joe and what the factors were that made you decide that he was the right guy?
TIGER WOODS: I wanted a guy who had been through it all before, who had been through the fire and had been through major championships before and also had been down the stretch at events and knows how to handle them and who is not going to get rattled. Joe fits all that. He has a very calm demeanor. He's fun to be around because he is very calm, but he is fiery inside, he just doesn't show it. Every now and again it will escape and you can see how fiery he is about things, but it's great to have that kind of demeanor on the golf course, because I get fired up enough when I play. So it's nice to have a little calming factor out there as well.
Q. First of all, about your driving. I think you're only at 48% accuracy in your last tournament. I know that's a huge part of what you need to do out there, right? How do you fix that? You're such a phenomenal driver of the ball, just to get it where you want. And second of all, are you going to eat hot dogs anymore?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the first part of your question is sometimes the stats are very misleading because I hit a lot of balls that landed on the fairway that ran through. My start lines are so much tighter than they used to be, I didn't -- I think I might have hit two foul balls the entire week. I hit one left. I hit one right. But other than that, everything was starting on its line and would tail off just a little bit here and there. So that part I'm excited about because it's not the shots I was struggling with. It's not the high rise or the high flip hook lefts, these balls are much tighter. Going forward, that's a great step in the right direction. It's one Sean has been getting on me about is that you don't need to shape the ball so much from right to left, left to right. It's just a touch, just a yard, two yards max. Have very tight start lines, and that's what we've been working on hitting the ball that way, and it's working. As I said, I just need more reps, more time, and it's coming. As far as eating hot dogs, well, I do have two young kids (smiling). Enough said, you know, and at Dodger games, come on.
Q. Tiger, you've chronicled how long it's taken to feel comfortable with the changes with Sean and getting there. How do you account for the last year at Chevron and how well you played? Was that just a byproduct of that golf course and just how well it fits your eye?
TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question because it's a little known fact how I played that week. I had one golf shot only, and that was it. That was going to be a draw. It's just I couldn't hit a fade. What we were working on at the time limited me to only hitting one golf shot. I'm like, okay, well, how am I supposed to play this week? So I'm going to have to rely on my putter. So I hit the ball well. Certain holes when I had to cut it, I threw it over the trees and draw it back in there anyways. It was a testy week in that regard, because there was a lot of trouble that I'd like to take out by shaping it the other way, but I couldn't, and I just relied on my putter and I putted well that week. I got exposed by that because of that. I got exposed in Dubai. When the wind blew hard off the right, I couldn't cut the golf ball, and so I couldn't cut it, well, all the right-to-left winds with right pins, I was done. It ended up costing me a chance to win the golf tournament. So you'd think I'd go back and fix it, but then again I started getting hurt. Then at Augusta, I started grasping it. I can work the ball both ways. I had to cut back then I get hurt again. Then I was done for the majority of the summer.
Q. You brought up putting. What is your take on the whole long putter controversy and where do you stand on that? Phil's obviously gone to it. Could you ever conceive of yourself going to the longer stick?
TIGER WOODS: No, I can't, no. Because the way I believe in releasing the putter is exactly what the belly putter does. So my putt into my putter generally stays right there anyways. I like to release it with my right-hand. So it's kind of the guys who like to drag the putter, Phil's always been one who does drag the putter a little bit and the handle and been very successful at it. But the belly putter is in actuality a releasing stroke, which I believe is how you should putt. So when I pick up the belly putter and I try it, it's very similar to my stroke. The only difference is the weight throws me off. But how it's released is how I release a putter anyways, so it doesn't really change.
Q. There are a lot of people who say with all the success that you've had and hopefully you'll have in the future, why change coaches like you have?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the idea is to get better, and that's the whole premise of life. You're always trying to get better. In my sport, I just found that I think I can get better. I can get to another level that I hadn't played at. I'm going to work hard with Sean and we're going to get there.
Q. Can you talk about 1998, what do you remember from your singles match with Greg Norman that year? And separately, was there any parallel in terms of how you were playing with the draw? You just talked about hitting the draw, were you also hitting a draw at the Ryder Cup, because you hit it pretty well, and what other parallels to how you're playing now and putting together these three 68s to where you were just a year ago?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, playing with Greg was a great experience. Greg at the time was still playing really well, and he was in his home country and we were going head-to-head. That was fun. Fortunately for me I clipped him by a hole. But it was an experience that I'll never forget because of the atmosphere of the crowd. They were really into it, because the internationals already kicked our butt enough where it didn't really matter. So it came down to our match for bragging rights, basically. It was one of those showcase events, showcase matches, and I was able to clip him by a hole. But as far as the Ryder Cup, yeah, at the Ryder Cup I was already able to hit all shots, which was good. I was driving it well, I was hitting my irons really well, and that golf course was in actuality just perfect, tailor made for how I would pair up with Stricker.
Just like Harding Park was, you couldn't ask for a more perfect, basically, those two layouts as far as our strategy. He was putting it really well. He'd drive it on the fairway, and my iron game was dialed in. So I'd hit inside what I thought was going to be 50 feet every time and said, hey, go ahead, go ahead and knock it in. That's what we did at Harding Park. That's what we did in Wales, and hence we had the record that we've had.
Q. What do you tell every golf fan out there who can't wait to see you win again when that might be and can you still catch Jack?
TIGER WOODS: Well, hopefully soon, and absolutely.
Q. What's going on inside though? Because people say, hey, he hasn't won in almost two years. How is he going to get four more majors?
TIGER WOODS: Actually, five. I'm not concerned about catching (smiling). The goal is this entire summer was to get healthy enough so I can practice, so I can actually go out there and implement the changes. We've been band-aiding it for so long, that it was nice to finally start lifting properly, start getting the body feeling explosive again, all these things that I haven't been able to do. Then the gloves were taken off and it was, okay, go practice. I said, really? Do whatever you want. You're healthy enough to go ahead and do it. That's when it was cool. Going out there and being able to play 54 holes a day, 36 holes minimum, that's cool, because I hadn't done that. I hadn't done that in years. That's how I'm able -- that's how I've always been able in the past to get my playing instinct before I go play. It's just play a bunch of holes, do my practice, do my work, and then go play a ton. I hadn't been able to do that. Now I can, hence, you can start seeing the progress I made at Frys.
Q. You're going downstairs and you're going to do a putting exhibition down there. Hollywood is a big Thai area. Do you get to practice your thy when you come to Hollywood?
TIGER WOODS: No. I know what is clean up your room, take out the trash, cut the grass, do your homework. I know all that (laughing).
Q. I know you're a big NBA guy. Little bummed about the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season, and optimistic that they're going to be able to get something done?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, of course I'm bummed. I think anybody who is an NBA fan is certainly bummed. I know that probably one person who is happy is probably Doc Rivers. I mean, with the age of his team, it's nice for them to only play half a season. It's true. It's a fact, come on. But as far as us out west, I'm looking forward to the Lakers getting back there and we'll see what they do. The problem is you can't talk to anybody. You can't see who is potentially on the block of being traded, what kind of deals can we do? Nothing can be happening. So as a fan, it's disconcerting because I'm excited about what we could add to the team, but it's also I understand this is business, and everyone in this business wants to make money. I know the owners were losing a bunch of money, and some of the markets were feeling the effects. They can't draw certain players, so they're just trying to make it fair for everybody so everybody can win.
Q. You mentioned the Dodgers earlier; are you still a Dodger fan? Have you been to a game recently?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely I'm a Dodger fan.
Q. What is your opinion on what's happened over the last year with ownership?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's unfortunate what did happen, what did transpire. As a Dodger fan all my life, it's a shame what happened. But we're moving forward, and hopefully we'll get some ownership in there that will do the right things. I was very impressed with the guys the way they played this year with all that looming on them. They got asked in the locker room every day about it, and for them to go out and play as well as they did, hat's off to them.
Q. Have you use in the past couple of years with the kids at the foundation, have you ever had any conversations with them as far as your personal life and your golf life and maybe the struggles that you've gone through? Maybe some of that is mirrored for some of the kids with struggles in their lives? Have they asked you questions?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, absolutely. We've had numerous Q & A's like that. The whole idea is to be an open door. You don't want to reinvent the wheel. If someone can help you, help. These kids are at a very influential age, and also growing up in, unfortunately, in homes that don't get the support that they need and probably the advice that they need. So it's nice to have our staff be that. However way I can help with that, with the Q & A sessions and appearances that I've made, it's been fun.
Q. Along those lines with the respect to the foundation, I have spoken with parents who have reached out to programs like yours in the community who have asked how old do you have to be to participate in these programs. When told the answer, they sometimes -- that's too late. I mean, my kid's going to be in gangs. My kids already going to have too many problems. And they eventually end up in these programs and they do well from them, including yours. In this time, how comforting has it been for you, through all that's happened in the last couple of years, to know that you're making that big of a difference to the kids that you do, and you know you do. Secondly, can you speak generally about plans for the foundation over the next coming year? I know you've done very well in hard times, but what are your plans generally in the up and coming year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's one of the reasons we started grade five is to get them before they went to junior high and get them started in that regard. But we're still focused on getting them into college, because a lot of these kids are first timers in their entire family to go to college. That wasn't a reality. In their thinking, it's I'm not meant to go to college. I'm not meant to do anything in my life. That's sad to hear them say that. They freely admit it. But we change that attitude, and the staff has done an incredible job with that. We've opened up two campuses in D.C., one in Philly. We're going to open up one very close to where I live in Florida. So we're expanding, even though these are tough times, we are still expanding. Not at the rate, obviously, that we could have if the boom was still going on, but needless to say, we are still growing and that is fantastic. These kids are going to college, coming back, and becoming mentors themselves. That's the ultimate.
Q. I saw you at the Stanford game over the week. How great was Andrew Luck?
TIGER WOODS: We're lucky to have Luck. Ironically enough, it's just like I know they scored 48, but it just didn't look like it. Talking to Coach right before halftime, and they're just making it, at the time they were making a ton of mistakes. They cleaned it up in the second half, but they're going to have to pay a lot better with the schedule they have coming up. They'll start playing some of the bigger teams here and bigger boys. We've got SC down here, which will be a great game, Oregon at home, Notre Dame, and then obviously Cal. So we've got a great schedule coming up. Hopefully they get through it, and also we can go to the BCS.
Q. Luck as a pro, what do you see?
TIGER WOODS: As a pro? He's got the size, he's got the accuracy, and he's got the canon. We all know, obviously, how intelligent he is. I think he's got a photographic memory, if I'm not mistaken. He was a valedictorian in high school, so he has all the tools. It's just a matter of when he does go to the NFL, hopefully, he'll go to a team that has a line that will protect him a little bit.
Q. Jim asked you about Freddy's decision to select you for the team. If you were in his position would you have selected yourself, if so, why?
TIGER WOODS: I would have. Maybe it's because I believe in myself, but, yeah, I would have.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.