Featured Golf News
Tiger Looking for Fifth PGA Title
Tiger Woods is now in South Carolina for this week's PGA Championship. The 94th playing of the final leg of golf's Grand Slam begins Thursday on the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
Four of Woods's 14 major titles have come in the PGA Championship. They came in 1999 when he edged a young Sergio Garcia by a stroke at Medinah; in 2000, when he became the first player since 1937 to defend his title, beating childhood hero Bob May in a playoff at Valhalla in Louisville; in 2006 when he rolled past the field (runner-up Shaun Micheel finished five back) again at Medinah; and the following year when he beat Woody Austin by two at a sultry Southern Hills in Tulsa.
In addition to his fifth Wanamaker Trophy, Woods is also seeking his 15th major title, a quest that has been underway since his last one came at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He remains four back of Jack Nicklaus's all-time mark of 18 Grand Slam victories.
On Tuesday from Kiawah Island, Woods, now ranked No. 2 in the world, sat down with reporters and discussed his chances this week. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Four time PGA champion, Tiger Woods, joining us at the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. This will be Tiger's 15th PGA Championship, eight top 10 finishes. Came in last week, played the golf course, and then you played 18 holes the last couple days. Thoughts on the unique layout here at the Ocean Course.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I played here last Tuesday, and it had rained they said close to almost two inches the day before, and it played soft. You know, I figured it would probably dry out, but it doesn't look like we're going to get dry weather this week. It's soft out there. The ball is not picking up mud, which is nice. The fairways are perfect, greens are perfect. It's just going to be just a touch on the long side because it's just not rolling out. But all that being said, the greens are still pretty receptive, which is nice, and it's just going to be - if the PGA decides to play it all the way back, it's just going to be a big ballpark.
Q. Is there any major championship venue that you can compare to this one, and is there any experience that you've had in majors that should prepare you for what you're going to see out here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's - you know, of anything that's close would be Whistling Straits; same architect being Pete. But again, played totally differently. A lot of mounding and a lot of movement in its designs. One of the things you learn about Pete's golf courses, a lot of it is visual. There's a lot more room out there, whether it's on the fairways or on the greens, than you think. He just makes you look the other way. And he's a masterful designer in that way. And he always likes to present a lot of the targets at angles and make you - if you're aggressive, it can play very short, and if you're hitting it well off the tees - the golf courses that he designs are not very long if you're able to be aggressive off the tees.
But if you play conservative, he gives you a lot more room, but also you're far away from the green all the time. He's a wonderful designer. And this week is - it'll be interesting how they set up the golf course because it could play really long or they could move it up and have us have a go at it.
Q. 16 majors have been won by 16 different players, hasn't been done in golf in 25 years. What are your thoughts on why that's happened, and does it change the dynamics for you when you show up at a major?
TIGER WOODS: Well, golf is getting deep. There's so many guys with a chance to win. I think that's kind of how, I think, sport is. The margin is getting smaller. There may be 16 different winners, but you look at the cuts, the cuts are getting lower. The scores between the leader and the guy who is 70th and tied, sometimes it's 10 shots or less, which is amazing. The margins are so small; and hence, if you've got margins that are that small, you're going to get guys who win once here and there.
Q. Do you want them to move the tees back? Does that play to your advantage?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm just curious to see how they're going to play it. We've played it in our practice rounds all the way back, except for a couple holes that they say they're going to use a different tee box, and got a feel for that. But other than that, with it being as soft as it is, I would think they're going to play it long, probably more so after the cut is made, to make sure everyone gets around here. I don't think they're probably going to play it brutally the first couple days just because we're going to have thunder storms and it's going to be hard to get everyone around and they want everyone to play a little bit quicker, but I'm sure come the weekend it'll be a little different story.
Q. You described Pete Dye as a brilliant designer, had a lot of superlatives for him. Many people have different ways to describe his courses, but you didn't talk about whether or not you like it and if it course suits your game. Do you like Pete Dye courses?
TIGER WOODS: I do like Pete's courses. He makes you think, which I like, instead of just going out there and hitting a golf ball. He makes you make a decision off the tees, he makes you make a decision into the greens and makes you leave the ball in the correct spot. The thing about Pete is if you miss your spots, you're going to get penalized severely, and I think that's more so than any other course designer. But he gives you a lot of room. Probably the only place that isn't like that is probably Sawgrass. But it originally wasn't like how it is now. It was tight but there was no rough, so everyone ran into the palmetto bushes; that was your rough. But as an overall, the golf courses that I have played that are Pete's, I do like them, just because of the fact that you have to think. You can't just go up there and just swing away and hit it and go find it. You've got to really think about what you're going to do and how you're going to do it.
Q. Do most ocean based courses generally share similar traits other than the wind, and if not, what maybe makes this place unique from other ocean courses?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think this being so close to the ocean, the dunes and the marshes that they have here, it just drains unbelievably well. I think that playing through the dunes like we do here; one, it's pretty, you're right along the ocean; and two, no matter how much rain we get - (thunder claps overheard) we are getting dumped on right now; it's going to drain pretty quickly. And it being Paspalum, we're not going to get a lot of mud balls. You may get a few here and there, but this grass just doesn't stick that way. I like what this golf course has, and it's just a wonderful piece of property.
Q. Where do you put yourself in the arc of chasing Jack, and do you feel more urgency now that it's been since '08?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I figure it's going to take a career. It's going to take a long time. Jack didn't finish his until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable, I've got 10 more years. Four more majors is a lot. I've got plenty of time. With the training regimes that we have now and seeing guys play well, you can get on the right golf course and contend. You saw what happened with Tom being 59, Greg almost did it at Birkdale at 55 ish or something like that, 54. So we can play late in our careers just because of our training; and also just getting the right golf course. You know, who knows.
Q. With the rain delay that you experienced today on the 5th, of course that's a good foreshadowing for what could come later on this week, how do you think that'll affect your game emotionally as well as the rest of the field?
TIGER WOODS: We're so accustomed to it. Rain delays is part of summer months. We had one last week on Sunday, so not too long ago. I live in Florida, so we get the pop up storms every day, so this is nothing new. As long as we get enough time to loosen up and warm up and get back into rhythm, that's fine. Sometimes it gets a little difficult at times when they keep you in the vans and you cool off and then they don't bring you in, you go back out. That's a little bit more difficult. It's part of playing in the summer in the South. It's just going to happen.
Q. Kind of a two parter. Is it harder for you to win a major than it was 10 years ago?
TIGER WOODS: Is it harder? Well, I haven't won one, so probably.
Q. I don't know if you heard it clearly. Is it harder than it was 10 years ago?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, 10 years ago? Yeah, there's more players with a chance now, I think, that the fields are so much more deep than they used to be, and it's only going to get that way.
Q. The second part of that was when you talk about depth of field, how much does it contribute in that streak of 16 that we had nine straight guys who had won one for the first time? Do you get a sense they're looking at each other saying if this guy can do it, I can, too, the confidence part of it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think that's part of it, but if you just make the cut nowadays you're within nine shots of the lead sometimes. That's easily doable on a weekend. And it's just amazing, as I said, you've got 70 plus guys within 10 shots it seems like at every Tour event. That wasn't always the case. It used to be 14, 15 shots sometimes; but it's just so much smaller now, the margins.
Q. You've gotten back on top of the Tour in several categories, wins, points. Given how you feel about the majors, how important is it this week in your evaluation of your year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I've progressed this year over my last couple years, and I'm very pleased with what I've done, being healthy and being able to play and practice properly and implement the things that Sean wants me to do. This is the way I can hit the golf ball. This is the way I can play. It's nice to be able to do the things that I know I can do.
Q. Earlier you talked about the shorter tees. I think 12 is the new one they built, the drivable. Will you be tempted to drive that or try to drive that hole, or is it too much risk on that particular drive?
TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. When we first played it, we played the 466 plate that's out there. And then we come here again, and it's now 412, and then they've got one at 305 front. It's going to be - if you get the right conditions, I could see guys doing it, whatever the right conditions are for them, whether they like to fade it, draw, whatever the right conditions are I could see guys going for it. For me, I think it's going to be having the right conditions and where the pin is and whether I go or not. You can make 3 or 2 by going, but you also bring in a high number by going, as well. If you lay up, it's going to be like a 6 iron and a sand wedge, and you limit all the high numbers. As I said, I think at the time it'll just be a feel thing.
Q. I noticed on the range that a lot of players will turn and watch you hit some balls. Is there anybody out there right now who you like to watch?
TIGER WOODS: I like watching Hunter (Mahan) hit balls because Hunter - and I think Hunter likes watching me hit balls. We have the exact opposite flaws. The things I'm trying to do, he does well, and the things that I do well, he's trying to get to do. So we're - Sean (Foley) had to put his thinking cap on that one because we're exact polar opposites. We kid each other all the time about what we're working on. I try to emulate some of his stuff, and it looks awful on film, and he tries to do what I do and it doesn't look very good on film, either. But we're trying to implement certain parts of our swings, and it's been good to be able to have play practice rounds with Hunter and to be able to see those things up close and personal.
Q. Have you been keeping an eye on the Olympics, the performance of Team USA and some other good performances, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt? Have you been watching it?
TIGER WOODS: I have, yes.
Q. Have you been enjoying Team USA's performances?
TIGER WOODS: Team USA? Which one? We're in a lot of different sports.
Q. Overall the performance of the Olympic Team.
TIGER WOODS: I think we've done a fantastic job. I think what you saw last night was pretty amazing with women's soccer. I'm really excited for Saturday and watching four by one and seeing what that time is going to do, see if they get enough - if they get warm enough weather and conditions whether or not they can break their own world record. That's going to be fun to see.
Q. Just sort of following on from that, how much of an ambition is it of yours to make Team USA for Rio in 2016, and how much would that mean to you to become an Olympian?
TIGER WOODS: Well, since we haven't done it in a very long time, it'll be something else to be able to represent our country like that in the Olympic Games. I hopefully will be able to have qualified at that point in time, and I'll be 40 years old at the time. It'll be exciting to be able to represent our country like that and go down to Brazil and do something that is basically - I won't say it's inaugural, but in essence it hasn't been there in a long time. So I think we'd probably look at it as that, having golf be represented in the Olympic Games, and I think we would want to represent our countries, whatever country we're from, represent it well.
Q. Based on the news with Phil and the Padres, down the road could you ever see yourself maybe wanting a piece of one of your favorite teams?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. I just need a lot more money. (Laughter.) My teams are the Lakers, Dodgers and the Raiders; so I've got to play really well.
Q. Have you been more encouraged by your play in the last two majors or discouraged by the results?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's both. I'm pleased at the way I was able to play at certain parts of it and at certain times, and obviously disappointed that I did not win. I've played in three major championships this year, and I didn't win any of them. So that's the goal. I was there at the U.S. Open after two days and I was right there with a chance at the British Open. Things have progressed, but still, not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good.
Q. This golf course progressively gets harder as it goes on. Does that put more pressure on you and the rest of the field to get things done early, or do you still feel like you can make birdies coming down the stretch?
TIGER WOODS: I mean, there are places, yeah, you can make birdies. Three of the four days we'll be off of 1 but the other of them are off of 10. I think it has - Pete will give you a couple easy holes, and then he'll just hammer you with a few hard ones. Then he'll give you a break, and it's kind of the ebb and flow of most of Pete's designs. They've moved up a couple of tees on par 3s, which is interesting. They could play them a lot, lot further back than they are. And a couple of them are pretty long. What is it, 14? Yeah, 14 being I think it was 245 or 250 from the back tee to the back left pin. That's a pretty stout hole. But the par 5s, if you drive the ball well, you can probably get to three of the four, if not four of the four. This is a golf course where it's going to test our short games a lot. The guy who can chip and putt really well this week is going to have a great chance.
Q. In the majors this year, we've seen guys struggling to hold on to the lead in the final round, a lot of catch up winners. I wondered if you had a view on why that's happened so much this year and how you coped when you were always in that position mentally with the different pressure of a major championship.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know why it's happened particularly this year. It's not just in majors, but it's happened in our regular Tour stops for some reason. Guys have lost leads for some reason this year more so than in the past, in past years. For me in major championships, I loved it. I just loved being there. To me it was a chance to be able to make history, to go out the next day and win a tournament. You're part of history. So that to me is exciting. So pressure, absolutely, and that's the fun of it. It's fun feeling those nerves, it's fun feeling that adrenaline. That to me is a joy and one of the reasons why I bust my tail and practice, to put myself there, because I just love it.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know. You're going to have to ask them whether they enjoyed it or not. I don't know personally. That's just something for them, but for me, I've always loved that spot. I've always loved being there with a chance to win a major championship.
Q. I know you're focusing on your own game; however, there's recently been some comments about Phil Mickelson and his health and how his season was progressed. I wonder what your take is, seeing him out there. He revealed his health condition a couple years ago and just how he's coped with that. I wonder what your impressions are of that.
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to speculate like you guys. Whatever Phil says, he says about his health. If you ask him, I'm sure he'll tell you. But I haven't spoken to him about it, and that's it.
Q. Your comments earlier, you seemed resigned to the fact the course is going to play soft. Is that disappointing to you, and if so, why? Wouldn't a softer course be of some benefit to you just because it's going to play longer?
TIGER WOODS: I just think that it's I like the test that a firm golf course brings. It just brings more shot making into the equation. You have to throw the ball up, but you throw the ball up with the right spin. You've got to land the ball in the correct spots. With it a little bit softer like this, the greens will be holding. But then again, with it being like this, there's no bump and run. It's just too soft. So now you're going to have to throw the ball up or play some kind of one hop and stop spinner in there. There will be very few hybrids or I'm sure long iron, mid iron bump and run shots. You just won't see it that often just because now it's going to be too soft for that play to work. This Paspalum is very sticky, and obviously if it runs off, you're going to have pitching into the grain, and it's just not going to skip.
Q. This is not the first time you've come to this PGA with your last chance to win a major, but I wonder, can you talk about your chances and how you feel about your game this year versus last year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the last couple years my game was not where it's at right now. This year I've won three tournaments, and it's been a pretty good year. I've been in there with a chance to win a few more. It's a totally different - physically my game is way different than what it was last year. It's been nice to be able to practice after each round, to have that option. That wasn't the case last year. My game has improved because of it, and here we are.
Q. You talked about sort of mixed feelings about the majors having played well but not liking the results. What specifically did you learn about your game at Olympic Club and the U.S. Open and maybe learn about the course? What did you take away from that week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Olympic, it doesn't take much. You can land the ball in the fairway there and end up in the rough, and then you have - you can't control it going into those greens. And that's what happened on that Saturday. And then Sunday having to go out there and force the issue and get off to a low start, I went the other way. At the British Open, everything was going how I had planned it. I was playing my game plan, executing my game plan; I was right there. And I just thought if I could - I was 6 under par for the tournament, turned at 1 under par, maybe 2 at the turn, head home and shoot 1 under par, something like that, on the back nine, I would post 9, and I thought that would be the winning score. So I was just right there. Just one shot that was a yard away, turned that whole tournament around for me.
Q. It's interesting that you've won all your majors from the front and that you really enjoy the pressure of being in the lead. How do you explain the fact that you haven't been able to win any coming from behind?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's one of those things where I just haven't done it. But I also like having 14 of them, too. That's not a bad trade off, either.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.