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Tiger Looking for Third FedEx Cup
Tiger Woods won the inaugural FedEx Cup Playoff in 2007. Golf's dominant player at the time, Woods took two of the four Playoff events that year to become the first player to earn the Cup's $10 million bonus.
Although Rory McIlroy leads the points' standings in the 2012 Playoffs - thanks to victories in the previous two tournaments - Woods, second in points, is in good position heading into the season-ending, $8 million Tour Championship, which starts Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
In it weren't for McIlroy, Woods would be having the best season of any player on the PGA Tour. The 36-year-old has notched three victories, earning $5,885,158 in 18 starts, moving him over the $100-million mark in career earnings.
At the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, Woods notched his 74th career title, moving him past Jack Nicklaus into second on the all-time win list, eight behind Sam Snead's total. That along with his other solid performances this year saw him rise to No. 2 on the World Golf Ranking behind McIlroy.
Woods is hoping to end the season on a high note with his third career victory in the Tour Championship. If he can do that, he'll also nab his third FedEx Cup title (which he also won in 2009), a remarkable achievement since 2012 marks only the sixth time the Playoffs have been held.
On Wednesday, Woods met with reporters and discussed the chances of that happening. He also talked about the week following the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup matches at Medinah near Chicago, which will be the seventh time he's represented the USA in the biennial matches. Here's what Woods told the media during his session on the eve of the Tour Championship.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room here at the Tour Championship by Coca Cola. A two time winner of the FedEx Cup, and he enters this week number two in the FedEx Cup standings. Tiger, welcome back to East Lake, if we could get your comments on the week ahead?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. We've got some great weather ahead of us too. So it will be nice to get out there and play a golf course I really like and I've enjoyed over the years. It's going to be 30 of the hottest players we have this year, so it's going to be a great test.
Q. Tiger, as someone that's been pulled in a lot of different directions by people who just want to claim you, did you have a particular empathy for what Rory's going through with the whole Olympic situation, different, in this case, different countries wanting to claim him? What advice would you give for him dealing with this?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the thing is I've never had to deal with anything like that. This is something that is totally foreign to me. He might - I mean, I've always been an American, so it's been very easy for me being a U.S. citizen. I can't really understand or relate to what he's going through right now with this. This is different for me.
Q. Even with the ethnicities?
TIGER WOODS: Ethnicities is totally different.
Q. Tiger, right now, how would you rate yourself physically overall?
TIGER WOODS: I feel great. It was nice to take that week off. We just had a little luncheon or brunch, and some of the guys were telling me it was nice to shut down, and not to touch a club for four or five days. It's been a long haul for us since probably the British Open. We've played two major championships, the World Golf Championship and three playoff events in that stretch. So we've played a lot of golf in there. It was nice to take a week off, shut it down, and gear up for these two weeks.
Q. This is the sixth edition of the FedEx Cup. You've played in most of them. What is your take on where this playoff stacks up compared to the majors and the World Golf championships? Do you feel like this playoff is kind of growing in the minds of the players in terms of importance beyond the (indiscernible)?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly it is growing, there is no doubt. It is growing. But guys still don't quite understand the point system yet I don't think, fully, because we've changed it several times over the years. I think that part the guys are still trying to get accustomed to that. This is my first time under this current structure. I was asked probably this last year what do you think of this new structure? I said, well, it's set up so that if the guy, if he does win the first, let's say, three playoff events and finishes second in the Players Championship, he could still lose it. I don't think that's quite fair, but that is our current system. Before, the systems I played were cumulative. There was I think a reset in one of them that I think I might have played in, but certainly not like it is now.
Q. I'm sorry to jump ahead a week, but you're uniquely qualified to comment on me dine a. How do you think it will play on a match play standpoint, and does it favor anyone over anyone else?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I personally like Medinah. I've had a little bit of success there. So personally speaking, I like the place. I haven't played it since the new redo. They've gone in and redone 11 greens. Completely redid 15, so that's going to be different for us, the venues and the place. I'd have to kind of almost equate it to how Bay Hill has gone through its renovations over the years and even Torrey Pines. Even though they've made some major changes over the years, I still like playing it. The time we played in '99 was way different than '05. It was a different golf course, but I still liked it. I'm sure this is probably the same.
As far as a match play golf course, I think that it's set up for the ability to make a lot of birdies. The two times that we've played the PGA's there. They set up pretty hard and we still made a bunch of birdies. If we get the right kind of weather coming in there, and then being match play where we naturally can be more aggressive, the format lends itself to that. I can see there being just a boat load of birdies there.
Q. Greg Norman made some headlines yesterday saying that you're intimidated by Rory. Did you see those comments and what were your thoughts?
TIGER WOODS: It's got to be the hair, yeah.
Q. Are you intimidated by Rory?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, it's got to be the hair.
Q. Have you ever been intimidated by any other golfers?
TIGER WOODS: No, no one is the size of Ray Lewis who is going to hit me coming over the middle, so this is a different kind of sport. We go out there and we play our own game. And see where it falls at the end of the day. As I said, it's not like you go over the middle and some guy is 255 pounds and going to take your block off. This is about execution and going about your own business and see where tends up at the end of the day. It's just the nature of our sport, which is different than some sports. Some individual sports, such as tennis, you actually can do that physically, because you're playing against somebody. Here no one is affecting any shots.
Q. Granted there's a lot of work left to do this year. What about your play and approach to the game gives you optimism heading into 2013?
TIGER WOODS: I'm really looking forward to it. This has been a really good season to come back from last year and not being able to play at all, and then being able to train properly and practice properly. Hence I'm producing the results I know I can produce. I've made some great strides this year. Went from probably most of my career not being a very good driver of the ball, to now being one of the better ones out here on tour. That is exciting for me. I think that is one of the reasons why my scoring average is where it's at right now. I've been very consistent. Obviously, I can improve on all of that. My short game is finally starting to come around too, which is nice. Made some good changes this summer, and they're finally starting to click in.
Q. Tiger, you've had a lot of different partners in the Ryder Cup, what is the key element to finding a good partner and meshing with him? Is it your games mesh or is it more of a personality mesh?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just playing well. It's not really complicated. We went through a stage there, especially now, the format has changed now. We don't have to play the one ball rule. That was a big deal for a number of years is to be able to figure out an alternate shot, who is playing what ball, then on top of that, what compression within that company. That does change quite a bit. Now we can drive with our teammate's ball and have them fire it into the green with their ball. So that's fine. I think there is less strategy when it comes to that now. I've played with all different types of different personalities and different types of games, and it's about just going out there and playing well. It's not rocket science. You've just got to go out there and hit a lot of good golf shots and make a lot of putts.
Q. Among elite golfers, what's a victory here taking the FedEx Cup title, and for you personally, how does it top off your year with already three tour wins behind you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it really would top it off. I've had a really good season, and to win the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, and then have my fourth win all of those are positive things. Beating, as I've said, these are the 30 of the hottest players this year, so you're beating a really good field. The guys are all playing well. I've done it twice, and hopefully I can do it again.
Q. You referenced this earlier about the idea you could win the first three and still not win the FedEx Cup. Is that the biggest thing you would change? Is there anything else you'd like to see different about this? Also, you mentioned if Rory could have had it wrapped up by now if it were the old rules?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, absolutely. Vijay and I went through that scenario when we won the FedEx Cup. And the Tour Championship didn't have the same impact that it probably should have, hence the change in the system to where it currently is now. I think the reason they changed it to where it is now, and this is what I was told, it would be very similar to what the Patriots went through. You sweep the regular season, you sweep the playoffs, but you don't win the Super Bowl, hence you don't the whole thing.
You could literally win every tournament the entire year, and finish second here and you don't win. That is kind of the premise about it. They're trying to put more of an emphasis on the Tour Championship and what it would mean instead of the cumulative total that you've done for the whole year.
Q. Rory is just the latest elite peer that your relationship and interaction with is dissected and analyzed to the hilt. What is your take on all of our takes about your relationship with him?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't care.
Q. Anybody come closer than Greg Norman has?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't care.
Q. If you were to win this week, that gives you four wins in the FedEx Cup. Rory would have four wins and a major. How does that relate to Player of the Year? Does he have it wrapped up no matter what or is there still a chance?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. We'll see.
Q. Moving on.
TIGER WOODS: Okay.
Q. To follow on that, going into the Ryder Cup, of all the captains you've played for, have you found that how they were as a captain kind of reflected their personality as a player? If that's the case, what are you expecting out of Davis?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. I think the way they've competed is very similar to how they captain. Some guys are - let's say the two extremes that I've had, one being Hal, who is very emotional, and one being Tom Kite who is very calculating. Tom went through percentages and Hal was more just whatever he feels, he's going with. And that's how they played. Both were very successful and that's how they played. We had one of our assistants, being Freddy, who is very lax and almost lackadaisical, but he's extremely competitive. Most of the guys don't see that, but we see it in the team rooms, and that is how some of the guys are. Now Davis has been - I've gotten to know him a little bit more over the years, but I'm actually really excited about having him as our captain. He's very focused on what we're trying to. He's put a ton of effort into this. It's good to see.
Q. Tiger, with three wins this year, I know there's been a lot of talk about your process, and now it seems you may be in a different phase. But what really stands between you and your next major championship win?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think just putting it all together at the right time. I've put it together at three events this year. They just happen to be not the major championships. I just need to have those weeks where I put it together and coincide with a major. They're not easy to do. I haven't really done it that often. I've done it 14 times versus 74 in the other one. So they're a little harder to do.
Q. Earlier in your career you were in the Ryder Cup, then because of injuries and everything, you missed some Ryder Cups. Did you miss the Ryder Cup? Did you watch it on TV? Are you just looking forward to being back in that Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I played in Wales last time. The only one I missed was in '08 after my ACL reconstruction. So, yeah, that was - it wasn't as tough to watch it, because I physically could not play golf. If I had to go through a stage where I physically could play golf and didn't make the team, that would have been a totally different deal. At the time, just getting off the couch and walking across the hall was a tall order, and it hurt like hell. So it made watching the Ryder Cup much easier for me.
Q. A few minutes ago Rory came in and said he would love to be paired with you on Sunday at the Ryder Cup. It would be good for the game. I'm wondering if you feel the same way, and if you had your druthers is there any particular person you'd like to play with on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: That would be fun.
Q. It seems amazing to us that neither yourself of anyone else on the American team has got a winning record on the Ryder Cup. Do you regard it as a big blot on your record, and how big is the motivation to turn that around?
TIGER WOODS: Well, unfortunately, it's one of the reasons why we haven't won that many. You know, I missed one where we won in '08, and I've only been part of one winning Ryder Cup team since my time in '97. So it's also one of the reasons why the Europeans have won by two record setting margins during our time, because we didn't earn enough points. We didn't play well at the right time, and that's just the way it goes. Hopefully this year we'll play well at the right time.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.