Tiger Out for Better Result This Week


After failing to miss the cut in last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour, Tiger Woods is back in the U.S. for his first PGA Tour event of the season.

Woods would have qualified for the weekend rounds in Abu Dhabi, but he was assessed a two-stroke penalty when he took an illegal drop after his ball plugged in sandy soil in the rough. With rounds of 72 and 75, he missed the cut by a shot.

Woods will tee it up again Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. The 156-man field will rotate between the North and South courses the first two rounds, with the weekend played solely on South.

With seven victories at Torrey Pines, Woods has enjoyed considerable success at the 36-hole municipal facility. Indeed, the most recent of his 14 major titles came at the 2008 U.S. Open, when he grimaced his way through what turned out to be a severely injured knee. He was forced to endure 72 holes and tie Rocco Mediate in regulation, then went another 19 holes in a Monday playoff for his third U.S. Open victory in what was one of the toughest performances ever seen in any sports championship.

"I really don't know how I quite got the five days and got through it," Woods said Tuesday at Torrey Pines. "I don't ever want to experience that again."

In addition to his six wins in the Farmers Insurance Open (the former Buick Invitational, with his most recent triumph in 2008), Woods - in 12 starts over the years - has finished out of the top-10 only once and just twice has ended up lower than fifth.

Woods has returned to Torrey for only the second time since his 2008 U.S. Open victory and is happy to be back at a place with such fond memories. "It's nice to get out there and play a course that I know," he said Tuesday.

Woods also noted that Torrey Pines is playing differently in 2013. He said the courses are dried out due to the desiccating Santa Ana winds that have swept through the area this month and expects the conditions to be harder and faster than normal at this time of the year.

Here's what else the 74-time Tour winner had to tell reporters during his Q&A with the media two days before the start of his 13th Farmers Insurance Open.

MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Tiger Woods. Tiger, you just got done playing part of the South course. Can you talk about course conditions and your thoughts on coming back to the Farmers Insurance Open, an event that you've won six times in the past?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the golf course is on the quick side. Obviously, haven't had a lot of rain here. The fairways are quick. The greens are a little bit firm, and for this time of the year, it's drier than we normally play it. So it will be a wonderful test. I'm playing the North course tomorrow in the Pro Am, so I'll take a look there and see how it's playing.

Q. How much differently do you feel coming back to Torrey Pines this year as opposed to two years ago when things were different game-wise? How much different do you feel about what you can do around Torrey this year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's nice to be healthy to be able to train and practice and do all of the things that I know I can do. It's definitely a very different feeling, so it's nice to be back. It's nice to get out there and play a course that I know. Obviously, it's different than what I remembered, because it's normally not this dry, not normally this quick. So we get this every now and again with the Santa Ana's blowing. It's a little dry, but normally it's not like this.

Q. Is it a greater confidence coming in than two years ago?

TIGER WOODS: Well, certainly. I was still making the changes at the time with Sean and we just started, and we had to change a lot of stuff from my old patterning to where it's at now.

Q. Go back to last week for a second. Have you ever been penalized in your professional career? When is the last time it ever happened to you and do you remember the scenario?

TIGER WOODS: Penalized? Yeah, I've hit the ball in the water, out of bounds, lost ball, I've had it all. You mean those types of penalties?

Q. No, a penalty like you had.

TIGER WOODS: No, I don't recall ever having one like that, no.

Q. A few years ago you mentioned how you were a little bit nervous somehow with how the gallery might receive you when you came back. Here we are in a new year, and I'm just curious how you think the galleries are receiving you now?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, it's been great. The fans have always been fantastic and extremely supportive.

Q. This clearly doesn't - you've had nothing but success here. But in general, if you're returning to a course or even a hole where you've been unsuccessful in your previous trip, what do you do to get rid of that psychological scar tissue?

TIGER WOODS: Well, just play it for how it's being played that week. Whether it's iron, wood, or driver off the tee, angle into the pins, you just play what the golf course gives you that particular week. And whether it's a hole that you like or dislike, you still play it for how it's played. It's served me well over my career so far, and I don't see any reason to change that.

Q. When you first came on the scene, I think the quote was I want to make golf cool. And there are a lot of up and coming kid that's probably watched you play and now they're gunning for you. Is it harder to win on Tour now than when you first came up?

TIGER WOODS: I'd say it's deeper, yes. There is no doubt. Each generation, it gets a little more difficult. The spread between the leader and the cut is no longer 13 shots, 12, 13 shots. Sometimes it's as few as 8, so you've got 70 plus guys within 8 shots of the lead going into the weekend. That's a big jump. That's certainly been probably the biggest difference is that you have more guys going into a weekend with a chance to win, and they are. They can win from anyplace. The gap's gotten smaller in that regard. You have the equipment changes, the balls just don't move as much. The faces are bigger and faster, and consequently, the guys hit the ball straighter.

Q. Do you feel partly responsible for that?

TIGER WOODS: Maybe on the training side. But as far as equipment, no, because that's - obviously, I don't control that.

Q. Slightly different topic here. Phil Mickelson made some comments regarding the higher taxes here in California. You being a resident now of Florida, but from here, any comment or any reaction to what he said?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I moved out of here back in '96 for that reason. I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he was, I think, trying to say. I think he'll probably explain it better and in a little more detail.

Q. Today in your practice round, is that all work today, or when you're playing a place like this, are you walking through some nice memories, and is it a good feeling to return?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I didn't really think about any of the past stuff because, as I said, this golf course is playing different. I can't remember it playing this dry this time of the year. It's been a while. I couldn't remember, as I said, being this dry. Maybe when they first made the changes, I think when Ollie and Mark and myself were up there with a chance. But to compare it to the Open, we don't have the roughs like we do now - the rough's not up like it is during the Open, but it's that dry, but the greens aren't as fast. For me, I was just trying to get a feel for the golf course, how I was playing. What clubs I'm going to hit, what my lines are going to be, and getting a feel for if the Santa Ana's are going to blow this week or not blow off the ocean. So trying to get an understanding of how this golf course is playing at this time.

Q. With the player meeting tonight and the anchoring ban being discussed, have you ever kind of reflected on how anchoring has impacted the game in terms of your career, in terms of winning certain events and without naming names, obviously, but do you ever feel you've been deprived of some wins because you putt in a conventional way and there was somebody putting using anchoring?

TIGER WOODS: No. I'm not going to look at it like that. Generally, in the past if guys switch methods, it's usually because they're uneasy, they're a little twitchy or just don't feel comfortable, so they'll switch methods. But we have a whole other generation that have never experienced having those twitches or having any of those type of problems, and they've grown up with anchoring the putter. And I think that's what Mike was trying to explain when he was trying to implement this new rule is that we're getting a whole 'nother generation that have only putted with anchoring the putter, and they've just learned that one method. He believes every club should actually swing, and I agree with that.

Q. When you look at this and probably Firestone as the regular Tour stops where you've had such incredible runs of success, is the expectation not for yourself, but does it just feel different when you're on that golf course compared with other wins just given what you've done?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I feel comfortable here, there is no doubt. There are few courses that are like that where I've had my share of success where either I've won or been in contention to win. This, as you said, Firestone, Augusta, I just feel comfortable on those venues, and I feel like my record over those three courses have been pretty good.

Q. By most players' standards you've had a solid 2012. What do you look for in 2013 for it to be a successful season for you?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, just improving what I'm doing. Becoming more efficient with what I'm doing. I would have to say the majority of the year I hit it pretty good, but my putting and short game weren't quite there. I spent so much time on ball striking that that finally came around. So towards the end of the season, I was able to spend more time with my chipping and putting and that's come around. So now I've got to marry up both of those two combos and hopefully I can do it this year and do it on a consistent basis.

Q. Just wanted to check in on your immediate schedule going forward. What tournaments you are going to be playing in, and specifically with the Northern Trust Open, whether you're playing or not, or still undecided? I wanted to know what your thought process is in whether or not you play that one?

TIGER WOODS: I'm going to play a few tournaments coming up.

Q. Which one next?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. What will it take for you to play Riviera again?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. We'll just see.

Q. Because it's the same schedule every year. It's always in the same slot?

TIGER WOODS: True.

Q. We're coming up on the fifth year anniversary of your win here at the Open. Do you look back at that week often? When you do, what stands out?

TIGER WOODS: I do look at that week often. I remember several things. Number one that comes to my mind every time I look at it or see highlights of it is just pure pain that I was in. I don't ever want to experience that again. That was a very, very difficult week. Having to go five days, I really don't know how I quite got the five days and got through it. But I definitely never, ever want to experience that again, that part of it. The other part was how I got off to such beautiful starts on the first hole each day, beautiful starts. Then having to recover from there and work my way back. Then I think Saturday afternoon was a pretty cool little back nine stretch where I had a little bit of a run. And the putt on 18 to get into it was certainly a putt I'll never, ever forget.

Q. Do you remember exactly what you did on one? Was it two or three double-bogeys?

TIGER WOODS: I had three doubles, and then I bogeyed 10. I teed off; it was my first hole, so 7 over. Sweet, huh? Yeah.

Q. It's pretty remarkable that you can make three doubles in a tournament and still win. Does it lessen that because it's the U.S. Open?

TIGER WOODS: It does, and I think I also had three eagles that week too, so that offsets it. Yeah, it was one of those things where it just I got off to terrible starts and I just fought my way back. I had two runs of nine hole stretches that got me into the tournament. And if you look at most U.S. Opens, you're looking for one nine hole run, and that's usually what wins you a tournament. You hang in there, hang in there and you have one little stretch of holes of nine holes that basically wins you the tournament.

Q. Is that kind of exclusive to the open?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Q. I heard something interesting in the first two things you said were negatives. The pain, which was obvious, and then the first hole. Is that a golfer's nature to think about those things first? Because there were so many amazing things.

TIGER WOODS: There were a lot of amazing things, but, man, here I am just talking about it and my hands are sweating just thinking about the feeling I had to get through each and every day. Just trying to get up and having to warm up again and go to the gym. I just don't want to move. Then having to get out here and warm up and trying not to show you guys and any of my competitors what I was feeling. It was a very difficult week.

Q. Could you have won, given everything - you hadn't walked nine holes I don't think since -

TIGER WOODS: I hadn't walked since Augusta, and I played nine holes here, I think, on Tuesday.

Q. Hypothetical, but could you have won that U.S. Open if they were (Indiscernible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q. (Indiscernible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. Probably those three courses I just mentioned.

Q. So your thoughts on the Open?

TIGER WOODS: Maybe the U.S. Open will go to Augusta (smiling).

Q. Your thoughts on the U.S. Open ever coming back to Torrey, and are you in favor of that?

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, absolutely. I think they've proven that they can host a great U.S. Open here. We, as players, play here each and every year, and we love the golf course. It's hard. And I think the USGA is trying to make a concerted effort ever since '02 going to Bethpage for the first time and big public venues. This is the west coast version. And it was amazing. The turnout, the fans, the support, the crowds, I mean, it was just a great atmosphere. I think with having the other golf course right here for parking and all that, I think certainly I think Torrey Pines and everyone here involved in it really made this tournament special, and I think the USGA will definitely come back.

Q. Do you remember how old you were when you first saw this course and what you thought when you first played on this course?

TIGER WOODS: I first came down here during the old Andy Williams. And I went out and watched some Cali guys, and I watched Mo play, Cookie, I think Corey I saw hit a couple shots. I saw Andy Bean hit the ball on the green on two and 18. I must have been probably, what, single digits in age, somewhere around there, because I was just now starting to come down here for the junior world at the time. My dad took me to two events that year. It was here as well as the L.A. Open, and got a chance to watch - I think one of the years, Lanny just went off and played really well at L.A., and I was there for nine of those holes where he just tore it apart. I've got a good story about Watson there, but it was fun. It was a fun time.

Q. There are some golf fans wondering if you will ever win another major as you get older. Is your golf game with all the changes you've made where you want it to be that you think you can win majors this year?

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely.

Q. What's the Watson story?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the late Bruce Edwards, and I used to give Bruce some grief about it all the time, right? So number eight, Tom snipes it to the left off the tee, and I'm right there. And took a look, blah, blah, blah. He hits it again, left of the green. Pins back left, hit it's left of the green. I'm up there, and Bruce moves me out of the way, twice. He basically yelled at me saying I moved you out of here once, and basically moved me out of there twice. So I just wanted to see, you know. Tom Watson, blah, blah, blah. He sniped one, and sniped another one, and I happened to be right there on both of those shots, and Bruce let me know about it.

Q. Getting back to the U.S. Open, are you surprised that it hasn't been rescheduled for Torrey at this point?

TIGER WOODS: No, not necessarily, because obviously they go so far out. What are we at, 18 or somewhere around there, 19, so I'm sure it will be right around the corner within 10 years.

Q. Tiger, why was it so important for you at the Open here not to show any of your competitors what you are feeling?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you never want to let any of the guys know you're hurt in any sport, doesn't matter, ever.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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