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Tiger Woods News Conference Transcript - 2000

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TIGER WOODS:Well, I guess I won. It was a great week. Today was a day in which I knew if I went out there and made no bogeys today -- if I made 18 straight pars, Ernie would have to shoot a really low number. What I didn't want to do is have the guys behind me with the calm conditions, get off to a quick start, and then make a few bogeys on top of that; and the next thing you know, it's a ballgame. If I went out there and was patient, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, I knew I'd make a putt here and there, and maybe increase the lead or, if not, let them know that it was almost impossible to catch me.
 
Q. Would you take us from 1 on.
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, the first hole, I hit a 4-iron off the tee. Hit a 9-iron to about 12 feet right below the hole and just missed it left. No. 2, I hit a beautiful drive on the left side. I hit a 7-iron up there to about 12 feet above the hole, and ran that by and tapped it in. No. 3, a 2-iron off the tee, a pitching wedge up there to about 25 feet past the hole. Left it hanging on the lip. No. 4, I hit a 3-iron off the tee in the left rough. Hit a sand wedge short of the hole about 20 feet, left that hanging on the lip. No. 5, I hit a 7-iron left, then lagged my putt down there dead center again, short; made that from about 2 1/2 feet. No. 6, I hit a beautiful drive, and I didn't think that was that bad. Just ended up in some hay along the side of the bunker. It was hard to believe two out of the four days I thought I was going to be in the bunker, and I was in this hay. If I -- I tried to hit a shot out, and it came out hot; had a tough pitch. I pitched it down thehill to about six feet past the hole and made that. No. 6, I hit a sand wedge left, pulled it. Hit a putt up there from about 30 feet, again, short, dead center. No. 8, I hit a 4-iron off the tee, a 6-iron to about 15 feet below the hole, and ran that by on the top edge; tapped it in for par. No. 9, a driver off the tee. A pitching wedge to about 20 feet from the hole. Again, dead center, short. No. 10, a driver off the tee, and a pitching wedge to about 15 feet left of the hole, and made that. No. 11, 2-iron off the tee. Ended up in one of the great sand divots out there. I played out of the divot, sand wedge to about 12 feet right below the hole. Again, dead center, short. No. 12, a 5-iron to about 18 feet past the hole; made that. 13, I hit a drive, pulled it left; got a great lie in the rough. Hit a sand wedge to about a foot; hit that in. 14, I hit a good drive down the fairway, laid up, with a 6-iron, hit a 60-degree sand wedge from about 84 yards to about eight feet and made that. 15, I hit a 2-iron off the tee in the right rough. Hit a good pitching wedge up there to about 30 feet left of the hole, and 2-putted. Again, dead center, short. 16, I hit a 3-iron off the tee, in the first cut of rough; caught a flier. The ball was gone. I had a real tough pitch. Played it safe, and ran it by about 15 feet, and buried that. 17, I was just playing short. If I flushed a 4-iron in there, it might get over the bunker; if not, I knew it would be an easy uphill bunker shot, which I did. I pulled it left where I wanted it. An easy putt. It was a good lie, to about 6 inches, and tapped that in. On 18, I hit a 4-iron off the tee, an 8-iron layup and a pitching wedge to about 20 feet, and 2-putted.
 
Q. Have you ever played better under these kinds of circumstances?
 
TIGER WOODS:I've never really had this type of circumstance very often. I think the last time I did was at the '97 Masters, when I had a 9-shot lead. And that day, I played pretty good, too. I shot 69.
 
Q. Tiger, can you sustain this level of dominance over an extended period of time? Will you be able to keep your competitive fire for five to ten years?
 
TIGER WOODS:It's not necessarily keeping your competitive fire. I won't have a problem doing that, it's just sometimes you're going to go through streaks where you're not going to play well. And that's part of playing the game of golf, playing any sport, really. You're going to have periods where you're playing great and periods where you're not playing well. Hopefully you can get through those periods of not playing well quickly.
 
Q. Tiger, can you talk -- I think most people are amazed at the level of performance you had at such a young age. Only Jack Nicklaus has won three different majors at the same age. Can you talk about the emotion you have for being so successful early and how difficult it is and what your sense of history is, as well and your place in it?
 
TIGER WOODS:To be honest with you, I guess it all stems from -- I hate to go back to it, but it all stems from Junior Golf. I've been fortunate enough to win a lot of tournaments in Junior, which gives me the confidence to play at each and every level as well as I have. And it all goes back to when I was a kid and all the tournaments I was able to win, either closely or someone might have given me one, or I might have just run away with it. Whatever it was, it teaches you every time you win and every time you lose -- especially if you win, how to win -- what did you do right and what did you do wrong to keep yourself in the winner's circle. And to have the success I've had as a professional, it's been pretty nice, to be honest with you.
 
Q. Tiger, in relation to the Majors, you obviously now have three out of the four. Can you talk about your passion to win the British coming up next month? And did winning this third one feel that a little bit more, since it's so close?
 
TIGER WOODS:No, I didn't feel it any more. Going into this week, we all knew that if there was any two tournaments to win on, to win the Grand Slam on, it would be these two venues. It doesn't get much better than this -- Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.
 
Q. Tiger, I know you haven't had a lot of time to process the ramifications, but to you, what's the more impressive feat, the fact that you beat the major championship field by 15 strokes, which beats Tom Morris' record from 1862, or the fact that you finished a U.S. Open in these conditions at 12-under par?
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, I think the latter. To finish a U.S. Open this many under par, you know you played well. And this week, I drove the ball beautifully, hit a lot of good iron shots. But if you look back at each and every round, I made important par putts. I kept telling you guys every time I came in here that I made those big par putts. And those big par putts, you have to make them in the U.S. Open. If you miss a green here, or any U.S. Open Championship, excluding Pinehurst, you knew that you're going to wrap. It's hard to control out of the rough. You're going to have the 8- or 10-footers or longer for par. If you make those, those feel better than a birdie. And you build on the momentum you've built on, or it can turn the tide around. And this week, there comes a point in time during the round that you have to make one of those putts. And I was able to step up and bury one of those putts.
 
Q. Tiger, you've had two weeks, now, The Masters and this one, where you've just pulled away and pulled away. What does it feel like? And has there been a point in those two weeks where you've known it's your week?
 
TIGER WOODS:I've had two great weeks in a major championship. But I told Stevie, walking up 18, there comes a point in time when you feel tranquil, when you feel calm; you feel at ease with yourself. And those two weeks, I felt that way. I felt very at ease with myself. And for some reason, things just flowed. And no matter what you do, good or bad, it really doesn't get to you. Even the days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, for some reason, it doesn't feel too bad; it's just all right. And to have those weeks just happen to coincide with major championships is even better.
 
Q. Tiger, I'd like to ask you, we asked Ernie to talk about how great you are. It's a lot easier when you ask someone to talk about someone else. If you can bear with us, how great do you think you are? How great do you think you are still to be as a golfer?
 
TIGER WOODS:That's not exactly easy for me to answer (laughter). I can tell you one thing, this is something I've said, and I will continue to say, is I'm going to try to -- I'm going to try to get better. You're always trying to work on things in this game of golf, trying to get a little bit better. Always trying new equipment or trying new techniques. There's always something you're trying to get better. We all understand that. If we all play golf, we all have a bug -- we're all trying to get better somehow. I know there's a few things on my game I'm going to continue to work on -- my whole game. I'm going to try to keep improving it. I don't know what that -- I guess that level will be. I will probably have a better understanding when I'm probably 60 years old and I look back in hindsight in where I was at my peak and how long my prime was. But until then, you really don't know, until you go through it.
 
Q. Tiger, yesterday I asked you if you had an insurmountable lead on 18, would you allow yourself to soak up the moment there. You said, 'Ask me tomorrow.'
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, I certainly got my tee shot in the fairway, and then I let go a little bit and I started seeing that, yeah, I won the championship. Just stay alive. And that's all I had to do. I felt I was in pretty good shape. I don't have a big pot belly, so I'm all right. All I had to do was stay alive. So I knew I had two shots, and I knew it was going to be a 6- or 7-iron to layup and a wedge on the green. I figured I could handle it from there.
 
Q. Tiger, following up on that, I don't suppose there was ever a time when you were walking up on the 16th green and you look at the scoreboard and you think to yourself, 'I could use my putter, and just my putter, for the last two holes at Pebble and still win by six or seven strokes'?
 
TIGER WOODS:To be honest with you, any kind of weird ideas never crossed my mind, just because of the fact that I wanted to have a day where I made no bogeys. That was my goal from the beginning of the day: No bogeys. And I think the highlight of -- I don't want to say the highlight. But one of the biggest moments of the day was when I buried that putt on 16. I worked so hard not to make a bogey, and have a 15-footer for par. If I missed that putt, I would have been pissed at myself. I went up and buried that putt, and it felt so good to do that and then go on and get that up-and-down at 17. I figured I could handle 18.
 
Q. Tiger, Ernie described your round or your week as close to perfect. How close to perfect did you feel like it was?
 
TIGER WOODS:I had a pretty good week. I hit the ball well. I made a lot of those big par putts, as I say. I made a few birdies here and there. But I think, more than anything this week, was the week in which a lot of the things went right for me, and I hit --. For instance, I hit two bad tee shots today. I hit one that was a terrible pull on No. 4 that I'm praying that it doesn't go in a little pot bunker there. Hopefully, it gets past it, hits on the side of it, and kicks back to the first cut of rough. I had a perfect lie. And again, I hit a bad tee shot off 13. It landed in the rough, ended up having a perfect lie, and a sand wedge to a foot. Those are things that just go your way. 14, on the first day, a driver, driver in the left rough. Had no shot. Had somewhat of a good lie; putted the ball into the rough, the long rough. From there, it's all luck what happens. It comes out, and I've got a foot tap-in. That's just one of those things where a lot of the breaks go your way.
 
Q. Tiger, Walker Cup member, a US Junior Amateur Champion, an Amateur Champion, and now a U.S. Open Champion. Your affiliation with USGA and what it's meant to you as an organization?
 
TIGER WOODS:The USGA has always been -- when I was growing up as a kid, when I first started playing big golf, I guess, or International golf, it was at Junior World. And that was the big tournament until I got a little older, then it became the U.S. junior. And that was the tournament I always wanted to win. I focused all my attention around that. Then it became the U.S. amateur. And now it's the four majors. And I just so happened to get this one, which is nice.
 
Q. Tiger, what do you remember about St. Andrews when you played there in the Dunhill Cup? Was that the only time you've played there?
 
TIGER WOODS:My first British Open was there in '95. But the Dunhill Cup, it was cold. I'm telling you, it was so cold. It was kind of funny how much the wind changes there. I hit 2-iron, and 60-degree sand wedge into the first hole in one of my matches. And the match I lost to Santiago Luna, I hit a driver and 4-iron on the same hole. It goes to show how much the wind can switch there. I just remember -- the bunkers there, you never see until the wind changes. Then all of a sudden, the bunkers come into play, and you think the genius involved in designing a golf course like that.
 
Q. Tiger, when you first came on the scene, your father made some statements about your potential that many of us felt were probably a little outrageous. Given what's taken place today, is it possible that even Earl underestimated your potential? And can you talk a little bit about the Father's Day angle that always takes place at the Open?
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, I think my dad has always had a big belief in my abilities, and so have I. The only difference is he stated them and I didn't. I let my clubs do the talking. And I guess that's -- as a father, I'll probably be that way, too, to my kids, be a proud parent. And I guess that's what my dad was. And when asked, he would give an honest answer. It's just sometimes an honest answer, you can twist in the press and blow it out of proportion, which happened occasionally with all of you here. I guess today is a very special day. It's Father's Day. And I can't tell you enough about what my dad meant to my golf. And me, as a person growing up, and all the times that I had questions in life and all the guidance that he's given me, I can't thank him enough. He and -- both my parents were always there for me. My dad always took me out, and we practiced and played and had a lot of fun competing against each other. Those are the times you look back on and you reminisce and you miss. And to have my dad still alive, while I won this championship, on Father's Day, it's very important to me. He was actually -- he should have been dead in '97, with the complications he had after the heart surgery. And for him to come back against doctor's orders, go to The Masters, give me a putting lesson -- I was putting great that week and I won by 12. And this week, to have him here witnessing it, it's very special to me.
 
Q. (Inaudible.)
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, I would love to visit Korea one day. I've been to Seoul. I've stopped over on my way to Thailand. I visited the city a little bit; I've seen some of the sights on my layover to Bangkok. But I've never competed there. And I would love to compete there, and one day I will, and hopefully it can be in the near future. Only time will tell. But I would love to be there.
 
Q. Can I double-check the number at St. Andrews, your last four rounds of the Dunhill Cup, is it 19- or 22-under?
 
TIGER WOODS:Last four rounds? I think I shot -- it's not that low. I had two 66s, and I believe a 68. And I shot 72 against Luna.
 
Q. Tiger, I'd like to ask you a couple of questions on the mental side of golf. Firstly, what is it about the way you put your game together mentally that you think separates you from other players; and secondly, is a huge intimidation factor now building with other players? Ernie Els just told us that if he played his best golf today, he'd still have gotten beat by 5 or 6 -- or this week, rather. Do you get a feeling that the rest of the field now turns up wondering if it can win even if it plays at its best?
 
TIGER WOODS:You know, to be honest with you, the mental side of the game -- I've always had a tremendous belief in my abilities. I've proven it in tournaments. But more so, I've proven it in practice sessions when no one's been around. As a kid on a back 9, and playing against some of the best players, and you're trying to imitate their golf swings. I'm no different. I still do it today, just for fun. And those are the times that you've proved to yourself you can do it. Then you go ahead and do it in competition, and then it feeds from there. And I've been very fortunate that I've had the success I've had at an early age that's given me the confidence to go on and keep succeeding. As far as intimidating the other players, what you do is you try to get up there to put yourself in contention, and that's it. And whatever happens from there, happens. If they fall by the wayside just because you're there, then so be it. I would much rather put myself in contention week after week. I'm not going to win every tournament that I play in. I'm going to try. And if I can put myself there week in and week out, I will win my share of tournaments. But I just need to get there.
 
Q. Tiger, it obviously meant a lot to you to win the U.S. Open here. What would it mean to you to win the Millennium Open at St. Andrews? What would it also mean to be a Grand Slam winner?
 
TIGER WOODS:That's something that I would love to have happen. And there's no better site to have it occur than at the Home of Golf. That's where it all started. If I could somehow be fortunate enough to play well and at the right time, and get that Claret Jug, it would be a good feeling. I came close in '98. And if I made a few putts on the weekend last year, it may be a different story. I have to put myself in a chance to win; and hopefully, I can get that jug.
 
Q. Tiger, you won 2 of your 3 majors with pretty sick numbers in terms of the margin of victory. You won your other one by one shot, and I will never forget the look of relief on your face on 18 at Medina last year. What do you find more enjoyable or rewarding, all you had to do was make pars today. Is it more enjoyable to go to 18 knowing you have to make a birdie to win, or do you have a preference to either one?
 
TIGER WOODS:Give me a 9-, 10-shot lead every time (laughter), every single time. Now I realized why most of the golfers out here are balding and gray. You go to the last hole with a one-up lead or have to make a big putt on 17, like I did at PGA. That tests you a little bit. Those are probably more rewarding from a standpoint that you have to do it that moment and you end up doing it. When you have a big lead, obviously, you can make a few mistakes and everything will still be okay. So there's a different internal struggle. But I think as far as feeling more rewarded, you can go down the stretch head-to-head against somebody and come out on top, and that's a great feeling. Even though I won today by 15 or won The Masters by 12, it doesn't compare to coming down the stretch knowing you absolutely have to make that putt on 17, and you bury it, and then go play 18 and make par. That was such a great feeling.
 
Q. Tiger, right now you are The King, and you've been there, The King of the Golf World, the Number One. Michael Jordan was The King of the Sports World. It was like 'I want to be like Michael.' Now everybody wants to be like Tiger. It's a lot to carry, but if amateurs want to play better golf, and they're listening to Tiger Woods, and everybody wants to hear why you play better golf, can you pass on a little helping hint to help people play better golf?
 
TIGER WOODS:How can you play better golf? Well, first some people are beyond help (laughter). And two, I guess -- to be honest with you, there's really no substitute for hard work. My dad has always said, you get out of it what you put into it, and there's no shortcuts. And in this game, there's no crueler statement than that, because you go out there. And if you work hard on your game, you're going to get better. If you're just a weekend golfer, that's all you are, a weekend golfer who goes out once a weekend, if that, and expects to hit the great tee shots and make those big putts and take all the cash from his buddies. That's not going to happen every time unless you get out there and work.
 
Q. Tiger, there was adjustment or refinement with the putting this week that made it all fall together.
 
TIGER WOODS:Yeah, actually there was. Wednesday -- actually Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I was not putting all that well. And I couldn't hit my line very well, consistently. I was putting -- I was making putts on the practice round, but it just didn't feel right. It didn't feel like I was rolling the ball. It was kind of skidding a little bit. And I worked for about two and a half hours on Wednesday out there on the putting green. And I found that my hands were a little too low. I raised them up, which is different than what I've been doing. I've been trying to get them lower, just overcooked it a little bit. And from there, I raised my hands up, which allowed me to release the blade down the line and get back to where I was for most of this year. This year, I've been trying to lower my hands. But as I said, I think I just overcooked it, got them too low. The toe was up in the air, hitting a lot of pulls. So I got the putter a little more balanced on the ground. And from there, once I started making a few good strokes on the putting green, it kind of built up a little bit and I went out there on the golf course on Thursday and putted beautifully early in the round. And I said, 'Yeah, this is right; I'm on the right track. Now I just need to keep doing it.' And I was able to do it all week.
 
Q. People in California obviously think Pebble is one of the great courses in the world, and four Opens, the other three were won by three pretty good golfers. Now you join them. Can you put this in perspective, what it means -- would it mean any less if you won another Open, but growing up in California, Pebble Beach, and then following Nicklaus, Watson, and Kite as a champion here?
 
TIGER WOODS:Well, the past Champions is remarkable, to put my name on that list at this site. It's hard to put into words growing up as a kid, watching, I guess, when I first started watching it was the Crosby and the AT&T on TV. And then seeing all the -- even the great Champions win, as a little boy, those tournaments, year in and year out tournaments. And then to watch the '82 Open. I remember vaguely, the only thing I really remember is Watson make that big putt on 19, and put his arms up, I vaguely remember that. I don't really remember the chip-in. In fact, I didn't understand it at the time, what that meant, how big a chip-in that was. I guess I was only like six and a half. But I watched Tom Kite win, saw how difficult it was, what a true champion it took to win that tournament. And to come out there, come out here this week and perform the way I did, and on one of the greatest venues there is in golf, it doesn't get much better than that.
 
Q. Tiger, you're a great student of the game. Where do you think this victory leaves you in the history of golf right now?
 
TIGER WOODS:To be honest with you, I think you need to let time go on a little bit for all of us to understand what transpired. For me -- I don't know about all of you. But definitely for me. Even when I won The Masters in '97, it took me two to three years before I actually understood what I had done. When you're playing in a tournament, you're just trying to win. And the records are great, but you don't really pay attention to that. You pay attention to the fact that I got my Green Coat, now I get to go home. And here this week, I got the trophy. Now I get to go home. But you don't really understand exactly what you've done, until time passes. And I'll appreciate this win a lot more in the future than I do right now, because I'm too close to the moment. And I had a wonderful week, a great week, actually; but I can't really tell you historically what it really means. I've been told that I've set a few records, but I don't really know what they are. I haven't had time. No one has told me, like 'You set the title or broke 15 records.' Well, I don't know what they are. The only thing I know is I got the trophy sitting right next to me.
 
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