2000 British Open Champions Interview - Tiger Woods


TIGER WOODS:It really is hard to put into words, you know, the emotions and the feelings going through me and the thoughts that are running through my head. There are a lot of different things, and to have a chance an opportunity to complete the slam at St Andrews, where golf all started - this was my first Open Championship here in '95, and I have fond memories of that event - to come out here in this event and just play as well as I did this entire week, make the long putts, two putts from a hundred feet or so, and that's just part of playing this golf course. I thoroughly enjoyed it. To have an opportunity today to play with David, and when he got off to such a wonderful start and have Ernie and Thomas up there, and a lot of players playing well, it was nice to be able to have the opportunity to play some great champions; and to come out on top makes it even more special.
Q. To see that trophy out on the table right in front of the first tee before you teed off, did you see that?
TIGER WOODS:I did not, no. Sorry. I never saw any table up there besides the white one that I van is always at.
Q. There is some talk about if you went in a bunker this week, some people thought you did on Friday, did you or did you not?
TIGER WOODS:A bunker? I was in a bunker every day I've been here, but it was an the practice green.
Q. Tiger, I know you have never been one to set limits on what you can do, but when you turned pro in '96 if someone had told you that you'd have all four majors by 24 would that have surprised you at all?
TIGER WOODS:I think what has surprised - it would have surprised me to say I would have all four. I would have say, yes, I think I would have had a chance to win all four. I think that's probably how I would have phrased it. I know I felt my game was good enough and I knew I had the drive to compete, but you need to have luck on your way - and have an opportunity to get the few bounces. I hit a few bad shots today that ended up good, ended up perfect. David hit a couple of good shots and ended up not in the greatest spots. He had to pitch out. You need to have luck on your side. When I turned pro I felt I would contend in a number of major championships. Would I win them? That's a different story.
Q. Tiger, obviously you're hitting the shots advantaging your game and winning the tournament, I am wondering, there are two guys who have been very instrumental, Butch being one and Stevie the other, could you comment on each of the guys and your thinking, what are you thinking in the last half an hour about what they've done for you?
TIGER WOODS:Well, Butch has been there since I was - what was I - 17, started with working with Butch at 17. He has been invaluable. The things that we've gone through, the changes we've had to make, they haven't been easy. We spent countless hours people, don't realise, out there trying to become a better player. He has a wonderful eye and has a wonderful grasp of what the golf swing should be. I shouldn't say that - what my golf swing should be. And we've worked very hard, countless hours, put in the time. As I said, he's got a wonderful eye for my golf swing - a little thing here, little thing there just gets out of whack and we fix it right away. And Stevie - can't say enough about Stevie. He's so positive out there, keeps me upbeat. I get on him, he gets on me. We have a good time out there, even if I'm playing good or bad doesn't matter, we're going to enjoy each other's company. It is a positive and it can't help but be that way.
Q. It is partially him?
TIGER WOODS:It is partially everyone who has helped me. So many people have been there behind me, supporting me, and have been there through times when my game really wasn't too good and there also have been sometimes when my game was getting better. To have the support system I've had and the people behind me, that has been absolutely wonderful. I care about all the people who were there for me.
Q. Tiger, you have consistently said you thought the greatest record in golf was 18 professional major championships. You talk about 4 at 24, and also when did you change from kicking in the door to annihilating it?
TIGER WOODS:I was going to say something to you when I was walking up.
Q. I kinda read what you were going to say?
TIGER WOODS:I decided not to say it - I'm going to say it now. That I guess I have - I guess the door is open now and I've won my share of tournaments. And I remember you were on me: What - I am kicking the door at the PGA and to be able to do that and a couple of others. You know I've been very fortunate to have my game peak at the right times. That's what you try to do. I've always said you would like to have your game peak at four different times a year, and that's something you always hope for and wish for and you plan for. To actually have it happen is a different story. And I've had my game peak pretty good three times so far. I had a wonderful chance at Augusta, and then I've won the last two. I've one more, and hopefully my game will be ready by the PGTIGER WOODS:
Q. You had a lot of hopes and dreams about this game as a kid; where are you in that dream and where are your goals now?
TIGER WOODS:I guess I've exceeded a few and I'm behind on a couple of others. So far I've had a wonderful, wonderful young career, and hopefully I can continue to have the success I have. If I don't, that's fine too. I am going to keep working on my game, keep trying to get better and we will see what happens.
Q. Tiger, your arguably the most famous athlete on the planet, do you think as relates your performance you're haled to be of a different standard off the golf course as well as on it. If so, is that fair?
TIGER WOODS:I think that's been the case for a while. I've had to do things that other players don't have to do. Then again, I've also gotten slammed for things that players do out there, and that's just part of it. That's part of being in the spotlight more than others. And when you have the camera on you and people look at you a little more intense then you're going to find sometimes when there, I am human too, I'm going to make my share of mistakes. I have. It is unfortunate. That is the why life is. I try to do the best I can.
Q. Tiger, if you are a member of the golf club who has won successive monthly medals the members are saying: We have to handicap this guy in some way. Do you think that is a possibility?
TIGER WOODS:I don't know who it was - I think one of the players - I want to say it - I am going to say it was Calc, I am not sure if it was Calc, one of the caddies, but one of my friends out here this week they are intimating the Bill Murray line about slicing the hamstring. He did it so well. I forgot who it was. It was such a funny line the way he said it. He said it just like him too.
Q. You just joined a pretty exclusive group of people Nicklaus, Player, Hogan, Saracen, what does that mean to you? Can you talk about the emotion those gentlemen represent to you and joining that group?
TIGER WOODS:Those are true champions right there. Everyone is a true champion; they have won numerous, countless tournaments really. They've been - they've been the cream of the crop. They've been the elite players to ever - not only during their time, but to ever play the game. And to be I guess in the same breath as those guys it makes it very special, very special.
Q. Tiger, it was relatively comfortable that you won, does the competitor in you wish it had been closer, would that have made it better, or...?
TIGER WOODS:It got close out there a little bit. David had - we both messed up on 5 today, and David birdied 7 to go to 4 under par on the day and I was still at 1 under. There was only three shots separating us at the time, which isn't that much considering all the trouble that's lurking out there and the holes we have to play. If David would have continued to make a few birdies then things might have been a little bit different. I made my share of birdies coming in, and unfortunately for David he hit a couple of bad tee shots and ended up in some spots where he just couldn't play.
Q. Tiger, I have a feeling this is going to be a very short answer, but some players are afraid of a certain shot, maybe they don't want to turn it over one way or the other or knock it down, is there any shot you would be afraid of hitting in a critical situation?
TIGER WOODS:I don't want to say afraid. I'll try any shot, if it is the correct shot to play. And one of the shots I've been struggling with for most of the year it has been sweeping the ball and arcing the plane off properly to sweep the ball from right to left. It is something I've had a tough time with this year. For some reason I've been able to do that this week. I have been preparing for this week because I knew if the wind just blows normally you have to play about nine holes left to right you have to shape the ball, bend it back up into the wind just to keep the ball on the green. One of the shots I am most proud of today is the shot on 16. People don't realise - putts 30, 40 feet away, to step up there and hit a 5-iron up there and draw about two or three yards right there against the wind exactly where you want to, to land the ball right on the window you want to land it on, that's when you know all the hard work is worth it.
Q. Do you think you ever might tire of winning and move on to something else other than golf?
TIGER WOODS:You know.... (Shakes head).
Q. Nicklaus said on Friday you were kinda cruising, you hadn't even tried that many shots. How much did you draw back this week? Are you almost winning the way Jack won by playing somewhat conservatively?
TIGER WOODS:This golf course is set up - there are so many tough pin locations, I don't know if you can be aggressive all the time. It is not like back home in the States, when greens are so soft you can back up 5-iron at the green, fly one at the flag, why not? Here to 30, 40 feet with a sandwedge is sometimes good, acceptable. That's just the way it. I hit a shot, I want to say it was Friday on 1, I had 60, 70 yards to the hole and I'm playing 30 feet behind the flag. That's where my ball landed up. That's part of playing this golf course. You can't hit every ball close, so I don't see how you can be that aggressive.
Q. You said on Tuesday you were really proud of the things you did as amateur, does what you have been able to do in the last 18 months remind you of what you done when you were 16, 15 at golf?
TIGER WOODS:I think the success I've had in majors to be able to put myself in that arena where I had a chance to win, you know, it feels really good. And can you equate it to my success as a junior? I don't think you can, just because of the fact there was only one big tournament. Here there's four; if you win one of the four you're looking pretty good. Back then if you - if you did not win when you were a student that was it. That year you did not accomplish once.
Q. That habit of success you're used to dominating, is that familiar?
TIGER WOODS:I think I've had my share of success as a junior, as an amateur and then as a pro. I think if you are going to have the success I've had you learn from winning, you learn from losing. I've made my share of mistakes, when I've had the lead and come from behind, and vice versTiger Woods:I've learned. And I guess there's no substitute for understanding what it takes to win a tournament. And going back to my junior days I won my share and I've learned what it took to win at that level. You learn at the amateur level then eventually at the professional level.
Q. Tiger, when today did you know you had the tournament done? When you did that did you think about Faldo's record at all?
TIGER WOODS:As soon as that putt was about an inch away I knew it was over, it was dead centre. Did I think about his record? I couldn't care less about the record, all I wanted was I wanted four straight rounds in the 60s. That was something I did not do at Pebble Beach and I did not do it at AugustTiger Woods:I came very close, but it did not happen. And to finally get the job done with four straight rounds in the 60s in a major championship is very special, especially when par is 72.
Q. What did you - what was going through your mind as you were coming up the 18th hole up to the green, can you share it with us? You gave David a pretty big hug, can you share with us what you told him after it was all said and done?
TIGER WOODS:You know it was very special coming up and looking at the surroundings and to see what was transpiring. I had played so hard for 72 holes, 71 and a half holes and to have a chance to two putt and accomplish what I wanted to accomplish was a very special feeling. When David finished out and I finished out I walked over to him and I just basically said, you know, you're a true champion. It was a lot of fun competing against you and we will have numerous battles in the future, but more importantly of all you're a true champion to and walk off like a champion and conduct yourself like one, and he did, and you have to be commendable for him.
Q. When you were reworking your swing, did you think you were going to get back to this point so quickly?
TIGER WOODS:I thought I'd be at this point probably faster than it took, but it is just part of changing your swing and it takes time.
Q. Tiger, you told us on Friday that you though you were a much better player now than you were two years ago, which seems rather remarkable to some of us. Are you planing to make the same rate of improvement over the next two years?
TIGER WOODS:I don't necessarily say you have to make the rate of improvement. If you can look back at any year you have played in your career and say you're a better player then it has been a successful year, win or lose. I knew I won five times worldwide in '97 and had a wonderful year, won a major championship; but in '98 I only won twice around the world. It wasn't as good a year, but I was a better player. I knew my success would come eventually. I started winning in '99 and this year. Winning is not always the barometer of improvement. And I've had my share of times where I was changing and I knew I wasn't going to play well. That's just part of it. I knew in the long run it was the best thing for me.
Q. Tiger, would you comment on the little crowd control problem that happened on 18?
TIGER WOODS:Well, it is just - it is a shame because it is a moment that I wish I could walk up there and have a special moment and to have that interrupted a little bit it was kind of - I did not really feel that great about it. But I had to gather my thoughts and make sure that I had to two putt to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, which was to shoot four straight rounds in the 60s.
Q. Tiger, what part of your success most astounds you?
TIGER WOODS:I guess probably just the fact I've only missed one cut as a pro. The consistency of it, yes.
Q. As a role model for somebody junior, youngsters throughout the world, what one piece of advice would you give them to become the next Tiger Woods?
TIGER WOODS:I don't think you ever want to become the next Tiger Woods or the next Jack Nicklaus or the next Michael Jordan or whatever. Try to be the best you can be. The things I have accomplished, other players accomplished, and you can do that. Don't try to be like us: try to be the best yourself you can be. That's something I've tried to do. I will continue to try to do that, and I hope other kids will try to do the same.
Q. Do you take more satisfaction out of this than at Pebble, where you're so far ahead of the field just because it is indicative where you're playing?
TIGER WOODS:I think when you're playing well and to have an understanding of your game and the shots you're playing and the feel of them that's - that's when it is special, and then to have an opportunity to play against Ernie Els again and David in the final group, and they're making a move, and to be able to go out there and understand they're going to make a move and counter them, that makes it even more special.
Q. What went through your mind when David was totally trapped on 17?
TIGER WOODS:I felt bad for him because it is - he has worked so hard all day, and I wanted him to at least to finish 2nd. He played beautifully to get off to the start he was, 4 under through 7 with the three putt on 5, he should have been 5 under through 7. He has played some great golf to have it all coming to an end because of one bunker, one hole, that shouldn't be the case. Unfortunately it was the case.
Q. Tiger, what do you know about Valhalla, what can you tell us about your preparation?
TIGER WOODS:To be honest, I don't know really much about it. I saw the telecast when Mark Brooks won. That's about it. From the understanding of some of the players what they have said about the golf course, that's about it. I haven't seen - I don't really know what to prepare for yet. And hopefully I can get out there before the tournament starts.
Q. How many tournaments are you going to play between now and then?
TIGER WOODS:I don't know, we'll see.
Q. How is learning to win a major different to learning what it takes to win the other tournaments?
TIGER WOODS:To win a major championship it is a different thought process and a different understanding of the game. Most majors you're going to have to go out there and understand that par is a wonderful score. And that's the way the golf course is set up to make sure that par is a good score. Most tour events you go out there and shoot 4 or 5 under in a tour event you're probably four or five behind. That's the frustrating thing playing about tour events, guys get off to such quick starts. Look how many times in the past two years guys have been 17 under par for two rounds, that doesn't happen in a major. That's a credit to how the golf course is set up. It brings out the best in players, guys who can strike the ball the best, keep their emotions in check and make the big putts they're going to be right up at the top. You tend to see it is always the same players time and time again because those are the guys who understand their game and theiremotions.
Q. Is that the thought process you went through in this one because everyone else was getting off to great start, but you didn't hit birdie until 9th hole on the first day?
TIGER WOODS:That's fine. There's so many birdie holes out there. There's not a whole lot of them starting out. If you look at most of the players they get off to a quick start around 5 and on. That's when they start making their birdies. Most of the guys have made par starting out. That's part of playing this golf course. You know you're going to have a couple of holes where you have a chance of making birdies.
Q. What are you going to do the next few days?
TIGER WOODS:I'm just going to wind down and kinda relax a little bit before I start preparing for my next event. I just would like to take it easy. I've worked very hard over the past two weeks preparing, played the Western two weeks ago and then prepared in Ireland and then had a long week this week. I think my body and my mind deserve a little rest.
Q. You were saying that obviously winning is not always an indication of how well you're playing. People who know the game know there's no defence in golf, somebody can play well and somebody else can play better. With the depth of today's field of today's pros are you surprised you are dominating them so much?
TIGER WOODS:I think - I think I'm surprised at some of the fortunate breaks I've gotten to have a chance to win by the margins I've had and to have some of the - I hit some bad shots out there for the past four days but they ended up all right. That's what you need. You need to have luck on your side. Tom Watson has always said he's one of the luckiest people who've ever lived, and he's had 5 wins in the Open.
Q. Nicklaus always said you don't get lucky bounces for four days?
TIGER WOODS:You have to hit good shots. Those bounces turning against you, it turns the whole momentum and view of the round to be completely different than what it ended up being. For instance, I hit a terrible tee shot I think it was - it was on 10, I think it was Friday - that was Friday; and I hit a terrible tee shot it landed right next to the pot bunker on the right. What did it do? It went past it, had a perfect lie made par. If that goes in a bunker I'm probably going to make bogey. Today on 15 I'm trying to hit a draw off the tee - 13, trying to hit a draw with my 3-wood back up against the wind, down the left side, left of the bunkers, I lose it right; lands perfectly pin high with the last pot bunker, skirts it. David flies right into it. Those are the things you need to have happen in order to win, in order to get momentum going and to go on to win by a big margin. That's - those are some of the breaks I've got. That's just - I guess part of it is the hard work, but then again you need to have some good karma, I guess.
Q. Tiger, what are you going to say to your dad when you speak to him?
TIGER WOODS:You know, I don't know. I think I'm just going to call him up and say, you know: What's up? How you doing? Are you feeling all right? And did you sleep through or did you watch it?
Q. Are you going to tell him Scotland is not quite as bad as he has been quoted as saying it was?
TIGER WOODS:I don't think he actually said that but I know you wrote it though.
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