Tiger Woods Friday Masters Press Conference Transcript
TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't start off 4-over par. I played a little bit better yesterday. It was a lot easier 70 than it was in '97, '97 going 40-30, it is not exactly an ideal way to shoot 70.
Q. Tiger, tougher conditions today. Tougher pin placements, and you're shooting a lot better. Was it a difference in execution or mindset?
TIGER WOODS: I think I took advantage of situations I had out there. I hit good shots and I made some putts today. Even though I 3-putted twice, I really made my share of putts today. I think one of the reasons why I kept a lot of the putts below the hole, with my approach shots, and that's one of the keys to playing this golf course well, is that if you have an opportunity to keep it below the hole, you're going to have to try and get it in there and I was able to do that.
Q. Can you talk about the challenge of putting on these greens and do they play mind games with you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that one of the things that makes these greens so difficult is they are pretty grainy. With the grain kind of going with the slopes, it just accentuates some of the break that you have. Some of the putts that I knew today were downgrain, I tried to play them, obviously a little bit shorter than what I normally would, and they still ran out past the hole. It's just, this golf course, putting on these greens is so demanding because you've got to play so much swing within the putts. You have a simple 10-foot putt and you are playing three feet of break. That's just not normal.
Q. Obviously, the leaderboard is very much bunched up right now, a lot of low numbers. If conditions get as tough as what is expected, with a lot more wind and firmer, what kind of separation do you expect to see?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think obviously, you're going to see the guys who are really playing well, probably separate themselves a little bit more than where it is now. With the tougher conditions, that's just generally what happens. With the conditions a little bit more benign, the guys who are playing marginal can get away with shots and get away with misses. The conditions getting more and more difficult, that won't be the case.
Q. Is the tournament going according to form for you so far or is there more out there for you?
TIGER WOODS: I think I've let a couple shots go, but also, I've made my share of birdies, too, and made my share of putts. It all evens out in the end. I'm very pleased at where I'm at. 8-under par, you can't really complain.
Q. What happened on No. 9? Did you have the right club?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. What did you hit?
TIGER WOODS: I hit wedge. I had just -- Stevie and I were arguing about the shot, the shot to play, and I didn't choose the right one.
Q. Friday at Augusta, does the scoreboard matter to you or is 8-under par all that matters to you?
TIGER WOODS: I think I looked up there, just because I'm curious. I want to see what's going on out there. You know, to be honest with you, 8-under par is just 8-under par. You know, in a major championship, that's not bad. I know that this weekend, obviously, it is going to get a little more dry, a little more firm. The golf course is going to get more difficult, and it's nice to be in a position where you don't have to go out there and have to shoot something low on a difficult golf course.
Q. Can you talk about the missed birdie put on 16, what you saw there, and consequently, coming back to birdie 17 and 18, where that leaves your mindset?
TIGER WOODS: The putt on 16, I saw was -- I putted first and I dived it down there and I knew my angle was going to be quicker because I had to throw it up higher on the hill from my angle. I just misjudged it. It's left-to-right, downhill, downgrain and the wind is coming downwind, so it is a quick putt. I ran it by about eight feet. The next one I just blocked. Just a bad putt.
Q. I'm sure you were disappointed, and you walked off quickly, but to birdie 17 and 18, where does that leave your mind?
TIGER WOODS: You know, after 16, going to 17, I just wanted to make sure I got back to at least where I was. If I could just get one of them back I would be happy, and to get two back was a bonus, because obviously, with the pin as accessible as it was on 17, if you drove the ball in the fairway, it is a birdie hole. 18, not exactly the easiest pin to get to. I hit a great drive down there and ended up in the rough, but I had an uphill lie, which I could use the back stop behind the hole as a little friend.
Q. Arnie said this course is as playing as soft as he has seen it in ten years. Are you surprised that these greens still are receptive (inaudible) --
TIGER WOODS: I haven't really been here for ten years, so I can't comment on that. (Laughs). From the years I have been here, the only year I have ever seen it as soft was in '95, when I first played. It was raining the first day. I played with Olly, and other than that, this golf course is usually baked out.
Q. David Duval said with his injuries and whatnot, that with expectations racheted down , do you feed off other people's expectations or is it just your expectations?
TIGER WOODS: If I tried to live off other people's expectations, I don't think I would be at a very, happy guy because I'm not going after the things that I want to accomplish. To me, I think that's the most important thing; that I accomplish the things that I set out to do. It gives me greater satisfaction to do that, but, you know, if you look at it, my expectations of myself are pretty high. So if I can go ahead and accomplish the things that I want to accomplish, I'll be happy.
Q. Is that why maybe it's a little more important to shoot a lower number today, so you would not have to go lower on the weekend if things do get tough?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think with the conditions being as difficult as they could be on the weekend, you could actually see somebody come out of the pack with a good round. If you play a good round, you are obviously going to move up the board a little bit more than you would if the conditions were soft and benign. But it's also nice knowing the fact that you don't have to shoot that to get yourself back in the tournament. Right now, I'm right there in the ball game, and with a great chance on the weekend.
Q. The 3-wood on 8, the approach there, can you talk me through your thought process? And then, what did you think of the result?
TIGER WOODS: I had 253 to the hole, coming out of the rough there. I choked out on it, just tried to hit a little three-quarter 3-wood and just kind of chip it up there somewhere. As I was coming down on my downswing, I screamed at myself: Don't hit it left. And I did. I raked it across it and hit a little bleeder -- I don't know where it landed but probably landed on the right side and rolled up there. Anything to the right is fine. Just don't pull it. So I did.
Q. How much has Chris DiMarco popped up on your radar screen and how much advantage going into the final two days of a major?
TIGER WOODS: I think experience does help. It does make you feel more at ease, because I've been there before. I've won majors and I've lost majors. But more than anything, I've been there before. I know how to control my emotions and I know what to expect, what to feel, and what I'll probably experience coming down the stretch with a chance to win. If you have not been there, it was tough. I was very fortunate the year that I won my first major, I happened to play great and separate myself, so it was a different feeling. Obviously, he's playing great, and my hat is off to him. Hopefully he can continue playing well.
Q. Obviously, you have a game plan before you play, how you are going to play this golf course. Are you pushed at all when you see David or Phil's names, does it alter your game plan during a round when players of that caliber are raising the bar?
TIGER WOODS: You know, when you are out there playing, to be honest with you, it doesn't really matter who is up on top of the board because you have to execute your golf shots the way you know that you have to - especially around this golf course. If it's -- obviously, if it's the Top-10 players in the world, all bunched up, it really doesn't matter, you still have to hit the golf shots, no matter who is up on top of the board. I know that, and I've experienced that and I go out there with that mindset.
WILLIAM MORRIS: I'm going to ask you to do your birdies and bogeys next. We've had a request for that and then we have other questions.
TIGER WOODS: I birdied 3. I hit a 3-iron off the tee. Soft pitching wedge in there to about ten feet below the hole and made that. No. 4, I hit a 5-iron to about 15 feet right of the hole, coming down the slope and made that. Birdied 6. I hit a 7-iron in there to about two feet. Made that. Birdied 8. Hit a driver and a 3-wood up there to about 15 feet. 2-putted. Bogeyed 9. Hit a driver and a pitching wedge behind the hole. Missed the putt coming down and had about a 10-footer for my second putt and missed it. 13, I hit 3-wood off the tee, a 7-iron from 212; that went 225. I hit a good bunker shot up there to about six feet. Made that. 15, hit a good drive down the right side. Hit a 6-iron up there to about 30 feet right of the hole and 2-putted. No. 16, I hit an 8-iron past the hole about 20 feet. Ran it by about eight feet and missed it. 17, I hit a driver and a sand wedge to about four feet and made that. 18, I hit a driver and a sand wedge to about eight feet above the hole and made that.
WILLIAM MORRIS: Thank you.
Q. On the subject of the weekend conditions, in the situation that you have now put yourself in, what would be optimum conditions for you? Would you prefer the harder the better for the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: If I'm playing well, yeah. (Laughs). I think with the conditions drying up and firming up a little bit, I kind of like that, just because I feel like I'm playing -- playing good, and that it does help, knowing the fact that I am playing good. But, you've still got to go out there and do it. I saw the dots for tomorrow. They are not going to be easy. The pins are tucked in the corner. Traditional weekend pins. Some of the pins, you probably can't find, but it's going to be quite a challenge. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. You've talked in the past about your Love of the competition, actually loving to go out and play golf. A leaderboard with major wins and top golfers, does it make it that much more exciting on a day when you go out?
TIGER WOODS: Not on Friday or Saturday. But come Sunday afternoon, that's when it -- yeah, it will be challenging and it will be fun. If I can get myself in position, where I'm there, yeah, that will be great. But there's so much more golf to be played until there is, you know, a jockeying for position coming down the stretch, who is going to win. We have so many more shots we need to play before that happens.
Q. The disagreement over the club selection on 9, what did Steve want you to hit and what was the thought process on that one?
TIGER WOODS: It was 106 to the hole. He was afraid of sand wedge coming in there with too much spin, but I was just going to play a little flat hook in there and try and hook-spin it up there. Stevie wanted me to hit a little wedge and hold it back into the wind and make sure I didn't rip it back off the green, even though the pin was on the middle shelf if you land a sand wedge in there with the wrong spin wrong flight, an up-shooter that ball is coming right back off the green with spin. He wanted to play a little more flat shot. I went ahead and hit it, but I wasn't as comfortable as I needed to feel.
Q. The 3-wood on 8, did I understand you to say that was a bad shot?
TIGER WOODS: You said a bleeder up? You hit it left, raked it. Yeah, a little bleeder across, left-to-right (Laughter.) Wasn't that hard?
Q. I'm sure you heard about Hootie's announcement earlier in the week that the par 4s are going to be strengthened when the tournament is over. Just your thoughts on whether you think they need to be strengthened, what kind of impact that might have?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think if they are lengthened, I don't have a problem with that. But I think -- I think what they are going to have to do is if they do lengthen the golf course out substantially, then I think it might be in the best interest to maybe even possibly go back to how it was, with no rough, because now the par 4s are playing like they used to, with the technology improvement. Then it would be interesting to see, with the new trees that they have got out there. Borderline shots would now run into the trees, instead of getting held up, like some of the trees that have been put in now over on 7 would now run into the trees. The trees along 1 on the left, some of the new ones there. It would make the golf course play, I think, how it was intended: Hard and fast.
Q. I would not guess, given normal conditions, I would assume you are hitting the ball on the property, you would not hit more than an 8-iron into the par 4's, would you?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on the wind. If it is not blowing at all, then probably the longest club I'll probably hit, maybe 7- or 6-iron. That's probably generally going to happen on 11. 11 is a pretty long hole, or even 10.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.
The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.
How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.
Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.
So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.
Apparently the Blue Bloods of the @USGA do. I refuse to watch it because I know what the outcome will be. Mike Davis and his crew could ruin Christmas. #amateurhacks #giveusourgameback https://t.co/n3GgOJl02C— William McGirt (@WilliamMcGirt) June 16, 2018
After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.
“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”
Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.
Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.
The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.
At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.
“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”
Thanks guys did Bozo set the course up or are the @USGA going to accept responsibility or just say “IF WE HAD A MULLIGAN” I would have liked about 6 mulligans today. But they are not allowed at this level. “Apparently” pic.twitter.com/O08vOpNlTx— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) June 17, 2018
By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.
“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”
That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.
It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.
“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”
As a player and a golf fan myself, it’s sad to see how one of our biggest tournaments @usopengolf gets ripped apart because the @USGA can’t figure out the right set up for the great golf courses we play!!— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) June 17, 2018
But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.
The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.
“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”
It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.
So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.
“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”
I wish the @USGA would realize that this course really is special. But it was never designed to have greens at 15 on the stemp. You look like you’re trying to embarrass the best players in the world!— Colt Knost (@ColtKnost) June 17, 2018
But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.
After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.
“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”
Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.
Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.
Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow
Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.
Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.
And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.
Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.
Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz
Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in
There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.
Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.
While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.
Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Bubba Watson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brian Harman
On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.
Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:
1. Tyrrell Hatton
2. Justin Rose
3. Tommy Fleetwood
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Thorbjorn Olesen
6. Ross Fisher
1. Jon Rahm
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Alex Noren
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello