What they said: Tiger Woods

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October 26, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: CIMB Classic transcripts archive

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room here at the CIMB Classic. It's been 13 years since you triumphed here at the world cup. Maybe talk about being back in Malaysia since your first time at this event.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's great to be back. It's been a long time. The golf course looks the same as it did 13 years ago, but some great memories from playing here. To be able to hold off the Spaniards and to be able win the world cup, my first one was a lot of fun and having to do it with Mark was even better.

So it's good to be back. It's not cold outside, so it will be a nice test this week. The golf course is in good shape, even though it's got a lot of rain on it. It's very soft. A few mud balls out there. But overall, it's pretty good.

Q. The first time in Malaysia was in the World Cup. Could you tell me briefly about the conditions of the golf here, and because the season is going to be over, including there are only four tournament games left on the PGA TOUR your condition at this time for the whole year. Thank you very much. My first question is how do you analyze your condition for this year because the season is ending??

TIGER WOODS: Well, as you said, it's been 13 years since I've been back, and it's great to be back. So far this year has been a good year. Got a couple more tournaments left. I have had one, then the World Challenge end of November?December. So I'm looking forward to finishing off the year and having a nice break and starting up next year.

The only sign at the changes that have evolved this year, last year I didn't win a golf tournament until the last tournament of the year at the World Challenge. This year I've won three times. To be second on the all?time win list is something I'm very, very proud of.

Q. You have a lot of fans worldwide especially in Asia. Have you found yourself -- how do you find yourself treating fans? Do you sense a difference from the way you did when started playing golf and now? Do you find yourself having more time for fans because you're a bit older now and you realize what they're looking for?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've always appreciated the fans coming out and supporting the events and supporting me, especially, as I've played throughout the years. I'm finishing up my 17th year on Tour, so it's been nice to have that kind of support and following throughout the years and specifically here throughout Asia.

So people probably sometimes forget that my mom was born here in Asia. So to me, coming home to Asia, it does feel like home because I'm very used to the culture. It's how I was raised at home, and just I've enjoyed my time throughout the years that I've spent here in Asia.

I think in general over the years it's a maturation process. When I first came out here being 20, 21 years old, this was all new to me. This was very different than college golf and very different than amateur golf. It took me a few years to get used to it. The responsibilities that come with playing professional golf and those obligations are something I wasn't accustomed to.

But certainly I've always appreciated the fans and their support, and it's been fantastic over the years.

Q. You've always said you'd like to peak when there is a major on. Given that you've won so many majors so far in your career and having won the last few years, how would you rate a year when you haven't won??

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've always said winning one major championship turns a good year into a great year. You can have wins?? I've had years where I've won five times on Tour. Yeah, it's a really good year, no doubt, but winning a major championship just makes it a great year. The majors are such a different animal and different breed and we place so much emphasis on them.

I think it's very similar to what tennis has in the Grand Slams. Guys can have seven, eight, nine win seasons, but if they don't win a slam, it's not a great year. I think it's the same thing in golf. You can win a bunch of tournaments, but winning a major championship just changes things.

Like Ernie this year, he's had a really good year. He was in contention a bunch of times, had a chance to win. But he wins a major championship, and now it's a great year. I remember playing back in '99 and I had a really good run there and won a bunch of tournaments. But I didn't win a major championship until the last one, the PGA. That all of a sudden changed the whole year.

Q. You spent yesterday afternoon with four young golfers from the CIMB Junior development program. I'm sure they look up to you as an inspiration. When you look back a few years down the road, how big is this legacy of inspiring kids in Asia to pick up golf rank along all the titles that you have won??

TIGER WOODS: I think what CIMB has done for junior golf and trying to develop junior golf here in this region is just fantastic. We see these kids out here so enthused about the game of golf. It's about giving them a chance to make something of themselves. You can inspire people, but you've got to give them places to play and compete.

I think that's what has been such a huge turnaround since the time I've been on tour is the growth of junior golf throughout all of Asia. It's just growing by leaps and bounds. I know with the Asian Amateur now, with the winner of that getting into the Masters, I think that's just going to drive it to another level.

We have the inclusion of golf into the Olympics, and I think that's going to add to it. You see so many of these young kids with aspirations of representing the country in the Olympics or playing in the Masters and having the opportunities is something that's really neat.

Q. You have been playing on the tour for so long and you've had pretty hectic season this year. Does it make it more difficult at the end of the season making the long trips out to places like Asia? Is it something that you're going to continue doing?

TIGER WOODS: I've done it throughout my entire career. I've done it even my very first season, well, half the season. In '96 I went to Australia for the first time. I've done it my entire career. It's something I've always done. I'm accustomed to it. Sometimes I've even done it a couple times throughout the season as well, whether it was to Europe or Asia.

So I think it's important to play all around the world and gain that type of experience. There are certain players like Ernie or Gary Player who literally are world players. They play all around the world, and it does help. Your golf knowledge and acumen definitely does grow as you mature and learn how to play in different places.

Not only that, but maturation?wise they'll see these different cultures. That's been really neat for me to do at such a young age, and I'll continue to do it because I've loved it.

Q. It's been a difficult week for sports in some respects with the Lance Armstrong scandal. Just wondered to what extent you thought golf has any similar problems??

TIGER WOODS: Could you repeat the last part of it?

Q. I just wondered if you thought to what extent golf has similar problems, and are the authorities doing enough to catch people who are taking the wrong things??

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we just implemented testing probably three years ago I think it is, three years now. I know we don't do any blood work like some of the other sports do. Right now is just urine samples, but that's certainly a positive step in the right direction to try and validate our sport. I mean, this is a sport where we turn ourselves in on mistakes. A ball moves in the tree, and the guy calls a penalty on himself. Golf is a different sport. I think that's one of the neat things about our great game, and I think with the testing, it's only enhanced that respectability throughout all of sport.

Q. You say a win is a good year, a great year would be a major. Are you happy with your game this year that looking ahead to 2013 that you could be back in the major winning circle??

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm excited about turning some of my weaknesses into strengths. I haven't done it very well in a very long time, and this year is probably the best I've done in my entire career. Length and accuracy, so I've improved in that regard, and with that, hit a lot of golf balls with the longer stuff so, that did improve.

But my iron game wasn't as sharp, and neither was my short game. My short game came around towards the end of the season because I was able to devote more time to it. I chipped and putted a lot more because my ball striking was better. We only have a certain amount of time in the day, so that was something I was very excited about. How much better I'm chipping, and putting it and driving it, but certainly I need to get my iron game back to where it used to be.

I finished number one in greens in regulation for so many years. It's about not only about hitting the golf ball pin high, whatever pin high is, it may not be to the flag, but to whatever your number is. I'll certainly work on that this off?season and get that dialed in again.

Q. You're still going for Jack's record? Is there any point in time where confidence is slightly wavered?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, absolutely. It's like everybody else. There are times as I've gone through periods where I didn't hit very good, didn't chip very good, didn't putt very good. I know what I can do, but sometimes it just doesn't come out. That's when, for me, in the past and will always continue to be that way, just got to go back and work harder. Get out there and do my work on the range, do my work on the golf course at home and make that solid so when I get into a tournament situation, it is able to come out.

Q. Much has been written about your rivalry with Rory McIlroy. You are playing with him next week Monday. Just want to know how has this younger guy sort of integrated your game and pushed you even to better yourself??

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, for a number of years I've been the youngest one. Throughout my years it's been Phil, Vijay, Ernie, Duval, Paddy, and all these guys won major championships or were number one in the world or won a butt?load of tournaments all around the world, but they're all older than me. I was the youngest of all of those parties. Rory is younger, so this is the next generation of guys.

It's neat to be part of that generational change. When I first came out here, the top European guys, Seve, Langer, Lyle, Oosty, Ollie, or Greg or Nick, these guys, well, Price and Faldo, these guys were the top. Then there were the guys I just mentioned earlier. Now it's the next generation of guys, and Rory is the head of the class of that by far. He's had an amazing start to his career, winning two major championships and winning tournaments all around the world.

It's good fun. It's good to be part of that conversation, and part of that competitive environment. It's a lot of fun to be even better on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to go against these guys.

Q. Going back to Jack's record, is it still a priority for you, or are there other things in life that are more important, like fatherhood, for example??

TIGER WOODS: There are things that are certainly more important, and fatherhood is number one. Golf has always been a high priority in my life, but family has always been number one. So that hasn't changed. So, for me, I certainly want to win golf tournaments. I certainly want to break Jack's record and catch Snead's record. Those are all things that I would love to do throughout my career.

But being the best father I can possibly be to my two great kids, that certainly is number one in my life.

Q. There is a point in time where you held all four majors at the same time. Looking back then and looking at your game right now, have you changed or has the game changed around you??

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the game has gotten deeper since then. It's certainly a lot more guys with opportunity. I mean, look at how many guys won major championships for their very first time. The game has gotten so much deeper in that regard. So I think it's more difficult now to win golf tournaments in general because the equipment has nullified and brought the fields closer together. These big hitting drivers and the balls don't curve as much. Guys that were one of the ball strikers don't have the same advantages as they used to.

But in cuts, cuts used to be between the leader and the cut number was generally 12, 13, even sometimes 14 shots. Now we have 70?plus guys that are generally ten shots. So that has shrunk down considerably.

The scores that they're shooting now are so much better on more difficult golf courses because they've lengthened them. So I think overall the competition has gotten better, and certainly I have to continue working to try to become better myself because everyone else is.

Q. What is your schedule like after this CIMB Classic??

TIGER WOODS: I'm going to go to China for a day, then I'm going to go to Singapore for a few days. Head back home, and get ready for the World Challenge end of November, December, then enjoy Christmas break.

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