Farmers Insurance Open interview: Tiger Woods

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January 28, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Farmers Insurance Open transcript archive

JOE CHEMYCZ:  We welcome the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open Champion, Tiger Woods, to the interview room.  Tiger, I know it was a hard‑fought win today, a long day.  Maybe just talk about your efforts and we'll open it up for some questions.

TIGER WOODS:  Well, yeah, I played really well through‑‑ what?  Through 13 today, and built myself a nice little lead, made a few mistakes coming home, but I had a big enough cush that it was fine.

Q.  Despite those mistakes, you had an 8‑shot lead walking off the 13 green there.  Do you walk away from this looking more at the big picture of what you did this week rather than letting those couple holes slip up there?

TIGER WOODS:  In the end I just started losing my patience.  It was so slow out there.  We played nine holes in just over three hours and three of them are par‑3s.  That's not fast.  As I said, I had an 8‑shot lead.  So just needed to stay up right, and I was going to be fine.

Q.  Tiger, what was the iron you hit on the second shot at 9 that cut around?

TIGER WOODS:  I hit 3‑iron there.

Q.  How tough was that shot?  You were 12‑under on the par‑5s; what's that signify to you?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, I drove the ball beautifully all week.  As I was explaining that my short game has been coming around.  It came around at the end of last season, and you're not going to hit every par‑5 in two, but you need to get up‑and‑down, and I did that this week.
My short game was back to how I know it can be.  My shots that I hit, especially out of these nasty little lies, I hit some really good ones this week.  And that allowed me to save some pars, save some birdies, and move my way up the board, and basically that's what I did.

Q.  Winds here have been pretty good for you as far as portending the rest of the season.  How do you feel about winning here now as you're heading into this new season, and does winning early mean something?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, as I said at the beginning of the week, I'm excited about this year.  I'm excited about what I was able to do last year and win three times coming from where I came from.  Then I felt really good about the things that we're doing and how my game was progressing.

Last week I just made a mistake on the rules, and that's why I didn't play the weekend.  But I did some really good things there, and I felt like if I could just build on that, which I did, and I drove the ball great this week, and as I said, my short game has come around again.

Q.  Just a follow up on that.  If you had finished second here but played almost exactly the same, if it had been just a few different shots, would you feel differently going into next week, or does a win make a difference in your career?

TIGER WOODS:  I think a win always makes it special.  Especially, the way I played, to have not won would have been something else because I really played well.  Playing the way I did for most of this tournament, until the very end, the last five holes, I felt like I should have won this tournament.

I put myself in a position where I had a big enough lead, and that's basically how I felt like I played this week.  I played that way.  I know I can do that, and it was nice to be able to do it.

Q.  To follow up on that, in the years past when you've won here, I think five out of six times you've won here, you won a major, I think you won like 25 events in those years.  So you've got that momentum rolling.  Do you feel that that was important and does that give you that confidence going into the year, extra confidence?

TIGER WOODS:  I didn't know I of those stats, sorry (laughing).  Does it feel good?  Yes.  Does it give me confidence?  Absolutely.  But as far as the other stuff you just said, as I said, I'm excited about this year.  I'm excited about what I'm doing with Sean and some of the things that I've built.  This is a nice way to start the year.

Q.  Forgetting the end, some of the commentators on television and some of us watching see a little more of a calmness.  A little more of a focus, a little more of a look like you're kind of in a zone out there this week.  Do you feel that?  Is that something you sense as sort of a difference in your game or is that your short game improvement kind of lending an overall calmness to your approach?

TIGER WOODS:  I'm the same out there.  First tee shot, I'm all go.  I'm trying to shoot the lowest score I possibly can.  I don't know if I look calm or intense or relaxed or jovial, whatever it is.  I'm trying to beat everyone in this field, and that hasn't changed and it won't change.  That's the mentality I have.

I just went out there with the same thing I do every tournament is to win the thing.  This week was nice to be able to get the W again.

Q.  You didn't look happy when the guy took the picture or the flag got in the way on No. 9, the 9th hole?

TIGER WOODS:  On the tee shot?

Q.  Yeah.

TIGER WOODS:  It was not a good time to do that, because we've been struggling with that on TOUR ever since the policy, and it was a media credentialed person.

Q.  I saw that.  Then the wedge-in hits the flag.  Where's that going if the flag doesn't get in the way?

TIGER WOODS:  It had enough spin where it was going to probably be about six, seven feet past.  It landed about ten feet short of the hole and it was skipping in there.  I put a little draw spin on it to hold it against the hill so it wasn't going to go any very far.

Q.  Are you longer driving?  Distance‑wise, you seemed like it was a little bit up this week.  Was that any different from last year?

TIGER WOODS:  I don't feel like I'm hitting it longer, but I think my efficiencies, I'm hitting the ball flush every time.  It might be going a little bit further.

Q.  Were you at all guilty‑‑ you kind of alluded to this a little bit.  Were you at all guilty last year as your swing came together of wanting it too badly?  If that was the case, do you find yourself at all more letting the rounds come to you?

TIGER WOODS:  No, I think it's a product of, as I said, my short game and getting that organized.  I was hitting the ball beautifully most of the year and driving the ball better than I have probably in my entire career last year.  It was nice to not have to hit so many golf balls on the range and work on the little things.

You only have so much time in a day, and obviously, with family responsibilities, that's a priority.  It was nice to be able to now not hit so many golf balls and work on my short game.  I think that's where you're seeing the rounds evolve.  I'm saving a shot here, saving a shot there, and that's leading to a birdie here and a birdie there.  Next thing you know, it's a three, four‑shot swing.

Q.  Turning a 73 into a 70?

TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely.

Q.  Can you explain what organized means?  Not being funny, but what do you mean by "organized my short game."

TIGER WOODS:  Just the feel.  Just getting my hands in the flow, and the angles and the judging the lies.  Basically, it's just practice.

Q.  With all the work you've done with Sean coming together now, I know your goals are probably the same as they ever were, but are your expectations higher this year?

TIGER WOODS:  They're the same.  To go out there and win every tournament I play in.  That hasn't changed.

Q.  Are you expecting more of yourself though than you might have been?

TIGER WOODS:  No.

Q.  How about setting your sights on Rory and No. 1?  Is that coming into focus now?

TIGER WOODS:  That happens through a product of winning golf tournaments.  That's how I got there in the first place.  That's how he got there.  It's winning golf tournaments, being consistent.  Your bad weeks are going to be Top 10s, and when you win, you win.  And you've got to be consistently winning.

That's how I got there.  As I said, and in order for me to get back there, that's what I have to do, and this is a nice start?

Q.  You've won 11 times as a pro between here and La Costa Resort and Spa, so 11 times in San Diego County.  Is it in the water?  What is the success you've had here in San Diego?

TIGER WOODS:  I don't know.  Also, I think I won six junior worlds as well.  For some reason I've always done well here.  I don't know.  I feel comfortable down here.  My dad said that very early on if he didn't settle in Orange County, if he would have come down here a little bit further, he would have lived down here, and I probably would have been born and raised down here.  But he settled for Orange County, and that's where I grew up.

Q.  When people think about your game as great as it was in '06, '07, '08 when you were winning lots of titles, do you feel your game is at that stage where it was back then?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think it's efficient.  I'm not going to compare it to those years, because each one's different.  I had a different swing then, just like I did back in '99, 2000, 2001.  Those are all different swings.  But the commonality is I won golf tournaments, and that's what I'm doing again.

Q.  It was open to the public for free today.  Did you sense anything different than another day, another Sunday with the crowd?  What do you think of the event, opening it up to the public for no charge?

TIGER WOODS:  Oh, yeah.  We sensed definitely a difference.  Uh‑huh.

Q.  Could you expand on that difference?

TIGER WOODS:  I think more libations were consumed.

Q.  At the halfway point of this event, a few golfers said to me they were looking forward to trying to Chase you down, and they thought they could do that.  In the past, people might not have vocally said that.  But here, this win the way you've sort of gone about it, with the four shots, you were eight at one stage, do you think it rebuilds your aura?  Do you think the guys will not talk that way as much again?

TIGER WOODS:  That's their opinion.  That's what they're going to say.  Whatever they say, they say.  All I can do is control what I do on the golf course.  And I won this tournament by four shots, so that's something I'm proud of.

Q.  But do you like to have that aura?  Do you want that back?  Do you want to be that guy that everyone's intimidated by, I guess?
TIGER WOODS:  I would like to win eight, nine times a year.  That's not a bad thing.

Q.  Getting back to pace of play.  How frustrating was it on the back nine today, and does the TOUR need to do something about it?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, the group ahead of us was a hole behind most of the entire back nine.  I don't know if they were warned or not or they were timed.  But we were just playing slow.  We were just having to wait on every shot, so it got a little slow.

The three of us were losing our patience a little bit out there.  I certainly was.  Unfortunately, it affected my play a little bit.

Q.  Aside from the last few holes, it was kind of already in the bag, you closed out very authoritatively this week.  The past few times you've contended in a major, what you've always said is the most important thing to you, the weekends, you kind of let it get away on the weekend.  What do you attribute that to and why might it be different this year?

TIGER WOODS:  I just didn't play well on the weekend.  As I was saying to Doug over here is that a lot of us, it's getting up‑and‑down at major Championships.  You're not going to hit the ball great every day.  They're the most difficult situations and most difficult set‑ups that we face.  You're going to have to get up‑and‑down.  You're going to have to save.  You're going to have to make a ten‑footer for par.  You're going to have to make a tough up‑and‑down, and I wasn't doing that.  Consequently, those 74s and 75s should have been 70s or 71s, and that's how you win those tournaments.

I started doing that towards the end of last year.  Unfortunately, the majors were already over, and I was able to do it on the three courses that I won on last year, which were three difficult golf courses, but I was able to do it today.

Q.  You mentioned today how you were losing your patience a little bit and that affected your play a little bit.  Was there anything going on mentally in those majors maybe you wanted it too bad?  Maybe you were forcing things a little bit?

TIGER WOODS:  No, I just didn't execute.  As I said, those are the most difficult situations.  I've only won 14 of them, and I know that's a lot.  But I also have won 75 golf tournaments out here.
They're not easy to win.  So if you put that in perspective like that, they're tough.  Some of the greatest champions who have ever lived haven't gotten to double digits.  They're designed for us to make mistakes.  We have to combat that with trying to be as efficient as possible.  Quite frankly, I wasn't.  I made too many mistakes, and you just can't do that in those tournaments.

Q.  I know you've had a lot on your plate for the last few years, but people are going to say he was up by 8.  He won by 4.  He's back.  And I know you've always resisted that idea of I'm back.  But do you understand why people are always looking to see if you are back, and what do you say to them?

TIGER WOODS:  Never left.

Q.  Are you going to quote that LL Cool J?

TIGER WOODS:  Absolutely.  I'm surprised you actually remember that one (laughing).

Q.  Talk about the bunker shot on 11.

TIGER WOODS:  That was a dicey little shot.  I had to throw it up pretty far left, and, fortunately, it was quick so I didn't have to carry it very far.  I had a perfect lie, even though the stance wasn't very good, but I had a perfect lie.  So I tried to hit‑‑ I used my 60 and tried to just run it out there.  I didn't have it to carry it all the way there.  It wasn't like the shot at 17 where I had to fly it all the way to the hole.  This one I could basically just chunk and run it, and it came out perfect.

Q.  Secondly, I want to go back to Pebble and 2000 when you had a hellacious fist pump with a 15‑shot lead, because it became clear you didn't want to make a bogey in the last round.  You looked very intense starting out today with a six‑shot lead.  Is there anything that you were trying to‑‑ a game within yourself to keep you feeling as though you had no lead at all, if that makes any sense?

TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, the goal today was obviously to beat the guys in their round today, whether Sneds had, what?  Five holes to go.

Q.  Their partial round.

TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, if I beat them on their day, then they can't win the golf tournament.  I felt if I post a 20, they weren't going to win the golf tournament.  But once the wind came up, the 20 was out the window.  That wasn't a realistic number anymore, not with the wind blowing that hard.

So I figured if I could keep it to even par for the day, I'd win the golf tournament.

Q.  Have you ever been that irritated with such a big lead on the back nine in the final hour of a tournament?  It's a weird dynamic, isn't it?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, it's just the rhythm of the round wasn't very quick.  As I said, three hours with three par‑3s in there, that's not very fast.

Q.  Going back to yesterday on 1 and 2 and 4, and again today on 9, around the tree.  Is that something that you practice at home or is it something that you just kind of come up with right there and say, okay, I'm going to hit a 3‑iron out from the tree?

TIGER WOODS:  More than anything, you just come up with it on the spot.  Short game shots I do practice.  Awkward lies and things like that, awkward stances, embedded balls, all that kind of stuff.  You practice those type of things.

But shots like I pulled off on 4 yesterday, sitting against the grain like that, having to cut it that much, that's not something I go out there and drop a whole bunch of balls and try to do.

JOE CHEMYCZ:  Tiger, thank you, congratulations.

TIGER WOODS:  Thanks, guys, appreciate. 

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