Interview: Commissioner Tim Finchem, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth

text size
Increase Text Size
Decrease Text Size
September 27, 2013

TY VOTAW: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us this morning for this teleconference. With us this morning we have PGA TOUR Commissioner, Tim Finchem, and two special guests for the announcement of the PGA TOUR Player of the Year and PGA Rookie of the Year. And I will now turn it over to Commissioner Finchem who will introduce our guests and make the announcements.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Ty. This is one of the more exciting days of the year for the PGA TOUR to be able to bring forward the two players who our players, having voted, have determined as the best Rookie of the Year, and the best overall Player of the Year, and in both cases well‑deserved recognition.

I'm going to go through both of the awards and then ask each of these fellows to make a comment before Ty Opens it up for questions.

With regard to Rookie of the Year, we're delighted that Jordan Spieth, I think with no surprise, was voted as Rookie of the Year over Derek Ernst, Russell Henley, and David Lingmerth. Jordan started 2013 with no PGA TOUR status. He entered 23 events and won the John Deere Classic. At 19 years, 11 months, and 18 days, he's the youngest player to win on the PGA TOUR since 1931. He finished 7th in the FedExCup, and in the final event, the TOUR Championship, put on a great performance finishing second. He was the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship by Coca‑Cola, and the youngest player in TOUR Championship history at 20 years, 1 month, and 26 days.

He finished tenth on the money list at $3.9 million, roughly, and he recorded a total of nine Top 10 finishes, tied for most Top 10s on Tour in 2013.

He's a captain's pick for 2013 Presidents Cup, and we look forward to seeing him next week in Ohio. So we congratulate Jordan.

With regard to the 2013 PGA TOUR Player of the Year, I don't think much surprise here either. Tiger Woods has been voted by his peers as the best player of 2013. He was voted in that position over Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and Henrik Stenson.

This is the 11th time Tiger Woods has been voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He won five times this year. The Farmers Insurance Open, the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, THE PLAYERS Championship, and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He finished second in the FedExCup after leading most of the year. He was the winner of the Arnold Palmer Award as the TOUR'S leading official money winner at 8.5 million plus. He won the Arnold Palmer Award for the 10th time in his career. He finished second in the Byron Nelson Award and first in the Vardon Trophy with a scoring average of 68.95. He had eight top 10 finishes and just a terrific year all the way around. We also congratulate Tiger on a great performance.

With that, I'll ask Jordan to make a comment, and when he finishes, Tiger to do as well, and then we'll give it back to Ty to take us through your questions and answers. Jordan Spieth?

JORDAN SPIETH: Thank you so much. It's just a tremendous honor. It was a great year for rookies on the PGA TOUR with a few winners. I feel great to be voted by my peers in elite company there as the best rookie this year. Obviously, my credentials when said right next to Tiger's this year are maybe downplayed a little bit. But just a great feeling. I'm really looking forward to next week, and congrats to Tiger on Player of the Year.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Tim. First of all, congratulations to Jordan. To start off the year with no status and to have won a tournament and not only that get to the TOUR Championship and finish in the Top 10 on the money list is pretty incredible. He's a deserving champion, and I'm looking forward to having him as part of the team next week.

As far as my year this year, it's been an incredible year to have won five times and two of those World Golf Championships and one PLAYERS. It's been just a fantastic year all around. It's also an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers and to have that type of respect is something that's very humbling.

Q. Tiger, congratulations.

TIGER WOODS: Thanks, Doug.

Q. Can you tell me what you think your most significant win was this year and why?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's probably THE PLAYERS just because I've only played really well there twice in 2000 and 2001, once losing to Hal and the other one winning. I basically haven't had a lot of success there and then to put it together this year and to win there against that quality of a field is a great feeling.

Q. Jordan, did you start out the year ever thinking that you would have the success that you've had? Is it a pinch‑me moment for you all the way around?

JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know if it's a pinch‑me moment yet. I think my mind is still really on next week. I haven't really had time to sit back and think about it. But, yeah, with no status has hard to expect or think about something like this happening. I have confidence in myself and my support team definitely believed in me to get the job done. Just the way the year ran the way it happened, I feel very fortunate, very blessed. A lot of luck involved. All in all, when I look back in a few weeks I think it might sink in a little more. But as for now, I'm looking forward to Thursday.

Q. Tiger, what qualities in Jordan remind you of yourself when you were a rookie?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think belief. He did have a wonderful college career and came out with some success, and just one of those things if you build momentum and play on a regular basis and you're able to be consistent and put yourself there, you start gaining confidence and you can see it snowball and continue to roll down the hill.

If you look at each year how he's progressed, he kept getting better and better, more comfortable and more consistent, and ultimately winning the John Deere and playing extremely well the rest of the year as well and getting into the TOUR Championship and then finishing second there.

Certainly, I think the inner belief in one's self is certainly key, and I think Jordan demonstrates that.

Q. Jordan, congratulations to you too. Kind of a similar question I asked Tiger. What do you consider to be kind of outside of the obvious one, which is winning Deere, what do you consider your pivotal tournament this year?

JORDAN SPIETH: It's tough. It's either the Deutsche Bank or this past week at the TOUR Championship. I think the Deutsche Bank was very important because the Presidents Cup really came into my mind after the Wyndham, getting into a playoff there, losing to one of the best shots of the year, if not the best shot of the year. Then it started to creep into my mind and I knew I had to have two great weeks before the teams were chosen. I knew I wasn't going to work my way on. I knew it had to be through a captain's pick, so I needed to maybe impress Freddy or Davis or Jay in some way.

Fell off that Saturday there and really needed a big day Sunday. I was paired with Phil for the first time and Harry English, so it was a good group, lot of positive energy going through. Got off to a good start and ended up with 62 with the eagle on the last. I knew I really needed to make a statement. I think once that putt went in, I kind of realized it was probably going to happen and did what I needed to do.

So that was probably the biggest tournament outside the Deere and what it did for me being able to play on the Presidents Cup team, which is, I think, the greatest honor you can have in golf is to be part of a Presidents or Ryder Cup team. So that obviously that next two days was probably the happiest I was all year. Obviously, this past Sunday was pretty great too.

Q. Tiger, 11 times winning this award out of 24 years, I think the natural question for a lot of people is is it hard to not take it for granted?

TIGER WOODS: No, I know how hard it is. I've had to work my way back from injuries on numerous occasions throughout the years. These last couple years is no exception to that. There were a lot of people saying I could never win again, and two years later I've got eight wins on our Tour. I'm very proud of where I've come from, from being ranked outside the top 50 to being ranked where I am now, and to have had the success that I've had this year just makes it all the more rewarding.

Q. Going back to your earlier answer, Tiger, on THE PLAYERS and Sawgrass, there is a lot of talk about the number of times you win at the same course over and over again, which is a short schedule to begin with. I get that part. But does that make it equally rewarding along with the strength of field, et cetera, is that it's showing that it's not always the course, it's the player?

TIGER WOODS: Well, we play courses that generally over the course of your career you start playing golf courses that you like and that suit your game. Guys generally play that schedule and give themselves the best opportunity to win tournaments and to have a nice living out on TOUR.

For me, THE PLAYERS Championship is the big event and against probably the strongest field we play all year. I haven't had a lot of success since 2001. To finally put myself there with the chance and the way I was hitting it to get it done on that Sunday, boy, it sure felt good.

Q. What is the difference between how you feel pulling into the drive at Sawgrass compared to Torrey or Firestone, besides a good parking spot?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, besides that? I think that overall there are certain golf courses that I've done well at over the course of my career. No matter how I was playing coming in, whether it was good or bad, I always felt like I was going to have a good week. Torrey being one, Doral, Augusta and Firestone and Bay Hill. Those venues I've got quite a few victories at. I've had a mixed bag of games going into those venues, but for some reason, I've played well.

I've played really well going into THE PLAYERS and I've won Quail Hollow right before it, and didn't do very well at THE PLAYERS. For some reason this year I put it all together.

Q. The question is what would be a great follow‑up year to this for each of you?

JORDAN SPIETH: For me, this year was phenomenal. But honestly, the majors left a bad taste in my mouth. I played in three of them. I had only played in one before in my life. I made the cut at the British, was playing well there, but I missed the cut here at home in the PGA and U.S. Open. But those are the tournaments that you look at the beginning of the year, and you gear up for them. That's what it's all about. That's why we're all playing is to win major championships.

A little disappointed. I was playing so well leading up to them, striking the ball great at the tournament, practice rounds went well, and then just didn't have it, whatever it was. I think next year I'm really going to focus on those. Maybe build a schedule or game plan around how to have success and maybe compete at those four events, and I think that would be a better year for me.

TIGER WOODS: I think the same for me as Jordan was saying is to do a little bit better in major championships. I've put myself there with a chance on the back nine on two of them, and wish I could have done it on all four. But the same goal each and every year is to win at every event I tee it up in. That doesn't change. That's been my goal since I turned pro back in '96. I've had a decent winning percentage, but sure would like to improve on that.

TY VOTAW: Tiger and Jordan, our congratulations as well. This concludes the 2013 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year teleconference. Congratulations again, and good luck next week at the Presidents Cup.

Print This Story