July 11, 2007
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the AT&T National. Last time you walked off a green, less than 24 hours later you became a dad, congratulations.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Your first tournament for the PGA TOUR regular season, congratulations. Why don't you just talk about balancing those two items and what it takes.
TIGER WOODS: Well, first off, it's been fantastic these last couple weeks to have Sam Alexis part of our life. It was a dream come true for both Elin and myself, and all of our family. We've been obviously working a little bit and a lot of late nights, but it's been a lot of fun.
Now to come here and play, really looking forward to playing this event here at Congressional. And what we've done here in such a short span of time has been absolutely remarkable. It's hard to believe that with the help of the membership, the PGA TOUR and all of our staff and AT&T to put this tournament together so quickly.
I just played a practice round out there earlier today, and the golf course is in phenomenal shape. It's going to be one heck of a test. I think that's something that all of us as players will be looking forward to, and we've been very lucky and very blessed to have a great field this week.
Again, really looking forward to teeing up and competing.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: And on top of that, we're ending the first year of the FedExCup regular season and going into the FedExCup Playoffs. You have a nice lead of just over 3,000 points, congratulations.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions, please.
Q. Congratulations on the baby. I wonder if you can give us a time line from the time you left Oakmont, when you left, when you got home, what happened that night, and second question, what would have happened if there had been a Monday playoff; would you have pulled out of that tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that didn't happen, so it would be all hypothetical. I'm not going down that road. (Laughter).
But as far as time line, I flew, landed in Orlando, went straight to the hospital and next thing you know, we have Sam Alexis in our arms.
Q. What was the timing of it? Did you just make it?
TIGER WOODS: We had to do some prep work and then off we went.
Q. I believe Sam was a name that your dad used to call you when you were young.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Sam, we wanted to have a name that would be meaningful to either side of the family, my side or Elin's side, because she was born basically an extension of Father's Day, it just happened to fit. My father had always called me Sam since the day I was born. He rarely ever called me Tiger. I would ask him, "Why don't you ever call me Tiger"?
He says, "Well, you look more like a Sam."
I said, "All right, that's cool." (Laughter).
Q. How much different was it for you -- congratulations, by the way. How much different for you was it preparing for this business trip more than any other now that Sam is in your life?
TIGER WOODS: It was different, there's no doubt. You know, you feel somewhat guilty for not being there and not helping out, but you know, Elin's mom and my mom are both there to help her and try and make it as smooth as possible.
Q. As host of the event and as a son of a Green Beret, why was it important to pay tribute to military service members?
TIGER WOODS: Well, growing up basically in the military, even though my dad was retired, I basically grew up on a military base. And just understanding the commitment that it takes each and every day for the servicemen and women, what they do for us, I just think that it was something that would have been and should be honored and that's why we're doing it.
What they are doing right now for us, and for us back home, it's just a way to say thank you.
Q. How does it feel knowing that you have the support of the military?
TIGER WOODS: Safe. (Laughter).
No, but to be honest with you, I think it's just been incredible. Because you know, as I said, with my father I grew up -- well, he was in the military for just over 20 years, and being a Green Beret for 12 of those years, I think that you're around it, you understand the level of commitment and I just wanted to say thank you.
I know I can't serve with them, but I just want to say thank you some way, and this is our way of being able to do that.
Q. Coming into this event, how much have you been able to prepare yourself golf-wise, and is there a new perspective that you have on, say, the importance of winning a tournament? What is your expectation this week coming into the tournament, and how much have you been able to prepare?
TIGER WOODS: Expectation?
TIGER WOODS: Same. That hasn't changed.
Q. As the host of this tournament, can you assess yourself, the impact that you have on the tournament's economic success, attendance, charitable givings, the impact that you have on helping the Washington, D.C. community from an economic standpoint?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know if I can quite quantify it, but hopefully it will be a positive enough impact that we can donate an inordinate amount of charitable dollars to the local community here and to all of the children's foundations that we're involved in, as well as hopefully finding a site and building our own -- well, East Coast Learning Center. That's the ultimate goal. This is the first step in that.
I know the community has certainly embraced this event and people are excited to come out. There's been a lot of buzz about this event and we have a great field on a fantastic golf course.
Q. Have you talked to other players, whether they be your contemporaries or somebody like Jack Nicklaus, about how you balance the family life with golf in terms of trying to keep the focus on both?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you just do. It's just time management and understand where your priorities are, and our priorities are Sam. That's the one priority. And from there, you work it out from there.
Q. How much of your father have you seen in the short amount of time that you've been a father? How much have you seen of your father in yourself?
TIGER WOODS: In myself, probably not that much yet. Just because, basically, two weeks and I've just been changing diapers and doing feedings. (Laughter) Not a whole lot that of things that my dad had -- that I have experienced with my father can basically relate to that.
Q. And one more question. What are some of the overarching goals that you have coming into this weekend as you host your first tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Obviously to have a fantastic event where people have a fantastic time and great memories; to thank our men and women for serving our country; and getting a W.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about, are you doing this for your father, for the troops; a combo because you have some experience with the military? And what about the Pro-Am tomorrow and who you're playing with, what do you know about him and why did you decide to play with a couple of soldiers?
TIGER WOODS: The first part of your question, can you elaborate a little bit more?
Q. Your dad, what motivated you more, to say thank you to the soldiers that are serving your country or because of your experience with your father.
TIGER WOODS: Well, if I didn't have that experience of growing up with a military father, I wouldn't think that I quite would understand the commitment and the things that they have been doing, and especially what's been going on overseas, I think it's just a small way of saying thank you.
And the pairing tomorrow, really looking forward to it. I've seen the bio, but haven't met anyone yet, but really looking forward to it. Hopefully I don't get beat too bad. (Laughter).
Q. Congratulations and thanks for your support. I remember reading one time that if you had not been a golfer and had not have the skills that you have now, with your hand-eye coordination would be one heck of special ops; would you have followed in your dad's foot steps?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly. I always thought that if I didn't -- well, I told dad, if I didn't make it in the first two years, probably where I would go. I would probably end up going into the military and I don't know what branch but I certainly would want to get into the special operations community. I just thought -- that just seems to be more of a fit considering what I grew up with, and I certainly understand it and can relate to it.
But somehow I ended up here. (Smiling) Made a couple of putts in those years.
Q. This is kind of a three-part question, but they are all related. Can you talk about what your autograph policy is personally at tournaments, No. 1; and will it change at a tournament like this --
TIGER WOODS: Stop. No. 1, I sign. Only thing I don't sign are golf balls. (Smiling).
Q. Will that change at a tournament like this, with a tournament with your name on it, will it be more opportunity for you to do PR because the tournament has your name on it?
TIGER WOODS: No. We just sign. That's our responsibility as players; we sign an inordinate amount.
Q. And will it be tough for to you walk past a kid that wants an autograph now that you're starting to have children of your own?
TIGER WOODS: That's a good question. I haven't really experienced that yet. You try and sign as many as you can for kids. Sometimes it gets a little dangerous because they start getting run over, get pinched up against fences and stuff like that, and that's when you just have to call it quits because it becomes unsafe.
But as far as signing, you try and sign as many as you can because they are coming out and they want to get something that they can take home and something that they can cherish.
Q. Everybody before they have become a father has expectations or guesses about how they will feel, but usually it doesn't -- things happen that surprise you those first couple of weeks. How have your emotional responses been different than you might have guessed?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you know, something that I think Elin and I talked about on our first night, said, how can you love something so much that didn't exist the day before. We never experienced anything like that. And certainly it's one that was different and one that was special, and something that we want to experience again.
Q. How is the course playing in comparison to '97?
TIGER WOODS: Course compared to '97, I'd say the fairways are maybe one more cut wider than they were in '97. The rough was probably one inch less than it was, and the greens aren't quite as firm, or as quick, but the fairways are a little bit softer than they were in '97, as well.
So the balls are not getting all the way down there like they were in '97 -- well, until that big thunderstorm.
Q. You're used to having the media, the fans follow you around, but the two military members in your group tomorrow obviously are not. What can you say to them --
TIGER WOODS: Hey, just go out there and have fun, and it's something that I've always tried to do. They can understand it and just focus on what their objective is. Have fun doing it, but also be focused on each and every shot and after that, we'll just tell jokes and we'll lie and we'll have a great time like we always do in Pro-Ams. That's the great part about it; you just get to know people and just want to have a great time. Part of my responsibility is to make them feel comfortable, because they have never been in that environment before.
Q. Let me throw a couple at you while I've got the platform. On the play-by-play, did you find out on the plane flight home that she was being taken to Arnold Palmer?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. When you landed on the ground?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Before you left?
TIGER WOODS: Well before. Thursday.
Q. So it was planned or scheduled?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. You're just confusing --
TIGER WOODS: You, confused? (Looking incredulous) There is one. (Laughter).
Q. I can't imagine the --
TIGER WOODS: No. She had some complications and she was admitted on Thursday.
Q. So you knew all week --
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. Okay. That wasn't my question --
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: That was four.
TIGER WOODS: X-nay him for next week. (Laughter).
Q. Now that you've experienced fatherhood a little bit does it put Jack's 18 majors, he won all of them after he became a dad, does that give you any perspective? TIGER WOODS: Well, I tell you what, I haven't quite experienced what he's experienced, and how it's going to be when we start traveling together. But for him to do that throughout his entire career and raise great kids, just great kids -- I mean, Barbara is fantastic. She's the best. And to have as close a family as they have, because a lot of times, when people are traveling a bunch, there's a disconnect, that's certainly not apparent in the Nicklaus household. That's something that, you know, I want to have as well, because my mom and dad were always there for me, and I know I can't physically be there all the time.
That's something that's going to be frustrating because you want to be there, and unfortunately I can't be there physically and all the time, but I'll try and be there as much as I possibly can.
Q. Another multi-parter. Growing up military, how much did that play into your work ethic, and also, did you play many army courses growing up?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I certainly did. I played a lot of military facilities around the country. For one, they were cheaper and I could get on as a dependent, which was kind of nice, I had a little card so I could get on the golf course. Only thing that was frustrating is a lot of the bases had an age limit of 10. I thought could I play before that but still had to -- military is very strict on age limits.
So once I turned ten and as I tried to play more golf around the country, that's when we would start playing other bases. And just had a great time playing them. There's some great bases. I mean, the Air Force Academy has got a fantastic golf course right there in Colorado Springs.
Q. Coming so close at Masters and the U.S. Open, is that just a function of being in contention every week, and do you just chalk that up to that, or do you look at your game and say, maybe there's a specific area that you could have found those couple of strokes?
TIGER WOODS: You know, the whole idea is to put yourself there. And I put myself there and just didn't get it done. I had my opportunity to get it done and it just didn't work out.
I thought I played better at the U.S. Open than I did at the Masters. I hit the ball certainly a lot better. I actually putted better but I just kept leaving myself in these putts from 15 feet that kept breaking four or five feet, and I just kept -- I never got the ball in a spot where I could basically give it a run. And when I did, I made those putts. You look at the par putts I had coming in, those were slight breaking putts and I made all of those.
For some reason, I just never had myself easy leaves, and you had to do that. I watched some of the replay of Angel's birdies that he made, they were all easy leaves; easy putts uphill. I just didn't quite do that.
Q. This tournament has come together very quickly, and if it comes off to injure satisfaction and likely, will Greg McLaughlin be up for a raise?
TIGER WOODS: No. (Laughter).
Oh, did he hear that? Oh. (Smiling)
Q. Can you elaborate on choosing D.C. to have the tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that we've had a history here, the PGA TOUR coming to D.C. I think it's just a great market. I mean, right here, it's such a great fit, and then to have this golf course available just adds to it. That's when a lot of the history of this tournament has been made is when it was held here. I think that's one of the reasons why we wanted to make such a positive impact by coming back to this facility.
Q. Going back to the fact that you knew on Thursday, and you played the U.S. Open obviously, how difficult was it to play the Open knowing that there may have been some problems, and how much communication was there back and forth?
TIGER WOODS: Every day. We talked all the time. Everything was all right. I mean, it wasn't life threatening or anything, but she just had a few problems and had to be admitted.
It wasn't easy. It was not easy because I wanted to be there. And the doctor and Elin said, "There's nothing you can do. So go out there and just get a W."
Well, came close. But that night was infinitely more rewarding than any W ever could have been.
Q. How do you make yourself focus when you know that's going on --
TIGER WOODS: You just do.
Q. -- 1,500 miles away?
TIGER WOODS: You just do. You just do.
Q. Do you consider this the midpoint of your season and if so do you look forward, and can you talk about what you hope to accomplish?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it feels like it's about the midpoint. We're two majors down and two more to go. As of right now, I've had a pretty consistent year. I've had I think three wins and a couple second place finishes up there.
So I've had some high finishes, but still would like to get a W in the majors, that's always what you want to do. I was basically three shots away from possibly having another opportunity to get four in a row. Hopefully I can get it going again.
Q. You mentioned a moment ago that you wanted to have more children; does that have anything to do with the fact that you were an only child at all?
TIGER WOODS: No. Just Elin was -- she's in charge of that. (Laughter).
Q. Is there one trait from your dad or from your mom that stands out in terms of your parenting, will you be more strict or --
TIGER WOODS: Strict was definitely my mom. My dad was the pussycat there.
Q. If there's one of each you can pull out?
TIGER WOODS: Probably the feistiness of -- how I am?
Q. How you will be with Sam.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I'll try to be as understanding as possible. I think that's one thing that both of my parents were is that they were extremely understanding and my mom was certainly a lot more feisty than my dad. My dad was more like the calming one and very level headed and very cool. My mom's very emotional. I'm more like my dad in that regard.
Q. I heard you played with your farmer college roommate a little bit this morning; what is that like for you now that you both have considerable accomplishments?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Not, I've known Not (Notah Begay III) for over 20 years now. He was my roommate on the road my freshman year. He vowed that I would become the strongest freshman in the Pac-10, so I had to carry all the bags. Oohh, I carried a lot of bags, and they always weighed them down, too.
We had a lot of fun. He was my big brother in my fraternity. So he punished me a little bit. But we had such a great time in my college years and then we turned pro and now he's playing out in Europe and playing a little bit here. Notah is one of my best friends and one of my closest friends. To have him here this week and to have him out here playing, especially all the injuries eagle been going through, it's been pretty neat.
Q. What do you remember about the Open here ten years ago, and also, can you reflect on coming back here and how much you've grown from being a 21-year-old who had just won his first Masters to where you are now?
TIGER WOODS: I was actually telling Stevie that today; that I wish I had the understanding now of how to play the game back then. Because strategically, I would have played it so much more differently than I did. I did not make the right moves consistently. I just didn't quite have the knowledge or understanding of how to play.
Consequently, I think that if you look at my first half of my career out here, how I did in the majors, I think you'll see that either I won or didn't come close to winning; versus my last half, I win or I've been in contention to win a lot of them. And that's just experience and understanding how to play.
Q. Are you coming in here having spent any time at all with Hank, or are you straight off of daddy duty?
TIGER WOODS: No, Hank came down. He came down for a few days and we did a little bit of work. But I was practicing before that and it was kind of nice to get out of the house a little bit and get some hot, muggy fresh air.
Q. I wanted to ask you about unsolicited advice, because imagine with your golf game you haven't had much, but now that you're a father, I imagine that friends and family have come up with a lot of suggestions for you concerning your baby, and if you can tell us your favorite one, and if you listened to it.
TIGER WOODS: Hmmm, good question. As far as advice, I've gotten everything under the sun. But there's one thing -- one common thread about everything, is that everyone always says, the lack of sleep. They say, oh, yeah, get your sleep now. "Yeah, whatever, I don't really sleep much."
Well, I definitely don't sleep now. (Laughter) Last night was kind of interesting, my first night away from home, and I had to wake up basically every 45 minutes. It was, okay, no, go back to sleep; oh, okay, it's been six minutes, great. (Laughter). So that's kind of how the whole night went.
Q. I'm sure Sam has gotten many gifts, I don't know if you've had a chance to sift through all of them, but have you noticed the gift that Phil and Amy Mickelson sent, and what does it mean to you as tournament hosts to see Phil come back from an injury at a tournament that you're hosting?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, what they did was awfully nice. To have, you know, a person you compete against and the person that you go at toe-to-toe all the time; we certainly appreciate that kind of warmth. To come from Phil and Amy, it's very special. And for him to come back here and play is -- I understand that he wants to get a competitive tournament in before he plays the British Open, but for him to come in and choose this one, it just makes it very special for us because obviously Phil has got all of the talent in the world and having a great year. Just unfortunately he's got some issues with the wrist, but, hey, that definitely heals. But the warmth and generosity that him and Amy showed was awfully nice.
Q. You mentioned earlier your appreciation for the service of those serving in the military, and I'm just wondering, since you're so close to Walter Reed Medical Center if you were planning on stopping in to see any of the troops while you're in town.
TIGER WOODS: Not this trip unfortunately. My schedule's very loaded this week. Each and every night I've got things to do. So unfortunately I can't this trip unfortunately.
Q. I just wanted to say congratulations with the new baby, and I want you to know, it was ten years ago that I was here and I was two feet away from you and I didn't want to say nothing to you to break your concentration; so it's indeed an honor to be speaking with you. I would like to know at what age, have you already thought about it, will you put clubs in your daughter's hands?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it already happened so -- (laughter) She couldn't quite hold it, but it was there. (Laughter).
Q. Work on the grip.
TIGER WOODS: Exactly.
Q. From a business standpoint, trying to get a sense what have it means that you have your name on a regular TOUR event now, and where do you go from here in the sense of business, besides the design; where do you go from here business-wise?
TIGER WOODS: I think business-wise, I have plenty of opportunities out there and it's about choosing the right opportunities, but also, you know, with our new addition to our family, probably won't be exploring as many as I probably would have been before.
You know, my priorities are with being at home and trying to be there for Sam and for E. That's important to me and what I'm going to be doing in the future.
But as far as this tournament is concerned, we want this thing to grow and we want this thing to continue to grow over the next decade-plus, and that's the goal. It's up to us to make that happen, and we need to have the support of the community to do that and that's what we're trying to do.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger.
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