TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola interview: Tiger WoodsSeptember 18, 2013
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THE MODERATOR: We want to welcome Tiger Woods in the interview room at the TOUR Championship by Coca Cola, entering the season finale of the Playoffs in the No. 1 position after a five win season. Two time winner of the FedEx Cup. Just talk about coming back here to East Lake golf club and the position that every player would want to be in in that No. 1 spot.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm excited to be back here at East Lake. The Playoffs have been pretty successful. I've gotten to the No. 1 spot coming into the TOUR Championship. That's kind of where I wanted to be, especially having the year I've had.
Winning five times this year has been pretty good, and to have the No. 1 spot and basically, just like the other four guys in the Top 5, though, we control our destiny. Looking forward to the week and getting started tomorrow.
Q. Tiger, you mentioned that your pace was off last week, which contributed to all the three putts. What's your comfort level here relatively speaking? And secondly, have you determined your schedule for the rest of the year?
TIGER WOODS: Have I determined my schedule? Yeah, I have. I'm playing Turkey and the World Challenge. And Presidents Cup. I don't think Fred would be too happy if I didn't include that.
But as far as practicing and playing, I haven't done that yet. I just got here today. So I'm going to go out there now and get a feel for the greens, do some work, and get used to chipping off Bermuda again because that's obviously very different than we've had the last few weeks.
Q. Tiger, a lot is made of the fact that you've had success again this year and last year on courses you're familiar with and you play a lot and you've won a lot at. Do you buy into that? And as a player, is it more difficult to go somewhere where you haven't played and try and study up and play it? Is there an element of luck to winning in a week like that as opposed to back to a place you know well?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think over the course of years of playing on Tour, you determine your playing schedule based on courses you like. Guys go to golf courses that suit their games, courses they enjoy, even some based on the amenities.
But I just think that over the course of years of playing a golf course, you get to know it. You get to know it under different conditions. And I think that's the most important thing, you get to see it under different conditions.
I've played this golf course when it has been baked out and hot and dry and firm, and I've played it when it's been rainy and cold and miserable. We played here in November, and it ended in November, November 1st. So I've played under different conditions.
And I think that helps over the course of time. You start to understand how to play it, and you get a feel, and there's a memory to it. The only thing that changes over sometimes, if you play out here long enough, they usually redo greens, and you have to relearn them for a little bit. Your old book is useless, and you've just got to make a new book.
Q. Do you feel that does it fit your eye like some others, like Bay Hill or Doral?
TIGER WOODS: I think I've had a good run here. I've won twice and finished second four times. That's not too bad over the course of my career here.
I have felt comfortable on this golf course. This week's going to be interesting. We're going to get some different weather coming in here, and obviously got to make the adjustments.
Q. Tiger, a three part question. How surprised are you by Steve Stricker's success playing a limited schedule? Why do you think he's been able to do so well? And lastly, are you why do you think more players don't adopt your strategy of like just peaking for the Majors and maybe playing fewer tournaments?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that for Steve he's always wanted to be more at home, be with his family, and misses his kids and Nicki a lot.
As his kids have gotten older, it's been harder for him to leave home. It's been tough on him.
And he's been out here for so long. You think about it, 20 years or so.
Q. Almost the same as you.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's a long time. For me, I've learned over the course of my career that I do better when I don't play a lot of events, and for me, that's just because at events, it takes a lot out of me. I have to deal with you all, and there are a lot of responsibilities that I have at events that most players don't. It takes a lot.
For Steve, I think that for him he's done it long enough where he just wanted to tone it down and be more with his family, and I think that has got him more refreshed and more focused. So when he does come out here, he has more energy.
I know he's had a few injuries here and there, but still he's had more energy, and I think that has a lot to do with it.
Q. Looking ahead to the Presidents Cup, the U.S. has obviously dominated that competition. Why do you think that is? And how important is it for you personally to keep that run going?
TIGER WOODS: I think we've done really well in the Presidents Cup because generally, we have a very deep team. There's generally all normally, our Top 12, sometimes 12, but generally our Top 10 guys are within the Top 20 in the world.
The Presidents Cup is different than the Ryder Cup in which every player must play every day. So if you're one of the 12 guys, you're playing four matches guaranteed, and that has always suited us because we've always had very deep teams.
Q. Tiger, do you feel, beginning to end, this has been probably one of your more consistent years on Tour?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. I won some big events this year, two World Golf Championships, a players, and Jack and Arnold's tournament. I think that's been a pretty good year.
I think that I'm excited the way I've put together my last couple of years, and coming off the injuries. A lot of people thought I would never win again, and here we are with some more wins.
Q. Tiger, Serena Williams won the U.S. Open this year. A lot of people have compared her career to your career. Two athletes, along with Venus as well, kind of growing, or having success in a sport that's typically not African American, not minority. I wonder what sort of comparison you make to your career to theirs and what part of your legacy does it matter to you about growing the game with African Americans and the minorities?
TIGER WOODS: I think the game of golf has certainly has grown in the minority community, and since I've been on tour, I think that there's been a lot of foundations that have and minority golf programs that have sprung up. I know the First Tee has done a fantastic job of that as well.
The only thing that's been detrimental to the growth and introduction of the game of golf has been the advent of the cart. People minorities aren't introduced to the game of golf through the caddying programs because there aren't really that many caddying programs available now. So it's a little bit different.
I think the programs around the country have done a fantastic job of that. What Serena and Venus have done in their sport has been second to none, the way they've grown their sport. And not only shown the way they can play, but just the pure athleticism in which you can play and the power you can play at. I think that's been their consistency.
They've battled through their share of injuries over the course of their career, and they'll come back and not only have won tournaments, they've won slams. It's been pretty impressive.
Q. Tiger, I've got a question about the rules stuff. Obviously, it's easier to sit here now and say you might have been helped if you brought in a rules official at some of these instances that have occurred this year. Do you think going forward you might be more inclined to do that, to ask for help on some of these things just to avoid some of the pitfalls? Also, can you recall even one instance prior to this year where you've had this kind of thing come up?
TIGER WOODS: Have I asked for more help from the rules staff this year? Yeah, I have. I've gotten more plenty of rulings over the course of my time out on Tour.
I think that where we're I can't remember another year in which this has happened like this, but kind of just the way it's been and the way it goes.
Q. Tiger, how much do you think what happens this week may play into the Player of the Year voting? And for a player who's as accomplished as yourself, does that title still hold some high level of importance?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, it does. And I think this tournament has a lot of value to it. There are guys who have won a couple times but they've had Major Championships in there. I've won five times.
But I think that this week has a lot to do with it. It's up for grabs for the player of the year, the Arnold Palmer Award, the Vardon Trophy and all those things.
The Player of the Year Award is something we hold dearly because it's the respect of our peers. It's voted on by our peers. Having a year where they think that you've were deserving of the player of the year, it's pretty special. I've had my years over the course of my career, and hopefully this will be another one.
Q. You mentioned a second ago that not many people thought you would win again. Does that make the position that you're in going into this tournament one of the most gratifying feelings of your career?
TIGER WOODS: I think that the way I've come back from my injuries and have demonstrated that I can play at a very high level and attain a world ranking that not too many people have ever gotten to, and I've gotten to it again, and it's something that I'm very proud of.
Q. Tiger, two quick things. One, the commissioner was in here yesterday, and we talked about people calling about rules. Peter Jacobsen was here when he got the Payne Stewart Award, and he said he thought it strengthened the players and the tour if people call in. I just wanted your thoughts on that. Secondly, Bethpage was announced as the 2014 Ryder Cup venue. I wanted to know what you thought about Bethpage. That would fall kind of close to your bailiwick if you ever decide to be a captain.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that with HDTV, I think that's been a huge transition. I think that there are certainly a lot more viewer call ins, and I think that's what people don't realize is that our rules staff gets quite a few calls every week. A lot of them never see the light of day, but they're handled with the players.
I think that it's a new age in which there is a lot of cameras that are around well, around my group and then some of the top players. I get it from the first time I step on the range on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all the way through, and virtually every shot's on something, and some of the top players are getting it.
Most players don't get it until they're on the leader groups on Saturday or Sunday. So it's just a new age, and how we go about it, I think the commissioner was right. We're going to have to have more discussions about it in the future. I think that's actually happening right now.
Q. What do you think of Bethpage?
TIGER WOODS: Bethpage is a fantastic golf course. They've staged a couple Opens, and we've had a Playoff event there. I think they're hosting PGA as well. It's proven that it's a fantastic golf course, and the crowd support is second to none.
Q. Vardon or money title? A lot of times you win at both in the same year, but which one would be more meaningful and why?
TIGER WOODS: I think the Vardon generally gets you to the money title, and it's happened in a consistent year. You don't have the high rounds. In order to get the Vardon Trophy, you've got to play your bad days can't be that bad.
We're all going to have good days. We're all going to shoot rounds in the low 60s. But you've got to eliminate the high rounds in order to get the Vardon. To be able to do that throughout the course of the year, tough events, tough conditions, that usually gets you to the money title.
Q. Tiger, what is it about Jason Dufner that makes him not only a fan favorite but a guy on tour you really get along with and have had a relationship with.
TIGER WOODS: It's his powerful physique.
Q. Hi, my name is Kyle Jackman, and I'm a member of the First Tee of Atlanta. What motivates you? Do you play for the challenge, or do you play for the excitement?
TIGER WOODS: It's both. To me, the challenge of just trying to pull off a shot and the challenge to try and beat all the guys in the field is exciting for me. That is my rush when I play. It's to beat everybody in the field. To me, that's he can siting.
It's practicing and the prep and all the work that goes into it, and to somehow pull it off at the end and execute and end up with the title is the rush and excitement of it all.
Q. Tiger, just a couple of quick questions. Go back to the rules stuff. What's your stance in terms of if viewer call ins I know that wasn't the case this last time, but what's your opinion on it? Secondly, in terms of your Player of the Year stuff, do you feel like you've done enough regardless of what the outcome is on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'd like to get a sixth win, how about that? And we'll see what happens.
As far as the viewer call in, I think what the commissioner said yesterday is very appropriate. There needs to be a time limit, and I think there needs to be a discussion of obviously where is that time limit? Where is that line demarcation? You've got to start with disqualification first and then work our way back from there.
I'm sure there's going to be a lot of discussion over it. The course of what's going to happen over a course of time, is every player going to be mandated to have a camera follow them around everywhere they go, all 156 players for every shot? Or is there a certain time limit when we're going to have to do it? The digital age, is it going to change? It's growing a lot certain the next 10 to 20 years, what it's going to be like.
These are all questions and answers that need to be resolved in the near future.
Q. How often do you practice, and do you enjoy practicing?
TIGER WOODS: I love practicing. I've always been a person who likes to prepare and practice. I don't play a lot of golf when I'm at home. I've never been one of those guys who likes to play a lot of golf. I'd much rather practice and prepare to win golf tournaments. That, to me, is what I love to do.
Q. Tiger, how are you feeling now? And have you given any thought to how you'll have to train to make it through the long haul next year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as how I feel, I feel good. I just need to get a feel for this golf course, and as far as training over the long haul, I've adjusted my training over the years, just with age, wear and tear. None of us can do the things in our 20s that we can do, for me, in my late 30s.
It's just not the same. You have to adjust. You have to adapt. I've done that, and I'll continue to do that.