Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tiger's pre-British Open interview

Excerpts from Tiger Woods' pre-tournament interview at the British Open.

Q: Tiger, coming here to a links course, which is in true links condition, you've been here
for a few days now, how do you find the course playing?

TIGER WOODS: It's not playing slow. The golf course is definitely fast. It's hard. It's a
little bit slower the last couple of days because obviously they're putting some water on
it, trying to keep it alive. But overall it's going to be a fantastic challenge this week to play a golf course this fast. We don't get a chance to do this very often, but when we do, it sure brings back shot making and creativity back in the game.

Q. The last time you had the 2 iron in the bag before this week, and kind of talk about
TIGER WOODS: The last time I played with it was probably it was Dunlop Phoenix last year.
Yeah, that's the last time I actually have used it in competition.

Q. Can you talk about that?
TIGER WOODS: The 5 wood just definitely is not rolling, obviously. That's the reason why
it's in the bag, on most golf courses. But this week, I like the feeling, I'm trying to take
advantage of the fast fairways and roll the ball out there. And the 2 iron enables me to do

Q. You obviously missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Now you've had a month to prepare and you seem to be very much ready for The Open. How do you get ready for this? Is it mental?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just getting back into the playing again. I took a lot of time off
prior to the U.S. Open and I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I wanted to in competition.
But I fixed those mistakes prior to the Western and I got back into the competitive flow
again. And I got things going and it's nice when you play four rounds. I had two extra days
there at the Western to get back into the flow of things and the weekend I played great. So
I feel like I'm back into playing again after taking such a long time off prior to the U.S.

Q. I was going to ask about your father. Those of us who saw you in THE PLAYERS and then The Masters and the U.S. Open have seen you in different and obviously very understandable circumstances, and those of us who have lost parents understand. When do you think you can say I'm clear of it, I've come out of it, I've learned how to deal with it, and do you still think of your father every day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, there's not a day that I don't think I'll ever go through life without
thinking about my dad. I love him dearly. And everyone I've ever talked to that has lost a
parent, they think about them every day and they always miss them, and especially if the
bond that we've had, you know, I think it transcended just a normal parent/child
relationship. And I think that's probably why I will think about him more, and especially
when I'm out here playing and practicing, because a lot of the fundamentals actually all the
fundamentals that I learned were from him.

Anytime I go back to my basics and work on grip, posture and stance and aim and all those
things that I learned from him, I always think about those younger days. I honestly don't
think there will ever be a day that I won't think about him.

Q. But there will be a day when you say to yourself, yes, I've come to terms with it, I've
worked it out. Have you arrived at that day or when do you think it will come?
TIGER WOODS: I've come to terms with it, there's no doubt about that. He's not here anymore. It's not like I can pick up the phone and call him and say, "Pop, what do you think about my putting stroke?" Those days aren't here anymore. So I've got to come to terms with it and understand it, it's just not there. I have so many wonderful memories that I'll look back on
it with smiles every time.

Q. Given how unusual it was for you to miss a cut in the U.S. Open, what were the practice
sessions like the next couple of years? How significant was it to sort of feel that Sunday
pressure and get in the chase again at the Western?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was nice to get back out and practice after The Open and work on the things that I did not do well at The Open. And I felt like I rectified that at the Western.
And after the first day I didn't really I didn't putt all that well and got it going on the
weekend with the putter, but I also hit the ball better. It was nice to be back in the mix
with a chance on the back nine, even though I didn't pull it off, but I had a chance. And I
would say it's been a while, but it's only been two tournaments. I had a chance at Augusta
and my next tournament was the U.S. Open. Tournament wise it was only two tournaments, but time wise, it was a little longer.

Q. I'm curious, with regard if there's anything fun you've done with the Claret Jug, having
it, and if so, what did you do when you had it, showing it around, bringing it to places?
TIGER WOODS: Just filled it up with beverages of my choice (laughter).

Q. At home, or did you bring it around at all?
TIGER WOODS: What, would I bring it out to I wouldn't do that, no.

Q. You've been drawn with Nick Faldo the first few days. What's your current relationship
with him after the way he criticized your swing a year or two back?
TIGER WOODS: We really don't talk much.

Q. You don't talk much? Will you be talking on Thursday and Friday?
TIGER WOODS: I've only played with him two times since I've been a pro. And there wasn't a lot of talking there, either.

Q. So does that mean you'll shake hands on the first tee and on the 18th green, and that
will be it?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I really don't know. It's up to him and I'll be in my world
trying to compete and trying to win the Championship, and I'm sure he'll probably do the
same thing.

Q. If he wants to talk, what will be your reaction?
TIGER WOODS: Surprised (laughter).

Q. If we could talk about the golf course for a second. It's not often you have a course
with bunkers like this. Is it as much of an issue as some of us are making it to be?
TIGER WOODS: It depends on what you're trying to do with your tee shots. I don't know what most of the guys are doing on 3, but you have that option of driving it over, if you want
to. On 18 they can come up on you a little quick, if the wind is down off the left. But
other than that it really doesn't come into play.

Q. Two thoughts, how often do you use the driver here, because it is so fast? Are you using
a 2 iron off the tee more than the driver?

Q. Tiger, before the U.S. Open you said that you felt ready to compete. After missing the
cut there, do you did you rationalize missing the cut as basically the fact that you just
hadn't played competitively since The Masters?
TIGER WOODS: I was ready to compete, there was no doubt about that, I was ready to compete and I was ready to play and I just didn't play well. I just didn't get into the competitive
flow fast enough. By the time I did get into the flow of the round, I was always behind the
8 ball, and you can't wait that long to get into the flow of a round.

Taking that much time off and then coming back to well, as it is, the hardest U.S. Open
venue we've ever played, it made it really difficult. Subsequently I didn't execute. I
didn't execute fast enough. As I said, I got into the flow too late. If I had gotten down to
a flow a little earlier, things might have been different.

Q. Going back to what you said about how you would want to ring your father and say "Pop,
what do you think about my putting stroke," who do you ring up now? Do you talk to Mark
or your mum?

TIGER WOODS: I always talk to my mom, I talk to her all the time.

Q. Does she give technical
TIGER WOODS: No, no, no, no (laughter). No. She usually gives words of encouragement from mom. As everyone knows, she's pretty fiery. So it's more from that side than it is from a
technical side.

Q. Who would you ring for the who could you say, "What do you think of my putting stroke," Hank or Mark?
TIGER WOODS: Hank. That's why he's my coach.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the imagination you need to use specifically here at
Hoylake? Some of the guys were saying they couldn't keep their balls on the greens on the
par 3s on the front.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, some of them. Yeah, if you get downwind it's really hard to
keep it on the green, unless you get a chance into the wind to use the wind as a backboard.
But when it gets going downwind and the greens are this firm you have to to a front pin,
it's going to be really hard to get it close. A lot of good shots here downwind are going to
be 20, 30, 40 feet away and it's going to be a good shot.

That's one of the neat things about playing over here is that the galleries certainly
understand that. You hear the types of applause; we play around the world and a lot of times
the ball gets airborne there's always applause. Over here if you hit a good shot and they
know it and it's 30 feet away, there's a pretty good roar, because that is a good shot. The
people are very knowledgeable when we come over here and play an Open Championship.

Q. You mentioned playing the birdie holes. There's already conjecture that you might see the
first sub 63 in a major this week. And your 18 under par in St. Andrews, could you talk
about that? You mentioned the support. Do you think you've been more of a crowd favorite
because of the way you handled everything surrounding your dad's death?
TIGER WOODS: Wasn't it 19? I got to 20 and bogeyed 17. Sorry. Give me a little credit.
No, I think it's if the wind doesn't blow, you can make some birdies out here. The par 5s
are reachable and there are some short par 4s out here. You can get the ball in pretty
close. You would have to take no wind in order to have a chance of going to sub 63. But as
far as the 19 under par mark, I think it obviously can be done, but will it be done is
obviously a different story. And as we all know, it's all dependent on the weather. We
played St. Andrews in 2000 with almost no wind.
Q. Do you look at it as sympathy?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think of it as sympathy. We all have things that go on in life. I'm not
the first one, I'm certainly not the last one. It happens to everybody. Everybody goes
through moments like this. You've got to handle it and move on. It's been fantastic to have
the people, all the letters and the e mails and the phone calls we've received. I think
mainly because of the impact my father has had on the game of golf, and as a person. That to
me means so much to me.

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