September 11, 2006
By Tiger Woods
I've been on a great run the last two months and I hope it continues this week at the HSBC World Match Play Championship in Surrey, England. All my hard work is paying off, although there is still plenty of room for improvement. People keep asking how this streak compares to 1999-2000, when I won six PGA Tour tournaments in a row. Even though I've only won five-straight, I know I'm a better player. I can hit more shots, control my trajectory and am much smarter about how I manage my game.
I have always said my career is a work in progress. If you stand still, somebody goes past you. That's why I continue to refine my swing with Hank Haney, trying to become the most complete and consistent player I can be. The day I stop trying to improve is the day I walk away from the sport.
Next week is the Ryder Cup at The K Club in Ireland. Tom Lehman, our U.S. captain, recently arranged a two-day trip there for us to bond and learn the course, and it was a great experience. It was especially good for our rookies - J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor and Brett Wetterich - to get comfortable with the guys. We're all about the same age, so we can all relate. This is my fifth Ryder Cup team, so I'll take on more of a leadership role.
None of us know for sure what pairings captain Lehman has in mind. He might pair people based on how they are playing next week. We'll just have to wait and see. I would love to have the opportunity to tee it up with Jim Furyk. The guy is a stud and pulled out a great win at the Bell Canadian on Sunday. We teamed up well last year in the Presidents Cup and hopefully we'll get chance to do it again at The K Club.
The golf course is pretty easy to learn; it's not real tricky. It's hard to see the bottom of the cups on a couple holes and there are a couple blind tee shots. We all hit the ball about the same. Whoever putts the best will win the cup.
There has been a lot of discussion about the bogey I made on the ninth hole during the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. After hitting my drive into the right rough, I had about 167 yards to the green and hit a 9-iron. The ball flew the green, landed on a cement walkway in front of the clubhouse, then bounced over the roof.
I thought the ball was out of bounds. I waited in the fairway to get a ruling from PGA Tour official Mark Russell, who came up to me and said, 'It's in play.' I was as surprised as anybody when I got a free drop because the grandstands behind the green were considered a temporary immovable object, but I didn't make the rule.
It was a great break. You can't hit every fairway and make every putt. If I had to re-drop from where I hit my second shot I would have been lucky to make six. As it turned out, I made a pretty easy 5 and almost made 4. What a par that would have been!
Some golf fans have questioned me for not playing in last week's Bell Canadian Open. If I had played, it would have meant seven weeks in a row - three weeks in the U.S., plus a trip to Ireland, then three weeks in Europe. That's just too much wear and tear on my body.
I have some great memories of Canada, especially the 18th hole at Glen Abbey when I won in 2000. Every time I have played in Canada, I have received amazing support from the crowds. Hopefully, I can return in the future.
People have asked why I tape the middle finger of my right hand when I play. I've got a callous that's unreal. During the summer in the hot, humid weather, it just tears apart when I practice, so I tape it.
My wife Elin and I attended the U.S. Open tennis finals on Sunday in New York and had a blast. We were guests of Roger Federer, who I finally met in person before the match against Andy Roddick. We both represent Nike and are represented by IMG, so we've communicated before. He's an extraordinary athlete and a great champion. About two weeks ago he invited me to the finals - if he made it - and I said sure. I've been to other tennis tournaments before, but never the U.S. Open. I can't believe how hard those guys hit the ball. I always enjoy watching the best athletes in the world compete. Afterward, I congratulated both players in the locker room and hung out for a while.
On October 7th, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Friends will perform at our annual Block Party at The Grove in Anaheim, Ca. My friend Kevin James will emcee the event and renowned chef Bobby Flay will do the cooking. Proceeds benefit the TWLC. I'm looking forward to being back in Orange County and raising funds for our programs. It should be a great time.
Before I go, I want to express my deepest sympathies to those who lost family and friends in the 9/11 tragedy. My thoughts are with you.