An Interview with Tiger: Ryder Cup, Target World Challenge and more
An Interview With:
TIGER WOODS & GREG McLAUGHLIN
STEVE BRENER: Welcome everybody, to the Target World Challenge Presented by Countrywide. The event will be held at Sherwood Country Club December 13th to 17th and the tournament does benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. To begin the call, I'd like to introduce you to the president of the Tiger Woods Foundation, Greg McLaughlin. Greg?
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Sorry we're a little late, I guess the cell phones were not working in some of the local Dublin pubs, but we're delighted that you guys are all here. This is our eighth event, seventh that we're hosting at Sherwood, and also wanted to recognize and thank Target stores and our title sponsor, as well as Countrywide, our presenting sponsor. The competition is December 14th through 17th. The event will be broadcast live for 12 hours, six on USA, Thursday, Friday, and six on ABC Saturday and Sunday. Beginning in 2007 we are happy to announce that The Golf Channel will handle the early coverage and NBC television will pick up the Saturday and Sunday coverage three hours each day as well.
The purse this year is $5.75 million for the 16 players, the first prize is $1.35 million, and last competitor earns $170,000. Before I turn it over to Tiger, I just wanted to comment on a couple things on the field, which we feel certainly is one of the deepest, maybe one of the strongest fields ever that we've had. Joining Tiger is this year we'll have five first time players to Sherwood Country Club in this event. Those players include Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Jose Maria Olazábal and U.S. Open Champion, Geoff Ogilvy. Other players who qualified also included David Howell, Colin Montgomerie, Chris DiMarco, David Toms, Padraig Harrington and defending champion Luke Donald. The four special exemptions that were selected by the committee include Darren Clarke, former champion Davis Love III, Fred Couples and John Daly. With that, I'd like to introduce our host to the founder, Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks Greg. We are very excited about this, this year's field. As Greg mentioned earlier, it's probably the deepest we've ever had, the international flavor that's there in the field, as well as Geoff Ogilvy, the U.S. Open Champion, and I think what everyone truly understands and truly can appreciate, Darren Clarke being in the field for this week. So it's really remarkable.
We have been at Sherwood for seven years now, it's our eighth year of having this event. We've had the learning center now and it's going to reach probably three to five thousand kids this year, and almost 4 million I don't know kids in the Start Something program. So we're very excited about all of the things we've been able to do in conjunction over the years with Target, Countrywide and obviously we're extremely delighted with the field and the depth we've had this year. If there are any questions, feel free to ask.
Q. Couple of things, one, obviously we're going to talk a little bit about the Ryder Cup. Where are you now, you're going to be playing I believe in England this week at what was the AMEX last year and what's it like standing there well, the morning after the Ryder Cup, what's the feeling?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we're all a bit tired. It's been a very long week, and today I had a few things I had to do in London for EA Sports, and Nike, as well.
It was a little busy morning for me, a little early wake up call. The wake up call came at 4:30 this morning so I could fly here and get here on time. That was a little tough there. Overall, I think besides being tired, I think all the guys had a great time last night. Both teams hung out with each other last night, which is, I think the way the spirit of the Ryder Cup is supposed to be. We're all having a great time and singing and dancing, having a great time. So I think it was a true celebration of golf. I think that's the spirit of how this competition was supposed to be. Unfortunately we got beat pretty bad.
Q. How does that stop, three tournaments in a row, and they are just outplaying you guys?
TIGER WOODS: You look back at the highlights, I think we basically hit it about the same. But they just holed so many more putts than we did. And on top of that, they holed the critical putts that would turn momentum and we did not. Time and time again, if you watch the highlights and you see where our ball is in position to make momentum-changing putts, and it didn't happen. And consequently, if you can't change momentum, and make it go the other way, it basically fuels the other side. Basically that's how it happened all week and unfortunately we were on the wrong side of that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Luke Donald, obviously he's the defending champion and we've always seen potential in his game; he's always been a strong player but the last several months, he seems to have emerged in a much bigger way. Can you comment on his game in the last several tournaments you've played with him?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we can all see that Luke has talent. When it comes right down to it, it's also getting experience over the years, and also confidence, as well. And the more times you put yourself into position to win, the more times that you gain that experience.
And I think putting himself in position to win the PGA this year was invaluable experience for him. I'm sure he'll learn and grow from that experience and as we've seen of late, he's applying that.
Q. Would you also comment about your selection of Darren Clarke, we all obviously have extreme emotion about that, and to have him in the field this year in L.A. is going to be quite special.
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about that. From what he's had to endure, his family, his immediate family and his kids, we can all sympathize for him. But to have him there in the event, I personally invited him. I just wanted him to understand that he always has a home with us. He’s always been a wonderful supporter of our event. It's our turn to reach out a helping hand if any way possible. And he's always felt very comfortable there at Target, and this year will be the same. So I think that overall, I think we are I know the tournament is very excited to have Darren accept and play the event.
STEVE BRENER: We will have 11 Ryder Cup members as part of this field of 16.
Q. You obviously have a chance to extend your winning streak this year week at the AMEX. Just curious, will it be awkward, you had a couple weeks since your last PGA TOUR event and those weeks haven't gone the way you expected. What do you think about trying to extend that streak given the break?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it doesn't really feel like I'm extending the streak. Just because I'm playing two events prior to this event, didn't win either one of them. So no, it doesn't feel like that at all. I guess you could say it's an extension of our tour season, but I did play in The Match Play and that's an individual event, and had an opportunity to win that and didn't even come close. So, no, I definitely don't feel that way.
Q. Can you address the significance of that streak. If you were to win, officially it would count as your sixth, and can you offer a memory of last year's AMEX in San Francisco at Harding Park?
TIGER WOODS: I guess I've won six in a row before, and hopefully this will be, hopefully I can do it again this week, all of the top players are here, and again, it's another tough field. I haven't been on the golf course. I don't really know anything about the course yet, but I'll learn that the next couple days, basically figure out what I'm going to need here.
Overall any time you play a World Golf Championship, you always have to understand that you're going to be playing against the best players in the world and that's basically what the event is, and why it was created is to have more of the top players meet more times than just the majors and THE PLAYERS Championship. Going into this event, all the guys who played in the Ryder Cup are here. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.
Q. And do you have a memory last year at Harding Park, the fans got into it quite a bit.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they did it was a very exciting atmosphere. You know, overall, San Francisco has just been a great sporting town. I went to college there in the Bay Area, and so definitely witnessed it firsthand. Especially back when I played in college, it was at old Candlestick watching the games there, it was always loud and raucous; the Raiders are there now. And I think just overall, it's just a great sporting town that came out and supported the event and to have John Daly up there in the playoff I think just added to that atmosphere. Basically, he in my opinion, he played better than I did, and just got very lucky that I was able to come out on top.
Q. I've got a couple for you, mutually exclusive, couldn't be more different. Your dad had always been, the head honcho. ETW and the foundation, two separate entities. Has Greg taken over the reins there or is that now your responsibility or how is that kind of breaking down? Does any more of that land on your shoulders?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, quite a bit actually. I'm certainly more involved on the foundation side. The ETW corporate side of it, I've always run that myself and dad just basically let me do that.
Q. Well that was nice of him.
TIGER WOODS: As far as the Foundation, he wanted to slowly bring me along and let me understand the entire process of it all. And he has done that. And certainly (Greg) has had to take more of a role in it and that's just part of the process of the way it was always going to end up being. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the terms that I would like it to be.
Q. My other one would be according to the map, it looks like if you play this week and then in Atlanta, you're going to be one round short of qualifying for the stroke average trophy. I think you would be one shy. Wondering whether winning that thing, what it means to you and whether you might be adding a tournament between those two, whether it would be Disney or Vegas or whether you know?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I have thought about that, and I haven't made any decisions on that yet. I'm fully aware of that. Unfortunately I pulled out of L.A. and missed the cut at the U.S. Open. We'll see. I know that it's a pretty good award to win. Consistency over the entire year, and you know, hopefully
Q. I think it's the second best set of numbers you've ever thrown up for a season, stroke wise. It's certainly right there with your better ones?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, no doubt about that. We'll see what happens.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Tucson next year, this is the first time you're going to be going back to Arizona in quite a while. What's the motivation for going down there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, The Match Play, yes. We needed to La Costa wasn't really working out and needed to find another venue, another home.
Q. Are you excited about getting down there to Tucson? You have a cousin there don't you?
TIGER WOODS: No, she lives in Phoenix, just in Scottsdale there.
I've played in Tucson quite a bit. When I played junior golf, the Junior Championship at Thanksgiving was always at La Paloma. Played there and also at the Raven at U of A's tournament in college. Been down there a few times and looking forward to getting back there. I heard it's going to be a fantastic site. So, we'll see.
Q. How much of a factor or an advantage do you think it was Europeans knowing the greens a little more than your team, if at all?
TIGER WOODS: You know, those greens weren't really that hard to learn. They were actually pretty simple. They were just a touch on the slow side from what we're used to in the States. We had the same opportunity they did, but they just outputted us. And unfortunately we couldn't make those putts when we needed them to turn the momentum in those matches.
You know, I lost two matches with Jim and that's basically what happened to us. Just didn't make the right putts at the right time, and I had numerous opportunities to make putts and I didn't. And unfortunately the rest of the team didn't as well.
Q. I was going to follow on in the same vein as that last question. Does it boil down at all in your mind to any kind of a different approach to the tournament between the American side and the Europeans or do you think it's just on the day, who is just feeling that putting touch better.
TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I have always felt that it's always important to get off to, you know, quick starts in your matches. Any time you're playing an 18 hole match, if you look at the matches this year and you look at the matches at Oakland Hills two years ago, we were down in either one or two holes within the first five, six, seven holes.
Seems like we're always down trying to fight back to get it to all square and then try and get up. A couple times we did that this week, but too many times we were down. And we see blue on that board, very European, certainly sends a positive feeling through the entire team, the guys were up in every match; we were never able to get that feeling. The last time we had it in Ryder Cup was at Brookline. So we've had it in the Presidents Cup, but not in the Ryder Cup, not for a while.
Q. Does anything come to mind in terms of a different kind of approach that might address that kind of slow start?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I mean, we were involved in some matches where we were 2 under through four holes and we're 1 down. So it's not like the guys were playing poorly. They were just making more birdies and making more putts than we were, and getting us down early.
Q. Does this Ryder Cup loss hurt a little more than some of the others, just because it seems like you guys really bonded as a team and really took to Lehman and everybody getting over there and playing practise round together, really bonding, does this make it hurt maybe even more?
TIGER WOODS: It hurts no matter what. I don't know, even more, when you get dusted by nine points, it never feels good. Unfortunately, we've experienced that twice. So, yeah, we were a part of some of the guys have been part of two record Ryder Cups of. Unfortunately, we're on the wrong side of the record, on the losing side. So it doesn't feel good and it doesn't feel good at Oakland Hills and it certainly doesn't feel good now.
Q. You said the record of 11 in a row is one of the most phenomenal achievements in golf history, where do you sort of place the whole streak question in the context of history and how much does it matter to you to try to extend it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you just want to win tournaments. If you get on a streak like that, then it happens. But you never look anywhere beyond the tournament you're playing. Once you enter that event and you're playing that week, your goal is to win the thing and to move on from there.
So you've got, it's a process, you take it step by step, and I've talked to Byron about that, and he did the same thing, he took it step by step. The old adage, you just take it one shot at a time, but that's what ended up happening, and hopefully by the end of the week, you come out on top and then you're able to do it for successive weeks.
Q. How much would you like to see a tournament come back to San Francisco, you talked about it last year that it's a market that's been underserved in many ways in recent years?
TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt about that. We have only had the U.S. Open there, twice. It's been a while since a consistent event has come to the bay area. Harding Park is one of the historic sites in the Bay Area.
I think for the PGA TOUR to come back time and time again, I think that also shows what the renovations and how well accepted they were for the players, the fans, the media and everybody involved in the changes overall. There your year has been filled with incredible highs and some lows as well, as you look back on this, this year, is it one of most challenging you've had on Tour in terms of just having to deal with stuff off the course and also performing on the course.
Yeah, I mean, probably not only this year, but probably the last half of last year and for the most part most of this year, hasn't been easy from the golf side of it. I was progressively getting better with me game, but with everything that was going on with Dad, it's been so hard to just be excited about the game of golf, because I was getting to the point where, you know, he was going to leave us and move on. So that probably was very difficult.
Q. A bunch of guys are going to be writing the postmortems on the weekend and all the usual theories and such are going to be floated, I'm sure Lehman will probably take a few shots here or there and people will wonder whether they want it worse than we did. And looking at pairings and this, that and the other, and as I was watching this thing, it occurred to me that maybe the tide has turned to such a degree from players 1 through 12, is it possible the Europeans are just better than we are right now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they have a younger crop of players that are playing well. When our youngest player is 30 years old, that's not that's not a positive thing. They have Luke and Sergio, Paul Casey, all in their 20s. We don't have anybody in our 20s on the team. And those guys have all three guys I just mentioned have won numerous tournaments around the world, most of our guys in our 20s haven't won tournaments yet.
Q. We've got two guys in their 20s in the Top 50 in the world.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, so that being said, I think that we in American golf, younger American golfers hopefully we'll have a new crop of guys that will come up here from college and start producing and the guys right now in their 20s will start winning golf tournaments and get on these teams. Basically what it is, you need to get on the teams and get experience, and the younger you do that, the more it helps you down the road. And dealing with pressure packed situations is in regular tour events, that's one of the reasons why I think they are able to win tournaments around the world as well.
Q. You win majors but not Ryder Cups but Monty and Sergio win Ryder Cups but not majors, is that baffling or just golf?
TIGER WOODS: I think that it is pretty interesting. When it comes right down to it, it's match play over 18 holes. And anything can happen in an 18 hole sprint much what's ended up having is that you play a 72 hole stroke play event, all you're looking for is one shot over 72 holes, it's more of a marathon. It's about being consistent, it's about never making big numbers, and when you get in those 18 hole sprints, it's very interesting, because if you get 2 or 3 down, early, you don't really come back from those deficits, especially if you're down. If you're three down, you rarely see someone comeback and win a match.
In stroke play, you could be 3 down after the first nine holes in a stroke play event; in other words, the fact that you've got 63 holes to go. It doesn't really bother you that much, but in match play, it can turn pretty quickly. Stroke play can turn quickly over a long period of time.
Q. You've had success at Valhalla, how would you like to see that course, it's early, but how would that golf course be set up to give the Americans the best chance, speed of greens, height of rough, that type of thing?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know if you could really make it an advantage to either side. Because if you look at most of the sites the Europeans have chosen for their Ryder Cup venues in the past are places that they play on an base annual basis, except for Celtic Manor, which they play there but this will be a new golf course. Other than that, most of the time it's at The Belfry or it's been now here at Ireland, places they have played each and every year.
So we have chosen venues that are fantastic venues, difficult golf courses, but courses we don't play. So it's pretty much neutral. We're both going in there not that experienced on the site. Since 2000, it's been played, it's been eight years since any of us have seen the golf course. And on top of that, I heard Jack's going in there and redoing all the greens. So all your notes that you had from 2000 PGA will be gone because you'll are relearning all the greens.
Q. The Americans have not been playing the advantage they might in terms of course selection and familiarity, etc.?
TIGER WOODS: The only times I can remember, I may be wrong in this, but the only time I can remember out there playing the golf course that we played a bunch of times, was at Muirfield. But other than that, I don't really know the venues we've chosen that we play on an annual basis other than that one, but I may be wrong.
Q. Is it wrong now for people just to assume that the game is so global that there's really not much of a difference between a European player and an American player that basically, you know, it doesn't matter what course they play on, everybody can play on any surface so to speak?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is a global game. You look at most of the players in the Top 15, Top 20 in the world, it's pretty international. You get guys not only Europeans but you get Australians and guys from South Africa, obviously Vijay from Fiji. It's a very global game. I just think the game has changed and evolved. It's a global contest. That's why we have these World Golf Championships to try to capture that essence of our game growing and expanding.
Q. But does it matter, links course, parkland course, is there a difference between the players that play on them and play well in them or can anybody play in them?
TIGER WOODS: I think we all play all over the world. And you know, it's based upon how well you play that particular week. That's what it comes down to. You can be a great U.S. Open player, go to a U.S. Open site and be hitting the ball poorly, and then you struggle. It's just whoever brings their best games that particular week.
Q. If you could give us a little more detail about last night because it seems like it's been pretty unusual for the two sides to mix, I know Duval wept into the other room a couple years ago and killed a few cold ones with the boys. What all is going on, who had the lampshade on their head?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that hasn't happened on all of the teams that I've been on.
Q. So this is the first.
TIGER WOODS: The Ryder Cup. The Presidents Cup is different. We all I think basically hang out. We have more we don't have the functions that we do at the Ryder Cup so, we have more of a team barbeques, the two teams come together for barbeques for frequently and we hang out together. This was the first time I've ever experienced anything like this in the Ryder Cup before where both teams, majority of the guys, majority of the Europeans were hanging with us and kicking back a few and listening to music and just having a great time, just chitchatting about the week and how great it was and just how well, what a fantastic week it was overall for the fans and people in Ireland and the game itself.
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