Highlights Tours

Augusta National Golf Club: How to play a round at the world’s most exclusive golf club

Every year, the golf world gathers in front of the TV to watch the pros play the US Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. “Magnolia Lane” leading to the clubhouse, Amen Corner, which has caused many a superstar to despair, and a golf course in perfect condition – the mere thought of Augusta National gives golf fans goose bumps. However, the dream of playing the fairway of the legendary course remains unfulfilled for most. The National Club Golfer shows you how you still have a (admittedly very small) chance of swinging a club in the Mecca of golf one day.

How to play the course at Augusta National Golf Club

As a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, you always have the opportunity to play the course. Only the very fewest are accepted into the select circle of usually around 300 members. Therefore, we take a look at the possibilities to play the Augusta National Golf Club without becoming a member.

As a top amateur golfer

Beginning in 2019, the world’s top women amateur golfers will have a chance to play a round at Augusta National. Although the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship will be played at the Champions Retreat Golf Club on the first two days, after the cut the top 30 will play the final round at Augusta National Golf Club. As a consolation for the rest of the field, all players are allowed to play a practice round on the legendary course on the Friday before the final round.

As an employee at Augusta National

Whether volunteering at the US Masters, caddying for the club or holding another position at Augusta National Golf Club, employees get to play the course. Since the same volunteers help out at the US Masters every year over the tournament days in Augusta, it’s not easy to get on the course this way. If you do make it, you play the course a month after the tournament with the other volunteers. Caddies and other employees have the chance to enter the course with their bag once a year.

As a student

If you study at Georgia Regents University and play on the golf team there, you are particularly lucky. Because once a year, students are invited to the Augusta National Golf Club. And those who study at Emory, Queen’s, Western Ontario or Georgia Tech universities have the opportunity to receive a scholarship to the university in St. Andrews and, in the course of this, to play once on the Augusta National course.

As a member of Augusta Country Club

According to the National Club Golfer, if you are a member of the neighboring Augusta Country Club, you also have the opportunity to tee it up at Augusta National. It is common for members from the country club to be recruited as flight partners if there are not enough players at the National Golf Club for a flight of four.

As an author about the club

Golf Digest’s David Owen gained access to Augusta National in a special way. As part of his book, “The Making of The Masters,” the club allowed the author to play a few rounds with members on the course. “One of them was getting married one day and there was a party at 5 p.m. in the golf store. We realized we weren’t going to make it in time and went straight from the tenth green to the 15th tee. So we skipped Amen Corner. But by that time I had played the holes so many times that I didn’t even notice,” Owen writes about his experience.

As the winner of the lottery among media representatives

If you manage to get accreditation for the US Masters as a journalist – which is difficult enough in itself – you have the chance to win a round of 18 holes in a lottery. 20 media representatives play the course on Monday, the day after the big tournament.

As a friend of a member

The safest way to get into the Augusta National Golf Club is probably to become a member. However, the full list of members is not known and only very few golf fans are likely to get along well with Jack Nicklaus, for example. Despite numerous opportunities, it remains almost impossible for the amateur golfer to set foot on the “hallowed turf”.

Highlights Tours

Celebrity champions: R&A plans special event ahead of 150th British Open

The time has come again in mid-July. With the British Open in St. Andrews, golf fans are in for an exciting and thrilling week. On the occasion of this year’s 150th anniversary of the Open, the R&A is organising several special events before the top-class field of participants s tarts the official tournament.

Open week kicks off with Champions event

One of the special events kicks off on Monday of tournament week, 11 July 2022, with the Celebration of Champions seeing former Open, Women’s Major, male and female amateur and handicap winning golfers compete in a 4-hole tournament on the St Andrews Links Course. The 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes will be played by a field of 48 golfers and this will also be broadcast live on

“We are bringing together the biggest names in golf with current and future stars of the sport for a unique event on the Old Course,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive. In addition, Slumbers added that the R&A Celebration of Champions will be a real highlight of this special and eventful week. Among the 48 golfers, current Open champion Collin Morikawa will also be competing at the event, with the American feeling very honoured.

British Open to take centre stage in upcoming golf documentary

The 150th British Open will be the focus of the Netflix-produced golf documentary and golf fans will get to see insights about the proceedings of the anniversary week. Particularly from the pros’ point of view, there will be some footage worth watching that has not been revealed in this way before. There will be special coverage of Collin Morikawa’s mission to defend his title, but also of Major winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and numerous other pros. In addition, the world’s number one amateur Keita Nakajima makes his Open debut and offers the viewers interesting insights in the process.


World No 1 Nelly Korda: “I would never miss a major.”

July 21, 2021

Nelly Korda

Evian-les-Bains, France

Evian Resort Golf Club

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Welcome back to the media center here. Nelly Korda, making her 13th start of the LPGA season, a Tour-leading three victories, including the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she moved to World No. 1.

Making your fourth appearance here at Evian, best finish in 2019 of T25. Welcome back to Evian. We missed this place last year. Inbee said she didn’t realize how much she missed it until she got here. What’s it like to be back here at Lake Geneva?

NELLY KORDA: It’s so nice, especially this time of year. The atmosphere is amazing and the views are amazing and the weather. Nothing can beat this.

THE MODERATOR: What have the last couple days been like, getting in, getting transitioned over from the States where you played last week? It’s never easy to cross borders, even more difficult now, but how are you feeling as you get ready for this next major?

NELLY KORDA: I feel honestly pretty good. I feel like the first day when you’re overseas with the time change is very important, so I made sure to stay up past 9:00, which was really hard, but I did, and I slept through the night. I feel like once you get that first night in, it’s a lot easier.

Q. I know you’ve been here since Monday, so had a couple days to see the golf course yesterday, the pro-am today. I know it’s kind of wet but it’s drying out pretty well. How does the golf course look right now?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I know they got a lot of rain last week. It is a lot softer than typically, what it usually plays like, but the rough is thick, so I think that’s going to play a huge part, hitting fairways, and then the greens are always difficult.

I think it’s still very difficult, but it’s definitely a lot more wet than it has been.

Q. This is your first time coming to a major as world No. 1. Having a major already under your belt, how does that feel? Is it any added pressure? Does that change your game at all?

NELLY KORDA: I don’t think it changes my game. It’s definitely cool. It’s a cool feeling. I’m very proud of it. But again, Jess kind of said it last week in an interview we did, she was like, yeah, everyone is now coming after her, so in a sense, I’m like, that’s right. But it’s a new week, and every week I go into a tournament with a new mindset. It doesn’t matter the ranking.

Q. At Dow you and your caddie Jason got the caddie bib presentation. He gets the green bib again this week. Is that a fun thing to do now?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I think it’s fun for him, too, and it’s just a couple goals you get to check off, so it’s nice.

Q. You two seem to have a great relationship. Tell us, how long has he been on your bag? I know he’s been on your bag for a while, and how much does he help you with your game?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, we were actually talking about it today with our pro-am group, this is our fourth year working together. He’s like everything. He’s obviously caddie, he’s like a big brother, psychologist sometimes, but also my biggest supporter, and he’s always in my corner, and super grateful for him.

Q. Do you really rely on his vision out on the golf course? Are you someone who relies on a caddie for their help and expertise?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, we do a good bit of teamwork. On the greens not so much, but everything else he gets involved.

Q. I saw him out walking the course yesterday. I got a little tour out there to see what it was like and I know he was doing a lot of scouting. How does that help you and how do you feel like you’ve gotten to know the course better over the years that you’ve played here?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I mean, definitely. I feel like the more you play out here, the more you kind of learn about the bounces and where to hit it and whatnot, what part of the hole to be on on the greens. So I feel like we’re constantly both learning.

Two years ago was my best finish, but I definitely — a big goal is to contend in these tournaments, so just kind of trying to figure it out a little bit more each year helps.

Q. What is the toughest part of this course for you that you really have to focus on?

NELLY KORDA: You know, you can hit good shots and you get a really bad bounce and you’re just in an impossible position. You can hit a bad shot and it trickles up there and you sink it for birdie. So it’s more of just like a mental aspect and also just knowing where to miss.

Q. Going on to the Olympics and now you’re here playing as No. 1, what difference does this make in overall attitude, preparation? Are you doing things differently? And are you going to prepare differently for the Olympics?

NELLY KORDA: With the ranking?

Q. Yeah.

NELLY KORDA: No, not at all. At the end of the day you have the same game plan going into every week, and a ranking in a sense is a ranking and it’s a huge accomplishment, but when it comes to game plans, I stick to the same thing every week despite my ranking. I could be 30th in the world or I could be whatever, I’m still going to go into every week with the same game plan.

Q. Is there a difference between the Olympics and the majors for you?

NELLY KORDA: I mean, they’re all very big events. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small event or if it’s a major. I’m going to go into every week with the same mindset and the same preparation because at the end of the day you go into any type of event wanting to win.

Q. Is there anything that you did during the COVID downtime that got you away from golf that was like a new hobby, a new activity, just because you weren’t out on the golf course and you had extra time that you enjoyed?

NELLY KORDA: I actually — honestly Florida was kind of functioning normally, so I actually played a lot of golf. I didn’t really kind of step away from the game. I worked out. I just kind of stuck to a routine so I wouldn’t go completely crazy.

Q. We had Inbee in here before, and we’ve heard from a lot of medal winners, especially Shanshan, how much winning a medal impacted the growth of the game in their country. What do you think an American winning a medal in Tokyo would do for the game of golf and maybe for you personally as Nelly Korda, the person, the personality?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, it would be a huge accomplishment and be really special. I think we’re at the point that even winning a major is growing the game. Playing just a regular tournament is growing a game, but there’s nothing like the Olympics. It’s every four years. It’s a huge honor even to just be an Olympian, so I feel like anytime you’re on that kind of stage and have a chance to grow the game of golf is really special.

Q. I know we’ve seen a lot of requests coming in for interviews with you and your sister. I saw you guys were featured on ESPN’s Instagram and on, all sorts of things. How cool is that to see you popping up in all these not-golf places?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, it’s super special. Honestly the week of KPMG, I think I was more nervous for (indiscernible) than anything else, so I was really happy to see that she played well. We’re both going to the Olympics together.

Honestly it’s a huge honor, and we’re just super excited and grateful for everything.

Q. I know it’s not going to be maybe our normal week in Tokyo, but what are you most looking forward to during that week there? I know you’re going to try to go over and see some of the men’s competition perhaps.

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I think I’ll get to see their final day, so I think that’ll be really exciting because I don’t remember the last time I’ve been to, in a sense, a men’s event, but just the experience repping red, white and blue is going to be a lot of fun, and to call each other Olympians, only the females in the Korda household will be Olympians, so that’ll be really cool.

Q. Has your family been able to spend a lot of time together since Sebby’s run at Wimbledon? I know you’ve talked about your Drive On video that came out this week, but how dang athletic is your family? It’s unfair.

NELLY KORDA: We’re very sport oriented. I actually spent the week before Dow with my brother. I didn’t see him for a couple months, so it was really nice to spend some time with him and my dad. Jess unfortunately, she was at Marathon competing, so she wasn’t — she was like, I have really bad FOMO right now. That’s all we were getting in her text messages.

But it was really nice to see him, and he’s playing well. He’s putting in a lot of work, and it’s just super exciting to see it pay off and to see him do what he loves.

Q. What’s the key to the success in the family? I know you’ve learned a lot from your dad and certainly from your mom, but is it kind of a family way of working towards common athletic goals?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, honestly, I don’t even know. I can’t even answer the question in a sense because we had like a lot of structure obviously growing up, but like it didn’t even like hit us that we’re like doing something like this. It’s like more of like this is our everyday kind of thing, like we’re just going about our business, pushing each other, talking about sports, seeing how maybe we can do something better, be better people, be better athletes. We just like go about our business and kind of keep our heads down and just tread along, in a sense.

Q. Since the major win, since you’ve been No. 1 now, and Christina mentioned some of the magazines and things like that, what have been the demands like, and have you been having to use the word “no” quite a few times?

NELLY KORDA: I don’t know, ask my agent that.

Q. So it’s filtered?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, usually my dad and my agent handle that. But yeah, it’s been exciting. It’s been cool. It’s just been really special, and sometimes I’m just — I’m like, pinch me; is this even real?

Q. But is that something that maybe within the family dynamic can help because time can be demanding for you and you’re in a bit of a busy spell right now?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I mean, are you saying like is it nice to just be around family?

Q. Well, not necessarily that, but it would be easy for you if you said yes to all your demands for your time to be sort of diverting away from what you need to be doing.

NELLY KORDA: I feel like we’re constantly busy, like we’re constantly on the go, and obviously last year with COVID it was really tough because we have such a busy schedule always, so it was nice to have structure.

But yeah, I mean, in a sense I’m kind of used to the busy schedule. When I’m home for a little, I’m like, okay, I’m ready to go on the road again.

Q. What are your thoughts on some of the French players here?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I know Celine. I played with her a couple weeks ago. She’s a very solid player. She putts really well, which is going to be very important out here this week, and I think she got actually longer off the tee, which I noticed when I played with her last. Because it’s soft, it’s probably an advantage to the longer players because it won’t roll out, but in all she’s a really solid player, and I don’t know what her past finishes have been out here, but I feel like she could do well out here.

Q. What would you say about the greens?

NELLY KORDA: I would say kind of funky, very difficult, a lot of ridges. I think that’s the golf course’s defense, in a sense, is like the greens, especially if they get firm and fast. They’re very tricky.

Q. We had Inbee in here right before you, certainly the defending gold medal winner. What do you remember about the first time you watched Inbee up close playing golf? Do you remember when that was and just your thoughts on as a kid watching Inbee?

NELLY KORDA: I think the first memory that pops into my head is playing British Open with her. I played the first two rounds with her at Kingsbarns, and I was like, oh, my God, she looks at something and makes it. Like I want to be her. She’s just a very solid player.

She’s very nice. Not many people — she doesn’t really speak too much, but when she does, she’s very welcoming and very nice, so that’s kind of like the first thing I thought about.

Q. You’ve got a major win under your belt. What are your goals for the rest of the year?

NELLY KORDA: Well, I think my biggest goal was just to stay healthy this year, so if I can pull that off, that would be great.

As in the whole year, I don’t know, probably just to contend in a couple more events, and I have a couple big events coming up. We have this week, then we have Olympics, another major and Solheim. As I said, to stay healthy and just to stay consistent.

Q. How are you planning to manage your time over this next month because this is a crazy stretch coming up, to keep yourself well mentally and physically?

NELLY KORDA: Well, I bought a gaming laptop, so I am gaming a little, just to try and keep my mind off of things. You kind of need a way to kind of escape a little sometimes, so I was like, hmm, may as well try it out. Other than that, just rest and take it easy. A lot of people put a lot of pressure on these weeks and they tire themselves out so much, especially mentally, and I think if you’re tired mentally then — which I’ve learned in the past, you’re just dead, drained.

Q. What games are you playing?

NELLY KORDA: Right now Call of Duty, Modern Warfare. But when I was a kid I really liked the card games, so I may download one of those. Complete nerd coming out of me right now.

Q. We’ve got a great field. You’re headlining a great field, but we have some names who skipped this to play the Olympics. What are your thoughts on that and why are you here to play this week?

NELLY KORDA: Each to their own when it comes to a schedule. I know a couple of top girls are missing this week just because it was a lot of travel, a lot of big events coming up. At the end of the day I think they’re just thinking about how their bodies are going to be and not tiring themselves out. But I would never miss a major.

THE MODERATOR: We’re glad to have you here. Thanks so much. We’ll see you later this week.

<em>Press Release by ASAP Sports</em>

Highlights Tours

Sophia Popov on her attempt at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship 2020

THE MODERATOR: We are back with Rolex Rankings No. 25 Sophia Popov. Sophia is competing in her third KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and her first since 2018. This is her fifth start of the 2020 season and has a breakthrough win at the AIG Women’s Open several weeks ago. What have the last six, seven weeks been like for you since that blustery day at Troon when your life just changed?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, it’s been crazy. You know, it’s been probably the coolest five weeks of my life. For me obviously it was an unexpected win, too, and I got to enjoy that with my family and my friends, and so it’s been a little bit of a whirlwind with all the media and everything, but it’s obviously been awesome, and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.

It gave me a big confidence boost going into Portland and ShopRite, also, so I feel like I’ve been playing some solid golf since then, and it’s nice to see that pay off now.

THE MODERATOR: You definitely have been playing some solid golf. Thinking back to Troon, how much inspiration do you take from that? You want to win and you need to move on at some point, but how much inspiration do you take back from that week at Troon as you move into the rest of this week?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, a win is a win. I felt like even when I won mini-Tour events before, it gives you a lot of confidence going into the next few weeks, and for me that win was — gave me all the confidence in the world. It kind of proved to me that I knew my game — I always knew my game was there, it was just a matter of being able to play well during the right weeks and keeping my card for the most part, and then I finally had the breakthrough win, and ever since it’s been kind of nice because I can kind of relax a little bit. On the course I think it’s changed my attitude even more, just being a little bit more calm on the golf course and letting it come to me instead of pushing for it or having to play super aggressive.

It’s just been really working in my favor, and that’s another part that I’m really enjoying since that win.

THE MODERATOR: We’re at your next major playing as a major champion where you get announced as “major champion Sophia Popov” and we’re at Aronimink. What are your thoughts on this golf course?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, I actually saw all 18 today for the first time, and it was super chilly this morning. I needed everything, mittens, beanie. I was like, I’m right back at Troon, which felt pretty good to me, but except for the fact that I was hitting like 3-hybrids into every green, and I was like, this is a little bit exhausting, so I hope they might put up some tee boxes.

But overall I think it’s an amazing golf course. It sets up well I think for my game. I hit it decently long, so I think that plays in my favor, and some good greens — huge greens. I feel like you can have about 300 different kinds of putts on there.

You know, you try to practice around them and see whether you can get any kind of lie you can possibly get in a tournament, but you’re always going to be somewhere else. It was nice. It’s just in amazing shape, and I’m really excited about going out there on Thursday.

THE MODERATOR: One of the fun things about this event is you go to a different place every year, someplace you’ve never been. What’s your practice of how do you practice for a place you’ve never been?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, it’s interesting, you go by the yardage book. You just kind of check, where do I want to hit this tee shot, pick some targets, pretty much can hit driver on almost every hole here, which is great, and then you kind of have to — like I said, you play by the yardage book so you see some of the plateaus on the greens and you try to play to a couple different ones and see how the ball reacts, and then on the back nine honestly I just played a game against myself or with my caddie, and I played my score and just tried to see was it scorable, what can you get out of the course. So that’s kind of been a nice preparation.

Q.  I believe you went home after your victory at Troon; is that right?


Q.  How long does it take to really sink in?

SOPHIA POPOV: You know, I feel like it’s never going to quite sink in. I mean, eventually it will, but not this year. I mean, this is just my birthday present, my Christmas present, everything to myself. And I also — from talking to a lot of different players, men’s and women’s side, they all said to me, you know what, sit back, kind of relax. I know you want to get out there and play but really enjoy it. You’re not going to get that time again. Come next year it’s going to be crazy and you’re going to want to — you’re looking forward to every next tournament and you forget about what happened in the past and you want to really just enjoy it and take some time and spend it with your family. I took that time, I took three weeks, I celebrated with my family, with my friends, and I’m ready to celebrate a little bit more towards the end of the year, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

Q.  You said it was five weeks, the best five weeks of your life.

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah. Is that how long it was ago? Whatever it was since the tournament.

Q.  Tell me what you did outside of playing tournament golf. What did you do?

SOPHIA POPOV: I went home to Germany first, saw some of my family, some of my friends there. I honestly didn’t play a lot of golf this week. Then I went back to Arizona to my immediate family and celebrated with my brothers. They were over the moon. They’ve been kind of waiting for this moment for a long time, and they were probably more proud than anyone else was.

I got to spend the whole week with my nieces and my family and just — played a little bit of golf, got back into it as far as my — seeing my trainer, my physio and everything, so I was ready to go. That third week off I started practicing full-time again and getting back into things, but those two weeks went by fast because it felt like you were kind of celebrating with everyone so it all kind of merged into one big celebration over two weeks. I wish it was a little bit longer to be honest, but I was ready to get going again. I saw everyone play at the ANA and I was really bummed, and I was like, now I’m ready, I want to go. Going to Portland was really nice. I was very excited about that.

Q.  As the Women’s British Open champion, what gets you excited if it’s not on the golf course?

SOPHIA POPOV: A lot of things. I mean, I’m into anything sports. I was glad sports on TV was on again, so I was watching a little bit of that and kind of planning a couple trips for Christmas. I love skiing, so that’s going to be fun.

I like a lot of things. I like hiking, I like running, I like biking, road biking. I did everything during those two weeks, kind of everything that I can’t do normally when I’m on Tour. Yeah, I don’t know, just hang out with my family. I love that. That’s the most fun I have.

Q.  A big check came with that win; did you splurge on anything or do you have any plans to splurge?

SOPHIA POPOV: No, it’s been like five weeks, and you’re like, I’m sure you’ve spent it on something. You know what, I bought myself a TrackMan. That was a dream of mine, and I couldn’t really afford it before. I was like, I really want one, and I always had to go see my coach to go get some numbers, and now I finally have one, so I’m really excited about that. All the other stuff I kind of let it come to me. I’m not typically someone who just goes out — I’m not a big shopper, so I don’t even know, I have to see — there’s some bigger things, some bigger projects I have in mind. Like I said, I’ll just let it come to me, and eventually — I’m kind of a — German people save all their money and then one day they pass it on to their kids or something. That’s probably what’s going to end up happening. Save for college funds and everything.

Q.  What would you say is the biggest difference in your life since winning the British, and then also how many congratulatory text messages would you say you got?

SOPHIA POPOV: The biggest thing that’s changed since the British for me as a player or just as a person in general?

Q.  Both.

SOPHIA POPOV: I think the biggest thing has just been my confidence. You know, it’s funny, I’m a pretty confident person off the golf course and then when I’m on the golf course and it seems like I just — it’s not like — I know what I’m capable of, but it was just kind of believing in the fact that I can go out and shoot low, and no matter on what day, and I think that changed a lot, that I go out and I feel more like a sense of belonging and I can just go out and shoot low any day and be in the mix at any tournament now. So I think that’s changed a lot for me.

And then what was the second question?

Q.  How many text messages?

SOPHIA POPOV: How many text messages? WhatsApp and messages and Facebook all together? It was crazy. I think the morning after I had close to 415 just text messages, which I still have not even replied to. So if you’re in the — I’m sorry. I’m slowly getting back to everyone. Probably a good 600 total. Obviously a lot of people that I don’t talk to all the time, and then a lot of people I do talk to all the time. It was a lot for sure.

Q.  So I guess you didn’t get my text then?

SOPHIA POPOV: Or I didn’t get back to you.

Q.  You were, I think, 304 in the world when you won. There was some extenuating circumstances with health and whatnot, but we’ve also had Mirim Lee win at No. 94 and Hannah was 114 when she won this last year. My question is should anyone, given the state of women’s golf, should anyone be surprised when that happens?

SOPHIA POPOV: You know, I mean, I think it’s always a surprise because you just don’t see it coming. But you know, it kind of speaks for the depth of talent out there. I think on any given week a girl that’s ranked 200 or 300 can play her best golf and win.

I think it’s like that on the — I wouldn’t say it’s not like that on the men’s Tour. I think every now and then you have a breakout winner, you have a surprise winner that no one was talking about previously.

So yeah, it’s always a surprise. It’s just kind of knowing that any girl out here this week can win because we’re all capable of playing some really good golf. I don’t know — of course the surprise factor is always going to be there, but I’m not surprised about any of the girls winning this week.

Q.  Kind of as a follow-up to that, there was a time 20 years ago, and I don’t want to throw a bunch of numbers at you, but there was like 18 majors played and only one first-time major winner in that whole group. It was Annika and Juli and Seri, Karrie, the whole lot of it. Do you think we’ll ever see an era like that again?

SOPHIA POPOV: You never know. I mean, I just think it’s similar to the men’s game where we have a lot of good players out there now. The top 10 in the World Ranking for the women, everyone is up there every week. I think it just, again, speaks to the depth of the field and how good everyone is now, and everyone is capable of winning. That’s why not the same person wins every week. But you’ve still got your favorites every week, and I think that’s not going to change. It’s just that there are so many good players out there so you just never know, and I think that’s just the golf game today in general is like that. I think you’re just — it’s the same as Tiger Woods that won everything, you hardly find a guy out there now winning the same amount that he’s won.

We’ll see; maybe there will be. But I honestly don’t think so. I think more girls are going to win multiple events.

Q.  I’m sure you replayed the final day at Troon here and there and think about it. When you get on the other side of that, is it about the shots that you physically hit or is it more about how mentally you handled the challenge of the day?

SOPHIA POPOV: I think a little bit of both. You know, I love to look back and I look at certain shots that I hit, and you know, it’s also great for me mentally to go back and look at those and remind myself of how well I was playing under pressure, and I think mentally it was a huge breakthrough for myself.

I think I’ve always battled the game between the ears more than anything else my whole golf career, and I think for me that was the most important thing. But I still had to execute.

So I think I look back a lot and I look at certain shots and I go, you know, I’m just — I think it’s a lot of self-pride in that moment that I was aggressive and I didn’t back off of any of the shots, and I just played — I went for most of them and went right at the pin and stuff like that.

I think it’s a little bit of both, but I think obviously proud of the execution just as much as the mental part.

Q.  How does money like that hit your account on the LPGA Tour and how often do you go back to look to confirm that it actually was the right amount?

SOPHIA POPOV: I mean, it just hits my bank account like every week.

Q.  On a Monday —

SOPHIA POPOV: No, not on a Monday, somewhere end of the — I don’t even know, end of the week sometime. I never even pay attention. At some point it’s there, and I’m like, oh, yes, I can go shop, which I don’t like, though. But I can — I don’t know, it came towards the end of the week, and of course you look at it and you’re going, man — it just feels like something illegal is happening on your account. And it still does. I still look at it and I go, oh, my.

But I’m kind of a very pragmatic person. Like immediately I would put half of it away, and I don’t look at it all the time, to be honest. I was doing — I just keep doing my taxes, do all my stuff that I’ve been doing the same way I did before, and of course it’s with a bigger amount now. I think the more often I look at it, the more I get used to it, but it’s definitely still weird.

You know, I think after a while you get used to it, and of course there’s been more coming in after, so I think that’s just something that — I mean, hopefully at some point I can just get used to and don’t have to keep looking at it. I try to ignore it, to be honest.

Q.  I don’t know if you have an agent. I’m assuming you do —


Q.  Has there been a lot more interest in Sophia since the win from outside sources?

SOPHIA POPOV: Yeah, for sure. I mean, would be weird if it wasn’t that way, so definitely. But yeah, I let my agent handle that. Derek, do you hear that? Yeah, like everything goes to my agency, so for the most part — of course there’s still coming in, but again, they want me to play golf, I want myself to play golf. I don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so I let them handle everything.

Q.  A lot of players are kind of overwhelmed by media and attention after a big win like that, but you actually were mic’d up last week. Are you kind of like — is this fueling you, the attention?

SOPHIA POPOV: Well, in some ways maybe. I just have always been the kind of person, I like — anything that I did media related, I really enjoy it. Most of the time, to be honest, I was doing internships where I was working behind the camera. I wasn’t even in front of it. But I like working with the media, so I think for me, it’s something that comes naturally. So I wasn’t really worried about being mic’d up at all because I knew really all I had to do was just be myself out there and maybe throw in a couple of funny comments here and there. I was like, trying to make up for my group. I was like, you’re probably talking more than you usually do. But I really enjoy it.

So I said to them, it’s no problem to me. I don’t get annoyed by the mic or anything hanging out. I don’t know if it fuels me. I just enjoy it. So far. So far.

Q.  What were your internships, out of curiosity?

SOPHIA POPOV: I just did some with German sports channels, and one of them was commentating the Solheim Cup for the Solheim Cup for German TV, so I did a couple weeks with them and a few things with our golf club in Germany when I was younger, like 10th, 11th grade, 12th grade I did some stuff, and then in college, too, I was a communication major. And I wrote some blogs, I worked for the history department in school where I was interviewing people. Just like little things here and there. I like doing that. Eventually that’s something I’m hoping to get into anyways.

Q.  At the British I know you said your swing thought was just to swing aggressively. I was wondering if that’s still a swing thought you lean on or if there’s something new you’ve been employing lately?

SOPHIA POPOV: Definitely still swinging aggressively, but of course since the British I’ve looked at some just technical things, too, in my swing. I obviously don’t want to change a lot. Trying not to change anything to be honest, but I’ve just got the same thing I work on, which is lowering my ball flight a little bit, which I was trying to do for the British anyways, and it just helps my swing in general to have more solid contact, more consistent and hit the ball flight that I like to see, and I still work on exactly the same things. It’s not very technical, it’s just more of a swing thought or a movement thought.

Q.  So how do you flight it down more?

SOPHIA POPOV: Just for me it’s just keep the hands in front. I’ve tried to — I’m someone who gets the hands — I get a little bit scoopy. Scoopy is a big — is not the right word probably because it’s not really scoopy but I try to keep the hands up front and shut the face a little bit more at impact, and that’s how — I try and use my body a little bit, all that together, just get a little bit lower.

Q.  You mentioned the ANA and how you were bummed about not being there, and then obviously you know about the fact that you don’t get a five-year and all that stuff. Were you surprised at the amount of people that seemed to be in support of you when all that came out?

SOPHIA POPOV: Definitely. I mean, it was — honestly I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter or I didn’t before the British, and then after the British I was like, the whole thing was blowing up more than I honestly wanted it to. It wasn’t my intention at all. I just kind of took it the way it is because midway through a season I know there’s nothing that’s going to change about that, and I’m okay with that, I just — like I said, I just want to go out and play. That’s something that we’re going to deal with towards the end of the season.

But it was really nice to see that pretty much everyone was on my side, and I had a lot of support on our Tour and on the men’s Tour.

I think players in general, they — I think they could put themselves in my position, and I think they felt for me a little bit in that respect. But again, it’s something that I don’t think will be changed right now, and so we’re going to — we’ll see towards the end of the season whether there’s anything that can be done about it, or I just have to go out and play good golf. That’s not going to change.

THE MODERATOR: Troon where you won was a course with a great history on the men’s side, now we’re here at Aronimink and we’re playing so many tournaments with KPMG and PGA of America that have such a great tradition in the men’s game. How does it feel to you and the rest of the Tour as we come to places like here and Atlanta Athletic Club and Olympia Fields a few years ago with such a rich men’s tradition as we continue to promote and grow the women’s game?

SOPHIA POPOV: It means a lot. I’m someone who’s watched a lot of golf my whole life, especially the men’s side, just because when I was in Germany they wouldn’t show the women’s. So I would watch all the majors and I would see tournaments happening on these courses all the time. I think it’s amazing since KPMG has stepped in; the kind of courses they get us on is incredible. We were just out here this morning, we were talking about it, and I said, I love it, it’s so pure, it’s a championship golf course, it’s long, it’s very difficult. And I think that’s what a lot of us want. We want those kind of golf courses, and it’s just really nice to see because you can compare the games side by side, same golf course, and maybe not the same conditions and you’re not playing the same time of year maybe, but in general it’s awesome. Like I love it, and I’m just super excited for the next few years to come, also.


Defending champion Brooks Koepka goes for the three-peat

Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back to the 2020 PGA Championship here at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. We are pleased to be joined by two-time defending champion, Brooks Koepka.

Brooks, you’re back with us in good form with some history on the line. Does all this talk of a three-peat, Peter Thomson, etc., do you look at it as a hindrance or helper for you as you go into the championship?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t view it as either one. I’ve already dealt with it at the U.S. Open going into Pebble. I feel like I know how to handle it and I played pretty well there. I just got beat. My game feels like it’s in really, really good shape right now. I like the way I’m hitting it, and feels — putting it really, really well. Every day is a lot more comfortable.

I’m excited. This is a big-boy golf course. Got to hit it straight and put it in the fairway. It’s going to be quite long. I think it kind of plays into my hands.

Q.  What was the best thing you saw in Memphis that you were waiting to see, and what’s the importance of bringing momentum into a big event like this?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Just to be in contention I thought was nice. I hit it well, or a little bit better at 3M, and you know, we went back, we worked on some things over the weekend and it started to click and you could clearly see what was going on. I wasn’t getting on my left side. Now that I’ve got — it was nice to see Pete again, get more work with Claude on what’s going on and then Phil now. I feel great, but I think it was more about getting in contention again and just having those feelings back, which felt good.

Q.  I see you’re playing with Shane Lowry in the first two rounds of the tournament. Just wondering what kind of relationship you have with him; you played with him a little bit, I think, during the lockdown, and what do you make of his game generally?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I like Shane. He’s a funny guy. He’s a character. I enjoy playing with him. I played a lot with him at the Floridian during lockdown. Got to play with him and another buddy, Stephen Grant, maybe six, seven times. It was fun. I enjoyed the competition, trying to battle into something for being off for three months.

Shane is a good player. Drives it really well. He hits a tight little draw. Great short game, and he’s going to be right there come Sunday.

Q.  Given the kind of year you’ve had with three months of knee injury, three months of pandemic, PGA approaching, I don’t want to use the word panic, but was there any kind of impatience in wanting to turn things around, and did your confidence start to take a little bit of a beating?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, you always want to turn it around. Even if it’s a couple holes, you’re trying to look to turn it around.

It gets frustrating. I felt like I was playing a little better. Wasn’t seeing the results, but piece by piece, it was coming. So I knew it was eventually going to be there. But as far as confidence, I got frustrated. I think anybody would. Nobody likes playing bad.

But at the same time, I knew it was only a couple swings away. Once I got the feeling, I’d be off and running, and here we are.

Q.  What’s the one thing Pete brought to you?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Pete? Just stay in the ground. I’ve done the same four things with Claude for, I don’t know how long we’ve been together, seven years, and Pete’s the same thing. Pete tells me two things. You know, sometimes it’s just a different delivery between Claude and Pete, and all it takes it a little bit of — we saw some information on one of the body tracks or whatever where it shows your weight, I forget what it was. It was pretty obvious.

So once I saw that, you know, everything made sense with what Claude was saying and Pete, and it just clicked.

Q.  Can you give us your impressions of the rough, and I guess how deep rough needs to be to be significant if you have a short iron or a wedge for an approach?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It all kind of depends. The rough out here is pretty thick. You can get some pretty juicy lies and not advance it very far. But it all depends. Is it going to be wet? I think it will be, especially in the mornings, so it could be quite tough to control your distance, spin, things like that.

But I don’t think it’s overly bad right now. Come Sunday, might be different. Might grow two inches, who knows, an inch. Anything could make a big difference. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen.

Q.  Given the fact that there aren’t any galleries these days, there’s not going to be any galleries this week, are you going to have to kind of maybe convince yourself that this is a major and a major atmosphere, or does that sort of thing really matter?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, it’s pretty obvious it’s a major when you pull in. Yeah, I don’t know how else to answer that. It’s pretty obvious it’s a major. It’s a big boy golf course. Tough place. Tough setup. I mean, I know it, so that’s all that matters.

Q.  When you want to hit driver especially hard, do you have to think of an aggressive thought?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, just hit it hard. That’s the only thought. I don’t think — my mind goes blank. I kind of, I guess, blackout a little bit sometimes while we’re out there. I don’t think of any swing thoughts. Don’t think of anything.

I don’t do that in practice while we’re at home but out here, just go out and hit the ball. Try to — whatever shape you’re trying to hit, just see it and go with it and swing it.

Q.  You always said in majors past that you mark these four tournaments on the calendar in terms of peaking for these events. What’s the challenge been like for this year peaking for these events, given the pandemic as well as your knee?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It’s just been a lot of patience. I had to — a lot of sitting around and waiting and doing rehab, and just trying to make sure we’re ready for this week. Yeah, I mean obviously things didn’t get off to a good start this whole year; basically from Korea till 3M wasn’t the start or play I was looking for.

But at the same time, I felt like I was progressing. So sometimes the results are a little bit slower than what I would like. I expect so much of myself, almost too much sometimes, and that can be annoying.

But at the same time, you’ve just got to — I knew this week was a couple weeks away, so I had no other option other than to find it.

Q.  I have two questions. One is as much of a sports fan as I know you are, do you enjoy — with regard to the No. 1 ranking, it kind of bouncing around a little bit? You had it for a stretch; Rory; Jon had it for a few minutes and now J.T. has it. How much do you enjoy having that in the balance, and do you burn to have it back?

BROOKS KOEPKA: That’s the whole goal. The goal is to be the best player. If you’re not trying to do that, then I don’t know what you’re doing. I’m not out here to just try to compete and have a good time. I’m out here to win.

You know, winning means being the best and being No. 1, so that’s the goal. And I enjoy it. I enjoy — right now, you’ve got J.T., Jon, Justin, myself, DJ all right there. So it makes it fun. It’s exciting. As a fan, I’m sure it’s exciting.

Q.  As a follow-up, when you come here or any tournament, do you walk into this place feeling like you’re the best player on the planet and that you’re the guy to beat?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I feel very confident in myself. I don’t know — I think when you start saying it like that, I think you’re putting expectations. I don’t put any expectations on myself. Just go out and go play golf exactly like I know how, and if I do that, then yeah, I probably should win.

Q.  You talk about the whole goal of being No. 1; that’s the whole idea of being out here. You held that post longer than anyone last year. What’s the sense of accomplishment in that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, that’s a big accomplishment. That’s the goal every time you set the goals for the year, to be the best player in the world. I felt like I got unlucky with the knee and then wasn’t swinging it right because of my knee. It happens.

But also at the same time, it can make you a little hungry to go out and prove yourself, and that’s where I’m at right now.

Q.  You obviously seemed to enjoy majors. It’s been over a year since we’ve competed in a major. That’s the longest stretch since the 1940s. What does it mean to be able to compete in a major again?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It’s fun. I love it. I love the fact that it’s probably the toughest test of golf you’re going to play all year with — setup-wise and then mentally it’s exhausting.

I enjoy when it gets tough. I enjoy when things get complicated. You can really — there’s always disaster lurking, I think it something I enjoy, where every shot really means something. Every shot is so important and you can’t — you can’t lose focus on one and I think that’s something I’m really proud of myself that I can always just hang in there mentally and hit the shot that I need to hit at the right time, and don’t let off the gas pedal.

Q.  Last year at Bethpage, you said that these were the easiest tournaments to win. I don’t know that you put a number on how many guys you had to beat; if you still feel that way; and how many guys do you have to beat this week?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I still feel that way. I think I said it last year. The way the golf course sets up eliminates pretty much half the guys, and then from there, you know, half of those guys probably won’t play well, I think is what I said. Then from there, I feel like mentally I can beat them, the other half, so you’ve probably got ten guys. That’s the way I see it. If I can do what I’m supposed to, then yeah, I should.

I think that’s why I’ve played so well is I break things down very easily. I think for some reason, people make golf a lot more complicated than it should be. Worried about where shots go, results, you know, putting more emphasis on this week or the major weeks, when to me, it almost seems the most relaxing week of the year. I feel like Monday to Wednesday, conserving energy mentally, I’ve got a good routine, nine holes pretty much every day or less, and I leave the golf course feeling pretty refreshed, and then by Sunday, I’m mentally drained.

I think it’s more mentally exhausting where things — where things will take it out of you mentally before physically with a major. I think that’s one of the strengths of my game.

Q.  What’s the one thing that you have to do well this week?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Drive the ball well. If you put the ball in the fairway out here, you’re going to do — there’s a lot of long irons into these par 4s, and like today, I think I hit — played nine holes and hit three long irons in the back nine in the flags and obviously it’s a little cooler, a little windy. But still at the same time in you’re in that rough, there’s no chance you’re hitting 4- or 5-iron into these greens. You have to drive it well and put it into the fairway. A lot of right-to-left holes, too, especially on the back.

Q.  Just talking about the length and adjusting to the weather, is that something you’ll do going on the launch monitor, or is that a feel thing with you and Ricky, getting a sense of the difference in how far the ball is going here?

BROOKS KOEPKA: No. I’m not going to be a scientist and go figure it out on TrackMan. I’ll do it out myself. Me and Ricky have a pretty good idea how far the ball flies in this weather. Played golf for probably 25 years now, so I know how far it goes when it’s a little cold. From there, it’s just slight adjustments. I feel like we’ve got it dialed in.

That’s kind of why I wanted to play in the morning. Usually you do the same routine as tomorrow, tee off the same time I tee off on Thursday, and play one late, one early, just to get a feel for how different the course can play, how the ball is flying and things like that.

(FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports)


Q&A with Tiger Woods – Press Conference at Harding Park Golf Club

Welcome everybody to the 2020 PGA Championship here at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. We’re pleased to be joined by four-time champion Tiger Woods.

Welcome, Tiger. This is your 21st PGA Championship, and you have a little bit of history at this golf course, winning in 2005, of course, and going undefeated in The Presidents Cup. Is it safe to say you have a good vibe with the course but also golf in northern California back to your college days?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, I played it before the redo. They have come a long way since then, made it a championship site. I was fortunate enough to beat John in a playoff and then had a great Presidents Cup under Captain Freddie. This brings back great memories of coming up here playing, whether it’s here at Harding or SF Club, Olympic or Lake Merced. We used to come up here and do qualifiers all the time.

Q.  Four rounds since the restart. How do you feel coming in here?

TIGER WOODS: I feel good. Obviously I haven’t played much competitively, but I’ve been playing a lot at home. So I’ve been getting plenty of reps that way. Just trying to get my way back into this part of the season. This is what I’ve been gearing up for. We’ve got a lot of big events starting from here, so looking forward to it. This is going to be a fun test for all of us. The rough is up. Fairways are much more narrow than they were here in 2009. Don’t ask me for the routing because I’m still getting a little confused on the routing. Still trying to learn that part.

Q.  So many of your major championship wins were defined by just the energy of the crowd. Can you just talk about how weird it’s going to be playing a major without a crowd and how it will impact you coming down the stretch given that you’re someone who feeds off of that crowd energy?

TIGER WOODS: Well, that’s an unknown. I don’t know if anyone in our generation has ever played without fans in a major championship. It’s going to be very different. But it’s still a major championship. It’s still the best players in the world. We all understand that going into it, so there’s going to be plenty of energy from the competitive side.

But as far as the energy outside the ropes, that is an unknown. And hopefully I can put myself in a position where I can be in that position where I can feel what it feels like to have no fans and also coming down the stretch with a chance to win.

Q.  A lot different feeling going into the PGA this year compared to after winning the Masters last year. Can you sort of compare and contrast? I mean, is your game actually maybe in better shape now than it would have been then after all you went through winning the Masters?

TIGER WOODS: Well, after I won the Masters, it was a bit of a whirlwind. We got a chance to go to the White House, my family, and meet with our President. I celebrated winning the Masters for quite some time.

Came to Bethpage and played awful, and felt like, what, Brooks beat me by like 30 shots in two days. My game is better than it was going into that PGA and hopefully I can put it together this week.

Q.  You said last year that you were working on a book. I understand you’re working with the same writer who helped Andre Agassi and Phil Knight with their books. What’s the process like for you, and do you take any inspiration from what Michael Jordan did in “The Last Dance”?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it’s been insightful and one that I’ve enjoyed the process of looking back on some of the stories and been a lot of fun.

Q.  You talked about the crowd and the noise. When you played here in 2005, you described it as one ear was half deaf as you went back to the tee for the playoff. It was “electric” was I think the word you used. The contrast of no fans here at a public course where you’ve played two times and it’s been very loud; and my second question is just the Sandy Tatum statue and what you think of his legacy given your Stanford ties?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I knew Sandy before I even entered college because I played a U.S. Junior here up at Lake Merced when I was 14. Got a chance to meet Sandy then and knew the process when I was in college of what he was trying to do here. He is the one who single-handedly turned this golf course into what it is now.

What’s the other part of your question?

Q.  The noise.

TIGER WOODS: Well, considering that, one, it was a team event, where it was very bipartisan. It’s us against the Internationals, and you couldn’t have put two of the more, I guess, crowd-drawing people together in a playoff, myself and John Daly. So it was loud. The people were into it. It was a lot of fun. I still look back on it. I just didn’t want it to end the way it ended in that playoff; I think the way we were playing, we should have continued. It was just an unfortunate way to end it.

Q.  Obviously the weather forecast for this week, temperatures are cool. How does that impact you in terms of swing preparations and so forth, and just dealing with that in general versus normal weather?

TIGER WOODS: I think that for me when it’s cooler like this, it’s just make sure that my core stays warm, layering up properly. I know I won’t have the same range of motion as I would back home in Florida where it’s 95 every day. That’s just the way it is.

Talking to some of the guys yesterday, they were laughing at their TrackMan numbers already. They don’t have the swing speed or ball speed they did last week. It’s just the way it is. It’s going to be playing longer. It’s heavy air whether the wind blows or not, but it’s still going to be heavy. The ball doesn’t fly very far here. I’ve known that from all the years and times I’ve had to qualify up in this area. It’s always 20 degrees cooler here than it is down there in Palo Alto. We knew that coming in. I think the weather forecast is supposed to be like this all week: Marine layer, cool, windy, and we are all going to have to deal with it.

Q.  If you are concerned, what are you most concerned about your form coming into Thursday, and what are you happiest about heading into Thursday?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that more than anything, it’s just competitively, I haven’t played that much, but I am — the results that I’ve seen at home, very enthusiastic about some of the changes I’ve made and so that’s been positive.

Keep building. Keep getting ready and be ready come Thursday.

Q.  What changes have you made?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I’m not going to tell you that.

Q.  Okay, I took a shot.

TIGER WOODS: (Laughing.)

Q.  Every week right now there seems to be a new record on sports betting in golf. There’s more and more money going in every week. Do you ever hear stories from people about betting on you, and is it weird there’s this kind of money being thrown around now legally?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, the word you put up at the very end is different, “legally.” Sports betting has always been around. It’s been around, I remember players and coaches placing bets on players, whether the matchups they had or not.

But now, you can do it instantaneous and shot-for-shot. It’s very different. But that’s just the way the world has changed, and it’s more accepting now.

Q.  Throughout your career, you’ve made a science of peaking for the four majors every single year. Given how different this year has been, have you changed anything about how you’ve tried to build up and prepare for this one major this season?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I’ve been trying to prepare for the three. You know, trying to figure out my schedule and training programs and playing prep and the things I need to work on for each major venue. It’s just in a different calendar order and different time of year.

But this is a big run for us coming up here. I’ve been gearing up for this, and looking forward to the challenges of not only this week, but obviously the Playoffs and a U.S. Open and then the Masters.

Q.  Some players have talked about, I think Rory has mentioned it, that it’s been sometimes hard to keep your focus with no crowds around when you’re so used to having a different environment at your tournaments, especially in majors. Have you found that to be the case, and do you maybe have to keep reminding yourself this week that this is the PGA Championship; it’s a major and it’s not just the Memorial or another Tour event?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Rory has more experience than I do in that regard because he’s played more often in this part of the season. I’ve only played one time. And those four days at Muirfield was a bit different. It reminded me of sometimes on the weekend, you’d tee off Saturday morning and you’d just barely make the cut and you’re first off and there’s no one out there, but generally by the time you make the back nine, there’s thousands of people out there on the golf course waiting for the leaders to tee off. But that never happened. So that’s the new world we live in. We just have to get used to it.

As far as the focus part of it, I haven’t had a problem with that. Those four rounds, I was pretty into it. It’s different than most of the times when you go from green-to-tee, people yelling or trying to touch you. That part is different.

As far as energy while I’m competing and playing, no, that’s the same. I’m pretty intense when I play and pretty into what I’m doing.

Q.  Just two-part thing. What did you get out of those four rounds positive at Memorial? What kinds of things did you take back to Florida out of that?

TIGER WOODS: More than anything, I had not had the competitive flow. I’ve been competing at home and we’ve been playing for a few dollars here and there at home, but that’s so different than it is out here playing competitively in a tournament environment.

I had not played since, what, L.A., so it was a long time for me, and making sure that I felt the feel of the round and getting my feels organized early, and I got off to just a beautiful start. I birdied two of the first three. So I got into the flow of competing very quickly.

It didn’t help that the wind howled on my first day back and then Sunday it was brutally hard. Being patient is one of the things that I was real proud of out there, you know, fighting hard as I did to make the cut. I birdied two of the last three holes and made a huge par putt on nine. Those are all positive things I look back on. I didn’t quite feel my best on Friday and it showed, and the weekend was tough.

Q.  At a major championship week, when you look back at the Masters in 2019, did you know that week; is there a feel you have that week before, like, I got it, that kind of thing, and you know, how difficult might that be to manufacture this week with so much time in between playing?

TIGER WOODS: Well, there’s probably only been, what, two — maybe three times where I knew that all I had to do was keep my heartbeat going and I was going to win the tournament. ’97, I felt pretty good at Augusta and then Pebble Beach in 2000, and then obviously at St. Andrews the same year.

My game was clicking on all cylinders for maybe the week prior. The week of it got a little bit better and just had to maintain it the rest of the week. Those were rare exceptions. It hasn’t happened to me that often in my career, non-major or major, but those three weeks in particular, I just felt really good and had control of every single shot shape, distance, feels around the greens, putter. I had everything rolling.

Q.  Back in 2000, I don’t know if you said it in jest or not, you said one of your biggest regrets was leaving Stanford a year early, and obviously you have a lot of memories and nostalgia in the San Francisco Bay area, but what is it that makes this region so special to you personally?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I lived up here for two years. It’s the first time I ever lived away from home. And coming up here to Palo Alto and being in that environment, being around so many intellectually curious people and unbelievable athletes, and we’re all in the same bubble together trying to figure this all out for the first time, it was a very unique experience and one that I thoroughly miss.

And then coming up here, all the qualifiers that we had to play up here, whether it’s here at Harding or it’s Lake Merced or SF or Olympic, those were some great qualifying rounds. Coach would make us play in all different types of weather; if it was raining or not, go qualify and we had to qualify in our sport.

Those were great memories and great times, and ones that I thoroughly miss.

Q.  You mentioned how the course is different from when you played previously. Can you give us your impressions? It seems like not a typical major setup, old school with the trees and maybe not as long as some courses?

TIGER WOODS: It’s not as long. It’s a par-70; it’s not as long numbers-wise, but the ball never goes very far here. It plays very long, even though it’s short on numbers.

This golf course in particular, the big holes are big and the shorter holes are small. It can be misleading. They have; pinched in the fairways a little bit and the rough is thick; it’s lush. With this marine layer here and the way it’s going to be the rest of the week, the rough is only going to get thicker, so it’s going to put a premium on getting the ball in play.

I’m still a bit surprised that the surrounds are not as fast as they are and they’re not cut short and tight, but they are grainy. Into-the-grain shots, where the balls are popping in and rolling out. Downgrain you can spin pretty easily and you can spin it either way. It’s going to be a test, with the overhang of these cypress trees and the ball — there may be a couple lost balls here; cut a corner and ball hangs up there, that could happen very easily here and has happened and I’m sure will this week as well.

Q.  Have you had a ball in a tree here?

TIGER WOODS: Well, not here.

Q.  Any memorable moments?

TIGER WOODS: I’ve had a few at Lake Merced. That’s one of the tightest golf courses and most claustrophobic places that I’ve ever played. Yeah, I’ve lost a few there.

Q.  What chances do you give yourself this week? Can you win this week?

TIGER WOODS: Of course. (Smiling.)

(FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports)