PGA Tour

“The genie’s out of the bag now” – Tiger Woods

Press conference with Tiger Woods:

Q: What’s your plan after the ZOZO Championship?
TW: “I don’t know if I’m going to play Houston or not. I’m not playing next week, and we’ll see how this week goes and make a decision from there.”

Q: What do you make out of the distance chase going on in professional golf right now?
TW: “Distance has always been an advantage. Now that we have the tools, that being the launch monitor, the fitting of the golf clubs, the adjustability. I think all that plays into the fact that you’re able to maximize the capabilities of a driver.
There’s no reason why you can’t pick up more yardage, and guys have done that. They’ve changed shafts, they’ve changed lofts, they’ve changed weights on their heads and length of clubs. Driving is such a huge part of the game and it’s so advantageous if you’re able to get the ball out there. It just makes the game so much easier.”
“They should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now. It’s about what do we do going forward, and how soon can they do it. I don’t know if they’re going—you’re not going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them. There’s a lot of guys can do it. That’s where the game’s going.
There’s only going to be a small amount of property that we can do, we can alter golf courses. I just don’t see how they can roll everything back. I would like to be able to see that, as far as our game, but then we go back down the road of what do you bifurcate, at what level? So that’s a long discussion we’ve had for a number of years, for 20-plus years now, and I think it’s only going to continue.” 

Q: Where is your game right now?
TW: “My game’s definitely better than it was at the U.S. Open,” “I feel a little bit more prepared, a little bit better, and hopefully that translates into playing the golf course.”

Q: Can you think of one significant moment that would illustrate what it’s like to play at Augusta, one big cheer that you remember the most?
TW: “Davis and I were paired together the final round of ’98 and Jack made a run. We were the group ahead. We knew it was Jack behind us, but the roars were so much louder than — those were Nicklaus roars.”

Q: Is it hard to maintain your focus when people are loud?
TW: “You hear the roars, yes, but everyone settles back down. That’s one of the neat things about playing at Augusta, is that you don’t have people yelling, you know, ‘Congrats, you got the ball in the air,’ or whatever it is. It’s so different.”

Top Tours

US Open 2020 Tiger Woods: “I don’t see any reason why it won’t get harder and get more difficult.”

Tiger Woods talked to the media after his not so satisfying first round of 73 at the US Open 2020 at Winged Foot. He expects the course to become even tougher over the next few days.

Q. Tiger, talk about the round a bit.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today. I did not finish off the round like I needed to. I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round. It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.

Q. Do you take any positives that you made five birdies, made a bunch of putts?

TIGER WOODS: No, but I needed to finish off the round better, and I didn’t. As I said, I made a few putts the middle part of the round. Seemed like I wasn’t getting anything out of my round early on, and it flipped, and unfortunately I just didn’t finish off the way I needed to.

Q. What did you think of the conditions of the golf course, and was it how you expected or a little bit different in any way?

TIGER WOODS: I thought the golf course was set up fantastic. I thought that what they did with the hole locations were very fair today. It gave us an opportunity to make some birdies, and you look at most of the scores, and the guys took advantage of it.

Q. Do you expect it to keep getting firmer as the week goes on?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I don’t see any reason why it won’t get harder and get more difficult. I just think that the golf course is there to be had. They gave us a lot of opportunities with the hole locations. Obviously they could have made it a lot more difficult if they wanted to, but I thought it was very fair.

Q. Is there any solace knowing it’s going to be such a grind this week that shooting a sub-par first round isn’t anything near —

TIGER WOODS: Well, we have a long way to go. This is a long marathon of a tournament. There’s a lot of different things that can go on. I just wish I would have finished off my round better.

Q. Given how little you’ve played this year, when you strung those birdies together in the middle of the round to kind of reel it back in and preserve it, isn’t that a pretty positive sign for you going forward?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the middle part of my round, a lot of things went my way. Beginning part of the round it seemed like things weren’t going my way. Good tee shots were ended up in the rough in bad spots, and I had a nice little hot run there in the middle part of my round, hit a really good putt at 12, thought it was going to go in and then I lipped it out, and then made two bogeys after that. Didn’t finish off my round the way I needed to.

Team USA

Tiger Woods still believes he has a chance to win the PGA Championship

Q. Thoughts on the day and what a battle it is out there?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I drove it great today. That’s one of the things I wanted to clean up from yesterday. I didn’t do as good a job yesterday of driving the ball as I needed to. Today was different. I drove it great. Missed a few irons on the short side. Didn’t get up-and-down.

And I really struggled with getting the speed of the greens today. They looked faster than what they were putting. They were firm coming into the greens, but they weren’t putting as fast as they looked, and then as the day wore on, they got a little more fuzzy and got even slower, and I struggled even a little bit more hitting the putts hard enough.

Q. Some guys were saying the putting green didn’t quite match up —

TIGER WOODS: Oh, they haven’t all week. The putting green is faster than the golf course. It’s been like that all week. Again, but some of the pins were up on crests so you’re putting into the grain early and then you go past the hole, and it’s downgrain. I didn’t want to make the mistake of blowing it past on a few of those holes and I left them short and on the low side.

Q. Can you still win here?


Q. Is it the type of course you can see some big swings on the weekend?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, absolutely. This golf course is — with the dots for tomorrow, they’ve got them in some tough spots. Tomorrow I’m going off early and hopefully I can get it going, drive the ball like I did today, hit my irons a little bit more crisp and be a little bit more aggressive on the putts.

Q. Will a big key be just the speeds, getting that early and getting into a rhythm?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as I said, for me they looked faster than they were putting. That’s always the toughest combination I’ve always found, making that adjustment. You give it a run, but it just — it’s just not rolling out. Early in the round I had a couple putts that were downwind and the wind was blowing the putts a little bit. J.T. got affected a couple times today with the wind gusts, and I did on one hole pretty badly. Again, if I can get myself in position where like I did today off the tee, I think I can have a really good weekend.

Source: 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)

PGA Tour

Memorial Tournament: Interview with Tiger Woods

After the practice round during the Memorial Tournament 2020 Tiger Woods speaks about his actual game and his time at home.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started here with five-time winner Tiger Woods. We’d like to welcome him into the interview room at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Tiger is making his first start on the PGA TOUR since the season was suspended in March. If we could please just get an opening comment on the state of your game and how it feels to be back.

TIGER WOODS: It feels great to be back. I hadn’t played on a tournament venue in a while, and it’s been since February, so it’s been a long time for me. Then to get out there and to play with J.T. today was a bunch of fun. It’s certainly a different world, different environment that we’re in. To play practice rounds like this and to watch as the TOUR has evolved and started back and to see no fans, it’s just a very different world out here.

Q.  Tiger, what is your level of concern, now you’re going to start going out and traveling amidst COVID and the spiking cases. What is your level of concern dealing with COVID?

TIGER WOODS: That’s the risk that I’m taking. That’s the risk that all of us are now taking. I know the TOUR has done a fantastic job of setting up the safety and trying to ensure that all of us are protected and are safe, but it is a risk that we are now undertaking when we walk on the property and are around individuals that you don’t know where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing.

But the screening, the testing we’ve done, the protections that we’ve tried to implement on the TOUR have shown that we’ve had to make adjustments, but it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

Q.  Last week Justin Thomas said he was giving you a hard time that you were scared to come out and play the guys. Did you get a bunch of other calls from other players during that time?

TIGER WOODS: I got a bunch of texts and a bunch of calls when he said that, and hence I’m out here. So I’m not afraid of J.T. anymore. I’ve gotten over that, and here we go.

Q.  You talked about how things are going to be different. I assume that you have talked to enough guys that give you a little bit of — have filled you in on what it is like to have no fans, everything from the rough not being trampled down to the loss of energy. What are your expectations and what have you picked up from them?

TIGER WOODS: Most of the venues that we’ve been playing at really haven’t had that much rough. The guys have — except for Hilton Head where you can possibly lose a ball in the trees, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of rough. Obviously the rough is up here, but the guys have said that it’s — more than anything it’s not really the trampled down lies or anything like that, it’s just the energy is different. There’s nothing to feed off of energy-wise. You make a big putt or make a big par or make a big chip or hit a hell of a shot, there’s no one there. That’s one of the more interesting things that it’ll be going forward. I think this is going to set up for not just in the short-term but for the foreseeable future for sure.

Q.  You’re a guy that’s had more cameras on you than anyone in the history of golf. How did you learn to deal with that, to adjust to that? Was it immediate? Did it take some time? That’s been a hot topic the last couple folks, how long they stay on you.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I’ve had cameras on me since I turned pro, so it’s been over 20-some-odd years that virtually almost every one of my shots that I’ve hit on the TOUR has been documented. That is something that I’ve been accustomed to. That’s something I’ve known for decades. But this is a different world and one we’re going to have to get used to.

Q.  I’m curious kind of building on that, when would you say is the last time you played a full tournament in the United States without a gallery?

TIGER WOODS: Not a full tournament. I don’t think that’s ever happened for me. But I’ve played a round in D.C. when I won, that Saturday we had a derecho come through there on that Friday night, and it was hazardous in the morning and we went out there with no spectators, no volunteers and just played. That was the quietest round I’ve ever been involved with in a tournament setting. That’s what the guys are saying now, that it’s a very different world out here, not to have the distractions, the noise, the excitement, the energy, the people that the fans bring. It’s just a silent and different world.

Q.  Would you have to go back to your college days to maybe find a round that it was just you and a competitor or two?

TIGER WOODS: Well, even in college I had a few people following. (Laughter.)

Q.  Given that it’s a compacted TOUR, how much urgency does that place to maximize every tournament or just approach it the way you would any other year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, for me, I’ve had to try and maximize every tournament start since I’ve had my last procedure, back procedure. I’ve had to manage that. My levels of play — I really haven’t played that much since then. I think that unfortunately over the last few years that I’ve been used to taking long breaks, long time off and having to build my game and build it to a level where it’s at a TOUR level at home and then come out and play and play a few tournaments here and there, so that’s something I have unfortunately been accustomed to. This was a forced break for all of us but also one that I’m excited to get back into playing again.

Q.  When you watch — if you watched the Workday, you saw all these young players. What’s your impression of guys like Collin and Viktor Hovland and those guys?

TIGER WOODS: Man, those two in particular have just such bright futures ahead of them. They both hit the ball great. Short game is only going to get better. Their putting is only going to get better over time. And don’t forget, when you’re a rook like those two were last year, it’s trying to get to know the golf courses. That takes a couple years here and there, and before that starts kicking in, generally you see guys start playing a little better in the second, third, fourth year after it’s gone around the rotation and they’ve seen these venues.

Q.  Given how you played at The Match you seemed to be in mid-season form, and I know it’s a very serious event, but clearly you were ready to come out. Did you consider playing before this week after the restart, and if not, why not?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I did consider playing, trying to figure out if I should play or not. But I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe. I’m used to playing with lots of people around me or having lots of people have a direct line to me, and that puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family, and just been at home practicing and social distancing and being away from a lot of people. Coming back and playing the TOUR, in my case over the 20-some-odd years I’ve been out here, that’s really hard to say, that I’m used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee. That’s something that I looked at and said, well, I’m really not quite comfortable with that, that whole idea. Let’s see how it plays out first and let’s see how the TOUR has played out, how they’ve started, and I feel that I’m comfortable enough to come back out here and play again, and I’m excited to do it.

Q.  Assuming you were watching golf on TV for the last five weeks or so, did you find yourself watching golf like you would, or were you observing other things in terms of the Schoop of the tournament, and kind of as a sidekick to that, if you’ve had any conversations with any of your friends on TOUR, what kind of questions were you asking them about what it was like?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that watching like I normally would, no, I have not. It was more of watching golf to see how it is now, see what our near future, our reality is and our foreseeable future is going to be. Some of the guys when they first played the first couple weeks, it was very different. To have no one yelling, no one screaming, no energy, the social distancing, no handshakes. Some guys are used to taking the cap off after every round and doing handshakes. That’s just part of the traditions of the game. That changed. Contacts, how close can I be to my caddie. Those are all different questions that the players are trying to figure out on the fly as we’re trying to get back into our season and participate in our sport at a high level again. These are — some of the guys feel weird about it, other guys acclimated to it very quickly. Not having family around out here, when you’re at the golf course, what kind of contact are you going to have. Some of the players — where are you going to go work out, are you going to be able to go work out at a gym? No, you can’t go to the gyms. What are you going to do here? Face masks? We’re trying to figure out all the guidelines and the guys are trying to figure it out on the fly and also compete. So it was very complicated trying to get a routine, well, for most of the players.

Q.  You’ve been in this situation before, too, but I’m sure you saw on Sunday J.T. holes a 50-footer. If there’s a crowd around like Memorial usually gets and they react to it, how much harder is it for Collin to make his putt?

TIGER WOODS: A lot more difficult. I just think that the energy — even it felt weird as I was watching on my computer at home, like 14, when Collin hit the ball on the green there, and granted, they’ve never had the tees up there during the Memorial event, but if they were and had that same situation during a Memorial event, to have someone drive the ball on the green that close to the hole, I mean, that whole hillside would have been going nuts.

So to see J.T. make that putt, he’s screaming, but no one else is screaming. And then when Collin makes it, normally — he didn’t have that much of a reaction, but the whole hillside on 18 would have been just erupted. I’ve been there when they’re throwing drinks towards the greens and people screaming, high fiving, people running around, running through bunkers. That’s all gone. That’s our new reality that we’re facing. Those guys, J.T. and Collin, both how they played down the stretch and separating themselves and the shots they hit, they got into the world of playing against each other and got into that world.

But it’s so different not having the energy of the crowd, and for me watching at home as a spectator and one that has played this golf course and have heard the energy that the fans bring to these holes and these situations, not to have that is very different, very stark really.

Q.  ZOZO proved that after a long break you can win out of the gate; should we take that as a way people should be expecting your chances being good this week or should they be more tempered?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I would like to say that I’m going to win the event. That’s my intent. That’s my intent coming in here. That’s my intent going into every event. That’s certainly the intentions. Whether that plays out over the next four — well, come Sunday, hopefully that will be the case. It was that one particular week — well, three tournaments ago at ZOZO. There’s no reason why I can’t do it again this week. I’ve just got to go out there and do my work and make that happen.

Q.  Do you have a plan to counteract what you’ve been talking about with this no fans and no energy, because you’ve fed off that your entire career clearly. Do you have a plan to sort of counter it?

TIGER WOODS: I think for me in particular, I’m going to have to just put my head down and play. But it’s going to be different, there’s no doubt about it. For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I’ve been involved in, I’ve had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media. Watching the players play over the last few weeks, that hasn’t been the case, and that’s very different, and for the players that are a little bit older and that have played out here for a long time and have experienced it, it is very different. For some of the younger guys it’s probably not particularly different. They’re not too far removed from college or they’ve only been out here for a year or two, but for some of the older guys it’s very eye-opening really.

Tiger about his last round

Q.  When you played your last competitive round in mid-February, how would you describe where you were physically and where you are now after these five months? And then just on the back end of that, just what it felt to be back out there today.

TIGER WOODS: Well, physically I was very stiff at LA. I was not moving that well. Back was just not quite loose. It was cold. I wasn’t hitting the ball very far, wasn’t playing very well, and consequently I finished dead last. Fast forward five months later, I’ve been able to train a lot. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that I hadn’t done in a very long time, which is spend a lot of time with my kids and be around with them. It’s been very different not to have sports, but we’ve been lucky enough to have had Medalist open at home for most of this quarantine period. So it’s been nice to get out on the golf course and be able to play and keep active that way.

But as far as physically, I feel so much better than I did then. I’ve been able to train and concentrate on getting back up to speed and back up to tournament speed, so how I was moving at The Match and being able to progress since then, being out here today and being able to play with J.T. today, it was a lot of fun for both of us. We play like this at home a lot, so it’s different being on the road, but we’ve played so many practice rounds together and have played so many rounds together in the last few years that it’s been — it was quite normal.

Q.  I’m trying to start a movement with this question. The bunker rake is a relatively new thing in golf. It’s only been around for 60 years or so. In the pandemic a lot of courses have gotten rid of bunker rakes. I’m wondering how you feel about that; could that be part of the game’s future playing without bunker rakes?

TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. That certainly has been at my home course up at Medalist, if the guys happen to be in a footprint or previous hole explosion that one of the groups ahead of them had been in, we just kick it over and move it out of there and move on and play. Whether that works at the elite level, I don’t know what that’s going to be like for golf course maintenance, what it’s going to be like habitually, we as players like you who play the game, we’re used to raking the bunkers. It’s very different.

Q.  Do you view golf as a fundamentally fair game or unfair game?

TIGER WOODS: I don’t think any sport is fair.

Q.  Tiger, so much has changed in society in general since we last saw you. Can I please ask what you made of the development of the Black Lives Matter movement and the reaction to the George Floyd incident, and maybe more importantly, what positive difference you hope that all makes going forward?

TIGER WOODS: I think change is fantastic. As long as we make changes without hurting the innocent, and unfortunately that has happened, hopefully it doesn’t happen in the future, but a movement and change is fantastic. That’s how society develops. That’s how we grow. That’s how we move forward. That’s how we have fairness. Unfortunately we’ve lost innocent lives along the way, and hopefully we don’t lose any more in the future as we move to a much better place socially.

Q.  I was wondering, people have been spending all kinds of different time at home during quarantine and lockdown. I was wondering if there’s anything that you’ve been able to do, one or two things that you ordinarily wouldn’t be able to just because you’ve been stuck at home during this time?

TIGER WOODS: Well, there’s a lot of things that I hadn’t done in a long time, and one was sport-wise and physically is that we were playing quite a bit of tennis. That was very different and something I hadn’t done in a very long period of time because I hadn’t been able to do it physically. The kids enjoyed it. We were able to do that in the backyard.

Again, at the time to have the social distancing and be away from one another, from each other, soccer has been gone, as I’ve said, for us we’ve been lucky enough to have Medalist open and been able to play and practice social distancing and still enjoy being active and being outside. But as far as a lot of things inside the house, well, watched a lot of TV, read a lot of books and just tried and passed the time at times.

Q.  What’s the best book you’ve read?

TIGER WOODS: One of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz, California guy, horror novels. So I read a few of those.

Ryder Cup is postponed

Q.  Tiger, I wanted to get your thoughts on the postponement of the Ryder Cup. Two-part question: One, do you agree with it, and two, with everything now skipping forward a year, Italy will be a few months before your 48th birthday. Is that the one you’re targeting to be captain at?

TIGER WOODS: As far as captaining, we haven’t looked that far. The world has changed so fast. The fact that we were going to play the Ryder Cup, we were in position — what we were going to do as far as the vice captains, the team, how we were going to play practice rounds going forward and gelling as a team this year, all of a sudden the TOUR is suspended, we’re not playing, and we still haven’t come up with a plan going forward how we’re going to figure out the points for not this year but next year, how many picks Strick is going to get. Is that going to change or is it still going to be the same, where is the points cutoff going to be, are we going to be accumulating points at all through this. None of that’s been figured out yet.

Quite frankly, a Ryder Cup without fans is not the Ryder Cup. As it is now, okay. When the Ryder Cup first started there weren’t that many people involved in the game or whether it was GB&I versus the U.S., but the world has expanded, the event has expanded, and as far as I can remember, I’ve always seen people involved in a Ryder Cup and the chanting and screaming and the participation, the bipartisanship that has been part of the sport and part of the event. I think what they did with suspending it for the year and moving it to next year was the right thing.

We couldn’t have an environment in which we could protect all the fans that were going to be involved and have that type of insurance. Obviously if that’s the case, you can’t have the fans. Well, if you can’t have the fans, then it’s not the Ryder Cup.

We did the right thing of holding off for the year, and now from the U.S. side, we’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to accumulate points, how many players Strick is going to be able to pick and figure that out, and build our team from there.

Q.  You must have given some thought to whether you’d like to captain on U.S. soil or on European soil?

TIGER WOODS: I did my captaincy last year, and it was a lot of work, and I’m sure that I’ll look into that in the future.

Q.  Tiger, you’ve touched on this a little bit already: Just curious as you’ve watched on TV what have been your observations from a golf standpoint in terms of low scoring, in terms of course setup and that sort of thing?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the courses have been set up a little on the easier side, lack of rough, the guys have noticed that the pins have been slightly easier. The greens have been more watered. Trying to force pace of play to kind of move around better. But the guys have just absolutely played unbelievably well, considering the fact that we’ve been suspended for a while. And to see the guys come out in that good a shape, you’ve seen players — well, initially you saw one of two things, either guys that have come out rusty and not played well at all and have not played well, or you’ve seen guys that have taken off and run away with it and have gone low.

The low scores have been low and cumulative. To see the cuts at 3-, 4-under par each and every week on the venues that I know are traditionally very hard, to see the scores last week here, Muirfield, I mean, I’ve never seen anything like that, to see that many guys that low on a golf course that I know has always been very hard and very difficult.

I think that what the players have started to figure out as they’ve come back and started to get into the rhythm of playing again, understanding the new environment that we’re now in, it’s been fun to watch and will be even better to be a part of this week.

Q.  What do you make of what Bryson has been doing, more from the standpoint of what do you think the future of the sport looks like in terms of distance?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he’s figured out a way to increase distance and maximize his efficiency with not only his driver but all of his clubs, but in particular the driver. If I just look back at when I first started playing the TOUR or right before I started playing the TOUR, we didn’t have TrackMans, we didn’t have launch monitors. Guys were learning how to bend clubs on their knee to try and take loft off of it. That’s now changed. Now you go into — you have all these different launch monitor technologies and you can send up a whole bunch of balls, figure out the shafts, the conditions that you want to optimize carry. What Bryson has done is no easy task. He’s got to put in the time and has put in the reps, and he’s figured it out. He’s gotten stronger, faster, bigger, and has created more speed. But more importantly, he’s hitting it further, but let’s look at the fact that he’s hitting it as straight as he is. That’s part of the most difficult thing to do. The further you hit it, the more the tangent goes more crooked, more along this line. So the fact that he’s figured that out and has been able to rein in the foul balls to me has been equally as impressive as his gains off the tee distance-wise.

THE MODERATOR: We appreciate the time. Best of luck this week.

(Transcript by ASAP Sports)

Team USA

PGA Tour: Tiger Woods Addresses the Media at the 2020 Masters Tournament Media Conference

PGA Tour: 2019 Masters champion Tiger Woods speaks with the media at the annual Masters Tournament media conference.

PGA Tour: Tiger Woods speaks with the media looking back o 2019 Masters Tournament victory

STEVE ETHUN: Good morning, everyone, this is Steve Ethun, Augusta National Golf Club. Hope this finds everyone doing very well. We appreciate you joining us on the call today, and especially for Tiger Woods, thank you, Tiger for your time.
We, of course, look forward to having you back to Augusta National here in just a few weeks.
So before we get started, just want to remind everyone on the call, we’ll take about 30 minutes to ask Tiger questions about the upcoming Masters Tournament, and with that, Tiger, I was hoping you could reflect a little on what it’s been like to spend the last year as the reigning Masters Champion.
TIGER WOODS: I like the sound of that. It’s been incredible for myself and my family to be a part of this and for me to be the current Masters Champion, it’s crazy that somehow it all came together for one week, one magical week, and to have so many things go right that week, and that’s what you have to do in order to win an event.
But to do it there, there’s so many little things that have to go right, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have done it four previous times, but last year was just an amazing week.
STEVE ETHUN: With just a few weeks to go, obviously your attention, I’m sure, has turned to preparations for April. How is that going, and what’s your timeline between now and the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, once we get to Florida, it feels like the Masters, right around the corner. But I’ve been thinking about this for — probably since Australia. I was so focused on what I had to do with those two weeks, in the Bahamas, as well as Australia.
But once that was done, my prep has been just like it usually is, is what do I need to do to get ready for the Masters. I’ve been fortunate to have done this now five times, and to try and have everything peak together for just an incredible week, it’s hard to do.
It’s hard to try and get all the shots and have everything dialed in, but I’ve been excited since — I’ve been a part of the Masters since I was 9 years old, and it doesn’t cease to amaze me is that once when I go back to Augusta National, just the beauty and the history and the aura around it, it’s just unlike anything that we have in our sport.

Q. I’ll start by just throwing out a general one here. Obviously your win was iconic and it stretched beyond just golf. It moved people beyond the game, and I’m curious from your standpoint looking back now, what kind of reaction did you get from people that really stood out? Was there anything, perhaps a letter, e-mail, text, what-have-you, that really struck you that this meant more than just the usual victory?
TIGER WOODS: I had just an amazing amount of e-mails and texts that were flowing in, but I was more surprised the amount of videos of people watching the Masters and seeing their reaction when I hit the shot on 16 or when I made the putt, whether it was on airplanes or in airports or restaurants. It was just — that part of it, being — I’m on the other side of it, so I’m out there hitting the shot.
But seeing the amount of reactions and the amount of people that were riveted by the Masters and that were — the amount of emotion that people were showing, that’s what blew my mind is I didn’t think that that many people were going to be moved that way. I was just trying to win the event and do something I’ve never done before, which is come-from-behind in a major championship and win.
Ironically enough, looking back on it, to have the event end a little bit earlier and to have that amount of people watch; I even had a few people here in this area that said to me, “We didn’t watch it. We went and played golf and we had it on DVR. So we were able to watch it when we got back,” and then at that point responded, because most people have mobile devices and alerts and all the different ways that people get reminded, but a few of my friends just didn’t watch it.

Q. Did you watch it yourself at all in full, the final round at any point?
TIGER WOODS: I did. The first time I watched it was about a month after the event. Joey came down and we watched it together. We were talking back and forth, and reliving every bit of it. Because we have a certain viewpoint of how we look at it, the shots, the numbers, the situations, and people are making birdies and all the different scenarios were playing out in our heads.
But it was kind of fun to sit back and listen to the broadcast and hear their take on it. You know, what we don’t have access to is what people are — how they are doing it in front of us, and you know, we hear the roars. We hear the birdies that were being made. We have the signage that people pop up and what they have done; we just don’t know how they did it. That was kind of the fun part is reliving that from a totally different perspective than what we did.

Q. The emotional reaction you had when you won became such a part of the story. With your kids, was there a moment or two later that night or after you got home or whatever, where they said something or did something that really stuck with you and really touched you about they were there to see it and fully appreciate it?
TIGER WOODS: I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had got the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco.
So to have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it and when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget; and the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie. To have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.
Just watching them fight over the green jacket on the airplane was pretty funny. “I want to wear it; no, I want to wear it,” and that’s something I certainly will never forget.

Q. Couple questions about the 16th. Did you notice Michael Phelps standing there, and if so, was that weird?
TIGER WOODS: No, I did not. I did not notice Michael was back there. I was locked into what I was doing. I had just taken the lead on 15 and just trying to figure out, am I going to — I already had an idea if it was going to be 7 or 8, and that’s what I kept thinking and reminding myself that, hey, I’ve got to be committed to either shot. And then when we got over and the wind started picking up, I went in with 8-iron.
But no, I did not know who was there, and to see the reaction, to see Verne call it and to see Michael, basically, bending over in the same position that I was in leaning forward, that was pretty cool.

Q. What is the toughest pin for you on 16, and secondly, how do you approach that hole on Sunday when the difference of a good look at birdie or a potential bogey could be a matter of inches?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, trying to figure out, do you feed it back there or do you fly it back there. I’ve done both. I’ve hit cuts into that flag, or I’ve shaped it off the hillside. But either way, there’s a pretty big area that you can get the ball back into that hole.
Yeah, but it’s a very — it’s an easy pin to get the ball, you know, 20 feet below the hole. Now, trying to get it all the way back there, then the risk comes into play of hitting the bunker or hitting it over the back or hitting it up on the right and having virtually, you know, being in a dead position. But hitting it just below the hole 20 feet is really not that hard a shot.
The hardest pin I think there is that front right one. I know they moved the tee up to get to that front right one, but still, there’s really no area to hit to. I’ve had, over the years, two different game plans: Either go right at the flag, and if I miss, it miss it right of the flag, and I’ve got an easy little chip or right up the hill.
And I also have years where I just play short left and just putt up the hill and take my three and move on. If I happen to hit a good shot where the ball cuts over the flag, then I could have a potential birdie.
But any time that I walk away with three on that hole to that front right flag is always good.

Q. I was hoping to ask you a couple things. What was your thought as you walked up to 9 and saw where your ball was, and how big was that up-and-down and how difficult?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that putt, unfortunately, I’ve had it — fortunately and unfortunately, I’ve had that putt before. I have left it on the middle shelf, and so that’s obviously not where you want to be, but also, then again, it’s very easy to putt the ball over the green, or actually, down the front edge of the green.
The good thing that I had going for me was that at that time, the wind was a little bit into me, so I had a little bit of a backboard with that wind being slightly into me.
But it’s being committed to hitting that ball up there into that fringe, or near the fringe. Only problem is if you get it too far right, actually, it gets a little steeper and picks up a lot of speed. The conservative approach is play it a little bit left of the hole and you know take your 10-, 15-footer and move on with a four or five.
But I decided to take a little bit more of a risk, and knowing that I had a little bit of a backboard with the wind kind of coming slightly into me.

Q. What was your thought after going bogey, bogey and walking off the fifth and now you’re three back going to that sixth green?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I made two bad mistakes there. I played 5 all for the week and played it in, what, 20 shots.
Just reset and try and see if I can get it back to under par at the turn. I know that Fran was playing extremely well. There’s a bunch of guys that have a chance, but if I’m within six of the lead — I’ve always felt this — if I’m within six of the lead starting the back nine on Sunday, I’ve got a shot at it.
We’ve seen so many things happen on the back nine. Guys have won shooting 30s and guys have lost it shooting well over 40; so anything is possible. I just need to get myself into that position where I had that opportunity, and I was able to play my way back into it and a couple guys made a few mistakes there at 12, and lo and behold, I’m part of the lead.

Q. I’m curious, you mentioned coming into Sunday, the first time you trailed at a major and went on to win that major. At what point during the round did it click for you, this is going to happen, maybe with a shot. I don’t know when it was, where you’re like, if I do this, this and this, this is going to happen.
TIGER WOODS: Once I played my way back into it and there was a bunch of guys with a chance, I made a mistake there at 10 making bogey; if I can somehow play both par 5s under par, maybe sprinkle in two more somewhere along the way, that I could get it done.
I didn’t really think the tournament was truly over until I hit that little pitch shot on the green on 18. But Brooksy had missed his putt and that gave me a two-shot lead, and I knew that bogey was the winning number and I played it extremely conservative over to the right.
But once I hit that pitch up on the green, the tournament was over. When I was walking up on the green, to see my family and friends there through the chute, I started to get a little bit emotional and I had to rein it back in and say: Hey, it’s not quite over yet. I’ve had this putt before. Let’s go ahead and make this putt.
To be honest with you, once I knocked that pitch shot on the green, that tournament was over.

Q. Is the tee shot on 16 the shot you’ve thought back on the most, or is there a different one you’ve thought about the most?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we touched on it with Steve asking the question. I think it’s the putt on 9, making par there. The guys made mistake there is at 12.
But the most pure shot that I hit was the second shot into 15, just through the forest, straight up in the air and turned it over.
The shot I hit on 16, yes, that was a nice shot, and it ended up in a really good spot, but the best shot I hit all day was the second shot into 15.

Q. You mentioned how long you’ve been playing in the Masters. I’m wondering how with the advancements in equipment and how far the guys are hitting it, but also the course having lengthened, how different does the course play now than it did back in the ’90s, namely, the par 5s, and how do you see that evolving going forward?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I’ll give you a good example is I’ve hit driver and wedge into 2. To the back left pin, I’ve hit 9-iron over the green a few times. That shot doesn’t exist anymore. Trying to carry that bunker, it was just a no-brainer to drive it down there and then I could have some kind of wedge in there.
8, just try and keep the ball left of the bunker or over the bunker, have some kind of iron in there.
13 was a 3-wood, an 8-iron.
And 15, as you saw in ’97, I hit driver, wedge in there. And so the par 5s have changed dramatically.
The shots I learned from Raymond or Seve or Ollie over the years, when I first got there, the bump-and-runs, using 4-irons and 5-irons around the greens, the fairways are so much tighter back in the nine tees. It was hard to get a sand wedge on it. Afraid of it bouncing, and so playing more of a bump-and-run shot was a little more of a proper shot.
Now with the grass height being a little bit longer and them overseeding it a little bit more, it’s a little bit more sticky than it is around the greens.
Also, we don’t have square grooves and balata balls anymore. The shots that we were able to play back in the ’90s were a little bit different. I know that the green over the years, every green has been rebuilt, and every green is a little bit flatter than it was back then, giving us a little bit more room. Just because the fact we’re a little bit further out, they are giving us a chance.
Granted, that’s not saying the greens are easy; they are far from, but they are a little bit flatter, and the areas that we have to hit to are a little bit bigger, but granted, we are so much further back than we ever used to be.

Q. You mentioned hole 5; you mentioned you bogeyed it all four days. Do you see that as a potential strategy, lengthening more holes, or do you think that the course is in a good place now as a test?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they have been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course.
Granted, they have the property; they can do virtually whatever they want. Complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
But also, they have been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting. As the game has evolved, we have has gotten longer, equipment’s changed, and they are trying to keep it so that the winning score is right around that 12- to 18-under par mark, and they have.

Q. I was just curious, looking back to last year and the early start, what a different Sunday that was for somebody at the top of the leaderboard at the Masters, what your routine was in the morning and how you dealt with a very, very different situation?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was different. I was telling the people close to me that this is going to be different for a lot of us. It’s a quick turnaround for me with my back and the way it was. I had to wake up a little bit earlier and get into my routine.
But I think that having the guys who have never won the Masters, now get a chance to have a quicker turnaround, not have to sit on that lead and think about it far into the afternoon, it’s very similar to when we played The Open championship. We don’t tee off until like 3 o’clock. Sitting on the lead, you have to figure out what you’re going to do all morning long, try and kill time.
I thought it was advantageous to the guys who haven’t won, but I hadn’t been in this experience, either. I hadn’t been there before, and I hadn’t won coming from behind. So there was a lot of new things, and we were all having to go through it together and I’m going to have to go earn it, and being part of a threesome on that Sunday is something that I’ve never been a part of.
It was very different. Having the rounds be a little bit slower and a little bit more delayed is something we’re not used to on the weekend. We are used to sort of running around there. It was going to be a new experience for all of us.

Q. First of all, you’ve done this long enough and had enough success that you’ll be playing with your second U.S. Amateur champion from Georgia Tech as a defending champion. Any advice you might give Andy Ogletree on how to handle that experience, even comparing it to how you handled it back in ’95?
TIGER WOODS: I usually tell the amateurs that I play with, coming up that first hole — my first putt playing in the Masters, I putted off the green right in the gallery playing with Ollie. Chipped back up there and made the putt for bogey, and that was one of the most embarrassing moments that I can ever remember.
How to start off, your first major championship, you putt it off the green. I’ve told amateurs that experience before, whether it was all the way back to Kuch; that was one of the most embarrassing ways to start, but also, you know, now that I’ve been a part of the Masters, I’m able to tell that story. Usually it relaxes the amateur.

Q. A very broad question. You have a 25-year relationship with this place and this tournament. What is your personal relationship to that place, and what do you think it’s meant to your legacy?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was my first major championship, and to have it be when I was in college, and to stay up in the Crow’s Nest, and to be up there with Tripp and Buddy and I think Tim Jackson was up there; we had just a great time. To watch Sam and Byron and Gene Sarazen tee off on the first hole, those are memories that I will never forget, and now to have been a part of it from the champion’s side, and to hear all the stories that happen in the champions locker room, to hear the needling and the hazing that happens over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of it and I will always be a part of it.

Q. You mentioned guys making mistakes on 12. What do you think it was about the situation, the weather, the wind? How do you explain all those guys hitting into the water on 12?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as we all know, the wind swirls down there a little bit, and when I hit that shot on 11 and I turned it back into the fan, I probably hit that shot maybe another — it played probably two to three yards longer than what I had thought.
And to see the guys ahead of me, whether it was Poults or Brooksy; when I got to that 12 tee, I could — the feeling was that 11 played a little bit longer, and that shot is so inviting to hit it over there. It was warm out. I know that I don’t quite hit the ball as far as Brooksy does, and I had 9-iron out, and I figured that his flight is more penetrating and he can get it back there, and he didn’t quite get it back there.
Watching Fran hit an 8-iron there, and you could see it — and I know he didn’t quite hit it right, but I played it to the left.
Tony hit the best shot to all of us and he got stood up at the very end. It was a good shot. He hit it flush, but it stalled out at the top. If I had gone at the flag, my ball would have been the same thing, because mine, I played left, and it stalled out at its apex, ended up short left, and I had a putt.

Q. How does your health compare this year to prepping for the Masters last year, and do you think you’ll prepare similarly?
TIGER WOODS: The plan is to prepare the same way. It worked last year, so yeah, I’ve got a blueprint for what I need to do and hopefully I can have the same feelings.
You know, looking back on it, one of the things, the best move I made the entire week was to not go out and play on that Tuesday when it was — rain had come in and the greens had slowed up. They didn’t quite cut them. The golf course was playing slower. I know they would speed up but Thursday, and I just stayed on the practice green. I chipped and putted, but I hit a lot of putts that were — I hit downhill putts because I knew the greens were going to be a little bit faster and try not to get myself acclimated to that pace because I knew it was going to change come Thursday, and that was the best thing I could have done.

Q. Should we expect a similar schedule then coming up before the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: It’s weather dependent. Last year we had the rain come in. The plan is to practice and prepare, and I had found a feeling right — well, after the Match Play, I started to figure something out where I felt comfortable hitting the ball high and turning it over from right-to-left and I felt like I could control it.
Going into that week, I really had amazing control of not only my tee shots but my iron shots, and the amount of time that I spent putting, getting a feel for it, and then coming in there on that Sunday afternoon and getting a nice quiet round out there with Joey and Rob, that set the tone for what I did the rest of the week.

Q. What’s your opinion on the possibility of lengthening 13, and what’s the longest club you would feel comfortable hitting into that green in two?
TIGER WOODS: That I feel comfortable hitting it in there? Probably a wedge.

Q. No, what’s the longest club you would feel comfortable.
TIGER WOODS: Exactly. A wedge. (Laughs).
That’s one of the toughest shots we’ll ever face. People don’t realize how steep that slope is, and as they have lengthened it over the years, if you hit it — if you don’t quite get around the corner, that’s the steepest part of the slope, and if you’re able to turn it over and get it down there, it’s a little bit flatter.
But trying to hit a cut off that hook lie, and some years having to start it right of the creek and hook it back over there, and if you miss it left, it’s dead. If you miss it right, you’re dead. There’s not a lot of good spots to hit it into. It’s a big commitment.
We saw what Nick did when he beat Greg there. He was trying to figure out whether to hit an iron or a wood there. It’s one of the most difficult shots, especially last year with the wind.
When I hit that second shot, that wind came off the right and it should have been off the left. It’s very easy to get fooled down there.

Q. Are you concerned about how far they will go to lengthen it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they have done it before. You know, I think that what they do with the tee markers over the years, slagging it more to the left, and it seems like each and every year, the trees get a little taller and they have added more pine straw off the right side over the years, planted a few more trees in there.
You know, I’ve had different game plans over the years of hitting 3-wood to the corner, or hitting driver around the corner. When I first got there, it was just hit it up there, up near the gallery up on the right-hand side because we have more of an angle and the tee was more to the right.
Just for me, my length at the time was just drive it down there, and I’d have somewhere between an 8-iron to a wedge in there; take advantage of it, because the further right we can get on that tee shot, we’re hitting back into the slope.
But also, then again, the flipside is if we’re able to hug the corner, we’re playing along the creek with the second shot.
Do I feel comfortable in there with anything but a wedge? It’s one of the most difficult, underrated shots that we have to face there.
STEVE ETHUN: With that, everybody, I want to thank Tiger for his time today.
Before we let you go, I wonder your thoughts on your Champion’s Dinner menu, if you’ve finalized that yet.
TIGER WOODS: I have. Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006. So we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.
I’m debating whether or not to have milkshakes as deserts because that was one of the most — one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98.
STEVE ETHUN: Thanks for your time, thanks to all the media who joined us this morning, and we look forward to seeing everybody in April.
With that, we’ll sign off and talk to everyone again soon.

Augusta National, Augusta, GA.

February 25, 2020