An Interview With: TIGER WOODS
September 20, 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: I think we'll just get started. Tiger, we saw you wearing the shades in London at the football match on Saturday, and a different kind of gear you've got on today. How do you feel about what's happening at the moment?
TIGER WOODS: Well, first of all, if you don't mind, I'll answer that second.
I just want to make an opening statement real quick. That, you know, for me personally, and for my wife, things that have occurred over here, I'm very disappointed, not the fans, not the people here, not the Irish people. But very disappointed in how the article that was written, my wife, yes, she has been a model prior and she did do some bikini photos. But to link her to porn websites and such is unacceptable, and I do not accept that at all. Neither does our team. And I just want to say that that doesn't deter or detract from the beauty of this event.
The people here have been absolutely fantastic. Irish people have come out and supported us, and Europeans, I just want to say, sometimes you shouldn't let I know the media can be a little bit difficult at times, but when you it's hard to be very diplomatic about this when you have so much emotion involved, when my wife is involved like this. I just hope that it was the right thing to do, and overall, as I said, I don't want that to deter from the beauty of this event.
We as a team have come together, we have bonded, it's been an absolutely fantastic week and have had such a great time here. Hospitality has been absolutely fantastic. Last week, as Gordon said, we were watching Chelsea Liverpool football match, first football match I've ever been to, quite an experience, quite a bit of singing. We don't do that in American football, that's for sure. So that was a new experience. And as I said, had an absolutely fantastic time this entire week. That was the last I'll say about that.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
Q. Ian Woosnam was in here and talking about if the weather stays as it is now and gets worse, that should play in favour of The European Team. What are your thoughts about that?
TIGER WOODS: I think we've all played in weather like this. We've all played in bad weather all around the world. So that's not anything new. I certainly have, and all of the guys who have been involved in the golf, you've got to play through conditions like this. It's all about quality of ball striking, controlling your flight. That's something all these guys can do. Obviously if they couldn't do that, they wouldn't be on this team.
Q. How would you describe your role in the U.S. Ryder Cup Team in previous years, and do you think your role has changed this year? Do you see yourself taking more of a lead with your team?
TIGER WOODS: I think so, certainly, because Davis is not on this, Freddie is not a part of this team, and these guys are linked back to the early '90s, sometimes the '80s. They have seen a lot more and been a part of this a lot longer than I ever have. So I think the longest anyone has been on the team is Phil, '95. So I think the three of us, Phil, myself and Jim, we're the guys who have been on the most Cups.
Yeah, certainly I think the three of us have taken more of a leadership role, because we are veterans of the team.
Q. Are you saying if those guys would have been here, you would be less involved in a leadership role?
TIGER WOODS: Freddie has been there since I think '89 was his first one. That's not my place. I qualified for the team and those guys were the leaders and veterans of the team, and they were tremendous leaders. I just sat back and listened and learned; that's what you do over here. If you're a young person on the team, that's what you do is listen and learn.
Hopefully one day if you're in that position, you can take up more of a leadership role and do just as good of a job as he did, and hopefully the three of us can do that this week.
Q. Jim Furyk talked about playing with you and why he thinks you like playing with him. What are your thoughts that you see in makes him be a good partner?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Jim and I play the game almost the same way, I just hit the ball further. Our thought process, the way we see shots, basically, exactly the same. We read putts the same. I just hit the ball a little further than he does off the tee, and my irons may be half a club longer, that's about it.
We both are very competitive. Jimmy, you watch Jimmy and you think he's into it a lot, which he is, but he's actually pretty funny out there. The comments that he'll make under his breath as I'm just walking along, that is pretty funny. We've had a great time, all the practise rounds we've played in major championships as well as other events that we've played, especially at the Presidents Cup last year. We had just an absolute ball. Hopefully this week we can do the same.
Q. He suggested that you like to play with him to watch his swing.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because I'm always wondering, you know, how he makes contact (laughter).
Q. A couple of things, Tiger. We know what your record is in these Matches. A, does it bother you what it is, or has it bothered you more now than it has a couple years ago; and B, Sergio some comments in Switzerland a few weeks ago and that your record is not very good and he looks forward to playing you three or four times. Do those comments annoy you?
TIGER WOODS: It's disappointing, I haven't won points on the Cups that I've been on to win points for my team. I've always felt it's a two point swing; winning a point, losing a point, it feels like it's two points going the wrong way. And unfortunately I've gone on the wrong end of it too many times. It's frustrating because you feel like you've not only let yourself down but you've let your teammate down that your playing with, your partner, as well as your teammates that are trying to win this Cup for our captain and our country. It's very disappointing.
As far as the Sergio comments, hopefully we can get together out there and play.
Q. How did your routine differ this week versus what you normally do at major championships, with all of the functions that you have to go to? And secondly, do you buy the idea that you are the pacesetter for this team, back to sort of what you just answered with Doug, that you need to get that point early in order to just set the tone for the American side?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as the functions, no, I don't normally go to functions each and every major, no, and hang out. That's normally not what I do to prepare for major championships. But this is different. This is different.
I've been on Cups since '97; you learn a lot. I remember Payne Stewart and Mark O'Meara pulling me aside in 1997, "Get your sleep now." "Why would you say something like that?" "Because you're not going to get any at the Ryder Cup." Payne was pretty adamant about that, and he was right when I experienced it in '97.
As far as setting the tone, yeah, I would like to get a point for my team. You know, if and when I get put up, that's my responsibility is to get points, and if I play one match or all five, my responsibility is to get points. Hopefully I can do that this year, and years past I haven't done that. I mean, I tried and unfortunately I just haven't done that. Hopefully this year I can get points.
Q. I read this morning that Team USA has been having a good old fashioned sing song and a couple of pints of Guinness?
TIGER WOODS: Say again, this morning we were drinking? You or us?
Q. No, I read this morning, that you have enjoyed a couple of pints of Guinness and good old fashioned Irish sing song; is that true?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't drink Guinness.
Q. Not you, the team?
TIGER WOODS: The team did, yeah.
Q. Just asking you, how was the atmosphere?
TIGER WOODS: We had a great time, absolute fantastic time.
Q. How is the atmosphere like within the team?
TIGER WOODS: Fun, as it is each and every time. We have just an absolute blast. Well, I'm not going to say what we do, but yeah, we have a great time.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about how Tom has tried to keep this team looser and closer together in the way he's leading you guys around. Can you talk about his leadership and how much more fun maybe this has been this week?
TIGER WOODS: I think the atmosphere has been certainly a little bit different, because that's Tom's personality. I think each team that you're involved in takes on the personality of your captain. Tom's very serious, but also very mellow, too, at the same time.
I think that's how we are as a team. We are a unit; that's how we're going to play. We're going to go out there and compete and give it everything we've got and lay it on the line and have a great time doing it.
Q. I think I read you warned the rookies of a few things that were different about the Ryder Cup given your experiences. Coming back to that leadership thing and your role, what are the things you picked out to tell them about that might surprise them or that surprised you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's just different playing in the Ryder Cup. Obviously the atmosphere is different; you're in a team format. Some of the guys haven't played match play before. So there's different changes in match play, the strategy, the mental outlook that you need to have for match play situations. Just the overall concept of being on a Ryder Cup is certainly a lot different than you are when you're playing as an individual in each and every event.
It's even different than what it was when we played in college. We all played on teams in college, and it's even magnified by the nth degree than it was in college, because you're adding the fact that you're playing for your country as well, so it's very different.
Q. I wonder, you're one of three players in here who suffered a family loss this year, which as grand as all this is puts it in perspective. Can you speak about what you have shared with Chris DiMarco, and across team lines, what you have shared with your good friend Darren Clarke?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you can't really talk too much about it in here with all of you. I think what we talk about is pretty sacred because it's obviously very personal, very deep, and very moving. I sat next to Darren last night at the dinner and that's basically what we talked about. I think that we shared our experiences through the whole thing. Mine happened before his loss, and I just wanted to reiterate the process I went through to get to where I'm at now. If there's anything I can do to help him feel any better than he does, I'm here as a friend and I've always been here as a friend for him.
Q. Do you feel that you intimidate your own playing partners at all, especially in the foursomes?
TIGER WOODS: No.
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Some of your teammates have suggested that there's been a change of attitude, that you've worked hard to make people more comfortable around you; would you go along with that?
TIGER WOODS: Not really. I'm the same. Maybe the perception is different, I guess. I don't know, but I feel the same.
Q. What are the plans for this afternoon? Are you guys going out there, and in your mind, what are the pros and cons of going out in conditions like this?
TIGER WOODS: We're going to go out there and practise a little bit. I need to work on a couple things. I think a few of the guys need work on a few things on the range before we go out and play. Just go out there and have a bunch of fun.
Q. Can you accomplish anything out there in these kind of conditions?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. Hopefully money will exchange and go in the right hands.
Q. I know you told Tom that you would take responsibility for the four rookies, and obviously you took them out to dinner in Akron and everything. Just observing them this week, what do you expect from them and how are they doing?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, they are excited. Of course, how can you not be? This is the Ryder Cup, their experience for the first time is, you know, overseas for the first time and I think that's where that was my first experience at Valderrama. So very similar circumstances.
I think that the way they are playing right now, they are ready to go. It's just a matter of when they get out there, go out there and play the way they normally play, go ahead and just let it go. They all earned the right to be on this team, they all qualified, and by earning their right, they belong here, so we've got to keep that in mind.
Q. Four years ago, you were very candid about the fact that match play wasn't particularly a natural form of golf for you, that you had a few philosophical difficulties adjusting to it. Just wondering, four years on, people are saying that maybe your record in the Ryder Cup isn't so good. It's become a point that when you're older and have more experience and more success, do you feel more inclined to deal with this aspect of golf in ways that perhaps you haven't before?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you've got part of the question, my record. My individual record is pretty good in match play. Going back to my junior days, my amateur days and even The Match Play at La Costa, I think I've done all right.
But as far as my team match play, no, I haven't won as many points as I feel like I should. That's been frustrating. So hopefully I can get up there this week and get some points for our team.
Q. Is this something you've sort of thought about over the years at all, up to this point, where maybe you need to attend to it a little bit, to your overall record?
TIGER WOODS: It's just the fickle nature of match play. 18 holes, anything can happen. Unfortunately I haven't come out on the good side too often. But this is a new week, and hopefully I can go out there and, as I said, earn points for our team.
Q. Just wondering how muddy is it out there and do you think lifting, cleaning and replacing will be necessary this week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hope we play. Hopefully this thing starts on time. If and when it does, I think, yeah, I think we're probably going to have to, because we played yesterday and we were getting mud balls. Obviously a lot more rain has fallen since then, and obviously more rain is going to fall before we tee it up on Friday.
Q. Just coming back to the function and the lack of sleep, given the irregularity of it all, how much does it throw you off?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't really sleep much to begin with. I think it's just your rest time is a little bit different. I think that's the irregularity of it. You're not in your normal routine, and that's something, you know, you get used to, being a part of teams. You do things as an individual each and every week. But when you come to team events, it's very similar to what we did in college, similar to what we did at Walker Cup, Presidents Cup, and all of the Ryder Cups I've been on. You have to understand it is a team, and we're here together and we do things together. The ultimate goal is we do whatever it takes to win as a team.
Q. Originally you were supposed to speak tomorrow. Is there a reason why you switched to today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we all did. We're all trying to get it out of the way early so that tomorrow we can get a little more rest in there. I think we have an hour and a half of media today, so it's an hour and a half more rest tomorrow.
Q. Secondly, you're renowned for your laser focus on the golf course. It's understandable your feelings towards your wife about what's happened in the media over here. How do you not let that affect your concentration?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you just go out there and play. You know, as I said, I have a teammate with me, whenever I go out there, hopefully in the first four matches. And as far as the fans, the fans have been absolutely fantastic. Irish people, I've come here numerous years to fish and hang out and play golf and tour all of Ireland, and the people here have been absolutely fantastic.
The same for this week. All of the Europeans that have come and supported the European side have been so gracious to us. It's just that sometimes just don't let the facts get in the way of a good story, and sometimes that happens, and I think this was a clear incidence of that.
Q. If it were just you involved as opposed to your wife, because you've been through a lot of this before, would you be able to just hey, the hell with that? You're actually standing up and trying to defend your wife; isn't that more of what it is?
TIGER WOODS: You do things do you things for the people you love and you care about. My father got ridiculed for years and I always felt for my father and my mother the same way. My wife, we're in it together, we're a team and we do things as a team and I care about her with all my heart.
GORDON SIMPSON: That's a very good note to finish on. Thank you very much.
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