Tiger Woods Talks: Accenture Match Play
US PGA Tour | 2009 Accenture Match Play Championship | Matchplay Round One | 26 Feb 2009
Mark Williams: Welcome, Tiger Woods, to the media center at the Accenture Match Play. Obviously a good win in the first day. Just give us your assessment of your game and how you felt out there today.
Tiger Woods: I got off to probably an ideal start, birdie, eagle. I hit the ball well starting out. Hit a couple loose irons in the middle part of the round. But other than that, I really hit it pretty good all day. And more than anything, it was just hard to get the speed of these things; they’re a little bit slow. So that was kind of a tricky task.
Q: On the emotional side, can you talk about what it felt like just finally being back to competitive golf, what it meant to hear the cheers, and did the cheers mean something to you?
Tiger Woods: Well, it felt like nothing had changed. Walking down the fairway, and it felt like business as usual. Go out there, I thought I would be more nervous on that first tee, but when it comes right down to it, it comes to placement off the tee, and hitting to the flag and second hole, hit it down the fairway, angle it. All different things that I – it just came back down to just playing the game again, and that felt good.
I thought it would take me a little bit longer to get into the rhythm of the round and try and find it, but I came out and as if I had it and it felt good.
Q: The cheers?
Tiger Woods: Cheers were good, because that means I was up.
Q: Did you get, or do you did you get nervous before say the final round of a Major prior?
Tiger Woods: Always.
Q: You get the butterflies?
Tiger Woods: Always. Always.
Q: Secondly, a bunch of guys on the range are saying good thing the greens are slow because of the nature of them?
Tiger Woods: No doubt.
Q: The grasses and humps, and so in that respect it’s a much different golf course than last year?
Tiger Woods: No doubt. We couldn’t play these things if they were quick. If they had them to normal TOUR speed, they would be unplayable. If you have any kind of wind on them you really couldn’t play. And the only way you can play this is to have the greens slow. And they are. They’re running slower than I think I’ve ever played a PGA TOUR event on.
Q: Like a ten and a half maybe?
Tiger Woods: Downhill, downgrain, yeah, sure.
Q: Are people making too much out of the layoff and the comeback and the surgery, or do you kind of understand that? Obviously you’re pretty high on the pedestal as far as athletes go on the global scale, but it was an ACL surgery and not an amputation. I just wonder what your thoughts are on that, if you think the hoopla has been overcooked at all?
Tiger Woods: (Laughing.) I can’t answer that one.
Q: I mean, you see that many people out there yesterday morning when you got here to hit balls, what do you think?
Tiger Woods: They got up early? I mean it is what it is. I’ve been away from the game for a while and I came back.
Q: How is the knee, and do you expect it to be a little while before you’ll have not to deal with any soreness after a round or after a tournament?
Tiger Woods: Well, yeah, I’m sure that’s going to be a little while. It’s to be expected. That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s a little bit nice to get out here and just go ice it and elevate it just a little bit and get ready for tomorrow. But I’m very pleased at how it felt all day. I thought that it would be more stiff on 15 tee when I had to hit my shot after that long wait. But I felt fine.
Q: The putt on 8 was the type of thing that we have grown accustomed to seeing you do over the years. How did you gauge the speed on that considering how slow the greens have been?
Tiger Woods: That’s what’s been – that was the tricky part. You just kind of hit it. And there are more putts that you had to hit hard than you normally would at any other tournament. It’s just different. I’ve never played a TOUR event where the greens were this slow, but then again, I’ve never played a TOUR event where there’s this much undulation, as well. But the areas that we have to putt to aren’t really that big. So just hit it and hit it in the hole.
Q: Is it like total culture shock from Isleworth where I know they can get them pretty speedy?
Tiger Woods: That haven’t been that quick, but they have been faster than this.
Q: Brendan Jones, obviously this was kind of the opportunity for him. He was new to this whole thing and took that attitude. Tim Clark is a little bit different, been around a little bit longer. Obviously wondering more about your thoughts going against him tomorrow, more of a seasoned player?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, Tim’s played well, and I think didn’t he just come back from surgery not too long ago?
Q: Didn’t he play last year?
Tiger Woods: Did I play him last year?
Q: Early, I think.
Tiger Woods: I thought you were supposed to look this up.
Q: I should know it?
Tiger Woods: No, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m playing a good guy, a friend of mine, so we’ll go out there and compete and play hard.
Q: But his game, obviously not as long as Brendan, a little bit, so you’ll be hitting second pretty much all day long I would imagine. Does that change your focus?
Tiger Woods: Doesn’t change anything, no.
Q: We’re all human beings. Describe your emotions when you walk through up and to the first tee box and the adrenaline of actually striking the ball competitively for the first time and in the best part of the year.
Tiger Woods: Walking on the tee was just I was just in my own little world, just trying to make sure that I knew what the number was to the bunker, where the wind was coming from, slightly off left, am I going to the hit a flat 3-wood, draw the ball, trying to decide what shot I want to hit. And that’s basically how I am with every round going to the first tee. So that didn’t change. So over the tee shot it was just being able to hold a little draw up there and put it down the right side and give myself an angle at that flag, and I was able to do that.
Q: You make it sound as though it was just another shot.
Tiger Woods: Well, that’s – it is. It really is when it comes down to it; it really is just another shot. Just because I’ve taken time off and away from a competitive environment doesn’t change the nature of how you execute a golf shot. At home or here, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a golf shot. And there’s a lot more pressure out here, granted, but still, it’s just when you tee it up, you make a swing and you go place it down the side of the fairway you want it to be on and go about your business.
Q: Did you learn anything new yourself today? Anything different that surprised you?
Tiger Woods: No.
Q: You’re tremendously competitive. During that eight months that you were away, where did that competitiveness go? Did you channel it into other things? Did it turn into video games, or how did you sort of keep that up?
Tiger Woods: I channeled it right into my workouts. My workouts were where I put all my focus and all my competitiveness, my drive. I put that intensity into my training sessions, making sure that I did the training sessions properly, efficiently, and to the best of my ability each and every rep, all day, whatever it was. I did it and executed it properly like I would a golf shot.
Q: Was there a day that you are particularly proud of, a major victory for you?
Tiger Woods: All days. I mean, if you never have gone through an ACL, it’s every day. Every day is an accomplishment. You have to keep progressing. And some days are hard, some days are really hard. But some days after a couple weeks of doing it that way, you start seeing the light and it’s really fun.
Q: The longest layoff of your career, how does this return compare to the few others that you have made before?
Tiger Woods: Very different. I’ve come back from surgery before but never this long. It was totally different. Never had a major surgery like this either. Plus also I didn’t have quite the same attention paid to my other comebacks.
But this one was certainly different. This was a lot harder away from the competitive environment, away from this, trying to get back to this. By far more difficult.
Q: You are famous for not playing any tournament that you don’t think you can win. How do you feel about the notion that eight months away sort of whetted your appetite even more for competition and maybe will drive you and perhaps even counter the potential rust or inactivity?
Tiger Woods: It’s the same, you know; I don’t go to an event that I don’t think I can win. Why go? It doesn’t make any sense to me. So I entered this event with the same intention I do every event since I was a little boy, and that’s to win.
Q: So no more fired up, you’re always ready?
Tiger Woods: I’m always ready. Yeah.
Q: With Charlie Axel being born a couple weeks ago and you back to your winning ways it seems, I’m curious, how do you compare the thrill of winning to say the thrill of Charlie speaking his first word or Sam taking her first step?
Tiger Woods: Not even close. It can’t even compare to – what I’ve done out here doesn’t even compare to those things. Seeing Charlie born a few weeks ago and then teaching Sam how to say things, how to do things, those are things that no matter what you do out here, no matter how impressive a win may be or wins or whatever it is, nothing compares to that feeling, that joy or the love you have when you see that and the satisfaction when you see them progressing in life. Nothing even compares to that, and it never will. What I do out here doesn’t even come close to what my kids accomplish.
Mark Williams: We appreciate you coming in, Tiger. Thank you.
Tiger Woods: Thank you.
Source – Accenture Match Play
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