Tiger Woods Interview - 2005 US Open
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2005 US Open | Final Round | 20 Jun 2005
Q: We’re now joined by Tiger Woods. Tiger, with 1 under par 69 today, 2 over par, 282 for the championship. Tiger, from outside the ropes, it appeared the golf course was playing harder than it had earlier in the week. Can you give us an idea how it was for the players on the course.
Tiger Woods: It was really tough out there. The wind was blowing harder. The greens were firmer, faster, and the pins were more difficult. Add all that together, it’s a pretty tough course. And it’s just one of those things where these pin locations were just so difficult to get at, that it seemed like every putt you hit up the hill and about 2 feet past the hole, seems like it ran away and you could easily putt into a bunker or off the green somewhere. These were some of the more difficult pins I’ve ever seen.
Q: The closing hole it came down to a two man race between yourself and Michael. Could you give us insight into the strategy in your head.
Tiger Woods: I figured if I could just get to even par for my for the total, that I might if I was lucky, might be able to get into a playoff. And I was trying to, and unfortunately, I made those two bogeys on 16 and 17 and kind of put me out of that equation, trying to get to even par. I played the last hole well.
Q: I’m assuming you felt like you pretty well had to jam that thing in on 17 and rolled it past the hole, and it was do or die time.
Tiger Woods: I was trying to make it, but not with that speed. I just pulled it. And the second putt I blocked it. So somewhere in between I would have been great.
Q: The hole was somewhere in between?
Tiger Woods: Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me. I didn’t feel comfortable with my putter all week. It was frustrating because I could never get the speed right. If you can’t get the speed right, you can’t get the line right, because speed determines line. I struggled with my speed all week.
Q: I might be reading too much into your body language on the 18th green. Was there a feeling that you might have let one slip away at the end?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, because I had a chance where it looked like I probably shouldn’t have had a chance. And after that start, bogey, bogey, I’m sure most people wrote me off. And after I made that par putt on 5 and I saw Goosen, I thought he made bogey there and ended up making double.
All of a sudden, after playing the first five holes this golf course is unbelievable, it’s faster, harder and the pins are more difficult. If I could get back to even par on the day, I would be good, go to the back nine somehow.
And I put it together a little bit, and all of a sudden I was at even par. Then I got to under par for the day, and if I could somehow post even par, that I might be able to sneak my way into a playoff.
Q: Once Michael Campbell got into the lead and his connection to Steve Williams, was that part of the conversation with you, or how did that work out? Did he come up
Tiger Woods: No, no. We were trying to put the ball here, and put the ball there, and then try to make a putt.
Q: You mentioned about Jason Gore that he had plenty of talent, maybe needed to fine tune his game a little bit. What were your thoughts about what he did today and his whole tournament in general?
Tiger Woods: I said he had plenty of game, and he’s fine tuned his game. He’s won three times on the Nationwide Tour. He’s done great things with his swing. A lot of it is experience. He’s never been here before.
And these conditions look what it did to some of the best players in the world today. These are some of the most difficult conditions, obviously, in the U.S. Open. And if you’ve never been there and it adds to it, because it’s another equation that he’s never dealt with before. But now he’s been there. He’s learned from it, and I’m sure he’ll be a lot better for it.
Q: When you missed the birdie putt on 14, you smiled and kept smiling and kept smiling. Was that so you wouldn’t start crying?
Tiger Woods: No, because I knew Payne had that putt in ’99 and it went right. And I’m thinking, it doesn’t look like it goes right. It’s got to go left. And I hit that putt and it went right, and I said, “You idiot” (laughter).
I remember seeing that putt in ’99 and it went the other way. Why would you not trust that? And I didn’t trust it. And it cost me an opportunity to make a putt.
Q: You mentioned some giant steps you made since The Masters. Could you elaborate on that?
Tiger Woods: Look how beautifully I hit it all week. I really controlled my flight well. I drove the ball better. I hit just just the quality of shots have gotten better, and that’s exciting. We changed a few things after Augusta, trying to fine tune that, because of what I was struggling with through Augusta. And I’ve taken some nice giant strides, and that’s exciting. I just wish I could have brought my putter with it.
Q: You’re talking about all this work you’re doing with your swing, and, obviously, making the progress you want to make, but did it come at the expense of maybe the putting? I assume you haven’t not worked on putting, but have you concentrated less on putting?
Tiger Woods: No. If you look at my last tournament, Memorial, I putted beautifully. I just could not get the speed right. And if you can’t get the speed right, you can’t get the line right.
If you look at all my putts, short, long, short, long, and if you’re doing that, then you start trying to fiddlefart around and try to find you’re trying to force putt in the hole. And that’s not how you make putts, you roll the ball.
And I could not seem like I could hit the ball in the high line, hit the high spots and let it feed into the hole. If you’re not able to do that, then you start hitting lower lines, trying to force it in the hole, and you can’t do that, not on greens like this.
Q: How encouraging is it to finish first and second at the Masters and The Open and have some significant part of your game not where you want it in each of those?
Tiger Woods: That means I’ve come a long way, come a long way. And for all the people that have slammed me for making the changes, now you understand why I did it.
Q: Which do you prefer, golf that’s work, like this week, or golf that’s fun, on courses where you can think eagle, birdie here, birdie there?
Tiger Woods: This, by far. I always will feel that it’s much better to play a tournament where if you shoot a round in the mid 60s, you should fly up that board. Not if you shoot a round like 67 you get lapped. I don’t like tournaments where 25 under par is the winning score. I’d much rather prefer to play challenges like this.
And it’s more of a thinking man’s game. And you have to think, you have to be patient. It brings out all different types of shots you have to play and you have to know how to play. And that’s why it’s a major championship. You it seems like we see the same guys in the top 10 or 15 in each and every major, and there’s a reason why. They know how to hit shots.
Q: You talked about trying to needing to birdie the last two holes. You looked visibly disappointed after the first putt at 17. Did that play at all into the second putt?
Tiger Woods: Yes, I was disappointed I don’t know if I was disappointed I was mad that I pulled it so bad. I know that putt’s downhill. And make sure you hit the ball on the high line. I didn’t do it. I hit the low line. I pulled it and over released it.
And then on the next one, make sure you start the ball in the correct spot, and I didn’t, I blocked that one. And it was frustrating.
Q: Would you compare the challenge of this to the challenge that lies ahead at St. Andrews for us?
Tiger Woods: No, no. This golf course is so much harder, because there’s no rough at St. Andrews.
Q: What is the challenge of St. Andrews?
Tiger Woods: It depends on the weather. If you play difficult pin locations with no wind, like we did last time, I shot 19 under, 18 under 19 under, St. Andrews is really not that hard a golf course, with no wind.
If the wind blows, you have what John Daly ended up winning with and you hope to get under par. It’s kind of a crap shoot on the wind. Wind determines so much what we’re going to be able to shoot.
Q: You said you’d prefer this kind of golf. Do you get any sense that the fans get it when they’re watching or do they prefer the others?
Tiger Woods: I don’t think they quite understand how difficult it really is out there. No one really does, unless you’ve played. And I’ve tried to explain it to some of you guys or people that watch it on TV, some of my friends and say what were you thinking here? I said, you have no idea. You have to get out there and experience the speed of the greens, the slope, the feel of the shots. It is so hard to explain to people how difficult this golf course was playing. With these pins, I mean I was joking the entire week, thank God I wore spikes, because if you backed off some of these holes you slip right down the hill (laughter) at least I had some cleats, I dug in.
Q: When it got down to 14, 15, 16, it looked like you and Michael started to separate from the pack. Can you talk about the feeling, exhilaration that comes into the last few holes when you know it’s a race to the finish?
Tiger Woods: I was just trying to post a number, and that’s all I was concerned about. At the time I felt like if I could get to even par and post that number, then I was looking pretty good at at least getting to a playoff. And I may lose, he may finish under par, he may par in, because 16 is 15 and 16 are the two hardest holes, but 17 and 18 are playing pretty easy. And 18 is an easy birdie hole if you drive it in the fairway, it’s just a driver and a wedge. And that pin is not that deep this year.
When Payne made it it was a little more to the right, I think, by maybe a step. So it was a little bit easier than it was last time. So I figured with that being said, if I could just post even par, it might be good enough to get in a playoff.
Q: I imagine you know him, through Steve, at least. What is there about Michael Campbell that got him to do what he did today?
Tiger Woods: Well, I think it’s look at his career, he was playing really well, and then all of a sudden he lost it. He lost his game. And he had to rebuild it from scratch. And he did a fantastic job of coming back, from a person who was missing cut off cut after cut, to a person who is now the U.S. Open champion. That’s a lot of work right there, and he should be very proud of it.
Q: Earlier in the week the greens were not holding at all, everybody was talking about the ball bouncing, you have to hit a wedge in to hold it. It seemed like middle irons were held on the green over the week, even though the course was amazingly difficult. Did you end up feeling like it did kind of play to players who don’t have your length, and would you have preferred them even a little firmer?
Tiger Woods: I wouldn’t prefer them any firmer than they are. It doesn’t the first hop is what was getting everybody. After that it would start to grab. But that first hop, if you were hitting a 7 iron or a 6 iron in there you had a hard time making it stop within 20 feet. And I had a couple of wedges that I hit from the fairway that ended up stopping nine steps. That’s 27 feet that I hit a pitching wedge. And I normally don’t have that problem.
Q: But even if they were harder
Tiger Woods: It wouldn’t have helped anybody.
Q: As U.S. Open venues go, how would you rate this and would you like to see it back sometime?
Tiger Woods: It’s one of the most difficult that I’ve ever seen because of the pin locations and these greens. You think about it, there’s really no rough around the greens. I enjoy the opportunity of not having to pull a lob wedge every time I miss a green at U.S. Open site. That’s kind of fun. We get to play shots. And you look at the best players in the world, we’re able to have no rough around the greens, and even par is winning score. Yeah, I’d like to see it next time, I’m moving up the board, finished third, second, and I can’t play in the Amateur in a couple of years, but
Q: One more time?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, one more time.
Q: Since most of us will never get the opportunity to go to New Zealand, you’ve been there, I’m wondering, how do you think it would be received and how big a sports figure is he down there? This is more a cultural thing, how are the Maori people treated there, and is that at all analogous to how the indigenous people in Australia treated or is it a different thing entirely?
Tiger Woods: I’m not going to get into the historics of it, but it’s similar. The Maoris are a very proud, proud race, as well they should be. Michael, what he’s done today, is one of the biggest sporting accomplishments for the country of New Zealand. And he’s going to have a wonderful welcome when he goes back, as well he should. This is one of the greatest accomplishments in their sporting history. If you exclude the All Blacks, there’s really nothing else that they really focus on. Maybe some sailing, not cricket, but it’s not the same. All Blacks dominate that entire country. It’s all about rugby. And for him to do what he did, he’s already a big sports figure as he is, now it’s just taken it to a whole new different level.
Q: Do you know the number of seconds Nicklaus had?
Tiger Woods: 19.
Q: Is there any scrap of pride in getting a second?
Tiger Woods: Depends how you get there, you know? If you back door it and come out of nowhere to get a second, then, yeah. But if you feel you had a chance to win and you didn’t take that opportunity to win the tournament, and then it’s disappointing. The two seconds that I’ve had, I’ve had wonderful opportunities to win both of them, the PGA at Hazeltine and now here. Two wonderful opportunities and I did not get it done coming down the stretch.
Q: So nothing good about it?
Tiger Woods: You remember what I said at Pebble Beach in ’97?
Q: Second place
Tiger Woods: Uh huh.
Q: Dot, dot, dot?
Tiger Woods: Uh huh.
Q: Congratulations on your fine playing.
Source – US Open