Tiger Woods Interview (R4) - 2005 British Open
BY iseekgolf.com | European PGA Tour | 2005 British Open | Final Round | 18 Jul 2005
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger Woods, the 2005 Open Champion (applause.)
Tiger Woods: Thanks.
Q: Tiger, two titles now at St. Andrews. Is that going to become a habit?
Tiger Woods: It’s a great habit to get into, isn’t it? When I started out the day, anything could have happened today. The wind was blowing and then all of a sudden it laid down a little bit. So I figured the guys with the wind laying down like this, that they would more than likely make some birdies out there. It seemed like it didn’t happen. Monty made a great run early. Ollie made a great one on 4, but missed one on five. He made a bogey on the next hole, 6.
I figured if I could just play the loop, or starting at 7, 7 through 12, I could play 3 under par, I’d be all right. And I played it. I made two birdies and a bogey. But I was still in control of the tournament. I still had the lead. With the holes coming in, it was only going to be harder coming in. If I could somehow keep making pars, maybe sneak in an occasional birdie, I should be all right. And it kind of turned out that way.
Q: Some former champions didn’t put anything into the Claret Jug. Others put a variety of drinks in there. I’d like to know what your policy was in 2000 and what you think it will be this year?
Tiger Woods: We tried just about everything (laughter).
Q: Will you be doing that this year when you get home?
Tiger Woods: Correct. (Laughter). Why wait until I get home?
Tiger Woods: Yeah.
Q: When it was close to the turn, would that be as well managed a round as you’ve had in a major in a long time?
Tiger Woods: I wouldn’t say managed. Mentally I was sharp in majors before. But ballstriking wise, I tell you what, that was one of the best warm up sessions I’ve ever had in my life, right there, this morning. I warmed up so well. I was hitting it so well. And I wanted to carry it to the golf course, and I did.
I hit the ball so solidly today. My only bad shot was on 13, my second shot, and I pulled it 10 feet. And that was it. I mean I hit the ball so solidly today, all day. And there were a couple of times I may have overshaped a shot, which I did on 13 and 14. I overshaped a 3 iron. But other than that, the golf ball was hit so flush all day, every shot. It was one of those rounds that I will be thinking about for a long time. I’m very thankful it happened right at the right time.
Q: Could you just discuss ten majors at this point? What it means to you, double figures, cutting Jack’s lead in half? Just talk about the meaning of that. I know it’s kind of sudden, but you discussed the long path the other day when you were in here. Can you talk about being at ten now?
Tiger Woods: Well, I mean it’s pretty cool. I’ve kind of gone one past halfway. Jack’s got 18, now I have 10. Man, I tell you what, I honestly when I first started playing the Tour, I didn’t think I’d have this many majors before the age of 30. There’s no way. No one ever has. Usually the golden years are in your 30s for a golfer. Hopefully that will be the case.
Q: Do you mind addressing the level of satisfaction that you get from hitting shots, for example, like you did on 7 when you had to pick that ball so cleanly the second shot and utter control of the ball? Is that why you play the game? And is that in the end obviously what leads to these kinds of is that deep down why you play the game?
Tiger Woods: That’s why I bust my butt so hard at home to get to this point. I’ve been criticized for years now, for the last couple of years. Why would I change my game? This is why. First, second and first in the last three majors, that’s why. I’m so excited to have my best ball striking rounds when I need it the most, to hit the ball that solidly.
At Augusta, yeah, I messed up in the end. In the playoff, two best shots the entire week. At the U.S. Open I hit it well all four weeks, just didn’t putt well. This week I putted great. That’s why Hank and I have been so diligent in what we believe in. To hit the shot that I did on 7, that was a shot that certainly was I used some of the new technique that I’ve been working on with Hank to hit that golf shot and that helped a lot, and to be able to control that shot from that lie I didn’t really have a good lie, but to hit it that cleanly and solidly and put it up there, and to at least have that feeling, that satisfaction of hitting that quality of a golf shot when I really needed it to come in.
Anything can happen around that loop. Monty is making a run. Ollie hit it in close, I thought anything can happen around the loop. The last thing you need to do is make bogey right there.
Q: Tiger, what is it about St. Andrews that brings out the best in you? I know you regard it as one of your favorite golf courses. Do you have a theory why you play so well here?
Tiger Woods: There are some courses you just feel comfortable on, and this is certainly one of them. I enjoy the lines here. You hear guys say the lines fit you. The lines certainly do. I don’t feel uncomfortable over any shot, look wise. I may hit bad golf shots, no doubt about it; I did this week. But as far as the look of the golf shot, I feel very comfortable around this golf course.
As I said, I fell in love with it the first time I played it. In ’95 when I played absolutely every single all 18 holes into the wind, that what a great golf course.
Q: There are some people who question if it still stands up as a test for major championship golf. What’s your opinion on that?
Tiger Woods: I certainly think it does. The greenskeeper told us today that the fairways are rolling just as fast as the greens. The only difference is the greens are softer. That was it. And as you said, that’s not much. This golf course plays very hard, very fast, and we didn’t get a big wind. It blew early this morning, and those guys going out this morning had a lot more difficult golf course than we had to play in the afternoon. We certainly got the good side of it again this afternoon.
Q: Almost as soon as you got the jug in your hands you made a point to mention your dad. How is he and what have your conversations been with him like?
Tiger Woods: Well, dad is hanging in there. He’s fighting, as always, being stubborn. He’s just hanging. I just wanted to if I can fight and I can grind through this, why can’t he? And just to give him some extra motivation. My dad and I are very close, as you all know. We’re trying to do everything to make him be as positive as he possibly can.
Q: You’ve won quite a lot of money in your career, what do you do with a check for 720,000 pounds? Is it irrelevant to you now?
Tiger Woods: Put it in the bank (laughter).
Q: Saving up for anything?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, a rainy day (laughter).
Q: This is sort of a weird question, but which is more fun to you, to be in sort of contention with Chris DiMarco, as you guys were at Augusta, obviously going down to the wire and then some, or be in a position where you sort of run away with it like you did today?
Tiger Woods: I’d much prefer this way. It’s a lot less stressful. But anything can happen out there, you know? It may look like I ran away with the tournament, but anything can happen around that loop. I made bogey there on 10, after just hitting what I thought was a really good drive. I thought it was going to be over the green, but ended up being in the face of the bunker.
Monty makes bogey on 11 and doesn’t birdie 12 and all of a sudden it’s like, well, he didn’t play the loop like he needed to play. And I was able to birdie 12, which I thought was huge. I would always much rather have a bigger lead. The U.S. Open 2000, probably the greatest tournament, to have a big lead like that is nice, not as stressful.
Q: Does any part of you think about what might have been heading into Baltusrol had you putted a little better at Pinehurst?
Tiger Woods: That’s just the way it goes. I just didn’t have a very good putting week. It happened at the wrong time. But again, I take great positiveness out of that tournament. If you finish 80th in putting, you shouldn’t be in contention to win the U.S. Open. I was right there with the chance with a few holes to go. That’s pretty exciting, to be able to win golf tournaments with quality ball striking. If you putt well, then obviously you win by a lot.
Q: You overcame Jack and another record this week with the doubling up on the career slam. Can you talk about what that means? The ten wins is one thing. What does the double slam mean?
Tiger Woods: Well, to have done it, both of them, here, to complete my first career Grand Slam and then to complete the second both at the same place. This is as special as it gets. The home of golf. This is something you dream about. All players that want to win The Open Championship, automatically you go right to St. Andrews. This is it. This is as good as it gets. And to have won it twice and complete my career Grand Slam twice, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
Q: Have you been to Baltusrol?
Tiger Woods: Never played it.
Q: What you do you know about it?
Tiger Woods: Never played it. I just know that the last two holes are par 5s. And 17 has been lengthened, I guess, to 900 yards (laughter).
Tiger Woods: There you go. Uphill, into the wind.
Q: At this point in your career, what keeps you from being satisfied and are you worried at all at some point in your 30s that you might be a little satisfied and lose the drive at all?
Tiger Woods: No, the drive is always to get better. You can always get better, no matter what. You never get there. It’s a never ending struggle. That’s the fun of it, no matter how good you play, you can always play better, which makes it exciting for the next day. That’s why you go out and try and do better than you did the previous day. And that to me is exciting, that no matter how good you get, you can always be better.
Q: Can you talk about one more milestone equaling Bobby Jones with ten professional and three amateur majors?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, to get to 13, there, with Mr. Jones is he’s the one that set the mark before Jack came around. And he had just an unbelievable career. He cut it short, too. To win that many tournaments that early in his career is amazing. I’ve been very blessed, I tell you that, to have had the luck and the fortune to win this many tournaments. It’s been it’s a great ride.
Q: When Jack was in here earlier in the week he mentioned that in his ’70 win here, it was brought to his attention that it was his 10th major and he was three behind Jones. He said it was the first time he ever really thought about the numbers. And he said he thought that made it harder on you, since it’s been mentioned to you probably since before you won your first. I wonder if there has been any pressure with that and how hard it is chasing him?
Tiger Woods: It’s not hard at all. You know that it’s going to take an entire career. It’s not going to happen overnight. Jack took 25 years, I believe it was, to win all 18 of his. It’s going to take a long time to win 18 major championships. More importantly, what did he finish? 56, 54 times in the top three or top five, whatever it was, 19 seconds. I think that’s more impressive than 18 wins. He’s been there that many times. And there’s no player that’s ever played the game that’s been that consistent in the biggest events than Jack. And to have the opportunity to get to ten already this soon in my career, it’s very exciting to hopefully look forward to some good years in my 30s and hopefully into my 40s.
Q: You alluded to the 12th being a pivotal hole. You hit a great chip in there, made birdie. Within a span of about 90 seconds Montgomerie had bogeyed and Ollie had bogeyed and all of a sudden there was a couple stroke’s margin, can you talk about that and the chip on 12?
Tiger Woods: I didn’t know Monty made bogey ahead of me. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know until I got to 13 green and saw the board. I saw Ollie struggle there and I felt if I could somehow make this putt first of all get the ball on the green in my chip shot and get it up and have a makeable putt and make it. It looked like he wasn’t going to make par. The momentum would be in my favor going to some of the downwind holes. With my length on 14 I figured I looked pretty good. And I was just grinding on that putt so hard. One of the harder putts I grinded on, trying to make that putt. And I made it right in the middle, which is pretty sweet.
So it gave me some huge momentum, I thought, going into 13, because I knew I separated myself from Ollie and now I just needed to worry about Monty ahead of me, if I could birdie 13, the par 5.
Q: How hard was the chip?
Tiger Woods: The chip was really hard. Hit it too hard right, it’s going to go into the valley; too hard it’s over the green. I was just trying to let the momentum of the golf ball carry over the hill and just let it feed itself down there. If I could get inside ten feet I would be very happy. I hit it up about eight feet which was perfect and made the putt.
Q: On the BBC you just said in an interview, 15 minutes ago or something, she asked, do you think you will be as dominant as five years ago now. And you said, well, we’re live on the air, so I better not answer that. No one is listening now, really, so
Tiger Woods: That was not the question. No, that was not the question. It was about my critics. What would I say about them thinking I was as dominant then as I am now. It was about my critics. And I said I could not answer that on air. I can’t answer that now (laughter).
Q: You can’t?
Tiger Woods: I cannot (laughter).
Q: Tiger, just a word about Monty. You played with him yesterday. This is the third time that he’s finished runner up in a major. Do you believe that he still might have a major in him?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, look how well he played. He hits it really when he’s playing well, he’s got his game back now and when he’s playing well he hits it really straight. He hits his irons and controls his distances as one of the best players in the world. The only thing that’s really stopped him is his putter. He’s gone from conventional to belly, now back to conventional again. So if Monty can just putt well, like he did during that run when he had 7 Order of Merits in a row, he putted beautifully throughout those years. He was probably at the time he was the best ball striker in Europe and also one of the most consistent putters. That’s why he won 7 Orders of Merits. If he putts well, there’s no reason why he can’t win a major championship.
Q: Golf didn’t make the Olympic program, again, did you notice, do you care?
Tiger Woods: I did notice. Peter Dawson and I were talking about that at the Past Champions Dinner. I think it has to do with TV and NBC is just not willing to put out the money to put golf on the air. And a lot of it has to do with the TV rights. It’s understandable, it’s business.
Q: You’re leading Sorenstam by one major now. Are you going to send her a message?
Tiger Woods: Oh, yeah. There will be a text (laughter).
Q: You spoke, I think it was yesterday, sort of longingly about being able to play against Jack in his prime, it would have been fun. Do you miss a true day in, day out, year in, year out rival?
Tiger Woods: Nope. Because right now there’s a generation where there’s about five guys. There’s myself, there’s Vijay, there’s Phil, there’s Ernie, there’s Goose. Look at how many tournaments we’ve won over the last five years, around the world. It’s pretty impressive to look at how many tournaments we’ve won as a group. Right now any one of us can win any tournament that we enter, especially with the field getting as deep as they are. For the five of us to have been able to win major championships during the same era, the same time, we’re all in the field together, it adds to that. And I think that’s the fun of it. Look at that leaderboard, where you know they’re going to have some of us up there of the five. And this year we had three. So that’s pretty exciting.
Q: Tiger Woods, The Open champion, thank you very much.