Tiger Woods Interview (Final) - British Open
BY iseekgolf.com | European PGA Tour | 2006 British Open | Final Round | 24 Jul 2006
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger Woods, 2006 Open champion (applause).
Tiger, you’ve defended your championship very successfully. How do you feel at this stage? How do you feel now?
Tiger Woods: Wow, I don’t know where to begin. I just excited, worn out, just so many different emotions to describe right now because I guess it all came out on 18.
But overall it was such a if you’re looking at it just from a golf standpoint, it was such a difficult week, with the fairways and greens being as hard and fast, and Chris playing just beautiful golf today. He just kept putting the pressure on me in the group behind. I just had to continue to try to be patient, make birdies whenever I could, but just whatever I do, just don’t drop a shot and give him any momentum.
And it didn’t quite work out that way. I bogeyed 14 and I believe I bogeyed 12 and he birdied 13. So two shot swing right there. I guess it just then I got hot there at 14, 15, 16, which was nice to give myself a little bit of a cushion playing 17 and 18, because obviously anything can happen on 18. I was able to play it basically stress free.
Q: Can you talk about the emotion on 18, with Stevie there? Did that surprise you that you let it out, let loose like that?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, I’ve never done that. You know me. So it’s just I guess all the things that we’ve gone through of late and I guess I’m kind of the one who bottles things up a little bit and moves on, tries to deal with things in my own way.
But at that moment it just came pouring out and of all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, and I just wish he could have seen it one more time. I was pretty bummed out after not winning The Masters, because I knew that was the last major he was ever going to see. So that one was that one hurt a little bit. And finally to get this one, and it’s just unfortunate that he wasn’t here to see it.
Q: Do you think the U.S. Open was an unfair test, and after that because you had not played for so long, did you think, I have to prove something to anybody or even to yourself?
Tiger Woods: Well, the U.S. Open was not an unfair test. That is the hardest Open venue we play. It’s just hard.
Q: I didn’t mean that so much as the fact that you had no time to really get ready for it.
Tiger Woods: No, I had plenty of time, nine weeks. I had plenty of time to get ready for it; I just did not execute and I did not play well and subsequently I was only there for two days.
But this week coming into this week I played well at the Western, and I almost won the Western. And I knew that my game was pretty close to where I needed to have it for a major championship, and to come in here this week, my practice rounds, everything was really, I guess, getting better each and every day. And I developed a strategy to play this golf course that I thought suited me and I felt comfortable with it, and I went out there and executed my game plan.
It’s just one of those things where you develop a game plan and stick with it and there’s times when you need to adjust, but I stuck with it the entire week. I adjusted clubs off the tees, just because the wind conditions kept changing, but as far as the overall game plan, I never deviated.
Q: Chris talked about what he called your uncanny knack of turning it up, doing what you needed to do when somebody is chasing you. One, could you talk about that, and also could you talk about Chris’s knack of giving you the best fight all the time?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, as far as what Chris said, I don’t intend to do it on purpose; that’s not one of those things where I can turn on the switch. I believe in the way I play golf that you turn the switch on the first hole and you have it on the entire time. And you don’t try any harder on each and every shot. You have the same effort level, you give it everything you have on every shot.
And for some reason in my past I’ve seemed to pull things off at the end and I think that’s just due to I feel comfortable being there. I’ve been there enough times. I’ve had enough success that I feel comfortable being in that situation, and I kept telling myself today that basically only Ernie and I had won this Championship. We’re the only ones who have basically won majors on that board. Sergio hasn’t done it yet and I’m sure he will soon. Chris hasn’t done it and he’s come so close the last couple of years.
And I just think that there’s certain calmness that comes about being able to say with honesty that I’ve done this before. And I’m out there and that’s the calmness that I feel coming down the stretch.
Q: In light of your emotions at the moment and what you’ve said regarding your late father, will your celebrations differ in any way or is there anything special you might do given the situation and the circumstances?
Tiger Woods: This jug will be filled up, I’ll tell you that (laughter).
Q: With what?
Tiger Woods: Beverage of my choice (laughter), and not just once.
Q: May I ask what the beverage of your choice is?
Tiger Woods: No (laughter). Yes, you can; you just asked. Will I answer? No.
Q: Can you talk about the genesis of your strategy to not hit driver this week? You had said that you didn’t know much about this course. Did you read about it on the flight over?
Tiger Woods: Nope.
Q: It was just when you first got here. Was there a moment when it happened?
Tiger Woods: No. As I was playing the golf course, I would hit a couple of drives, and the driver would go 350, 370 yards. How can you control that out here? You can’t control that. The fairways become they’re hard enough to hit as it is, and you add driver and they go that far, now how hard is it to hit? So I just felt in the end if you stayed out of the bunkers this entire week and had just a decent week on the greens, I felt that I would be in contention on the back nine.
And I hit the ball well the entire week and I felt like I had wonderful touch on the greens, except for the last nine holes yesterday. Other than that, I felt that my strategy was sound. It was going to keep me out of trouble.
Guys who were trying to hit the ball over the bunkers, they’re going to have shorter clubs on the greens, no doubt about that, but a lot of these flags you can’t attack with wedges. On 4, I had I’m aiming 30 feet left of the hole, and I couldn’t keep it on the greens. That’s the nature of the golf course and the way it was playing this week.
I felt the conservative approach was the way to go. And it lent itself to that this week, especially with four par 5s. And you figure if you just handle the par 5s, that’s 16 under par right there. You sprinkle in a few more here and there around the golf course and you’re looking pretty good.
Q: Has Hoylake stood the test of time and should The Open come back here, and if so, why?
Tiger Woods: I think it’s a fantastic test. With the golf course being this fast, it lent itself to just amazing creativity. Granted, if you would have had easier pins I’m sure it would have gone lower. These are the most difficult pins I’ve ever seen at an Open Championship. And a couple of times you feel like if you hit a putt too hard you’ll actually putt it right off the green, and you never have that feeling at an Open. But this week it certainly was the case.
And I think because the yardage played short, in some cases, because it was so fast, you hit 3 wood, driver, hitting it 380 yards down there, you’re going to have a lot of short irons in there. The only defense they had was pin locations and hard, dry conditions. And we couldn’t really go all that low.
Q: Should it come back here?
Tiger Woods: Yes.
Q: You referenced this; when you got done with your practice rounds, you had a number that you thought was attainable under par on those 5s that you thought you could get?
Tiger Woods: I just thought if you just played the golf course just solidly that you should be able to shoot somewhere between 12 and 15 under par, not just par 5s, but
Q: But the par 5s specifically?
Tiger Woods: I never looked at it that way. I just looked at if you played solidly for four days, somewhere between 12 and 15 would be a good score and good enough to win. But we didn’t get any wind, until today, and today it finally blew a little bit. And the guys still kept making birdies.
Q: What does it mean, as well, to win this Claret Jug two years in succession, because nobody has been able to do that for a long time, I think it was Tom Watson?
Tiger Woods: It’s a pretty sweet feeling, it really is sweet, to have this for an entire year at home. It’s an incredible championship. The golf courses we get to play and the shots that you have to bring to this championship are ones that you never hit any other time throughout the year.
But this is the way how it all started and how I think that it should be played. You should have options to run the ball on the ground. But we play all around the world and that’s not normally the case. The only time I think we’ve ever seen that is maybe at Pinehurst at the U.S. Open or anytime on the sand belt down in Melbourne the ball tends to roll quite a bit. But other than that, most of the golf we play around the world is up in the air.
Q: It didn’t even look like you missed shot in your round. By your count how many did you miss and is this the best week you’ve had?
Tiger Woods: I didn’t mis hit any shots today. I may have started a ball left a couple of times or hit a couple to the right, but they were hit flush, and that’s a pretty neat feeling when you’re able to do that, to never really mis hit a golf shot, to hit it flush. I started off on line, but at least it’s hit correctly and you can always make adjustments for that, and that’s easy.
Q: Best long irons?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, I have to say because I’ve never played a golf course like this, either, where you’ve had to hit so many. I hit quite a few off the tee, obviously, but I don’t think I’ve ever hit this many into the greens, 3 and 4 irons and 5 irons on par 4s. But the golf course allowed itself to run the ball up on basically every hole. You had an opportunity to run the ball on the ground, run the ball into the green. So I just took advantage of that.
Q: Given what you learned from your dad about how to think about golf, the mental approach, what would you think about how you went through this tournament?
Tiger Woods: He would have been very proud, very proud. He was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotions get the better of you, because it’s so very easy to do in this sport. And just use your mind to plot your way around the golf course and if you had to deviate from the game plan make sure it is the right decision to do that. He was very adamant I play like that my entire playing career.
Q: You’re used to cameras following you and clicking off, as well. It seemed like there were a lot of distractions today, perhaps every hole. How did you deal with that, especially on the 12th fairway?
Tiger Woods: It wasn’t the 12th fairway, we had it every hole. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It wasn’t the professional photographers, it was the gallery. They would either bring cameras or camera phones. They kept going off while we were over the shot or preparing to hit the shot or even hitting the golf shot, they were going off. And it was very, very frustrating for Sergio and I because because of all the undue delays that we’ve had with our caddies and the marshals and trying to get a situation where we can play, we got put on the clock. And it wasn’t our fault. But that’s just the way it was.
Q: Can you recall the longest approach you had into a par 4 this week by chance?
Tiger Woods: Probably have to say probably 17. I had somewhere around 211 or something like that to the front.
Q: Real quick, how aware were you of DiMarco as you seemed to hit another gear and as he got closer?
CHRIS DiMARCO: Every hole. There’s leaderboards on every hole, every green. I was aware of what Ernie and Chris were doing up ahead of me. And Chris made a little bit of a run on that back nine. He kept pushing me. Luckily I was able to make three in a row to give myself a chance to get some breathing room.
Q: Just to follow it up, at 15 you backed off your putt, as I recall, when the roar did you know that was the roar for Chris at 16?
Tiger Woods: No, it wasn’t backing off my putt for that, it was the tee shots on 18. One gentleman already hit and the next guy was about to hit and we didn’t know whether he was going to go or not. He was looking at me, I was looking at him kind of deal. He has right of way.
Q: Did you know that Chris had made that putt up there?
Tiger Woods: No.
Q: In light of some of the comments you made particularly about your late father, does this mean more to you than the titles you won at St. Andrews?
Tiger Woods: No doubt about it. Absolutely no doubt about it. Basically to win your first tournament after my father had passed away, and for it to be a major championship, it makes it that much more special. And mom was watching, I’m sure she was bawling her eyes out, like she can. So it’s going to be an awful lot of fun for me to go back home and see mom and share this with her. I’ve had amazing support this week with Stevie and Elin and Hank and Steinie and everyone around and Keith. It’s been awfully nice to have the support that I’ve had.
Q: Your strategy off the tee and having to hit all the long irons sort of takes for granted the fact that you have to be hitting your long irons really well. How well were you hitting them? How tough might it have been if you weren’t, especially your approaches?
Tiger Woods: As far as my control, probably one of the best ball striking weeks I’ve ever had, as far as control. That’s shaping the ball, moving my traj and different heights and really controlling my spin going into the greens. It wasn’t getting away from me. Yeah, probably one of the best ball striking weeks I’ve ever had.
If I wasn’t hitting it well, as you alluded to, it would have been pretty difficult around here. This golf course you had to really control your ball in order to have a chance. And I was able to do that the entire week.
Also you have to remember that if you’re with the flags the way we they were, you’re going to have a bunch of 40 and 50 footers, and my pace was good all week. A bunch of tap ins, my pace was really, I felt, sound all week, especially today when I really needed it. I had a lot of kick ins and putts that I thought I made just kind of skirt off on the edge.
Q: Tiger, congratulations, and thank you.
Source – British Open
Photo – WireImage.com