Tiger Woods Interview - Final Round
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2007 US PGA Championship | Round Four | 13 Aug 2007
Q: Ladies and gentlemen, the 89th PGA Champion, Tiger Woods. Shot 69 today in the final round at Southern Hills Country Club for a four-day total of 272, eight-under par. This is Tiger’s 13th major championship victory. Also his fourth PGA championship title putting him just one behind Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus for the most PGA championships in history.
Congratulations on your second consecutive PGA Championship victory.
Tiger Woods: Thank you. Well, today was – I got off to a good start. And I was 2-under there through eight holes. Felt like I was in control of the tournament. I knew that Woody was playing well, and Ernie was making a run.
But just felt if I played the back nine under par that I would win the tournament. That didn’t happen.
But that 14 was a little mishap there. 3-putted that one and I felt like I gave all the momentum back to Ernie and to Woody. And just felt like, you know what, I got myself in this mess, I need to go get myself out of it.
And I just did serious yelling at myself going up to the 15th tee, just to get back into what I do. And positioned the golf ball, put it where I need to put it and just bear down, get it down somehow.
And I made that putt on there on 15, it felt great. Felt like I had the momentum again, and I was back in control of the tournament. And if I parred in I felt I would win the tournament. It turned out to be the case.
Q: Can you explain your emotion about winning for the first time as a father, and also you know red is your power color on Sundays. Were you the one that picked out what baby Sam wore today, the color she wore?
Tiger Woods: Well, it’s a feeling I’ve never had before, having Sam there and having Elin there it feels a lot more special when you have your family there. And it used to be my mom and dad. And now Elin and now we have our own daughter.
So it’s evolved, and this one feels so much more special than the other majors. The British Open last year was different, but this one was certainly so special and so right to have Elin and Sam there. I wasn’t really paying attention when I saw them. I was so excited and just want to give Elin and Sam a kiss and get back to signing my score card.
Q: You’ve always said you define yourself by majors, this was glory’s last shot at a major this year. How important was it for you. And what does it mean for your 2007 year?
Tiger Woods: It turned into a great year. I felt like I’ve played well most of the year. And just didn’t quite get it done in the first two major championships. I was right there. And I had the lead at one time. And then on Sunday afternoon, just didn’t get it done.
This time I did. So any time when you win a major championship in the year it’s always going to be a great year and this certainly is.
Q: Ernie used to say a few years ago about having the little guy on his shoulder and the doubts that would creep in. When you were out there today, all of us, obviously here, pretty much everybody on this property thought you were going to win this and win it comfortably, and it was just a procession. But when you were out there in the thick of it, it didn’t turn out to be that way. How do you personally handle the pressure of that moment and the expectation when, you know, in the past it’s gone well but today obviously for a while there it was looking dicey?
Tiger Woods: I just kept telling myself, Ernie and Woody were making runs. But I still had the lead. And if I made pars they would have to come get me. And if they ever made a birdie on one of the holes to tie me, I can birdie the same hole and it was all square, I had the lead again. Even when I made that bogey at 14, I kept telling myself going to the next hole I need to bear down and get things done, place the ball correctly. But I’m still in control of the tournament; I still have the lead. If I par in, they’re going to have to make a birdie somewhere. And 16, 18 aren’t exactly birdie holes.
So if I can just go ahead and just bear down and hit good shots, put the ball in play, put the ball in the green, give myself looks at it even though I 3-putted 14, I felt like I putted well all day. Give myself more looks at it. I felt if I gave myself four looks I’d make one or two of them, and I made one.
Q: When you add up all the components of your game, the physical, the mental, the experience, the conditioning, do you feel like you’re a better play now than you were in 2000, and if so, why?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, by far. Just experience. Understanding how to handle it and how to manage my game around the golf course. I have more shots than I did then just because that many more years to learn ‘em. And how to make adjustments on the fly, just comes with experience.
And I’ll say the same thing seven years from now, more experienced then than I am now. So it certainly helps having that experience and having been in that position and have gotten things done in the past along the way in those seven years, it makes things a little bit more easy coming down the stretch.
Q: Could you explain the difference in personal satisfaction between a win like last Sunday and then a win today, when you’ve got to really grind and dig it out? And secondly, what was that dance on 8? You looked like you almost blew a tendon?
Tiger Woods: Well, last week at the World Golf Championship, it’s a big event. I feel pretty comfortable at Firestone. And going out there on Sunday, I just had it going. I hit good shot after good shot, made a few good putts got off to a great start. Put a lot of pressure on Rory. He wasn’t playing the way he did the first three days. And all of a sudden he had a nice cush.
But today was different. Those guys made a run at me. I got off to a good start today. I was 2-under through 8 and I was in control of the tournament and made a bogey there at 9 and bogeyed 14 and let the guys back in it.
But got it done somehow coming down the stretch, which was nice. And then at No. 8, that was a nice putt to make, just a big left-to-righter and got pretty excited there and just felt pretty good.
Q: At what point do you determine that it’s time to go after it and win the championship as opposed to making pars and playing it safe?
Tiger Woods: Well, I had a one-shot lead after 14. I still had four holes to go. And I just felt that those guys having played 16, 18, more likely aren’t going to birdie those two holes. The only hole they were going to probably make birdie there was 17. Tough pin to make birdie; you can’t get it deep enough, come off that ridge. So I just felt if I just give myself looks – I kept yelling at myself, Give myself four looks at it. The way I was putting I was going to make ‘em. And I hit good shot for good shot. Gave myself looks. I made the one at 15. Misread the one at 16. Lagged the putt up at 17 and 18. And that was about it. But never really had to switch and go after saying, you know what? I have to make birdies to win this championship. Because I just felt like I still had the lead.
Q: This is a great victory on Thai Mother’s Day. Would you like to make a special message to children in Thailand that look up to you?
Tiger Woods: Well, every time I go back there it’s been fantastic. We do junior clinics there and my mom helps with a few shelters there in Bangkok. So we try and help the kids as much as we possibly can. And what my mom’s done back there no one really knows about it, but she’s done a lot for a lot of kids. And awfully proud of her.
Q: I was wondering if you go back to the 63 for a second. How important was that in this victory? How tough was it to come back from that? And now that you looked one out for 62, how doable is that number in a major?
Tiger Woods: Well, the 63 was – it got me back in the tournament. I was – it wasn’t like I was out of the tournament, but I just felt that winning score this year was going to probably be around 4-, 5-under par and to go ahead and get it in one lump sum felt pretty good.
And then going into the weekend, the way I was hitting the golf ball the first two days I didn’t get anything out of it the first day. Felt like I was hitting the ball well enough to go ahead and shoot rounds in the 60s, and I felt that would be good enough to win the championship.
Now, as far as the 62 being doable, I mean, it all depends on the golf course. It all depends on the venue. Obviously it’s a lot easier when it’s on a par 70 and you have soft greens. This year the greens were not firm, it was too hot. They had to syringe them. And they didn’t really syringe them on the weekend. And guys had a harder time going low.
But the first two days they were out there syringing them, and they were backing golf balls up but not on the weekend.
Q: Do you still feel that ball lipped out?
Tiger Woods: Do I still feel the ball lipped out? I hit a good putt and I thought I made it. To be honest with you, I thought I made it. Oh, well.
Q: You mentioned adjustments a few questions ago. When we spoke with you after Oakmont, you said you were going to take a look and see why you weren’t able to come from behind then. What did you make in terms of adjustments between Carnoustie and Oakmont and now?
Tiger Woods: Well, I felt that at Oakmont I gave myself a lot of looks at birdies but I just left them in the wrong spots. If you look at the way I hit the ball on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, I had a lot of putts from about 10, 12 feet. But they’re all breaking three, four feet and you’re not going to make those all the time.
And I hit the ball well enough. I just didn’t quite put the ball in the right position to make putts and that happens.
Carnoustie I did not hit the ball very good. I was struggling a little bit with my game. I was really putting well. Unfortunately, I was never close enough to make putts. But when I did hit one in there every now and then I’d hole it. So just felt if I could clean up my ball-striking and continue to make strides in my – continue to putt well, that I figured that I would win some tournaments after the British Open. And all of a sudden I’ve won two in a row.
Q: Just to get back to Steve’s question earlier, the television crew seemed to indicate they thought perhaps you had hurt yourself when you fist pumped on 8 after that birdie and might have hurt you going into 9. Talk about that. Secondly, a local question: Your thoughts on Southern Hills, Tulsa, and Oklahoma hosting this major this week?
Tiger Woods: As far as hurting myself, no. All good. The only thing that hurt me on 9 was I didn’t trust the wind up there. The wind was right to left all day, and you look at the flags up behind 18 and 9, they were left to right. And Steve says the wind’s off the right, you gotta trust it’s off the right. I just kept telling myself, Look at those flags behind 18. It’s off to the left. So we just shoot it more down the left side so the wind will bring it back and actually took it the other way, took it left. So that was my fault for not trusting Stevie and trusting how the wind was all day.
As far as Tulsa hosting the Championship, I mean, this has been a great crowd. For them to come out and support this event with the temperatures the way it was, absolutely phenomenal. I don’t know how they could have been enthusiastic being that hot and that tired, but they were. And they were supporting all of us and want to see great shots and they applauded. It was just a great atmosphere all day, all week, especially today. Especially given the temperatures.
Q: As you edge closer to Jack’s record of 18 majors, do you dare to look beyond that and what might be possible, fitness permitting?
Tiger Woods: Well, when you first start your career, it’s – 18 is just a long way away. And even though I’m at 13, it’s still a long way away. You can’t get it done in one year.
It’s going to take time, as I’ve said before in the past. It took Jack 20 years to get it done. 20-plus years. It’s one of those things where it’s going to take some time. And hopefully health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, that I’ll one day surpass that.
Q: This gives you 13 majors tying Bobby Jones. What does it mean to be in that company?
Tiger Woods: Any time you’re in conversations with Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen, just in general it makes it – it makes you understand that you’ve had a nice run in your career. And I could not ask for a better start to my career.
If you would ask me that 12 years into my career would I have had this many wins and this many majors, there’s no way. I’ve exceeded my own expectations and I’m certainly not against that (smiling).
Q: You disproved the belief that your game wasn’t meant for Southern Hills, do you believe that your ability to hit the 2-, 3- and 4-iron the way you did all week really made this a golf course that was really well-suited to your game?
Tiger Woods: I don’t understand why people kept saying that. If you watched the way I hit the ball in 2001, I wasn’t hitting it very well. But if you look at where I was hitting it, I was hitting it to exactly the same spots I did this week. I just wasn’t able to hit the fairways.
I played to the same spots, Stevie and I had the same strategy. Nothing’s changed. The only difference is we’re hitting less club because the ball’s going so much further this year because of temperature and also the improvements in the golf ball in the last six years.
So you add that all together, but we played the same spots. We didn’t do anything different. Just executed better.
Q: As a reminder, Tiger finished tied for 12th at the U.S. Open 2001.
Q: You may already know this, but Woody made the Presidents Cup team today. How do you feel about having the Woodman as a teammate?
Tiger Woods: I think that would be great. Woody is fiery. He’s competitive, and I think that that’s what you need on those teams. You need someone that will get out there and give it his best and give it everything he’s got, give his heart and soul in each and every round. And being so emotional, I think that’s a good thing in team events.
And it adds to a team, it gets everyone more fired up, and I think that he will certainly enhance the team.
Q: When you look at this week and something clicked in, what was it that clicked? When you look back on it, what will you remember that clicked in this week?
Tiger Woods: Well, I just felt I hit the golf ball better than I did at the British Open. In the last two weeks, I’ve certainly have hit it better. I’ve putted about the same as I did at the British Open. I just happened to be closer to the hole. And just felt that I was controlling my ball flight, which I did not do at the British Open. I was struggling with that. And you play in the wind like that on the golf course like that and you get exposed. And I did.
So worked on it a little bit and got it turned around and really felt that I hit the golf ball so much better and very similar to what I did at Oakmont. The only difference is I made more putts.
Q: In hindsight, what advantage might you, your conditioning advantage have you in this heat, and also does this change at all your intentions to play all four of the playoff events?
Tiger Woods: As far as the last part, yes, my intent is to play. As far as your first part of your question is physical fitness is always a huge advantage. And when you play any sport and you have heat and anything that wears you down mentally and physically, the more in shape you are, the more fit you are – I feel when I walked up 18 I felt the same way as I did going off the first tee. I felt great.
At home all the miles I log on the road and run in that heat, granted it’s not as hot as this but it’s certainly more humid. And that’s what you do. You pay the price. You go outwork everybody and days like today or weeks like this week, it shows. I felt fresh all week. And I felt great.
Other guys may have gotten tired and you see their shoulders slumping and dragging a little bit; I feel fine. I think that’s how you should always be. You should always train hard and bust your butt. That’s what a sport is, is to do that. And not everyone considers golf a sport and they don’t treat it as such.
Q: Couple of TV commentators, both golf professionals, in complimenting your swing said it looked different than it did at Carnoustie, that you looked closer to the ball and maybe not as flat. Was that a part of adjustments that you made and was there a key practice session in your work between then and now that really kicked in?
Tiger Woods: You know, it was at the British Open I was just trying to hit the ball low all the time. And easiest way to hit the ball low is to get a little bit flatter. And as far as looking closer to the golf ball, I think that might just be posture, if you change your posture just a little bit and sit up, have your lines a little bit better, you can give that type of deception.
But I was the same distance from the golf ball. But I have a tendency of not having my posture be 100 percent all the time. And you gotta pay attention to detail. And I probably slipped on that and wasn’t exactly where I needed to be. So made that adjustment and good to go.
Q: You said yesterday that you had a number you needed to shoot today to win. But you didn’t want to tell us the number. Did you hit that number today and did you make any adjustments to your game plan to when Ernie and Woody drew within a shot or two there?
Tiger Woods: My intent was to shoot under par on each nine. If I did that I felt the tournament would be mine. And I did that on the front nine I just didn’t do it on the back nine.
But I shot under par on each nine, I don’t know what the number might have been 1-under or 1-under or whatever configuration it might be, just felt that that would put a lot of pressure on those guys to shoot a great number in under tough conditions. Well, those guys did it. Ernie and Woody did play well. Played just great rounds of golf.
But I thought if I shot under par on both nines, still would have won the championship.
Q: Arron Oberholser, who you played against in college, said one of the things that makes you so effective is that having the junior amateurs, the amateur, et cetera, playing so many rounds of golf, there isn’t a golf shot out there that you haven’t faced before. Is that really the situation, so no matter where you go you feel, okay, I’ve been there and I can do that?
Tiger Woods: Well, I think it’s just – as I said, I think it was yesterday or maybe the day before, but about playing so many junior events and so many amateur events, that I’ve been in so many different circumstances to try and win championships, to win tournaments, that you start getting a feel how to do it. And sort of understanding it and sort of understanding the feel and the art of winning. And I certainly could believe there is an art to winning and understanding how to do that and how to get it done.
And when I’m out in these championships, I can always rely on any of those times. And I certainly do. Sometimes it’s from my professional days, amateur days, even junior golf days. But when I’m out there, I will reflect back on it on how I got it done and sometimes the circumstances are very similar and that’s one of the reasons why I do it.
Q: You’ve won your last three majors using a long iron off the tee, a 5-wood off the tee, primarily Medinah. Here you made your birdies with irons. In the back of your mind, do you get frustrated with your driver and the driver swing, and is it any different, could you explain to the rest of us, than your regular swing and why is it a struggle?
Tiger Woods: I feel the same. The only difference is when you’re hitting it, especially this week, 330-, 340-yard fairways 20, 22 yards wide, that’s not a lot of room.
And most of the tournaments, if you look at the configuration of how they design the golf courses now for us is that they pinch the fairways in about 280. 280 to 320 is kind of like the major number where they start pinching fairways in.
So a lot of times they’re more narrow at that distance than they are shy of 280. And sometimes I see a lot of guys hit driver down there try to play out of the rough. Some golf courses you can, some golf courses you can’t. And as far as my swing being different, I feel it’s the same.
The only difference is not a lot of room for error when you’re hitting it that far. And that’s one of the reasons why you see a lot of longer hitters hit 3-woods off the tee because the 3-wood nowadays goes as far as it used to when I first came out here as far as a driver went. I had no problem hitting 3-wood this week over 300 yards, just because it was so hot. And every week is different. It really is. It’s kind of a feel thing.
Q: Beyond the actual memory of winning this tournament, at some point when you reflect on this win, what will you think back on?
Tiger Woods: Well, I think that consistency of ball-striking, consistency of how I putted all week, and then, obviously, shooting a 63 in a major championship. And then having Elin and Sam there at the end. That’s something I never had before.
Q: You said a little bit earlier you feel by far you’re a better player than you were in 2000 which is the year when you won the last three majors, and people were wondering if anybody else would win another tournament you were entered in. This year you had to grind it out in the last major of the year to get your first major and I’m wondering just what that says and maybe in terms of the challenge that it becomes over the years to keep winning these majors?
Tiger Woods: Well, everyone’s not going to stay stagnant. Everyone is going to try to improve and they all have. Everyone’s worked hard to improve their game through technology, through fitness. Look back when I first came out here on Tour, how many guys had personal trainers. I don’t think any of them did.
Now going to the fitness van everyone has a trainer there. So the game has changed and everyone’s gotten stronger, more fit. They’re hitting the ball further. Technology has certainly helped that out. Your dispersion patterns aren’t as wide.
And guys are shooting a lot better scores. And it has become a lot harder to win tournaments. And that’s the fun of it. That’s the challenge.
Q: You said earlier how much better you were earlier. Is one of the most important ways you’re better sort of having – expanding your game where you can play on different kinds of courses? Those questions about whether a game fits Southern Hills, it seems like more so than ‘97 or ‘98, your game fits a lot of courses now.
Tiger Woods: It’s understanding how to play, how to manage your game, and also having more shots. You look back then, I was – I hit the ball long, I hit it high, didn’t really do a lot with the golf ball. I tried to. But didn’t really have the understanding how to do it.
But when I was working with Butch I always told him I would try and play the shot. Whether I pull it off or not, so be it. I’m going to try it. And a lot of times I didn’t pull it off.
But the same thing working with Hank, I will always go out and try and play the shot and just now I have a better understanding how to do that. And I think it’s shown in bigger events. I’ve put myself more consistently there on the back nine on Sunday of major championships to win than I did earlier in my career.
Q: Woody said that when he made his putt on 12, he was trying to get the crowd to deliver a message back to you that sort of the game was on a little bit. Did you hear that roar, and when you hear something like that, what does it do to you when you’re in that kind of battle?
Tiger Woods: I heard it. How could you not hear it? But I kept telling myself I had the lead, whether he makes birdie there that’s fine. He has to come get me. The whole idea is not to go back to them.
And I did that at 14. But got it right back at 15.
Q: You came in here a week early to play this course, a little practice round. You were here at 6:00 Monday morning to play this course and get ready. When you were here 11 years ago, when your father was here, he had health issues while in Tulsa. How important was it for you to win here on this course and beat Southern Hills? Was there a sentimental value there?
Tiger Woods: No. No. I think it might be stretching on that question a little bit.
Q: Then coming in a week early was just to prepare for the PGA Championship?
Tiger Woods: I normally do come in early for major championships and take a look, try and chart the golf course and figure out how I’m going to play the golf course so when I go back home I have a chance to visualize shots in how I’m going to play them and how to practice. So my practice sessions are now catered to the shots I’m going to play that week.
So that’s what I normally do. I didn’t do it at Augusta because they didn’t change anything. But any time they change anything at Augusta I go take a look. The only tournament I don’t go early to is the British Open. I don’t feel like going there and back again.
Q: As this season winds down, you pause and reflect this year has been mostly about golf and last year was more turbulent, what do you think of as this season winds down and as you think about it, how would you describe your feeling after these four majors?
Tiger Woods: Well, golf-wise, it’s been a good year. I’ve won this year. I’ve won a major championship now. I’ve contended in three of the four. So that part’s been good.
Off the golf course, it’s been great. Last year the golf was great, but off the golf course was difficult. So I will certainly take this year over last year any time.
Q: Tiger Woods, the 89th PGA Champion. Congratulations.
Source – US PGA