Tiger Woods Interview (Playoff) US Open
BY iseekgolf.com | US PGA Tour | 2008 US Open | Round Four | 17 Jun 2008
Q: It’s a pleasure to welcome the 108th United States Open champion, Tiger Woods.
Tiger, this is your third U.S. Open Championship title, how good does this one feel?
Tiger Woods: As I said out there, I think this is probably the best ever. All things considered, don’t know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you.
The week was – it was a long week. A lot of doubt, a lot of questions going into the week. And here we are 91 holes later.
Q: This is your 9th USGA national championship title, which ties you with Bob Jones for the most for any player in history. A lot of historic moments and shots through the last five days. Anything you’ll remember from this week?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, I had such a great starts every day (laughter). I had four doubles this week, three eagles, a few three-putts, a couple of snipes off the tees, a couple of slices, some bombs, anything and everything happened this week, really.
For some reason it just happened to be that week, through all that, all those ups and downs, I ended up being 1-under par for 91 holes. Just an amazing week.
Q: You addressed it a little bit, I’m not sure if you were talking about Opens, but with regard to your 14 Majors, given the way you came in here, with the knee, the uncertainty about how it would react, playing through it and getting through 91 holes, et cetera, would this rank as maybe your greatest accomplishment?
Tiger Woods: Yeah, I think so. It’s either this one or my first one. My first major, that is. This week had a lot of doubt to it, to be honest with you. I hadn’t walked 18 holes until the first round here since Augusta.
You know, you keep playing, whatever it is, you just keep going, keep going forward. All my buddies and I used to, when we were working out, used to always say for. How many more reps do you have? For. Forever. And that’s the idea. You just keep going. And there’s no finish line, you just keep pushing and pushing and I did all week.
Q: I believe you mentioned it outside there, but you said you were going to shut it down for a little while. I was wondering, is this just a short-term thing or do you feel that maybe you’re going to look at your scheduling deep into the future and how much you put on that knee?
Tiger Woods: Well, I think I need to shut it down for a little bit here. It’s a bit sore. I need to take a little bit of a break.
Q: So British or –
Tiger Woods: To be honest with you, I really don’t know.
Q: I hate to be provincial, Tiger, but you have a tournament in Washington that’s yours. Do you anticipate you will try to get back and play in that event?
Tiger Woods: As I said, I don’t know. I pushed it pretty hard this week and I just want to enjoy it and we’re going to reevaluate after this event and see what happens.
Q: On 18, the last hole, you looked over at Stevie for a read. You don’t look at him a lot for reads, particularly out here. Just talk about that and just asking him.
Tiger Woods: Yeah, because I didn’t see a thing. I didn’t see any break at all. I asked Stevie to take a look, because I couldn’t find anything. He read it and says, I can’t see anything, either, it’s dead straight. Okay, here we go, our tournament relies on a dead straight putt for four feet.
I gave it some extra gas on the putt, to make sure that – you only have half a cup to play with when you’re playing dead straight. So I gave it a little bit of speed.
Q: Not to really compare the two, but you now have almost more of an appreciation of what Hogan went through in 1950?
Tiger Woods: Well, I was not in as bad of shape as Ben was. Geez, he was in the hospital and he didn’t know if he was ever going to walk again.
I knew I could walk, it’s just going to be a little bit on the slow side. But I was just trying to get through this week. Everyone plays with nick knack injuries, and here, there, whatever it is, and Roc’s done it pretty much his entire career with his bad back. Guys have that, you have injuries. And you play through it and suck it up and get it done.
Q: Can you tell us about 14 and 15, 14, Rocco was wondering if you went to the 3-wood or 5-wood?
Tiger Woods: I had a 3-wood on that one.
Q: And also 15, playing out of the bunker over there and the putt he made, obviously?
Tiger Woods: On 14 it was – the tees were back and I had a little bit more into the wind today so I could hit the 3-wood, put a slow peel cut over there. I had an easy pitch, but the lie was a little funky. It was good where my ball was, but it had a tuft of grass under it. I thought if I came in steep enough, it would be an easy pitch and I could make it.
I caught that tuft of grass and came out soft and I fluffed a little bit. I hit a good putt, just didn’t move. So be it. All of a sudden I went from being in control of this tournament to now it’s a ballgame. We’re all square.
So going to 15, catcher called pitch out, so I hit over there to the right. I had 170 front with a 7-iron. I had to start the ball in the middle of the right bunker and just rope it in there. I hit it so flush, it was like – it was probably the best shot I hit all week, feeling-wise. And hit it up right behind the hole.
When Roc hit his putt I was thinking that’s at least 10, 12 feet by, and it rammed in the back, and he was – you could see him, he was shocked. He said a few things I can’t say here, and I hit my putt, and I rolled it four feet by, and said, well, here’s the tournament. If I miss this putt the tournament is over. I make this putt I can still win this in regulation. Here we go. Get it done.
I made the putt. Thought I made the one at 16. Then came down to 18, Roc gave me a chance. He pulled his tee shot just a touch. And I felt that – it looked like 4 was probably going to get me in extra holes and it ended up being that was the case.
Q: What was your yardage in 18?
Tiger Woods: 200 carry the water and 217 to the hole and I hit a 4.
Q: For three straight days now you got on the 18th tee box behind. Do you look at those situations as like pressure or opportunity? How do you prepare yourself when you’re in that spot time after time after time?
Tiger Woods: Well, it’s pressure, there’s no doubt. I was nervous and that’s a good thing. That means you care. You can try and use that energy as best you can to heighten your focus and then get into the right situation and it worked out great for me this week.
Q: There’s been plenty of athletes, golfers included, that over time when they don’t win they pointed to other things that caused them not to win, other factors working against them. You didn’t do that this week, you refused to answer questions specifically about your knee. I wonder what your thoughts are when you hear other athletes point to other things when they don’t come out victorious, and also if this is No. 1, Masters is No. 2, what’s No. 3?
Tiger Woods: Probably The Open in 2000 for No. 3. As I said earlier, all athletes deal with injuries and that’s just part of playing sports. Sports isn’t usually kind to the body. Weird things happen and that’s just the way it is.
But it’s about dealing with it and getting it up there and giving it your best, and see what happens. And there’s never any excuses, you just go play. And that’s the beauty of it is getting out there and enjoying the opportunity to compete, whether you’re a hundred percent or not, it doesn’t matter, you’re out there in that environment, so let’s go.
Q: You have so much success here in San Diego, what is it that you like and you succeed at so well here at Torrey Pines that has allowed you to continually succeed at what you do?
Tiger Woods: Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I jumped right on the road, I used to come down here as a junior golfer and play. I’m only an hour down the road. This is the first regulation 18 holes I’ve played in San Diego was here, I was about ten. Golf course was a lot longer to me then. When I first came out here I played Presidio Hills in the Junior World there for the ten and unders. And my dad treated me, he said, okay, you’re ten, now you’re a big boy, you can play a real golf course. He said where do you want to play? I said Torrey Pines South. Everything was a driver, 3-wood, 3-wood, 3- wood. About like I was this week, actually (laughter).
But it’s always felt comfortable, even after the redesign in ‘01, I still felt comfortable with all the lines here. It just happened to work out. I’ve won here as a junior golfer and as a professional and now the ultimate in the U.S. Open.
Q: In your interview with Bob Costas you said something to the effect of, because of the crowds here, that you couldn’t have quit on these people if you wanted to. Does that mean that the thought at any point actually entered your mind, because of the problems with your knee. And now that this is over, can you give us some indication as to what you had to do in terms of preparation to get your knee ready to play?
Tiger Woods: I wasn’t going to bag it. I think everyone knows me well enough that – it’s not in my nature, I don’t know how to do that. It helped to have that energy from all the fans, because there were times when it stung quite a bit. I had a couple of zingers out there. But it’s nice to have that energy out there, and you’re trying to feed off it somehow. And whether – you always try to use everything to your advantage, anyways, trying to be a rationalist, it’s part of playing our sport. I try to do as best I could. It’s been sore every day. It’s been sore for a while. I just deal with it.
Q: Given the uncertainty coming into this week, how significant, how reassuring was it coming to a course you know so well versus one you just played a couple of times in practice?
Tiger Woods: That helps. It helps a lot, because I didn’t have to grind on my practice rounds. I just had to try to get accustomed to the pace of the greens, and that was about it.
I played nine holes three straight days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I already knew this golf course. And it was just a matter of getting the pace of the greens, and that was about it. It helped a lot, it really did.
Q: Can you talk about being only four behind Jack now and getting the opportunity to check another one off your list three years in advance of him.
And also, any concerns at all, being an athlete, on the long-term ramifications of the knee thing?
Tiger Woods: Well, only being four back, it’s hard to believe I’m in this situation, you know? It’s hard to believe I’ve had this nice a run in my career. And hopefully it will continue. I’m going to keep practicing, keep trying to grind and get better.
As far as future ramifications, I’m not really good at listening to doctor’s orders too well. So I end up – hey, I won this week, so it is what it is.
Q: Did they tell you, though, that you could further injure it, Tiger, if you played?
Tiger Woods: (Nods head affirmatively.)
Tiger Woods: (Nods head affirmatively.)
Q: Did you?
Tiger Woods: Maybe.
Q: This marks the 500th week you’ve held the No. 1 ranking in the world, can you comment on that?
Tiger Woods: Is it really?
Q: Happy anniversary.
Tiger Woods: Thanks. I guess that’s not too bad, either. It’s been consistent. Being ranked No. 1 you have to win golf tournaments. Over the course of my career I’ve done that. There’s been a couple of years where I only won one tournament, but otherwise I’ve had some good years in there.
Q: Congratulations on your great victory.