2011 Australian Open: Tiger Talks

Q: Tiger, can I ask you to respond to the remarks made by your former caddie in Perth recently. How badly did that affect you?

Tiger Woods: Yes actually, we talked this morning, we met face to face and talked about it, talked it through. Obviously it was a wrong thing to say, something that we both acknowledge it now and we’re moving forward.

Q: Tiger, just on that subject, how is it that two people seemingly so close together could sort of drift so far apart in a short time?

Tiger Woods: That’s a great question. I don’t know that one. For me personally it was a tough decision to make to go in a different direction in my personal life, but as far as personally, I don’t know how that could have happened the way it did, but it did and here we are. So as I said, life goes forward, I just keep moving forward.

Q: Do you think he is a racist or just stupid?

Tiger Woods: No Stevie’s certainly not a racist, there’s no doubt about that. I think it was a comment that shouldn’t have been made and was certainly one that he wished he didn’t make.

Q: Tiger, does that comment vindicate your decision to part ways with Steve?

Tiger Woods: No, it’s just something that I felt it was time for me to go in a different direction professionally and that’s something I wanted to do. He obviously went with Adam. He’s in a good spot right now. Adam’s playing very well, he’s just one a golf championship and professionally we’ve moved in different directions.

Q: How did your conversation this morning end?

Tiger Woods: We shook hands.

Q: Tiger, a lot’s happened in 15 years. For a man so used to winning, dominating the field, getting that adrenalin rush, what’s not winning doing to you now for nearly now two years? Is it making you grumpy?

Tiger Woods: I’ve gone through a tough period there, because I was hurt for so long. I had an Achilles injury, a knee injury and obviously I parted ways with my coach and now I’m with Sean, so a lot of different things happened in that time span.

Trying to get the practice time, I couldn’t practice, so I’m trying to make changes in my game for Sean, you need time and we haven’t had time. I was looking at it the other day, getting ready for the Bridgestone; we only worked 18 days for the whole year together.

Q: But still, you’re a winner who hasn’t won, is it eking at the psyche a bit?

Tiger Woods: I’ve been here before, I changed my game in ’97. I just won the Masters by 12 and decided to change my game and it took me two years. Then I didn’t get it until ’99 and I think I had a pretty good run after that. So hopefully this will be very similar.

Q: You said earlier Tiger that time heals all wounds, how about your personal wounds, are they healing now?

Tiger Woods: Yes, everything’s fantastic. Everything is in a wonderful balance, at home with the kids, they’re doing great, so everything is in a very nice balance.

Q: Tiger, as a former long running number one, you’re now ranked in the mid 50s, if you want to talk about the world ranking, does that change your mindset at all or are they numbers for other people to worry about?

Tiger Woods: Well it’s understandable. I hadn’t played. I had a really good year two years ago in ’09 where I think I won six or seven tournaments around the world, so those points all came off this year and I didn’t make any points back. So next year’s going to be a fun year because basically I have nothing and I’m not really losing any points. So I’ll have nothing but positive gains next year. By playing well, by winning golf tournaments I’ll climb the world rankings.

Q: At your peak you seemed to have an ability to almost will the ball into the hole. That hasn’t been as evident and I wouldn’t have thought a swing change would necessarily impact on that. What is it about your putting that you don’t seem to be making as many as you did at your peak?

Tiger Woods: You know, I’ve been streaky, I get in these hot streaks where I’ll make everything and then I’ll get in these cold spells where I don’t make anything. My putting career as a whole has been like that but I’ve been more consistent than what I have been. I just need to get my speed better consistently, because obviously speed determines line and just keep working on that.

Q: It has been said: Why doesn’t he just go back to doing things the way he did in 2000. Is it fair to say you need reinvention to help your game periodically, the challenge of unlocking that new kind of stuff?

Tiger Woods: Yes well physically I can’t go back to that swing. That swing put a lot of stress on my lower body and I really don’t want to go back to that, so I want to find ways in which I can get into similar positions when I was younger or during that period without causing any harm to the body and we’re doing that.

Q: Tiger, have you had a chance to look at The Lakes course already and is this the perfect place to come to prepare for the President’s Cup or would you rather be in it?

Tiger Woods: Well, I saw it from the highway driving in and I saw it walking into the media centre, that’s it. I’ve seen the tournament on TV when it used to be played here and I don’t remember much except for water; but that’s about it. I’m curious to see, going out there to take a look at it today and tomorrow. I think it’s a wonderful way to prepare for next week because we are in the same time zone, same climate – granted Melbourne can change pretty quickly. So it is nice to be here and get adjusted to the time and not have to worry about that.

Q: Tiger, can you give us a sense of how you’re feeling physically? Do you think you’re back to 100 per cent after that series of injuries that you had? Just give us a sense going into this tournament; do you think you’re 100 per cent?

Tiger Woods: Yes, I feel great. It’s nice to not have to do rehab assignments every day. It’s nice to be able to train properly and then have unlimited ball count on the golf course, because I was limited for so long at how many golf balls I could hit on the golf course because of the injury but now that’s all been taken away. I can practice all day if I want.

Q: Tiger, a succession of your former peers and players have questioned your ability to dominate again and they have made comments about the aura has gone missing. Does that hurt you or motivate you and if you can dominate again, why can you dominate?

Tiger Woods: That’s not a concern of mine. My concern is winning golf tournaments and being prepared to win, which is something I haven’t been able to do for a while. I haven’t been able to practice.

Now that I’m able to do that, now physically I feel ready to go and that takes time; winning golf tournaments and being consistent and I’ve been doing that for – I’ve been lucky enough to have done it for a decade, so there’s nothing wrong with doing it again. I know that Vijay was like that well into his 40s. I think he’s won more tournaments than anybody in the history of our sport in their 40s. I’m not there yet, by the way.

Q: Tiger obviously next week is the two year anniversary of the Australian Masters which was your last win. Given what you’ve done in your career, do you find it hard to believe it’s been two years since you have actually won a tournament?

Tiger Woods: Well given the way I’ve played, no. In order to win golf tournaments you’ve got to play better than I have played and as I said, making changes to my game along the way, it’s been frustrating because I haven’t been able to dedicate my time to it.

So when I made the changes back in ’97 through ’99 I was healthy through all that, so I was able to spend eight, 10, 12 hours a day working on my game; two years later it got there. I haven’t been able to do that because of my injuries.

Q: Tiger, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself over the last few years?

Tiger Woods: Well I think it’s the people that I trust and care about have been huge in my life and I think what’s been really neat is to have closer bonds than I ever thought I could have.

Q: Tiger, you said the body is allowing you to take more of a rip at the ball now, are we going to see your driving distance go up? Can you give us a yard?

Tiger Woods: You know it has come back; it has gone up, given the equipment changes. If I had the same equipment I had back in ’97, ’98, 2000 versus now, I should be longer and I wasn’t there because I wasn’t able to swing, but now that’s starting to come back, which is great. I don’t know what this golf course will allow me to do strategically so it will be nice to kind of get out there today and tomorrow and figure out can I play, how can I attack it.

Q: You probably answered this question already today, but what are the big challenges apart from another W. What are the big challenges for you now going ahead in your career?

Tiger Woods: I think it’s just preparing and putting myself there consistently. I haven’t over the last couple of years been consistently in the hunt. I have at the Masters, it’s just a tournament and a golf course I know, but I haven’t been able to play consistently day in, day out.

My bad rounds need to be under par, not over par. You need to turn a 73, 74 into a 68 or a 69. That’s something I haven’t done through this stretch and I’m looking forward to being able to do that again.