May 18, 2022
Tiger Woods Press Conference Ahead of PGA Championship 5/17/22 Transcript
Tiger Woods talks to the press about the upcoming PGA Championship. Read the transcript here.
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Four time PGA Champion, Tiger Woods, is joining us for the 104th PGA Championship. Tiger, this is your 22nd PGA Championship. The last time you were here, you won here at Tulsa. Can you take us back to 2007 and just maybe share some of the memories you had that week?
Tiger Woods: (00:35)
Yeah, it was obviously a very different golf course. It was not cold that week. I remember playing behind JD the first day, which was awesome. It was what, 109, I think that first day. And asked JD how many waters he drank out there? He says, “No, I had 13 Diet Cokes.” So it was a great week. A very different golf course, a lot of irons and like strange irons. Like you normally don’t hit a six iron off a tee on a par four, but we did that week. And they’ve lengthened it, changed it. And it’ll be a good test. I’m curious to see how much firmer it gets as the week goes on. And this golf course is going to play where Kerry wants it.
How’s your body? How’s your mind as you come to the second major of the year?
Tiger Woods: (01:30)
Yeah, it’s better than last time I played a tournament. So, which is good. We’ve been working hard. And again, I have days where it’s tough and the days where we can push through it. But we keep working at it.
Very good. Questions, ladies and gentlemen? Mic number two, please.
Tiger Woods: (01:51)
Speaker 3: (01:51)
Tiger, in the time between the PGA Championship and The Masters, were you able to sort of keep ramping up the training or was there a post Masters lull?
Tiger Woods: (02:00)
Yeah, there was a huge lull Monday. That was it. That was it. Monday. Monday, it was not fun. It hurt. A lot of ice baths and just trying to get the swelling out of there. And then we went back at it leg day on Tuesday and we kept going from there. And said, “Let’s go.” We figured the first mountain you climbed was Everest. I mean, this is the steepest golf course you’re going to play. And that was the first one you climbed and climbed. And so it’s going to get flatter and better. But still, I still have tough days and things aren’t going to be as easy as people might think. But I feel like I’m doing better. I’m having more days in which are better and more positive. Able to practice a little bit longer, so I’m able to do activities and things that I was hoping to do. And I’m finally able to do them.
Speaker 3: (03:01)
What did you learn about your new body and maybe its limitations during that week at Augusta?
Tiger Woods: (03:11)
It was hurting, but I pushed through it. And it was more and more mind than body. I said I’ve won with a broken leg before, so keep on going out there, keep pushing. I know how to play the golf course, if I can just putt well, you never know. Unfortunately, Saturday I think I had like 15 three putts. But it was one of those things that I… The thing that I was frustrated with is that it deteriorated as the week went on. I got more and more tired and more fatigued. I didn’t have the endurance that I wanted. And now, I mean, I shouldn’t expect it because I didn’t earn it. I didn’t go out there and I haven’t done the work, but we’re able to put in a little bit more work and it’s only going to get better as time goes on. So as the months pass and it’s going to get better.
Tiger, what do you make of Phil not being here? Defending champion, great win last year that he had. And here he, you know, all know what’s gone on. He’s not here. What are your thoughts?
Tiger Woods: (04:22)
Well, Bob, I mean, it’s always disappointing when the defending champion’s not here. Phil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the tour and committed to the legacy of the tour have pushed back against and he’s taken some personal time and we all understand that. But I think that some of his views on how the tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there. But as we all know, as a professional, we miss him being out here. I mean, he’s a big draw for the game of golf. He’s just taking his time. And we all wish him the best when he comes back. Obviously, we’re going to have difference of opinions that how he sees the tour. And we’ll go from there.
Are you surprised at all, it has escalated to the point that it has, where he also missed The Masters obviously, and we really don’t know what’s next?
Tiger Woods: (05:35)
Yeah. It has ramped up very quickly. And I think in, you know, we were talking about this, if this would’ve happened 30 years ago, 20 years ago, it wouldn’t have happened as fast. But social media has changed the landscape and how fast things can ramp up, whether it’s real news or fake news or whatever it is, opinions get out there instantly. And it can sway very quickly, one way or the other. And what we’re seeing right now in a society it’s very bipolar. There’s really no middle ground. You stand one way or the other. And it’s very polarizing. And the viewpoints that Phil has made with the tour and what the tour has meant to all of us has been polarizing as well.
Mic four, please.
Speaker 5: (06:23)
Tiger, you told me a long time ago that you didn’t think golf defined who you are as a person, but I think the resilience you’ve shown in the last year does say a lot about you. How do you think what you’ve accomplished over the last year since the accident might inspire others?
Tiger Woods: (06:38)
Well, every day’s a challenge for all of us. All of us, we all have our own challenges in our own different way. Right? And you wake up to the new challenge, the new day and you know, you just got to fight through it. And some challenges are more difficult than others. It doesn’t mean that they’re harder or easier than others. They’re just different. Mine were different than some others. Some other people have been through much worse than I have. We have seen some pretty amazing… I have seen some pretty amazing things working with the military and what they’ve done and what they come back from. Guys have lost limbs and have come back and re-qualified for special forces. And things like that are inspiring. And yeah, I’m going to be sore. That’s okay. But I can still get better.
Question on mic six, please.
Speaker 6: (07:36)
Tiger, you’re going to hit more driver here than… More often than you did in 2007. There’s more short grass around the greens. Do you think this is a better test than the one in 2007? Which would you prefer to play?
Tiger Woods: (07:52)
Now, given my body? Anything like around 6,200 is great. No, it’s just different. It’s just faster, it’s more wide open. We saw how the seniors played it. A lot of balls were hitting and running off to the sides where that wasn’t the case when we played in ’07. It was catching in the rough. But I think that some of the… There’s more, for me, I think there’s more slope in some of these greens. Obviously, there’s more waves in the fairways and hitting very different clubs off of tees. But still it’s a challenge. And I said earlier, I think Kerry’s going to set it up, I think he’s going to do a wonderful job setting it up. It’s going to be fair. It’s going to be hard.
Tiger Woods: (08:49)
The rough, it’s at a great length. It’s interesting, because you can get a ball that comes out hot or you didn’t get a ball that comes out at all. And that’s the great guessing game of playing Bermuda. And then with the surrounds being cut down on how they are, there’s a lot more grain than we ever had to deal with. So, they’re going to be different shots. I’ve seen guys use hybrids, guys use three woods, putts, wedges, four irons. I mean, you’ll see a variety of different things. And then the forecast is going to be different every day and there’s wind supposed to be all different directions. So we’re going to see different golf courses almost every day.
Mic number five.
Speaker 7: (09:33)
Tiger, you mentioned that you kind of lost endurance as the round at The Masters went on. What have you learned about your body or the recovery process since that’s going to be able to help you recover better after the rounds and be able to last longer into the tournament?
Tiger Woods: (09:45)
Well, my team did a and just an amazing job just to get me to a point where I could play The Masters. And I was able to have that opportunity to play. Right after each round, it was like, get back to the house and we have an ice bath ready for you, and off you go. Get on the treatment table and let’s just keep working at it, keep things going. And it was tough. It was hard. It was hard on all of us. But I’ve gotten stronger since then. But it’s still going to be sore. And walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. And it’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future for sure.
In the back row, 14.
Speaker 8: (10:33)
Yeah. Tiger, with the foundation, have you considered an event much like the one Bill Dickey used to put on? I’m sure you remember him.
Tiger Woods: (10:45)
Speaker 8: (10:46)
That would benefit kids all over the country and give people a chance to see exactly what the foundation is doing?
Tiger Woods: (10:53)
Well, see, we’ve gone away from golf-based events. We’ve had fundraisers that are golf-based events, but our foundation is not based in golf. Our fundraising is based in golf, but our program is based in STEM. So we focus on STEM, getting kids into STEM programs in a variety of different STEM programs. But yes, we use golf as a fundraiser, but we’re not here to produce professional golfers. We’re here to give underserved kids better chances in life. And I think that’s more important.
Speaker 8: (11:28)
Mic nine, please.
Speaker 9: (11:31)
Tiger, how close are you physically now to being as good as it’s going to get based on your injuries?
Tiger Woods: (11:39)
I don’t know. That’s a great question. I don’t know. There’s going to be limitations. I mean, there’s a lot of hardware in there and there’s going to be limitations to what I’m going to be able to do. But I’m going to get stronger. I don’t know how much that is or how much range of motion I’ll ever get back. But it’s sure a hell of a lot better than it was 12 months ago.
Mic nine now, please.
Speaker 10: (12:06)
Yeah. Tiger, you mentioned all the changes to the golf course. One, do you like those changes? Then two, your winning score here was eight under in ’07. Do you envision it being similar? All the guys have mentioned it’s playing tougher then. So do you envision that score maybe being lower?
Tiger Woods: (12:20)
I think it all depends on where Kerry puts the pins. When I watched the seniors play and there was a lot of balls running off the sides, a lot of chip shots. But we’re getting these young kids hitting the ball high and far. A couple of par fives are what, 630? And guys are knocking it on there in two. Some of the guys. It depends on the wind obviously. But guys have a lot more power than what we did in ’07. I mean, look at what we did on the range. We can’t use the top end of the range anymore because guys are hitting down on the bottom.
Tiger Woods: (12:59)
So the game has changed a lot. And because the game has changed a lot, Gill’s done a fantastic job of altering the golf course. And it has a lot more shot options, that’s for sure. And we’re going to be tested around the greens a lot. A lot of grain, a lot of creativity, but it still puts a premium on putting the ball in play on the fairway and keeping the ball somehow below the holes in the right spots. As I said, there’s still a lot of slope on these greens, a lot of pitch. But it is kind of nice to see nine and 18 not cut at a different speed.
Question on three.
Speaker 11: (13:37)
Tiger, how confident are you that you can contend this week? And basically, can you win this week?
Tiger Woods: (13:42)
I feel like I can. Yeah, definitely. I just got to go out there and do it. I got to do my work and it starts on Thursday and I’ll be ready.
Question on 12.
Speaker 12: (13:53)
Yeah. Tiger, you mentioned your putting at Augusta, particularly that Saturday didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Do you feel like with your physical limitations, you’re able to practice enough with the putter to get that club back to a championship level?
Tiger Woods: (14:06)
No. As far as practicing a lot, no, I don’t do that anymore. Bending over and hitting a bunch of putts like I used to, that doesn’t happen. Not with my back the way it is. And I got to pick my spots, do my work, and get in and then get out. I can do different sessions. I have a great complex in the backyard, but I can do like different times throughout the day and do like a 20 minute segment here, 20 minute segment there, another 20 segment later on in the evening. I can break it up and do it that way. Instead of putting for two, three hours in a row, like I used to. I just have to do it differently.
Speaker 13: (14:45)
Tiger, you said to Bob about the disagreement with a lot of what Phil had said. From your point of view, how does he resolve that disagreement or does he have to resolve that disagreement? What do you think?
Tiger Woods: (14:56)
I don’t know if he has to resolve it or not. He has his opinion on where he sees the game of golf going. I have my viewpoint on how I see the game of golf, and I’ve supported the tour and I’ve… My foundation has run events on the tour for a number of years. And I just think that what Jack and Arnold have done starting the tour and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour. What, in ’68 or ’69, somewhere in there. I just think that there’s a legacy to that.
Tiger Woods: (15:33)
I’ve been playing out here for a number of years, for over a couple decades, and I think there’s a legacy to it. And I still think that what the tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity. Yes, it is, I understand different viewpoints. But I believe in legacies, I believe in major championships, I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. And it’s there’s plenty of money out here. The tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sports. Like tennis, you got to go out there and earn it. You got to go out there and play for it. We have the opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.
Over here on nine, please. Nine. It’s nine.
Speaker 14: (16:27)
Sorry. Tiger, with your event, you have rights fees that you pay to the tour in some form or another. Do you think Phil, because he hadn’t done events before, some of these matches and whatnot, do you think he just didn’t understand the rights fees and how they work?
Tiger Woods: (16:42)
I can’t speak for him not knowing and understanding that. I’m sure he probably does have an understanding of that because he was the host of the tournament of the Old Bob Hope. So since he was the host of the event, I’m sure he probably understands it. And plus, he hosts the event up there in Napa Valley. So he understands that. And there is a rights fee to having events and understanding it. And we negotiate with the tour. And whether it’s one-off day events like we have with matches under the lights, like I used to do back in the old days, or it’s regular tour events, each term is different and obviously there’s rights fees that have to be paid. And we understand that. And obviously we go in there as events and try to negotiate that down as low as possible and try and make as much money as we can for the local events.