Here’s the transcript from today’s teleconference with Tiger Woods. He talks about his season, the upcoming Chevron World Challenge Dec. 2-6 at Sherwood Country Club and more.
September 28, 2009
CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE MEDIA DAY
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Welcome to the 11th annual media day that we’re hosting out here. It’s great to be here. It’s great to be back at Sherwood Country Club for our I guess this is our tenth year. Golf course and weather today probably can’t be better for those of you that are playing golf. So looking forward to having that.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to have a few remarks and then we’re going to open it up to questions, and we ask that all the questions really be of media representatives only. We’ve got kind of a mixture of guests and media here, so we ask please that only the media ask questions of Tiger or actually the representatives that will be speaking today.
With that, I would like to introduce our host. As I mentioned, Sherwood Country Club has been a really long standing partner of ours dating back to 2000 when we won the event here, and we just really can’t say enough great things about this club, the partnership and how much we really enjoy being here. So I’d like to welcome the Sherwood Country Club board president Jim Jackoway.
JIM JACKOWAY: Well, welcome, all, to Sherwood. The members of Sherwood Country Club are, of course, thrilled to be hosting the Chevron World Challenge again this year. It has been our privilege for the past ten years to work with Tiger and all the dedicated people at the Tiger Woods Foundation. We are proud that we have the opportunity to support the great work of the foundation.
We have a couple people I want to introduce, Steve Smith, our immediate past president, who serves as chairman of our Chevron World Challenge tournament host committee; and our general manager, Lenny Fisher; and Sean Dyer, our director of agronomy.
Sean has been busy for the past year since December working on the course, in many ways unnoticed. But specifically since we last saw you, with the support of the foundation, we have renovated and improved all 72,000 square feet of our 51 existing bunkers, and we added one more. Many have been substantially redesigned, particularly, for instance, tournament No. 13, you’ll see a big difference. I’m asked to tell you that we have used a state of the art liner for this project. I think it’s probably the first time it’s been used in the United States.
The work was completed under the direction of Jack Nicklaus, and with his associate Chet Williams on site. McDonald & Sons did the heavy lifting, and Sean and Paul Latshaw helped to complete the project.
It was completed in the spring. The sand is already settled, and we are confident that in December the pros will enjoy their infrequent visits to our bunkers.
Greg, the board and staff of Sherwood will do everything possible on our own to help ensure that this year’s tournament will be a success by every measure. We look forward to seeing you all in a few months. Thank you.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thanks, Jim. The bunker restoration project, as Jim mentioned, it turned out amazingly well for really a short period of time and how well that they settled. I know you guys brought in McDonald & Sons, which really did a great job on it. Those of you that find the bunkers today, we certainly would be happy for any feedback that you have. I’m sure that won’t be the case.
I next would like to introduce our title sponsor in their second year. The Chevron Corporation based in northern California came in and assumed title sponsorship last year, and really it’s been great having them involved and the things that they’ve been able to do really in helping our event has been tremendous, so we’re delighted to have them back again. I’d like to now introduce the global director of brand and product line manager of Chevron, Glenn Weckerlin. Glenn?
GLENN WECKERLIN: Thank you, Greg, and we’re happy to be here once again. I also recognize that we’re in about the same spot we were last year when we were talking about this kind of between you, Tiger and the golf. So I’m going to try and be really brief about what I want to say. It’s really centered around two things.
We talk a lot about human energy at Chevron, and without going into what human energy means, if you really think about it, it’s about the power to kind of help people to do some things that they don’t ordinarily do. And if you watched yesterday, you saw some of that on the golf course. I guarantee you’re going to see it with the field that we’ve got coming in this year at the golf.
But the thing that I’d actually like to do, and I threw out my notes on this, is really to make a plea, I guess, to have the folks that are writing about the golf to actually take the time to dig behind the scenes and see what goes on with not only the PGA TOUR, who does a bunch of stuff every year at all the golf tournaments that go on, but more importantly for us, the Tiger Woods Foundation. So I guess the plea is look for the human energy that goes on off the course or outside the ropes, as well, and help tell that story, because if that story doesn’t get told to people, we really run a risk that we become just yet another sponsorship property, and I can tell you quite frankly that becomes harder and harder these days to justify if you don’t have something of more substance behind it.
We got into the deal a year and a half ago for that reason alone. We get the golf as a bonus. So I’ll just throw out a plea there. If one or two of you want to pick it up and run with it, that would be really fantastic from our side of things.
With that I’ll move it along and just reinforce that we’re really, really happy to be here. It’s a wonderful field. With that, I’ll hand it back to Greg. Thank you again for coming, and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here in December.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: I would like to highlight just a couple things with respect to the tournament. For those of you that have been coming out here for the last ten years, this will mark a new date that we have, the first weekend in December. As you recall last year, it was our goal to try and move the tournament up a little bit earlier in the year, which we think is a huge positive, certainly for the community, for people to come out and sponsor the event.
In addition to that, we’re certainly very, very proud to have World Golf Ranking points that will now come as a result of our event, and I think most of you that followed the announcement last year in December, that this is really the second limited field event ever to be granted World Ranking points in the first what they call challenge season event, which is not really part of the PGA TOUR or European Tour schedule. We think that that has a lot to do with really the quality of the field, quality of the competition that we’ve really had here these last 11 years. We’re certainly extremely pleased with that.
I would like to just talk about the field, and having been here for all 11 years, this is, I think, far and away the best field that we’ve ever been able to compile. We have three of the four major winners, 15 out of the top 20 players in the world. We’ll have eight countries represented, including the United States, and nine major championship title winners, which is great. And that field includes host and No. 1 ranked player in the world Tiger Woods; Steve Stricker, ranked No. 2; Paul Casey, 4; Kenny Perry, 6; Padraig Harrington, 8; Jim Furyk, 9; Lee Westwood, 11; Stewart Cink, 12; Martin Kaymer, 13; defending champion Vijay Singh, 14; Sean O’Hair, 15; Camilo Villegas, 16; Lucas Glover, 17; Zach Johnson, 18; Ian Poulter, 20; and Y.E. Yang at No. 33.
It’s a phenomenal field. We awarded two exemptions. The committee awarded exemptions to Anthony Kim, who’s currently ranked No. 21 in the world, and Mike Weir, who’s ranked 30 in the world. So we feel like the competition this year will be tremendous.
Our purse is, again, $5.75 million with first place being $1.35 and last place being $150,000. So it’s going to be a great week of golf. Looking forward to certainly having everyone out here.
And with that I’d now like to introduce the host to make a few remarks and then he’ll open it up for questions and answers. With that, Tiger?
TIGER WOODS: Thanks, Greg. As always, we’re very excited to have this event. Chevron and Sherwood are great partners, and this is a field that we’ve never had before. This is deeper and stronger than we’ve ever had, and we’re looking forward to it, especially with the bunker restorations, and I’m sure the difficulty has been increased. So we’re looking forward to getting out there and hosting the event and having a great time.
Q. Can you talk about the tournament and its history and how it is starting to really become a big deal around here and the growth and what it does for this community?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. We’ve always wanted to be a part of southern California because obviously that’s where I was born and raised, and it’s one of the reasons why we have the learning center in Anaheim. We’re lucky enough to have Sherwood as a partner so we can have that type of an event.
And over the years as we’ve kind of basically grown and matured in the event, you’ve seen a lot of these players come and have supported the event. I know they have busy schedules. A lot of the European players and foreign born players who don’t live here in the United States have made the trek over here to play.
Now with this year having World Ranking points, it’s only going to add to that, and I think that what we’ve done for the community and the support we’ve gotten over the years has been tremendous, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to have a learning center is because of this event.
Q. I know this is a challenge season event, but with the feel of it and the strength of the field, do you think the other players view this as a challenge season event or do they view this as a regular TOUR event?
TIGER WOODS: Well, when you step up and you get on that practice range and you see the field, your juices start going. I’ve played in several challenge events post TOUR Championship or post Cups. This event is different. The quality of field and the venue, it just adds to it, and the guys really get pretty jacked up to play.
It’s amazing how a lot of tripping goes on early in the week. Come game time, it gets a little more quiet, very similar to how you’d find at a bigger TOUR event.
Q. Have you noticed there’s maybe a little bit more buzz amongst the players because of the World Ranking points and that they want to come and play even more than normal?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. That’s been instrumental in getting the field that we have this year. Having World Ranking points with this type of field, guys want to come play for that, and that certainly helps.
Q. Can you sort of look back at your season this year, and was it a success to you, not having won a major but winning the FedExCup and the tournaments that you won and coming back from knee surgery? How do you sort of wrap it up?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, it’s a successful year. To have gone through what I went through for eight months being away from the game and then coming back and being as consistent as I’ve been this year, this is, I believe, my third lowest stroke average I’ve ever had on the TOUR. So that’s something I’m very proud of.
Unfortunately this year I didn’t win a major championship. I was close in three of them, missed the cut in the other. But the year as a whole, it’s been a huge success to come back and play as well as I have and as consistently as I have. I’m really looking forward to the prospects of ending this year and then playing again next year.
Q. Just being, if not the, one of the top athletes in the world and playing golf, just wondering, put us in a day of the life of Tiger Woods say in the gym, what your workout regimen is on a day to day basis. Just very curious to know.
TIGER WOODS: You know, depends what the buildup is, how much time I have off and how much I’m getting physically ready for an event. Like right now I’m taking a couple days off and just kind of letting the body unwind a little bit, and then I’ll start gearing back up here, not today but Wednesday, and getting after it again.
As of right now, I don’t do a lot of cardio right now because I’m trying to get my weight back up. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight from playing so much golf, and I’ve just been lifting.
Q. Because of the injury, how much different was it coming into this year in terms of what your expectations were? I mean, were they severely different than what they had been previously in terms of not knowing what to expect from the knee and what your game would be once you got back?
TIGER WOODS: You know, that is the biggest thing that I did not know entering the year, which was a little worrisome because I’ve never had that before. It was a complete unknown.
I didn’t know how this leg was going to respond. I didn’t know how it was going to how I was going to deal with the swelling day in and day out, how my power was going to be, how consistent I could play, what shots could I play. And all the while trying to get my feel back for playing, because I had been gone for eight months. So that was a bit of a tricky feeling because I had never been in this situation before.
But once the season started getting rolling after a few months of playing, I started feeling a lot better. My leg started becoming more explosive again. Looking back, how I feel now and how I felt when I played the Match Play, it’s complete night and day. I’m very thankful to all my trainers, to Hank.
We had to make some adjustments when I first came back to make sure that I did not injure the leg, and one of the things I alluded to yesterday after the round when I was talking to the press is that I didn’t play a lot at the beginning because I didn’t want to hurt the leg. I didn’t want to stretch out the ligament because if I stretch out the ligament basically the whole surgery was for naught. So I took it easy and made sure that I came back slowly, and I think I did it right.
Q. I’ve often wondered, do these guys, with the special exemptions you have for this tournament, schmooze you up to get a spot?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there are a few guys that have done that over the years, yes.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
TIGER WOODS: I know J.D. certainly has been a tremendous supporter of ours, and he usually asks for a spot. But this year with the new regulations and having to be in the top 50, that changes things. That’s one of the reasons why we have Weirsie and AK in there is because obviously they’re tremendous players and great supporters of ours, but obviously they’re in the top 50, as well.
Q. You won both FedExCups when you’ve been able to play in the Playoffs under vastly different systems. Can you say whether anything else needs to be tweaked? Personally I don’t like the reset before the TOUR Championship. Is there any merit to say having match play for the final 32 in Atlanta or something like that? Just your thoughts on the system.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the resetting, certainly we didn’t know how it was going to all pan out because if you play I mean, basically what could have transpired is a person could have won the first three Playoff events, finished second at the TOUR Championship and would have lost if someone other than himself in the Top 5 would have won the tournament. So that’s one of the tricky kind of things that I don’t know how that’s going to be resolved or not resolved at all.
If you play well and you play consistently the entire year, you’re rewarded by having a high seed. But once you get in the Playoffs you’ve got to play well again to give yourself another high seed at the TOUR Championship. It puts a lot of pressure on you toward the end of the season to play well for the first three Playoff events, and then at the TOUR Championship being seeded has a tremendous advantage.
Q. With the bunker restoration project, the course is obviously going to be a little more difficult, but is there any thought to making this course tight and fast and making it I don’t want to say torturous, but making it as challenging as possible, or is there a balance you have to strike?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to have it fast and have the fairways going. That’s how I think it’s best played. We just need to have the weather cooperate with us. Being that late in the year, generally that’s when the storms start rolling in off the Pacific as we all know. So that’s one of the tricky things that we have to try and balance. If the weather cooperates, and some years we’ve had some Santa Anas blow in and it’s been dry and the ball has been rolly, it’s a tremendous test. But if it’s soft, then the guys can take dead aim at a lot of these holes and you see high teens, even low 20s under par win the golf tournament.
Q. Have you given much thought to your schedule next year, and what are the chances of LA being in those plans?
TIGER WOODS: I haven’t looked at the schedule for next year. I have no idea how tournaments lay out. I was going to do that once I come back from Australia and basically get settled in before I come to Sherwood, have an idea of what my schedule is going to be for next year.
Q. Obviously you were out of the Ryder Cup last year because of the injury. Does that make this Presidents Cup a little more exciting for you in terms of getting back in the mix and doing that whole team competition thing?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I certainly wish I could have been a part of that team last year. There was a different kind of chemistry last year. The guys, we had a mix of older players and some younger guys in their 20s. Over the years, usually I’ve been the youngest one.
So this Presidents Cup is different. Lucas and Sean and AK and Hunter, it’s the next generation of players, so it’s going to be fun to be a part of a team that’s young like that. But also we’ve got Kenny, who’s, I think, 49 now. I think we’ve got just a great mix of players, and also that young generation, I think that it’s a great way for them to gain experience for future Ryder Cups and future Presidents Cups because the generation you can see the generation is leaving us now with Freddie and Davis not making the team; they’re at that age that they’re not going to be a part of the teams. They’ve been a part of the teams for 12, 14 years. So this is another generation of players, so it’s going to be fun to be a part of that.
Q. Obviously Freddie is the captain and he’s been a familiar face here at this tournament and won’t be here for the first time. Talk about playing for Freddie. And then also, you’re pretty close with Jordan. What do you think he’ll bring as an assistant captain to the table?
TIGER WOODS: As far as Freddie, I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing how Freddie speaks in front of all of us, because as you all know, Freddie starts in one direction and ends in another. That will be interesting to see what kind of tangents he goes on, because it’s never straight and narrow with him. He goes off in all different directions. So that part will be fun.
As far as what Michael will bring, a lot of BS, absolutely. (Laughter.)
It’ll be fun. I’ve been a part of several Ryder Cup teams where Michael has come in and hung out with us a couple nights here and there. But he’s never been instrumental in being a part of the team. So this will be different. I think this will be a lot of fun. A lot of the guys are looking forward to getting to know him. Geez, he’s one of the probably him and Muhammad Ali are two of the greatest athletes that have ever lived, so it’ll be fun for our entire team to hang out with him.
Q. I know Greg alluded to the earlier date for the Chevron tournament. Can you talk about why that was important for you and what went into getting those earlier dates?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that’s just kind of how it all it kind of unfolded. We wanted to have an earlier date because we wanted to get away from Christmas. Everyone wants to have their holidays open and free, and we were bumping pretty close to Christmas, and guys have their commitments with their families. Other players were playing down in Sun City, and also some of the Aussies are playing down in Australia, so they’ve got to support their Tour. The more we can get away from Christmas and the holidays, the more guys will show, and I think this is one of the reasons why we have a strong field this year.
Q. You look a little tired; I don’t know if that’s the case or not. Has this season been maybe more exhausting and more of a grind than others, or did the kids keep you up late last night?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I am a little bit tired, there’s no doubt. I am running on a little bit of fumes. I didn’t sleep very well last night. Got up early this morning. That’s what happens when you have a crying baby, I guess.
It has been a long year, absolutely it’s been a long year, because I’ve had to train harder than normal just to come back to playing, and then a lot of golf at the end of the season. There was seven out of nine weeks I believe it was I played.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about the tournament in LA next year, the fact that Jerry West is now involved, and if you’ve heard from him. And also the fact that you’re now going to be playing in your own tournament this year, does that mean you’re not going to be hanging out with us again during the event?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I’ve got some correspondence with Jerry, and he’s certainly made it known that he wants me to play the event. And unfortunately, yeah, I can’t hang out with you guys. I’ve got to play the event. Sorry.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, all. Tiger, thank you.
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