Tiger Speaks Going Into Arnie's Tournament

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Tiger Woods eyes his seventh straight victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
March 12, 2008 - ORLANDO, FLORIDA Tiger Woods speaks to the media before the Bay Hill Invitational.

Q. How are you feeling going into the tournament?
TIGER WOODS: It's going good. Everything went well today. We had a great time playing. Guys took it low.

Q. How was the course out there today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the fairways and the tee boxes are in great shape.

Q. So talk about the greens.
TIGER WOODS: Well, they are not very good. It's going to be an interesting week on them. You're going to see a lot of guys hit good putts and they are going to go weird ways, unfortunately.
But, hey, we've all got to deal with it, we've all got to putt on them and you just have to accept hitting good putts and they may not go in but hopefully we hit enough good ones where they do go in.

Q. How much do you enjoy playing here, and being able to go home?
TIGER WOODS: It's not like most sports where they have half the season away and half the season at home. We are always on the road. It's always nice to basically have something on at home and you can sleep in your own bed and your routine and it's nice to be able to enjoy that.

Q. Over the last years, winning four in a row and then the last four finishing out of the top 20 --
TIGER WOODS: I just haven't played well, simple as that. No ifs, ands or buts about it. I just have to play better and I just haven't done that the last few years.

Q. How true is it that the greens are what you say they are, that it makes a worse putter better or --
TIGER WOODS: It is what it is. You just have to deal with it. I don't know if it makes a worse putter better or a better putter worse. You've just going to go up there and be committed to what you're doing and hit good putts and hopefully they will somehow fall.

Q. Do you think it's possible to win every tournament that you play in?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's the intent.
That's the way I've always played. You don't play to finish Top-10s or make cuts. You play to win. If you are entered into field, I don't understand why you would ever think any other way.

Q. The last three holes are some of the toughest on TOUR and you had some problems last year, how tough are these finishing holes here?
TIGER WOODS: They are tough. You know, 16 not being a par 4, it used to be just pretty much a nothing par 5. But it being a par 4, it's totally different. You know, if the wind blows, that green is not really designed to be a par 4. That's what makes it so much more difficult is it's designed to receive wedges that when the wind turns in our face, that becomes one of the harder holes that we play here, but vice versa, 18 becomes easier.
Today was the flipside of that. 16 was dead downwind and 17 was in our face. You have to play one of those two holes pretty tough, and being one of your last holes, you can always count on 16 to pick up a shot and nowadays, four usually picks up a shot.

Q. They have four inches of rough, in spots standing rough; is playing out of the rough harder than most places for you guys?
TIGER WOODS: You know, as you said, it's spotty. You have some deep stuff, probably even four-plus in some spots. And other spots you can get in there and really control your shot into the greens, you can control your spin and your distance. All depends on where it is.

Q. As a child, how did Arnold Palmer play into your mind and thoughts?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Arnold, I always remember Arnold being so aggressive and going after a lot of shots that most players would not try.
You know, that's basically what his career was built upon and it also cost him some major championships, as well but he probably would not have won some majors, such as Cherry Hill if he did not play that way. Arnold has always been an ambassador of the game. If anybody would say, who is the greatest ambassador of the game, you would have to say Arnold.

Q. Like him, being one of the gentlemen of the game, is that something you would try to emulate?
TIGER WOODS: I think we all do. We all try and do that. He's promoted the game all around the world. He's bent over backwards to make the game better, and he has. We would not have had the growth in our sport without him. He ushered in basically the modern age of TV. So without Arnold Palmer we would not be playing for the things that we are able to play for now.

Q. Any correlation in the way that you --
TIGER WOODS: Probably differently. I think we both have had a positive impact on the game.

Q. Do you think smoking should be allowed?
TIGER WOODS: They can do whatever they want. That's fine by me. Smoke more. (Laughter).

Q. You've always been loyal to Arnold and Jack and their tournaments and also the Byron Nelson --
TIGER WOODS: Well, I know the golf course wasn't one of the courses that really favors my game over the years. I had won on it but it didn't really set up well. I know they made some changes. I'm curious to see what they have done so far.
Yeah, you know, playing enough years on TOUR, you start going to golf courses that set up well for you, and a lot of the guys base their schedule upon that. That's certainly one for me.

Q. Is it in a pretty tough spot on the schedule now for guys like yourself and with THE PLAYERS?
TIGER WOODS: With THE PLAYERS being moved there's a big bunch-up in May, and there's some great tournaments there. You want to play them all, because they are all great events, but obviously you can't.

Q. We all talk a lot about the mental focus that you take a great pride in bringing to your game, and we've heard the stories of your dad jiggling change; can you actually focus and mental toughness or do you think that's something that you were just blessed with?
TIGER WOODS: No, I certainly learned it. Dad tried all different types of techniques to try and get in my head. I actually asked him to do it because I wanted to be tougher, because I wasn't physically gifted. I was playing against guys who hit the ball longer than I did, who were better players than I was, and the only way for me to get better was to get tougher and for me to compete against them.
So I figured if I didn't have the physical skills and the physical gifts, I could challenge them on a mental level and be tougher and out think them and plod my way along the golf course better than they could, and give myself a chance to win golf tournaments.

Q. What are your thoughts on the Magic right now?
TIGER WOODS: I've been to quite a few games, and they will get in and we will see what they can do in the playoffs.

Q. Is part of your game -- is it possible that there's part of your game that you think you're most dissatisfied with or needs the most work or do you think you're there right now in everything?
TIGER WOODS: You're never there, no.

Q. Is there a part that you're concentrating on when you're practicing?
TIGER WOODS: I'm working on every part, every facet. You can't neglect any part of this game. If you do, then obviously that's going to become a weak spot.

Q. Are you ever satisfied with yourself?
TIGER WOODS: I'm satisfied with winning. But obviously you can always improve, and I think that's probably the miss conception that people don't really understand is that even if you win, you can always be better the next time you tee it up.
It's just a matter of figuring out how and how you should go along of getting your practice sessions to lead yourself into that spot where you are better, and you can win more often.

Q. Is that the key to your mental game?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, I've just always enjoyed competing. I enjoy winning. I enjoy the fight of it, of getting mixed up with the guys and trying to beat them when they are trying to beat me.

Q. Is this a course that fits your eye? Wondering if you fell in and out of love with it.
TIGER WOODS: No, this has always fit my eye since the Junior golf days. I won the U.S. Junior here. I just haven't played well, and this golf course, you have to play well on it in order to win the tournament. You can't go out there and slap it around and try and shoot something in the mid 60s here.

Q. You were looking forward to having some fun with Arnold about passing him on the all-time wins list, have you seen him?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't seen him yet, but don't worry, I'll see him this.

Q. What will you say?
TIGER WOODS: I can't say it here, I'll get in trouble. (Laughter).

Q. Do you ever compare yourself to yourself; are you the best you've ever been now or is there a particular part of your game that is not, if you were to compare yourself to the Tiger of 2000, better or worse?
TIGER WOODS: I'm better.

Q. Is there any particular area where you're not?
TIGER WOODS: No. I'm better in all facets of the game.

Q. What do you think will be the better bet --
TIGER WOODS: I really don't care what the better bet is. I'm here to prepare and get myself ready to try and win the tournament.

Q. Does this venue present as big a challenge for you as any one you're playing in the next couple of months?
TIGER WOODS: Definitely. Definitely. Especially with what we have to putt on this week. It will be quite a test.

Q. Worse than East Lake?
TIGER WOODS: East Lake was just slow. These are not just slow.

Q. Have you been following the John Daly thing over the last few days, the tantrum over the weekend and missing his tee time this morning and do you have any thoughts as far as needing of discipline, if any?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm sure, the Commissioner -- the Commissioner is here it week. I'm sure there will be a conversation there sometime down the road.

Q. A lot of the greats, Palmers talked about the just actual love at the game --
TIGER WOODS: Oh, at the top, by far. No one enjoyed playing more golf than Arnold. He not only played out here on TOUR and all around the world, but he also played in his spare time, every day.
You name every great player who has ever played the game and no one has played as much rounds of golf as he has. I know that he does all of his business stuff early in the morning so he can get out and play in the afternoon. That just goes to show you, he just loves playing.
You know, I don't like playing that much. When I'm at home, I love practicing, I love doing that and playing a few holes and testing my game that way, but he loves to go out there and play. That's how he's always gotten ready for events is by playing.
Certain guys like practicing their way into shape, but Arnold just will tee it up any day, anywhere at any time.

Q. Can you share the Smoltz anecdote, I guess you played with he and Glavine and the right fielder, at your place?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q. Took their money?
TIGER WOODS: A touch.

Q. And invited to you come out and play on his playground?
TIGER WOODS: He did. He was taking a simulated -- he was pitching a simulated game and we went out there and just had just a great time.

Q. Would you consider THE PLAYERS Championship a tournament where the course could be an Achilles heel in any way?
TIGER WOODS: In what way.

Q. You've only one once and haven't been in the Top-10 since then. Is there anything about that course that particularly doesn't fit your game?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't had a Top-10 since then, really?

Q. I don't think so.
TIGER WOODS: You don't think so? (Laughter).

Q. I don't think so --
TIGER WOODS: Oh, okay.

Q. Hedging.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he's hedging a little bit.

Q. Is it an equalizer?
TIGER WOODS: Everyone has to play the same spots, and you have to play well. You know, that golf course, it's about strategy and about ball placement, and if you're not placing the golf ball properly whether it's tee shots or second shots, you're not going to win the golf tournament.

Q. (Talk about Amen Corner).
TIGER WOODS: It's more difficult than people think. Over the years, you know, the shot that Larry Mize hit, you can't hit that shot anymore because they have raised the green, and hat shot is gone and it's much harder now to play that shot. It slopes more towards the water.
12 is just 12. It's the same it has been.
13, you know, with the tee being moved back a little bit to the left and now they have got the rough up there and plus more pine needles up in the tree, you used to be able to blow it up there and have a shot and now you don't have a shot anymore. They have made those three holes -- two of the three holes more difficult.
At 12, you don't need to do anything to it. With that much open space, the wind swirls down there and it's hard to describe to people what you feel on that tee, because if you see one flag on 11 doing one thing, 12 is doing a complete opposite, and what you're feeling on the tee box is doing another thing.
It's one of the more challenging three holes I think you'll ever play.

Q. Where's your confidence right now, put a number on it, 9?
TIGER WOODS: I feel good.

Q. How would you --
TIGER WOODS: I'm heading in there, I'm heading in there in the right direction. I know I've got a few more events to play, and really excited about the way I'm progressing this year so far. Getting better each and every event, which is good.

Q. How do you like being a daddy?
TIGER WOODS: It's great, man. I tell you what, it's a lot of work, but it's also one of the things where you see one smile and it's just, that's it. Your heart just melts and it's one thing -- well, it is the greatest thing I've ever done in my life.

Q. Does that have anything to do with the way you're playing now?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I'm sure it does. I've just got just a great balance in my life right now. Maybe it's just a little lack of sleep probably made me a little bit better. (Laughter).


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