The PGA Championship

Interview with Tiger Woods

August 18, 2002

(Note: The interview is moderated by Julius Mason, the PGA's Director of Media Relations and Public Relations).

JULIUS MASON: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen, your runner-up in the 84th PGA Championship.

Tiger, please give us some thoughts on your round out there today.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I thought I played well all day. I mean, I hit the ball well. I hit a lot of good shots, and on top of that, I really hit a lot of good putts. Some of them were just skirting the edge on the front nine and just kept trying to be committed to them. Just made a mistake on 13. I didn't trust myself on the read. I knew from the practice rounds, that putt has been fast, every practice round I've played. The greens were slow today and I kept telling myself this putt is not as fast as what it looks, and blah, blah, blah, and I went ahead and hit it the way I thought the greens were running today, and it fooled me, knocked it by the hole. Second putt, it just blocked. It was a bad putt.

That putt, I just didn't trust my original read and my original instincts on the putt, which it cost me.

The next hole, I just hit a bad 4-iron off the tee, pulled it left, hit a good 9-iron just to get it up around the green. Hit a bad pitch and hit a good putt, I just didn't hit it hard enough coming down that hill.

Q. Much was made on television about the fact that when you were about to make that putt on 13, Beem's eagle came up and suddenly from one back, you were now three back. Did you see that and did it affect you at all? And secondly, after you made the 3-putt, do you go to the next hole and think, "This is going to be hard for me to win"?

TIGER WOODS: No. When I saw he made the eagle -- I was walking up to the green. We knew there was a huge roar. There was a huge roar when his approach shot landed -- we can kind of get a sense that they were still hitting into the green, and I didn't think Justin would have the length, even with the wind being downwind, to get there, so it would have had to have been Rich and it was a huge roar, so we assumed it was an eagle. Walking up to the green, that was just confirmed by when we looked on the board.

No, it didn't have any affect on my putt. Sometimes -- I heard the guys on TV said it affected me, but sometimes they have no idea what they are talking about. (Smiled.)

Q. The next tee shot?

TIGER WOODS: The next tee shot, I just hit a bad shot. I just -- I was trying to hit a low burner up there, make sure I got on the upslope so I could spin it to that front right pin; and I got over it, just came right over on the top and I hit a pull left shot. And compound the problem by putting myself behind the trees in the rough.

Q. We know that there's no quit in you, but just talk about coming down the stretch and knowing that you need everything you can get in closing the way you did?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was on 15, I just said, you know what, just get this ball in play, somehow, let's make a four here. And I jerked it left. From there, we were walking down the fairway, I told Stevie, "If we birdie in, we'll win the tournament, let's just suck it up and get it done."

I hit the shot, laid it up there, somehow just make four and let's get this thing rolling here. I made four and I said, all right, just go ahead and just don't miss a shot coming in. You've got to birdie every hole. Take it one shot at a time, but you've just got to hit every shot the way you know you can.

That is exactly what I did. I didn't miss a shot coming in.

Q. Could you just talk a little about Rich Beem? He's not the typical pro out here and even going into today, he didn't give himself much of a chance.

TIGER WOODS: He just went out there and played great today, shot 4-under.

That's awfully impressive, to go out there and shoot a round like that, when he absolutely has to do it. Sometimes it might be a benefit to be a little naive in a situation because you've never been there before -- in a major championship. He's won a tournament a few weeks ago, but never been in contention in a major.

Q. You're one back as you make the turn. As you look back on the 2002 PGA Championship years from now, will you think of it as lost opportunity, or will you think of it as, "Hey, I gave it everything I had"?

TIGER WOODS: I gave it absolutely everything I have. You know that's the way I play each and every time I tee it up, and this was no exception.

I made a few mistakes today, or a couple mistakes, and I came right back and sucked it up and got the job done coming in.

Q. Looked like you fought your swing a little bit early, but yet you were able to come down the stretch and do what you can with the adjustments, were they physical, mental or a little bit of both?

TIGER WOODS: I really wasn't fighting my swing all that much. I didn't trust the wind on 8, which I was indecisive over the shot and pulled it left, but I really hit good shots for most of the day.

I just hit a poor shot over there on 14, off the tee, which cost me a bogey there. So, I really didn't hit a whole lot of bad shots, but coming in, as you all know, coming out of the stretch, your focus heightens anyways, I think it's just natural. I just got into a nice little comfort zone where I just felt comfortable with my swing and my game and my putts. I putted well all day. I hit a lot of good putts today that just either went in or didn't go in.

Q. It looked like if you had been closer -- you were just missing them?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly. As you said, maybe just a few feet closer, it might have made the difference, but when you're hitting a lot of 6-irons and 7-irons into these flags that are tucked, it's kind of hard to get at them.

Q. At 15, you said to Steve, "If we get a four here, I can win this."

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q. When did you realize you were not going to win it, because you were going birdie, birdie -- when did you realize that it got away from you?

TIGER WOODS: Once he dumped the ball on the green, I figured could shake it in three from there. If I was in the same position, I mean, you can 3-putt from there with no problem.

Q. Can you walk us through the last four holes and give us your clubs?

TIGER WOODS: 15, I jerked my tee shot left. Hit a 2-iron to lay up. I had 55 yards to the hole there and hit it to about eight feet past, made it.

Next hole, I hit a 3-iron off the tee. Hit an 8-iron up there to, oh, about ten feet right of the hole. Made that.

Hit a 7-iron on 17 to about ten feet, right behind the hole, made that.

18, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and hit a 7-iron again to about four feet. Made it.

Q. Given your Sunday history at a major, at the turn, are you thinking it's your tournament to win, only 1-down, and are you surprised given your comparative resumes that it's Rich Beem who answered your punches down the stretch?

TIGER WOODS: Starting out the day, before the round even started, if I could have just chipped away and got it to two or three going to the back nine, I would have a very good chance of winning this tournament, and to be only one back was an added bonus.

I knew if I just played the back nine in 2- or 3-under par, I probably would win the tournament. And I did, and didn't win; shot 2-under.

But, you know, Rich played well. He's been playing well, and I guess he just got up there, he trusted his game, believed in himself and he hit some good shots coming in.

Q. You played eight final rounds in majors as winning rounds. If you were ranking this along with those eight, where would this round rank among the winning rounds? Does that make sense?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Probably one of the better ball-striking and putting rounds I've had. The only one would probably be better -- two that would be better than this would be, obviously, Valhalla, going out there and shooting 31 on the back nine just to get into a playoff, and Pebble Beach, where I didn't really miss a shot.

Q. What do you suppose it is about guys like Bob May and Rich Beem, guys with lesser resumes that push the most out of you as opposed to some of the more accomplished players? This is the second time it's happened here; is it that they have nothing to lose, is it as simple as the word "naive"?

TIGER WOODS: It's only the second time it's happened here, in the PGA Championship. But other majors, I've gone head-to-head with Phil and Ernie and David; those are the best players in the world right there. Just this championship has come down to the wire with those two guys, who the public probably really hasn't understood yet because they haven't won a lot of tournaments.

You know, we all know them, they are great guys. Bob and Rich are really nice guys. Today, I think Rich just went out there, and he trusted and believed in himself and he got the job done.

Q. How often have you played with Rich? How you well do you know him and how much have you been around him?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I don't think I've played a round with him -- I don't think, I might have. I've seen him on the range. I've seen him in the locker room a ton of times. He's very happy-go-lucky, I think that's probably the best way to describe him. He loves laughing, joking, having a good time.

Q. It's the heat of the moment, but how do you evaluate your 2002 major championship season, and two, how do you describe your emotional state right now?

TIGER WOODS: No. 1, first part of your question, extremely successful. Extremely successful. Any time you can win one major in a year, it's going to be a successful year in the major championships, and I've had two. Had a bad round at the British, but other than that, I shot 10-under par the other three rounds, and this tournament, I finished second, one shot back. So, I came close here.

Right now, I'm a little frustrated, the fact that I made those couple mistakes, but I'm also pretty jacked at the way I played coming in, too. I sucked it up and got the job done coming in, and that's something I'm very proud of; that I could have easily just, you know, bagged it in and made pars coming in, who really cares. But that's not the way I play.

Q. This is your first second-place finish in a major. Is it any different feeling on your part to finish second and not win, rather than finish further down the board and not win?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it is frustrating. Any time you finish second in any tournament, it's frustrating; it's disappointing. Yeah, in a major, it's the same. It feels the same way.

As I said, it's kind of a double-edged sword right now because I'm frustrated I made the mistakes on 13 and 14, but then again, I'm also pumped at the way I finished.

How are you going to look at it? I think I'm going to look at it both ways, because I did make the mistakes and I did suck it up coming in. I'm going to learn from those mistakes, and I'm also going to learn from the way I approached those last four holes, as well.

Q. What's the one thing, that if you look back, is it the 3-putt, is that the one that's going to jack you the most?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the 3-putt. It's not the fact that -- yeah, it is the fact that I 3-putted. (Laughter.) But more importantly, it's the fact that I trust my original instinct on my read.

We all know, when we play golf, your original instinct is probably the one that's going to be right 95 percent of the time. This was no exception. I knew what it was, but I just talked myself out of it and just because I did that, I blew it by the hole there. The second putt was just a poor putt. I just hit a bad putt, but it was all setup by the first putt.

Q. Despite the disappointment of not winning a major championship here today, is it gratifying to you to know that you still came in and took care of business to secure your fourth straight PGA Player of the Year award?

TIGER WOODS: I guess, yeah. It's not the way I would like to have gotten it, but I'll take it, nonetheless. It is a prestigious award and a lot of great champions have won that award. It is awfully gratifying to actually add my name to that list.

Q. There's been some things said, written about your relationship with Butch. Could you just clarify, has it changed at all, and at this stage of your career, how much do you need to rely on a teacher?

TIGER WOODS: Has it changed? Yes, it has changed. Every player, as you get a little bit better and you understand your own mechanics, you understand your game, you don't rely on a teacher quite as often. That's what has transpired with me.

I still need Butch, yes, but not as much as I used to, because I've got a better understanding of my own game and of the faults that I have, and how to fix them. Ball flight never lies, I know what the cure is for a lot of my faults that I have while I'm playing, and that's the whole idea.

But Butch, he's got a great eye for the swing, there's no denying that.

Q. Do you think if you had been paired with Rich Beem today, do you think you would have won this championship?

TIGER WOODS: Don't know. Don't know. He played great to get in the final group and I didn't.

He had the advantage of being in the final group where you could react to what the other players are doing ahead of you and that's the idea of being in the final group; if someone makes a run, at least you have the same holes to answer them on and that's what he did on 16.

Q. This is your first tournament in Minnesota. How do you assess this as a host city for a major tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I tell you what, we've been talking about this a lot in the locker room with the players. To me, these are some of the nicest people we have ever played in front of. They have been so nice and so supportive of all of us, and just said absolutely great things the entire week.

We can't tip our hats off enough to these people here. They have been absolutely great. I mean, we would love to come back as soon as we can.

Q. What do you think about Freddie's fist-pump on the first hole, and also about playing with Freddie in general?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he was giving me a hard time for that fist-pump I made over yesterday on 16. He said he had an opportunity to make a putt and he was going to make the putt and give it the fist-pump, but he was also demeaning me as well, because obviously, he's not physically -- gravity has taken its toll on him. (Laughter.)

So, today, on 1, he gave it the fist-pump, and gave him the little me-me thing, and we were walking on the first hole and he said, "I got that out of the way." I said, "What are you supposed to do? You're supposed to 2-putt, you're a pro." (Laughter.)

Freddie is a great guy, and one that I've come to know very well over the last few years, and become one of my good friends out here. So, it was really neat to actually play the final round of a major with one of your buddies.

Q. In just a few short weeks here, focus will change from the individual competition to team competition with the Ryder Cup. Can you tell us what your schedule is between now and the Ryder Cup and any early thoughts?

TIGER WOODS: Right now, I have two big tournaments coming up, two World Golf Championships, and ones that I want to win, starting next week.

So, my focus right now is to get ready for Thursday.

Leading up to the Matches, I think we are all excited about playing and competing in the Matches. I think it's going to be a fun environment. I don't think it's going to be the environment that it has been in the past. This is going to be, I think, a lot more of how it originally started. It's supposed to be bipartisan, but it will also be very fair, too.

Q. What changes to this course would you like to see before the PGA Championship returns in 2009?

TIGER WOODS: Nothing. Nothing. This golf course is great. We got lucky that it rained. This golf course would have been hard and fast, and where they put these pins, it would have been impossible to try and make birdies. We got lucky that the greens softened up. It blew pretty hard yesterday, but at least the greens were soft and receptive. If they would have -- if this front would have come through with no rain, I mean, if you could have shot even par in the weekend, you probably would have won going away.

Q. Just the one last thing on that putt, what was it that made you not trust your instinct? Why did you not trust yourself?

TIGER WOODS: Because the greens were slow all day today, because of the rain, and they have slowed up last two days. You know, I just knew that the greens were slow. Even though I hit those putts in the practice round and they were quick, I said, you know, just trust the greens are slow today; that's the way it's been all day, it's downhill, it's going to break quite a bit, and I just blew it by the hole.

JULIUS MASON: Tiger Woods, folks. Thanks.

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