Tiger Discusses His Tournament

For the first time in several weeks Tiger Woods met with reporters on Monday. The occasion was media day for the Chevron World Challenge, which will take place December 2-5 at Sherwood Golf Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The annual $5 million event that boasts an elite 18-player field benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Besides reporters, on hand were officials with Chevron, the foundation, and other beneficiaries.

In addition to Woods, who won the event in 2001, '04, '06 and '07, this year's field includes Steve Stricker, Martin Kaymer, defending champion Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, 2005 winner Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson, Anthony Kim, Bubba Watson, and Sean O'Hair. And the 2010 exemptions are Camillo Villegas and Stewart Cink.

Here's what Woods had to say today.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's great to be back. Looking forward to getting out there and playing. I haven't played in the last couple of years, unfortunately, but looking forward to this year with this year's field. The depth and the strength of it is something we've never experienced before. And with the ranking points from last year going into this year as well, I think from what I've talked to some of the players at the Ryder Cup, they're really excited about playing, really excited about getting out there, especially the first timers that have never been out here before. It's going to be a great week. I know the weather isn't perfect today. I know you guys are going to go out there and play. I heard the golf course is in great shape, and the new practice facility is remarkable, so hope everyone enjoys it.

Q. One of the things that we've had a lot of people talking about that Monday singles match you played and how well you played. How do you view that? Are you looking at that as a step in the right direction or do you feel like you've hit something that the 9-under through those 11 holes, is that something that you feel like, wow, this is it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt like that was coming. I had played well in spurts like that by the time we played an entire round or match at that level. But I've been hitting shots like that intermittently throughout the matches. I just put it together for that one match. It was nice. It was nice to keep it rolling. It was nice to make a few putts and just keep the momentum going. It was nice to get through that match because I was 2 down through two early. Actually I was 2 down through five. So ended up turning that match around and making that many birdies and getting one eagle in there was a lot of fun.

Q. Keeping with the Ryder Cup theme, would you have liked to have been in that anchor position that Hunter was in? Tell us about the team and how you felt about how Corey set up that final day?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, absolutely I would have loved to have been in that spot. I was in that spot one time when Curtis was captain at the Belfry. Unfortunately, it didn't come down to that match. The Europeans had already won the cup. So our job was to go out and the guys who were going out earlier is to make sure it came down to that match or the last couple matches. At least to give those guys a chance to try to get the cut back. It was close. I feel sorry for Hunter. He was put into a tough spot, but he handled it well, and he's going to learn and grow from it.

Q. How about Corey's decision to set you guys out early in the lineup itself? What was the talk among players in terms of how lineup was set up?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I thought the lineup was set up well. I thought initially it was either going to be (Stricker) or myself going out first, and he put Stricks out there. I just felt the way we were set up early, if we could get some of those matches up early, the middle section, I thought we had an advantage. If you look at what happened, we kind of rolled through the middle, and it came down to the end.

Q. First, how are you going to keep the guys from brawling out there after such a tough Ryder Cup? It's a great field from that particular field, too, right?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but it's just one event. You put it aside, and we move on with our business. Now we're back to playing for ourselves again.

Q. I was wondering, we talked a little bit about this at St. Andrews, how you're able to separate the personal stuff from the business, and that you've learned to adjust. Is that getting better all the time where you can just play your game and take some of the other junk out of your mind?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think that's just through years of experience too and trying to get a balance and how to obtain balance in my life. There have been times, obviously, throughout my career where it wasn't in balance, and trying to get everything back to an equilibrium again was always the goal and always the task. I've had great people around me to help me. People I can talk to and trust and confide in, so that makes it a lot easier.

Q. With Chevron sponsoring this event, talk about the opening of the new learning center in Washington, D.C.?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, our two campuses there, I think, it's a step in the right direction. Obviously, we wanted to do something very similar to what we had done in Anaheim. But under the economic climate, it just didn't fit. We couldn't raise the funds for a structure like that. It actually worked out better in the end, because I think with this model going forward, we can service more kids and be in more places, not just D.C., and not just in Anaheim. But we can actually service more kids around the country and eventually around the world just using this one particular model. We're going to try to do it right the first time and expand on it from there.

Q. Can you talk about not having played the last couple years first, and then last year and maybe your reaction to not being able to play in your own tournament and how you think it affected it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, unfortunately, I wasn't able to play the last couple of years. I wanted to and, unfortunately, that just didn't happen. Chevron has come aboard and, unfortunately, I just wasn't there. It's pretty important for us, and it showed you how what Chevron believes and what we're trying to do for kids. They've stuck by us and have supported us, supported the foundation and supported the event. So I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing and competing and being back in Southern Cal again.

Q. You're a four-time winner of this tournament. How would you evaluate your chances of winning for the fifth time, given the state of your game and now that you know what the field is?

TIGER WOODS: Well, my game's coming around, so the way I played at the Ryder Cup and then hopefully -- I know I have two more events prior to the Chevron event. Hopefully, I can get two more W's before I get to Chevron and see what happens.

Q. A lot of Koreans want to see you do good, and wondering how many events do you plan to play in next year? What is your prediction, do you think, given the state of your play at the current moment?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as my playing schedule next year, I don't know yet. I haven't looked at the Tour schedule. But I can tell you this, I will play more times than I did this year. I didn't quite play that many events this year, and I'd like to get back to a full playing schedule next year and be ready for the big events again. Certainly, hopefully, get more W's than I did this year.

Q. How is your health, and pretty much how is your confidence lately as far as your game and everything? We miss you.

TIGER WOODS: Oh, I feel good. I feel good about my game as well. At the Ryder Cup, I played pretty good and especially in the singles match. I've had a little time off and still got a couple more weeks off before I head to China and Australia, so looking forward to that practice time and getting a little bit more prepared.

Q. One of the things, just going back to the Ryder Cup for a minute I never really got to ask you about that over there is, you know, I know Steve's been caddying since he was 12 years old. He's pretty good at keeping clubs dry, but he was unable to keep your clubs dry for most of that week. The other issue was the rain suits which leaked and guys were walking around with very heavy suits. I know these are all little things, but when you look at it, it was only half a point that separated victory from defeat. Do you look back on that and say, you know, maybe we should have figured these things out a little bit better beforehand with the equipment?

TIGER WOODS: Well, there's no doubt. I think that those are issues that should be resolved before we get there so they're not an issue while playing. Come tournament time there are always going to be things that pop up, and you just have to deal with them. It happens in every team event I've ever been a part of. But little things like that, I think could have been taken care of so they weren't an issue. Or at least have been tested prior to game time so that any kind of corrections that could have been made, would have been made.

Q. I was curious about the intimidation factor that's always been there in your game. It's something the media and fans love to talk about, but how much did you feel that before and how much do you think you can get that back?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know if it was intimidation. I just felt that when I was playing well, I was always going to be tough to beat. I just haven't gotten to that level in a while now. This past year -- I had a good year last year and won a few times. This year wasn't exactly the same success. But I like where my game is headed. I like the pieces of it and how they're falling into place. In particular at the Ryder Cup, and especially in the singles how I played, and that's the way I know I can play the game of golf. So I'm looking forward to that.

Q. You're embarking on yet another swing change. Was that a byproduct of the switch in coaches to Sean? Was it a by product of thinking what was not working and needed to be changed? Is what is the thought process behind going through that challenge again?

TIGER WOODS: Well, see, I was alluding to you when I was telling you guys I was going through this process at the PGA and subsequent playoff events, for me it was about buying into a whole new system. I understand certain parts of it, and I didn't really understand all of what Sean was trying to teach, so I had to keep picking his brain, keep picking his brain. We had to do some work. A lot of stuff off the golf course of just talking and explaining what he likes to see and how things need to be positioned and the reasons why. I always want to know the reasons why. So after a little bit of time of trial and error on my part of hitting golf balls, I decided to go in that direction, and I'm still in it. I'm still working towards it. I don't have it all dialed in yet. But I figured if I could play the way I did in the singles match, which I hadn't done that all year, that's a positive sign.

Q. So I remember in April at Augusta I asked you what kind of golfer you wanted to be now, and you said that you wanted to be like you were when you were younger, and you said, at peace. Do you feel now this many months removed from the Masters and in the midst of that storm, that you are more at peace? Another related question, what have you learned about yourself over the last year?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly I'm a lot more at peace now. Everyone's getting used to the new living conditions. The kids are adjusting. I think everyone's certainly more at peace, and so am I, too. I learned a lot about myself, and I learned how things went wrong, why they went wrong, and had to take a pretty deep and introspective look at myself, and there weren't a lot of things I liked about it. But I had to do it, and I did it and grateful that I did. I think that I come from a much better place, much more grounded place now than I ever have before.

Q. Was the last golf-wise this last year, is it humbling in any way?

TIGER WOODS: Say it again?

Q. Golf-wise, this year, was it humbling, I guess, or how would you describe it?

TIGER WOODS: I would say more frustrating than anything, because I was -- I've had two teachers this year of the I've had a stretch where I didn't work with anybody. A lot of different things were going on, on and off the golf course. All in all it was a long, frustrating year, but in the end it turned out that everything's headed in a positive direction now.

Q. In Wales you seemed on Saturday and Sunday to be de-lofting quite a bit. You were sailing greens and hitting iron shots quite far, and you looked very frustrated by that. What was going on, and how did you turn that around, because obviously you started hitting it pin-high again in the singles?

TIGER WOODS: What happened was as I've gotten into this system working with Sean, when I get it going well, I'm really starting to swing well and I'm hitting the ball farther. Hitting the ball farther than I ever thought I would. Especially with the conditions not being good, I thought the conditions would take yards off my shot, and it didn't. I was hitting it right through the wind. That's a good sign. I just had to make the adjustment, and I was able to make the adjustment. Once I made the adjustments, the numbers got right back to where they should be. But before, the conditions were affecting my golf ball a little bit more than they are now. My shot pattern is a little bit more tight, and with that I'm able to hit the ball through the conditions a little bit better. Steve and I were both confounded by it, because it was something we haven't experienced together as a team before. Something that was good to see, good to have happen, and it was nice to be able to make that adjustment.

Q. A follow-up, the importance of you being in your own tournament after a couple of years, also, how that is giving back to Southern California? Then leading into Riviera, is there a chance that you might play there this year, and has Jerry West been in contact with you?

TIGER WOODS: As far as coming back, I'm always excited to come back to So Cal. This is where I grew up and where I lived most of my life. So for me to come back is always fun. Fun to see friends and go out to dinner with people that I haven't seen in a long time, so I always enjoy that about coming back home. Then playing in front of the hometown fans, it's always fun. As far as Jerry West contacting me, he hasn't of yet, but there is still some time (laughing).

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.