Tiger’s Hero World Challenge press conference: Tuesday
JOHN BUSH: We’d like to welcome everyone here to the Hero World Challenge. We have some special guests, tournament host Tiger Woods, and on the far side of the table we’d like to welcome Mr. Munjal. He’s vice chairman, CEO and managing director of Hero MotoCorp.
Under Mr. Munjal’s, leadership Hero achieved the coveted title of the world’s No. 1 two-wheeler company in 2001, and they have successfully retained that position for 13 consecutive years.
Mr. Munjal is no stranger to golf, having served as a past chairman of the Asian PGA TOUR Board of Directors, and past president of the Professional Golfers Association of India.
In addition to serving as the title sponsor of the Hero World Challenge, his company has also served as host of the Indian Open golf tournament since 2006. And with that, I’ll turn the microphone over to Mr. Munjal for some opening comments.
PAWAN MUNJAL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to be sitting here in front of you together with Tiger. As you all know, in September we had announced the title sponsorship of the Hero World Challenge.
First step into our association and the next logical step clearly was to sign an endorsement deal, effective yesterday, December 1, we have signed an endorsement deal with Tiger Woods and Hero MotoCorp for the next four years.
I believe Tiger becoming Hero’s global public partner, he is going to add a huge amount of value to the brand Hero, which clearly is going global in its intent and with its product and the brand.
As I just mentioned, Hero MotoCorp is a huge brand within India. We sell a very large number of motorcycles and scooters. We sold 6.3 million motorcycles and scooters in 2013-14, and for that reason, we are the world’s single largest company producing motorcycles and scooters.
We also intend to go into 50 global markets in the next couple of years and take our annual production volumes to 12 million by the year 2020, which clearly is a very large number.
Taking the brand out there into new markets where Hero is not a known brand, we believe that Tiger’s brand, Tiger’s recognition, Tiger’s attributes, will also lift and make the brand Hero as recognizable as Tiger.
Hero brings a huge amount of value into these markets with these products, with its attributes, with its values. After having entered 23 markets in the recent 18 months, we are clearly making these steps one at a time, but a very fast pace. We also intend to enter this U.S. market by the year 2016, and the European market even before that by the end of 2015.
It gives me, once again, extreme pleasure and pride to associate our brand with Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you, Pawan.
JOHN BUSH: Tiger, some comments, please?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, very exciting. It’s very exciting for me personally, for the foundation, having Pawan be a part and his great company be a part of the foundation and this golf tournament. We’re excited about our relationship going forward. We’re excited about this week.
I got the chance to meet Pawan and play a round of golf with him when I was in Delhi, and he was the mayor. Everyone knew him. And gave him a bunch of grief throughout the entire round. We had a great time. I think it was, I shot 63 that day, 9-under? That’s good for me (laughter).
But ever since then we’ve had a great dialogue and we’ve had a chance to see each other on a couple of occasions and consequently we have ended up in this position where they are now a part of and Hero is now a part of the foundation and our event and we couldn’t have a better partner.
Q: You met Mr. Munjal about six or seven years ago at the Tavistock for the first time. You played a round with him in Delhi Golf Club and then the Hero World Challenge and now a personal endorsement deal of such a huge nature. Can you talk us through this journey which is not only for the good of golf but also puts India on the world golf map?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as you said, I met Pawan here at the Tavistock Cup when it was here at Isleworth during the gala dinner, and it’s been– we’ve had a dialogue for quite some time. To be able to go to his home country and be able to play Delhi Golf Club, which is an very historic golf course there, and to have the type of reception that we had there was absolutely phenomenal. I don’t think any of us quite expected it to be like that.
And then for that to transition to where we are now where we are partners, and for him, his company, to be a part of our foundation and what we are trying to do for kids, it’s just tremendous. And I’m excited, personally. I know everyone here at the foundation is excited about this partnership and we are looking forward to our relationship going forward.
Q: As you begin this next comeback, since you’ve won your last major, you’ve gotten a little older, you’ve had the injuries, you have fatherhood now and you’ve had the divorce. If any of those could impact performance, in your mind, what’s been the most significant one?
TIGER WOODS: Well, probably the first point. I’m older (laughter). Father Time is undefeated. We all eventually are losing some of the things we are able to do when we were younger.
As an athlete, yeah, you do notice these things. We all have to make adaptations as athletes, and we have to make adjustments. And I’m no different. As I’ve explained to you guys many times, like MJ created a fadeaway. He couldn’t jump over everybody anymore, and he created a new way to score and get points.
I’m the same way. I can’t blow it out there with some of the longer guys anymore. Back when I was younger, a long ball was 290 in the air. That was a big ball. Now it’s 320,325. That’s the new standard out here. Some of the longer guys, Bubba, Woody, Dustin, they carry 325. That’s the number they carry over bunkers. I don’t quite have that.
But there’s other ways to go around a golf course, and I think that’s when it’s really neat to be part of a sport in which you can play for such a long period of time, and you can win at a very late age because you don’t have to physically dominate anybody. You don’t have to physically beat anybody. You just have to beat the golf course.
And one of the reasons why you saw Sam Snead win at age 54; looked like Tom was going to win the British Open at 59; Greg was part of the lead in the British Open when he was 54, you can do these type of things in golf.
I’m not quite 40 yet, not till next year (laughter) so I’ve still got some time.
Q: And why was it important for you to move the event here at this club?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was important for us moving out of– once we moved out of California, where we were going to go. I’ve had a great relationship since ’96 with Joe Lewis. And being here, I lived here for well over a decade and got to know Joe all those years. Been on vacations with him and got to know him on a pretty deep, personal level.
I think it was very fitting for us to come here to a golf course that I used to live at and people I know, and where I’ve had my businesses here. The community has really supported the Tavistock Cup and has supported this event, and this is an extension of that.
We are excited about this week. Everyone here is ecstatic to have this type of field here. We’re looking forward to it.
Q: You’ll be happy to know that it’s raining cats and dogs in L.A. this week. What was the end of the road for you with Sean? When did you realize that you needed to make a change, and what are the things that you are going to try and change now in terms of the golf swing and to make you– to return you to where obviously you want to go?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that physically, I just wasn’t able to do some of the things that we wanted to do in the golf swing. That’s one of the neat things about our transition out of a working relationship is that we are still very good friends and we still needle each other quite a bit on texting. So that part has been fantastic but on a professional level, I think I needed to go a different direction.
When I did, I just sat back and basically during my rehab process and didn’t really have to do anything. I wasn’t going to play for a while, and just wanted to kind of soak everything in and really have a clear plan of where I wanted to go.
And also, do I really want to change my golf swing again, and how much do I want to change it and where am I going to go with it. These are all questions that I just sat back and took a few months away from it and started developing that answer and ways to go about it.
And having a person that I have always had a lot of trust and have had a deep friendship with, being Notah Begay; Notah and I go back to the time I was– we’ve known each other almost 30 years now. I really value his opinion, and he came to me with some information about my stats, and really had a– we had a pretty long conversation about where I was, where I need to go and where I’m at now.
He suggested he might know a guy named Chris Como; do you really– if you’re up to it, I can arrange a meeting with him and we can talk about swing philosophies and the whole deal. I said, yeah, at the time, not really, not yet. But eventually I came around to it. I was very surprised and very excited to see what he felt my swing should look like and should look like going forward, because that was very similar to the vision I had. So that’s where we’re at right now.
Q: What’s different? Do you want to go back to something or do you want to go to something new?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it is new, but it’s old. When I say that– because I haven’t done it in a very long time. We looked at a lot of video from when I was a junior, in junior and amateur golf, way before — even when I came out there and had some really nice years where I hit the ball really well. We went back to some of those old videos and really looked at it.
And it was quite interesting to see where my swing was then and how much force I could generate with a very skinny frame. How did I do that? How do I generate that much power? That’s kind of what we are getting back into it.
Q: What are the synergies that you find in brand Hero and the synergies you find in Mr.Woods? What are complementing to each other?
PAWAN MUNJAL: I’ll just make it simple. I’ll use one word which I did yesterday, as well. It’s all about quality. What Hero MotoCorp do, his job, me and my job, going for the topmost quality in whatever we do. I think that’s the biggest synergy. There are many other things, but that’s the biggest one.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think how Mr. Munjal just put it perfectly. I think it’s quality and it’s excellence and I think it’s growth.
We are both looking– I’m looking to grow my foundation on a global level. He’s looking to grow Hero on a global level, and to have the synergies of not only growth and excellence, and I think it’s a wonderful synergy of our global relationship.
Q: How is your back, Tiger, and your overall health?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, it’s awful (laughter).
Q: Do you have to pay attention to the back on a daily basis?
TIGER WOODS: No. It feels great. It feels fantastic. I’ve one the proper rehab. I’ve gotten stronger. I’ve gotten more explosive. I’ve gotten faster.
All of the things– I just now need to hit more balls, but the body is good. It’s nice to have– I don’t have the sharp pain like I used to at the beginning of the year. I don’t have that anymore. I still have some aches and pains, just like anybody else who is my age and older– you (laughter).
But I don’t have to do– I’m past the rehab portion of it, and now I’m in the strength development of it, and I don’t have to do those tedious little rehab exercises. I can basically play with my kids and do whatever I want. We’ve been playing a ton of soccer in the backyard just about every day.
Q: Do you think you have a soft spot for India, also, because of Arjun Atwal? —
TIGER WOODS: Yes, yes–
Q: You both are good friends, and what stands out in your head about playing a round of golf in India with Mr. Munjal?
TIGER WOODS: I’ve heard so much about India from Arjun. He’s been trying to get me to go there for years. I finally went and had– just had a blast. Had a great time.
Arjun was supposed to be here to play. Unfortunately– actually fortunately he’s in some Asian events and playing over there. We talked at length about it, and I’m excited for him. He’s playing over there and trying to get his game back and trying to get back out here on TOUR.
But Arjun and I have been fantastic friends, and the people that he’s introduced me to from India that come over here besides his family, they couldn’t have been nicer. All the dinners that we’ve gone to over the years; to finally have a relationship with him, partner, is fantastic–
Q: Inaudible —
TIGER WOODS: Yes, he’s prepared me for that, yes.
Q: How significant is the change or adjustment, whatever you want to call it, that you’re facing right now?
TIGER WOODS: Like I said, it’s new but old. The reason why I said it that way is I just haven’t done it in a long time but my body is remembering it. The motor patterns, you develop all these different motor patterns in one’s career. It’s familiar, so it has not taken me that long to implement it.
I just need to, as I said, I need to hit more balls and get more reps, especially under competition, I want to see where it’s at. I’m very pleased with my speed and the freedom I have and what I’ve been doing with the golf ball.
Q: And secondly, what’s the difference in your optimism now compared with when you came back at Congressional?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I just had hit driver for the first time the Thursday before I committed. I committed the very next day. I was going to — well, this is how I put it: I was going to hit less drivers in a tournament round than I would in practice, so I might as well give it a go, and I did.
And unfortunately, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t play very well, and it showed. It reflected. My scores were awful. Missed the cut there and I played poorly at the British. Played poorly at Akron and played poorly at the PGA. Nothing was very good.
So having the next few months off, being able to get my body stronger, but also as I said earlier, trying to really understand where I want to go with my golf swing. And having an old motor pattern that I know has made the transition so much easier.
Q: You referred to Chris as a consultant when you announced it. Does that suggest that it’s a different arrangement than you’ve had with your previous teachers?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, because I wanted to, I had this plan in my head of where I wanted to go and what I want my swing to look like and what I want to get out of my body and out of my game.
I just needed to align myself with a person that felt the same way. Chris fits that for sure.
Q: Is it fair to say or would you say that maybe in the last couple years, you had gotten too technical and away from some of the naturalness that you had once enjoyed in your game and your swing?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that I got into– just like I think a lot of people in this generation, the new information of TrakMan, and trying to get the numbers to jive and trying to get the motions to match. And I think that that’s been extremely informative because it’s helped me during this process, but it’s not the only thing I’m going to do.
Still retain the feel in my hands and how I hit golf shots; but also I have an understanding that if I do something, these numbers should be like this. Because I didn’t have that understanding and I didn’t have that basis when I worked– when I was going into working with Sean.
So that was very new. That’s something that I think that is very helpful but can’t be the end of all things.
Q: Swing changes take time, and obviously there was an adjustment from Butch to Hank, and Hank to Sean. What’s the timetable on this?
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m curious to find that out myself, too. It’s going to be nice playing a tournament this week and getting a feel for being under the heat and see where my swing is, see what shots– where my misses are; not necessarily my good ones.
I know my good ones are good. But where are the misses are going to be? Am I able to rectify them right away, or is it going to take a shot or two, or a hole or two? Or maybe I might not be able to do it at all and that might not be a good thing.
But I think I have a good understanding going into Thursday what I need to do to hit certain shots and see what happens.
Q: This is off the track, too, but do you have any thoughts on the Ferguson, Missouri situation?
TIGER WOODS: It’s a sad situation all around.
Q: Last year it seemed like you were constantly trying to — with the health situation, trying to catch up. You came back too soon. It seemed like when you came back in Congressional and stuff– I just wonder, how frustrating was that, as you had time to reflect on it as you kept trying to get it back, you know, and while you were battling the back stuff? And as a follow to that, how far removed do you feel like you are from that now that you’ve had the time to rest and you’re kind of rebooting here a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Looking back on it, it was not a fun situation. I was still playing in– it wasn’t the same type of pain that I had earlier in the year, because the surgery had fixed it, but my body just wasn’t able to hold my joints in place.
So I just didn’t have the muscle structure yet. And so any time I would do something a little bit odd, jumping into a bunker like on 2 at Firestone, things like that shouldn’t dislodge things, but it did. I just wasn’t able physically to hold it.
Now I’m able physically to hold things in position, and I haven’t had any of those type of pains. As I said, I’ve been playing soccer just about every day with the kids and moving around great.
Q: When you came back after your back problems, you were excited and said you could practice fully but then Akron happened and you moved on. Do you have some level of fear that this injury could come back?
TIGER WOODS: No. The reason why I say no and so emphatically, the surgeon did a fantastic job. That’s all healed.
Now, do I have– as I was saying to Mark, do I have the muscle structure to hold everything in place so nothing slips. That’s one thing I didn’t have at the time.
Yeah, I could practice all I want but certain movements would throw things out and I couldn’t get it back, and I shouldn’t have been able to throw things out. Just didn’t have the development yet. Wasn’t at the point yet day-in, day-out where it was going to hold.
So finally I got to that point now and I’m strong enough and things are settled, and it’s nice to wake up each and every day. I might have a little soreness here and there from training or doing stuff, but I just don’t have things slipping out of place. Haven’t had to have the physio and the chiropractor treatments on a daily basis like I did then just to get me to play. It was a tough time at that time.
Q: Could you give an update on the task force?
TIGER WOODS: We’ve had– I’ve talked to a few members on it, and we’re having a meeting here shortly. But as far as any formal meetings together, no, we haven’t had that yet.
Q: There’s been rumblings about where this event will be in the future, could you comment on that?
TIGER WOODS: We’re excited to announce that we’ve signed a deal with Albany in the Bahamas and we are going to move down there for the next three years.
Q: You said that you enjoyed your stay in India, you really enjoyed it. Can we see you at the Indian Open, the next Indian Open?
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know when the next Indian Open date is.
TIGER WOODS: February? (Laughter) maybe not next year. But certainly it’s an option going forward, yes.
PAWAN MUNJAL: It’s the Hero Indian Open.
Q: How do you plan to take this partnership forward from here? Are you going to work with Tiger Woods Design? How do you plan to take it forward from here?
PAWAN MUNJAL: Well, it’s about promoting and taking the brand Hero global. So we will work out some marketing initiatives together with Tiger, and that’s already planned to take it forward.
Q: Why did it take so long to go back to the old video, or had you thought of it before and just didn’t want to go there?
TIGER WOODS: It had not been of any interest, just because I was happy with the direction I was going. I had won eight times in two years. Things were progressing in the right direction. But unfortunately physically, I was getting damaged doing it.
So in retrospect, you look at, was I ever hurt when I was little? Granted, I don’t think we all were. I think we all could jump off roofs and nothing would break. But playing detective and looking back on it, you have to somewhat have an understanding physically of where you are at that time.
Q: When you go back to things– we’re talking about amateur days I guess maybe?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-hmm.
Q: Do you feel a renewed sense of excitement about golf because you’re going back to that?
TIGER WOODS: I think it’s– I know my body feels excited about it, because it’s an old motor pattern that I know. And I’m able to generate speed and I have the range of motion and it’s interesting to see how– I don’t feel like I’m hitting it very hard, but it’s coming off the face faster. That part was exciting, to start feeling that again.
Q: Can I take us through a time line of the past four months of the back injury? Specifically, when were you able to start hitting full shots again and when did you feel game ready?
TIGER WOODS: I didn’t really do much for the first couple months. I basically just went to my kids’ games and just hung around the house, and did rehab probably once or twice a day, but it was just little tedious stuff.
I would putt and chip here and there just to keep a feel of having a club in my hand, but it wasn’t anything serious. Because again, I was still– I had not gone through that process yet. I explained earlier, I had not gone through that process, the direction I wanted to go yet. And until I decided on that and what direction I was going to go, then I would start to practice it.
It aligned with Chris, and over the last probably month and a half, I’ve been hitting more balls, playing a little bit. Am I game ready? Probably not quite as I would like to be. I would like to– well, I haven’t played a tournament round since August. That’s a long time.
It will be interesting to go out there on Thursday; and how long does it take for me to get my feel back for game shots; feel for my numbers; feel for my yardages; hitting the ball a certain trajectory; what’s the wind doing; all the little things, hearing things; and making adjustments on my downswing. All these different little things that we have to do: How long does it take me to get back into the flow of a round; sometimes it takes me a shot, sometimes it takes me three or four holes after a long layoff. I don’t know. We’ll see on Thursday.
Q: You mentioned wanting to take your foundation to the next level was one of the reasons with partnering with Hero. So do those plans include maybe getting a learning center here in the area? Can you expand on that?
TIGER WOODS: We have looked at Orlando and a number of different cities in Florida as future expansions. Yeah, we are still looking at that. We have one in Stuart right now but we would certainly like to have one here.
It’s been obviously difficult to find the facilities that we are used to, and also the staff. We are trying to create– that’s one of the neat things about having Rick on board is that we are trying to find new ways to — how can we package information that we have and how can we have these other satellite learning centers around the country and eventually around the world; are we still able to deliver the information and quality of information to the kids so that they still get to have that type of experience without losing anything and as we expand.
We want to do it right and that’s one of the reasons why we don’t have that many learning centers. We only have seven. But we have impacted over a couple hundred thousand kids have come through our learning centers now. That’s been very important that we do it right.
Q: Business question. I know you’ve got your new deal with MusclePharm, but wondering what you learned with your deal with Fuse and how that went for you?
TIGER WOODS: They didn’t quite have the patents and hence we didn’t quite get as far as we all had been expecting. MusclePharm, they have product already in place, and it’s about creating another brand within that and helping me out at the same time.
Q: What did you learn from your–
TIGER WOODS: I just said that.
Q: I was going to ask a Ryder Cup question. Did Phil Mickelson hit the nail on the head with his comments at Gleneagles? And you’ve played on a couple winning Ryder Cup teams yourself; do you think the day will ever come when the U.S. will need a task force to pick a new captain?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn’t– I wasn’t part of the team. So I don’t know. I only know a few things that happened within the team room from certain players and caddies. But I wasn’t there to fully experience it. I was, unfortunately, at home, and not being a part of the team. So I was getting it secondary, you know and I wasn’t there to experience it and see it feel it.
But a lot of the guys just weren’t happy with it. And did I ever think that we would end up in this position with a task force? No. I think our job going forward is that so we only have this task force once. It’s to create a matrix and create a process that we have a process in place going forward; so everyone is happy with the selection process, not only the players, but the captain, assistant captains, everything that’s involved in that that particular week and that everything is aligned so that going forward, it’s not going to just serve just one Ryder Cup but all future Ryder Cups.
So we can only do this once. If we do our job correctly, we’re only going to have this once.
Q: How did it evolve that you went back and looked at that early video? Whose suggestion was it and what was that like to actually go back there and see that stuff?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I looked back on all my golf swings. That’s the thing. I went back to my junior golf days all the way up to working with Sean and everything in between.
As I said, I had a couple months off of doing nothing. Actually it’s pretty interesting trying to find a VHS recorder. I have a lot of tape like that, and that’s what– fortunately my mom is of age where she has that still in the house (laughter). So that was very beneficial to look at some of the old tapes.
Q: What was it about Chris, his background, his skill set, that was a good fit for you, maybe than any other person that you’ve worked with?
TIGER WOODS: Well, his view of where my golf swing should be was in line to where I think it should be going, and I think it was a good synergy in that way.
JOHN BUSH: Gentlemen, thank you for your time.