Tiger’s Memorial press conference: Thursday
CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome four-time champ here at the Memorial Tournament Tiger Woods. Solid opening round puts you one off the lead. Talk about the day out there and what you had going correctly.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the golf course was playing quick today. The fairways were starting to chase a little bit. The greens were — as I was explaining out there, somewhat receptive. They’re making ball marks, but the thing is they’re running out. These greens have got to be near 14.
It’s a hell of a test out there, really. And then the wind is picking up a little bit. Hopefully we don’t get too much rain, and this golf course plays quick the entire week.
Q: Three out of four birdies on the par-5s and probably should have been four out of four. Does that help tell you when your game is on, that that’s a good indicator of how well you’re not playing or how well you are playing?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven’t played the par-5s particularly well the last few tournaments, and today was a good example. I played them great. The one on 11 should have been a birdie, as well. I hit two really nice shots in there. I feel very pleased with the way I hit the golf ball all day, and it was nice to actually play the par-5s under par for a change.
Q: Are you saying it was probably just — I take it it was probably the only real blemish on the day. Talk about what happened there.
TIGER WOODS: I stuck it in the ground with the 5-wood and hit it out to the right and tried to make sure I missed it left coming out of that bunker and overcooked that one. Then I got thrown off a little bit out of my rhythm. I was ready to go and waiting for whoever it was to tee off, I think it might have been Jason, and backed off twice, and I was kind of ready, ready, ready. And then unfortunately when it was my turn to go, I wasn’t anywhere near as focused as I needed to be for that shot, and I paid the price for it.
Q: I’m just curious, the galleries seemed to be as good as ever, but it was really quiet. Were you getting good vibes from just the reception towards you specifically, not just the tournament?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think everyone was fantastic. As I said out there today, they came out yesterday and supported us on the pro-am. Maybe it’s just because it’s early in the morning and people still have crust in their eyes or something. But it was — they still came out and supported this event.
You know, it doesn’t really usually get that loud until the weekend when a little more libations are flowing.
Q: Had you walked onto the 12th tee in time to see Rory go bunker to water?
TIGER WOODS: I heard it.
Q: And from your bunker shot and seeing Fred, what his did, talk about coming away with a 3?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was enough on the upslope that I could keep it from going in the water, but I didn’t think I could keep it on the green unless I tried to play a shot. So I tried to just land it in the rough, which I did, let it roll down there — I just felt that I wasn’t in any danger to hit the ball in the water, but I didn’t think I could keep it on the green.
Q: Where is the miss on that hole?
TIGER WOODS: You’ve got to be committed to it. You’ve got to put it in that section or where Luke played it, just over the front bunker. But if you play it just over that front bunker you can’t carry it at the flag, and with the wind kind of swirling around there a little bit, especially off the right, a shot stuck in the ground a little bit is probably going to embed in the front bunker.
It’s a tough shot with that particular wind because it’s — you’re going to bail out left, and the wind is pushing over there, as well. Jack makes you make a decision on that tee shot where you’re going to go, and you’ve got to be committed to it.
Q: 3 okay there?
TIGER WOODS: 3 is great.
Q: Last week Rory missed the cut at Wentworth, and the story that day was more about him than the leader of the tournament, something that obviously you’ve dealt with many times when things aren’t going right.
TIGER WOODS: Really? (Smiling.)
Q: Just curious what you thought of that from afar and also maybe what you might tell him if he asks, just for counsel in that sort of situation where obviously the scrutiny is ratcheted up now for him?
TIGER WOODS: Just keep going. You miss the cut, so be it, move on and get ready for the next event. I figured when I missed the cut — the times I’ve missed the cut, you still have the weekend, two extra days to go prepare and get ready. You have to turn it into a positive. You have to find some of the things that you did right and obviously analyze the things you did wrong, too, and apply them.
But I think you’ve got to get right back to work. I don’t think you can sit on it and let it fester. I think you need to get right back at it and do your diligence and then get out there and do your homework and hit balls or chip and putt, whatever caused you to do what you did, if you’re not hurt. If you’re healthy, just go ahead and start ripping balls.
Q: Do you think in his case that there shouldn’t be that surprise? Obviously for yourself it hasn’t happened very often that you missed cuts, but it is something that happens a lot. Is it just part of it, or do you think that he’s sort of gotten to a level where, hey, he’s going to have to go through that, too?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the reason why he got the — obviously the criticism or scrutiny is because he’s been so consistent over the last six, eight months. He’s probably played — I know him and Luke probably go back and forth obviously between 1 and 2, but Rory has had probably more top 5 finishes over that stretch. He’s just not just playing in the States. He’s not just playing in Europe. He’s playing all over the world, and he’s playing at a high level for a very long time. People’s expectations obviously are increased.
Q: I think I counted you playing something like 11 of the next 16, 17 weeks, no two-week stretches. I’m wondering if you would assess the state of your game and how you feel about it right now and the importance of the next three, four months of heavy lifting.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t do a whole lot at the beginning of the year is we have a lot of golf to be played during the summer and in the fall, especially with the Ryder Cup at the end of it. We don’t get any breaks, so we have a lot of golf to be played. And there’s a lot of big events.
We have a couple majors, World Golf Championships, the Playoffs and a Ryder Cup in a very short span of time.
Q: How do you feel about your game heading into this, coming off a couple T 40s and an MC? Do you feel like you’re perking up?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely, yeah.
Q: If you could break down your game today, you did a few things well, long irons, drive, putt, but what was the one aspect of your game that you think was the thing that helped you get to 2-under today, and what is the one aspect you’ll have to improve if you’re going to win this week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I was just consistent all day. I didn’t do — as I said, I didn’t do anything great and I didn’t do anything poorly, I was just very consistent. And I think with the golf course being the way it’s set up, you just have to be that way. You have to drive the ball well, you have to position it on these greens, and you’re going to have to make some tough putts. There’s no two ways around it. These greens are at a pace where it’s hard to get the ball close, and you’re going to have to have some tough ones out there. I think over the next three days, hopefully I can play as well as I did today.
Q: This goes to the consistency you were just talking about. In the Twitterverse when you hit a good shot you’re back and when you hit a bad shot you’re done. How consistent do you think your game is right now, and maybe what’s the most inconsistent aspect of it that you need to tighten up?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I was able to make some nice changes over the break here and work on some of the things that I think I needed to work on, and I’m very pleased with that.
As I said at THE PLAYERS, I did it in streaks. I was hitting the ball and hitting it well in streaks and just need to get a little more consistency out of it. Today was certainly one of those days where I was very consistent.
Q: Kind of a one and a half parter, how did you play the 18th at Olympic Tuesday?
TIGER WOODS: 4-iron, sand wedge.
Q: We’ve had some tough finishing holes, Oakmont, Southern Hills. What do you think of it as a closing hole, and what would be the ideal closing hole for a U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that they’re probably giving us a break because we’ve got probably the hardest six holes ever starting out at an event, and it’s kind of nice to have a reachable par-5 in 17, a birdieable finishing hole, because you’ve got some hard holes and a 675-yard par-5 in which you have to hit two draws around the corner.
I think it’s obviously not what it used to be in ’98 with the green, but it’s certainly more fair, and I think you’ll see a lot more birdies.
Q: Secondly, you talked about the six-hole start. Is it at all reminiscent of Baltusrol in terms of the degree of difficulty starting and considering that on Thursday and Friday half the field gets to start on the back nine?
TIGER WOODS: No, Baltusrol is — no, no. Olympic is harder.
Q: Why is it so hard?
TIGER WOODS: Because you have a couple short ones in there at Baltusrol. You can drive 2. You’ve got a par-5 down the hill. We don’t see our first par-5 until 16. It’s a totally different setup.
Q: It seems like you’re a little bit under the weather today. Can you talk about how that might have impacted your play?
TIGER WOODS: No, I’m not sick. It’s just my allergies are killing me. Is it cottonwood that’s flying around here, whatever that white stuff is? Yeah, it’s got me pretty good today.
Q: How much did that bother you playing at all?
TIGER WOODS: Well, thank God I had a big towel. (Laughter.)