Tiger’s Waste Management Phoenix Open press conference: Tuesday
THE MODERATOR: Tiger, just a couple comments. Decision to be back here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
TIGER WOODS: Great to be back. Been a long time since I have been gone. The golf course right now is in fantastic shape. I mean, it’s springy. The balls are — it’s not quite flying, it’s not quite warm out yet, but the greens have definitely got a little spring to them, but they’re not overly quick, which is nice. You can see some pretty good scoring unless this weather comes in we’re supposed to get on Friday. Then it might be a little harder.
Q: (Question about scores here.)
TIGER WOODS: I don’t think it’s going to be that. I’d take that right now, but I think that with the weather coming in we’re supposed to have — the rain, cold, wind — I don’t see it going to be as low. Plus the changes they made out there, the longer hitters have done extremely well here. The number to carry a lot of these bunkers are just barely out of reach for some of these guys, even the big boys. You’ll be playing to the side of them instead of over the top. I think some of the reasons why you have seen some of the longer hitters do really well, you play with top-head wedges and the fairways widen out. We are going to be playing from basically the same areas now or taking basically the same lines off the tees.
Q: Can you talk about the work you have done since we saw you at the Hero World Challenge?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Well, I had to take a little bit of a break there for a while. That flu bug got me good for probably three weeks afterwards and I lost a lot more weight. I was finally able to start gaining weight again and started training. I started practicing with Chris. We have done some really good work. It’s just continue the situation. We have a game plan we need to get to. Each stage, you know, we’re ahead of schedule on each stage of the game plan, and, you know, that’s a good sign. Overall, I’m very pleased to go out there and hit shots. As you saw out there, I’m cranking up speed. Speed’s coming back up. It’s going to be a fun year. Chipping, I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement when I was working with Sean and then my new release pattern. We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there, and now it’s better.
Q: Can you tell us what you make of this very strange incident involving Robert Allenby in Hawaii?
TIGER WOODS: I really don’t know much about it, to be honest with you. I know he got beat up. I don’t know much about it. I just saw a quick headline. I saw a photo. He didn’t look very good. But that’s all I know about the incident. I’m lacking on knowledge on that. Sorry.
Q: What are your memories here?
TIGER WOODS: The hole in one ’97, I think I broke Fluff’s hand. I missed — what did I miss? I missed Omar or was it Rusty? Omar? I missed his. And then old school, back in the day, raised the roof, you know, that was the thing in the day. Then on top of that, just smelling and hearing the beer hit behind me on the tee box. It was a different, obviously a different setup then to see, turn around and see all this beer flying was crazy. The more eerie part was when we were playing 17 and 18, everybody didn’t really care. They were walking in, because they had seen what they wanted to see and 16 was empty. So we looked back on 16. You see all these beer cups everywhere on the tee box, and probably maybe an eighth of the people there, everyone walking around up here, Bird’s Nest, Crow’s Nest, they were all headed there. Some nest over there (laughter).
Q: The ruling that was talked about. Were you sort of grasping or did you think, hey, this can be moved?
TIGER WOODS: I thought it was lighter than it was. It says, you know, movable objects. I thought I could move it. Evidently it took about like five other dudes to do it. And then here’s the thing about that that’s kind of funny is that they moved it the wrong way. They moved it in the direction which I didn’t want to have it moved. So that means I had to start the ball off to the right, because I hit the ball in the right bunker, so hitting up the left. But I wasn’t going to have them go back in there in the cactus and move it back the other way.
Q: We read the report. Can you take us through what happened to your tooth a couple weeks ago?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that didn’t feel very good. Two different podiums in skiing. When they come down from the run, the top three are always there end of the run. After every race is completed, then they move that up on the hill so all the photographers can do their deal and champagne and whatever it is out there in the middle of the run. Lindsey had finished up. I walked up to the top. I had my mask on so no one knew who I was, trying to blend in, because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, okay? (Laughter.) Yeah, hey, we blend in, wouldn’t we? So that was the whole idea of why I wore the mask, and then I came up above. I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she’s hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down. Some already finished, some are there already in the changing area. Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth. He chipped that one, cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I’m trying to keep this thing so the blood is not all over the place, and luckily he hit the one I had the root canal on. That’s the one that chipped. But the other one had to be fixed, as well, because it had cracks all through it.
TIGER WOODS: Oh, Jesus, the flight home was a joke. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on. I couldn’t have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve, the tooth that was still alive, was cracked.
TIGER WOODS: I had to fly home and get it done and first thing in the morning, which was nice.
Q: Did the photographer even know he had done that?
TIGER WOODS: He didn’t care.
Q: What did you make of the thought that this incident got so much play?
TIGER WOODS: It’s a new world. We need to talk about something. Have to fill up space. The story is about Lindsey breaking the record. That’s the story. I mean, jeez, we all have — every sport you get teeth knocked out, and unfortunately I wasn’t actually competing and got my teeth knocked out. These are permanent, yeah.
Q: Both are permanent?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q: What made you choose that mask?
TIGER WOODS: Do you play Ghost Recon? Then you don’t know. (Laughter.)
Q: So many people are not believing your story.
TIGER WOODS: Dude, you guys, it’s just the way the media is. It is what it is.
Q: It’s not just the media.
TIGER WOODS: It is just what it is.
Q: Talk about what it’s like about being back on the 16th hole and how much different it is than anywhere else.
TIGER WOODS: I haven’t seen it yet. I’m going to see it tomorrow. I’m going to do some work. It’s different over the years. As I said, back in ’97, they didn’t have the bleachers like they did around the tee box. It was a hill and people were partying. I don’t know if they still serve the alcohol like they used to, because that was a pretty — the guys who were playing behind me, they had some pretty wet lies. It was a different ballgame back then.
Q: Has any part of your game come along faster?
TIGER WOODS: My driving, for sure. My driving has come around a lot faster. I’m a lot longer than I thought I ever could be again. My speed is way back up, and that’s fun. I’m touching numbers that I did 15 years ago, so that’s cool.
Q: Coming into this week, what part of your game are you happiest with and what part of your game needs the most work?
TIGER WOODS: The happiest part, I’m driving it. It felt great, driving my ball, and what I think I need to work on a little bit here is getting the speed of these greens, because as I said, in your head, you assume hard greens with a lot of spring to them are going to be fast, but they’re not fast. They spring but they putt slow. So I need to do some work to try to overcome the mental hurdle to make sure I can hit the putts hard, even though I know coming into the greens I have to throw the ball straight up in the air, play for a big hop, chips, play for two big hops before the ball starts thinking about stopping.
Q: Any security concerns, given the last time?
TIGER WOODS: The guy on 6? That’s one of the reasons why I hadn’t played in a while. You know, I think the people here have done a fantastic job over the years and making sure things are a lot more safe.
Q: Going back to the hole in one, you’ve played a lot of competitive golf over the last 15 years. Are you surprised that you don’t have more holes in one?
TIGER WOODS: Not really. I have 19 (laughter). On tour, yeah, I think I have had three. Two have been caught on TV and one wasn’t. The funny one was that TV crews here have to take a mandatory union break, and it was on No. 7 at Castle Pines. I hooped it. They showed me on the 6th green, take the union break. I hoop it on 7. They catch me up on the 8th fairway, par-5 up the hill. So that was probably one of the more funny ones, because it went in the hole on the fly and tore up the cup. But I hadn’t had a hole in one, you’re right, in competition in a long time. Maybe probably four years ago I made a hole in one from the 19th.
Q: Do you remember where that was?
TIGER WOODS: Atwood.
Q: Are you going to go to the Super Bowl?
TIGER WOODS: I’d like to. I’d like to. That’s the plan. I just wish my Raiders were there, but they’re not (laughter). I’m not happy about the pick we got, either. Fell down on that pick.