Fresh off the red carpet at the most fashionable event of the year, Tiger Woods hit balls on the driving range and played four holes at TPC Sawgrass with instructor Sean Foley in tow before he met with the media for his traditional pre-tourney press conference.
It’s no secret Tiger isn’t the biggest fan of the home of The Players, where he’s won once and recorded four top-10s in 15 career starts. Woods answered questions about the Met Ball, this event, his game, and of course, the most-talked-about ruling in golf history.
*On the conditions at TPC Sawgrass, which received over five inches of rain last weekend: “Unbelievable how the golf course is as dry as it is considering as much rain as has fallen on this golf course. They’ve done an amazing job of getting this place dry and playable, and it’s going to be hopefully it’ll stay hot and the wind will stay up so it’ll dry out a little bit more.”
*On how the golf course challenges him: “Well, it is a tricky kind of golf course. We’re all playing to the same spots. Pete normally does that on most of his golf courses, likes to angle tee shots. There are a few opportunities in which maybe a par5 here and there that you can take it down there, but most of the holes are angles in a way that you see most of the guys playing from the same spots.”
(Ed. Note: By the way, it’s never a good thing when a golfer describes a course as “tricky.”)
*On walking the red carpet with girlfriend Lindsey Vonn on Monday night in NYC: “It was certainly different. It was something Lindsey wanted to try and grow her brand. She’s come out with a new perfume and makeup line, so that was a big thing for her, and I’m supporting it. Certainly, as you know, I’m not really big into fashion stuff, so that was pretty neat to meet Anna and some of the people that were there. The theme (punk) was certainly interesting because obviously I remember some of that stuff when I was a kid. But I certainly didn’t really wear that stuff.”
*On whether he’s attended a red carpet event the week of a major: “Yeah, I have. I’ve gone to the Golf Writers dinner at Augusta. You like that one, huh?”
*On the idea of a fifth major: “Well, I think we have our four major championships, and that’s that. But if there was going to be another one, this would be it. This is the best field that we have. We have guys from all over the world playing, and certainly probably, next to the PGA, probably one of the deepest and stiffest fields we’ll face.”
*On working on the range this afternoon: “Very pleased. I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’ve done some very good work, basically a continuation of what I’ve done for the past couple months. I took a week off, didn’t really do any golf at all right after the Masters, and then started kind of training and getting back into it and getting into full swing here probably the last week and a half.”
*On what he was working on: “Yeah, we’re just working on the same thing, trying to get my lines looking good again, keeping it consistent so that on a golf course like this where you’ve got to hit the ball high, low, and move it all around, right to left, left to right, that my lines don’t get too far off.”
*On how golf’s big names have only contended at TPC Sawgrass a few times or none at all: “As I said, it’s one of those courses where they’ve got some tough lines, and if you’re not playing well, you’re going to get exposed. This is a golf course in which you have to drive the ball really well, and then on top of that, now that it’s gone to Bermuda, these greens have gotten a lot more fiery coming into them. So it makes it even more important to hit the ball in these fairways to have a chance to spin the ball.
“You miss these greens at all, you’ve got some of the weirdest, funky little shots that you’ll ever face. As I said, now playing out of Bermuda grass it’s really hard to get the ball up-and-down.”
*On frequently being short-sided on three sides of the green at TPC Sawgrass: “Yeah, probably a great example of that is No. 1, that back left corner. It’s a golf course in which it requires discipline. I think that, in my opinion, you’ve got to play it smart, strategic, but when you have an opportunity to be aggressive, you’ve got to be aggressive and take advantage of certain opportunities because you’re not going to get a lot of them, not under most of the scores haven’t been as low since we went to Bermuda as it was when it was overseeded.”
*On the least comfortable shot for Tiger at TPC Sawgrass: “Probably 17 when it’s blowing out of the north, northwest. I’ve hit 5iron into that hole. Not a good hole to hit 5-iron to. The flag is dancing up there, and it’s cold and it’s about 40 degrees out. That was one of the tougher shots I’ve ever faced.”
*On where he stands with TV viewers calling in rules violations: You know, I’m not I don’t ever see myself calling in and saying that Kobe traveled or things like that or some guy held an offensive lineman held, but it’s our sport, and that’s what we’ve done and we’ve accepted. Certain groups are going to get more heat than others just because they’re on TV. It is what it is.”
*On the Masters ruling on the 15th hole in the second round and whether he’s tired of it: “Yeah, actually I am, because I think Fred explained it pretty well. For some reason evidently that wasn’t accepted.”
*On whether it’s a level-playing field with call-in rules violations because some guys are shown more than others: “Well, that is part of the unlevelness, certainly with being on TV more you’re going to get more questions. It’s not like something that’s new to us out here. We’ve had our rules staff, they’re fantastic and they get calls every week. So it’s not anything that’s new. That’s been going on for years.”
*On whether he’d ever call-in a violation he saw on TV in a golf tournament: “No.”
*On how long the disappointment of the Masters stayed with him: “That one probably stayed for about a week, until I started back practicing again. When I was away from it, I was reflecting on obviously the things that I did right but also the things that I did wrong that week. And unfortunately I hit a good shot and got a bad break. But I still had an opportunity over the next 36 holes to get it back, and I sort of had my opportunities to do it and I just didn’t do it.”
*On Adam Scott winning the Masters: “I think it’s fantastic. We’ve seen what he can do. We’ve seen how close he was last year at the British Open, and if it wasn’t for a rough finish, then he would have been the holder of the Claret Jug. He’s won tournaments all around the world. He’s won this tournament. You can see the steady improvement that he’s made over the years. It wasn’t a surprise to any of us that he won a major championship.”
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)