Wildcard Tiger Woods was given a hard time in his Ryder Cup press conference but the current world no.1 passed his first Celtic Manor test with flying colours…
Q. Can I just ask, first of all, welcome to Wales, it’s great to have you here. It’s really important that you are here for the tournament, but over the past year, how important has The Ryder Cup become to you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously it’s always exciting to make the team. I got a taste of it in ’97; that was my first time on the team. It’s just so neat to be a part of a team, and quite frankly, we don’t get to do it very often. Once we left college ‑‑ we played on a team every tournament we played in college and after that, not much of anything in that sense. It’s great to be a part of it, and the sheer ‑‑ I tried to make the team on points; didn’t occur, and was lucky enough to get a pick. And here I am.
Q. I remember talking to you at The K Club in 2006, and you said you were having a blast; what’s the team spirit like?
TIGER WOODS: It’s the same. We always have a great time. All of the years I’ve been on Ryder Cup teams and Presidents Cup teams, it’s been great getting to know all of the guys, and some of the new guys on the teams that over the years I haven’t got to know, haven’t got to meet or talk to; the bonding that occurs. And then the guys that we have been on the same team for a long time, Phil and Jim and I have been on the team since ’97 together and been on a lot of teams, and it’s always fun to get in the team room and hang out.
Q. As a Welshman, as well, have you had a fine Welsh welcome?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, we all have, not just myself but the entire team. Everyone has been so respectful today and it’s been great.
Q. Just one more. Given what you’ve been through this year, how important would a Team USA win be for you personally?
TIGER WOODS: It would be great, it would be great to get a win and I’m looking forward to getting out there and contributing and hopefully get some points and hopefully we can get this thing done.
Q. Could you talk about what you did last week, practise sessions and so forth, and assess your game coming in here?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, actually I was home in Orlando practising. Saw Sean early in the week, and then obviously he went up to The Tour Championship with the guys. He came back on the weekend and we worked a little bit over the weekend and did some good work, and feel good coming in.
Q. What was your reaction when you heard Rory McIlroy say that he very much would like to play against you in this Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Me, too. (Smiling).
Q. Care to elaborate?
TIGER WOODS: No. (Laughter).
Q. Your work with Sean, what is the biggest challenge in adjusting to what you’ve been working on?
TIGER WOODS: Just reps. I have an understanding of what he was trying to teach, and now it’s just a matter of getting reps. It’s not just hitting golf balls; he’s trying to make sure I understand the movements, but I think the biggest thing is actually understanding the fixes. Out on the golf course today, I hit some bad ones, but I automatically knew what the fix was. That’s neat because sometimes it takes a while to understand what the fix will be.
Q. Is there a pattern?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, all it is some of my old things still stay in there and just trying not to do that.
Q. Two parts to this question, if you’ll indulge me. Is this an emotionally more difficult week for you because of the prominent role that the wives tend to play at The Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: I think it’s a great week. We are all looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to and it’s just been a great week.
Q. Have you sensed any change in the players ‑‑ the wives’ relationships towards you? Have they been supportive or have you sensed a cooling in that relationship?
TIGER WOODS: No, we are here as a team. We’re here to win The Ryder Cup.
Q. Is it safe to assume you’ll be with Stricker, or do you even know yet at this point who your partner will be starting out?
TIGER WOODS: I have one out of 11, so we’ll see.
Q. Do you think ‑‑
TIGER WOODS: Do you think I’m going to tell you that? Come on, Bobby.
Q. Would you like to see that, given your success with him a year ago?
TIGER WOODS: We’ll find out. (Smiling).
Q. Do you think that ‑‑ you know your game better than anyone. Do you feel that you are on the road ‑‑ I mean, if we go back to, let’s say Akron was the low point; do you feel that you’re coming up the other way?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely.
Q. Okay, and then just secondly, the other one about, do you think it’s a bit unfair going back to the quote you made at the time at American Express, you’ve been walking around ‑‑ people walk around with this idea that you don’t care about The Ryder Cup; do you think that’s a bit unfair, and judging ‑‑ obviously your teammates say that you do, but do you feel that you’ve been a little bit hard done by that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, what really matters is my team. That’s what I’m here with and then after that, I can’t control that. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s about us coming together as a team and being a team. And what happens outside the team room, what happens in the media or anything like that, it has no concern to us. We are here to get the job done as a team.
Q. You don’t win majors anymore, you don’t win regular tournaments anymore ‑‑ and you are about to be deposed by Europeans as the world No. 1 or Phil Mickelson; where is The Ryder Cup now on your agenda now that you’re an ordinary golfer?
TIGER WOODS: I remember you’re the same one at the British Open who asked me that, too. I hope you’re having a good week.
Q. Looking back at two years ago, can you talk about the emotions that were going through your mind; happy for the guys, jealous that you were going to be there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, certainly wish I had been there but didn’t play until enough to be there. That’s the way it is.
Q. With regard to the pairings and how the captains put you together, do you think that can have an effect on the final outcome ‑‑
TIGER WOODS: We just have to get it done. No matter who you go out there with, it’s about holing shots and basically beating your opponent. There have been matches where we have been ‑‑ I’ve been in a match where we were 10‑under par and lost. That’s just the way it goes.
You’ve just got to get the job done. Yeah, so certainly the captain does have a role in putting it together, but it’s ultimately it’s up to us and executing.
Q. Do you have the feeling that you have to show your team and maybe the people that you deserve this wild card?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I just need to go out there and play. Whatever captain puts me out there however many times, hopefully that’s as many points as I can earn.
Q. None of you guys have really seen the golf course and there have been some question about the setup; is it similar to a lot of the courses that you see on Tour, or how different is it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think the rough’s up, and it’s just a matter of I think just getting your lines and numbers, because as I said earlier when I first got in, some of the tees are going to be moved around and especially now with the weather coming in, it’s going to need to be even more so.
So it’s imperative that we get our numbers and lines straight because with the rough being up like that, you need to hit the ball on the fairways.
The greens, pretty standard. There are a few fall‑offs and false edges that obviously we can see, that are pretty apparent, just need to make sure you hit the ball to the right number.
Q. It’s been said the greens are a bit slow; are you guys finding that and are you comfortable with that?
WOODS: They are a little bit slow and I’m sure they will probably get even slower with the wet weather coming in, so just making adjustments.
Q. In the past, when you were a considerably young man, you were quite candid about your difficulties with the concept of the team, with all of the successes of the individual player, and we all seem to think that you can win whenever you walk on the golf course; with age and experience, has your feeling about playing with the team undergone some change? Because you were quite candid before that it was a bit difficult to relate to at times.
TIGER WOODS: It’s just because of the age. I was a pretty young guy, and I was usually the youngest player on the team for basically I think eight years. Most of the guys that I played with, you know, my rookie year, are now on the Senior Tour. Those are my teammates.
So there was a difference in age, and don’t forget, I came out of college, two years of playing for Stanford every week, and it was harder to relate because these guys were older than I was and I just left the Stanford team. As the years have gone by, now there’s quite a few guys are who are younger than me on the team. We have had a good mix over the years, and that’s where I was candid earlier in my career, because the guys were older. They have been around the block, won major championships and tournaments all around the world and they have been there before.
Q. Could I just briefly ask, as you’re fighting to get back to the levels which we associate with you, does this particular Ryder Cup and the team aspect and bonding of it, does it perhaps have a special significance for you this year?
TIGER WOODS: I think it always has a special significance. Each and every year, as Americans, we get to play on teams every year, being The Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup.
The teams are always fun to be a part of. We don’t get a chance to do it very often. As I said, once you leave college, we don’t get to do it very often. So for us to come here like this and be part of a squad, it truly is fun. The thing that goes on in the team rooms, that’s what we all look back on; the memories and the friendships that you build for a lifetime just in one week, and then the connection we have had, it’s awfully fun.
Q. Looking ahead to this week, are there any particular players on The European Tour, on the European side, that you particularly relish and enjoy coming up against in singles play this week?
TIGER WOODS: I think just anybody, really. My whole ‑‑ when you get out there in singles, is to get a point for your team. That’s your responsibility as a player is to try and get that one point.