THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Stuart Scott at his Target World Challenge, Tiger Woods talks about his nerves, the majors, the Augusta controversy and his greatest shot. The full transcript of the interview is below.:
Stuart Scott: I was at one of your golf clinics recently and you were talking about your pre-round routine, when you're on the practice range, before the round, you try to work up the nervousness that you feel on the first tee. I bet people would be shocked that you even feel nervous, ever.
Tiger Woods: If you don't feel nervous, there's something wrong with you. Because if you don't feel nervous, obviously you don't care. I care about what I do, I care about what I do on that first tee, the rest of the day. I take pride in what I do on the golf course. That's one of the reasons why I get very nervous out there because I really want to do my best.
SS: You shot a 61 at the Grand Slam of Golf, kinda low, and you said that you hit every shot perfect.
SS: Solid. Every single shot.
TW: Every one.
SS: How often do you do that?
TW: Probably two or three times in my entire life where that's happened. Even the shot I left out to the right on the fourth tee, I hit it flush, I just left it out to the right; it was a solid shot, it just took off to the right and stayed out there. But I hit it flush. It was just one of those magical days.
SS: Ben Hogan used to talk about that. He used to say that never in a round of golf do you hit every single shot exactly solid.
TW: It was just one of those magical days. I mean it was one of those magical days where everything just, just came together. And it's hard to explain to people that, that's just the way it is sometimes, you just, you get out of your way, you get out of your own way and you kinda sit back and you just watch. And it's pretty kinda fun when it happens because everything seems, you know, pretty easy at that time.
On the British Open ...
SS: I'm sure you don't dwell on anything, but did it ever cross your mind, just once, did you ever say to yourself, 'man, if it hadn't been windy and rainy in the third round of the British Open, I could have gotten all four this year'?
TW: (Laughs) I would have had a chance, it wouldn't have guaranteed me. I knew that it was a tough day starting out. I didn't know it was going to be that brutal, but I certainly didn't play my best that day and the conditions just added to it, just made it look that much worse. But you know the good thing is, at least I played the last two holes at a one under (laughs). I mean that's the only good thing that happened that day.
SS: You came back in the fourth round and shot ...
TW: Yeah, I shot six under the last day, which I was very proud of. You know other than that third round I was 10 under par for the tournament.
On the majors ...
SS: You've won four straight majors and you did it early in your career. Do you think doing that sets an unrealistic expectation, because now people figure: Tiger Woods, if he doesn't win all four majors, man, it's like winning the bronze medal at the Olympics. You know, society's like, 'Oh, you lost; you won the bronze medal.'
TW: Right, it's just one of those things where I was very lucky to win all four. I played well and got some great breaks and everything just kinda came together. I guess the stars and the moons aligned, everything was just right, but even if you win, if you don't win the first major, and you play well and you win, like I did that in the year 2000, I won the last three.
SS: Are expectations to the point where people now expect that of you, to win two or three or maybe four in a year?
TW: Well if that's just what they expect, that's what they expect. You know I don't live my life based upon their expectations. I live my life based upon mine, and certainly I want to win every tournament I play in, but if I don't, it's understandable and I just got to learn from it and apply it to the next one.
SS: Jack (Nicklaus), when he was about your age went through his longest drought without winning majors, like three or four years. Do you ever think that could happen to you? That you could go three or four years without winning a major?
TW: Certainly, it can happen any time, that's part of playing our sport. It's very fickle. You never have it, you just borrow it. And, ah, you know, just got to continue to work hard and continue to have, hopefully some success and some good things happen in your life; and I think what's helped me a lot is to have balance in my life. And, ah, maintaining balance certainly helps on the golf course as well.
On giving back ...
SS: How do you juggle trying to win four majors, trying to shoot 61s but also trying to give back to the community? Your dad has talked about it, you talked about it being very important. How do you juggle all those at the same time?
TW: That's actually pretty easy because I love to help, it's just in my nature. I love giving lessons to people, I love to try and talk to kids, try to help them out and I don't know why, it's just part of what I like to do. I like putting smiles on people's faces. I'm not a comedian by far, that's not how I am, I'd much rather help them out in different ways and I think my foundations are an extension of that.
SS: When you partner with Target stores like you are for your 'Challenge' this week, what do you look for in Target, or in other companies that you partner with? What do they have to prove to you?
TW: First of all they've got to be quality. They've got to be a quality, reputable company who's ideals and values are a lot like mine and Target's a perfect fit for that. They give probably, I think it's about $2 million a week, to charities throughout the entire year. So they certainly understand what it means to give and give back into the communities and that's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm doing that through Target and they've been great. We've got a pavilion there at Saint Jude's Hospital. A library for kids to hang out and be a part of that as well as the 'Start Something' program. Like a mentoring program for kids. I think we're going to have about a half a million kids by the end of the year in the program.
On Augusta and The Masters ...
SS: Some of your critics would say, 'Well you do this for the community, why did you not take a stronger stand against Augusta National for not admitting women?
TW: I gave my opinion. Would I like to see a woman member? Yes. But it's certainly not my say. I don't run that golf course and that membership and I think we've all seen that's not the case. We all know who runs that golf course, that golf tournament (The Masters).
SS: What did you think when you saw or heard about the New York Times editorial that suggested you should boycott Augusta if it did not admit women?
TW: (Chuckles) First of all I thought it was kind of funny. I was in Japan when that happened. I was playing a six-hole shootout in Japan when I found out and you know it's just one of those things where everyone's entitled to their opinion. And, ah, you know I was certainly one of them.
SS: Why is it that people are saying you should boycott? Why isn't anyone asking Phil (Mickelson) not to play Augusta this year or Sergio (Garcia), or Ernie Els? Or why isn't anyone asking Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who are dues-paying members, to take a stand? What do you think about all this focus being on you?
TW: Well I think, maybe it's just the fact that I am the No. 1 ranked in the world or maybe it's the fact that I have more pigmentation than most guys. Whatever it may be, and you know everyone, as I said, is entitled to their opinion. Would I like to see Augusta obviously admit a woman member? Yes, I would like to see that. Just like I would have felt the same way about Charlie Stifford and Lee Eldler playing in The Masters, and Lee Eldler finally playing in The Masters. Would I have liked to have seen that happen? Yes. So nothing's changed in that regard. I would like to see them have a woman member.
SS: What do you think about Mr. (Thomas) Wyman saying that he's going to forgo his membership (at Augusta) because they're not admitting a woman?
TW: That's obviously understandable, admirable that he's doing that, but, ah, it's, it's obviously his choice and his entitlement to do that. (0448) I don't think everyone is going to do that, but he felt that was the best thing for him and his, his beliefs within himself.
SS: You've got a chance to make history this coming year in April. Nobody's ever won three straight Masters. What question do you think you're going to get more, the chances of you doing that, or the question about Augusta admitting a woman?
TW: You know usually Augusta is always one of those tournaments where we're always talking about the changes they're making to the golf course. That wasn't the case this past year. Obviously, I certainly don't think that the changes they have made to the golf course for this next coming Masters are going to be mentioned either. I don't think everyone understands that this is going to be the lead story; and myself going after three consecutive Masters titles, I don't think that's going to be the lead story either.
SS: Should it be?
TW: Um ...
SS: Would you like for it to be?
TW: I would certainly like for it to be.
SS: (Laughs). You'd rather get that.
TW: I'd rather talk about that than how I'm going to play No. 5, the new hole that it's now shaped up to be or the new panel on nine. I'd much rather talk about that.
SS: OK, I've got a question for you. Would you rather an entire interview on the issue about Augusta and women, or an entire interview where somebody's hammering you about your relationship with your girlfriend?
TW: I'll give short answers to both.
On courage in sports and his best shot ...
SS: When you think about courage in sports, what act of courage in sports has had the most impact on you?
TW: There's been all different things. Whether it's Jesse Owens' performance in the Olympics. Or it's Muhammad Ali's performance, in some of his bigger fights, or Arthur Ashe, or maybe even MJ or Gretzky. There's so many different performances that define courage. Whether it's athletic ability when you're down, you're not feeling well. Or whether it's overcoming certain obstacles or it might even be political reasons. Everybody who's played sports has the ability to suck it up and do things that they never thought they could even do, even imaginable. And some athletes have been able to pull it out more times than people think and, you know, some of the greatest performances are when people aren't feeling well, or they're hurt, they're injured. Reminds me of Jack Youngblood playing with a broken leg. I mean that's absolutely incredible, or Donovan McNabb coming back.
SS: Do you draw inspiration from that?
TW: Certainly. You have to.
SS: Whether it's on the course or the practice range, do you think, 'Man I remember Jack Youngblood, I can do this.'?
TW: You know, I think everyone does because you have to admire what athletes do. They take their body to a level that no one else could even perceive was possible and they don't even know they're doing it at the time. They do it because they love to compete. They love to be in that arena, that's what they've always dreamt about as kids and no one's ever going to take that away from them.
SS: Alright, real quickly, short answers. Most memorable drive of your life?
TW: Wow, I don't know that one.
TW: I don't really know.
SS: How about a putt? I mean, is there a most memorable putt for you or a most memorable approach?
TW: No. Probably the best shot I ever hit in my life, I do remember that. That was this year at the PGA.
SS: Out of the bunker.
TW: Out of the bunker on 18. It was 212 (yards), wind coming about 30 miles an hour off my left. It was downhill lie. The lip of the bunker behind me where I had to dig my heels in, actually I was standing probably about an inch and a half to two inches closer to the ball than I normally would. So I had to alter my swing plane, I had to flip it and get it up over the lip, hook it back into the wind and somehow get over a tree as well and, ah, I have no idea how I did it. And I made the putt.
SS: And you made the putt. Do you realize your alma mater Stanford has never beaten my alma mater (North Carolina) in a basketball game?