Skip to main content /transcript



Tiger Woods: A Golf Legend

Aired April 15, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: You know earlier this year, some people were talking about Tiger Woods being in a slump. Well you can bet their not talking that way now. Last weekend, he won his second Masters, becoming the first person to hold all four of Golf's professional major titles at the same time. Tiger already had one green jacket in his closet, when he talked with us in June of 1998. It was his first live sit-down interview ever.


KING: How do you choose -- there's so much to talk about -- how do you choose what you play? I will play Kemper. I will not play Buick. How do you -- what's the determining factor?

WOODS: One is whether I've played there or not before; whether I like the place, or if the golf course suit miss game. A lot of different factors goes into it. But it also has a lot to do with the majors, and gearing up for the majors. I like to have my game peeking for those things.

KING: Does that mean you'll play the week before a major?

WOODS: I usually take the week off before a major.

KING: Some used to play it, right?

WOODS: Some like to play there way into shape, play two, three weeks in a row into a major, and others like to just go off in seclusion and get ready that way.

KING: Do you ever wonder looking back how all of this happened to you? I mean, you're obviously superb at the sport, but all this attention so young. Do you ever think to yourself, where did this come from?

WOODS: You know, I do. I really do, because it's wild. When I go grocery shopping -- I mean, run my cart up and down the aisles and people recognize me. The wildest thing that ever happened was, my friends and I were going to -- where were we going -- to a Clipper game.

KING: A Clipper game.

WOODS: A Clipper game. And we were driving along in the car about 25 miles an hour. It was at night and we're driving along and people recognized me. I mean, that was wild.

KING: That flips you?

WOODS: That was wild, yeah.

KING: All right, do you ever think too much too soon? Maybe I am having too much of this? I know you're a very composed guy and obviously mature, but do you ever think to yourself this is maybe a lot for -- you're 22. That's a kid.

WOODS: Yeah, I know. I think I would have said yes last year. But now I have gotten used to it in a sense, because last year right after I won the Masters is when it was just berserk. I went on vacation down in Mexico and couldn't have fun and left. Then my first tournament back, which was the Byron Nelson, it was unbelievable.

KING: Following you around?

WOODS: Unbelievable.

KING: Do you lose all privacy, right?

WOODS: You know, I've learned how to, I guess, get my privacy in different ways.

KING: Like?

WOODS: What I mean by that is, when I go out in public, obviously, I'm in public and I really can't have the private time that I would like. But I've learned how to, I guess, in a sense manipulate things -- my life. I stay in places that are in private. I go to places with my friends that are in private, so we can have fun that way.

KING: But you do -- for every plus there's a minus -- give up some part of you life?

WOODS: Oh, yeah.

KING: Cause guys your age like to go hang around the shop and kid around and stand on the corner and have some laughs in the shopping center. You can't do that.

WOODS: Well, first of all, I don't like to shop.

KING: You don't like to shop?

WOODS: I hate shopping.

KING: You wear Armani suits and great looking ties. For yourselves you like to go to the store?

WOODS: No. I send in the measurements, they can send it. I hate shopping you, let me tell you. I hate it.

KING: Let's go back. When -- we have those famous pictures we've seen of you as a child, like Wayne Gretzky on skates. When did you start hitting the ball?

WOODS: I started when I was about nine months. Yeah, just hopped out of my walker, and I was swinging.

KING: You are a natural golfer, or you're putting me on?

WOODS: No, I watched my dad hit balls. We had one of those El Nino years I guess when I was born.

KING: You were born where?

WOODS: Here in California -- Southern Cal. I think it was -- it would be, obviously, '76 when my dad was...

KING: This famous picture here -- you're how old here?

WOODS: Here I'm about three or four.

KING: OK. And you liked what you were doing? I mean, were you consciously aware, I am going to hit the ball? I am going for a hole? I'm trying to knock it in?

WOODS: I absolutely loved it. I loved hitting the golf ball. I loved competing, and I loved more than anything being with my dad and doing these things and trying to beat him, because he was pretty good.

KING: Would you say you had a, for want of a better term, a natural affinity for the game?

WOODS: As far as -- yeah, I did. I did. My dad -- during this El Nino year he built, as you saw on screen, an indoor little net and mat and that's how I watched. I watched my dad hit balls. And we got so bad that my mom would want to take me out for a feeding and I would cry and kick and throw a hissy fit. So what she would do is my dad would be here, hit a golf ball, I would watch the golf ball go in the net, and she would feed me. And that's how I learned the game.

KING: How did Eldrick become Tiger?

WOODS: Both names were given to me when I was born.

KING: Your middle name was Tiger?

WOODS: Yeah. My dad gave that to me, and my mom gave me Eldrick, which is a combination of my mom's name and my dad's name.

KING: Does she still call you Eldrick?

WOODS: No, no.

KING: So who calls you Eldrick?

WOODS: Who calls me Eldrick?

KING: Anyone call you Eldrick? WOODS: Any people who ever do are teachers, when they didn't know. Then they didn't know. And I'd say, can I please be called Tiger.

KING: Do you know why they picked Tiger?

WOODS: Yeah, yeah. My dad had a Vietnamese counterpart. My dad was in the Green Berets...

KING: I know.

WOODS: ... and his counterpart was nicknamed Tiger, 'cause of his instincts and he save my dad's life on a number of occasion. And when Nam fell they lost touch with one another, and I was born probably about a year and a half later. And in honor of him I was given the name.

KING: Have they ever heard from him?

WOODS: We found out, actually, at the beginning of this year that he died of starvation.

KING: Starvation?

WOODS: Yeah, in a concentration camp, yeah.

KING: We'll be back with Tiger Woods. He's with us for the full hour. Later your phone calls on LARRY KING. Don't go away.



WOODS: ... truly understand and appreciate what I had accomplished, I don't think I'm going to know for quite some time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pulled it right at the hole, look out...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh what a fight we're having this afternoon...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiger Woods -- oh. There it is. As good as it gets. Tiger has his slam.




KING: Did you ever think early on about why there was so few of your color in the game? I mean, or were you too young? Were you not conscious of that?

WOODS: I realized it later on in life. I would say late -- not too late. I am not that old yet. But when it first hit home that I was not accepted probably when I was about 5, 4 years old -- 4, 5 years old when a guy at the golf course I was playing at...

KING: Playing at four.

WOODS: At 4 years old -- the military base, came over to me and said -- he called me the "N" word and said...

KING: Really?

WOODS: And said "we don't allow any of you out here." My dad was over on the putting green so he just kind of shoed me off. I went over and told my dad. My dad came over -- talked to him -- had a little altercation. Next thing I know I was kicked off and banned from the golf course because of the color of my skin.

KING: What did that do to you?

WOODS: It makes you grow up. It makes you understand that people view other people in different ways. It's not because of their personality. They don't know them, but sometimes unfortunately it's because of the color of their skin.

KING: Prejudice is idiotic. When it happens to you directly like that, though, how do you emotionally deal with it? Why should someone not let me play golf because I am a little darker than that? It's crazy.

WOODS: It's funny because -- I mean, no offense but some white people like to dry and get dark and tan.

KING: They go buy Coppertone all the time.

WOODS: Exactly. Here we already are. No. But I think unfortunately, it is part of our society and it is there. But more than anything, that really inspired me.

KING: And those blacks on the tour, Charlie Seaford who -- Lee Elder, rather.

WOODS: Yeah.

KING: Lee Elder, they had overcome. Your predecessors your Jackie Robinson's had overcome a lot.

WOODS: What they had to grin and bear and get through and maintain dignity, because if they didn't do that they would have kicked them off.

KING: The tournament you won, the famed Masters, blacks couldn't play it.

WOODS: Yeah.

KING: Not too long ago.

WOODS: Yeah 1975 was the first time Lee Elder played.

KING: Yeah. Did you feel -- was that part of that win too, did you feel it sort of yes.

WOODS: When I was walking up 18, a number of emotions go me but one of them was you know what, thank you guys, I was thanking them as I was walking up. There was a couple of moments when I...

KING: Black golfers before you?

WOODS: Yeah, Charlie and Lee, because I know those two and Teddy Rhodes (ph), a number of others.

KING: Thanks -- that's nice that you remembered.

WOODS: Hey, it's because of them, I was there.

KING: Were you -- what was the best part early that told you I can play this game? In other words, was there an aspect? Was it your swing, was it something -- if I'd have seen you when you were 12, I would have said -- because people say -- they saw Gretzky at 10 and they said this guy can skate. This guy can play. What did you have that I would have spotted at 12?

WOODS: You know, I think probably my swing in general because it just tends to flow. I mean, it's hard. I swing pretty hard at it but I have always done that my entire life even for a kid my age. The club just tended to flow in my hands.

KING: Is that some -- is that genes, your father played? WOODS: I have just been lucky enough where I was blessed with that, I guess. I don't know. I am not against it.

KING: Our guest is Tiger Woods. We'll be back with more. Don't go away.




KING: Our guest is Tiger Woods. He's the biggest money earner in golf. Since he has been playing, I guess, you lead for the last year. This year you have got $1,284,295.

WOODS: I'll be about fourth on the list right now.

KING: Fourth on the list. First last year though?

WOODS: First last year.

KING: This money, though, is incidental to what you do make, though, right?

The rewards away from the course?

WOODS: The awards away from the course aren't too bad.

KING: What do you make of that that so much is open in the world of endorsements?

WOODS: You know what, I like it.


WOODS: No. Unfortunately, because of all of that, there is a price to pay. Obviously, you have got to do it days and appearances here. That adds up.

KING: But it -- is it -- is it kind of weird know that you can make a lot more not doing what you like to do?

WOODS: You know, I look at it this way, it's a spinoff. By doing what I love to do, I get rewards from that. And that's through my endorsements.

KING: How do you choose what you endorse?

WOODS: How do I choose? One, reputable companies -- companies I feel comfortable with. I think those two are probably the biggest part of the criteria, because if I don't feel comfortable then I don't want to work with them. I don't want to be associated with them and I won't be happy.

KING: Do you get a lot of offers?

WOODS: Yeah, we have got a number of them, yeah. It's been very interesting.

KING: Do you ever fear too much? I am doing too much?

WOODS: Yeah, you know I did, initially. We did a few (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's why we took it slow. I have taken it very slow. Right now we have got a moratorium that enough is enough. We're just going to concentrate on what I have got now. My plate's pretty full. are there courses for -- there's a term in horse-racing, "horses for courses" -- are there golfers for courses?

WOODS: Yes, no doubt about it.

KING: A course that you'd be very good at. A course that would give you a problem. Which would be a course that would be problemsome for your style of game?

WOODS: Problemsome. I think anything in which you narrow the fairways down about 260, 270.

KING: 'Cause you're a long hitter.

WOODS: I like to hit the ball long, and that would also negate a lot of other long hitters, too, like Ernie Ells, Davis Love, Fred Couples, you would handcuff them as well. But courses I love, I love courses with tough greens.

KING: Meaning.

WOODS: Saint Augusta, Oakmont...

KING: Tough meaning...

WOODS: A lot of slopes, lot of undulations, and where you gotta hit a lot of different shots, you've gotta be very creative. I love playing that way.

KING: Would you say as a player you are, as Palmer was, a risk- taker? "I'll try this shot on the 17th. The closing day, I'm three behind, I'm gonna go"?

WOODS: Well, if you wanna win, you gotta go.

KING: Not all golfers want to win, by the way. Some golfers are very happy to make the cut, play par, and take a check.

WOODS: Yes, but that's not the way I am. I've always been a person who does anything to win. And if that means, like at Pebble Beach last year, I was at the time one shot back or even -- yeah -- one shot back, and I went forward on 18 from 276 into the wind and knocked it on the green. Sometimes I pull it off and other times I don't, but if you want to win, you gotta go.

KING: When you don't play well on those occasions, and not many that you don't play well, do you learn from that?

WOODS: Oh, yeah, no doubt about that. You should learn something from each and every round you play.

KING: You learn more when you lose than when you win?

WOODS: Depends how you lose. If you play well and lose, then I think sometimes you learn less, but if you obviously have a debacle, and really throw up all over yourself and lose that way, then obviously you're gonna learn an awful lot about yourself.

KING: Thing about golf is, Jack Gleason once told me, it's the great humbler. Right? If you're feeling that you own the world, go shoot a game of golf.

WOODS: Oh, no doubt about it.

KING: What is it -- what is the fascination of that stick and a little ball and a cup?

WOODS: I think a variety of different things, conditions are always changing, scenery's always changing, and one, you can never master the game. Simple as that.

KING: You never -- there's no perfect round.

WOODS: None, un-huh, none. I mean, you can hit the ball -- it's one of the only games in which you can go out there and play your absolute best and still not shoot as good a score as when you played horrible. It's odd.

KING: Tiger Woods is the guest. We'll be right back with more calls. Don't go away.







KING: He's won nine tournaments since turning pro. His Masters score 270, 18 under par, is a record. He finished 1997 with five victories, a record for the PGA tour, over $2 million. He is -- was the 1997 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, the 1996 "Sports Illustrated" Sportsman of the Year, had a great amateur career winning six national championships. His endorsement deals have made major news for Nike, and Titlist, and Rolex, and Wheaties, and American Express. His father was a Green Beret; he's a new book out.

You rarely see criticism except for the John Feinstein book. How have you reacted to that, in which he has made it as if you have, I guess, too much too quick, and are now above it?

WOODS: You know I don't know, because he doesn't know me.

KING: You never met him.

WOODS: I know him now, but I wouldn't call him a good friend or anything, but I know him through, like, an acquaintance, but it's very interesting because this is a guy who observes from the outside, never has a chance to get to know me and then goes ahead and takes shots at me. Kinda interesting.

KING: He never sat down to do an interview with you.

WOODS: No. He did an article for "Newsweek" from his home -- or somewhere on the East Coast, I don't know where it is.

KING: He lives in the East Coast.

WOODS: Yeah, he did his article from there and never actually went to Milwaukee, when I turned pro, to write the article.

KING: He wrote that, "the Masters elevated you to a level of fame no athlete has ever -- other than Muhammad Ali -- ever achieved. People who knew nothing about golf suddenly cared about the sport. They stopped to watch Tiger. He signed endorsement contracts. He blew off the president of the United States and Rachel Robinson, the widow of the century's most important athlete. Made no apologies. He didn't have to; he was Tiger."

WOODS: Well...

KING: No reaction, other than "that's interesting".

WOODS: No, it's just, y'know, it's very interesting, very interesting to -- because, one is, the president asked me to come to Mr. Robinson's ceremony.

KING: Anniversary.

WOODS: Yeah, ceremony up in...

KING: New York.

WOODS: ... New York the day I won the Masters. And he said it was so important that I should be there. I was just wondering if it was so important why didn't he actually ask me before, instead of jump on the bandwagon right when I won? And that really bothered me.

KING: Really? Did he call you personally, the president?

WOODS: Yeah, he did, and I've always honored Robinson. I've read all the books. I know all about him, and I figured, you know what, I would rather -- I'm more of a private person, I'd rather celebrate his occasion within my heart, and I was.

KING: How does a 22-year-old say "no" to the president of the United States?

WOODS: I just -- that's just me. I'm -- it's not that I'm saying "no" to the president of the United States. I'm saying "no" to the way he approached it.

KING: Did you tell him the reason? Did you say, "Why didn't you call Saturday?"

WOODS: Well I was just -- I just did a press conference, and I was walking out, signing a whole bunch of autographs, and here he was right on the phone.

KING: Did you know you'd take some shots that are that?

WOODS: I take shots for everything I do.

KING: How are you reacting to -- other than interesting, there has to be some emotional conflict to read yourself knocked at this age?

WOODS: Oh God, I've been knocked for a lot of different reasons all of my life. And I guess this is no exception, but, you know, I -- know what I did. And I'm gonna stick with it because I honor Mr. Robinson in my heart and I always will.

One other thing in the Feinstein book that bothered me and I wonder how you reaction to it when he talks about your interest in commercials and you turn out to be a 22-year-old who stamps his foot when he doesn't get his way, stalks angrily off golf courses if he shoots 74. How do you react to that?

WOODS: Well he'd be mad if he shot 74, too. Well, maybe not.

KING: That's right, oh boy, that day I shot 74 on the first hole, I got mad.

WOODS: But it's amazing how people like to take shots when they don't really know you.

KING: That still surprises you, right?

WOODS: Yeah. I can -- fine, go ahead and take shots at me. And if you really get to know me, you know me, what I believe in, my principles and if you disagree with that, that's fine, but if you don't know 'em, I don't think you really have the right to do that.


KING: More highlights from Tiger Woods' first live sit-down interview when we return.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnny, that's better than most. How about -- that's better than most, better than most.





WOODS: There you go. There's your fade. Give me five, come on, give me some. All right, well done.



KING: Let's take some calls for the great Tiger Woods. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. King and Mr. Woods.



CALLER: It's a real privilege to talk to you, Tiger, and my teacher and I often discuss golf, and we were wondering what is it like to be a role model, and do you find it to be quite a burden?

KING: Good question.

WOODS: It's a great question. Do I find it to be a burden?

KING: Because you are a role model.

WOODS: You know, I think it's awesome, I really do, because it's not too often you actually get a chance to influence a lot of people in a good way, and if you have that opportunity I think you should take it. Anyone should be -- anyone who's living should be a role model in some way, shape or form. And if I'm in a position where I can influence more than one person, you know, I'm gonna take advantage of that.

KING: Therefore, you think you owe the a public more than just playing good golf. You owe them a stable life, you owe them...

WOODS: No, I don't owe them. I want to give back to them. That's the -- there's a big difference. Owing somebody seems like, y'know, they've given a lot to me.

KING: Do you feel that you're an influence on young blacks?

WOODS: Young children.

KING: Just young children.

WOODS: Young children; I don't...

KING: Don't you think you've attracted a lot of more blacks to the game itself?

WOODS: Yeah, I think I've attracted minorities to the game, but I think, you know what? Why limit it to just that? I think -- I think you should be able to influence people in general, not just -- don't limit it to just one race or social economic background, they should limit it -- everybody, everybody should be in the fold.

KING: Do you play against you, or do you play against Meese or Funk?

WOODS: You always play against yourself. You try and beat yourself, trying to beat the golf course. There are two opponents in the game, yourself and the golf course. If you can somehow combat those two, you'll do all right.

KING: The age-old question. There have been some great -- Ken Harrelson was a great baseball player and a terrific golfer, and he won all the baseball and golf tournaments and he'd shoot in the 60s and he'd played -- so you decide he's on the pro tour and he gets wiped out; what happened? It's still the same club, the same ball; what happened?

WOODS: Sometimes there is a mental block up there and if you can't get over the fact of where you are now and still relax and go ahead and let it flow from you, then sometimes you're going to have some problems.

KING: So, in other words, it's easy when the competition is just a baseball player who is playing ball, but it would affect you if it's Nicholas?

WOODS: Exactly. I think sometimes people get caught up in who they're playing, rather than going out and playing the golf course.

KING: What's it feel like to play with legends?

WOODS: It's unbelievable. It's a great feeling. I'll tell you a great story. I think it was my last Masters, I was 18, I played -- no, I was 20, sorry -- I played with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas on Wednesday of the Masters, played all day and then I was fortunate to go out there on the par 3 contest and played with them for another nine more holes. I got to play 27 holes with two of the greatest players to ever play the game.

KING: What did you talk about?

WOODS: We talked about different -- a number of different things. I kept asking them questions, I was so excited. We were playing skins and also giving each other the needle at times, too

KING: And who won?

WOODS: Jack did. Jack birdied the last hole and took all of the skins from us, as always.

KING: Rancho Cucamonga, California.



CALLER: Hi, Larry, hi Tiger.



CALLER: I'm a great fan of both of you.

KING: Thank you.

WOODS: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is for Tiger. With your recent success, how have you been treated with the other players on the tour?

KING: Good question. How are you treated? You get all the attention?

WOODS: At first there was a little bit of jealousy, no doubt about that. I was getting a lot of hype and some of my endorsement deals were reported in the public and most people are going to read them and know about them, and yes, there was a little jealousy out there.

I hadn't hit a shot yet and I got what I got and so, yeah, plus also, they didn't know me as a person. They see this little kid come out there and playing, but I proved to them that I could play the game. I won, I think in my fifth or sixth start, I won in Vegas, then I won two weeks later in Disney, so I won two times, got in the tour championship. So I proved to them that I could play the game out there with them.

KING: What was your first tournament, pro?

WOODS: As a pro? L.A. Open. Sorry. As a pro? Milwaukee.

KING: First shot, first tee, first day.

WOODS: Yeah.

KING: What was that like?

WOODS: I hit it 315 yards right down the middle.

KING: Were you nervous?

WOODS: Oh, God, I couldn't breathe, made a birdie, too.

KING: Golfers always remember shots.


KING: Do you talk to fellow golfers when you play?

WOODS: Sometimes. I don't talk very much. I'm very into my own world, concentrating focusing, and just trying to take care of business.

KING: And you're also very -- you emphasize what you do -- you're happy to hit a good shot?

WOODS: Yes. No doubt about it.

KING: You don't just walk calmly into a good day?

WOODS: I don't see how you cannot -- for me, the way I am, I don't know how you cannot show emotion when you hit a good shot or make a great putt or do something out of the ordinary and spectacular. How can you not feel good about yourself?

KING: How about the reverse, when you hit a bad shot?

WOODS: I think it's one of those things that you can't have one without the other, and unfortunately, I show a little emotion that way too.

KING: Have you ever broken a club?

WOODS: No, I've never broken a club. No.

KING: What was the most frustrating you ever felt on a golf course? WOODS: Most frustrating. Oh God.

KING: You ever not finish a round?

WOODS: Out of anger. No, never done that. I play all the way through. If you start, you've got to finish it, but there are times when you think, I could be in another place now.

KING: Do you ever have like those eight-shot bogey, where you hit the water, you hit the rock, you hit the sand dune?

WOODS: Oh God. I've had a number of those. Unfortunately some of them are during tournaments.




KING: Orange County, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and...

KING: Tiger.

CALLER: And Tiger. Thanks for taking my call. Sorry about that. I want to share just a quick story with you, and then follow it up with a question. We were at the L.A. Open over a year ago in `97. My grandmother, my mother-in-law, I'm sorry, my mother-in-law faxed a letter to Tiger about my son.

My son had just had brain surgery and what he had been going through and that he was a fan of golf and that he was a fan of Tiger's. We were at the earn tournament, which was a Saturday. We got home that night and I just want to tell you what kind of individual this man is and what kind of heart he has.

We were sitting at the dinner table eating dinner. Tiger Woods called our house to see how my son was doing after he had brain surgery, during a tournament at the L.A. Open, which is one of the biggest ones there is. So Tiger I want to thank you again for that. I still share that story to this day and it's really nice. My question is:

WOODS: My pleasure.

CALLER: My question is: when and if you have children, will encourage them to play sports and specifically, golf?

WOODS: Yeah, I would. I would encourage them to play sports, but more than anything is, you have to understand -- I think as a job of a parent, you should always try and provide your kid with opportunity to do whatever they want to do. Play sports, going to academics, going to music.

KING: Your kids when they come though, they're going to have some enormous breaks that most kids don't have, right?

WOODS: You never know. Maybe not. Maybe they are actually going to have to work harder.

KING: But they're certainly not going to -- you probably think about these things already; their finances are going to be OK?

WOODS: Their finances are going to be good, but, you know what, they don't own that money. That's what my dad taught me. Hey dad, we're doing fine. What is this we stuff. I'm doing fine. How much do you have?

KING: Do you want to get married and have a family?

WOODS: Do I want to? No. It'll happen.

KING: You don't want to?

WOODS: I'll surrender one day. No, I'm just kidding.

KING: Do you like life as a single man too much?

WOODS: Life is pretty good now, but eventually when I'm ready.

KING: Is it hard to date a lot when you're four days here, over there, back over there in another city?

WOODS: It's just very difficult to get to know somebody. For me, I think, I'll find somebody through a friend of a friend.

KING: Tiger, you've got to meet this girl?

WOODS: Something like that, because it's -- right now it's too busy. I'm traveling all over the place and it's very hard to meet many people. KING: Life is always full of goals. What's yours?

WOODS: Mine, ultimately? To be the best.

KING: You want to be known as the best to ever play this game?

WOODS: Just to be the best. Whether it's to play the game, or the best I can be or the best to play -- whatever it is, I just want to be the best.

KING: The best you can be, you want to join the Army.

WOODS: My dad was there; that's good enough for me.

KING: Do you have a particular tournament that you say, that's one I want to win?

WOODS: All four Majors.

KING: You've got one... WOODS: They're pretty nice. I would like to get the grand slam one day, but as of right now, you know, I don't ever see it changing that every tournament I've teed up and that's my priority, that moment.


KING: When we come back, our February 2001 interview with Tiger Woods, his thoughts on whether he achieved the Grand Slam and much more. Stay with us.


KING: Welcome back. Much as I'd like to, I can't sit in an interviewer's chair seven days a week, and sometimes I have to hand it over to a guest host, and that was the case in February when Tiger Woods came on the show. Asking the questions: Sarah, duchess of York.


SARAH FERGUSON, HOST: Could you please explain to me a bit about golf, you know, that thing do you, you know?

WOODS: You mean chase a little white ball and work on my farmer's tan?



WOODS: That thing? All right.

FERGUSON: Yes. I mean, I'm very interested about all -- they are talking about the Grand Slam.

WOODS: Right.

FERGUSON: And they're saying if you win the Masters this year, then will it count as the Grand Slam.

WOODS: Will it count or won't it? In my opinion, I think it would count. To be able to hold all four majors -- the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA -- all concurrently I think is the Grand Slam. But a lot of people have a different opinions on that. People think you have to win it in the same calendar year.

Mine would not encompass that. It would encompass two years. But if you hold all four same at the time, I think that's the Grand Slam. But that is just my opinion.

FERGUSON: But, Tiger, isn't it the most extraordinary achievement? I mean, to win what you have won is -- I mean, it's not been done since the 1950s, is that right?

WOODS: Right. You know, Hogan won three in one year. Could I do that again? I don't know. Hopefully, I can get my game ready for Augusta. And that's what I'm trying to peak for right now. I'm trying to get everything situated so that my game will rise to a level that I would like to he see it at by April.

And it is just pretty neat. I'm working on a few things right now. I'm seeing some new exciting things in my game come along. And I can't wait for all this to gel. And hopefully it will gel by April.

FERGUSON: When you are walking do the last final tee -- the 18th tee, and fans are shouting at you and you are being mobbed, how do you deal with it, when you don't -- you can't shake?

WOODS: Well, sometimes it is a little loud. I mean, they hurt your eardrums sometimes. And that is the honest-to-God truth, is that sometimes they yell so loud that your eardrums are ringing by the time you tee off. But, you know, you got to put all that aside. You've got to...

FERGUSON: How do you put it aside, Tiger, because...

WOODS: You know, I stay in the present, I focus on what I need to accomplish right now. One of the great things that Harvey Penick -- one of the late teachers -- what he said that is when you are over a golf shot, that should be most important thing in your life at that moment in time. And that is the kind of concentration you need have and the discipline you need to have.

So with that being said, everything else is shunned away and put aside. You focus on what you want to accomplish right here and now. After you do that, then you go ahead and let your mind wander if you want.

FERGUSON: And once you are standing over the ball and you say, right, you've cleared the way and you are going towards victory, how does it actually feel?

WOODS: Very rewarding to be able to walk up -- to be able to walk up the last hole and knowing the fact that you've beat everybody in the field that week -- and especially in a major championship, walking up the last hole, knowing the fact that you have already won the tournament, all you need to do is stay alive.


WOODS: That is a great feeling, because you worked, you know, all your life to get to this moment. Like, for instance, the last year at the British Open, to complete the Slam, I had to win at St. Andrews, the home of golf. And then going up the last hole, I had an eight-shot lead. And all I needed was just stay alive and just keep my heart beating and I could win the tournament.

And to walk up that last hole at the home of golf, and seeing the amphitheater and all great the champions that have walked up there, it just sent chills down my spine. And I said: You know what? I have a -- this is very special. And this is something that all kids should dream about.

And I was actually able to make a childhood dream come true.

FERGUSON: But I remember you saying that you had some -- a long time ago, many years ago, you said: Oh, listen, I'm really going to get to work on my British -- on the links courses.

WOODS: That is right.

FERGUSON: And I remember you saying that to me.

WOODS: That is right.

FERGUSON: And so when you walked up last year, it was just like, I was watching the telly going: Yes, he did it! He did it!

But it's such an example because you say you can improve every year.

WOODS: You know, it's something that I try to do. You know, December 31, if I can say that I'm a better player now than I was January 1 of the same year, then it was a successful year, because, in the end, if you keep doing that each and every year, you are going to have one heck of a career.

FERGUSON: More next: legacy and golf tips.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's looking dangerous unless it carries -- carries. Oh, it did. How about that?


Oh, well done. Well done.





LEE JANZEN, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I'm just marveled by his drive, you know, where he gets that from. You know, I know he wants to be the No. 1 player in the world. I just don't know why.



FRED FUNK, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Two weeks ago in Phoenix, I saw on the computer he was beating me in driving accuracy, and I said, hey, Tiger you're beating me in driving accuracy so far with one round to go. And he's just kind of shaking his head and he's walking away, and I say, "Feel pretty good about yourself, don't you?" And he says, "Yeah, I do."



MARK O'MEARA, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Thing is, you know, he can beat be on the golf course pretty bad like he beats all the other guys. But I'm definitely beating him in fishing and fly-fishing. He needs to go a little bit to catch me on the river.



FERGUSON: I love that. I mean, that is just like so cool.

WOODS: That is.

FERGUSON: You know, just shows that every -- off the course, you're all great friends.

WOODS: Yes, we all are. We compete against each other, try and beat each other's brains in when we're playing. But off the golf course, everything is put aside.

FERGUSON: And your mom didn't -- I don't know -- please say if I'm wrong. But didn't she say that, Tiger, when you're on the golf course, you just go for it and you just go out there to win, and when you're off, after the game, that's when the sportsmanship comes about?

WOODS: That's exactly it. You carry yourself in a competitive atmosphere. You compete as hard as you possibly can while you're playing, and you give it absolutely everything you have. You have nothing left in the tank. When it's done, hey, shake hands, let's be friends. Let's go out, have dinner, go hang out.

FERGUSON: Go fishing.

WOODS: Go fishing.

FERGUSON: Try to beat him at fishing.

WOODS: I try and beat him at fishing, but you know...


WOODS: ... he's so much better than I am. I'm probably about an -- probably an eight to 10 handicap in fishing, in fly-fishing.

FERGUSON: Well, that's good.

WOODS: That's not bad, but you know, he's a scratch. Mark's a scratch. He's pretty good.

FERGUSON: Now, when you want to sort of take advice and go and chat with someone about that, do you go to your -- to Mr. Nicklaus or not?

WOODS: Not really, no. You know, Jack and I have had numerous conversations about a lot of different subjects. And it has been great to be able to pick his brain. We see eye to eye. We have this weird connection that we can -- we understand each other pretty well.

FERGUSON: And do you often play with him?

WOODS: I try to. I try as much as I possibly can to play as many rounds as I possibly can. I was very fortunate to play with him in his last PGA at Valhalla last year in the first two rounds. I mean, that was a dream come true to be able to play and compete against him, you know, eye to eye, even though he had a -- just an amazing tragedy the day before.

His mother passed away. And he played anyways, which I don't know how he did. He went out there and he tried as hard as he could. I mean, it was traditional. It was just the epitome of what you had always thought of what Jack does in competition: He blocks everything out and competes. And that is exactly what he did. I mean, it was weird to see it face to face, because I had never seen it before.

FERGUSON: That is exactly what you have been saying in this hour today. You have been saying: Listen, you have just got to focus and just get out there and do it.

WOODS: I mean, you have a certain amount of time to hit a shot. And you focus on that shot. And that is it. It was just...

FERGUSON: That's the amazing achievement.

WOODS: It was absolutely extraordinary to see in person.

FERGUSON: Both of you together must have been really an extraordinary moment.

WOODS: Yes, we had a lot of fun. To be able to walk up -- we were walking off the 18th tee on Friday afternoon. And it -- we saw the board on 17. And it looked like he had to make birdie to make the cut. And so I walked off the tee with him. And I said: "You know, Jack, why don't we finish this off in the correct way?"


WOODS: Come on, let's finish it off the right way.


WOODS: And he and I both knew that means birdie on the last hole. And he says, "All right, let's go do it."

So I get up there, I hit my ball in the bunker. I blast it out, make birdie. He hits it, spins it back, almost makes eagle, makes birdie. So we both made birdie on the last hole. And that is one of the greatest stories of all time. And...

FERGUSON: I love that story.

WOODS: I was actually -- it was so neat to be a part of it and to experience it and just watch it.

FERGUSON: You know what's amazing about that, is that you both were determined to achieve that. You both said: Right, come on. Let's do birdie on this.

WOODS: That is right. And we didn't want to let other one show the other person up. And so, you know, you had to accomplish your end of the bargain.

FERGUSON: But, for people watching who do play golf, they would say: Right, look, they focused. They said they are going for birdie. And they did it.

WOODS: Yes. And it was a cool thing to be able to be a part of.

FERGUSON: And that's like, if they want to reduce their handicap -- if you want to reduce your handicap, get out there, disciplined practice...

WOODS: That's right.

FERGUSON: And go for it.

WOODS: That's right. You get out of it what you put into it. And if you have the discipline, the work ethic, it's amazing how the things will just unfold naturally.

FERGUSON: Who else has been -- who is the next person you would like to play with and to have that kind of challenge with?

WOODS: There are so many great players in the world right now, so many good young players.

FERGUSON: Who do you think is hot on your heels?

WOODS: There's a lot of players, actually. I mean, there are a lot of great young players that are right there, who are in their 20s and early 30s, that golf is going to be in for a great treat over the next 20 years in this generation that we are competing in. And we are going to go head to head. There's probably about 10 of us. We're going to head to head for the next 10, 15, 20 years.


KING: Sounds Like Tiger's expecting some incredible golf in the years ahead, and so are we. And we're looking forward to talking with him lots, too.

Thanks for watching LARRY KING WEEKEND; have a great rest of the weekend. Good night.



Back to the top