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CNN International: Living Golf Interview with Tiger Woods

Aired March 3, 2011 - 06:32   ET


ANNOUNCER: LIVING GOLF, in time with Rolex.

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN HOST: A one-on-one with Tiger.


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: My life is certainly a lot more balanced and where it needs to be now than it was then.

O'DONOGHUE: Do you feel ready to win?

WOODS: Absolutely.



In an exclusive interview, Tiger Woods on his game.


WOODS: I'm learning different philosophy from what I had with Hank.




O'DONOGHUE: His ambition.


WOODS: You can win events all over the world, you can win a hundred events, but it's about what you do in the biggest ones.


O'DONOGHUE: And his life.


WOODS: Well, we've moved on. We've moved forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'DONOGHUE: Also on this edition of LIVING GOLF, fresh ideas on coaching children, with or without clubs.




O'DONOGHUE: When Tiger Woods returned to competitive action at last April's Masters after all the trauma and scandal surrounding his personal life, several questions still hung in the air. Some have since been answered. He and Elin are no longer married. He failed to win any tournaments during the rest of the year.

But one or two questions still remain.

And in terms of his golf, it's whether he can recover his powers, become once more the supreme force in the game. And, perhaps, even prove himself to be the greatest of all time.

I sat down with Tiger at the Emirates Golf Club.


O'DONOGHUE: Tiger, Welcome to LIVING GOLF. Great to have you hear in Dubai.

WOODS: Thank you.

O'DONOGHUE: Must be nice to be back.

WOODS: It is. It is, thank you.

O'DONOGHUE: What about you and your golf game right now. Where are you?

WOODS: Obviously, making changes, that's the hope. So, in the process of sort of learning and trying to refine it.

O'DONOGHUE: So, you're working with Sean Foley. He's a coach with a great reputation. Talk to us about the work that you're doing together.

WOODS: Well, it's quite a bit. It's learning a different philosophy from what I had with Hank. And it just takes time. He's very energetic. He knows a lot about a lot. Well -- very well read. And it's fun to pick his brain about a lot of different subjects.

O'DONOGHUE: Who's driving who harder?

WOODS: He doesn't have to worry about driving me, that's for sure. It's -- I'm trying to get where I know I can play the game, the level I know I can play it, and certainly he's trying to help me get there. O'DONOGHUE: So, what kind of work are you doing together? Is it full on for weeks at a time, certainly, in advance of tournaments when you're getting your real preparations together?

WOODS: No, not necessarily. Not necessarily, because he still -- he still travels quite a bit with the guys on tour. Still works with other players. So, it's trying to get time here and there. We don't need a lot of time together, because we'll work on the same things. I just need to get better at doing it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go get them, Tiger.




O'DONOGHUE: What's it like to be back, now, because it looks like you're going to have a full calendar this year of events that you wish to play in.

WOODS: Absolutely. It's -- that's what I was looking forward to. I was looking forward to it, and sort of getting into the rhythm of playing. Playing events, preparing for events, and it's going to be fun.

O'DONOGHUE: So, what specifically are you working on in your whole game at the moment? Is it all through the bag? Where are you, right now?

WOODS: We're working on a grip takeaway, arm position, body position, on my back, on my down, through positions, footwork, a lot of stuff.

O'DONOGHUE: And the short game, in particular, is always an area that you've excelled at. Where do you see yourself right now with that?

WOODS: Well, I've made a change there, as well. Because I don't want to have two different swings, so having the full swing, the short game's got to mimic what I'm doing on the full swing. So, I've had to make a bit of a change there, as well, and the same for the putting stroke.

O'DONOGHUE: The putting is, obviously, somewhere where you have been really dominant. At the moment, obviously, it's maybe, perhaps a weaker area of your game that you want to improve on. What are you doing, exactly, with your putting?

WOODS: I putted well last tournament I played in. At Torrey, I really hit a lot of good putts. Had one good day -- well, actually, a couple of good days when I really played well, so that's not something I'm worried about right now. I feel like I'm really -- I'm rolling them -- I'm rolling it pretty good. I'm hitting all my lines.

So, that's something I didn't do last year, I didn't have the right speed, wasn't hitting my lines properly. But last tournament I played in a couple of weeks ago, it was very good.





O'DONOGHUE: You've been described by Peter Thompson, the five- time Open champion as the greatest 20-foot putter of all time. It's something that you clearly relish, when it comes to the crunch and when it comes to those very pressurized situations. You've always seemed to deliver. Is that something you can tap into and bring to the surface, now, the next time you get into contention?

WOODS: It's certainly not always I've made those putts. There's certainly a lot more that I've made. But I think the key is always enjoying the position, especially on the last couple of holes when you've got to make a putt.

That's fun. That's why we play, that's why we compete, that's why we practice so hard, is to be in that position. I've made a few here and there over my career.

O'DONOGHUE: Yes, you certainly have. Now, at the moment, we're, I suppose, talking about those who have come through the Tiger era, those who have looked up to you as youngsters and they're coming through now, the real elite ones, like Rory McIlroy Ryo Ishikawa, Rickie Fowler, obviously, and we've got Noh Seung-yul, here, from Korea. What do you make of these younger players that are coming through. The younger generation.

WOODS: I'd have to say that this new crop of players, they're just longer. They hit the ball, certainly, a lot further than what I used to. All these kids hit the ball a long way. Some of them do work the golf ball, but a lot of them just pound it out there.

And it's a different game. Guys don't maneuver the golf ball like they used to, because the ball doesn't move as much. But it'll be interesting to see how these guys mature and to see what happens.

O'DONOGHUE: What's it like, being in this position, now, with regard to the world rankings?

WOODS: Well, I lost it because I didn't win. Plain and simple. You have to win, you have to be consistent. And Lee did that. Before him, it was Vijay. I guess before him was Duval. That's how you got there. You get to number one by finishing high in a lot of events, but you also have to win. And it was certainly something I didn't do, and obviously, Lee has done.

O'DONOGHUE: But is it something that you aspire to, now, perhaps, this year? Is it one of your goals to get back to that number one position?

WOODS: My goal is to just win golf tournaments, and that'll take care of itself. Winning golf tournaments, winning major championships, that'll all take care of itself.

O'DONOGHUE: Got to ask you about Chevron, though. What was it like walking away from that tournament? I mean, you came so close, and everyone, obviously, wanted to see you back in there in the cauldron. You proved that. But not to walk away with --

WOODS: Yes, that was truly disappointing. I had a four-shot lead. And certainly blew it. And -- but the whole year for me, physically, when it comes to making golf shots, came down to the last hole. When I needed it the most, I needed to, obviously, use my new swing. And I hit it to three feet.

And for me, that whole work of the whole year came down to one golf shot, and that was kind of cool, because I've had moments like that in my career, working with Hank, working with Butch. We hit one golf shots, and OK, now -- OK, now I know how to build on this because I -- it happened when I needed it to happen. So, that was good.

So, looking forward to turning the page this year and playing and building. I had that one to rely on, because I've done it before.

O'DONOGHUE: The Masters is, obviously, on the horizon. And you made an incredible comeback there last year. How did you do that, given what had all taken place, to be able to raise your game and perform the way that you did?

WOODS: I still don't know how I did that. It was -- I think it helped coming back to a golf course that I know. I know how to play it, I know where I need to put the golf ball on each and every flag. I know how to play it. And that helped. That helped a lot.

O'DONOGHUE: Have you thought about, though, what it took? Have you analyzed how you managed to actually just bring it all together for that one week, given the lack of tournament play?

WOODS: Yes, that was hard. That was very hard because I wasn't as prepared physically or mentally for the event. As I said, I came back to a golf course that I had success on and I knew how to play it.

And of all the golf courses we play, St. Andrews and probably Augusta are the two golf courses you have to know how to play. You just can't go out there and just hit the golf ball and expect to shoot good numbers. You have to know how to maneuver yourself around the golf course. And coming back to Augusta was nice in that regard.

O'DONOGHUE: What about when it comes to the Masters now, and you talk about these young comers who are out on tour. Do you think they're going to have to change Augusta to cope with them in the future?

WOOD: Well, I think they've done that. They've certainly put in -- put in more length. They've added the second cut. They've cut the grain, now, into us instead of down-grain or even split grain, like they used to. The fairway length has increased. They don't cut the grass as tight as they used to. All this has slowed the ball down and forced us to hit longer clubs into the greens.

And they've done that. And if you look at the scores, it reflects that. They haven't been as low. On Sunday, they do move a few tees up on the back nines to try and get us a chance to make some eagles or make some more birdies. But, generally, the first three days or the first three and a half days, it's tough. And the guys don't really make a lot of birdies.

O'DONOGHUE: There is a special air about the Masters, though. It's a unique tournament, obviously. You've won it four times. It's been a while, 2005, since you've won last. How badly do you want to win another green jacket?

WOODS: Always. I mean, that's something that -- it's fun to win that tournament. And I've enjoyed my wins in the past, and it's a lot of fun, I'll tell you what. It's fun coming up to the 18th green when I knew I was going to win, versus when I have to do something in order to win. To enjoy that walk up the 18 is unlike any other place.

O'DONOGHUE: 1996, when you were still an amateur, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus both reckoned that you would equal or better their combined total, which made 10 green jackets, 10 Masters titles. So, you're on your way there. Are you disappointed that you haven't won more at this stage, given that that's maybe 15 years ago that they came out with that statement?

WOODS: Well, that would've been 10 out 15. That would've been pretty good. I put myself there on a lot of occasions. I've been there in the hunt, and that's something that one has to do in order to win these events. You don't just win a lot by not putting yourself there.

And for instance, Jack, Jack's been there more times than any other person. He had so many seconds, and the reason why he's had so many wins, he was there more than anybody else. That's what you have to do.

O'DONOGHUE: You, obviously, relish, though, being in contention in the Masters. And you've come close on many Sundays since your last win in 2005. Any regrets about some of them that may have slipped by?

WOODS: Absolutely. The year that my dad passed away, I pressed too hard on that back nine, trying to make more putts go, and that was the last tournament my dad ever watched me play.


WOODS: And I made, certainly, too many mistakes on the back nine, and it cost me a championship. And that's something I'll always remember, and certainly one I -- if there's one I do regret, that's certainly that one.


O'DONOGHUE: Next on LIVING GOLF, what's the best way to teach juniors now that Tiger changed the game?


UNIDENTIFED MALE: Fire one in there. Good.

CLAUDE HARMON III, DIRECTOR OF INSTRUCTION, BUTCH HARMON ACADEMY: We're actually getting the pro moves their bodies.

There, good. You've just go to make sure you hit down.


O'DONOGHUE: Plus, more from Tiger on his children, his life, and majors.


ANNOUNCER: LIVING GOLF, in time with Rolex.

O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF. Now, here in Dubai, there are some golf coaches with some interesting theories on how best to teach juniors. And they have one notable advert at this year's Desert Classic.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): But it isn't Tiger. It's Khaled, originally from Jeddah. At just 16, he's qualified to play in the Dubai Desert Classic. He's a product of the Butch Harmon Academy down the road.

KHALED ATTIEH, AGE 16, TRAINS AT BUTCH HARMON ACADEMY: Trying to get stronger, more speed, hit the ball further, more control of the speed, so it's helped me quite a bit. My swing is a little more consistent.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Spread out. Up and hold. Good, good, good, Casper. Hip flexor. Good.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): So, we went down to have a look to see their slightly different approach to coaching juniors.

The clue's in how little time the children spend with a club in their hands. It's much more about building the flexibility and muscles for golf.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Good boy, nice job. OK, knee up.

HARMON: Even though golf is a moving sport, historically, people think it's non-athletic. There's so many things that we ask your body to do from a static, stopped position. We ask you to coordinate all your body parts. We ask you to move your body parts.

Your bad swings are when you go backwards. So we want you to step and move forward that way. Good job.

What's different in the way that we're trying to teach these kids is, rather than tell them to do all of these things in a golf lesson, we're actually getting them to throw, move, jump -- move their body, so that we can say, "Hey, remember that little drill that we had you do where we had you hitting a baseball, or we had you throwing or kicking. That's the exact same thing that we're trying to get you to do when we hit a golf ball."

There, good. You've just got to make sure you hit down.

O'DONOGHUE: And this time is precious. Beyond a certain age, some things just can't be taught or developed.

HARMON: I remember in 1993, when my father started working with Tiger woods, and we'd never seen Tiger before. He came to Houston, Texas, and he'd just lost in the quarter finals of the junior amateur, and he started hitting golf balls.

We'd seen speed before. My dad had seen speed before. We started watching Tiger hit golf balls, and the speed at which his body moved and how hard and how fast he could swing the golf ball was really something we'd never seen before.

Much better. Do it again.

So, up until that point, Earl Woods had done a great job in just teaching Tiger the one thing at 16 that if he didn't have, my dad being the best golf instructor in the world, couldn't teach him. He had speed and he had raw power.

If we could get you do that in your golf swing, and not go backwards and go that way, that would be really good.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): It may look a bit simple, so time to see how my swing measures up.

HARMON: We're going to see if he can do it, OK? So, all the girls get to laugh at our man, here. OK. So, you're going to try and get the feeling. Most of the time, people with their irons, in an effort to try and get their irons in the air, their body goes back, and they try and lift the ball into the air. So we see people that hit behind the golf ball and top the golf ball.

All the girls here, their bad shots are when they hit behind the golf ball. Do you think we can do it? Do you think he can do it? I don't know, we'll see. We're going to laugh --

Baseball grip. So all -- yes.


HARMON: The tee went further than the ball. I knew that was going to happen.

O'DONOGHUE (on camera): That always happens.



HARMON: There.


HARMON: Feel it?

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): But that's not to say there's no time to work with clubs.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): It's just gradually introduced and part of a much broader training.

HARMON: If you were a five-year-old kind in our junior program, by the time you get to be 16, hopefully, you've learned how to do a ton of things athletically that are going to help you hit a golf ball the way we need, as golf instructors, to have you hit a golf ball.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): Back at the Emirates, Khaled's testing his new-found power and control in the practice wrong alongside Rory McIlroy.

HARMON: He was a good golfer to begin with, so one of my -- one of my instructors is teaching him the golf aspect of it. But he's spending time with our fitness instructor, and he's learning how to box, he's learning how to move, and he's learning how to be much more physically proficient.

And it's really helped his golf game. He's hitting the golf ball further, but he also has a lot more control over his golf shots.

ATTIEH: It's very good, actually. He's a really nice guy, very friendly guy. It was very good to watch -- just watch him hitting the ball. He's a really solid hitter, a really solid player, a really good ball striker, and I'm very excited. At the same time, a little nervous, but hopefully on my first day, I'll be all right.

O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): And although Khaled didn't quite make the cut, he finished about 25 European stars. He's unlikely to be the last junior from the Butch Harmon school to make the grade.


O'DONOGHUE: Still to come on LIVING GOLF --


WOODS: Being present for the kids is far more valuable than anything you do. It's all about them. So, when -- obviously, when I don't have them, and that's when I can practice a little more.



ANNOUNCER: LIVING GOLF, in time with Rolex.

O'DONOGHUE: Welcome back to LIVING GOLF and our exclusive interview with Tiger woods.


O'DONOGHUE (voice-over): But first, this month's golf news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The new world number one, Martin Kaymer says that he'll need Tiger Woods to be back to his best before his ranking can feel genuine. The German star says that his rise is due, in part, to the decline of the former world number one, who held that top spot for a total of 623 weeks.

Kaymer also thinks that Luke Donald, who beat him in the WGC- Accenture Match Match Play has the best short game in the world. Donald's victory has seen him move up to number three. The Englishman says it's taken him three years to recapture his best form after an attempt to lengthen his drive had put his swing off-kilter.

Leading LPGA players Cristie Kerr and Suzann Pettersen say they're on a mission to raise the profile of the game in South America ahead of the 2016 Olympics. They'll compete in the HSBC Brazil Cup in Rio de Janeiro. The LPGA is trying to create a foothold in the region.

And the European venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup is going to be announced on the 17th of May. So far, five nations, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, and Portugal, have signed up to host the prestigious event, trying to convince European Tour officials that they'll best meet the strict criteria.

That's the news. Now, more from our interview with Tiger Woods.



O'DONOGHUE: How busy is your life right now?

WOODS: Pretty busy. Pretty busy. It's a fun busy, though.


WOODS: Yes. O'DONOGHUE: And when it comes to your kids and everything, I've got similar to you, a four-year-old and a two-year-old, a girl and a boy. They demand a lot of attention. So, how do you juggle it when you're at home and you're looking after your kids and getting on with your practice and preparing as you do for your tournaments.

WOODS: Well, it's all about them. It's all about them, so, if they want to -- whatever they want to do, we do. When -- obviously, when I don't have them, and that's when I can practice a little more. But when I'm around them, it's all about them.

O'DONOGHUE: And what are they into? Are they into golf at all?

WOODS: Charlie likes to play a little bit. Sam's different. She's more creative, more artsy. So, two very different people.

O'DONOGHUE: But do you just love spending time with them --

WOODS: Absolutely. It's the greatest thing in the world to me.


WOODS: It really is.

O'DONOGHUE: You have stated this, to be a great father is to be much more important than winning major titles. Is that -- ?

WOODS: Absolutely. Being present for your kids is far more valuable than anything you do. And to be around them, to be with them, and help them grow, to share these experiences with them, it's just something so special.

O'DONOGHUE: Do they know what Dad does? Do they know what kind of a star Dad is?

WOODS: Dad plays golf, that's about it. That's all they know.

O'DONOGHUE: And with regard to you psychologically, mentally, you know you're renowned for this great focus, this great competitive zeal, this drive on the course. Personally, how are you faring with everything that's gone on and looking ahead to the future?

WOODS: Well, we've moved on. We've moved forward. And it's about getting my life in a balance. And that's -- that's been good. It feels good.

O'DONOGHUE: And you're feeling much better than, say, 12 months ago when you were just about to get back into playing a bit of golf?

WOODS: Absolutely. Absolutely. My life is certainly a lot more balanced and where it needs to be, now, than it was then.

O'DONOGHUE: And how important are major titles in Tiger world -- Tiger Woods, the golfing life?

WOODS: As far as a golfer, it's everything. Because that's what we play to, who we aspire to, is to win major championships. And that's what, as a player, that's what you're judged by. You can win events all over the world, you can win a hundred events, but it's about what you do in the biggest ones.




O'DONOGHUE: How much desire is still there with you when it comes to matching Jack's total of 80 and perhaps beyond?

WOODS: Well, I'm not trying to match it. That's for sure. I'm trying to get there, trying to get past it. So -- it takes time. It took Jack over 20 years to get to where he's at, and I've been out here a little bit, but I still need to make improvements to make me more efficient at what I'm doing. And I just want to give myself plenty of opportunities.

O'DONOGHUE: Do you feel ready to win?

WOODS: Absolutely. We identified some of the things that I was doing. I overdid a couple of things, and that was actually good. Because now we can kind of dial it back a little bit, and it was -- we had some really good practice sessions this past week.

O'DONOGHUE: Well, we wish you the very best of luck.

WOODS: I appreciate it.

O'DONOGHUE: And it's been a pleasure talking to you.

WOODS: Thanks.

O'DONOGHUE: Thanks for joining us on LIVING GOLF.

WOODS: You've got it. Need to go. You've got it.


O'DONOGHUE: Well, that's it for this edition of LIVING GOLF. Next month, we'll be in the States, looking ahead to the Masters with the player many believe could be Tiger Woods' long-term successor, Martin Kaymer. Remember, all editions of the program are online. Until the next time, it's good-bye.