Last Sunday, Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour title in over five years at the season-ending Tour Championship.
The 42-year old American’s victory at East Lake was the talk of the sports world on Sunday – with NBC setting TV ratings records, and any content related to Tiger Woods essentially owning the Internet for 24 hours.
During his Ryder Cup presser on Tuesday, Woods discussed what it felt like to win again, among many other topics. Here are four of the most interesting:
“ALL RIGHT. HERE YOU GO.”
On Sunday, one of your friends, Phil Gordon, Tweeted that last year, you told him that you just wanted the young guys to feel the heat of playing the back nine with you in the lead one more time. Why? Why was that important?
WOODS: Well, a lot of these guys were — well, the younger guys were on their way in when I was on my way out. You know, they had never really played against me when I was playing well. It’s been, what, five years since I’ve won a golf tournament.
And a lot of the players were just coming on to the scene, whether it’s J.T., Jordan, now Bryson, Brooksy was just getting out here, getting started, coming off The European Tour. So a lot of these guys just had not played against me yet.
I think that when my game is there, I feel like I’ve always been a tough person to beat. They have jokingly been saying that, “We want to go against you.”
All right. Here you go. And we had a run at it, and it was a blast because I had to beat Rory head-up in the final group. Rosey was tied with Rory. Obviously I had a three-shot cush, which is awfully nice, but still, I had not done it in five years. These guys had both ascended to No. 1 players in the world, they have won major championships, they have won golf tournaments all around the world, and I have not really played a whole lot of golf the last few years.
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Did you celebrate Sunday night at all, or did you not have a chance to do that, or did you not want to? And also, have you been aware of the scale of the reaction to your victory, which even by your standards has been incredible, the world over?
WOODS: The last part of your question, the scale, no, I really haven’t because I’m trying to return the text messages I’ve gotten, but I’m still well north of 150. So it’s going to take me a little bit of time before I answer all that.
I really haven’t looked online and read any articles about it yet because, one, after I finished, I had a big media tour I had to do there at East Lake, and then as soon as we left there, we went to the Renaissance Hotel to all meet together, and we have a big signing that we normally do. Got that all out of the way and then hopped on the flight, over here, training, and then playing a practice round.
So no, I haven’t really had a lot of time to soak it in. I will post-Ryder Cup. I’ll take a look back and reflect on it. I haven’t seen any videos of — I saw a couple of them on some French news channel that — the people rushing behind me, but I haven’t sat down and watched it yet. I still have this event to do.
Post-Ryder Cup, it will be a different story. I will look back and soak it up and really reflect on what really transpired that entire week.
Could you describe the dynamic of the first hole and the whole atmosphere at a Ryder Cup, and do you remember the first shot you did hit, I believe in ’97? And what do you make of the massive gallery? What do you think it’s going to be like with that grandstand this week?
WOODS: Yeah, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be — it’s an awesome environment. Because when we had — I’m sure you were there in Wales. It was — for some reason, I don’t know what it was acoustically, but they were so close together that it was reverberating. It was so loud.
We could hear it on the putting green, which was right next to the first tee, but when you get on the first tee, you could actually feel it. That was fun to be a part of. I loved it. I think this week will be exactly like that, but I think the decibels will be up a little higher.
My first Ryder Cup, I remember going out with Mark O’Meara, and I was telling him — well, he was the vet, so he says, “The way the golf course sets up, you should tee off the odds.”
And I said, “Well, I kind of like the evens.”
Because at the time we were playing foursomes first, and he said, “No, no, no. Odds are good for you and the way it sets up for us.”
“No, I like evens.”
“Why do you want evens? Because you have to hit the first tee shot.”
And I said — then he says “No, you’re hitting the first tee shot. He’s the vet.”
So I listened. I hit a 2-iron, tracked it down in the fairway, and phew, it was all good.
Davis was part of that team, as well, and he went through a similar experience with Tom Kite in ’93, feeling the same thing, going to the first tee, he was telling Tom, “Hey, why don’t you hit the first tee shot.”
So there’s a lot of nerves. It’s excitement. I mean, it really is. It’s something we don’t get to experience in that regard because basically it’s the final round of a tournament on the very first hole and every match you tee it up. It’s a different atmosphere and one that we absolutely love.
Looking at the television viewing figures from Sunday, which were remarkable, the best of the season and a lot of the majors, are you ready for America to start looking to you the way they used to, so soon after you’ve come back?
WOODS: Honestly, I didn’t see the ratings, so I don’t know.
They are huge. They are really good.
WOODS: Are they good? (Laughter) okay. Sorry (laughter), I’ve been a little bit busy, so I haven’t looked.
Yeah, if the ratings are, as you said, huge, especially against football on Sunday; you know, in the States, that’s a big deal, and for us to be able to promote golf like that; and for me to experience a scene like we had on 18, the people, you know, running behind us and getting that excited.
You know, the art — I’ve described this to you guys before. The art of the clap is gone. People don’t clap because how can you clap when you have a cell phone in your hand? People are now screaming and they are pretty loud, and especially late in the day when it’s hot and they have tipped back a few, it gets even louder.
I think this week will be the same. But even louder.