Tiger Woods says he found criticism 'annoying' during win drought
Tiger Woods has returned to his winning ways on the PGA Tour, but he admitted Tuesday that he was frustrated by media questions during his two-year win drought between the Australian Masters in November 2009 and the Chevron World Challenge in December 2011.
"I have to deal with it in every single press conference," he said. "I have to answer it in post-round interviews—whether it's with you guys or in a live shot [on TV]. You do that for a couple of years, sometimes you guys can be a little annoying."
Woods was answering questions from the media at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on Tuesday less than 48 hours after winning his third PGA Tour event this season at the AT&T National.
Making his first visit to the resort and the state, Woods said that he hadn't played The Old White TPC course yet, but he had heard a lot of good things about it from several pros, including Scott Stallings, last year's Greenbrier Classic champion.
Woods said a combination of a well-regarded course, ideal timing and the proximity to last week's event helped him make the decision to add the Greenbrier to his schedule.
As for questions, the biggest one facing Woods right now can't be answered until he plays at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in two weeks: Will Tiger be able to use the momentum he created at Congressional to capture his 15th major at the British Open?
"If you have a positive tournament, you try and ride that," Woods said. "If you have a negative tournament, you treat it like it didn't exist."
He said that his difficulties on the weekend at the U.S. Open last month were due to the challenging Olympic course. Woods was in a tie for the lead after 36 holes, but he finished T21 after shooting 75-73 over the weekend.
"If the ball wasn't shaped properly into the fairway, it wasn't staying in the fairway," he explained. "I hit a bunch of fairways, but the ball didn't stay in the fairway on Saturday. Hence I was playing from the rough.
“You can't control the ball out of the rough, and so I missed a couple of opportunities and wound up shooting a high score," Woods said. "I wasn't as far off as my score might indicate, but on that golf course it could make you look like that, especially the first six holes, and I was sort of subject to that on Sunday."
Woods's relationship with the media is famously testy — he snapped at a reporter for asking a question about former coach Hank Haney's book in March — but there was one moment during Woods's exchange with reporters that drew a few chuckles. When asked if he is a student of the World Golf Rankings, where Tiger is currently No. 4, Woods replied that he isn't, and that he doesn't think he has played the minimum divisor of 40 events over a two year period since 1998 or 1999.
"It's hard to play that many events, for me," he said.
Following up on his question, the reporter said, "But you do understand, though, how much it would help you in that ranking if you do hit that divisor?"
"Yeah, I can do math," Woods said with a smirk.
When it comes to math, the big number for Woods these days—aside from Jack Nicklaus's 18 majors—is Sam Snead's 82 career PGA Tour wins. Tiger now has 74.
"Sam's record is phenomenal, I mean to do it for that long, to a win a PGA Tour event in his 50s and the consistency that it took," Woods said. "He didn't exactly have easy guys to play against. I mean, Hogan and Nelson, those guys aren't chops."
Phil Mickelson isn't Ben Hogan, and Dustin Johnson is a far cry from Byron Nelson, but they're not chops either. Both are in the field this week and are looking to create momentum of their own before heading to the British Open in England. If Tiger intends to stay hot he'll have to outplay them and pick up at the Greenbrier where he left off at Congressional.