GREG MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you very much. Welcome to everyone. I wanted to thank Tiger Woods and Conrad York with Northwestern Mutual for being with us today. We're excited about our 14th annual World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual, which will be played at Sherwood Country Club Nov. 28-Dec. 2. Sherwood again, I think, will be a great test of golf.
We're extremely pleased about the partnership that we announced today with Northwestern Mutual signing on to be the presenting sponsor of the World Challenge for the 2012 event. Northwestern Mutual has been a great longtime supporter of the World Challenge and the Tiger Woods Foundation for many years, and excited to have them involved in this increased sponsorship presence.
With that, I'd like to introduce the vice president of marketing for Northwestern Mutual, Conrad York, to say a few words.
CONRAD YORK: Thanks for having me. It's an honor and pleasure to be here today, and on behalf of our 5,000 employees and 7,000 financial advisors, I want to say how proud we are to assume the presenting sponsorship of this world class event in the hands of partnership with the Tiger Woods Foundation.
To get everyone oriented, just a word about our company. Northwestern Mutual is 155 years old. Our business is to help clients achieve financial security, and we're proud of our record of consistent and dependable performance.
We also share a common goal with the Tiger Woods Foundation, which is to help secure the education, health and development of young people so they experience better tomorrows. As an example, over the last five years, the Northwestern Mutual foundation has contributed $25 million to educational institutions and organizations.
I'm not sure how many of you have had a chance to visit the Tiger Woods learning center in Anaheim or Washington, D.C., but if you do, you really get a chance to see the kind of work that's being done and how important it is. I recommend it to all of you.
Finally, we believe the work of the Tiger Woods Foundation will continue to impact many future generations. That's really why this event is so important. We look forward to a great tournament.
GREG MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Conrad. I think all of you know that the golf tournament benefits all of our college access programs by supporting it through corporations like Northwestern Mutual and the other sponsors that we have gives us an opportunity to continue to grow our tournament. So Conrad, thanks, and thanks certainly to John and everyone really at the company for your support.
Turning your attention to the field, you all got a copy of the press release hopefully. We think we've got a great list of professionals that will be competing, a couple of highlights, two major winners in Bubba and Webb Simpson; delighted to have first time participant and competitor who won the FedExCup in Brandt Snedeker; 13 members of the Ryder Cup team; we've got past champions from the last three years, in 2009 Jim Furyk, '10 Graeme McDowell, and Tiger winning his first World Challenge last year; and additional first timers including brand Snedeker and Jason Dufner. 19 of these professionals have won tournaments this year.
So in our 14 years, it's one of the deepest fields, so we're excited about it, and with that, I'll introduce Tiger to make a few remarks and then open it up for some questions.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks for having me. Conrad and Northwestern Mutual, thank you for being our presenting sponsor this year. This is an exciting event. It's been pretty remarkable what we've done over the past 14 years, and the monies that we've been able to raise, but more so the awareness that people are now been made aware of what we are trying to do for kids and how we're doing it. Without great sponsors such as Northwestern Mutual and all the local sponsors, this tournament wouldn't be what it is, and all the guys who are playing here this year, it's been, as Greg was alluding to earlier, one of the deepest fields we've ever had. So we're very excited about having as many Ryder Cup players and players who have won all around the world playing in this event.
Q: My question is two parts: One, how long did it take you to get over the individual and the team play at the Ryder Cup? And what aspect of your game are you working on right now to start you back on the road to dominance that you had once before, if that's possible?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I was asked this last week when I was in Turkey, how long did it take for me to get over the Ryder Cup. Well, it didn't sink in for a few days because when I came home I had two sick kids. They didn't go to school and they were not feeling very well, so attending to their fevers and their discomfort, golf was the furthest thing from my mind.
But after they started going to school and things started coming back into a normal routine, then I started thinking about what had transpired and how we lost. I called and talked to Freddie a little bit, talked to Stricks a little bit, and it was tough, but also then again, just like we were talking about, it's a golf tournament and you move on to the next one.
I had to get ready in -- I had to leave in four days from that time and had to start back practicing, get ready for the event in Turkey.
As far as things I'm working on, it's the same things. We're just working on exactly the same things we've done all summer. I'm getting a little bit more comfortable with it, and it's nice to actually start to putt well again. My short game has been solid. I've made a few changes there, and that's been very nice to see the progress I've made there. And I'm leaving for Malaysia here in a few days, so still need to get back on.
Q: As far as this tournament is concerned at Sherwood, do you fully realize -- I know you have an idea, but do you fully realize how much you mean to young people and how much they look up to you and fully appreciate what you do for them?
TIGER WOODS: I think I might be a little bit too close to the situation, but I think that what -- the amount of Earl Woods Scholars that we've found to go to college and where they've gone and the environment that we've provided for them in the learning centers and the curriculum, you know, that to me is exciting because these kids are kids that generally would never have been able to have these type of opportunities to be able to compete against in a level playing field. These kids are now with this environment able to showcase and believe in themselves and move on to bigger and greater things, and then on top of that they come back and donate their time and their newfound leadership skills to the next generation. That's ultimately what needs to happen, not just here at the learning center but that's what needs to happen around the world. This learning center is a microcosm of what we want to have happen around the world.
Q: You are keeping your word like you and what your father Earl started doing a long time ago in keeping your word and helping these young people not only on but more importantly off the golf course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, it's nice to win golf tournaments. I mean, that's just my own personal satisfaction. But helping these kids go off and accomplish things that they never even dreamt of and to be able to now lead and give back and teach what they've learned, how they did it, and to see the confidence that they exude in themselves and the confidence they can instill in others, that to me far outweighs any tournaments that I've won, and as you and I have talked about, that's ultimately the greatest satisfaction in the world is to be able to help others.
Q: Can you talk about now after this year looking back to winning this tournament last year, what sort of effect do you think that had on this year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was -- it gave me a lot of confidence, there's no doubt, because it's not -- one was winning it, yes, but also the way I did it and who I beat. To go head to head with Zach like that, and Zach is not the kind of guy who's going to go away, and the shot that he played over that 14 on the green and putting me down, I had one down with two to go, and birdieing the last two holes, that gave me just a huge shot of confidence going into this year.
You know, one of the reasons why I think I was able to win early in the year, in March, is because of that.
Q: And what do you take of what we and fans and TV have made of the Tiger Rory? Do you like that? You seem to kind of have fun with it, but is it real or imagined?
TIGER WOODS: In what way?
Q: Just the whole Tiger versus Rory rivalry that we've built. I know you guys are friends, but I'm just saying do you think we make too much of it? Do you like this? Is it good for golf? What's your take on it?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's fun for us because it's -- we're the top two players in the world right now, and we get to compete against one another. To us it's fun.
I've been in this conversation before when I played against Duval for a number of years and Phil for a number of years, and obviously Vijay, as well. It's nice to be a part of that conversation, there's no doubt. Hopefully I can be a part of that conversation for a very long time and win my share of tournaments along the way.
But as far as Rory is concerned, he's a great kid. We have fun out there and we both like to compete. For us to go out there and compete against one another, we're ranked No. 1 and 2 in the world respectively, it's a lot of fun to be able to have those opportunities.
Q: If I'm correct when you finish the World Challenge it'll be your 24th tournament this year including the Ryder Cup, which will be the most since 2005. Do you see that as a model number of tournaments for you to play going forward?
TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. You know, it was nice to be able to be -- other than one setback at Doral this year, to be healthy enough to where I have the opportunity to play as much or as little as I want, it wasn't something I was forced to sit on the sidelines, forced to rehab and try and get myself back into a position where I can compete, I was able to compete and play as many tournaments as I wanted to. So that was a positive.
We'll see going forward what that holds.
Q: Jim asked you about the Ryder Cup and kind of the disappointment of that. I wanted to ask you about you had mentioned that afterward you went in and talked to some of the guys and apologized for not being able to do as much as you wanted to do. What prompted all of that? What made you decide that that was something you wanted to do?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the rookies had done some amazing work the first four sessions, and they really, really played well, earned a bunch of points, and I felt that I hadn't contributed anything, which I hadn't done. I mean, I was 0 and 3 with Stricks, and we hadn't earned any type of point value for our team.
These guys have played well. They were earning points for the team, and I just wanted to say, hey, guys, you know what, I'm trying my best, but also, then again, I haven't earned anything for you guys. As a teammate, you know, that's a tough feeling being on a team like that when you're not earning points for your team because ultimately you go there to win and lose as a team, and the goal was to win, and I wasn't contributing to our point total. That's one of the reasons why I took them aside and shared that.
Q: Is the disappointment any different or different than the disappointment you feel when you don't finish a tournament out and win or compete as well as you'd like? How is the disappointment factor in a team competition like that compared to when you're playing just for yourself?
TIGER WOODS: It's far different. It is far different. It's a little bit harder in regards sometimes, because when you're out there by yourself, the only one who really cares is your immediate family, your caddie and -- I don't think even your dog really cares when you get home.
But it's just one of those things where we're so accustomed in our individual sports, 51 weeks out of the year, of playing for ourselves, and we have one week every year, at least the U.S. side does, in which we have to compete in a team format, and you come together and you bond really closely with these guys, and especially guys who have been on teams for multiple years. You really have a really strong sense of camaraderie and just an amazing spirit and energy that happens in these team events.
When something doesn't happen right, doesn't happen positively, it is tough, and it's tough losing those events because we put everything we possibly have into it, and it's either win or lose, and we didn't get it done this time.
Q: Wondering what your thoughts are on -- you mentioned before that you might be joining the European Tour a few weeks back. I want to know what that would mean if you chose to do that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, they asked me the question whether or not I would entertain it, and I said, yeah, I entertained it early on in my career, there's no doubt, because at the time there was only 11 events, and I believe it was eight cross overs, and I played once or twice in Europe, and that put me at nine or ten -- usually at 10 because I played in Asia and I played as well in Germany for all those years. So I was only one event away.
Now it's at 13. 13 is a little bit more difficult to get to, but that's one of the reasons why I think they implemented the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup as events that count towards that number. I certainly can see the benefits and also see the negatives of playing that much golf. But going forward, I don't know.
Q: But juggling two Tours, is that a realistic possibility?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, I don't know.
Q: A thought, also, on I saw you just committed to Abu Dhabi next year. Does that mean you're going to be skipping Torrey Pines again?
TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. I'm going to take a look at the schedule after the World Challenge and really plan out my schedule through the Masters and see what -- how many tournaments I want to play in and how I felt this year. Right now I'm really focused on playing in Malaysia and playing in the World Challenge.
After that I'm going to sit down over my off season and before the new year for sure and plan out everything and see how many events I'm going to play in and whether this year was a good amount, I can play more, I can play less, travel more, travel less, and really get a good balance and really analyze what I need to do or what I want to do.
Q: You couldn't talk Phil into playing? You've got the rest of the Ryder Cup team there.
TIGER WOODS: It was his decision.
Q: I've got a question for you. It's kind of probably a tough one because it's one of those hard to win and easy to lose on, but people used to get on you about your demeanor and being nicer on the golf course and whatnot, and certainly that has changed over the last year or so, and it looks like you smile, you interact with people, but I'm just wondering, do you feel different as a golfer when you do that, when you don't have that -- I know you talked at the PGA about trying to play happy and that's not how you played. Do you feel different when you're competing like that not having that focus that you used to have back in the day which some people may have interpreted as not being fan friendly?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I just go out there and I compete and try and get to the same energy level that I know I need to attain per shot, to hit and execute the shot that I want to hit.
Some days it's easier than others to get to that point, and basically I'm trying to get to the same place that I've always gotten to, and that's basically it.
Q: Do you feel that -- I mean, do you feel it's easier or harder to get to I suppose is what I mean? Like let's say over in the last year or two.
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I said, some days are easy, some days are a little bit more difficult. I'm human just like anybody else, and when you go out there and some days it's very easy to turn around, from a 73 or 74 or 75 into a round under par and other days it's a little bit more difficult, those are days of a golfer. It is what it is.
Q: Can we assume that you're not going to Kapalua, or is that undecided?
TIGER WOODS: We'll see.
Q: And in regards to what's coming up, next week Malaysia, then a few weeks, an exhibition following that, a few weeks before the World Challenge, what are you looking at? How do you look at these events? Is it a continuation of this year? Are you starting to focus on getting ready for next year, or does that not occur until you get to take a good chunk of time off?
TIGER WOODS: Well, great question, because what Sean and I actually talked about is that we're just going to continue working on the same things and get them more efficient where I am -- day in and day out things don't have the variance that they've had. That's something that won't change. We're going to -- we have an off season practice schedule, and some of the details we want to work on, but now is not the time because we don't have the time for that, so we're just going to continue doing the same things that we've worked on basically all summer long and just try and get more proficient at it through these next two events.
But we do have an off season program in which we want to do some work and how we want to do it, and then I'll start really focusing on next year and my preparation and lead up to Augusta.
Q: Greg, next year when the Tour goes to the new schedule and the tournaments actually begin in the fall, I was curious how you see the World Challenge dealing with that, what challenges that might present, and could you or would you even consider being an official event? Is that even a possibility?
GREG MCLAUGHLIN: The impact I think of the schedule really will have kind of minimal impact for us. There's a hard stop right before Thanksgiving, and then there's six weeks where there's really not going to be any golf, at least on the regular Tour. So for us I don't think it'll have a lot of impact.
I think if anything it might help a little bit because guys would have taken maybe October and November off, and maybe they're going to play one or two of the FedExCup so they don't fall behind, and they might be more inclined to maybe get another start. So for us I don't think it would have any impact, at least based on the players we've talked to as the Tour went through the whole process.
As far as maybe entering or converting the event, I mean, I think that probably begs a much longer discussion. We've had a great run at Sherwood with the World Challenge. It's been a great event. All the players enjoyed it, evidenced certainly after 15 years of the field we have this year. But I think it would be something that certainly we would consider and talk about. But nothing really substantive at this point.
Q: You've been pretty clear on your stance on anchoring and putters and belly putters, and the USGA looks like they're about to finally come to a conclusion on that. I was wondering if your view is that it should be -- should not be allowed for professionals, or is it for the game in general?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I believe it should be the game across the board. It shouldn't be just -- I think it should be a global rules change is how I look at it.