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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore Presentation: Interview With Tiger Woods
Aired December 21, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Tiger Woods before the controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: I've learned how to, in a sense, manipulate things in my life so I stay in places that are private.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODS: It's just amazing how people like to take shots when they don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before his now troubled marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You like live as a single man too much?
WOODS: Life is pretty good right now. But eventually when I'm ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tiger Woods in his own words, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks for joining us. I first talked to Tiger Woods back in 1998. He was fresh off an historic victory at the Masters, his first of now 14 majors. Looking back on this interview, a lot of things may strike you as interesting, his thoughts on marriage, on race, life in general.
I was struck by comfortable and self-assured he was. He was aged 22. We started by talking about, what else, golf, and an injury that was keeping him on the sidelines.
KING: The first obvious question would be how's the back?
TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: The back's fine. What happened was I was kind of doing a little cross training. I was running too many miles too early. I hadn't run for while and all of a sudden I'd go out and run four, five miles every day and hit a whole bunch of golf balls and it puts a little strain on the back, and I felt a little twinge. So I decided -- let's just do this as a precautionary measure, and make sure it's OK and ready to go.
KING: So that's why you didn't play in the Kemper?
KING: It's strange, though, isn't it for someone so young to have a back problem. Usually we associated back problems with the aging.
WOODS: I'm getting old, I guess.
KING: That must be it. When you say cross training to soon, meaning?
WOODS: I was just running too many miles right away. Like -- I haven't done any road work like that. I have been lifting, but I haven't exactly run. And I haven't done that in probably months, and then all of a sudden I go out there and run four or five miles. It does put a little strain on it.
KING: How did they treat it?
WOODS: Ice and heat and a lot of stretching. And it's perfect now.
KING: Do golfers work out a lot?
WOODS: They're starting to. They really are. They're starting to become athletes. And I think probably in the next -- I don't know -- about 15, 20 years is when you're going to see a majority of the players on the tour be athletes. And that's when you're really going to see something special.
KING: You think it's going to get better then?
WOODS: Oh, no doubt about it.
KING: We'll see lower scores?
WOODS: I think lower scores; guys who are fit; guys who are watching what they eat, what they do and not get all of these big old beer bellies.
KING: Does that embarrass you a little, because guys still play with that? I mean, do you feel funny when your...
WOODS: No, I don't, because it's one of the sports where you can get away with it, and that's fine. If you can get away with it, might as well go ahead and do it. But also you have to realize that some of these guys are just naturally big. Not everyone can look like a physical specimen.
KING: So you will play the Open next week? WOODS: No doubt about it.
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.
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: He's got a new book out, right?
WOODS: He does have a new book out, yeah. Actually, he's on tour today, right now.
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.
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. .
KING: He's already a worldwide legend at 22. He's Tiger Woods. OK. You could hit the ball good. You were a kid, and you knew you liked it. When along the way did you say, I want -- I think I want to do this for a living?
WOODS: You know, I never did. That's kind of strange to say that, isn't it? I never did. I just wanted to keep playing and
competing. I loved to play in tournaments and I loved just to compete no matter what it is.
KING: So you went to Stanford; majored in economics?
KING: What was -- what was -- did you have a goal other than golf? Let's say that golf wasn't there.
WOODS: I would have to do something in business within the golfing world. I love it. I have to be around golfers, be around that type of crowd. I just love it. I love watching people hit balls and...
KING: Explain that. Why do you think that is?
WOODS: It's just fascinating to me because there are so many different ways -- like there are different personalities, every personality is different from one another. Golf is the same way. It's a microcosm of their personality. It's just different. I like seeing all of these different moves and they all hit the ball well especially at the tour level, it's fun to just kind of kick back sometimes on the range as I am walking and just watch these guys hit balls.
KING: You're never give that off. You're kind of solitary player in yourself, up to be, right.
WOODS: You have to be.
KING: But you are appreciative. In other words you watch any of the good ones?
WOODS: Oh yeah. Any player on tour, because obviously they have done something good to get there. And I just like to know what it is and watch. Maybe I can learn from it.
KING: What was college golf like?
WOODS: College golf like? Oh, my God. It was 36 holes. It was playing -- waking up at 5:00 in the morning going playing 36 homes, coming home tired in the evening, having to try and study -- you don't study, wake up the next morning, play again and then fly home and pull the all-nighters.
KING: Why did you choose Stanford -- the Harvard of the West, it seems?
WOODS: I had choices. I was lucky enough where I could have gone to a lot of different schools, but I figured you know what, there's only one time where you can actually go to a great institution like Stanford. You only get that chance once in a lifetime and I'm going to take advantage of it. Plus too, the way I was raised. I was raised with my parents saying, "you know what, you can't go practice unless you have your homework done." So school always came first. So school was always my priority before golf. I said you know what, why change now?
KING: You had a scholarship to Stanford -- golf scholarship?
WOODS: I did.
KING: You have to maintain your standing there, or you're gone right?
KING: Was it a school equal to its reputation?
WOODS: It was hard. It was really hard. Let me tell you, I had a couple of friends, one had a photographic memory. My roommate, my freshman year was unbelievable. He never studied and somehow just kept getting As. I am like how do you do this? He's obviously brilliant. It was really neat to see all the different people there. I mean you have people who are brilliant in whatever they do. It's just amazing. You have got Olympians there. You have got people who build their own computers from scratch. I mean, all different things.
KING: Were you a hit at school? We know about your popularity since then. Were you a hit inside Stanford when you walked around campus?
WOODS: I fit in. I was just one of the other people. KING: You blended?
WOODS: I blended in with no problem.
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...
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 (INAUDIBLE) who -- Lee Elder, rather.
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.
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? 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.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 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
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 (INAUDIBLE) 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.
KING: You don't have a club with your name on it? Do you? WOODS: No, I don't, no.
KING: That's the strangest part of all. Why not a tiger woods clubs?
WOODS: I don't know. I think that's something that we might have to converse with Titleist.
KING: You use Titleist equipment. But they're regular, you buy it. You just go and by -- they make it for you?
WOODS: Well, mine are made, yeah. But you can buy them. That's fine.
KING: How did you choose Titleist?
WOODS: Same, those two qualities.
KING: In other words, you like the way they feel?
KING: By the way, have golf clubs improved?
WOODS: Oh, my God have they never it has been unbelievable. But the strangest thing -- they may have improved. They have gotten lighter, technology has caught up, harder materials, balls are better but I still play the old blades with short shafts too.
KING: That never changed, right.
WOODS: That's never changed no.
KING: Hogan played that, right?
WOODS: Yeah. Basically almost the same specs.
KING: We'll be back with more of tiger woods. We'll be including your phone calls. He's our guest for the full hour.
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 Titleist, 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."
KING: No reaction, other than "that's interesting".
WOODS: No, it's just, you know, it's very interesting, very interesting to -- because, one is, the president asked me to come to Mr. Robinson's ceremony.
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 -- I know what I did. And I'm gonna stick with it because I honor Mr. Robinson in my heart and I always will.
KING: We'll be back with more of Tiger Woods. We'll be including your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back. Tonight, we're replaying my interview with Tiger woods in 1998. Certainly, there were better times for Tiger. But he's always been a target for criticism. Golf writer John Feinstein wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KING: 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: Have you -- has it been tough to deal the equation, and you were an economic major and you were good at it, of finances versus play? In other words, what are -- decision-making, can you get lost in that?
WOODS: You can, but the great thing is I never did 'cause I took it real slow. I had just a couple of endorsements early, Titlist and Nike, and from then on, as I felt more comfortable in what I had to do, my photo shoots, and days here, days there, as long as I didn't interrupt with my planned practice, then I could eventually go into more things, things I had liked to experiment with. And that's where we're at now; we're at a level where I'm very happy. I have got nine different things right now and I'm going to cut it out right there.
KING: How about having that much money at this age?
WOODS: Again, I'm not against it.
KING: I know, but I mean are you -- do you have it all handled for you? How do you -- that's a lot of money for a 22-year-old. It's like the NBA draft.
WOODS: Yes, I've got great advisers that've helped me out. I got a couple firms in which I got a lot of money invested and hopefully the market will do well and things will be going up and up.
KING: Before we go to calls, 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 problem- some for your style of game?
WOODS: Problem-some. 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.
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: When you -- when you go to a golf course for the first time, and a lot of these are for the first time for you, right, I mean you're just an amateur, so do you get there early? Do you walk the course? What's the pre-tournament Tiger?
WOODS: Well, I play a practice run on Tuesday, and there's a prom on Wednesday that I play, so I get two solid looks at it, and then I'm ready to go on Thursday.
KING: Are you one of those athletes always confident?
KING: Yeah, I'm gonna do well. I mean, you can never say you're gonna win every tournament; that's impossible. But do you say to yourself on Thursday, "I'm gonna do well"?
WOODS: Well, I go there with the intention of winning; that's my ultimate goal. Now, sometimes I feel more comfortable than other
times, there's no doubt about that. But when I tee-up on that first tee, I feel like I have just as good a chance as anybody else.
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: You're also -- it's an individual business, right? All of you guys, and the ladies' tour, they're all in -- you're all in business for yourself.
WOODS: That's right.
KING: You get to the tournament -- no one pays your way to the tournament.
WOODS: No, no, you've got to pay your own way, and you've got to play. That's what's awesome about it, that you get to compete.
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: 'Cause 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, you 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: All right, one of golf's problems is this is not an inexpensive sport.
WOODS: No doubt about it.
KING: So as you influence these people, for wherever they come from, if they come from a ghetto area or a poor area, any color: white, black, Hispanic, you can't play. What do we do about that?
WOODS: That's why I started my foundation. The Tiger Woods Foundation.
KING: Which does what? You just had a big...
WOODS: Yeah we had a big concert here, the Tiger Jam.
KING: Monday night -- the Tiger Jam. Took in a lot of money.
WOODS: Took in a lot of money, and all that money's gonna go to junior golf and also educational programs across the country. We're gonna try -- right now we're part of the First Tee program, which the PGA Tour and a couple of other organizations are with, and we're gonna try and build low-cost facilities, like a driving range, and maybe a couple holes, in which kids can go out and play, enjoy the game, but for very little money and as well as get instruction, too.
KING: That's a great idea.
WOODS: That's an awesome idea. I love it.
KING: Tiger Woods is the guest. We'll be right back with more calls. Don't go away.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're back with Tiger Woods. Great Neck, New York, hello.
CALLER: Larry, Tiger, how are you guys doing tonight?
WOODS: Doing great.
CALLER: I have a two-part question. One is, I have a son who is 7 years old and he loves the game of golf, but the problem is is that most of the public golf courses don't let them on unless they're 12 years old.
CALLER: And I know you started real young and it seems like you were able to play on the golf courses, right? What you recommend for my son?
KING: Seven years old and he can't play on a golf course.
WOODS: Can I ask you a question? One: is he allowed to hit balls in practice?
CALLER: Well, we play at the range; that's all we're able to do.
WOODS: Well, that's the way I grew up. I grew up on a that way. I grew up on the range, hitting balls and on the putting green. I rarely ever got a chance to play golf.
KING: Is that wise to keep youngsters off?
WOODS: You know, on public golf courses, it's really tough. If a kid can keep and up they can hit the ball OK, then I don't see anything wrong with him going out there. If he's just learning the game, and he's just learning to play, then I have a problem with that.
KING: Do you play against you, or do you play against Mise or funk (ph)?
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 (INAUDIBLE) -- 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?
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: Have you gone past the Fuzzy Zeller thing? Were you shocked at that when Fuzzy sort of tried to make a joke that came out wrong?
WOODS: Yes, I was shocked at it, the fact that he said that. I can understand if he just said it casually but the fact that he walked away and then turned back and then said it, I don't know...
KING: He referred to like watermelon, you're going to serve it?
WOODS: Yes, like fried chicken. Stuff like that.
KING: Did you -- have you forgiven him?
WOODS: Yes, I forgive, but I don't forget.
KING: Do you think there was -- Fuzzy is popular, isn't he...
WOODS: Very popular.
KING: ... on the tour, and he's known as a funny guy?
WOODS: Yes, he's a very funny guy, but sometimes you can cross the line with funniness. And it can pop up and it can bit you.
KING: You've played with him; you were paired?
WOODS: Yes. I was paired with him at the Masters this year. I was paired with him on Saturday.
KING: What was that like?
WOODS: I just went on and played.
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: We'll be right back with Tiger Woods on LARRY KING LIVE. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Someone called about a story that they're going to restructure three of the holes at the Masters, because of the way you dominated it a couple -- how do you react to that?
WOODS: I don't think it's just because of me; I think it's because players just get longer. And since we get longer, more fit; technology is helping with that, too, that, you know, that unfortunately, they're going to change it but then again, they change it every year, too.
KING: So you don't disagree with this, or regard it as a personal...
WOODS: No, they change things every year. They critique it ever so...
KING: Do all golf courses do that? All tournaments?
WOODS: No. Not all of them, but sometimes they need to be renovated occasionally.
KING: Orange County, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry and...
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: We'll be back with our remaining moments with tiger woods right after this.
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: Why is it so hard if you're really in a groove and everything is going so well, to win back-to-back tournaments.
WOODS: Why is it so hard?
KING: Yes. Goalies win back to back games. Michael Jordan, your favorite, he loves you, you love him. They win three games in a row -- eight games in a row.
WOODS: Yeah, yeah.
KING: Why is it so hard two tournaments in a row?
WOODS: One is -- there are a number of different factors that go into it. Back to back games usually happen two or three nights apart. For us, back to back wins happen two weeks apart. It a whole week and a lot of different things. Four days, cumulatively, add up to a winner, versus just one day, one night, whereas playing the sport.
KING: Is it also very hard to keep the groove?
WOODS: It's unbelievably hard to keep the groove because every day, sometimes you wake up just a little different.
KING: You play every day?
WOODS: No, I take time off. You've got to rest.
KING: Would you take a week off, two weeks?
WOODS: I take a couple weeks off here and there. But I say I take a couple of days off. When I'm at home, I'm playing almost every day.
KING: Then you're coming back from this back thing and you're play in the Open this week. Did you play this week?
WOODS: Yes, I've been playing. I've been in Vegas with trainer, with my pro and we're training hard.
KING: What does a pro do for you? You're a better player than them.
WOODS: He's my instructor. Butch knows my golf swing. He knows what it takes and also, it always helps to have a second pair of eyes, because you feel and real are usually two different things. When you feel and what you're actually doing in a golf swing are totally different.
KING: So they see something you don't see?
WOODS: Yes, plus he's got so much more infinite knowledge about he game than I do. He can teach me, but ultimately, no matter what you teach me, I've got to go out there and do it.
KING: Do you watch tapes of yourself?
KING: It's not always a great help?
WOODS: Is it? Sometimes, if you know what you're looking for. Sometimes I'm struggling with, let's say, my putting, and I want to go look at some times where I putted well, and look at all the different versions when I'm playing well.
KING: Tiger, you're an ace. I thank you for giving us this full hour. You're terrific.
WOODS: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
KING: Tiger Woods, old Eldrick.
KING: Whether it's because of his phenomenal golf or his troubled personal life, Tiger will remain a fascinating figure for decades to come. We hope this interview has given you a little more insight into Tiger Eldrick Woods. Right now, "AC 360."