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7 things we learned from Tiger Woods’ candid interview with Fred Couples

October 30, 2019

When Tiger Woods called in to Fred Couples’ radio show Tuesday afternoon, we knew he wasn’t exactly entering a hard-hitting interview setting. Couples and Woods have been friends for years, after all, and Couples is one of Woods’ assistant captains at the upcoming Presidents Cup.

“You know I love you like a brother, I love texting you and I love picking on you and I love telling you how you look and all this,” Couples began one question, which ultimately centered on Woods’ health. But the friendly setting wasn’t a negative; we rarely see Woods in candid conversations like this. Here were some highlights from the 13-minute interview on the Fred Couples Show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, to which Woods called in while on his way to pick up his daughter Sam from school.

On Presidents Cup picks:

Woods didn’t offer any specific insights on who he’s considering for the U.S. team he’ll captain in Melbourne, but said he’ll be in touch with the candidates.

“Yeah I’ve got four of ’em [picks] coming up, so I’ve got lunch with some of the guys this week who are in town [in Florida], we’ll get together and run through it.”

After his win at the Zozo Championship, Woods is essentially a lock to pick himself. But he’ll talk to assistant captains Couples, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker to figure out who will join him, he said, and will also consult players in between action at the WGC-HSBC Champions. “ When they have some free time they’re gonna give me a call or a text and give me their thoughts,” he said.

As one of Woods’ assistant captains, Couples shifted Woods to another topic. “We’re not going to get into much on that,” he said.

On recovering from his knee surgery:

Woods has stressed that his recent knee procedure has allowed him to move more freely, particularly when reading putts.

“The first time I picked up my putter and I started putting with it, my putter felt better,” he said. “But it did take me probably close to 6-7 weeks to be able to squat all the way down. I had to break through a lot of scar tissue that built up from the procedure.”

Also, those of you with “firing glutes” on your Bingo cards can feel free to check out that square, too, based on Woods’ talk about his recovery:

“I still had to do all my PT to gain strength around my quad, my hamstring, my calf, all the way up to my glutes, so making sure everything was firing. It’s not quite the size that I would like it to be, but it certainly has range of motion, which is nice, and it has the endurance. And that endurance was really tested on Sunday when we had to play 29 holes that day.”

Tiger Woods capped off Sunday's round at the Zozo Championship with a birdie at No. 18.
Tiger Woods capped off Sunday's round at the Zozo Championship with a birdie at No. 18.
Getty Images

On his kids attending the Masters:

Those iconic hugs with Charlie and Sam behind the 18th green at Augusta National? They almost didn’t happen. Woods broke down the sequence of events that allowed his kids to fly up from Florida Sunday morning to witness his victory at the 2019 Masters.

“It probably wouldn’t have happened if Sam had gotten to the final of her state soccer tournament, which was on a Sunday,” Woods said. “Because they didn’t qualify for the finals of the state cup, I asked them if they wanted to come up. Charlie said, ‘No way, unless my sister comes.’ And had to convince Sam to come, and they decided to come up.”

Traffic delayed their Sunday morning arrival, and Woods had already gone into his tunnel-vision warmup routine by the time they got there.

“The first time I saw them was 7,” Woods said. “I hit one stiff in there to about two feet. And I hit the putt, go up the hill and I look left and I see Charlie jumping up and down — so I’m like, ‘Okay, good, at least they made it.’ And that was the last time I saw them until 18 green.”

Woods acknowledged the significance of that moment behind 18.

“To have them there was so special because to us in our family, Augusta has meant so much to our family. My dad was there when I won my first one, my mom has been there for each and every one. So to be able to share it with the next generation, to share it with my kids is just surreal, to be honest.”

Tiger celebrated with friends and family after the round.
Tiger celebrated with friends and family after the round.
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

On his son Charlie’s golf game and playing with his kids:

Charlie’s golf game is, by reputation, something special. But Tiger said that golf isn’t No. 1 on his son’s priority list.

“He’d much rather play soccer. So I need to try to keep my body healthy and stuff so I can do activities like that. I wish he played more baseball, because I can throw and catch. But running around is a little bit hard for me. He’s started to play a little more golf, but his whole deal is Messi. I mean, Messi is god in soccer, so I totally understand why.”

On making 142 consecutive cuts:

Woods addressed his record-tying 82nd victory but sounded even more excited talking about his 142 consecutive made-cut streak, which he said shows his toughness.

“It shows an attitude that I never give up, because there are plenty of days when you don’t have the game, you’re hurt, things aren’t going right, you get the bad end of the draw, get the worse weather, wind may kick up. All these different variables that can happen that we see the more your play the Tour, the more you see it.

“And for some reason I was able to fight and grind my way around there to make the cut on the number a bunch of times. I remember one time in San Diego I made the cut on the number, went out and shot 62-65 on the weekend to beat Billy Ray Brown [in 1999]. So if you make the cut on the number there’s always a chance you can win it, and in order to win a tournament you got to get to the weekend.”

On World Series predictions:

Couples asked Woods if he thought Justin Verlander or Stephen Strasburg was the better bet in Tuesday night’s Astros-Nationals World Series game.

“I think it’s got to be Verlander,” Woods said. “He’s got the ball in hand, you kidding me? I know he got beat the last game but still. He’s Verlander.”

This was a miss; Verlander ended up taking the loss in a five-inning outing, while Strasburg pitched into the 9th in the Nationals’ 7-2 win.

Then it was time to pick up his daughter from school.

“Fred, Sam says hi,” Woods said, more than enough of a hint that it was time for the interview to wrap. “I’ll see you guys.”