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January 25, 2005

Tiger Woods

MODERATOR: As promised, we do indeed have Tiger on the line, and what I wanted to first do was introduce you to Joel Schuchmann. Joel is a media official for the PGA TOUR, and we are lucky to have Joel out here today as part of the Sponsor and Media Day. And without further adieu, I would like to welcome Tiger here to the group. Joel is going to kick it off, and feel free to shoot a few questions his way.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: What we'll do is we'll start with some opening comments from Tiger, and then we'll open up to your questions. Tiger, first and foremost, congratulations on winning your 41st PGA TOUR event last week at the Buick Invitational.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: And next month you'll be here at La Costa defending your title here for the second time at the Accenture Match-Play Championship. If we could start with some opening comments. Again, congratulations on last week but some opening comments about coming back to La Costa.

TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously looking forward to coming back to La Costa. I've had -- some pretty good success there and I've enjoyed playing La Costa when it was the Tournament of Champions, and now it's the Accenture Match-Play. I've just always enjoyed the layout, it's a very traditional golf course and straightforward and no hidden surprises. It's always been fun to play. I've had some pretty interesting matches, survived a couple, which was always a big bonus, and really looking forward to being on able to play head-to-head again because we don't get a chance to play match-play very often.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Okay. A lot of these gentlemen and ladies in attendance today were also in attendance at the Buick Invitational last week. If we could start with some comments about winning your first event of the year, a great way to win against a great field.

TIGER WOODS: It was one heck of a field. You know, I wasn't playing at my absolute best, but my short game was pretty good that week. It saved me quite a few shots. So I kind of survived at the end. Tom and Luke both played beautifully. I just happened to outsurvive them, as well as Charles Howell made one heck of a run in the last two rounds. Just got an extremely unfortunate break on the last hole, or else he would have either won in that tournament or been in a playoff. It was one of those weeks where a lot of good breaks went my way.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: At this time we'll open it up to questions.

Q. Can you talk about the dicey-ness of match-play? Let's say the situation in first round where you survive against John Rollins, and maybe in a final match where you maybe don't play your best golf, but take out Davis Love?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a lot of timing. You can get a guy who is playing beautifully and just go low and you play well but just not well enough and get boat raced and you're done. Or you go out there and there were a couple of matches last year and the winner shot 7-over par and won the match. You just never know. It's just one of those things where it's unpredictable, and it's one of those things you've learned over the years of playing the Accenture Match-Play at La Costa, the unpredictability of it; that's exciting. When you have the March Madness brackets and we all fill them out, it usually pans out pretty good, but not in this event. The brackets usually don't turn out your way. It's just one of those things where it's very surprising what can happen in match-play.

Q. Can you comment on the differences between the Accenture Match-Play and the Ryder Cup match-play?

TIGER WOODS: Accenture Match-Play is very similar to -- it's same format that we played in the U.S. Amateur. It's the same style, same format. The only difference is we don't have to qualify for all 36 holes. In the match-play in the Ryder Cup, it's team-oriented for the first four sessions, and then you have the individual, but you are part of the team and you are thinking nothing but team; and the Accenture Match-Play Championship, you're thinking about just strictly yourself and you don't really care about what anyone else is doing except for your opponent who you're playing in that particular match, so it's two polar opposites in philosophy.

Q. So many of the greats, Hogan, Nicklaus, Trevino played a fade, and at this time you said you were happy with your nice, tight draw; and are you still happy with the nice, tight draw and are you work, the fade back into your repertoire?

TIGER WOODS: I play predominately a right-to-left shot. Probably the only club I probably fade more than anything else would probably be the driver just because of the lack of spin rate. If I do draw the ball, it tends to fall out of the sky because it just doesn't have enough spin. That's probably the only club where I will fade predominately. Otherwise any natural shot, my natural flight pattern is a draw.

Q. At an event like the Accenture, do you look forward to matching up against certain players that you might just want to play?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, you really don't care, because any time you can get beat by any person in that field. So you go into it with that mindset knowing that everyone in that Top-64 is dangerous and you have to treat is as such. So whoever you play, you'd better bring it because you can go home at any given time.

Q. All of us media hacks played the tournament course today, and we get to one hole and we think back to the Tournament of Champions shot you had at La Costa, in the playoff with Lehman, where does that rank as far as your memories here at La Costa?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly right up there, probably right at the top of my memories just because it was my -- it was my first tournament victory of '97, and it was a continuation of what I had done in '96 when I first turned pro. I'd never played a Tournament of Champions before, and then to have a rainout on Sunday -- you know, none of us liked it, neither Tom or myself. You want to win it outright and go ahead and earn it, but those were the cards we were dealt. Tom gave me a huge opening by putting his ball in the water, pulling his a little bit left. I hit a good shot and the wind drifted over a little bit, which was a bonus because I wasn't aiming at the flag. The wind was coming off the right pretty hard and just try and put the ball in the middle of the green, if the wind drifted over, so be it. If it did, I'd be right in the middle of the green. The wind pushed it over and it turned out pretty good.

Q. Going back to Torrey Pines for a minute, your second shot on 18, can you talk about where you were trying to hit that ball and in your mind, what do you think went wrong?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't hit it very good. I kind of whiffed it. I was trying to hit the ball either on the right edge of the green, the right bunker or in the gallery on the right in the grandstand, anything right. With Tom having to lay up and with the tournament on the line, I just couldn't afford to go at the flag, and 3-wood was way too much club. I couldn't hit a 3-wood soft enough. So on 16, I hit a 4-iron 237 and I had 240 to the hole on 18 and I thought it was just a perfect rip 2-iron, up, aim it in the middle of the green or right in the middle of the green and cut it over to the right. So anything -- anything right I was happy with, only difference is I expected to hit the ball solid, not to -- not a whiff.

Q. Obviously you had a very successful junior and amateur career, but if you look back to your rookie year on the PGA TOUR, if you had to look at a facet of your short game that has improved since you joined the Tour, what would that be and why has it improved?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just overall shot-making, and that is just a tribute to that many more years of experience and knowledge and being able to pick other players' brains. I was pretty lucky that I became pretty good friends with Jose Maria Olazabal and be able to pick his brain about shots or ask guys, how do you play this or how do you play that. And I've never been afraid to ask guys that. Even when I was an amateur, I played practice rounds with Norman and Raymond Floyd and Seve and just asking guys about their short game; what did they do how did they do and why did they do it. That has not changed to this day. I've never been shy about asking questions about things that I don't know. And also, them having more years of experience certainly helps.

Q. On 17, you hit an iron off the deck and you're in the fairway. Tom hits I think a driver and he's out ahead of you and they are talking about how your ball has kind of depressed, and I'm curious how many yards you had out, what you hit; because it was down and you hit one, it just cleared the bunker and it bounced once and checked. And anybody who knows the game of golf, we know a little bit about it, but knows that you can't hit that shot, so I was curious what you hit.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I had a perfect scenario for just a full, fading 7-iron. I had 176 uphill and obviously I had -- I don't normally hit my 7-iron that far but I was a little jacked up. The situation kind of dictated it. I aimed it right at the gap which is in between the two bunkers, right and left, and the wind was coming ever so slightly off the left, so I went with just a full fading 7-iron. I knew that I could carry it -- it was 171, I believe, to the front edge and five more to the hole. So I knew I could carry 171. So it was just a full, fading 7-iron. When I hit it, it was pretty funny. You know, it's amazing Stevie, how well he knows me. "How do you like that! How do you like that! How do you like it that!" It's just funny how he said it, because he knew I hit it the right distance. "Stevie, that's pretty good." It was still flying and it landed on the green and people are yelling and screaming. And I said, "Why would you ask me that three times, by the way"? It was a pretty funny moment between Stevie and I, but also it was nice to be able to put a little more pressure on Tom given the circumstances when Luke was kind of out of it.

Q. A lot of fog kept rolling in at the Buick last week. How did you keep yourself entertained or challenged?

TIGER WOODS: The week prior, I had the flu and I lost a bunch of weight and didn't have any strength. The fog was a little bit of a blessing in disguise because it was dense enough and we had a long enough delay; that we knew we were going to go postponed for a little bit. So I just went home and took a nap and just went to sleep. That's kind of how I passed the time. Other guys are out there on the range practicing. I wish I could have practiced, but I just didn't have the strength to practice. I had to try and conserve a lot of my energy to be able to play the tournament. And one of the reasons I didn't felt that I couldn't really correct some of my swing faults that week because I didn't have an opportunity to go out there and practice. I had the opportunity, but I just didn't have the strength to go ahead and do it. Because by wasting my strength there, I would not have any strength to play in the tournament and execute shots properly. I picked my poison and decided to get some rest and be mentally fresh and as strong as I possibly could for the tournament.

Q. Back to match-play. When you look at that field of 64 or 65, whatever the number is that they bring, are there certain players that you look at and say, I hope that guy falls in my bracket, or I see that guy coming up or do you just look at it, I've got to get past the first round and whoever I match up with 1-64 --

TIGER WOODS: It's very interesting you say that because all of the years I've played it, I've never looked ahead at who I'm playing until I've won my match, just because I know that if you're at that level, to be one of the Top-64, 65 guys in the world you can be beaten at any given time and it's been proven. You just know that you just have to focus on that one match. It's different in junior golf and sometimes amateur golf, because some of the players may not be as qualified and if you just play halfway decent you should really get through your match. But at this level, you can shoot 4- or 5-, 6-, 7-under par and still go home and sometimes that can be very disheartening so you never look ahead.

Q. Going back to 18 and the whiff as you call it, how much is that a reflection of how much you are still working with your game, or is that one of those shots that happens that most of the time we don't hear about it because it doesn't happen on the 72nd hole of a tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Well, probably both. I really does not have an opportunity to try to fix some of the things that were going wrong with my golf swing with practice. If you watch me play on Sunday, I was not really hitting all that well, but my short game was saving me. And more than anything, I positioned my misses so that I had a chance to get up-and-down. Or if I missed a couple of fairways I always miss it on the correct side, so I have the right angle to get to the flag. I think that's the difference between winning and not winning is being able to control your misses. And even though I missed some balls at the Buick (sic) with my swing, I was still able to miss the ball in the correct spot, and that paid dividends the entire week, especially on 18. Even though I did not hit it anywhere the middle of the face, I'm still able to miss the ball in the correct spot so that I had an opportunity to get up-and-down.

Q. What does that say about how you feel about -- obviously you got around and you got it up-and-down at Torrey, what does that give you a sense of your game now going into the next month or two about how much work still needs to be done and missing in the right place is great, but less misses, I guess, are you going to have less misses, or do you feel that you're going to have less misses?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as the misses are concerned, I think that was just the week in general. At Mercedes I hit the ball better than I have in four or five years, but I made absolutely nothing. Goes to show you, you've got to make putts. No matter how good you hit it, you're not going to drive every par 4 in one and 2-putt for birdie; so you have to make putts. At the Mercedes, hit it some kind of good, but I didn't make any putts and consequently I didn't win the tournament. Here I didn't hit the ball particularly well but I made just a boatload of putts and consequently, I won the tournament. I'm excited about the fact that I was able to miss the ball in the proper spots, and that's how you win, when you don't have your best stuff. And then when your best stuff does show and you're able to make a few more putts, then you start winning.

Q. With this particular tournament at The Match Play, does it depend on the match whether or not you can be more aggressive or less aggressive depending on the match or the hole?

TIGER WOODS: I think it strictly is what your opponent does. Sometimes your opponent is not playing well and you play ultra conservative because you know pars are generally going to win the holes. Over the last couple of years, the rough has been higher than it never has been. The first year we played it was not all that high. It was not a premium on makes par. Birdies won holes the last couple of years. Pars were winning frequently. Sometimes it dictates the match. You know, I've had to go out there sometimes and my opponent is shooting 5-under par and I've had to shoot 6- or 7-under par to win my match, and that's just the way it was. And times where I've shot even par or maybe over par, I'll still won my match and my opponent was not playing all that well. The match dictates a lot of it, and just a feel for how your opponent is playing depends on how aggressive you need to be.

Q. I've been a fan of Nick Faldo, because he always gave me an interview, but I'm curious if you have checked him out as he made the transition from the golf course to the TV commentator; and if you have, what's your opinion of his opinion of analyzing your golf swing?

TIGER WOODS: Only thing I've heard is that quite a few people have called me and he's saying my swing is flat and laid off. But a lot of that is, you have to understand Nick's background, and his background is working with Leadbetter. If you look at what Leadbetter's philosophy is, you'll understand why he says the things he does says.

MODERATOR: I would like so to say on behalf of everyone here with us today, we really, really appreciate you joining us tonight. I know it's late for you, and everyone passes along congratulations to your play this weekend. Keep doing what you do, and we look forward to having you out here in just a few weeks.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you very much. Looking forward to it, thanks guys.

End of FastScripts...

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