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October 9, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome the four time champion of the American Express Championship. Tiger Woods, congratulations on your sixth win of the year and your 10th World Golf Championship title. Start with some opening comments on a great week for you.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it turned out to be a great week. You know, I didn't really get off to the greatest of starts today. I didn't feel like I was hitting the ball all that well, but I just kind of hung in there and made a big putt on No. 9 to save par. And then from there got it going, made three straight, and then went back in the tournament. J.D. wasn't running away with it. I held it together. Made a mistake on 14, made bogey there, made birdie at 16 and was very fortunate just to get into a playoff.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Your run on the back nine started on 10 with three straight birdies. Talk about that putt. You left your chip short and made about a 20 footer.

TIGER WOODS: I had 6 iron to the green. Walking away with 5, having 6 iron to the green would have left a very sour taste in my mouth. That was a bonus to make that putt but kept things going. Made a nice putt on 9, nice putt on 10. Felt like I had some nice momentum going.

Q. On that putt on 10, your face almost looked like a sense of relief, not real excited. You came so close to so many birdies on the front and just missed. What was going through your mind on 10?

TIGER WOODS: I felt if I make this putt, it's huge because I can keep the momentum going and build on something. I had a 6 iron to the green, and to walk away with 5 there, you're stubbing yourself. I felt like J.D. was more likely to make birdie, and if I make birdie there, then it's a push, and I can still make a few more coming down the back nine and get right back in this ballgame.

Q. How many times did you think Daly had this thing won today?

TIGER WOODS: It was looking pretty good. I felt like I had I felt like I had to make birdie on 18 because the score had not been posted yet. And I hit a great drive down 18, and I think Stewie was over his shot was when he posted 10. I thought I had a chance to win this outright if I make birdie, because if I make birdie it will be hard for him to keep the ball in the fairway and hard to make birdie to answer it. I felt like I had a good chance right there.

Q. I mean, he's looking at about a 15 footer for birdie on 18 in regulation. When you come up short and kind of against the collar on the playoff, he's sitting there it seemed like there was a lot of times where the ball was in his court.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he had opportunities to separate himself away from myself and Monty and Sergio. It was tough making birdies with these pins. You had to play some really solid golf shots to these pins to make birdies. And if you get too aggressive and miss it on the short side, you can make bogey in a heartbeat. You can understand why he was playing more conservative and playing to the heart of the greens. If you look at where he put a lot of his second shots they were in conservative shots.

Q. When Daly missed the putt on 16, you kind of bowed your head a little bit, obviously a different reaction than we've seen in a playoff with Bob May or Chris DiMarco. Can you just talk about the difference?

TIGER WOODS: It just felt so bad. That's not how you're supposed to win a golf tournament. We're battling, and J.D. played beautifully all week. It shouldn't end like that. We should be playing 17. I was thinking I had 160 and I'm hitting a drawing 8 iron and kind of rehearsing what I have to do, and when he missed the putt, I just felt so bad because he played so solidly the entire week.

He was up there every day. And to put yourself on top of that board, it's a lot of work, and then to hit this first of all, hitting driver there in a playoff was pretty impressive, to pull out driver there, and then an unbelievable second shot through the trees. I mean, come on. He lands it there just over the bunker, perfect, pin high, ho hum, and then I felt like I had to make my putt to win the tournament. And I left it just short and I felt the tournament was probably over, that he'd probably just pour it in there, and he made a mistake.

Q. The three straight birdies got you to 10 under, at which point you seemed to get a little more conservative, hit some irons off tees. Was the thinking that 10 under might get it for you, at least get you in a playoff, or had you sort of given up on your driver at that point?

TIGER WOODS: No, actually I hit exactly the same clubs I did on every hole coming in. I didn't change. The only thing I changed was on 15. I hit 3 iron off the tee instead of 2 iron. When I hit 2 iron I drove it right through the fairway. It was 260. Henrik just hit 3 iron there and he drove it through the fairway. I figured I'd hit a 3 iron down there, and I kind of fanned it and left myself way back there.

Q. If there was one swing that really made the difference today, where was it?

TIGER WOODS: Probably 18 in regulation. I hadn't exactly hit my drives very well there. I have been struggling with my driver the entire week, then all of a sudden I make the best swing. It's a great feeling to make your best swing when you actually had to.

Q. Not counting Pebble Beach, which is a little outside the area, when is the last time you won a tournament in the immediate Bay Area, something at Stanford or Santa Cruz?

TIGER WOODS: I won the Western Regionals my sophomore year, and I also won the Stanford Collegiate the same year.

Q. What was the game plan going into the playoff? Grab as many pars in a row as you can or go get a birdie, even though 18 maybe isn't a birdie hole?

TIGER WOODS: Well, if you drive it anywhere left of that bunker and right into the trees down there, it's a birdie hole because we're going to have wedge in there. You feel with J.D. especially, because we hit the ball comparable distances, he has the same advantage I have. So you have to make birdie. I thought I hit two good shots in there, and unfortunately the ball came back and I missed the putt.

Then on the second playoff, again, it's a birdie hole. You've got to make birdie because it's an easy pin. I've got 74 yards to the hole and feel like, you know, this is one I've got to make birdie on.

Q. How do you reflect on this year now, given another huge win to go with the two majors, where you've come from at the start of the year until now?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was building. This is part of the process of what I went through the last couple of years, changing my game and working to get to a point like this. Obviously you saw I didn't really have any best stuff this week, but I still hung in there with my mind and putted beautifully and hit good shots when I really had to. It was nice.

You know, all the nay sayers said that I was doing the wrong things. They can understand why now I made those changes.

Q. So in essence, you must feel a great deal of satisfaction about where you are right now?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because I've really worked hard to get to this point, to a point where I can compete. Each and every week I feel as if I just play my game, I should have a chance come the back nine, and that's where you want to get to.

Q. For American sports fans and maybe even internationally, the Tiger Woods/John Daly playoff probably was as electric as it gets, even more so than Ernie or Vijay. Are you feeling that out there at all? Are you understanding the electricity or are you just all business?

TIGER WOODS: Actually when we were taking the carts back up to get to the tee, I couldn't hear anything. In my left ear I'm half deaf, people whistling and screaming, and then my right ear I'm half deaf. It was electric, it was loud, people were really into it. After I had missed my putt in the first playoff, everybody just bolted back to 16. They were into it.

Q. Do you feel that because it's J.D., different than maybe Ernie, Vijay or Phil, that he brings that extra, you and him, the two biggest bombers and the personalities you guys have?

TIGER WOODS: I think so. J.D. brings huge galleries everywhere he goes. It's always electric any time he plays. On top of that, when he's playing well, it's even more so. I played right in front of him the first two days. He'd drive it on par 4s and people are going nuts, bananas, screaming. He brings a certain atmosphere all to its own.

Q. Right at the end of regulation there was a moment where you and John were walking together. Can you share what the conversation was? Do you remember the conversation?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Well, I have to kind of change a few words around (laughter). It was basically, "Here we are going into a playoff and good luck (smiling)."

Q. We've become so accustomed to the fist pumps and gestures after a victory. To have a hand over the eyes, is that the most apologetic win you've ever had in your career?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because you feel so bad for J.D. to play that well and hit that many good golf shots and leave the tournament. We all had to come get him, and to have it end that way, that's not how it should have ended. We should have been going to 17 to see who could make birdie. He just hit a bad putt at the wrong time.

Q. In three weeks you'll be at East Lake at the TOUR Championship. Would you speak to the difference between the two courses and what you might do to prepare for the TOUR Championship?

TIGER WOODS: Well, East Lake is totally different than this. It's Bermuda rough, totally different approaches to being around the greens. Again, another par 70 golf course, but it's much longer. And that time of year we get some pretty cool temperatures that can run through there. That golf course can get pretty hard pretty fast. In years past when we've played there, the greens have been unbelievably quick. We'll see what happens.

Q. What's the status of your ribs?

TIGER WOODS: Still there (laughter).

Q. Can you elaborate?

TIGER WOODS: They're a touch sore right now, but I've got a week off before I play at Disney, so hopefully I'll feel good by then.

Q. Did they bother you today?


Q. At what point on the back nine do you become aware, sort of conscious of where John is? After you make your three birdies?

TIGER WOODS: No, we have score boards everywhere. All you have to do is listen. He has his own roars. You can have Sergio and Monty make putts, but it's different when J.D. makes a putt, makes a birdie. You knew when J.D. made birdie on that front nine and even on the back nine.

Q. Are his roars even louder than yours?

TIGER WOODS: Probably.

Q. You didn't have your best game, as you said, but you still summoned up your best swings. You've done that historically. I know it's probably a complicated question to explain, about how do you do it?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's not that complicated, I guess. I really don't know. Maybe it's just because I feel like I focus more. I try and make the same mental approach going into each and every shot. But for some reason when it really matters, I seem to hit higher golf shots for some reason. I don't know why. It's not always like that. I've had some really bad shots when I really needed a good one, but it seems like I've hit some of my best golf shots when I've been struggling and needed to turn it around.

Q. Do you turn back to the Masters, for example, this year, in the playoff?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have to put all that aside. I felt I had to make two good swings to give myself a birdie opportunity to put the pressure back on Chris, and I hit the best 3 wood and my best 8 iron. It was like, wow, that was nice, and then I hit a good putt.

Today, as you saw all week, I was kind of struggling with my driver. I had a two way miss going and tried to eliminate a lot of it, tried to hit some big slices out there and that didn't work, either. At 18 I thought, just focus on your point, and all of a sudden everything came together. It was like, wow, where has that been all week. I did it down on the range. Maybe I used one of my range things.

Q. One of the hugest stories is Harding Park itself, muni. Its future was going to be decided by this tournament. How do you contribute to the jury on this thing?

TIGER WOODS: Huge. I mean, this is a great success. From playing it back when I was little to seeing the differences from then to now, they're remarkable, really. This is a championship golf course, and to have these are the best players in the world. We can barely crack double digits under par. The pins were set up tough. The greens were fast and firm for the most part.

Any time you get fairways that are running, the scores are generally not going to be all that low, and a lot of good shots were running through fairways. The guys I played with hit a lot of balls in the first cut or just in the rough, but to see what they've done here, to make it a championship venue, and then all of a sudden have the support of the community here, come out and support this event, as a player, there's really no negative thing you can say about this place.

Q. You kind of answered this already, but at the start of the tournament, did you think 10 under might be a winning score? Did you think

TIGER WOODS: Stevie and I were talking about that. We said probably about 12, 15 under par would win the tournament. It howled yesterday, so that turned it around.

Q. You obviously have a lot of positive memories of your time at Stanford, and this is also a unique tournament coming back to this course for the first time in 36 years, and all the great players that have won in the past, does that make this victory any more special for you?

TIGER WOODS: It does. Any time I come up to this area it was like my second home. It was the first time I ever left home. To come up here, this has a lot of great memories for me. Back down to the farm and then coming up here and playing qualifiers at SF and then over at Olympic and Lake Merced and down there at Sharon Heights, we played a bunch of golf in this area. So it's fun to come here and be a part of that again. It was, it was my second home, and as I said, being the first time away from home, to have such positive memories on top of that just makes it that much more special.

Q. Playing designer for just a minute, if you had the opportunity to do something to 18, would you do anything, and if so, what?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the only thing you could do is put the 18 tee box more towards kind of where the 17 green is, and that would present a wonderful angle for you to have to draw the ball off the tee and skip those trees and the right bunker, but the problem is there's no room there. We're kind of lost on property. If you did move it down there where the hospitality area was, then guys would probably drive it on the green. We were probably coming pretty close yesterday. Yeah, that's the only thing you probably could change.

Q. Unintentional foul, what's your line on the 18 tee when you're swinging it good like you were at the end? Are you hitting a little cut there?

TIGER WOODS: The second part, yes. If you go back on the tee, there's a huge tree up by the green, and I was aiming to the right of that, just blow it right at it, and if anything, fall right. Just make sure I give it some air. That's one thing J.D. and I talked about, is he hit a great drive and he didn't give it enough air the first time, and the second time he did.

End of FastScripts.

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