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August 21, 2005

Tiger Woods


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome 2005 WGC NEC Invitational champion Tiger Woods for the fourth time in tournament history. Your 45th career Tour victory. You've now won a World Golf Championship tournament in each of the years since we've started, in 1999. You kind of have a hold on these things.

TIGER WOODS: You started too late (laughter). Boy, what a day.

You know, I hit the ball beautifully all day today and just could not make a putt. As I said out there, either I hit good putts that didn't go in or hit just atrocious putts that weren't even close. It was frustrating.

Especially with Chris playing just a beautiful round of golf ahead of us and K.P. got off to a solid start, but he struggled coming in. So it was just basically if I could just somehow get to 6 and see what could happen.

After Chris posted 5, I was just trying to make some birdies somewhere, and lucky I made that putt on 16, which was nice.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about the difficulty of the course today.

TIGER WOODS: It was playing so hard out there. The wind was blowing and it was gusty. The only good thing we had was we had receptive greens. If the greens were brick hard, this golf course would have been a joke to try and figure out how to try to shoot a score. But at least the greens were soft.

The back pins were really tough with it if you had an into the wind shot because it was more likely going to rip back some 15, 20 feet, so you had to hit some kind of little nothing in there and try and get it back there. It was just playing very tricky today. You had to keep your patience, had to try and drive the ball well and just try and keep the ball below the hole and give yourself some aggressive putts.

Some of the holes the wind was blowing and you had a lot of downwind putts downhill, or at least I did for some reason. That's kind of how it worked out.

Q. Knowing your difficulty with 18 here at Firestone, how big was that birdie on 16?

TIGER WOODS: 17 is not a birdie hole with that flag, and 18 you have to drive it perfect to have any kind of chance at making birdie there. So my realistic chance was 16.

It's a dogleg left and I just played it I thought it was more of a dogleg. I hit it way right off the tee (laughter). I pitched out, actually had exactly the same number this morning when I played it this morning. I hit 6 iron this morning. Today it was downwind, I hit 7 iron, had 193 to the hole, flew it just past the flag, and that putt I've had I've had that putt it seems like for three, four years, and I miss it low every year and always power it three, four past the hole. I made sure I threw the ball out there a little bit more, and I said "now you overdid it, you hit it high," and it started breaking, and I thought it had a chance, and it just snapped at the end. I thought it was going to lip out, which was how my whole day was going, but it lipped in, which was sweet.

Q. The putts for all the easy ones you seemed to make, two of the best ones were 16 and 10, which didn't look like it was pretty easy.

TIGER WOODS: 10 was pretty easy, two balls outside the right and make sure you make a full shoulder turn going back. Just super slow. That was it. Hit it hard enough.

Q. Could you comment on the crowd and the support for you?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, the crowd is absolutely incredible. I mean, each and every year they come out and support this event. It's got a very a local feel to it, and it's not it's always so much fun to play in front of these people here. I've had some success, and that helps, but I'm telling you, the fans today certainly have helped get me around today because I was struggling out there, especially on the greens. The guys were yelling a bunch of positive things out there, which was nice, and trying to get me to get going. Trust me, I was trying to get going, but I just kept stabbing myself in the foot for some reason.

Q. Phil referred last week to the shot he hit at 18, the 72nd hole as going back to his childhood. I know you've talked in the past about playing from the trees here and there, and when you face a shot like you have to face here when you miss fairways, do you draw on these experiences from when you were younger?

TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily here because I've been in probably, over the years, I've been in every single spot you can imagine over the years here, and you kind of understand where you need to miss it and where you can't miss it.

For instance, 16 today, I know because yesterday I was just so hot at myself for pulling that tee shot up the left side because that's the only place you can't miss on that hole. You can hit it 300 yards to the right and still be fine, and I chickened out on it and I hit it sliced it over to the right. You've got a shot from over there, but you don't have a shot from the left.

Certain holes you understand that. Like No. 2 today, I pulled it a little too much, and Kenny did the same thing, but you can't hit it right in those bunkers or you've got no chance. Hit it down the left, down that cart path like I did yesterday, hit the cart path at 7 today, or it could be some left rough and it's no big deal. Certain places you can miss and certain places you can't, and I've had enough experience.

Q. Can I follow up briefly and just ask you, DiMarco was in here talking about the style of play that's being played out there now and it's so much of a power game. I know you're trying to hit the fairway. Do you worry less about hitting the fairway because of how far you hit it?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I have so much more confidence now in my driving ability than I ever have in my career. I pull out driver on every hole because I know I can put the ball in the fairway. I've never had that ability before. If you look at my days when I had some good years there, I was always hitting 2 irons off the tee and 3 woods and trying to get the ball in play. Now I know I can drive the ball. Look at how well I drove it this week. I hit some bad shots, yes, but they're not like they used to be.

As far as I'm hitting it and as many fairways as I'm hitting and as many balls that end up in the fairway and roll through, that was never the case before. I've never had so much confidence to be able to pull out driver. I did it at Baltusrol, I did it here, and I've done it at major championships, and that's cool.

Q. But you don't worry about it if you miss fairways?

TIGER WOODS: Because I feel like I'm not. That's the big difference. That wasn't always the case.

Q. Given what you were facing with 16, 17 and 18 was there any sense of relief when you saw DiMarco in at 5 instead of 6?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, yeah. I know he bogeyed 17. We were playing we were going down 14 at the time. I knew if I could somehow get to 6 and hang on to 6, I thought 6 might do it. I didn't think he was going to birdie the last hole. I was on the tee when he was on the green making bogey.

Q. Secondly, give a quick description of the pitch on 18, clubs.

TIGER WOODS: I had 103 to the front and 30 more to the hole, 133, and I just tried to hit a 9 iron that landed 80 yards in the air and let it tumble anywhere on that green.

Q. Was that a pea in the ocean shot?

TIGER WOODS: Definitely, but it was a low pea. It could have been a high pea if it hit the tree.

Q. You've won seven times in Ohio and Florida you've won eight times. Is there anything special about this state or any common denominator between Firestone and Muirfield?

TIGER WOODS: We need to keep playing more in Ohio. It's that simple. We don't have enough tournaments here. Maybe a major could come back to Inverness or something. I'll tell you what, I just have felt comfortable on these two venues. Muirfield I played as an amateur in the U.S. Amateur and just fell in love with the place and have had some success since then. I love old, traditional golf courses. I love the fact that every hole is tree lined. It's right there in front of you. We don't play too many golf courses like that anymore. When we do it's a real treat. Generally when we do it's in major championships, U.S. Open or sometimes the PGA.

Q. Could you talk about the difficulty of bouncing back after a major championship and playing the next week and winning? You've made it look easy here in the past. This year it looked like you had to work a little harder. How tough is that to do for you?

TIGER WOODS: It's really not because of the fact that you're coming to just an absolute great golf course, and on top of that, you're playing against the best players in the world, so it's basically a continuation of last week. It's the same guys, and I think that's what's got my juices going because it's the best in the world and we don't get a chance to face each other very often, and when we do, it's a lot of fun.

Q. On 16 after you made that putt, is it tougher to keep the adrenaline under control or do you use the putt on the last two holes?

TIGER WOODS: I used it more as a motivational thing to try and keep me going. I made sure I kept my juices up because I was I've had so many missed putts, I felt down, and finally I had something positive, so I said "let's run with this, let's keep this going," and I just hit a nice low cut 2 iron, hit a 8 iron to the middle of the green, and I said "let's keep this going." That was my whole thought coming in.

Q. Early in the round your body language looked like you were so frustrated, and even at the end when you pulled your hat down it seemed like you were embarrassed to win.

TIGER WOODS: It was so frustrating out there today because I was hitting it well. I hit so many good golf shots and I got nothing out of my round because I kept missing putts, or I'd pick a wrong club like I did on 11, which was just the absolute wrong club to hit, and I thought, "what did I just do that for? Just play short."

I kept making silly mistakes, and then finally I put it together on 13, hit just a beautiful drive and a nice iron shot, and what did I do? I just pull hooked a putt five feet. Here we go again.

Yeah, it was frustrating all day because I just did not have it on the greens today. Finally I made three good strokes and it happened to me on the last three holes, 16 and 17 and 18.

Q. Is this the hardest you've had to work here and is this the most gratifying this tournament has been for you?

TIGER WOODS: It was either this one or the one against Furyk when we went seven extra. That was a lot of work (laughter).

Q. Today was a long day, too.

TIGER WOODS: It was. Getting up well, I get up early every day, but getting up and actually having to play golf (laughter). So here's the frustrating thing is that we thought every one of us thought we could have finished yesterday. We thought it was a premature call on the first siren and we could have gotten most of it in and finished it on the second part, so a lot of guys weren't really happy last night. I felt the same way.

I said, "well, just come out tomorrow and somehow make a par on 16" because that wasn't going to make an easy task, and I did and kept the momentum going from there.

Q. This week, last week, last year in 1999, every year you've been here you've sung the praises of this golf course. Now they've told us they're going to be back every year through 2010 with a new sponsor. Your reaction?

TIGER WOODS: (Smiling). Sweet.

Q. On 18, even though you missed the fairway, were you just trying to blow it through the worst trouble or tell us about your thought process.

TIGER WOODS: Honestly I thought I could make it just a positive swing and hit it up the left side, and I just bailed on it just a touch because I know if I hit it left, I'm dead, but in order for me to keep it in the fairway, I've actually got to carry it up that left side because of how far I'm hitting it now. My shot basically carried about 320 in the air into the top of that tree. I have to hit up that left side somehow, but I just bailed on it just a touch. It was a spot at least I could miss it. I had an angle to the flag and I made par.

Q. You just mentioned that they're going to have this event here until 2010. You're pretty much of an international player. Do you think that that makes sense for a World Golf Championship to be settled at one site for five years?

TIGER WOODS: This site, yes (laughter). We move Amex around, that's fine, but let's just keep this one here (laughter).

Q. Chris was in here, and of course he has a level of frustration he's dealing with. I'm wondering is there a level of sympathy, empathy for a guy like Chris who's come close?

TIGER WOODS: He's come close, and I think by coming close and consistently coming close proves a lot, that he's got the game to be there, and it's just a lucky break here or there and it's one shot over a week. That's not much. It's just one lucky bounce here or you make a putt that turns the tide, something like that, but he's got the game to be consistently a factor in just about every tournament he plays in, whether it's a major championship, World Golf Championship or regular Tour event. That says a lot. I think that's what he can take from it.

Q. Talk about your frustration level today. You hit a lot of good shots yesterday especially on the front nine and didn't get out of it what you probably deserved. Was that building the whole weekend and were you feeling like maybe it wasn't going to be your week?

TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily because I felt like I was playing well enough to be in the lead, and it wasn't like I was slapping it all over the place and just happy to be there. I felt like I should have had the lead after three rounds. With that being said, I felt like going into today that if I just kept doing what I was doing, I would be right there with a few holes to go, and it ended up kind of being that way kind of a back way of doing it. I didn't think it would be this way, but I still was there.

Q. Did it seem like you could have been three or four shots better on the front yesterday?


Q. Balls would check or release and they were

TIGER WOODS: The greens were frustrating for all of us to try and get a gauge because some greens were hard and some greens weren't. Friday and Saturday were two totally different more so Friday than anything else because Thursday and the practice round Wednesday that I played, they were brick hard, and all of a sudden they put some water on them overnight and some greens were hard and some greens weren't, and it was tough to get a gauge for it. Then Saturday comes along and you're still kind of questioning a little bit on the greens.

Q. The next WGC event is at Harding Park in San Francisco. Do you have any history there?

TIGER WOODS: Well, not this new one. I've played the old Harding Park a few times. I played there when I was a little kid. I played there in college, but I haven't played the redesign, so it'll be totally different than what I'm accustomed to.

Q. Where you were your position on the leaderboard throughout the second nine?

TIGER WOODS: Varied. I'm a leaderboard watcher, I'm always hawking it, so I know what's going on all around me.

Q. Enough boards to see it on every hole?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. You just listen, too. That helps.

TODD BUDNICK: Your round, Tiger, birdie on 2.

TIGER WOODS: Birdie on 2, hit a driver right in the fairway third fairway (laughter). Then hit a 3 wood pin high, chipped up to about four feet past the hole and made it.

Bogeyed the next hole, hit a 3 wood, drove it through the fairway there, hit a 60 degree sand wedge to the right of the green, hit a decent chip and just hit just a terrible putt, missed that one for about four feet.

5, par 3, hit 7 iron off the tee to the right pin high, had about a 35 footer there, left that low and to the left about three and a half feet and missed that.

9, hit a really good drive, landed in the fairway, rolled through. I muffed the second shot out of there and came up short of the green. Third shot I hit too hard, chipped it past the hole probably about close to eight feet and hit a really good putt there and just lipped out on the top side.

10, I hit a driver and a pitching wedge to about 12 feet right below the hole and made that.

11, hit a driver and hit a pitching wedge over the green. I flopped it up there to about six feet and missed that.

16, hit a driver off the tee, an 8 iron punch out and a 7 iron to the green.

Q. How long was the putt on 16?

TIGER WOODS: I'd say probably about 20 feet, 25 feet.

Q. Did seeing Kenny's chip help at all?

TIGER WOODS: No because he hit my coin. He got a bad deal there (laughter). His chip was actually a pretty good shot. I'm sure if it didn't hit it, it had some chance to go in, and it took all the steam off and kicked it left, too, so added insult to injury there.

Q. How difficult was the shot on 2, the 3 wood?

TIGER WOODS: It really wasn't that hard at all because I was on an uphill lie, 3 wood, just made sure I hit the thing solid, hit it as hard as I can, hit it solid, and if anything, just overcut it, and I overcut it, put it somewhere on the right but I absolutely flushed it, which was kind of a bonus (laughter).

Q. What was your target on the second shot on 17? Where were you aimed?

TIGER WOODS: I was aiming right of the right edge of the tower and was going to hit a soft draw, put it in the middle of the green about 30 feet short of the hole.

Q. That was your goal?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and just two putted.

Q. Stewart Cink talked about this new driver that Nike was working with, a prototype that he's using. You're obviously driving the ball really well. Are you tinkering with that?

TIGER WOODS: I've tried it, yeah. The SQ is I've had a little trouble with it because it's got more weight on the back, and I keep hitting it too high. I want to hit that driver down. I hit it high enough as it is.

It helps Stewie and Trevor Immelman that have high launch angles but I have a high launch with low spin as it is, so I need to keep the thing down. Maybe they can build something with low loft and it'll be perfect for me, but I haven't found anything yet.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Tiger. Congratulations on another World Golf Championship win.

End of FastScripts.

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