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July 16, 2005

Tiger Woods


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger Woods, 71 for 204, leading on 12 under par.

Was that a difficult day for you today?

TIGER WOODS: You might say that. Today was tough. The wind was starting to pick up in the middle part of the round. I hit one loose shot on 10, lost it in the gorst, otherwise I hit it decent today. But the greens got so hard, and the fairways had gotten harder. Shots on the fairway were sometimes running 80 yards. And it's really hard to judge how much it's going to roll and it became very, very difficult.

Q. The putt on 17, did that feel as good as any birdie you've had in a long time?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I worked so hard all day to get back to under par. At that time if I missed that putt I would go back to over par and I'd have to birdie 18 to get back to level par. Just to work that hard and have to birdie 18 to get back to even par, I just couldn't see that happening. So might as well make the putt and birdie 18 to finish under par.

Q. Did watching Monty's putt on 18 help you judge the pace there?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it did. It's normally uphill, but it's also into the wind. And Monty and I were talking about it afterwards, that when I hit the putt I could actually feel the shaft flex in my putter, and that doesn't happen very often. On top of that when you hit putts, your putter finishes kind of long. It's not too often it actually finishes up above Stevie. It was a shock to see it up that high. It rolled up there and just had a little tap in.

Q. You pulled up on 12, what was the reason for that?

TIGER WOODS: I was standing on the sprinkler head.

Q. Tiger, do you think it's more difficult to have slow greens over fast greens or is it the reverse?

TIGER WOODS: I tell you what, you'd much rather have these greens at this speed with the wind blowing this hard. You couldn't play this golf course if the greens got fast, if they were running them at 12. It would be unplayable. First of all, the ball wouldn't stay on the green. Anytime you come to an Open Championship you know that the greens are going to be slower. But then again, they have to be. If the wind ever blows, like it did a little bit today, it wasn't blowing hard, but at least it picked up, and the ball is oscillating on the greens. And I think that it's two totally different deals.

Putting at Augusta, everything is just kind of you better leave your putter cover on. Here you've got to lift weights to make sure you're strong enough to hit putts that hard.

Q. With all the cheering for Monty, did you feel like you were playing a road game today?

TIGER WOODS: I expected it. It should be that way. He's native born. He's never won a major championship, and this is the home of golf and this is the best chance in a long time. Obviously the people should be rooting for him, and they were. But then again, they were very gracious. They applauded when I hit a quality shot. Sometimes a quality shot out there would be 30 feet, and you'd get pretty good applause for that. That's all you can ask for. People here really understand the game of golf.

Q. A lot of people began to think they could catch you today and they didn't. Can they catch you tomorrow? Can you win tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: What kind of a question is that? (Laughter) Do I think I can win? Well, I guess if I don't think I'm going to win, I won't show up tomorrow on the first tee. Is that all right?

Q. Can you talk about after everything that went on today and the way you grinded, the importance of having the lead right now going into tomorrow? And can you comment on your position right now?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm very happy to be in the lead. The conditions got a little bit difficult today coming in. You could see the guys making birdies around the loop and early, as well, but it just got so hard coming in, it's hard to get the ball close. You see a couple of guys drop a shot here and there, it's understandable. I tried not to drop any coming home.

I thought if I shot under par for the day, the way the day was turning, I more than likely would have a piece of the lead. No one made a bunch of birdies coming home today, so to have the lead all day and actually end up with the lead it's pretty sweet.

Q. Talk about 16, what your lie was and your thinking on the shot, the third one?

TIGER WOODS: The third one? It was sitting in the green a little bit and I had a decent lie, but being into the grain I had to get some speed and get underneath it. I tried to hit it with speed and got too much of it and it took off, obviously, and went way past the hole.

Q. What was your option there?

TIGER WOODS: That was the only other option. If it was down grain, I could dump it along and run it. But not into the grain like that. When the grass is that long, and you're into the grain, you have no control.

Q. How do you feel about playing with Olazabal?

TIGER WOODS: We've had some practice this week so far. I played with him the first two days. It will be fun tomorrow. Ollie is a good friend of mine. We'll go out and compete and try to win a championship.

Q. I'm sure that you'd be much happier to be several more shots ahead than you are. But does it excite you to see the caliber of people that are in there with you, the shootout there's going to be tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: There's going to be. There are certainly guys that will make some birdies going out. Even if they make birdies, I have the same holes as well. So I can make birdies, as well. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get off to a good start and make some birdies early, and especially around the loop, play those holes under par and hopefully that will be a good start going into the back nine.

Q. If the weather is similar to today, any changes that you would make if the greens are that fast and hard?

TIGER WOODS: You've just got to be aware of how far you're going to land the ball short of the green. And the shots that are just running forever. Monty just hit a 2 iron off of 13 today that didn't carry to the fairway, and ran through the fairway. That's 80 yards. You have to be aware how fast these fairways are playing, and where you're going to land the golf ball. And sometimes you're playing 40 and 50 feet away from it and trying to 2 putt. And that's all you've got. You can't get the ball close.

Some of these flyers, like today on 14, you can't get that ball close, 9 and 2. You're trying to put it over to the left, like Monty did, he was short and I was long, and try and get it close somehow.

Q. What do you think about 18 as a major championship finishing hole? And do you have to guard against not concentrating because you've got so much space out there?

TIGER WOODS: No, no. It's a great finishing hole. I've hit driver, 4 iron on that hole before. I played the Dunhill Cup and I didn't get to the road. Today, Stevie was trying to convince me to try to hit 2 iron there, because after what Monty did back on 13, he had 315 to the runout and he ran that thing through the fairway and he hit it 320, 325, with a little cut 2 iron. And we figured if I hit, I could probably hit that 340 or so, and that would put me in the front. But if I don't hit it, if I catch an upslope, I'm left with a really hard shot. So I just threw it up in the air. And thank goodness, I hit it up in the air and hit it soft. If I had hit a hot one, it might have gone out of bounds and through it.

Q. Your record as a closer is very good. Does that help going into this round in terms of how you deal in preparation with that?

TIGER WOODS: I think it certainly doesn't hurt. Having the experience to call upon and know how to handle going out there and playing with the lead, I've done it before. So I can always say that and believe in it, because I know I have done it. So hopefully tomorrow I can put a quality round together.

Q. You made it look fairly easy the first two days. You probably saw some low scores in the morning before you set out. At what point did you realize this was going to be somewhat of a grind today, for whatever reason, and going to get right around par or under was going to be good?

TIGER WOODS: As soon as the wind started picking up when we were playing 4 and 5. Monty hit a good drive on 4 and it barely got to the fairway. The wind started picking up right around there. And if it picks up at this angle, it's going to be hard going out. Every hole is going to be more in than it is left to right like it was the first two days. And it's going to be harder going out. But then again, coming home is going to be even faster. Hard to believe it could be any faster. But you just had to be aware that with the wind direction the way it was and it picking up a little bit, especially when we started playing around the loop, I hit 3 wood there on 9. That's not a 3 wood hole. And the fact that I didn't have to hit a hard 3 wood to get there, either, it certainly was changing. Because of that I figured if I could shoot something in the 60s today would be a great score, all things considered.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Tiger, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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