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March 7, 2018

Tiger Woods

Palm Harbor, Florida

Q. Tiger, after 18 holes in today's Pro-Am, how are you feeling heading in your first appearance at the Valspar Championship?
TIGER WOODS: I feel good. It was a solid day. I got a chance to play the back-9. I played only the front-9 yesterday. Today was pretty blustery, blow tomorrow, be a little cooler. I think that this golf course is only going to get tougher.

Q. Tiger, how are the fans treating you this week?
TIGER WOODS: Fantastic so far. They were nice yesterday and they're great today.

Q. Tiger, you said after Honda you wanted to get right back into the weight room. What are you hoping to accomplish there now than when you were in your 20s?
TIGER WOODS: In my 20s I was running 30 miles a day.

Q. Why were you doing that?
TIGER WOODS: I was running all my life. I was running track, cross-country. Trying to get in shape for baseball, keep my legs as a pitcher.

I got back to the gym, got out a little bit. For me as a player, start deteriorating a little bit as the week goes on because you're not lifting for gains, you're lifting for warmup. So, it's totally different. So this week was a great week to get in the gym and get after it again.

Q. Tiger, you've never played Valspar before. Ultimately what led you to decide to play here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, to be honest with you, I only got two rounds in in L.A. I missed the cut there. I felt really strong afterwards. I hadn't -- I didn't know how I was going to feel.

After playing Honda and really feeling good about it, I wanted to push myself in my practice sessions, which I did, pushed myself in the gym a little bit and I can handle two weeks in a row.

I did it in L.A., I did it in Honda even though I didn't play four rounds at L.A., but I got in two and I can handle two weeks in a row. So that's one of the reasons why I'm here.

Q. Not your first time here though. Do you remember J.C. Penney Classic?
TIGER WOODS: I do a little bit. Not a lot. It's 22 years ago. It was a different game, long driver was maybe 44 inches, maybe. Half the guys were using persimmon, balata balls were the No. 1 ball out here. It was just a different game.

Q. Tiger, recent weeks you've been paired with Justin and Rory. Yesterday you went out with guys like Jim, Davis Love and Steve Stricker.
Do you learn from those folks in situations?

TIGER WOODS: Probably learned more from the younger guys because of the fact that that's who I'm playing against now. Davis and Strick is a little bit still out here. Jim has been injured for awhile, just starting making his comeback now.

For us it was fun because we put all four Captains together. That was a lot of fun for us. We haven't played -- one, we haven't played on the Tour that much of late and haven't seen each other in a very long time. It was fun for us to get out there and it was like regular Tour against the Senior Tour. They got us.

Q. Copperhead, what do you think, this is a good test for you this week?
TIGER WOODS: It's a great test. Tough to chip the golf ball both ways. With this wind blowing it's going to put a premium on really hitting it flush. It was a bit tough out there. Wind is blowing, swirling a little bit inside the trees and it was tough and plus it will be blustery again tomorrow but cooler and so it's going to be tough.

Q. What are you looking to see out of your own game as you lead up to the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: Keep progressing. Making small changes, small tweaks. I was able to do it the last tournament I played in and hopefully I can make up a few small tweaks this week.

Q. What is the biggest focus of your practice leading into this?
TIGER WOODS: Getting the ball back up in the air. Lot of shots I hit at Honda were all knockdowns. I had to focus on getting that ball up in the air again, reset swing and start hitting it high.

Once I'm hitting it high I can usually take it down low. Usually the opposite, it becomes difficult to do.

Q. What has come around for you so far to -- slowest that's come back to come around and is it a surprise that it's taking this long or were you expecting some of these things to be awhile?
TIGER WOODS: I think I've come around very quickly. I've only played ten rounds. So, I know people are saying that I've been, you know, erratic, little inconsistent but ten rounds, it's not that many.

I looked up some of my stats last night, I wanted to see how I ranked. I'm not even on the rankings. I haven't played enough rounds. Okay. That's basically how my comeback has been so far this year. I haven't played a lot.

Q. What was your reaction to Phil winning in Mexico Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: I thought it was great. He's been playing well. I mean he played well at the end of last year and got off to a great start this year. He's been in contention a few times. Made a couple mistakes here and there or guys just made some birdies.

It was a very, very small margin and what he did on Sunday was very, very cool to watch. It was solid, consistent, big putt at 16 I think down the hill, 15 or 16. 16, yeah, just to tie Justin in the clubhouse.

Gave him two free holes basically to win the golf tournament. You're thinking I have two holes now with the guy in the clubhouse. He did it. He put the pressure on Justin in the playoff, put it right there pin high and hit a beautiful putt. I don't know how it didn't go in.

Q. Tiger, the course it, does it fit your eye?
TIGER WOODS: Not as good as your left eye. It does fit my eye well. It's very tricky off the tee and funny that I have been able to shape it. I got to hit highs and lows, draws and cuts. It's a test.

Q. Tiger, while you've missed three of the last four Masters, Jordan has kind of established himself as the favorite target out there. When you go back this year do you see it that way or do you kind of like yourself again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the favorites are guys who always do well there. Jordan has always played well. I'm not going to put it out of the realm if Freddie feels good, he's still in the mix. Bernhard is still in the mix, Phil, myself, Bubba, few others that play well almost every year. We know how to play the golf course. It fits us.

So, it's definitely going to be some younger guys out there with a chance playing really well at the time but Augusta is also one of the golf courses it favors the best. Just hard, it's a hard test. No matter how you look at it, it's a hard test.

Q. Tiger, if you take motivation from any of your peers, get more from the young guys today or does Phil winning do more for you in that regard?
TIGER WOODS: It's both. It's both. To watch young guys do what they're doing, that's what they're supposed to do. They come out on Tour, established themselves.

This is 3rd generation, this is what they're supposed to do. What Phil is doing is showing us we can still do it later on in our careers. Davis did it at 51, I believe. Phil at 47. I think Kenny Perry won a handful of events close to 45, 46.

So, you know, there are a few guys that can do it late in their career. For me, I'm ecstatic to have a chance to play again and to have a chance to win golf tournaments and compete. There's awhile there where I didn't look like I was ever going to be out here again, not in the capacity of a professional player. But here I am playing again and it's a lot of fun.

Q. Tiger, the way you feel now, do you wish you had had that fusion surgery earlier or are you -- is there anything you wish you could have done or would have done with the knee problems and back problems to keep from it getting worse?
TIGER WOODS: I think that as an athlete you're always pushing yourself, right, and the best ones pushing themselves beyond their limits.

That's what separates us. They go through pain, they go through different things that most people are unwilling to do, and you know, you look at Grets, how he's feeling, training. People don't see it. You see it on the ice. You don't know what he's doing in the rink, away from the games. Same thing with MJ, lot of guys.

I happened to be one of those guys who pushed my body and mind to accomplish the things I knew I could. I was able to do it.

Q. How big a chance was it last week trying to hit it higher, does it take awhile to get used to the change?
TIGER WOODS: No. No more. Small, low finishes. Cutting things off. Hitting 7-irons 140 yards. That's what I had to do at Honda. Hit them up in the air again. Today I was hitting a lot of chippies out there today. But a little bit easier to bring the ball down than it is to bring it back up.

Q. Do you feel you need to go to Augusta beforehand?
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to go. I'll go over there before. I hadn't played in a couple years now and so I'd like to get up there and take a look at it. I know there's no changes as far as design. I think they've resurfaced some greens here and there so I'll take a look at those and see if those breaks match my book and I'll get used to playing on bent. I haven't putted on bent in literally years. That's going to be a little bit different.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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