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March 10, 2018
Palm Harbor, Florida
TIGER WOODS: We had fun again, Sneds and I. I think this is what, maybe 13 rounds and 6 or 7 of them with him. We've had a good time. We both played well and it was just an unbelievable environment. People were into it and we put up some good numbers.
Q. One thing that stood out to me was your rhythm all day long, looked good out there. You looked good in your golf swing.
TIGER WOODS: I felt good about my game. I felt -- I had a good warmup session. I made a few tweaks overnight which I didn't like about yesterday.
Q. You got the crowd at 9 with the chip-in.
TIGER WOODS: That was sweet. We've been calling for one all year. I hit some good shots. I finally got one.
Q. Ought to be a fun Sunday.
TIGER WOODS: You got it.
Q. Tiger, I heard someone before how much fun did you have out there?
TIGER WOODS: We had a good time. I think I played, what, 13 rounds and half of them with Sneds and we had a good time. The environment was incredible. We were into it. I played well and Sneds played well. People really got into it today.
Q. Show off some of the good shots. Go with a birdie putt at 3. The greens really rolling well this week.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they were. This was down grain across the hill and I gave a little premature step. Almost missed it.
Q. Stiff right leg usually gives it away as far as being good. How about your 3rd at 5?
TIGER WOODS: That was a good one. The ball was sitting halfway down. I had to go out there and kill it nice.
Q. Next hole at the 6th also your 3rd. This one short of the green.
TIGER WOODS: I hit a hell of a second shot to get to this point and just a pitch and run with my 56. Let it roll out.
Q. People question whether or not the touch around the greens. How about this one at 9?
TIGER WOODS: That was a good one. Had some speed and I was able to nice little dier (sic) in there and rolled in. Nice.
Q. Place goes crazy. We'll get to the atmosphere. Let's go to the other side of the golf course now. Your birdie putt here at the 10th.
TIGER WOODS: 10 was uphill right to left. Give it enough gas. Hit a good putt, dead center.
Q. Your putter was working well for you. How about your second at 14?
TIGER WOODS: I had a smoking 4-iron. Wind switched on us, actually came back in and Joey was here please go. The wind switched and the ball did stand up.
Q. You go to the tee at 16, lot of the guys were talking about this perhaps being your best swing of the day on the tee. What does it say about your confidence and able to shape a shot like this on a hole like 16?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a few little shots on the range just in case I had to hit it today on 16. 2-iron yesterday, I barely covered it and the wind is coming out of the southeast and 2-iron not -- I can't cover it. Had to hit 3-wood. Brings in the trouble. Hit some shots on the range. Worked out well.
Q. Added up to a 67. We could hear and see the craziness going on outside the ropes. From your vantage point inside the ropes while you're competing, what is that like?
TIGER WOODS: Very, very loud. The people in Tampa are really into it and been incredible. So nice and just been into it and into this event and I played myself right there in contention so it will be a fun Sunday.
Q. First time they've seen you in 22 years. Good to have you back here in Western Florida.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
Q. How about the chip-in on 9?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. It was sitting down just a little bit and I went after it, tried to kill it. Downhill, down grain and we were on a -- semi joking today back at the house that I hit so many good chips that haven't gone in yet. I'm due to hole one and I finally holed one. That was nice. It was nice to get the momentum, keep the momentum going and went out and birdied 10 right away.
Q. Your emotion today going into tomorrow, are you excited?
TIGER WOODS: I am excited. I feel good. I feel like I'm playing a bit better and cleaner. The last two days I missed -- had a bogey at the last hole with the sand wedge yesterday.
Other than that, it's been a pretty clean last couple of days and really good, really consistent. I moved myself up the board. I know it's packed up there but at least I got a shot.
Q. Tiger, you have always relished the process of winning and the euphoria. When you were away, how much did you think about that?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of times I did think about it. I was hoping something to take the pain away, I should get up out of bed and walk again.
Q. How much did you miss it?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't. I was living from minute to minute. You have no idea how hard it was.
Q. Is there a time when you think about winning tonight?
TIGER WOODS: I'm right there. I'm only one back. As I say, there's a bunched up leaderboard. I've got a shot going into tomorrow. I need to play a good, solid round, clean card again and we'll see what happens.
Q. Tiger, how distracting was that scoreboard on the 18th green? Could you not have asked them to turn it off?
TIGER WOODS: I was -- I kept looking at my book because I couldn't tell if it was downhill or not. That's why I put my arm up try to shadow it out. I tried to really pay attention to what Sneds did at the end. I know it went left but didn't go down the hill. So it was interesting.
Q. Only good side was your putting coming back.
TIGER WOODS: No problem. Just go ahead and wrap it.
Q. You want to stay in the present. If you were to win tomorrow, where would this win rate given what you've gone through the last couple years?
TIGER WOODS: We'll cross that, Bernie, when we get there. Hopefully it will be tomorrow.
Q. What's the biggest challenge you're going to face tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Tomorrow, there's a packed leaderboard. There's so many guys played their way back up into this tournament. Scotty played well, he got it up there. Rosy has been playing well. He's playing a Top-10 almost every single week he's played over the last five, six months.
So, there's a lot of guys up there, so, you know, myself included. Got to go out there and really play well again. Hopefully I'll make a few more birdies and keep that card clean.
Q. What's your nerves compared to back when you were consistently winning, even 2013, when you won five times or even at Wyndham the last time you were in contention, is there any comparison?
Does it feel different, the same?
TIGER WOODS: I would say Wyndham was probably much harder because of the fact I was suffering from the back pain then. I really had a hard time putting, bending over to putt and the putts on the last couple of days was pretty amazing that I made some.
Q. What do you expect to feel tomorrow afternoon late on that first tee?
TIGER WOODS: I'm excited. I've been ready to go. I'm excited to play. It's going to be fun, lot of fun and these people have been great. They've been fired up and it's exciting for all of us.
Q. What's going to be the hardest part about tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Try and beat all the guys. I need to play well tomorrow. This is a bunched up leaderboard where Scotty was pretty much way out of it and shot 5-under par and played himself right back in the tournament. Lot of guys can do that tomorrow. Hopefully I can be one of those guys and post a good number.
Q. What do you have to say to the people who thought you were finished?
TIGER WOODS: Depends.
Q. It's only 13 rounds this season. Any of it starting to feel more familiar to you?
TIGER WOODS: It is. It is. It really is.
Starting to feel like I'm back into the rhythm of competing and playing again. It's taken a little bit. I felt way better at Honda with it.
By the time I got to the 3rd round I really felt good about just getting to the rhythm of playing again and this week has been even better.
Q. Is there a part of you that thinks why didn't I do that back fusion sooner now knowing yeah, you know?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we exhausted all the non-surgical options. My disk was still intact so we're trying to save the disk and I just never know with the future. No one has ever done, no one ever had a lower lumbar fusion where I had it and come out here and played. I know Goose had a disk replacement right at the level above mine. He's out here playing but not a fusion.
This is uncharted territory. I didn't want to go there. That was last case resort and ended up being the only option I had left.
Q. Tiger, you remember how to do this, obviously. Throughout your career Sundays and closing on Sundays has always been a hallmark of yours. Will you draw on that tomorrow? Does it feel natural for you now?
TIGER WOODS: It feels good to be up here. I've been in this position many times. I've won my shares of events here and Overseas and so I like to be one back or near the lead. I've been here before. I just need to execute.
Q. Who do you consider to be your second set of eyes and how do they help you?
TIGER WOODS: I've got a few friends that have been great about it. I use the camera here and there, but very sparingly.
I'm trying to mainly do a lot of this by feel just because this is all new. I've explained this to you guys before, it's like riding a bike but just a new bike. I don't have the same rotation I used to. I will never have that again.
And so I have to rely on different feels and different shots now and I'm still learning but I'm getting better at learning how to do it.
Q. How has Joey been?
TIGER WOODS: Joey has been great. He's a stud. He's positive, upbeat, competitive. Man, he's into it and he's been a great friend over the years but especially the last couple years where it's been tough. Just unbelievable friend and just unreal caddy out there.
Q. Tiger, I know it's a little unfair, you can't know everybody out here but do you know Corey Conners, do you know anything about him?
The guy is leading the tournament. Would you have known him? He's an alternate who got in this week.
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't have known him. Close to a third of the guys I don't know anymore out here at the given events, just because when I was out -- you know, for instance, Jon Rahm was still in college.
So, now there have been a few guys really stepped up and played well but I've been gone. I haven't got to know some of these guys and Corey is one of them. I don't know a lot about him. There's been a lot of change because of the Web and the guys -- I missed the last couple years so with that included it's been interesting.
I said last Sunday playing with Sam over there, the kid is half my age. So, that's what's happening nowadays and I don't know how old Corey is but I'm sure he's one of the young guys, too.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports