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March 18, 2018

Tiger Woods

Orlando, Florida

Q. You told me for year you play only one way, to win. You're one back, a par-5 and it's reachable, you pulled out the driver. What was the mentality when you stood on that tee?
TIGER WOODS: I was caught. I didn't decide what I was going to do. If I hit driver I got to fit it, I got to cut it in there. And I was, in the back of my mind, I said, why don't you just bomb it over the top. And it was like a 315, 320 carry. And I bailed out and hit a bad shot and that's on me for not comitting.

Q. Is the commitment part of the rust factor?

Q. What was it?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have three different shots there. If I hit driver I could try to fit it, I can fit it, but I got to shape it. Or just bomb it over the top and don't worry about anything. Or just hit 3-wood and 8-iron in there. It's not that hard a hole. Playing down wind, playing short, my 3-wood today's going about 300, 310, so what's the point. And I didn't decide.

Q. You called this a process. In this process is the first time you played this season in back-to-back weeks. How would you compare where you were a week ago Sunday when you came close to today?
TIGER WOODS: Well I felt pretty good out there. I hit the ball probably a little bit better than I did last week. This golf course affords the opportunity to go ahead and stretch it out a little bit. The greens were really smooth but really fast. I thought I really putted well this week. The entire week I hit a lot of good putts.

Q. One of the things we talked about since Hero was playing again in competitive mode, inside the ropes with the fans, the cameras, the yelling, the screaming and more importantly the adrenaline inside you. What was it like for you to make a bit of a charge those first 14, 15 holes?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, even though I got up there I just knew I needed to keep making birdies. Those guys had so many holes behind me where I just birdied the same holes and so if they made birdie on those holes, I would have to keep going. I got to 16, I figure I got to play the last three holes in 3-under to have a chance and probably force a playoff. And maybe that wouldn't have been good enough the way Rory is playing back there.

Q. In your lead up to the Masters, other than winning, are there any boxes you left unchecked just in terms of the physicality and being in contention?
TIGER WOODS: No, to be in contention, if you would of asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments, that's, I would have taken that in a heart beat.

Q. So you're pleased with the past five or six weeks?
TIGER WOODS: Very. Extremely.

Q. You've been saying, I don't know what to expect, I'm not sure how my body's going to react, do you keep thinking somewhere in your mind that you knew you were capable of this?
TIGER WOODS: If I can play with no pain and I can feel like I can make golf swings I'll figure it out. I'm starting to piece it together tournament by tournament and each tournament's gotten a little crisper and a little bit better.

Q. Your misses have been one you've been missing to the right. What happened on 16 there, just a double cross?
TIGER WOODS: No, I wasn't committed to what I was going to do. If I hit driver I have to fit it with a cut. Back of my mind I said, why don't you just bomb it over the top. It's only like 320 to carry and as hot as it is, the ball's flying. Or just hit a 3-wood straight away, don't do anything. It's going to go 310, 315 as hot as it is right now and that's going to leave me an 8-iron. And so in the back of my mind I'm running through these different scenarios and it's on me, I didn't commit to either one of those three shots and I hit a poor one.

Q. Heading into the Masters, how are you feeling?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if you would have given me this opportunity in December and January I would have taken it in a heart beat. Everything was an unknown. I didn't know what I was going to feel like, what I was going to do, what swing I was going to make. Especially Torrey Pines, was the rough going to be the same pain I was going to feel like I felt last year. I don't know. But coming through that I've gotten a little better, a little bit sharper and I worked my way up there into the leaderboard back-to-back weeks and had a chance, which is nice.

Q. It wasn't just any leaderboard, but this leaderboard had some names, big names, Rory, Justin, Henrik, people who had played well in your absence. Did that add to your satisfaction and when you were out there did it add any adrenaline or anything?
TIGER WOODS: The fans gave me all the adrenaline in the world. They were fantastic this week. Only thing I had a problem with is I was so far back starting out the day I'm five back of the lead and even though I made a run on that front nine, if they play the front nine even par, I'm still quite a ways back. And I got to keep making a bunch of birdies. I saw 14 was leading and now Rory has gone off and I think he's at 15 or 16 now, and I would have had to shoot a really special round to maybe get into a playoff. So that's, it's one of those golf courses today where it's hot, ball's flying, the greens are perfectly smooth, if they're able to get it down there you're going to have some wedges in their hands, they're going to go low and all four par-5s are reachable with irons.

Q. Given your progression, can you put into words what your appetite is for Augusta in two weeks, just given where you've come from?
TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. I haven't really thought that much about it, especially this week. I've been grinding and focusing on this week, trying to win this thing and now the tournament's over, I'll start to make some changes for Augusta, what kind of equipment setup I'm going to go with, some things I want to do with my swing. As crazy as this may sound I haven't putted on bent grass in two years.

Q. Do you have that in your yard?
TIGER WOODS: No, mine is Bermuda, you can't have bent down here, it is way too hot. So, no, I haven't done a lot of these things, so these next couple weeks will be good work.

Q. (No Microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: I thought I poured it, I really did, the grain just chewed it up at the end. But, man, I hit a really good putt, it just dove across the face. And I knew I needed to keep making birdies and you saw I was pretty aggressive on most of the putts pretty much all day. I just had to take a chance. I had to take a run at it. I figured a low one was what I needed and the more I looked at the boards, those guys kept going. Henrik kept making birdies, Rory got on a run, and I thought I just got to keep making birdies, whatever I need to do, just be aggressive, fire at all the flags, and take a run at all the putts and see what happens.

Q. What did you go with on 16 and can you talk about what playing the 6th hole where you hit a big drive and a really nice iron in?
TIGER WOODS: The problem with 16 I didn't go with any one of those three options.

Q. What did you swing?
TIGER WOODS: I hit driver.

Q. But you said were you obviously not committed.
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't committed to either one of the three shots I was supposed to hit.

Q. Did you hit driver a second time too?
TIGER WOODS: I hit driver a second time and hit a big old cut out there to keep it in play.

Q. Take us through 6.
TIGER WOODS: 6, I teed up and bombed it. It's, my line there was 295 carry, the way the wind was blowing, in off the right, I could just hold it against that wind. If I happened to spin it a little bit over to the right, which is fine, but I actually just tattooed it. It was nice.

Q. What did you hit in for your second shot?
TIGER WOODS: I hit 6-iron in there.

Q. From what?
TIGER WOODS: 209, I believe. Sorry, 215.

Q. You thought you made the putt?
TIGER WOODS: I did. I did. It wiggled just a touch to the right at the end. They really did a good job on the pin locations today because they were on a little bit of knobs at the hole, so a lot of times the putt was moving two different ways. They did a great job of setting it up and making it a really good test coming in.

Q. How much progress in this weekend alone did you make from Friday and just how well do you think you played today?
TIGER WOODS: Well Friday was a day that we all have in a four-day event. You're going to play one bad day. Now is that bad day going to be somewhere even par or under par or are you going to shoot yourself out of the tournament? I kept myself in the event, which was good. Yesterday was a little bit better, a little bit crisper, I had a good range session on Friday and thought I did some really good work there. It carried into today and I hit it really well. Unfortunately, I didn't make enough birdies.

Q. You always said that you like your chances whenever you get to Augusta, but it's been three years since you played there, how do you sort of assess your confidence after what you've done the last couple weeks going back in there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I miss playing there, I've been there for the dinner and as great as that is, it's frustrating knowing that I'm, I would have to say, young enough to play the event, where some of the other champions are not, and I just have not been able to physically do it, which is difficult. I've had a lot of success there, too, so really looking forward to getting up there and doing a bit of work and getting a feel for the golf course and basically feel for playing that style of golf again.

Q. You're working on your swing without a swing coach. How is that?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of it is feel. As I said to you guys before, I don't know anyone who is had a lower back fusion L-5, S-1 who can go north of 120 miles an hour. So it's really no one I can go to on something like that. This is very, I'm very young to have this surgery. The average age is 58 and I was pretty young at 41. So I had to do this on feel and I still am. The good news is I'm trusting my hands, my hands are telling me what to do. It's just like baseball, you're in the box and you just trust your hands. That's how I grew up playing and it's what I'm doing right now.

Q. After last Sunday you suggested you were gassed and going to take Monday off. How do you feel today compared to that?
TIGER WOODS: I took Monday off, I didn't do anything golf wise, and Tuesday I just came up here and chipped and putted a little bit before the press conference.

Q. How do you feel now compared to last Sunday at this time? Do you feel fresher?
TIGER WOODS: I do feel a little bit fresher. Probably a little bit agitated right now. At least last week I was there with a chance on the very last hole. This one I am not there.

Q. You said the heat affected the ball today?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, God, yes.

Q. How did affect the physical challenge for you today on the course? Was it any factor?
TIGER WOODS: Not really, not with the cardio and training that I do. That's part of the endurance training that we do. I would much rather have it like this than cold any day.

Q. Will you go to Augusta before tournament week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I will. I need to go take a look at it. As I said, I haven't putted on bent grass in two years. So this is going to be new to me. Playing on rye like that overseeded rye, different spins that we're going to encounter there, and I was talking with Joey about that early in the week I'll figure out what wedge system I want to use for that week, what bounce system, get used to those bunkers, sand's very heavy, thick. So just have to do a little bit of work.

Q. Does that mean like long, detailed practice rounds?

Q. Playing the course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I got to see if my book is any good. I have a book from three years ago, but I don't know if they have resurfaced -- I think they may have resurfaced three of the greens since last time I played, but I want to go up there and make sure and then take a look at all my reads on my putts and see if they match my book and if they're not, then obviously I got to erase and draw some more lines.

Q. Could you have expected a body of work better than this starting in December?

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