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June 3, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Three time Memorial Tournament champion Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us for a couple minutes. Another good round today, 68, and just one off the lead heading into the weekend. If we could start with some opening comments.

TIGER WOODS: I felt like I hit the ball pretty good today. I got off to a great start early in the round and made some two great saves on 9 and 10 to keep the momentum going. Then I came right back with a birdie on 11, which was nice. After that I kind of nothing kind of I didn't hit the ball close enough to make a birdie after that. I made a bunch of pars and ended up bogeying 17. To be one back is a good spot.

Q. On the 1st hole what club did you hit?

TIGER WOODS: 2 iron.

Q. Any particular reason the other guy out hit you?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they hit 3 wood, as they should. It wouldn't be good if I'm hitting a 2 iron past their 3 woods.

Q. There's been a couple times when you would take long breaks, come back and if you didn't win you were right there and not much had changed, and I'm just wondering where you are in the process, when you take breaks, big ones, like post Masters, is there more rest than there was before for lack of a better way to explain it?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly not as much this year as there was last year. That's just because I don't have to work on as many things. I mean, as I said, my checklist over the past year or so has gone way down. It's only just a couple things now.

Q. Your friend Mark O'Meara is using a saw putting style. I'm curious if you, messing around, have ever tried to do a claw or a saw?

TIGER WOODS: I mess around all the time at home. My stroke is so much worse with those grips. I better hope I don't ever have the yips because I'm not going to say it (laughter).

Q. Can you talk a little bit about why the back nine seems to be playing so much harder than the front?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, that's a good question. Traditionally that's kind of how it's been. I know that because he's lengthened 11. A few years ago that used to be kind of an auto birdie, just drive it anywhere down there you can make birdie. Hit 3 wood off the tee, you can make birdie. That's no longer the case. You've got to hit a precise drive if you do hit driver, and it's even harder, the second shot now, because you are farther back. The rest of the holes, like 14 is such a little bitty dinky hole but the wind swirls a little bit and it's hard to commit to what you're doing and you can hit it in a bad spot easily. The changes on 17 made that hole a lot harder.

Then obviously 18 putting the creek a little closer and the bunkers over the corner, you can't exactly hit driver over the top anymore. He got tired of seeing Hank Kuehne hit the ball over there, so he changed that.

Q. If this is Jack's Memorial does that put things in your favor this weekend?

TIGER WOODS: It's kind of been that way, hasn't it? Hopefully I'll keep the string going here. Same thing at St. Andrews.

Q. There were a number of guys today that made moves early and either didn't carry it through or fell back, and you said after 11 you didn't hit it close enough to give yourself good birdie chances after that. Were the pins harder on the back nine coming in?

TIGER WOODS: A touch. The only easy pin, really easy pin, that was accessible was 15, the par 5. That's probably as easy as it gets. Then the left side kind of funnels back over to the right, fine.

16 is kind of semi tough but not overly tough, but the rest of the pins are pretty difficult.

Q. I couldn't hear you, I was in the back there when you were talking outside about Jack. Maybe you could repeat the sentiments that you had about him playing one last time here and give us your thoughts in general.

TIGER WOODS: Well, Jack and I actually talked about this earlier this week. Our lockers are right next to each other, so we kind of sat there and talked about it a little bit. He just said he's not physically able to practice and prepare. If you're not able to prepare to win, there's no sense in playing, and that's that I certainly can understand.

You know, if you can't go out there and log the hours and log the time to feel like you're mentally and physically ready to go ahead and put your best effort to win a golf tournament, then you've got to try and you've got to move on. Jack is going through some physical ailments now, and his best is just not good enough anymore; he understands that. Unfortunately we're all going to have to deal with that at some point or another, and unfortunately it's right now for Jack.

Q. You've been after his records since you started well, not after, but you certainly want to try and break his records some day. You've always been able to do it so far with him somewhat in a playing mode or as a player. Now it's obvious he's not going to be playing much anymore. Could you maybe talk about the time that you've had with him as a player and now going forward?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, it's very rare that we ever get paired in the same bracket. I get early late, he gets late early. It's kind of opposite for some reason. Over the years, that's kind of the trend, how it's been. So I never really got to see him very much. The only time I ever got to see him obviously first hand was at Valhalla. That was a really cool experience, to go toe to toe with the guy and play with him step for step. I think the coolest moment I tell the story all the time, is 18, walking off the 18th tee, saying, hey, let's do this the right way, let's finish this off the right way, and we both make birdie. He almost made eagle. But that to me is one of the coolest moments I've ever had.

Q. Just wondered if your dad is feeling better now, and with the Open being on Father's Day will he be able to travel to North Carolina?

TIGER WOODS: No, he's not traveling very much anymore. He's going to take it easy. Augusta kind of took its toll on him a little bit. He's done with the radiation treatments, so everything is good there. He's got no more cancer, so he's in the clear for that. But unfortunately he's 1 over par, 73. He doesn't quite recover as fast as he did the last time. And on top of that, if you know my dad, he doesn't exactly take care of himself (laughter). He's still puffing away, and that's just the way it is. He's been real stubborn about everything. It's got him here this far, so far, so we'll just kind of leave him be.

Q. What happened on 17?

TIGER WOODS: Kind of hit a heel slice with a 3 wood over there in the fairway, hit kind of a pull draw, great flop shot and a blocked putt, and a good tap in.

Q. Been out to California to see him between the Nelson and now?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I went out to California to hang out for a couple days there, see mom and dad. I flew them up to Vegas for the concert. I hosted my concert up there, so we hung out there, and he flew back home and I flew back to Florida to get ready for here.

Q. Are you comfortable off the tees?

TIGER WOODS: Off the tees? A lot more than I used to be, that's for sure. I've driven it pretty darn good this week so far.

Q. How much are you hitting driver here?

TIGER WOODS: Hardly at all. The fairways being as fast as they are, it doesn't allow me to hit driver. I hit driver on 7, 10, 11. That's it.

Q. Is that standard for here in these conditions?

TIGER WOODS: In these conditions, yeah. It's kind of normal. The only time I ever hit driver here a lot was when it's raining, soft fairways, mushy fairways which is most years.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: First birdie of the day came on No. 1.

TIGER WOODS: 2 I hit a 3 wood off the tee, hit a 9 iron up there to about six feet past the hole, made that.

4, par 3, hit a 7 iron to about 12 feet right of the hole, made that.

No. 5, hit a 2 iron and a 2 iron to about 15 feet, two putted.

7, par 5, lost my drive to the right, hit a 7 iron out, hit a sand wedge up there to, I don't know, about eight feet, made that.

Q. What was the yardage on 5, second shot, the 2 iron?

TIGER WOODS: I had 249 I think it was. Just kind of a nice cut 2 iron.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You had a nice couple of saves there on 9 and 10 and then came back with a birdie on 11.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I drove it through the fairway on 11 and hit a pitching wedge out, then hit a sand wedge to about eight inches.

Q. When you get off to such a good start, do you resist the temptation to say "I'm right where I want to be now"?

TIGER WOODS: I've played enough to know that, to understand that you can't think that way, ever. You have to keep plodding along. That's what got you there is placing golf shots, and your mindset shouldn't change. You can't win the tournament on Friday but you can certainly lose it. You've just got to plod your way along, keep putting the ball in the right positions to have some putts. Today more than yesterday it was really hard to keep the ball below the hole because they were putting the pins in spots where you couldn't keep it below the hole or you were in the water. It was a very difficult day but we had a lot of putts down the hill. Chad and Fax and I were thinking about that going up 18. Think about how many putts you had going downhill today. They had tough pin locations today.

Q. How are you going to celebrate making the cut (laughter)?

TIGER WOODS: Go hit balls for about a half hour and be ready for tomorrow. Kind of nice to play the weekend (laughter).

End of FastScripts.

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