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March 22, 2005

Tiger Woods


Q. Tiger, what does the course look like to you, especially the rough?

TIGER WOODS: The rough is not up as high as it was last year really. The growing season has been kind of cold down here, so they haven't quite got the response that they wanted.

Q. Do you see any difference? They've got new sand in the bunkers. Are the shots landing in the bunkers any softer?

TIGER WOODS: They certainly are softer, no doubt about it. But then again, it's supposed to rain so they could pack down even more. It's one of those things where you could get a ball that buries and you may not.

Q. How do you view this tournament now as opposed to maybe when you started out? Has it changed any, your perception?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's still a great tournament, probably one of the strongest fields we'll have all year. Certainly to date we've never had a field this strong. You play against the best players on this golf course under these type of conditions. This is one heck of a test, so it's a bunch of fun for all of us.

Q. Where does this course fall in the spectrum of how it suits your eye when you're out there? Is it a particularly uncomfortable course for you?

TIGER WOODS: It depends. If you're hitting it well you feel like this golf course is -- it's bigger than it looks because a lot of the holes have sections where you can feed the ball into the hole, okay, but if you're not playing well, it seems like you keep catching the wrong side of the slopes and it keeps feeding away from the hole. A lot of it depends on how you're playing.

Q. Is there an element of just fun here? This is a distinctive place.

TIGER WOODS: It is. I've talked to a lot of guys about this, and we've all come to the same conclusion, it would be a lot better if there was no rough at all, like how it used to be played. When we first came here there was no rough and that's how it's meant to be played, but they've kind of changed since then and gone more to a U.S. Open type setup.

Q. The World Rankings aside, who is the best player in the world right now?

TIGER WOODS: I like my chances (laughter).

Q. Did you have a chance to maybe analyze your play Sunday a little bit more, think about it a little bit more? Was there something you were able to correct pretty easy on the range?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did. I fixed it. I knew what I was doing out there on the golf course but I couldn't quite get myself to trust it, so I did a little work yesterday and feel a little bit better and I hit it a lot better today.

Q. Do you feel like you're hitting it as good as you were the week of Doral right now?

TIGER WOODS: I hope I don't, not right now. You don't want to be hitting it good today and not hit it good on Thursday. You're supposed to build into the week. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit better than today, and Thursday it should be right where it needs to be.

Q. On this particular golf course when you look at your performance here, do you consider it successful, mixed, disappointing, and is there a particular style that this course favors? When you look at the so-called "Big Four," none of you four guys have exactly torched this place consistently over the years. There's been some high highs and --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's one of the golf courses where you have to be so consistent from tee to green. You can't get away with poor ball-striking here. If you miss the fairways, it puts such a challenge on trying to get the ball on the green, and then if you put the ball in the rough more than likely it's going to be the wrong spot, so they're going to have the daunting task of trying to two-putt, and more likely you're not going to. So it puts a big premium on ball-striking, and if you look at the guys who have won that particular week, they've hit it great.

You have to putt well, but it's a lot easier to putt from the correct section of the green than it is to have to lag it up over mounds and elephant burial grounds.

Q. The other day Kenny was saying, Kenny Perry, after he won, when he's here, he's always thinking of 17, even when he's not playing it. Do you think of it when you're not on that hole and do you like that hole?

TIGER WOODS: I don't really think about it. I've got enough problems to worry about.

Q. Do you like the hole?

TIGER WOODS: It's all right. I wouldn't say -- it's just more of a TV hole, more for you guys than it is for us. It's a great hole when the wind is blowing and swirling down there and you've got to figure out what club to pull. But like on a day like today it's downwind, just a wedge up there, no big deal. When the wind comes in your face, I've hit as much as a 5-iron on that hole, and it's only 145 yards and you've got to chip a little 5-iron, it's a little dicey sometimes.

Q. Can you give me a quick take just on what you did today, your practice today and what your plans are tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I played with Charles, and we played 1 through 9 and 16 through 18 because they said the weather was coming in, so we couldn't quite play all the back nine. Hopefully we might be able to get out there after the storm blows through, but hopefully it'll blow through so we can get some work done and some practice.

Q. When you look at the year as a whole, when there's a major at St. Andrews, do you take particular heart from that? I mean, I know your affection for the Old Course. Do you particularly look forward to that this year?

TIGER WOODS: I always look forward to playing there. I fell in love with the place the first time I played it in 95. My first practice round, I thought it was the coolest place ever. My first practice round I played all 18 holes into the wind. I just happened to catch the tide when it turned, so every hole was slightly into my face.

It brought back great memories from watching Arnold tee off in his last Open Championship and watching Jack finish on the last hole when I was teeing off. I mean, I've had some pretty cool things that I can say and tell my kids and grandkids one day about the whole course.

Q. Is it your favorite of all the Open venues?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. It is my favorite course in the world.

Q. In a sense you're the defending champion because you won the last Open at St. Andrews. Do you go back there feeling a lot of confidence that you can win there again?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I always feel -- any time you've won on a certain venue, even though you may be playing poorly or playing great, you always have a sense of confidence going into it because you know there's some good memories there and you can always draw upon those. Certainly that week was a very special week for me, and to complete the Career Grand Slam there and to have my friends and family there, it was a pretty cool day.

Q. Is there sort of a sense that even though the season is well underway, is there kind of a sense that it really starts now, considering how big this week is and with what's ahead in the next couple of months?

TIGER WOODS: I think the season basically -- I hate to say it, but it still starts on the Florida Swing. The West Coast is one thing, but when we get on good greens again and start building up to Augusta, that's when a lot of guys from Europe start coming over and playing and that's when the fields get deeper. This week is a culmination of the Florida Swing, but it's a great event, a great field, and on top of that, it's a very special event considering that the field you have to try and beat.

Q. Going back to the first half of that question I asked you, your estimation of your performances here over the years, okay, decent, better than average?

TIGER WOODS: I think I've done pretty good over the years. I've had a 2nd and a 1st and a bunch of Top 10s here. The year that I lost to Hal was disappointing because I played so well, and Hal just played a little better than I did, but it was a fun challenge. The next year I happened to sneak by Jerry and Vijay that year. I've kind of played well over the years here, and it goes back, I guess, to the U.S. Amateur. I've had a nice run here.

End of FastScripts.

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