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March 20, 2005

Tiger Woods


Q. I guess part of the job is having to interview you after disappointing performances. Summarize your thoughts on this week and any positives you take into next.

TIGER WOODS: Well, no one's dead. I didn't kill anybody. A couple people got hit, but they were all right; they bounced back up.

It was a frustrating week. I didn't really have it, didn't putt well, didn't hit the ball all that great; and consequently, I wasn't in contention.

Q. Did the unusual schedule of having to get up early just about every day add to the frustration?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just long days. You're out here when it's dark and you don't get off the golf course till dark. Just long days, but that's why we work out and that's why we're in good shape; that wasn't a problem. I just didn't quite have it this week.

Q. Seemed like the driver, the bad shots were all left this week, the ones that I saw.

TIGER WOODS: And right. And my iron shots were both and bad distance control. When I did hit it close, I didn't make a putt. Just wish I could have made more par 5s in two and made cheap birdies, but I didn't do that well, either.

Q. Did this week come out of nowhere, considering how you've been progressing swing-wise?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a little bit. Kind of surprised that I was struggling as much as I was this week. But, hey, the week's over with and three days of practice and get ready for THE PLAYERS.

Q. What kind of impact did the rough have, the higher rough have on the tournament this week?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, because the fairways were still soft. It's one thing if the fairways were narrower and firm where your ball would run out into the rough. This week we were plugging them, picking up mud early in the week, and even today the ball really wasn't rolling that much. So, yeah, the rough was a factor if you drove it into it. But if you hit a good drive, it was going to stay in the fairway.

Q. Being No. 1, do you think of the three right now, No. 1 means the most to Ernie because it's been the longest since he's been there?

TIGER WOODS: Probably. Probably. Because he's come so close in so many major championships and hasn't gotten it, has not got to No. 1 in the world, so, yeah, probably.

Q. When did the novelty wear off for you?

TIGER WOODS: I just enjoy winning tournaments. That's how I got to No. 1. That's how I stayed there. So that's what I just kept focusing on is winning golf tournaments and winning consistently each and every year.

Q. Do you get a sense Vijay feels that same way; he was at 1 for a while and realized 1 is a number, but it's all about winning.

TIGER WOODS: It's all about winning. I'm sure he feels that way, I don't know. But being No. 1 is really just a number because the wins take care of themselves. If you win a bunch of tournaments each and every year consistently year-in and year-out, the rankings will just follow.

Q. Did the tournament feel different without Arnold playing?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, with Arnold being such a legend and such a fixture here at this tournament. He's played here each and every year I've played here, that's not that long, but still.

He's still here, I saw him out there today on 11. I don't know what he was doing down there, but he was watching Fred Funk play to the hole and it's just nice having him out here though. Even though he's not playing, he's still part of the tournament. We see him, we talk to him and it just makes it very special. Just like when we go to the Byron Nelson to see Mr. Nelson out there, that's very special for us.

Q. Do you get frustrated or shrug it off as one of those weeks?

TIGER WOODS: It's one of those weeks. It happens. I was playing well coming into this week. I hit the ball well in spurts. I just didn't hit it well consistently, and just go back to the driving range and work it out a little bit. I was pleased with the way I hit it coming down on the back nine. So I'm just going to continue with that and build into next week.

Q. In the past Bay Hill and PLAYERS have set the tone for you for the Masters; is there any concern about that?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. Because I was playing really well coming in here, so with that being said, I know it's in there now. The last couple of years, I really wasn't playing all that well coming into the event and it showed. But here, you know, a couple of weeks ago, I really played well.

Q. The greens were slow and kind of awkward, weren't they?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, slow and grainy. More grainy than they normally are. I was talking to a lot of the guys this week, they were having a hard time reading them. You know, it's one thing to putt them, but also it's hard to read them because there's so much grain in them and they don't look that grainy, that's the funny thing. You can see a little bit of grain in there, but for some reason they putted with a lot more grain.

Q. You don't seem too concerned, is that because you're comfortable you know what you want to do?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I know how to fix it. For instance, the last hole, I wasn't quite feeling all that comfortable, but I knew what I needed to do and I made two of the best swings I made all day, so that's very encouraging.

Q. 14, the short par 4, you hit a wedge in and you took your hand off it?

TIGER WOODS: That's because I dug halfway to China on that divot, you know. I was a little bit on the downslope. I made sure I went down and got it, and unfortunately it kind of got to the core of the earth.

Q. Are you more at ease going into this stretch than a year ago?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. If you look at two weeks ago, I played pretty good and that's very encouraging. Last year I couldn't say that, even though I played halfway decent in Dubai. It was just halfway decent; it wasn't great. So that's a big difference.

Q. Is there any shots at the TPC that you want to work on the next couple days specific, ball flights or anything?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. I'm curious to see what the golf course is shaped up like. I hear the rough is up four or five inches and the greens are going to be about 11 1/2 to 12. So that's going to be very interesting.

Q. Throughout the rest of your life, what will be your one main lasting impression of Arnold Palmer?

TIGER WOODS: Stories. I've got a chance to hang around Arnold from a different perspective than most people, to be able to sit there and talk to him, like at the Masters Dinner, sitting there and having dinner with him here. He's great to play with and fun, but I just love hearing the old stories. Just sit back and just listen to him rap about stuff back in the 60s and 50s and all throughout his entire playing career, because it spans 50 years, so it's pretty cool.

End of FastScripts.

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