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March 5, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Ford Championship at Doral.

Great round of 63. You came out there with a 30 on the back nine today, and you had a great opportunity to give your father a birthday present.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was pretty cool. I talked to my dad this morning and I woke his butt up in the morning, which was nice. I was the first one to wish him a happy birthday. He didn't even know it was his own birthday. It was kind of cool, we talked for a little while. I promised him today, "I would shoot a low one for you. I promise you one thing, I won't shoot your age."

Q. How old is he?


Q. Can you talk about playing with Phil tomorrow and do you prefer playing in a situation where you know what the other guy that you're chasing is doing at all?

TIGER WOODS: It's always nice, it's always nice to be in that position. We both know we're just going to have to go out there and make a bunch of birdies. The golf course is so benign right now that you just have to be aggressive and go ahead and try and make as many birdies as you possibly can. Look at the board, I think either 13- or 14-under par is in the Top-10. That's pretty low around this golf course.

Q. Has technology outgrown Doral?

TIGER WOODS: You know, we thought when Raymond first redid the golf course, a lot of guys were complaining about the fact that it's too far to carry these bunkers and now all of a sudden, we're carrying all of them. So within a few years, we're all hitting it a lot further.

No. 16 was never a hole you would ever go for. You would have to have a gale behind you. Now it's just a light breeze, throw it up in the air and amazing how far the ball goes.

Q. Was there a single shot that kind of flipped the switch for you?

TIGER WOODS: No, not really. I was hitting it pretty bad on the range, actually, warming up and the last little bit I started hitting it pretty good. So just stick with that and I didn't commit to the first couple of tee shots I hit on 1 and 3. 1 I hit to the right and No. 3 I jerked to the left. After that, just get committed to what you're doing and go ahead and just hit it.

Q. What about 16, can you walk us through it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I went for it the other day and I hit it in the right bunker. I figured it's -- I thought I hit a good line to be center of the green and I missed it to the right. So I aimed it just a little bit further left this time and just said, you know what, just go ahead and swing hard just in case you might catch it; and I caught it pretty good.

Q. How close was that swing to 100, max?

TIGER WOODS: I can't never hit it 100 because I can never control if I hit it solid or not; so it was about 90.

Q. When did you realize it was on the green?

TIGER WOODS: Not until we were halfway down the fairway. No one clapped, so we had no clue. I thought it was in the front bunker to be honest with you.

Q. How does today rank amongst the best rounds you've played this year?

TIGER WOODS: Very close to how I played at Buick. I shot 63 in the second round and played about like how I did today --

Q. How many times --

TIGER WOODS: -- or two days.

Q. There have been so many rounds where the driver or putter wasn't working but pretty much through the bag, everything working, how many times this year?

TIGER WOODS: Probably not that often, really. At Mercedes, I hit it better than I did today all four days and I missed every putt. San Diego, I didn't hit it very good but I made everything. L.A. we didn't really play. The Match Play, I wasn't there very long.

So, yeah, this is definitely nice to get out there and play like I did today.

Q. Does two strokes seem even a little larger given the way Phil has been playing the last month?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you've just got to make birdies and hopefully I can make more birdies than he does tomorrow.

Q. Have you seen much of him outside of one day at Oakland Hills?

TIGER WOODS: Mm-mmm. At Buick we are on the opposite end of the draws. We're playing South Course, North Course and switch. He didn't play L.A. We both played the Match Play and were on opposite sides of the brackets, so I never saw him there.

Q. Whose idea was that?

TIGER WOODS: You're a beauty.

Q. Can you talk about the crowds and what it was like out there, was it different than a regular Saturday out here?

TIGER WOODS: It certainly was different than the first two days. You know, the first couple of days, I think everyone was in a state of shock out here in South Florida with as cold as it was so they were not really too excited. Today they were out and yelling and screaming, having a great time.

Q. No. 3 today what did you do there, that shot in the rough, what did you use?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a pitching wedge and just tried to hit it up over the tree, which I did, just make sure I don't hit it right and I kind of pulled it left and left myself at least a nice little chip and I chipped it up there to about two feet.

Q. Is your demeanor in a final round the same all the time or does it depend on who you're playing partner is? Are you more or less talkative depending on whether you know the guy or have played with the guy a lot?

TIGER WOODS: When I start getting into trying to win a golf tournament, I don't really talk to anyone, really. I've come down the stretch and played against my best friend, Mark O'Meara, and I didn't say a word to him. That's just kind of how I am.

Q. What does it feel like when you're in a groove like that on the back nine, is it fun? You were laughing a little bit there it seemed.

TIGER WOODS: It was fun to be able to put the ball where I wanted to put it each and every shot. I really only hit one bad golf shot, that was the shot into 15. I jerked it left, but I still was on the green.

Other than that, I hit -- boy, just a lot of good golf shots.

Q. You were I think 5-down, is that right, going into today?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, correct.

Q. What were you hopeful of at the end of the day?

TIGER WOODS: I'm hopeful I could cut that down by at least two or three, and at least give myself a chance going into tomorrow where I could play a good, solid round, shoot something mid 60s and at least have a chance at it. I figured I had to do the same thing today, and hopefully Phil didn't go ahead and run away with it and shoot something really low. I was fortunate enough to shoot what I shot because he's playing as well as he is and went 6-under for the day.

Q. Was there any point today where you thought he might run away with it?

TIGER WOODS: If I kept making birdies, he's going to have to keep making birdies as well.

Q. Are you a scoreboard watcher and did you watch it especially close today?

TIGER WOODS: I'm always watching scoreboards. I'm not like Jesper. (Laughter.)

Q. How concerned are you the next group is probably about five back of you and seven back, at this time, at least of Phil, how concerned are you of those guys if you shoot 67 or 68 tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Well, if Phil goes ahead and shoots 67 or 68, they are going to have to shoot 62 to force it into extra holes. It can be done around here. Norman's done it. I shot 63 today and I had two wedges from 80 yards or less and I didn't make birdie on any of those holes.

So you can go low. We need to go ahead tomorrow and keep making a bunch of birdies because this golf course is not playing that difficult with as warm as it is because now we are hitting the ball a lot further than we did the first few days as warm as it is now.

Q. Where do you think they will put the tee on 16 tomorrow, and do you hope that it's an opportunity for both of you to try what you tried today?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. In order for me to actually get there or at least get the ball in the front bunker, I need to have a little help and today I had that help. It doesn't have to be a lot but if it's into the wind, there's no way I'll go for it because I can't get there.

Q. I think you hit every fairway on the back nine off the tee, which, of course, has not been necessarily a trend at all times. Is that important out here and when is the last time you felt like you hit it that well, your stats in terms of distance today were insanely long.

TIGER WOODS: Well, the only time I really hit it this good, if not better was Mercedes. I really hit it great. But then again, it's misleading because the fairways are so big. But again, my iron game was just -- hit some good shots and I made nothing.

Q. Do you relish this situation any more, playing with Phil, who is playing so well, another top-ranked player like yourself, do you relish that any more than you would if you were going for a victory against anybody else?

TIGER WOODS: I just know we are going to have a bunch of fun tomorrow. It's going to be competitive and I think we are both going to be focused on making a bunch of birdies.

Q. Do you think it's fair tomorrow, no matter who wins that a statement is made, do you think a statement is made either way tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: You just go out and make birdies and see what happens.

If he wins, then Phil wins. If I win, then I win. But in either case, at least make the other person earn it and go out there and make some birdies and force them to have to do the same.

Q. Is your disposition towards golf different this year as opposed to last year because you're hitting the ball better and you're hitting it where you want it? In other words, did you look more forward to coming to the golf course?

TIGER WOODS: It's the same. You know, even like today, if you would have saw me on the driving range, it looked a little narrow to me with a sand wedge. (Laughter.) I had a hard time keeping it on the range.

I fixed it a little bit and went out there and played great today. You just never know.

Q. What was the fix?

TIGER WOODS: You know, getting a little bit older now, so I can't quite turn as much as I used to, so make sure I got behind the ball. Just so simple, make sure you get behind it and just go ahead and let it go from there.

Q. The No. 1 ranking is still sort of a subplot here this week. Say you're in the scenario where it's play to win or play for second place and take that No. 1 thing back, are you going to play to win?

TIGER WOODS: What do you think.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your round?

TIGER WOODS: Okay. First hole, I hit a driver to the right and had a great break on a cart path and took a drop and hit a 3-iron to 20 feet and 2-putted.

7, I hit a driver down there and hit a pitching wedge in there to about, oh, eight feet and made that.

On 8, I drove it in the right rough, wedged it out. Hit a 60-degree sand wedge to about six feet and made that.

10, I hit 3-wood, 3-wood just over the green. Pitched back up there and had about a 4-footer and I made that.

On 12, I hit driver and a 3-wood to about 25 feet and 2-putted.

13, I hit a 4-iron to about 20 feet and made that.

14, I hit driver off the tee. Hit an 8-iron up there to about eight feet left of the hole and made that.

16, I drove it on the green and 2-putted from about 40 feet.

18, I hit a driver and a 9-iron to about eight feet again and made that.

Q. Can you confirm that you had 270 on 12?

TIGER WOODS: I had 257 front.

Q. And you had to take some off?


Q. Could you have taken a little bit off the old 3-wood in that situation?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Well, the problem is that I had 250 to the front on 10 into the wind and I hit a 3-wood and I flew it 278. So I'm thinking, well, if I hit the same 3-wood that I hit on 10 into the wind again, I'm back of the green, if not in the back bunker. So Stevie said, "Just take a little bit off it and cut it in there." So, all right, so I did.

Q. How is your father doing and do you guys still talk a lot about your game?

TIGER WOODS: We talk all the time. I probably talk to Pop probably three or four times a week. We talk about each and every thing, my game, life, how is he doing, just about everything. It's always fun to talk to him. We always laugh.

Q. Is he in L.A. or is he at the townhouse or where is he?

TIGER WOODS: He just went back to L.A. for a little bit. He'll be back here I think probably maybe for Bay Hill but definitely the week of THE PLAYERS.

Q. You said you were going to shoot a good round, given your competitive history with Phil, did your dad say anything about cutting the lead in half or catching him today?

TIGER WOODS: No, I mean, I couldn't cut the lead in half because 2.5 just doesn't really happen here. (Laughter.)

So I just said, "I'll shoot a low one for you." I said, "I promise you that, I'll go out there and post a low one for you." Just before I got off the phone I said, "I'll make one other promise; I won't shoot your age today." If I had a chance, I would dump it in the water so I would not shoot his age.

Q. There was a lot made of the pairing you guys had at Oakland Hills and the lack of interaction for partners. Did you feel it was that way, was it uncomfortable and did that speak at all to the relationship there?

TIGER WOODS: No. I think people are overanalyzing it because you know, when I played with Riley, we talked all the time.

When I played with Davis and we won two matches together, we didn't say a word to each other except for, you know, "I've got a Titleist" and "I've got a Nike." That's it. That's all we said to the each other. We didn't talk the entire time. We won both matches at The Belfry and that's how we played. So I've played with both spectrums. Phil and I fell somewhere in between.

Q. Is that a function of you usually or your partner or just something that you both know, the way the day goes?

TIGER WOODS: It's just kind of personality. Sometimes people like to talk all the time, like Riles just has to talk and that's just his nature.

When I played with Duval, we played in Ryder Cup Matches, we've played in the World Cup, we never said a word to each other. Just quiet and that's just the way it was. But we were successful.

Q. Are you more comfortable doing one or the other?

TIGER WOODS: Either one. It doesn't matter. Whatever is best for the team, that's what I'll do.

Q. Would you not expect a lot of conversation tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Probably. We are both focused on trying to win the tournament. I know he talks to Bones a lot and I talk to Stevie a lot.

Q. Is too much made out of you against Phil? Is this just blown out of proportion?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. You think? Hey, we are competitors, we are going to go out there tomorrow and as I said, just try and make a bunch of birdies and see what happens.

This is not like a U.S. Open where you just go out there and you make a bunch of pars, we are both going to have to play aggressive and hopefully we can post something low.

Q. Parry was chatting it up with you right from the beginning and he said he was taking some good digs at you?

TIGER WOODS: Always. Paz a great guy. I've played a lot of golf with him. We have the similar interests, we both like diving, so we are talking about dive spots all the over the world, and I have some good numbers on where to go and have a good time, so we were talking about that a lot.

End of FastScripts.

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