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September 3, 2004

Tiger Woods


Q. Mark O'Meara said early in the day, condensed version -- inaudible -- are you still in it?

TIGER WOODS: Today was an exciting day because I really played well. As I've been saying for a while, the things I've been working on are heading the right direction. Today was definitely that. I hit just a bunch of good golf shots, made a few putts early in the round and just kept it going.

Q. Can you talk about your relationship with Mark?

TIGER WOODS: Mark, boy, he's been like a big brother, really. To have him basically take me under his wing and show me the ropes of the Tour. I couldn't have asked for a better person to be in my life. Mark has been there through all of it. We've gone fishing, we've done so many different things. He's just a great guy.

Q. How much of your round was the fact that you were able to keep the ball in the fairway, and you hit a number of really good balls that set you up for the rest of the hole?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I drove the ball very well today. Hit a couple of balls, I think three balls in the first cut, so I was never really scrambling for par. You know, that's nice because the greens are so firm out here, that you play from the rough out here all day, it's going to be tough to shoot a good number.

Q. How quickly do you get used to a new driver?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly just continue in practice. I feel very good with it. If I can just get up there and make the proper golf swing, the club will take care of itself. The ball will get in the way and the ball will go out there in the fairway. It's just a matter of making the proper golf swing.

Q. You obviously had some good rounds this year. Talk about the fact that a good round on an opening day making a difference in a tournament to give yourself a foundation in which to build for rest of the weekend?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I certainly haven't done that very much this year. It's certainly nice to have that opportunity where I have a chance where I don't have to go out there and shoot a round like this just to try and make the cut. It's been nice to go out there and hit just a bunch of good golf shots.

TODD BUDNICK: Last time you led the first round of a tournament and won was the 2003 Western Open, and you've won eight of the last ten times you've either held or shared the first round lead. So good karma there.

Q. Getting back to Mark, do you watch to see where he is on the board?

TIGER WOODS: Always. Always.

Q. Is it the kind of thing where if you can't win, you're routing for him?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this year was one of the highlights for both of us for him to win at Dubai this year. I was dying going into the last two holes watching him play. I was just praying that he would hang in there and win the tournament. Any time you have one of your best buds up there top of the board, it's always cool.

Q. Does this underscore, basically explain your season, the fact -- when you hear the fact that you haven't led the first round since the Western Open last year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't really led a whole lost tournaments after the first round. Even when I'm playing well, it's generally after the second or third round. That's usually where I lead. But it's nice to be able to actually get off to a positive start like this.

Q. Your last eight rounds, you're like 36-under par which includes the PGA Championship, a difficult test, is your game now starting to really be where you want it to be?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, it's been positive. I mean, as I said earlier from the Western, basically, on, is when I really started to put the things together. I built a foundation and now I've just got to build upon it. Each and every tournament has been very positive, so it's nice to have that.

I haven't had any setbacks where I've gone out there and just had no idea how to fix my golf swing on the range. That's what you don't want to have happen. Each and every day, if I had a bad day, bad ball-striking day, I know exactly what to do it fix it, to get over it and hit the ball well the next day.

You know, I can't say that for the last year and a half or so, but certainly since mid-summer on, it's been that way each and every day.

Q. All of the changes on the course, you've now played a full round, do you notice some of the changes? And obviously they were good for you.

TIGER WOODS: The changes I think were great. They were much-needed, too. The golf course last year, granted it was brand new, but still, some of the greens were just too severe for the hole. Some of the bunkering just didn't fit the hole, like No. 9 just did not fit. To carry it on top where you can see it around the corner, you had to carry it 320. Last year we had a north wind, so it played impossible. You couldn't get to the corner.

At least this year, now a lot of the holes that were borderline, were softened up. Now it's extremely playable. It's very difficult, the greens are firm, which they should be, but I think it's very fair now. It rewards good shots. You know, last year, I thought it repelled good shots.

Q. Vijay has downplayed the No. 1 World Ranking, but knowing how competitive the of you the two of you are, it seems unlikely that it's not important to both of you.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not the end of all things, what else do you want me to say? I like being ranked No. 1. I think it's kind of neat. But winning takes care of it. That's what I've always said. If you win, look back how I got to No. 1 in the world. I won two times in '96 and four times early in '97 and that's how I got there. Winning takes care of it. And that's just a matter of always consistently bringing in titles, as well as if you don't win, make sure you keep finishing high.

Q. Does it add any sense of urgency to win this week?

TIGER WOODS: No. That's the way I tee it up each and every event is to win, period.

Q. You said yesterday that whatever you win here is going to your foundation.


Q. So it is just here and Target?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, just those two.

Q. Have you won one of those?

TIGER WOODS: I won Target; I finished second twice.

Q. Your putting, there was a period of time this year that it wasn't exactly what you wanted. You played so well early and ran into a lull; have you brought that back?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've really worked on my pace more than anything, making sure my pace is correct. If I can basically just get comfortable over the putts, but roll the ball with the correct pace. If you roll the ball with bad pace, how are you going to read your putts?

I just basically worked on my pace and made sure the pace is always cup-speed to that you can hole it on any part of the hole. So it has a chance of going in the center, around the back; it's always going in with the proper speed. That's something that when I get off, I like to go back to, make sure that the ball -- when you're struggling, generally you try and jam the ball in the hole. When you're putting well, you take the high arc and it's all good.

Q. Did do a double-take seeing Palmer on the leaderboard?

TIGER WOODS: No, I knew Ryan was playing, so no.

Q. Does the Foundation's relationship with the tournament create any extra work for you this week?

TIGER WOODS: A little, not bad. Just a couple little appearances here and there.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through your card, you started with a birdie on 11.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 11, I hit a 3-iron in there to about 12 feet and made it.

12, I hit 8-iron to about 15 feet left of the hole and made that.

15, I hit a sand wedge about 12 feet right of the hole and made that.

18, I hit the ball in the green-side bunker. Blasted out to about 20 feet and made it.

No. 2, hit an 8-iron on the green there and 2-putted about 40 feet.

Bogeyed 3. Hit a 6-iron that buried in the right bunker. Hit a really good bunker shot out of there, and had about six feet and just blocked it.

No. 5, I hit a 6-iron up there to about three feet right of the hole.

No. 7, I hit a 4-iron on the green to about 25 feet past the hole and 2-putted.

End of FastScripts.

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