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WGC NEC INVITATIONAL


August 18, 2004


Tiger Woods


AKRON, OHIO

Q. Tiger Woods, three‑time champion here at Firestone and winner of nine World Golf Championship events in his career. Tiger, perhaps you can get us started by coming to a place where you've known so much success.

TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. As you said, I've had some success here, James, and I've always had good feelings coming here because it's one of the old traditional golf courses; it's just right there in front of you. There's no hidden tricks, no illusions, just right there in front of you and you've got to come get it. This golf course plays difficult each and every year, and this year is no exception. The rough is up higher, the greens are faster than I've seen them in a while, so it'll be a pretty good test for the week.

Q. Does the increased distance make much of a factor at all?

TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily. 11, you may go from an iron to maybe a fairway wood or guys who hit fairway woods might go to a driver, but if it changes downwind you're going right back to your old clubs. No.¬† 2 is just a different look. Because it's not a true dog leg anymore, you can go ahead and really let it go. Some of the times I've actually hit 3‑wood off that tee because of the dog leg. Now we can go out there and hit driver and just try and put it in play.

Q. You mentioned that your cut streak meant more to you than your No.  1. What has No.  1 meant to you all this time and how have you looked at that position?

TIGER WOODS: It's been quite an honor to get there. It only took me about eight months to get to No.  1 in the world. To get to 129 cuts in a row or whatever it's at now, 128 or 129, something like that, it's taken more than just eight months. That's why I'm more proud of that. That's the reason why I said that.

As far as the No.  1 ranking, yeah, it's certainly a point of honor. You've had to play hard and you've had to play well, and for me to have done it for as long as Greg has, I've been very consistent, and I think that's one thing I'm very proud of and I think that's a reflection on the cut streak, too. I kept racking up points. When you win, that kind of takes care of itself.

Q. If you were to happen to lose it, what would it mean to you?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you just try and get it back. As I said, if you win tournaments, it'll take care of itself. It always has. Greg was No.¬† 1 in the world for a long period of time and he was winning two to four a year for every year, and I did the same thing, I did five‑plus for five straight years, and now Vijay has won five times this year. That's how you do it. You don't get to No.¬† 1 in the world by finishing Top 10. You have to win.

Q. Do you consider the No.  1 ranking the definition of the best player in the world?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's proven that you're the most consistent to get to that point because you have to have won tournaments for a long period of time. We all go through spells where we play hot for four, five, eight weeks, sometimes longer than that, a few months, but you have to be¬† ‑‑ you have to sustain it longer than that. It has to be over a year, two years, three years to get to the No.¬† 1 ranking. I got lucky because I won two tournaments and came back out and won four with a major in there, so six tournaments in a short span of time, and that's how I got it.

Q. Is there still motivation to¬† ‑‑ (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's fun to go out there competing. There's more to play more now, but hey, winning takes care of it. All you have to do is go out there and win tournaments. That's how I got it. That's how Vijay has narrowed the gap, that's how Ernie has narrowed the gap. You have to win tournaments. That's the best way to do it.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: When you're out there competing you couldn't care less, but it's obviously a point of conversation before a tournament starts and probably after rounds. I'm sure you guys will ask us about it after each round, but when you're out there competing and playing, you couldn't care less what's going on. You're trying to win a tournament. That's the way I've always approached it, that's the way I'm sure they've always approached it.

Q. You've got a long way to go to get there, but isn't¬† ‑‑ (inaudible) Vijay playing this course at 41?

TIGER WOODS: A lot of it is times has changed. Guys are working out now and staying in better shape for a longer period of time. I mean, look at Jay Haas; don't look just at Vijay. Jay is 50 years old playing his best golf of his life.

Equipment certainly helps, but I think it's the conditioning of the players. They're more flexible, they're stronger, hence I think they keep themselves younger for a longer period of time.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: It's a nice balance of guys who have played a few and guys who have never been there but who are accomplished players. I think it's going to be a fun week with our team, not necessarily on the golf course, but, I mean, just in the locker room and having fun and the nights that we're all hanging out and having a good time. I think that's where the Ryder Cup¬† ‑‑ people don't get to see that side of it. That's the point that we all as players. Once you've been on one you want to get back there because you know how cool the evenings are when you're hanging out together.

Q. What about Chris Riley? You guys have played a lot of golf together growing up. How do you control his drooling, I guess (laughter)?

TIGER WOODS: It's funny, I've played with Riles at Daufuskie Island, I think it was Bloody Point in South Carolina, and he and I were partners representing the west, and he's from San Diego, I'm from LA, so they put the two Southern Cal boys out together, and we played alternate shot. Maybe I can convince Hal that we can relive those old days again.

Q. You're back at a place where you've won several times. What is that going to do for¬† ‑‑ (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I think any time you come to an event where you've won before and you've had success at, you automatically feel comfortable and confident, even if your game is not up to form or if you're playing great.

I've come in both ways into this tournament, and for some reason I've played well. I just think it's the golf courses, the venue. You've heard guys say that it suits their eye, and that's how this course is for me.

Q. How did your round go today?

TIGER WOODS: It was quick and painless (laughter).

End of FastScripts.

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