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June 5, 2004

Tiger Woods


TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Tiger, 5-under 67 gives you 9-under for the tournament, 3 back going into tomorrow's round at a place you've won three times before. You must feel good about your position heading into Sunday.

TIGER WOODS: I do. I hit the ball well today, made some nice putts, and basically just kept myself in the ballgame with a chance tomorrow.

Q. You began there with bogey, but you bounced right back with five birdies. Talk a little bit about your round today.

TIGER WOODS: I had a good tee shot and a bad second shot and made bogey, but I think I got a great break on 2, because I hit just a terrible 3-wood over to the right and had a shot and almost hit it in for birdie. It would have been sweet, but I made par.

From there I just hit some good golf shots, put the ball where I needed to put it. If I missed the green I always missed it in the correct spot uphill where I could get up-and-down. With the pins being tougher than they have been, you have to miss the ball in the correct spots.

Q. You've had some dicey Saturdays recently, but if you look from 10 on, Thursday through the rest of the week, it seems like you've fallen into a pretty decent rhythm?

TIGER WOODS: As I said, you know, I keep telling you guys that things are coming together.

Q. What makes you think we don't believe you?

TIGER WOODS: Because you keep asking me the same questions (laughter). I keep hitting the ball much better. I'm putting the ball the same as I have all year. I've only had one bad putting day the whole year.

Q. All in all today, it seems like there haven't been as many disasters as there were the first two days. Do you think guys are, like you said, learning how to play this course a little bit differently or more carefully with the changes that Jack has made?

TIGER WOODS: The wind is not blowing as hard. The first day the wind was blowing pretty hard, and trying to get a feel for where it's coming from is difficult. We played No. 4 today, and when I hit, it was left to right when I hit my shot and it turned right to left, knocked it in the bunker. Todd hit, it went from right to left to downwind, and it ended up in almost the back of the green. That's how the winds are swirling all over the place out there. It's just very difficult. But the first day was much harder.

Q. Could you talk about 15, what club you hit into the 15th fairway, what kind of lie you had and what the shot looked like?

TIGER WOODS: From the fairway, my second shot?

Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: I hit 3-iron, and it was a borderline whether or not I could get there. I knew if I hit a good one I could get to the front edge. I didn't want to go long because short was an easy pitch, and I just got over it trying to hit it hard. I didn't know I hit somebody until I was just there, when Feherty told me.

I had 50 yards to the fringe, Stevie stepped it off, it was 50 yards, and just tried to line the ball at that number if not a little bit beyond, let it go somewhat past the hole. That's the only thing that can happen, but just do not leave it short, and it came off perfect, landed on the fringe, rolled down there to the opposite fringe and I made the putt.

Q. I'm sure you saw the leaderboards. If you don't take advantage there it's going to get a little further away from you, it seems.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I knew that Freddie and Ernie back there were playing really well, and K.J. was making a run back there, as well, so I needed to somehow get to probably 9 or 10 to give myself a chance, so I thought that was a big putt to make instead of having to try to birdie the last three holes or something like that.

Q. You just talked about maybe getting a couple of breaks, missing in the right spots, and you've been saying all along that it's kind of fickle, sometimes you do, sometimes -- are you feeling that maybe that cycle is starting to turn back in your favor?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I hit better golf shots, and also I got some pretty good breaks, as well. For instance, on No. 2 today, the ball should have been in the hazard but it wasn't. I had a swing, I had a difficult shot, but at least I had a swing, and I put it up there where I made par where that should have been a bogey. Bogey-bogey is not the way you need to start on a Saturday afternoon.

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you put the changes you made in 99 and 98, and where would you put the changes now that you're working on, minor, moderate?

TIGER WOODS: Very minor. They're not drastic changes. 97, I went from a person who had a pretty strong grip across the line and shut to relatively on-plane and more of a neutral grip, so that was a big fundamental change. I had never swung the club that way. Now it's just a little small tinkering here and there, not an overhaul like I did.

Q. You say small tinkering, but it almost sounds like not so much overhaul, but when you talk about having everything from wedge to driver coming together, that sounds like it's more than just --

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the shortest swing, which is a wedge, and if your swing is off there it's going to be more increased as you move up through the golf bag. I remember coming back from my knee surgery in the beginning of 03, and I hit so many wedge shots to try and get my swing better, fundamentally sound, and by the time I got up to my longer clubs, I could just go ahead and swing and it was already there.

Q. The three guys at the top of the board, yourself and Ernie and Fred, guys that everybody says are tailor made for this golf course, that being the case, if you've got similar conditions to this tomorrow, what's it going to take for you?

TIGER WOODS: We're still going to have to make birdies. This golf course -- obviously the pins are difficult. We'll have some new ones tomorrow, but overall with technology the way it is and the way these guys are able to play, you can't sit there and make pars and expect to win a tournament.

Q. How many birdies?

TIGER WOODS: If I make 18 I'll be looking pretty good (laughter).

Q. How many times did you hit the driver today?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Let's see. One.

Q. Did you have other opportunities where you wished you would have hit the driver afterwards?

TIGER WOODS: No. The fairways are starting to dry out. Sorry, 2. I hit driver on 10, as well. Some of the holes -- I wanted to hit driver today on 11, but when we played 10 it was downwind, when we got to 11 it was back in our face again. It kept switching. I couldn't hit driver there. If it would have stayed where it was on 10 when we got to the 11th tee I would have been able to hit driver.

Q. Do you always hit it on 10?

TIGER WOODS: Unless it's downwind, because if it's downwind I have to take it over that tree, and that's just not the line you want to take.

Q. How big was the birdie on 15, given the kind of momentum turn it was around and making bogey there and then you hit it left?

TIGER WOODS: It's one of those things where I knew that I had to make birdie somehow or birdies coming in, because Ernie is playing really well back there and so is Fred, so it would have been -- let me put it this way: I didn't want to make bogey on that hole. If I made par or better, it would have been great, but if I made bogey there, that would have had to force me to birdie the last three holes to get back in the golf tournament.

Q. The bunker shot on 14, was that just a delicate finesse thing?

TIGER WOODS: No, the only thing I couldn't do was land the ball on the green. If you land the ball on the green it's in the water. If I got cute with it, which I did, and kept it in the bunker, the next shot I had an awkward stance, it's an easy bunker shot. The shot I actually thought I could have holed, but if I hit the ball on the green the first time, it's out of here, wet.

Q. The second shot looked awkward.

TIGER WOODS: The stance was awkward but the shot itself was so much easier. It was ten times easier than what it was the first time.

TODD BUDNICK: Could we go through the birdies.

TIGER WOODS: 3, I hit a wedge in there to about four feet.

5, I hit a 3-iron just over the green, chipped down there to about a foot.

7, I hit a 2-iron over the green, chipped it down there about three feet, made it.

10, I hit a 9-iron to about seven feet left of the hole.

11, I hit a pitching wedge to about 12 feet right of the hole.

15, bogey. You got that. The putt was about 15 feet. It was four from the right, so 16 feet. I'm sorry, it was 12 feet.

Q. From 50 yards out from the fringe, a wedge?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a full flop 60.

17, I hit a 7-iron up there to about 20 feet right of the hole, made that.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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