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May 7, 2004

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us for a few minutes in the media center. The way you walked into the media center this afternoon, it looked like you were having a good day out there.

TIGER WOODS: It was a good day, Joanie. I hit some good shots. More than anything, I gave myself some looks at the putts and I made them, just about every one of them. It's a nice combination.

Q. Are you there now?

TIGER WOODS: It's coming around. Today was a little bit tighter than it was yesterday, and you want to just continue to improve on that. I felt certainly a lot more comfortable. Yesterday was a good sign, I just overshaped the shots, that's easy to fix, and went out there today and shaped it less. And consequently, I was there in position to make more putts and I made a lot of them.

Q. Going on that, starting with 2, you made a real long one there. Was this a matter of reading the green? How did you feel out there?

TIGER WOODS: I felt like I was putting well all day yesterday, but they were all for pars. Today I gave myself more looks at birdies. I made a nice one on 1, little right to left, a nice bomb on 2, and from then on I made some really good putts.

Q. Do you trust your swing now?

TIGER WOODS: It's close. I hit a couple of bad shots today that I wasn't committed to. This golf course is such that you have to be committed on each and every shot, and I wasn't that on a couple of shots and it cost me. Overall, I felt like I hit the ball really well today.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I was trying to hit a draw and I overshaped it again, which is fine, but the next shot was the one that got me. That was not the same shot that I hit into the water. The one I hit into the water was overhooked, that's fine, but the next one I started left and it went left. That's not acceptable. I'll work on that after I'm done with you guys.

Q. 46 feet on 2, you say you drained just about everything, how are you finding the greens now, and how are you expecting them to be on Sunday afternoon?

TIGER WOODS: I thought they were starting to firm up a bit, but I think they're keeping some water on them, that's why the scores are lower this year than they were last year. There's some tough pins out there. But when you have got the greens perceptive, you can be a little more aggressive and fire at some of these flags.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: 3-iron.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't. I've putted well this year before when I wasn't swinging well and it still doesn't make me swing any better. I certainly feel a lot better with the work I've done from basically the Florida Swing all the way through here, I keep improving. Although my scores and results don't show it, everything is improving, it's just a matter of time before it starts coming together. It's just tightening up a little bit, which it is doing now.

Q. You made swing changes in 97, you won five times last year. Comparatively, how much of a swing change have you made this year from last year by comparison to 97? I know it's not nearly as close, but can you give any kind of a percentage?

TIGER WOODS: I felt like I overhauled my swing back in 97. I went from a person who was short, crossline, and shut, and played differently with my hip action and my feet. Now it's a little bit different than that now. I can't really say a percentage how much I'm working on it, but it's nowhere near as drastic. It's just fine tuning. I'm not that -- I don't have to that change my golf swing like I did back in 97 to where I felt I was more consistent.

Q. We see the results and we see five wins and say that's a pretty good year from any standards. Even at that point you're still feeling like you're not where you want to be and you're trying to ratchet it up another notch?

TIGER WOODS: I think I'm just like you, and you're just like me, we're all golfers and trying to improve, fiddling around with trying to get a little bit better. I think that's the way it is.

Q. Do you worry about ruining -- not ruining but setting yourself back?

TIGER WOODS: You always try to get better. Even if you win, like I did in 2000 -- say 99 and 2000, I won 17 times on our Tour. You're always trying to get better, that's just the way it is.

Q. Have you made any significant changes in your strengthening and conditioning regimen in the last year or so?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. I know I'm lighter now than I was last year, because I wasn't able to run last year, with the knee. I just had to hop on that stupid bike and ride it. It's not quite the same fat-burning exercise as running.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: It's a 2-iron and I didn't know if I should draw it or hit it low or hit it high, because the wind kept changing just enough where I wanted to hit the same shot I hit yesterday, which was a hard fade, but I wasn't going to get there. It's 20 yards further today. It's 260 or something like that to the hole. It was just a nice normal 2-iron, but I didn't feel comfortable shaping it with a draw at that time. I felt better hitting the fade. I knew the fade wasn't enough. That was a mind tease I was giving myself there.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Because I wasn't committed to arcing the path off to let it go for a draw. If I was more committed I would have set myself up with my posture and lined it up over there and swung it in there, but I wanted committed to it.

Q. You've played this course before and the strength of the field here, can you quantify what a victory here this week would do for you in terms of your preparation for the next Major?

TIGER WOODS: It's always nice to win before a Major. The field is very similar to what we find at World Golf Championships. It's a very deep field. It may not have the international flavor that some of the other tournaments have, but this is a very strong field. It's very similar. That's one of the best events we play on Tour besides the majors and the World Golf Championships.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Well, when you step up to hit it from right to left and it goes right, that's not good. If you step up and hit left to right and it goes left, that's not good either. You would much rather see it start too far left and slice back or too far right and hook back. As long as the ball starts online, if it has too much shape, it's easy to fix, you can take the shape out. But if it's doing the exact opposite of that, then you've got some serious problems.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I was trying to get more accustom to setup in the path of the swing. I didn't feel comfortable doing it. When you have to play golf courses that difficult and you're not comfortable with it, that tough. You start trying to steer it and that's the last thing you want to do.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: The green shrinks, the hole shrinks, everything shrinks.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: It certainly feels like you can place the ball on the correct sides of the fairway. That's when you know you're starting to swing better. You can put the ball on the right side, give yourself an angle, things like that. That's how I was taught to play by my dad, always give myself the correct angle. I'm starting to do that.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Unfortunately, I've had a lot of practice in competition, so I guess my short game has gotten better because of that, and now I'm hitting it a little bit better and my short game has been more sound because of all the, unfortunately, the use it has been getting.

Q. Have you ever won on Mother's Day?

TIGER WOODS: No idea. Wasn't Byron Nelson in 97 on Mother's Day?

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: This is a golf course where you absolutely have to drive the ball well and you have to hit your irons well. You have to shape the golf ball both ways here, you can't just hit it one way. It's a very good barometer of how you're striking the golf ball, because you have to place it here. It's like playing the old style golf courses, that's what this course is. It's not a stadium golf course or one that's manufactured. This is how golf should be played.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Probably after I made bogey on 6 and I got up there and just piped it down 7, and just hit a nice little bleeding 6-iron to the top of the flag. After I hit one pitch out and the very next hole striped two perfect golf shots. That's when you know you've erased it and gone back to what you need to do and you step up there and you're more committed. Even if you're more committed you still hit perfect golf shots, and that's cool.

Q. In 98 when you went through swing changes you had that Eureka moment at the Nelson where you definitely were there. What will be the defining moment here?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. The moment you're describing was actually before the Nelson, it was a week before when I was at home where I hit one golf shot where I didn't feel anything and I knew that was it. If I could replicate that I would be on the right track. I haven't had any moment like that yet. I may never, because that was such a drastic change. This is just a minor change.

Q. By your standards, since you started a weekend in a stroke-play event in the lead or right there, how satisfying is it knowing you don't have to make up a bunch of ground to be where you want to be?

TIGER WOODS: Considering the way I've been playing the last few tournaments, trying to come back from so far back, I've always been one that would much rather be ahead than coming from behind. Hopefully I can get out there tomorrow and play just the way I did today, and hopefully Sunday I'll do the same thing. This is only halfway. We have a long way to go.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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