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February 27, 2004

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us for a few minutes. Closed out both of your matches on the 14th green today. Why don't you make a couple comments on your second match and then a couple comments on Padraig for tomorrow.

TIGER WOODS: Okay. Well, Freddie this afternoon, boy, he was putting well. Stevie and I knew he was going to make some putts this afternoon, because I think this morning he had 16 putts for 14 holes against Thomas, and he continued that early and made some good putts there on 4, 5 and really turned the tide of the match. He made one mistake over on 9 and basically gave -- it let me keep the momentum of the match and I went ahead and got a couple more holes after that.

Q. It seemed like you putted pretty well today.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I controlled my speed. These greens, being as bumpy as they are, you better control your speed. You don't want to leave yourself three and four-footers on these things. I don't know how the rest of the matches were, but there weren't a whole lot of concessions from two and three feet like there normally are on good greens.

Q. You won 5-4 and 6-4. Those are huge margins. Is there anything we should know about how well you played today?

TIGER WOODS: I played well all day. I think what's important is I kept the pressure on my opponent all day.

Q. Early leads?

TIGER WOODS: I got off to early leads, but it's just about keeping the pressure on your guy, either drive the ball in play, putting the ball up there close, make them have to work for holes. If he was going to win a hole it was going to have to be with a birdie. A couple times I made a couple of nice putts in there to keep the momentum of the match going, keep the momentum on my side, and that's key in match play.

Q. The fact that you played twice today and you saw a lot of putts go in early, which is always a nice thing, did that make the day any easier from that perspective, play in the morning, see putts go in, and then go back out in the afternoon?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the greens were a lot better in the morning. This afternoon they were a little -- they were moving a little bit, so you had to be very careful on your speed. You didn't want to run any putts past the hole. You wanted to get them up there next to the hole and get them conceded or have them go in.

Q. Any bad spots left over because of that water yesterday where either getting in the fairway you had a bad lie because of that?

TIGER WOODS: No, we played ball-in-hand all day, so it doesn't matter. I'm kind of surprised we played ball-in-hand, because last year it did the same thing, it rained big time just like it did the other day and we played the ball down. I remember playing Scott Hoch and we both had mud balls on the first hole, so it was kind of surprising.

Q. Given that anything goes over 18 holes in this format, your record is now like 17 and 3. Are you impressed by that?

TIGER WOODS: Considering I lost in the first round on one of them. It's one of those things where you go head-to-head against guys and just try and outplay them. I'll play guys -- also I've been lucky enough to get a couple matches I probably shouldn't have won.

Q. Was the first match yesterday or two days ago, was that somewhat luck?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we were over there on -- I've got my holes mixed up --

Q. 13?

TIGER WOODS: It looked like I should probably lose that hole and I ended up winning the hole. I should be 3 down and instead I'm only 1 down, big momentum changes like that. You're right, I probably shouldn't have won that match if John puts that ball on the green and makes par and forces me to make par and I may not get up-and-down then.

Q. The greens aren't slow, right, they're just -- it's fast poa and it's bumpy and unpredictable?

TIGER WOODS: They are quick.

Q. Hardest kind of greens you can putt, basically?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly. The putt Freddie had on 9, I mean, that putt is unbelievably fast. It looked like when he hit the putt, that's only a foot by, no big deal, I'm going to have to make my putt to half the hole and it kept running by about 10 feet. They are pretty sneaky quick.

Q. How tough is that ninth hole coming into the wind?

TIGER WOODS: Considering that your ball is not going to roll, I actually tattooed a drive there and I was in between a 3 and a 4 and I figured I'd rather stay short of the hole, play the front edge, and I lost it on the wind a little bit, but it's playing unbelievably long.

8, today on 8 I hit driver, 3-iron, 8-iron. This morning I hit driver, 3-wood pin high. So it was a little different from morning to afternoon.

Q. Your first match you struggled a little bit. With the rain and everything, was yesterday a help to be able to allow you to work on your game a little bit and maybe improve for today?

TIGER WOODS: It was just a light practice session yesterday. I didn't really do much. I wanted to continue what I was doing on the first day and just make more putts. I didn't make anything that first match. Granted, I hit a couple poor shots into the greens, but I made nothing. In match play you can't do that. You're going to have to make putts in order to win matches.

Q. What's the longest putt you conceded today?

TIGER WOODS: It was with Freddie this afternoon, one of the holes. I had a birdie putt and he had a bogey putt or whatever it was.

Q. That was awfully nice of you.

TIGER WOODS: He made me putt a putt on No. 3 today from about a foot and a half. I'll tell you, if you get out there the greens are not smooth. Putts from a foot and a half to two feet, I'm sure most guys didn't give them to them.

Q. You're in a match and it's a foot and a half and there's a dynamic going on, do you think he's cool with putting it and you're not going to give it to him?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we both understand. If you look down there and see all the heel prints and the poa growing, you understand.

Q. That's just the way it is.

TIGER WOODS: Now, if we were playing greens at Augusta or Royal Melbourne or something like that where they're absolutely perfect, then it would be a different story.

Q. You talked about how well you've played, but the three guys you've played have all been over par. Does that speak to the luck of match play or the pressure you're putting on them?

TIGER WOODS: I think it goes to how difficult this golf course is playing, too. Driving the ball in the rough here you can't get to the greens. You have to get the ball in play, and coming home on the front nine when you turn back into the wind, you can't just get the ball in play, you have to get the ball deep out there, too. It forces you to step it up and hit some big tee shots.

Q. You talked about coming into this week how you were inconsistent either with your driver or your iron play. Give us an assessment of the first three matches in regards to that.

TIGER WOODS: I didn't hit my irons well in the first round, drove the ball pretty good, hit four poor drives and didn't make anything, but all day today I hit the ball well and I putted well.

Q. Apart from Darren three or four years ago, whatever it was, Europeans generally haven't done well here. This year there are three in the last eight and maybe four. Are you surprised they haven't done well in the past or are you surprised they've done so well this year?

TIGER WOODS: I can understand why they haven't done well. It's because they're coming from Europe, and all of a sudden you expect them to play match play against guys who have been up playing up and down California. There's a big difference.

Plus being over on the European Tour, whether it's Singapore and Malaysia and all those countries, that's a big jump on the body. To expect them to come over here and putt on these greens and play under these conditions, anything can happen in 18 holes as you know, but most of the Europeans are traveling from outside California to get here.

Q. Would you mind saying something about Ian Poulter? Do you feel he's as colorful and unusual player as many other people seem to think he is?

TIGER WOODS: Outwardly his appearance may be that, but talking to him, he's a great guy. He's down to earth, and he's a really nice person to talk to and hang out with. But outwardly, obviously he does things with his hair and his clothes and stuff, but as I've gotten to know him, he's a great guy.

Q. You're a west coast guy, and everybody knows you live on the west coast with the poa. As a kid you played these greens. Did you ever get used to them, and why is it so much tougher now as a pro? It seems guys talk about it so much. You and Phil both grew up in California playing coastal stuff. Didn't you know any better?

TIGER WOODS: In high school matches I missed putts from six inches, eight inches. It's just the way it is. You understand that once you leave California and you go back east and you play on bent or Bermuda grass -- if you can roll the ball halfway decent out here on these greens and you can hit the ball well and this ball doesn't waver at all, how can you not make putts? Look at how well Phil putts in the country and throughout the world.

Q. You've won at Pebble, he's won at Pebble, you've won at San Diego and he's won at San Diego, and he's won tournaments here and you've won tournaments here. Not making excuses or anything, but I would think that guys from California could putt these greens better than people who came from the east or Europe or anywhere else.

TIGER WOODS: I guess it's just one of those things you understand that you can hit a good putt and not have it even sniff going in. That's the way it is. For guys who grew up in the northeast, it's a different story. When they play on bent grass greens all their lives, it's a big change

Q. You, Davis, Phil, Padraig, big names in the final eight. In the past it's been Maggert, Magee, McCarron. Is there any reason why big names make it through one year, small names the next, any reason?

TIGER WOODS: No. I think you're stretching.

Q. Looking ahead to two comments, one, to Padraig, and two, how the hopes or optimism changes when you get to the quarters compared to how you started the week?

TIGER WOODS: It doesn't change.

Q. Not at all?

TIGER WOODS: Not at all. The only thing you probably have to understand is that for someone to make it through three matches, they're probably playing pretty good. It's just like in tennis; guys who get into the second week understand that they're going to have tougher matches because you don't get through the first week just by playing terribly. Guys who have gone three matches here had to have played well.

Q. How do you match up with Harrington? When is the last time you guys played? Was it Mount Juliet or have you played since then, official tournaments?

TIGER WOODS: Just Sunday at my tournament as well as Mount Juliet, I think, and the U.S. Open on Sunday.

Q. Bethpage, right?

TIGER WOODS: Bethpage.

Q. How do you guys match up do you think?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm a little bit longer than he is, but he's a grinder, we all know that. That's why he does well in majors. He's usually up there because he does grind it out pretty good.

Q. A lot of the top seeds have fallen. Is that disappointing to you? Eventually do you want to go head to head, 1 and 2, 1 and 3?

TIGER WOODS: It doesn't matter, it really doesn't. The guys who are in this field, they're all good. When you play 18 holes in match play, anything can happen. We've proven that.

If we played 36-hole matches like we do at Wentworth in the World Match Play it would be a different story because then I think you see a truer barometer of the better players, but over 18 holes anything can happen.

Q. Comment on your commercial. Do you do Bill Murray justice?

TIGER WOODS: Probably not. He made that character a classic, and I just hopefully didn't ruin that character.

Q. If they came to you and asked you how you felt about a 36-hole stroke play qualifier for this, what would you tell them? And then you could maybe do 36-hole matches with 16 guys if you want to tweak it.

TIGER WOODS: If you want to tweak it -- we play five days, right?

Q. Right, usually.

TIGER WOODS: There's only one other format that I know of that comprises stroke play for a lot of the way and then you have match play, which is the Western Amateur. You play 18, 18, cut the top 50, 36 on Friday, cut the top 16, then we play matches on the weekend, two matches a day, to determine the winner. It's a 144-hole tournament. That's the only one that -- I think that would be a viable format because it takes -- you see the best guys end up in the match play.

Q. Given the bumpiness of the greens, is this a fair test for match play?

TIGER WOODS: It's just the way it is. I just know that you have to control your speed. You can't step up there and try and jam any putts in the hole.

Q. Under the scenario you just talked about with the Western Am, wouldn't it mean because of these greens and how they are that you would have to go somewhere else because this course couldn't handle that kind of traffic?

TIGER WOODS: You're probably right, but it depends how many guys you want to start out the week with, or you can take out 18 holes of it and just play the top 50 guys in the world, and we'd cut down to a 54-hole tournament to match play. There's so many different ways you can do it. Or you can play it the way we used to play the Dunhill Cup, stroke match, where every match is guaranteed to go 18 holes no matter what. It would provide better TV because you know every match is going 18 holes, and plus you're never out of it, too.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger.

End of FastScripts.

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