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August 23, 2003

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us, third round 67 puts you back in the hunt, six under currently two off the lead of Darren Clarke and Jonathan Kaye. Talk if you could about your six birdies today. Good round.

TIGER WOODS: Thanks. I got off to just a great start today, played the first holes -- first five holes didn't really miss a shot, and then all of a sudden I lost it and made three bogeys there and got it right back again and hit some really good shots coming home. I made some putts a had a big save on 17 for par, which was nice, just to kind of keep the momentum going and then made par at 18.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Seems like you got a bad break on your second shot on 2, rolled off the green and had a tough chip.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, if it gets caught up in the first cut, it's fine, but it hit the first cut, ricocheted back off to the right and rolled back around it. I had a tough pitch, but it was a shot I knew I could get within eight feet because I had I big backstop behind it and I got it in there about four feet, just missed it, hit a bad putt. I chipped in on the next hole and birdied No. 5.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Overall course playing about the same.

TIGER WOODS: Course is playing faster today. The greens are still soft. Obviously they're watering them at night. They're more worried about the ball spinning off the greens than anything else. I guess it presents a problem in a sense on a couple shots. For instance, 18, I'd drive it down there just perfect where I had a perfect number for my sand wedge and I can't hit it because I know if I land it anywhere near the flag I'll rip it right off the greens so I have to hit pitching wedge. You've got to make adjustments like that today and I did that all day.

Q. When you lost it what did you lose, and when you got it back, what did you get back?

TIGER WOODS: I just got my rhythm, my timing, I guess. I hit two quick snipes and a block and it cost me three bogeys.

Q. Do you recall playing in this tournament here at Firestone where you've had so many people right there all week really?


Q. Why is that? Is it just the conditions?

TIGER WOODS: You know, with as fast as the fairways are, if you drive the ball well here you're going to have short irons into the greens. You're going to make your share of birdies. If you hit a couple of bad shots here and there, you're really struggling to make pars because most of the pins now, we were saying this entire week, the pins are closer to the edges than they ever have been.

That's what they do on the Tour for the entire year, they put them in three from the sides. Like the pin on 18 is three from the right or something like that. You don't ever see that pin over there that close. I think there were six pins three from the side today.

Q. Did you hit a branch on 6 or did it just -- was it so low that it snagged the grass?

TIGER WOODS: It snagged the rough. Had I carried it another yard it would get to the green, maybe even go over the green. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Q. On a lot of these pitches from, say, in that 100 range, maybe a little more, a little less, do you have options of going in high or do you prefer to go low and skip and stop, and is it harder to skip and stop when you don't know how hard it's going to skip?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's tough. That's the challenging part about it. You have to make a decision and stick with your decision. The shot I hit on 16 today, I went in high, and vice versa on the shot I had on No. 14, I hit it really low in there to skip all the way back to the flag. But it just is tough to make that call sometimes.

Most of the time if you are going to play that low shot, generally it's on a hole where you know the wind has baked it out maybe in the middle part of the green, but that's about it. It's tough because you know if you throw it in there high and land it short it will rip right back off there.

Q. Have you ever had less into the green on 1 and also any time you missed the fairway on the front nine you bogeyed.

TIGER WOODS: Actually I've driven that ball on the slope and rolled it, but I've had pretty good --

Q. Did you get more out of that drive, though? It's way out there.

TIGER WOODS: It was a long ways, yes, but it wasn't -- I'm certainly not going out there and trying to hit it hard. I hit a little cut out there and made sure I kept it in play. But the shots I hit poorly, I was far enough off line where I just didn't have a shot at the green or hit poor shots.

Q. It seems like nobody is really getting much lower today than what you got, 67, right around there. Given that and the conditions, it will probably be the same tomorrow, if not tougher, how important is a good start to get some birdies on those first few holes and then avoid mistakes going in?

TIGER WOODS: It's nice to get off to a good start here. If we get the north wind like this and No. 2 is a par 4, and it's not a long par 4, either, I hit 9-iron in there today and Ernie hit 9-iron in there. You know, the rest of the holes where you have the dots for tomorrow, they're tucked in there pretty good to the sides. You've got to hit some really good shots to get close. For instance, I've never seen the pin on 13 where it's at. It's one of the hardest holes on the whole golf course and they put it three from the side.

Q. Is that where you made the really long putt?


Q. Which hole was that?


Q. What did you hit off the tee on 16?

TIGER WOODS: 16? Driver, 3-iron, sand wedge.

Q. A couple years ago you hit driver, 2-iron to the green.

TIGER WOODS: Actually, if we had the same wind intensity opposite direction like we did on the first day, you'd see guys knock the ball on the green in 2 there because it is so fast on top of that slope. If you can keep up the right side so it doesn't go in the left rough, it will get down to the bottom, but not with the wind today.

Q. Is that the most important drive of the day?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because you can make 7 there so fast, because if you hit the ball in the bunker -- you know, Calc made a number yesterday. It's so easy to do because if you lay up short of that bunker where Ernie did today, you're faced with a pretty tough shot to a pin where you have no green to work with, and you've got water and gusty winds. It makes for a really tough shot.

Q. Into the wind with that new tee, a driver, is that your only option?

TIGER WOODS: You have to hit driver there. If you hit it good you know you can carry that fairway bunker in your second shot. If you hit a 3-wood or a 2-iron off that tee, there's no guarantee you'll get over that bunker.

Q. With the fairways being so fast, are the widths of the fairways effectively half of what they --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's tough to get the ball in the fairway. Doug, you saw it today. I hit a perfect drive down 4 today. It was a high cut that landed in the right middle of the fairway and it's up against the tall stuff. It's stuff to get the ball in the fairway on some holes.

Q. Do you have to shape it on each hole?

TIGER WOODS: You've got to catch the ball into a lot of slopes. No. 7, No. 4, but 4, I don't know if anyone hit the fairway on 4 today.

Q. Are you comfortable working the ball both ways?


Q. Given the way the fairways are, is this course tougher than any of the times you won here?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. If the greens were -- if they ever left the greens alone and let them get baked out, this thing could have been -- you certainly wouldn't be seeing these scores.

Q. What do you think it's going to take for you to win tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Just get off to a good start like I did today and keep it going and make sure I keep going forward and don't have any hiccups tomorrow.

Q. When you got it back on the backside, did it come as easy as it did on the front side or did you feel like you were battling back there?

TIGER WOODS: No, I felt really comfortable. It was nice. It was fun to be able to go up there and just hit the shot, whatever shot I wanted to hit, I was able to hit. I didn't really miss it off line that far, which was nice.

Q. What do you think of the changes at Augusta? Have you heard about that?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't heard anything.

Q. 3 dozen pine trees placed on the right of the 11th fairway.

TIGER WOODS: Really? You know what's funny is they said they were going to make some pretty dramatic changes, and I thought they already had. Hootie said they were just getting started, which is kind of funny. I don't understand where you're coming from with that. He said we're just getting started with the changes.

Q. How dramatic is that?

TIGER WOODS: Oh. I mean, it's hard enough with the way they've changed it, with the tee back and to the right and grown the rough in. I guess they've also raised the green up there, so any shot over to the right is no longer -- Larry Mize's shot he could have putted that ball if he wanted to. Now you've got to play some kind of bump and run high flop or something because of the mounding. I guess they're trying to bring the pond back into play and not see us hit driver and short iron into that hole.

Q. You have to keep it down closer to the left side, which would bring the pond back into play?

TIGER WOODS: Obviously you have to now. They've been -- for a number of years, geez, for maybe ten years or so, they've been documenting every single person who's hit every single tee shot in a tournament, where they've landed and where the ball runs out to, and they had it all on file, so that's the premise of why they made those changes because of where the guys used to hit it and where they're hitting it now, and I guess they're trying to make us play with 4 or 5-irons like they used to.

Q. Because they change the course every year, is it fair to say that you never play The Masters on the same golf course? Even though they say I've played in a major there, it's never the same golf course?

TIGER WOODS: I guess that's true. I guess the only thing is they haven't really redesigned the greens too often. Here and there, but every green there looks like nothing has ever happened, like it's been here forever. Still, if you look back at -- it's kind of funny, I was talking to Butch about this, when his dad won on No. 8 and when he walked off that green, you know those two pine trees right off the tee? That's where the tee box used to be. That's 70 or 80 or 90 yards from where it's at now. It's just changed every year.

Q. Do you have any plans to come to Australia in the year 2003 season?

TIGER WOODS: I do not, sorry.

Q. Do you think you'll ever come Down Under?

TIGER WOODS: I would love to come back, yes. I had a great time and I would love to come back.

Q. With your terrific record with the lead, how does your mind set differ when you're off the lead? Do you have a number you try to shoot or what?

TIGER WOODS: Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. More than anything, I just try and make sure I keep going forward and never back up. When you have a lead it's nice because you have a cushion. If you make a couple bogeys with a two-shot lead, at least you're tied. If you're a couple shots back and make a couple bogeys, now you're four shots back and potentially out of the ballgame. The key is to keep making positive forward progress.

Q. Psychologically, if you haven't won here the last few years and even though you're two or three back tomorrow, what does that feel like for you going into the final round with your history on this course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I feel pretty good knowing the fact that I'm playing well. Obviously I'd probably give you a different answer if I was struggling to get the ball into the clubhouse, but I hit the ball well today and I'm going to go work on it again this afternoon and refine it. Hopefully I'll play the way I did today, at least the way I started out and the way I finished.

Q. Just to clarify your thoughts on the change at No. 11, do you not like the change, do you feel neutral about it or do you feel good about it?

TIGER WOODS: I just don't understand -- I do understand, but it's just so difficult a hole as it is because back when they were hitting 4 or 5-irons into that green the greens were never 13 on the stimp meter. Am I positive about it? I certainly am not positive about it, no.

Q. Are you negative about it?

TIGER WOODS: We haven't seen -- we've been very lucky since they made the complete redesign the last few years that we haven't gotten a firm year. The last year was when Ollie won in '99, but that was the last year we had where the greens were blue. We haven't gotten into that situation yet. If we get into that situation with the redesign of 5, with the new way you have to play 15 now, obviously 11 now, 10 being longer, we've been very lucky we haven't gotten it hard and fast.

Q. How much shorter would the course play if it were fast, assuming you're driving it well?

TIGER WOODS: They probably water the fairways, knowing them. I've seen them when I've been in the lead group on No. 7 green syringing just the back fringe on 2, just the back fringe. So you hit the ball over the green on Sunday and you've got a nice little chip and run and putt and now it's going to slow it down and grab it. They make it just that much more difficult, just little tricks like that.


TIGER WOODS: No. 1, driver, 60 to about 15 feet, made it.

3, hit a driver and a pitching wedge just left of the green and chipped it in from about 15 feet.

5, I hit a 6-iron to about 30 feet right of the hole, made it.

6, I hit a drive left, 7-iron, sniped the rough coming out and sand wedge coming out to eight feet, two-putted.

8, I hit a driver out to the right, pitched it short, and then hit another pitch shot that ended up about 15 feet short of the hole, missed it.

9, I hit driver left, hit a 6-iron out to the right, wedged it up there about ten feet and missed it.

12, I hit a 7-iron to about 12 feet just left of the hole and made it.

14, I hit a driver and a 60-degree sand wedge to about eight feet, made it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You went over 16 already. Tiger Woods, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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