June 13, 2003
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS
Q. Tell us what you wanted to do today to get yourself in position after you kind of --
TIGER WOODS: Today I hit the ball a little bit better. It's a little bit easier to score when you're in the fairway. Today I drove the ball pretty good and gave myself some chances. Plus I felt so comfortable with my swing, too. I shaded the ball maybe a yard or two more towards the flag.
Q. Tom Watson said he can't remember an Open where he saw that many low numbers.
TIGER WOODS: It's just the greens are so soft. I hit a shot on 9. With that pin -- with that loop on the down slope it runs away from you a touch before it comes back, you hit a 6-iron in there and it only rolls two and a half, three feet. You never see that in a U.S. Open, hitting a 6-iron and it barely trickling. The shot I hit on 17, I hit a 4 iron out to the right but it had a chance to stay up. Most times in the U.S. Open you hit that same shot, it's out of here. It's going to bounce and roll pretty far. The greens are just a little bit soft and I think that's because of the moisture that we get overnight, the low clouds in the morning, it's kind of foggy, and it's just damp and the greens just can't get baked out.
Q. How much of a boost was No. 1 when you lost the drive right and still were able to birdie that hole?
TIGER WOODS: I tried to hit a 3-wood out of there, and if anything I tried to overcut it and put myself in the right bunker and it didn't do that because the wind actually held it pretty good and I put myself in the left bunker which is the only spot you can't put it. I just tried to play it 12 or 15 feet past the hole and make a putt, and that's exactly how it turned out.
Q. Did the game plan change from yesterday to today knowing that the leader was 7 under?
TIGER WOODS: No, I just needed to get the ball in play. From there you can go ahead and make a decision and decide if you want to get aggressive or play conservative from there.
Q. That's the way you approach a U.S. Open, but because the course is more forgiving than one would expect from the USGA do you feel you can take more chances out there?
TIGER WOODS: If you do and you miss it in the wrong spot, you're probably going to make bogey. There's nothing wrong with making pars. You know that, in the U.S. Open there's nothing wrong with that. Even though you have a sand wedge in your hand you still kind of shade it towards the middle of the green. The shot I hit on 16 I had sand wedge in my hand, I wasn't firing at the flag, I was firing a yard or two right of the flag. If you have sand wedge in your hand you fire at the flag and don't think anything of it but if you pull it and end up in the rough you might make bogey, so you have to be smart out there.
Q. Can you talk about the 3-wood you hit into 6? Where did that rank?
TIGER WOODS: It's the same shot I hit in the practice round because I hit a 3-wood off the tee and put the ball in the first cut of rough and I was about in the same spot and I hit it up on the green, and I said, well it's the same shot, go ahead and do it. I did it before a few days ago, go ahead and trust it. If anything, whatever you do, don't hang it to the left. I hit it so flush, and I thought I actually overcut it a little bit but it actually hung in there.
Q. What do you think about your position at this stage, midway spot?
TIGER WOODS: I feel pretty good. Any time you're under par at a U.S. Open after two days, you've still got a chance. I'm right where I need to be.
Q. Looking ahead towards tomorrow do you see any change in your strategy?
TIGER WOODS: No, just get the ball in play and then make a decision from there.
Q. Tiger, a lot has been written about and broadcast about this very touching relationship between Tom and Bruce, and especially yesterday as they were in the forefront.
TIGER WOODS: Right.
Q. Did you watch it? Were you touched by this? Has it affected you a bit?
TIGER WOODS: I watched probably his last two holes. I watched his second shot into 8 and then watched all of 9. It's pretty neat because all the players love Bruce. Tom has been a fixture out here, but to see those two -- they've been together, what, 30 years now? To see them together like this and see Bruce, how he's just battling it, just fighting it, it has to give you motivation. I don't care if you're Tom or any other player in the field. Look at what he's going through and he's still doing his job, you have to get pumped up for that, and I think we all do.
Q. Your relationship with Bruce, what type of guy is he? How have you encountered him in the past?
TIGER WOODS: You ought to ask Bruce this story. It's a great story because I was a little kid and I used to go watch the LA Open every year. I was probably single digits in age. The pin was back left on 8 and Tom hit one left of the green, I'm standing next to the ball and he says, get out of the way, kid, and pushed me out of the way. Ironically I ended up playing with him in a practice round somewhere I think at Augusta somewhere, I ended up telling him the story and he got a big kick out of that.
Q. Did he remember?
TIGER WOODS: No, he didn't remember, but he sees a whole bunch of little kids.
Q. On 5 was it sitting in a divot?
TIGER WOODS: No, it was sitting the front edge of a divot but it was sitting in the grass part. I could have hit drive off that. I basically had as good a lie as you could possibly have and I just hit a terrible shot.
Q. How many drivers did you hit today?
TIGER WOODS: I think two.
Q. Do you feel like you did more shot-making today?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say that. I had some spots where I put myself where I had to hit some shots, but other than that I felt I hit the ball in more fairways so I didn't have to do that. Yesterday I had to hit a lot of creative shots, I was coming out of the rough, coming around trees and had to hit the ball up gaps.
TIGER WOODS: I think the only flag I really fired at was 18, and that was it.
Q. Even though obviously par is good here, does it change a little bit because there's so many red numbers in there, provided the fact that these greens still stay a little bit moist?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if you get too aggressive you have the attitude that you just said, and you go out there and you hit shots and hit it on the short side and make a couple bogeys, you put yourself right out of it. Still, par is a good score. It's the weekend coming up and it's going to get tougher.
Q. Is this an Open where we could get 10 to 12 under win it?
TIGER WOODS: We'll see. If the USGA has their way, I don't think they're going to see that.
Q. Evaluate the rough at Olympia Fields?
TIGER WOODS: Very fair. Tom and I talked about this -- Tom Meeks and I talked about this the first day I got here. You get one of three things, you get no lie, have a shot at getting to the green or you can have a perfect lie. We haven't normally had that opportunity at U.S. Opens. Usually it sits down all the way at the bottom. For some reason you can get some pretty good lies out here. I've got a couple, I know Ernie got a couple as well as Ricky where you could basically hit 3-wood out of there if you wanted to. Also I had a lie over there on 11 today where I was just kind of hoping I could get it maybe 150 yards up the fairway and try and keep it in the fairway somehow and I wasn't able to do that. I almost hit it in the gallery left.
TIGER WOODS: It's definitely more fair.
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to say that.
Q. How much do you think is a reflection of the conditions and how good today's players have become?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's both. Equipment has a lot to do with that, mishit shots don't go quite as far off line as they used to because obviously the ball is better. The ball is coming off the faces faster. The balls are ending up going straighter if you hit a bad shot. You don't have to hit the ball as pure to stay in the fairway like you used to, but nonetheless you still have to hit good shots. Any time you get softer fairways and softer greens at a U.S. Open the guys are going to go low. We see that each and every week. Soft greens, guys are going to shoot good scores.
Q. Do you have a number in mind today or did you accomplish what you set out to do?
TIGER WOODS: Just something in the red. That's all you have to do, just keep yourself in the red and keep moving up. It's always tougher to move up on the weekend. If you're up there near the lead it's tough.
Q. Talk about how well Jim Furyk and Vijay have been playing.
TIGER WOODS: Jim has played solid all year. I think I read nine or ten top tens this year, so he's played beautifully all year. Vijay has been playing well, so it's not a real big surprise to see those guys at the top of the board.
Q. It's a very eclectic leaderboard and people have talked about how Europeans have struggled over here and it doesn't suit their play but we have Fredrik Jacobson and Alex Cejka playing well and Romero who's 49 and Tom is 53. Is that telling at all about world golf or the way this particular tournament sets up?
TIGER WOODS: I think this tournament has been fairer than we've seen in the past with the setup. It's not as severe. A lot of it is just because it's softer. If this golf course was baked out, you wouldn't see these scores. You probably wouldn't see the guys at the top of the board you're seeing because with the softer conditions basically anyone can get up there on that board. The guys who have been playing the best, you've seen just about each and every year in the major championships the guys have been playing the best throughout the entire year because those are the most difficult conditions.
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