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April 12, 2003

Tiger Woods


BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen, we're delighted to have Tiger Woods with us this afternoon. He's had a very fine 66. An outstanding round today which puts him 1-under par for the tournament. Tiger, would you like to make a comment or do you want to go directly to questions.

TIGER WOODS: Questions.

Q. Yesterday you said that you wanted to be somewhere around even par after or right around that after your second round. You came up this morning and ballooned up a little bit. What were you thinking going into the third round that you were plus five?

TIGER WOODS: Even par to 2-under par. If I get there I'll be right back in the tournament. And I was lucky enough to be able to go out there and shoot that number to get in that position.

Q. You sunk the putt on nine this morning and made the cut. In between going out again is there like a sigh of relief, a feeling of relief? And do you have to sort of get yourself going again after that?

TIGER WOODS: No, you look at the fact that you're still in the ball game. At the time I was only seven shots out of second place. So that's not that much out here on this golf course. We all know that. Anything can happen. And we saw the pin locations for today and they were going to be tough. So you knew if you could go out there and post a good number you were going to get right back in it. Because it's really hard to go out and shoot a low number to these pins when you're leading the tournament. Because you're not going to be playing that aggressive.

Q. What was the main difference between 76, 73 and then a 66 today?

TIGER WOODS: Just some good breaks going my way. I made a big putt there on 11. I got some good positive mo going. And then on 13 I lost my second shot right and it should have been wet but it stayed up. And I hit a hell of a pitch from there to get it in birdie range. And I made that and so I said, you know what, let's just keep this thing going. And from there I hit solid shot after solid shot from there.

Q. Talk about the pressure that you were feeling on nine to make the cut. How intense was the pressure there and is there a time that you can compare that to?

TIGER WOODS: You just go up there and putt. I knew that was for the cut. I said, the hell with it, you know what, the hell with it, just make it. You don't change your routine you don't do anything differently. Just go out there and have the same mindset. The putt was inside left and I just stayed steady and released the blade.

Q. Was there a moment this morning when you said to yourself this isn't going to happen, maybe you'll make the cut but as far as having a chance to win the tournament, it just wasn't going to happen?

TIGER WOODS: No, because if you look at this golf course and the way it's playing right now, I don't know if you guys have been on the golf course but you look at some of these pin locations, some of them are new. They're much closer to the sides than they normally are, with some of these new spots and then they move them even closer to the edge, I mean it's tough to shoot a good round, and especially if you're leading because you're not going to be firing on every pin. And today I knew if I could just get things going that I could get back in this tournament.

Q. Was there a particular spot on your back nine, the course's front nine, where you felt you were right back in the tournament? I know there was a gradual pursuit but was there a particular hole?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the putt I made there on 6. That was pretty big. It was very quick. Thank goodness it hit the hole.

Q. 40 feet?

TIGER WOODS: About that. If it didn't have that train wreck with the hole I think it would have been, could have been pitching out of that bunker, but it went in and I kept going.

Q. You're used to having big leads, six-shot leads, seven shots. What do you think was going through Mike's head?

TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't have a clue.

Q. You mentioned that it's hard to be aggressive when you do have a lead. How do you approach it when you're in that situation?

TIGER WOODS: I just keep playing. And I just play the golf course for what it gives me.

Q. In your eight Major wins you haven't had to come from behind to get one yet. Can you talk about being in this position trying to do it that way and how it's different and your past efforts in that.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, most of the Major championships I've either been tied for the lead or leading in the final round and that's not a bad spot to be in. But this tournament we all know that anything can happen on that back nine. You just need to get your self in position. And even though I'm right now what? Four back? That's not inconceivable. That's for sure.

Q. You said you were thinking about going home. What all did you do in between? Did you hit balls, and as a corollary for those of us who saw a little bit of this morning how do you go from flicking that switch to what that was to what the afternoon was?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I went home, just had lunch, came back, warmed up just like I normally would. Because I knew I would be teeing off with the leaders.

(Laughter.) Just on the wrong tee.

(Laughter.) So I knew I was one of the last guys off so I could take my time getting back here. So I had plenty of time to warm up. I got back here and just relaxed and got in my normal routine. And as I said earlier, I just tried to get something positive going, just anything, really. And I made that big putt on 11. I got something going there. And then, as I say, I made a great break on 13. Made a great up-and-down there. And I said, well, just keep this going. And I was able to do it for the entire day.

Q. The fact that you were one of the last ones out in the afternoon, was that a break for you in that it gave you a little bit more time in between?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know about giving me break. I don't know about that. But it just meant that I was further behind the lead.

Q. Is that putt for the cut inside left if it's not for the cut? Do you know what I mean?

TIGER WOODS: Just the same.

Q. You didn't just drill it?

TIGER WOODS: No, it was the same.

Q. And when's the last time you had to make a putt to make the cut?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. Buick.

TIGER WOODS: Buick? That was for birdie wasn't it. Yeah, I made about an 8-footer for birdie there to make the cut.

Q. How much does your past success here, how much is that going to help you tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: It makes you feel assured knowing the fact that you've done it here before? And on top of that, as I keep saying, no matter what happens I'm coming back next year. So --

(Laughter.) I know I'm not going to get a letter for awhile.

(Laughter.) So with that in mind, I'll just go out there and just play the game, play the golf course. I know I have that experience on the back nine. I know how to win a Major championship and I think that's the assurance that really means a lot.

Q. Do you have a number in mind for tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I don't. No. It's all based upon when you get out here you see how fast the greens are running. I saw most of the pin locations for tomorrow. They're traditional. So it's going to be a tough afternoon.

Q. You played a lot of great golf since you came back this year. How would you rate the ball striking and putting so far this week as opposed to places like Lacosta and Torrey Pines and Bay Hill?

TIGER WOODS: In all the events I played in, I think Lacosta is probably the best I've hit the ball. Problem Buick's the best I putted.

Q. And this?

TIGER WOODS: This has come and gone in spurts. I played well here and there and then finally today I got something going and I continued it for all 18 holes.

Q. Is there a part of you that has more fun being aggressive coming from behind rather than trying to hold a lead?

TIGER WOODS: I would much rather have an opportunity to hold the lead. Any time.

Q. Is it a very different energy on the course though?

TIGER WOODS: No, you know that the problem is in some circumstances you may not be able to play as conservative. You may have to shade one a yard or two yards closer to a spot than you normally would.

Q. Is there a part of you that would like to find out if you could get that ridiculously low number in on Sunday? I know a lot of golf fans would like to see the drama of like a 64 or something? (Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: I wish I could just turn on a switch just like that. That would be great.

(Laughter.) We all know that game's not that easy. Tomorrow you just play one shot at a time and see what happens. Those low rounds you may have the mindset of going out there and shooting some occasionally. But a lot of times you just get out of your own way and it just happens.

Q. What kind of lie and what kind of look did you have this morning on your second shot coming out of the woods on number 9?

TIGER WOODS: I could see the flag but I had to hit it about waist high coming out of there. And.

Q. What did you hit?

TIGER WOODS: I just drilled a 5-iron. I tried to keep the ball short of the green or in the bunker. Just did not want to get that ball to the flag because then it had an opportunity to go past and then from there I'm dead.

Q. Can you explain, over last nine of a Major championship, the portions of ball striking skill and how much of it is mental?

TIGER WOODS: It's both. You've got to have both clicking at the same time.

Q. Did you take a peek at the scoreboards today? And if so, did you notice people weren't running away with this thing?

TIGER WOODS: It's very difficult. As I say, if you guys go out there and look at that golf course and see some of these pins, and see how the balls are reacting on the greens, you'll see how difficult it is out there.

Q. You talked about maybe not being quite as conservative on a few shots. Is there an example where you were a little more aggressive?

TIGER WOODS: No, not today. No, I played the golf course for what it would give me. And that was it. Some of the shots I even played more conservatively than I should have.

Q. I was going to say, as you were playing that last hole this morning, if make the cut, are you still thinking you can win?


Q. You talked about having the experience and knowing how to win a Major championship. How big of an advantage is that for when the guys at the top of the leaderboard don't have that experience?

TIGER WOODS: Well some do. DT does. He's won there and Vijay has won. So there are some guys. You're always going to find that in just about every Major championship, players who have been there and have won and other players who haven't. You just know that you need to get in position. Whoever is there doesn't really matter, you just need to get in position.

Q. We often ask you about your playing partners or leaderboards, so what would you say about Jeff Maggert's name being at the top of the leaderboard after the third round? Does that surprise you?

TIGER WOODS: He's obviously played well this weekend. He hasn't been playing probably as well as he would like for an extended period of time but he's got it going this week and that's what really matters.

Q. You got momentum going in that round. What do you do to carry it into tomorrow, or do you just have to wait and see if it's still there?

TIGER WOODS: I'm going to go out there, and when I'm done with you guys, go out and practice for a little bit and work on a couple things.

Q. How aware are you that you can have a three-peat? How much is that affecting the way you're playing?

TIGER WOODS: Not at all. You just go out there and play to win the tournament. And it doesn't really enter my mind. You go out there and just play for what the golf course has in front of you. And that's it. I'm trying to win a tournament. If I win the tournament, obviously I take care of winning three in a row.

Q. If you're two, three, four shots down going into the back nine tomorrow, is it possible to change your strategy going into the back nine of this golf course? Can you go for different looks here on Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: There may be opportunities where you might have to. Maybe some of the par-5s, but there is a price to pay if you do miss it only a yard off. And that's all it takes here. I hit a shot on 1 this afternoon that was one yard left of the flag and I ended up almost in the gallery. And that's what Augusta can do if you miss it just one yard. And that's all it takes.

Q. You talked about turning on the switch and you talked about how much you draw on experience and winning Major championships. Last year you threw that switch over the last four holes at Hazeltine. Is that an experience that you can use in a come-from-behind effort tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: No. No, that was a position where I just needed to try and get something going and I was able and lucky enough to get it going. Tomorrow I'm just going to play it for what it has in front of me. You guys think that we just throw on a switch and all of a sudden we can shoot 62s and 63s, you just kind of play.

Q. There have been three Majors I guess that you have kind of chased or come up short, Pinehurst, the British Open and then last year?


Q. What is the feeling, how different is the feeling trying to make that chase than it is just trying to keep everybody at bay?

TIGER WOODS: Well those three championships, I believe Pinehurst was only time I actually tied for the lead. I tied it with a birdie on 16. And I made just a terrible golf swing on 17. Pulled it in the left bunker. And that ended up costing me the tournament or having a chance. Because I figured if I could have posted even par I was looking pretty good. Because at the time they were Payne and Phil were a hole behind us. So they would have known that I would have finished at 18, they would have had to play two holes knowing the fact that I'm in the club house tied with them. And 18 was playing brutal. So that was my mistake. The other two, the one O'Meara won in '98 at Birkdale I never was tied for the lead the last nine holes. I made a run and just came up short. And at Hazeltine last year I made two mistakes back to back. But I followed that up with four straight birdies. But the two mistakes really hurt a lot in giving me a chance to win the tournament.

Q. You talked about the experience of winning Major championships, can you put in more tangible terms? I mean is it a certain patience that comes with that, a calmness, when you reach that back nine? What exactly separates winning one of these things with not having won one of them?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just an understanding that you know how to get it done. And I was lucky enough to have won very early in my career. And to win here my first full year as a pro, I kind of got it out of the way and really learned a lot from that and was able to replicate it a few more times.

Q. How much if any has the golf course changed because of the sun and the warmer temperatures?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, man, it's changed a lot. It has really changed. This morning when we played they hadn't cut the fairways, they hadn't even -- usually what happens here they usually take sweepers and dry them off that way. But they were soaking wet. So you had to be careful of catching fliers. And I played a couple shots dead handed because the fairways were so wet that I was, I knew I was going to catch a ball that was going to go three or four yards further. And this afternoon they hand cut all the fairways, which is amazing. And the greens were obviously double cut. So they were -- this is a completely different course than the one we have been playing.

Q. How bad are the allergies, are you getting any sleep?

TIGER WOODS: Fine and no.

Q. How much are you getting?

TIGER WOODS: My normal five, six hours. That's plenty for me.

BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much and Tiger good luck to you tomorrow.

TIGER WOODS: All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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