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February 28, 2003

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger, congratulations on your win today. You went out and took care of business, 7-6. Must be a good feeling to get that out of the way and get some rest before tomorrow.

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. I knew Stephen has been playing well. And I got off to a great start today, and Stephen didn't play well early and got behind. And I kept putting a lot of pressure on him. And I chipped in over there on six, and it looked like his ball should have gone in, but left it just about one roll short. And I think that one really hurt him a lot.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: When you're playing somebody you're probably expected to beat, is it nice to go up early to kind of kill any confidence they may have.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it really helps to have a great start like I did. As I said, I put a lot of pressure on him. And he wasn't swinging the club all that well early, and it just so happened I played well early. So he got behind and it was tough for him to try to come back on that.

Q. The shot on 11?

TIGER WOODS: It went in. No, it was about 30 feet, and it was just a straight forward bunker shot, and I knew the green was soft, but when I hit it, I didn't expect it to go in, just try to get it close and try and force him to have to make his put in order to half the hole. That's what I was trying to do, and it happened to go in.

Q. You kind of shrugged your shoulders and smiled at him on the green there.

TIGER WOODS: It was one of those things where I wasn't trying to make it. I wasn't taking dead aim at that bunker shot. I was trying to force him to try to make his putt. And it just went in. The one on six I was trying to make, and that was a lot easier shot, but this bunker shot wasn't one of those shots, trying to read it and trying to make it.

Q. Your non-bogey streak ended at 41. Did you three putt that green? I didn't see the hole.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit a good drive and hit a nice little 5-iron below the hole. I think my COR on my putter is probably illegal. I ran it by about 15 feet. It was a terrible putt. I did the same thing on seven. I happened to make the comebacker. And the thing that frustrates me is I know at both holes at the hole it falls away. I knew that on both putts, and I still hit them too hard. The hole falls away.

Q. How were the conditions today in comparison to the last two days?

TIGER WOODS: Still very wet. You can still, even with ball in hand, you can still catch flyers. You have to be careful what putt you do decide to come into the ball with. And the wind is blowing now. It's still blowing. You have to keep the ball in the fairway, if you hit the ball in the rough, more than likely you won't get it on the green. Some spots it's up to eight inches. I had 118 to the front over on 10, and he was probably another 8 yards closer than I was. He wasn't even thinking about trying to get to the front edge, just pitch it out sideways. That rough was that thick.

Q. What are the speed of the greens?

TIGER WOODS: They're quicker. They've been double cutting and rolling them. They're definitely picking up speed.

Q. Just talk about the way you rolled the ball. A couple of putts you didn't like, but you also made eagle putt, it was a beautiful putt, you rolled in a long one at the par 3. Just talk a little bit about the way you're rolling the ball.

TIGER WOODS: I felt I was hitting my putts on the right line. I just hit them with bad speed. The putt -- those two putts I did, the putt I made on two was, I thought was a pretty good putt, because I needed to make that one just to keep the momentum going. I just won the first hole and put a little heat on him. And I made that and the third hole was just lagging it down there. I wasn't trying to do anything special, just trying to lag it down there and get out of dodge, and it happened to go in the hole.

Q. Tiger, you said he was not swinging it well at the start. Did you sense an uneasiness or nervousness in his play?

TIGER WOODS: You just -- he just got off to a bad start. He had a pull hook off the tee at first. The second hole, I don't know, it looked like he had a shot to get to the green. He hit the tree coming out and it hit the water. The next hole he hit a pretty good shot. And it happened to hit on the fringe and skipped over the back. And he never seemed to get going, never seemed to get the momentum going, and when that happens, you've got to keep putting the pressure on him.

Q. From Torrey to Riviera to here, is there getting marked improvement in your game?

TIGER WOODS: That's usually what happens, as you get -- I took a huge layoff, and it took me a little while to get back to the rhythm, but I feel like I'm back now. I'm back in the rhythm of playing.

Q. Even at Torrey, you had that phenomenal last three rounds. Is it a different level?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt, yeah. I have a better sense of where the club's at. The only really, really bad day I had, which I thought I should have played a lot better was last Saturday, because I felt I was playing good going into that round, and then I just couldn't feel where anything was going.

Q. It's probably my turn to ask the Dubai question.

TIGER WOODS: Don't know. Tomorrow.

Q. Ernie is playing.

TIGER WOODS: Is he? Okay. Good for him.

Q. With how well you play in each match, how comfortable is that feeling instead of having to be fighting something, going into matches like this, when anything can happen, are you much more comfortable the way you're playing now?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly, when you go out and you have control of your game, on a difficult golf course like this right now, it definitely gives you a lot of confidence going into each and every match. It's not like I'm going around and slapping it around, and shooting four or five over and winning matches. I'm actually going out there and playing some pretty solid golf.

Q. Does it help to win big, because it's possibly 36 holes tomorrow and Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: It's always nice to win big. It's always nice. You don't look at the fact that it's 36 tomorrow, because you don't know. You've got to take care of business first in the morning, before you get a chance to take care of business in the afternoon.

Q. Tiger, that 8-iron shot you made on 15 yesterday, you said you didn't have that shot two years ago. Is that part of what makes this game so exciting to you, because you're still adding things to your game?

TIGER WOODS: I had it two years ago, in 2000. I played all right in 2000.

Q. The question is, is that what makes the game so exciting? Are you still adding things to your game? Do you watch tapes of the older players, and say I'm going to try that and add that shot to my game?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, but no. You take bits and pieces. I still watch the guys out here that have shots that I'd like to be able to hit better, that they're pretty good at, and why do they do it, the angles that they come in, the positions that they're in, and you just kind of figure out -- a lot of times you can't physically do it. I don't have the body structure to do it. You move on, and try something different.

And that's what's a lot of fun for me, to go out and experiment, what can I do to get a little bit better. And I thoroughly enjoy that. I thoroughly enjoy going out late in the evening and hitting shots at home, trying to figure how can I get that much better.

Q. Scott Hoch is up in his match, I think a few holes. If it's Scott, just a couple words about him.

TIGER WOODS: Scott's a wonderful match-play player. There's no doubt about that. He drives it very straight. He's also one of the best iron players we have out here on tour. From tee to green, it's going to be a tough match.

Q. Were you surprised Stephen didn't play better?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I was surprised that he didn't get off to a better start. Evidently he might not have felt it, just had one of those days. And when you're playing an opponent, that I kept putting the pressure on him, too, that's tough when you don't quite feel right, you're not hitting the shots as precise as you normally do. And it's tough when that happens.

Q. When is the last time you've lacked any confidence holding a club in your hands?

TIGER WOODS: Lacked confidence?

Q. Yes. You seem so confident with every shot you're going after.

TIGER WOODS: I feel like I can hit just about any shot, just a matter if I can pull it off at the time. If you had asked me on last Saturday, it would have been a different answer, you know.

Q. So it's very rare?

TIGER WOODS: It happens. You could be playing like this and all of a sudden you hit a two- or three-hole stretch where you don't feel right. And that happens. That's part of golf. We all feel that way. I know -- I believe in myself and what I can do. Sometimes I just can't do it. That's part of playing golf.

Q. In 2000, you got to the finals here with Darren, but this year you seem to be basically even really playing better than that. I think you seem to be -- there's never been a doubt on what's going to happen on each hole as you go out there. Do you feel like you're playing better in this event today, this week, than you were when you got to the finals if 2000?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, yeah definitely.

Q. You don't know if it's going to be 36 tomorrow, but if everything goes well for you, it will be a long -- probably -- hopefully, it will be a long weekend. How much does your conditioning really help on a weekend like potentially you're going to face here?

TIGER WOODS: That's one of the reasons why I work as hard as I do. I don't say that I don't work hard in the gym, I think I do a pretty good job of that. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape to handle that kind of stuff.

End of FastScripts....

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