October 29, 2002
Q. How is the course playing?
TIGER WOODS: It's more than just a little wet. It's a quagmire out there right now. Pretty muddy. We saw one spectator eat it.
So it's going to be amazing to see if they can actually get this course playable so we don't have to play lift, clean and cheat.
Q. Assuming the course does dry out a little bit, what is going to be the challenge? I heard the rough, they have not mowed in quite a while?
TIGER WOODS: It's intermittent. You can get a bad lie and you can also get a decent lie. It's not as universal as it has been in the past or as consistent. I hit some balls in the rough that had great lies and other ones that were just gnarly.
Q. What's your feeling on lift, clean and place? Would you rather not play that? Do you understand it?
TIGER WOODS: I totally understand it. I just think that if you get a professional with a ball in the hand, you know the scores are going to be really low. It takes a lot of understanding and feel and talent to play with mud on your ball, and a lot of luck, too, by the way.
Q. It brings a little more skill into it.
TIGER WOODS: It does, because you have to start hitting the inside and outside part of the ball and work the golf ball to counteract the mud. That's just something we don't have to do very often, but when it's called upon, a lot of guys don't know how to do it.
Q. Should it just not be played?
TIGER WOODS: It depends. Sometimes the golf courses are so wet and so muddy, it's not necessarily that you are picking up mud; you are picking up just chunks of it on the golf ball so no matter what shot you play on your golf ball, it's going to skirt and do some really weird things.
Q. How do you see this tournament in recent years? Is it a nice reward for 30 guys who have had a good season; is it almost like guys who did not win a major to catch up and win something significant?
TIGER WOODS: It's a big event. Basically you have 30 guys who have played the hottest or best or most consistent all year long. You're all going to have some tough competitors this week because these are the guys who have played the best all year. I look forward to this tournament each and every year; hopefully if I qualify.
Q. It's a big part of golf history already. Do you think about Bobby Jones, this being the course he grew up playing on, does that mean anything special to you?
TIGER WOODS: It does. But it's certainly not the golf course he played. It's been redesigned. It's neat to come back to his environment. I've seen the house and everything. It's pretty neat to come back to a place that's this historic.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at the trophies?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, I think every pro has. It's neat to take a look, because you forget all that he accomplished in such a short span of time.
Q. If I may, since I'm here in person.
TIGER WOODS: Two-parter? Okay. (Laughter.)
Q. First of all, how are you playing? And you are always brutally honest about your game; coming into the Championship and I have one more when you finish that, if I may.
TIGER WOODS: All right. I feel like I'm playing a little bit better. Sunday at Disney was a nice round that I played. I feel like I was starting to hit the ball really well. I putted great all week. I just didn't hit the ball consistently as I wanted to, but Sunday I really played well.
My practice sessions this past week have been really good. I'm very happy with the way I'm striking the golf ball. I'm hitting it clean and solid and shaping the shots, so I'm really looking forward to it this week.
Q. When you were growing up, you studied Jack's records, and that's what you wanted. You could not study every record in the book, but you are getting almost to all of them. Is there, in your mind, was it just that, "If I can beat Jack's record, I can get a lot more, too"?
TIGER WOODS: I looked at the fact that he was able to do it for such a long period of time. To be that successful, for that long, I think that's what every athlete wants to be able to do, and he was able to do it.
I looked at how he was able to do it; well, he was consistent. That's one of the reasons I didn't change my game in the middle of '97. I started changing my swing and struggled all of '98, but came together in 1999. Just because I wanted to be more consistent. You can't win tournaments unless you are up there a lot.
If you are up there week-in and week-out with your chances to win, you'll win. You're not going to win every one, but you'll win. That's what Jack was able to do better than anyone who has ever played the game.
Q. Hal Sutton has been named as the Ryder Cup captain; what's your comment on how he seems to deliver messages; do you agree -- inaudible?
TIGER WOODS: I think it will be fun either way.
Q. Do you think this is the kind of captain you are going to get --?
TIGER WOODS: Curtis was that way, too. Trust me, behind closed doors, Curtis said exactly what was on his mind.
Q. What do you remember about the last time here? Can you take us through the back nine on the final day?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I didn't birdie 15, I remember. I had a good chance there and missed it. Phil made birdie there.
And then I was forced to be aggressive on last couple of holes and hit a bad tee shot on 17, and then hit a fat iron shot, hooked it left in the bushes and made bogey. Really didn't have a chance on the last hole.
But yeah, I made a couple of mistakes, missed a few putts. I didn't play the back nine that well. That's probably what cost me.
Q. Do you remember in the times that you've won after leading after 54 holes, how many times have you played well and how many times have you just tried to hold it together?
TIGER WOODS: I think, you know, it's a lot more than you might think. I actually haven't played particularly well on Sunday. But all you need to do is just keep holding it together, keep making your pars, and hopefully somebody else will make a mistake and get into a playoff somehow. That's usually how it happens.
Some days, I'll just go out there and play great. There are a lot more times when you don't really have it and you just need to gut it out.
Q. Just hope somebody doesn't have a great round?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that happens sometimes. A great one was when we played in Germany and Westwood got me. I went out, didn't play great, scored well and had a three-shot lead going into the final round. He shot 64 on Sunday.
Q. Is it getting tougher and tougher the way they are setting up courses now, and especially with Augusta National, is it getting tougher to come back on Sunday, especially if somebody has a big lead; and do you think guys have more of an inclination to play more like last year at Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: I think the golf course, this year, is probably an exception, because of the weather.
This year, I don't think the golf courses were set up quite as tough as they were the last couple of years. Maybe the growing conditions were not quite as good because the rough was not as high. You look at all of the scoring -- I've shot, what, 48-under in my last two competitive events that I've played, stroke-play and averaged -- finished second. Guys are just going lower.
I think what you are starting to find is that you need to get the rough a little bit higher.
Q. Is it hard to be more aggressive on Sunday at Augusta if you have the lead?
TIGER WOODS: Is it harder now? No. If you drive the ball well there, you can score. But you have to drive the ball well and you've got to hit your iron shots underneath the hole. If you do that for all 18 holes, you'll shoot a good round.
Q. Can you assess the season overall, with so many first -time winners, the low scores?
TIGER WOODS: I think it shows the fact of how deep our tour really is now. Anybody who is teeing up in this field can win now. I think that's what we've been saying. But this year, finally, apparently proved it. A lot of young kids are starting to win, the next generation of players, as well as some older players are winning that are surprises.
It's great to see that our tour is healthy, with that many good players out here.
TIGER WOODS: I know in Europe it's a different rule. It's score card length. So I think that's a little bit more realistic than it is a club length. Because you can get it close -- totally. You can go from being behind a tree or something if you're in the fairway and then move it out there so you've got a clear shot.
Or a lot of times if you're short of a bunker in the fairway, move it so you've got an angle now or you move it a club length and get closer to the green, or if not, right on it.
So I think Europeans probably have it the best, being a score card. S.
TIGER WOODS: The last two times we played, it's been tough, especially in '98, it's been tough. This golf course plays a lot more difficult when it's hard and fast because these greens become unbelievably difficult to putt on.
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