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August 17, 2002

Tiger Woods


JULIUS MASON: If you would not mind giving us some thoughts on your round, some questions, and we'll go through your card.

TIGER WOODS: First of all, I thought I played really solid today. I hit a lot of good shots, and really, I made some big par putts out there today. The conditions were so tough that it's just tough to get a read on the wind. It was coming out of all different directions, swirling around the trees, and I did the best I possibly could. Sometimes, I just got fooled, but overall, I feel like I really played a nice, solid round of golf today. Starting off the day, I thought anything at even par or better was going to be a great score, under these conditions. I played even par, one birdie, one bogey. I birdied the 11th hole, hit a driver and 3-wood on the green to 20 feet and 2-putted. 18, lost my drive in one of the corporate tents and hit a 7-iron just short of the green, just a bad chip, ran it by about 15 feet and missed it.

Q. All eight of your major championship wins, you've taken a lead or share of the lead on the final day. You've never come from behind to win a major championship. I'm sure you know all this. Can you do that tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. (Laughter.)

Q. How?


Q. Talk about that challenge.

TIGER WOODS: The challenge of it? All I have to do is just play well, make putts. It's really no big secret. There's only a few guys ahead of me, and tomorrow, I just need to go out there and play solid. I think the forecast is for it to be windy, like today, maybe not quite as windy, but I still need to hit some good shots, because this golf course is playing so hard right now, with the wind blowing this hard and the pins, where they are tucked, it's brutal out there.

Q. Is four shots too much to make up in these conditions?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, four shots is way too much. (Laughs). Come on.

Q. How much do you look at only birdieing one of the par 5s as a key to where you are in the tournament right now?

TIGER WOODS: I think birdieing any hole today was going to be a good thing. If you can not get shutout today and make a few birdies, it was going to be a good, solid day. I mean, it's hard to describe how hard it is out there. That wind is blowing so hard out there, and with those trees, the clubs you've got to hit, the trajectory you've got to control, it is really, really tough.

Q. Let me take you back to a question four years ago. You were nine years old --

TIGER WOODS: That was four years ago? Oh, okay.

Q. The question was four years ago. You were playing in the U.S. Amateurs junior and you came back from six strokes to win this tournament. Can you do that tomorrow? Do you have the same mindset; do you recall that question?

TIGER WOODS: Do I recall the question? No. (Laughter.) My memory is pretty good, but not quite that good, sorry. No, it was in the U.S. Amateur against Trip Keeney (ph) in '94 at Sawgrass, is when I came back from six down. I was six down with 10 to go -- 11 to go, I'm sorry. Just one of those things where I just played well at the right time and he made a few mistakes, as well. But tomorrow is a different format, stroke-play versus match-play, and I just need to get off to a good, solid start tomorrow and get the momentum on my side.

Q. Could you talk about, in these conditions, how much of a battle is it a physical one versus how much it is a mental one?

TIGER WOODS: It's tough to get committed on shots, for one. But physically, your ball is oscillating on the greens. You're moving and it's just so hard to stay steady, and these greens are so pure that any bad putt, you're not going to make it, so you have to somehow stay steady enough to make a good, solid stroke. A couple of holes, you have to play wind on putts because it's blowing that hard out there. Physically, it's a test because you're hitting shots that you normally wouldn't hit on this particular golf course, shots this low and this flat, but you have to get the ball above those trees, it can do anything.

Q. Coming into 18, you were the only player not to have a bogey on your card today. Can you talk about the disappointment after that great second shot, and secondly, about the character of Justin, what you know of him, and also about his round today and how well, obviously, he played today and how difficult a guy with his character will be for you to catch?

TIGER WOODS: Well, any time you end with a bogey, it's always disappointing. Today, I fought so hard today just to hang in there. I made some big putts, and just the last hole, I hit just a terrible chip. I hit a terrible tee shot but I hit a good second shot to recover, just a simple little chip shot up the hill, but I just hit it way too hard. The putt, I pulled it just a little bit and ended up on the low side. Justin is a great player, and he's won -- if you look at his resume, the tournaments he's won, he's won some pretty big tournaments on tough courses. This is no exception. This is a tough track, and the wind blowing like this, he hits the ball pretty flat, naturally, and it kind of suits him. He's a fighter. He'll fight, he'll grind it out and he'll get it up-and-down. He's a beautiful putter, as we all know, and I think that's one of the reasons why he's up on top of that board.

Q. As mentally and physically draining as the majors are especially under these conditions, how much did it mean to you to make that putt on 16?

TIGER WOODS: It meant a lot, because I was right in the middle of the fairway with just an easy little 9-iron that I jerked it over there, what, 30 yards left of my target. From there, hit another bad pitch, and I was reading the putt and I remember, I don't know where the pin was, but I remember Payne making a big putt there, and I remember him pointing up into the grand stands saying thank you, some guy gave him a read or whatever it was. So I kind of remember that, and I said, well, if he can make one, I can make one. I went up there and released the blade, and, oh, man, it just tracked all the way in there. I just was praying it had enough speed because it was starting to die out at the end, with the wind blowing that hard, and it just crawled over the front edge.

Q. You said it's dangerous to think of switching gears and getting aggressive on this golf course, but tomorrow, if you would find yourself running out of holes, on the back nine, what are the holes where you would consider abandoning your game plan and trying to force the issue?

TIGER WOODS: There aren't any holes. What hole can you be aggressive on? There really isn't.

Q. Are you going to play your game plan regardless?

TIGER WOODS: You've just got to keep plugging along and give yourself putts at it.

Q. How much of this golf course changed from the time you teed off at 9:15 until you came in this evening? Did it dry out considerably?

TIGER WOODS: It dried out just a little, not a whole lot. The greens certainly slowed down, but I think the hardest thing was just trying to get a beat on the wind, where it was coming from. Not only was it blowing as hard as it was, but it was just swirling in the trees, and all three of us got fooled several times today, and that's just the way it is. It's blowing that hard out there and anything can happen. But the golf course did not really change that much over the course of the day.

Q. "Redemption" is sort of a trite term, but how happy are you or pleased or proud that in light of what happened at Muirfield that you were able to come back here, play two very difficult days and play pretty well?

TIGER WOODS: Feel fine. No, honestly, I feel fine. Today is not even close to what we had to play at Muirfield. It was blowing just hard, but it was raining and the windchill was 32 or 34 degrees that day, and on top of that, you had 20-yard wide fairways with waist-high rough. A little different than this golf course.

Q. Just wanted to ask you, when was the last time you faced 200-yard approaches to par 5s twice for your third shot? Maybe the Mike Douglas show?

TIGER WOODS: It's been a while. (Laughs). This golf course, the way the cross-bunkers are setup, that's what you have to do. If you don't drive it in play, you're going to have to lay up short of the cross-bunkers and that leaves you quite a ways back. Unfortunately, I didn't get it in play.

Q. What about 16 and the PGA's decision to move the tees way up?

TIGER WOODS: I think if they would have kept it all the way back there, you know, some of the guys might not have got over the water. As hard as the wind's blowing. On top of that, if you move to the front of the back tee, if you look at it, it's pitched pretty hard from left to right, so it's really not a flat surface to tee off on. So they wanted to tee off from the back of that tee, where it's flat, and it gave us an opportunity to at least get it up there with a reasonable chance.

Q. Did you watch the leaderboard at any point today?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I always do. I always do.

Q. Your impressions of it, as it was happening? It was not moving for a long time. Did that affect how you played the course, conservatively or aggressively?

TIGER WOODS: No. I played the same way, just try to get the ball in play and get the ball on the greens and not make any high numbers.

Q. Were there any times where you made what you would call an aggressive play?

TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't try to be aggressive at all today. This golf course, the way it's playing right now, if you hit the ball to the middle of every fairway and put the ball on the green, 2-putt and move on, you're going to do all right. Occasionally, you're going to make a putt here and there, and if you look at the leaders, that's what they are doing. You're not going to go low on this golf course, the way it's setup right now, but you can go pretty high.

Q. How close was your line on 18 to the gallery? Looked like you went right over their heads?

TIGER WOODS: The one that were up there, underneath the tree, I went over their heads, but on the right, I wasn't even close to them.

Q. On your last shot on 18 this morning, both feet in the bunker or was it just the right?

TIGER WOODS: Both feet. Both feet were actually up against the lip, both of my heels.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Tiger.

End of FastScripts...

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