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June 15, 2002

Tiger Woods


RAND JERRIS: Tiger, an even par round of 70. You find yourself leading the championship at minus 5 after three rounds.

TIGER WOODS: Today was a long day, and seemed like I was over par for most of the day, but I hung in there and I saw the guys were making a run at it, at me, and I just tried to keep hanging in there. And I didn't hit the ball particularly well starting out, but I started hitting a little bit more crisp, but not like I did the first two days. And I hung in there and was able to make two big putts on 15 and 17 for birdies.

RAND JERRIS: Walk us through your club selections, please.

TIGER WOODS: Bogeyed 5, hit a 6-iron out of the first cut, came up short, chipped up there to about 6 feet and missed it.

Then bogeyed 11. I hit a 9-iron at the flag, and spun it back off the green, chipped it past the hole about 6 feet and missed it.

Birdied 15. I hit a 6-iron in there to about 12 feet below the hole and made it.

17 I hit a 6-iron to about 8 feet and made it.

Q. Sergio said he left you a note this morning in your locker. Number one, about his comments from yesterday about if you were on the course they would have stopped play and other things. Did you see it and --?

TIGER WOODS: First of all, no, I did not see it. He just told me now. And when I change my shoes I'll look at it.

Q. The question is, there have been some things between you and he in the past, and I assume you saw some of the comments. How will it be playing with him tomorrow and I asked him do you think there will be much talking between the two of you, what do you think?

TIGER WOODS: First of all, I think it's going to be -- it's awfully nice for him to do that, first of all, for him to leave a note like that. That shows me a lot. And tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited about going out there and playing with him. I'm sure he feels the same way. We're going to go out and compete as hard as we possibly can. Whether or not there will be a lot of talking, I really don't think so. Because I don't think he plays -- he likes to talk to his caddy and I like to talk to my caddy. I don't like to talk a whole lot and I know he doesn't, either. We'll be focusing on what we need to get done, which is taking care of business.

Q. You said you did see the guys making a run at you. It appeared you didn't have the putter going like you did before. Did something change on the 15th tee where you knew you had to kick to another gear?

TIGER WOODS: No, it wasn't I necessarily didn't putt well; I didn't hit it close enough to make putts. To be honest with you, I wasn't swinging the club anywhere near as I did the first two days. But because of that I fired away from a lot of the flags, just dump it on the green and try to make a 20, 30-footer. That's how I play. If you look at all the flags I fired at, they were just short irons. And even then, even I had a wedge on 16 in my hand and I fired 15 feet left of the flag. I didn't feel comfortable, but I knew that even though those guys were making a run, and I was holding par for the day, I kept reminding myself I had the lead. If I par in, and they par in, because they're running out of holes, I'll still have the lead. They have to come get me. And that's how I tried to play the round.

Q. Your intensity didn't change?

TIGER WOODS: No, my intensity didn't change. I kept doing the same thing. Trying to keep the ball in play however I can. Some of the shots I played, to get in the fairway weren't very good, but they were in the fairway. But from there get the ball in the green and putt it. I felt like I was putting well, but didn't get it close. The only legitimate chance I had the birdie was on 13.

Q. You've talked in the past about setting individual goals for the final round of a major, such as no bogeys at Pebble, a target score, what have you, is that something you'll think about tonight? Secondly, with an excited atmosphere tomorrow, how important is it for you to keep things really simple, with all the chaos that's going on around you?

TIGER WOODS: That's how I play to begin with. I'll just go out there and play my own game. And I'll enjoy competing in the final round of a major championship. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it and I know the fans are, as well as Sergio. I'm going to go out and give my best.

Q. A couple of things have happened with Sergio obviously in the last few days. Are you concerned that the crowd could have an impact on the competition tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I've said the entire week, there's nothing wrong with the fans showing enthusiasm, just as long as they're respectful. And sometimes the fans have crossed the line, and that's unfortunate. And it's also unfortunate that Sergio made a mistake yesterday, and I think he's probably the first one to admit that. And that's the way it happens. You're dealing with emotions on both sides. The fans are charged up. The players are charged up, because we're fighting our tail off out there. And I just hope that tomorrow the fans are excited, but as I said, respectful to not only myself and Sergio, but for all the players. That's what separates our sport from the other sports. And I hope the fans who are new to golf, are new to this tournament, I hope they don't do that.

Q. From your perspective is 2 and 4 shots different in terms of the way of your approach tomorrow. When you made the putt on 15 you threw your club down in the bag. You were making a statement at that point that you were back in terms of where you wanted to be?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I finally made a putt, you know? And I was -- it was my way of saying to myself, finally. I made my first birdie, it took me 15 holes to make a birdie. But I hung in there, and I was proud of myself I hung in there the entire round, not playing as well as the first two days, but I hung in there. When I threw my putter down in the bag that was -- I was kind of celebrating a little bit that I finally got there, now I've got three more holes to go, and let's continue doing that and try to get back to even par somehow. And I was able to do that.

Q. Is there a difference between 2 and 4 shots, mentally?

TIGER WOODS: 2 and 4 shots? Not when you're dealing with a major championship. You've still got to go out and get the job done. This is a difficult golf course, even though they moved the tees up on a few holes, it's still playing difficult. Some of the guys did shoot some good numbers, but if you make a mistake you're going to pay the price.

Q. You've said after each of your majors that one of the great components is you've got to be lucky that week. It's not playing good and making putts, but you've got to be lucky. After 14 holes you were one of three or four guys who had not made a birdie at all in the field. Were you thinking to yourself, maybe that luck is finally running out a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: No, I felt like I was getting some pretty good breaks, because I hit some bad tee shots starting out. The first hole I hit it way left off the tee, and I had a good enough lie to hit it to the green. The second hole I had a good enough lie to get it on the green. A couple of shots on 18 I pulled it off the tee, it still ended up on the first cut. And those are breaks that you need to have happen, even though I wasn't making a whole lot of birdies today, I still got some good breaks for where I put myself.

Q. Sergio has been spending a lot of time over the ball, and I'm wondering if that's something you're going to have to deal with tomorrow, how you'll approach that?

TIGER WOODS: No, obviously he has a tendency to take a little bit over the ball, but I played a slow player today in Patty. Patty takes his time a little bit. And he's kind of known for that and I knew that going in there. And you've just got to take your time and go ahead and understand that that's how they play. That's their speed. And just don't get caught up in it.

Q. 13 you were on in two and you're putting for an eagle and suddenly it turns into a par. Did you just charge that a little too much and not read it well or what happened?

TIGER WOODS: It's such a fast putt. Yeah, I did hit it just a touch hard. But on the other side of the hole it falls away and when I was reading the putt I knew how fast it was, because I saw a ton of footprints where I putted mine from. I saw the heel marks, and I knew they made the same mistakes that hopefully I didn't make, but I did make it. And it's just one of those things where I made a mistake.

Q. Anybody who 3-putts always feels you gave one away. Is that really -- particularly since you had not made a birdie, did that hurt more in that situation?

TIGER WOODS: Actually I turned that into a positive, actually. Because if you look at the putt, my second putt, I ran it by. And I was over that next putt, my third putt and I was saying, if I miss this putt, it's back to the same spot. And even if I die it, I've got some heel prints, and I don't know if it's going to fall in. Let's go ahead and bang it in there. If I miss it I'm 4 or 5 putting, if I make it, I'm getting out of it with a good 3-putt. And that's what happened.

Q. Were you angry at all yesterday about what Sergio said that if you'd still been out there in the afternoon they would have called it or what were your feelings about what he said?

TIGER WOODS: No, I wasn't angry at all, because I knew that Sergio is a very emotional player and he was obviously frustrated at the way he played. And on top of that the conditions weren't exactly easy, either. You add that together and that's a lot. On top of that the fans made a mistake and he followed with another mistake. And that's -- I think that's -- if you put all that together, I think that's what happened.

Q. You're in a similar situation at Medinah at the PGA in terms of the fans that Sergio faces now. Just from a playing standpoint, can you take us back from how you handled the concentration and dealing with the potential distraction over those couple of days?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the fans at Medinah really didn't -- nothing really started until I think it was the 14th hole where he made birdie and I made double. And all of a sudden everything switched. Actually it was the 13th hole, wasn't it? From then on, yeah, the fans changed and everyone wanted to see Sergio win. That was his first year on Tour, and he was new to the scene. And everyone was excited about the prospect that a 19-year-old could win a major championship. And I just focused on what I could do. And he was still behind me, and he had to go ahead and make birdies to catch me. And I was able to make some pars coming in and hold him off.

Q. Can you just rate the last four holes as a group of difficult finishing holes with chances are the tournament will be decided one way or another tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Well, on the -- three of the last four holes you have to drive the ball in play in order to make par or better. And 17 is a tough hole, but it's playing easier now that the greens are soft. Early in the week 17, if it got -- it got downwind, I think it was on Tuesday, and I hit it a little -- kind of a high, soft 5-iron, landed in the middle of the green and bounced over. That's not the case now, the balls are spinning back. But those are some tough finishing holes, you've got to get the ball in play on those holes.

Q. Given the ease in which the course played today, are there any regrets that you didn't step on some necks or since you didn't play that well, in your estimation that you're just sort of satisfied that you got --?

TIGER WOODS: I'm very happy now, the fact that I got back to even par. It seemed like I was over par for the entire round. But I somehow hung in there. And even though the other players made a run and then played some great rounds of golf out there in a U.S. Open, I look at the leaderboard and actually I increased my lead.

Q. So often you've come in here and talked about how fun it is for you to play on a final round at a championship Sunday; I'm wondering what is fun about it to you?

TIGER WOODS: It's dreams. This is what we dreamt about when we were little kids practicing out there and playing late in the evening, imagining yourself winning the U.S. Open, putting yourself against the best players, playing two or three balls. And that's what it's all about, going out there and competing. This is why I've put in so many hours on the range and putting green and chipping area, whatever it may be. This is why I put in those hours, to put myself in this position. And I thoroughly enjoy it. I love to compete. And being in the final group in the final round of a major championship, that's where you want to be, that's the thrill of it.

End of FastScripts....

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