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June 13, 2002

Tiger Woods


RAND JERRIS: Tiger, thanks for taking a few moments to sit down with us after your round.

A bit of an up-and-down round with 5 birdies and 2 bogeys. But you lead the championship with 3-under par 67. Are you satisfied with your score at the end of the first round?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, very satisfied. It was playing difficult out there. The wind was up a little bit here and there, but the rough was still difficult and the greens were, even though we had some rain last night, they were still pretty quick. And you had to be cautious on some putts, and just kind of line them up and move on. And I tried to stay as patient as I possibly could today and I hit some beautiful golf shots and I hit some bad ones, as well. But I hung in there and made some good par saves to keep the round going, also made some good putts for birdies, as well.

RAND JERRIS: With the importance of finding the fairways off the tee, could you go through the round.

TIGER WOODS: I hit driver quite a bit today. I hit driver off of 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, that's it.

Q. Playing here on Long Island for the first time, how was the crowd affecting your play? Was it a more boisterous crowd than you're used to in some other tournaments? The New York sports fans tend to sometimes be a little louder than others across the country.

TIGER WOODS: They definitely weren't quiet, I'll tell you that. They are definitely enthusiastic. They were excited, which is fine. I don't think any of the players mind that, just as long as they're respectful. And most of them were. A couple of things were said, but that's, again, a little excited. But overall, there's nothing wrong with being enthusiastic, just as long as you're respectful.

Q. Two things, did you hear somebody yell across the fairway on that first bogey putt?


Q. Is that who you were glaring at?

TIGER WOODS: It got me right on my stroke and I flinched and blocked the putt. But that's the way it is.

Q. The other question, can you talk about how mentally and physically draining this golf course can be on you or was it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think it's more -- it's definitely mentally draining, because every golf shot, you're tested. There's not one shot you can step up and kind of relax and ho-hum it out there. You've got to hit a golf shot. And once you get to the greens, your work is not finished. There aren't easy putts out there. It may be along the flat side, but the reads are so difficult, you can see a putt behind the hole, it looks right-to-left, go behind the ball and now it looks left-to-right. That's kind of how the putts are. And you've got to somehow pick a line and be committed to it.

Q. Can you talk about your approach shot on 18, what you had and the type of lie you had, and number two, do you think your confidence level, as far as making putts on these greens, because you made quite a few today?

TIGER WOODS: The first part, 18, I hit 9-iron from about -- I had 153 to front. And I had a good enough lie where I had a good shot at getting up on top, didn't know if I could get it to the green. But at least I knew I could get it up there where it would be in the left bunker, maybe just short of the green, where I could get up-and-down for par. And it came out even better than I could have imagined. It got up and landed short of the hole, a little past the hole. I got a great teach from Chris, hit it exactly the same putt about six inches further, and got a good read there and made mine.

The putts today, I've hit a lot of good putts, and I was just working on pacing and making sure I had the right pace, because a lot of these putts tend to run off on the other side of the holes, and maybe up and down. You had some really good pins, the USGA did a good job of setting up the pins where you had to be very cautious and attentive to your speed.

Q. The bogey on 6, the broken 3-wood on 7, the camera clicking on 7, did any of that bother you, distract you, rattle you at all?

TIGER WOODS: The shot I hit on 6 was just a beautiful little 7-iron, it was right at the flag, and just went too far. And I made bogey. But the 3-wood wasn't exactly fixed, I guess, and I didn't want to hit driver there, I tell you that. That hole is not exactly set up for my driver. But I hit a little three-quarter soft arm shot and made sure I held the face open and hit a nice high cut. It landed soft and stayed in the fairway. I figured if anything you can't hit 2-iron with 490 or whatever it was. And if I hit driver and hit it straight, it's in the fairway bunker, and that bunker is not too severe.

Q. Mentally, in terms of holding yourself together through all of that?

TIGER WOODS: That's fine, yeah.

Q. The fact that a lot of the golfers say it's the hardest Open course they've played, at least since Congressional, maybe past Congressional. How does 3-under rank; is that a great score in your mind, better than, say, Pebble Beach that opening day?

TIGER WOODS: This golf course is more difficult than Pebble was playing. It's longer, for one. And the greens are just like Pebble, they're small and I think these are a little more undulating, some more natural slopes in them. And it's playing so difficult out there that you hit one poor shot and you're going to pay the price. And Pebble, the rough wasn't quite as thick. If you hit a bad tee shot in the rough, you had a good shot at getting it to the green. Here, you don't really have a good shot getting it to the green.

Q. Based on your round today, what would you think is more gratifying, the pace you had on the putts you had for birdie or your ability to save as many pars as you did on the greens?

TIGER WOODS: I think save as many pars. Any time -- I've always said this, I think a good par save is always better than a birdie. You feel so much better not losing a shot. And I made a couple out there that I had to make. And hit some good putts and they went in. And that's all you can do is hit good putts, at least try.

Q. I know that everybody has to do it, but nonetheless, isn't a two-tee start slightly difficult, part one. And part two, how long from the time you hit your last preparatory shot was it before you teed off?

TIGER WOODS: That's one thing I told Steve, I hit a terrible tee shot off of 10. I almost hit my right foot coming down, I think. It was about 30 or 40 minutes before I hit a range ball versus the tee shot on 10. I think that was the most difficult thing about that, you had to get -- somehow get some kind of rhythm, loosen up somehow. And not exactly an easy start, 10, 11, 12. You've got to get your rhythm quick. I hit a -- I had just a nice situation with a nice 5-iron right-to-left wind, hit a high cut and move on from there. And I got in my rhythm pretty quick. But I think that's the most difficult thing, that you have to allow so much time to get out there to 10, that your natural rhythm is a little thrown off, especially in a major championship, because you're not used to going off 10.

Q. What would the normal time be from hitting your last practice shot to teeing off?

TIGER WOODS: Probably no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

Q. Was 10, 11, 12 as demanding a start as you've ever had?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. I don't think I've ever played as difficult start as that. First hole you've got is 490 right out of the block. And the fairway, for some reason, looks a little smaller when that's the first tee shot of the day.

12 was playing a little easier today because it was downwind. It was down right-to-left.

Q. The tee shot, how far was that?

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea how far. All I know is I hit a little 6-iron in there.

Q. We all know it's a marathon, could you talk about how you personally feel about 3-under, a chance to get a good night's sleep and the chance to go right back out?

TIGER WOODS: Hopefully, I can maintain the rhythm and the pace of how I played today and hopefully carry over tomorrow. This is certainly a difficult championship and you have to stay as patient as possible. And I think the key for tonight is to go out and getting home as soon as I can, getting some good rest, and come out tomorrow and hopefully be prepared for the round.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: What holes did I hit 3-wood off the tee? I hit 3-wood off 11 and I was going to hit one off of 7. That's it.

Q. There's been a number of players today that have said they wouldn't be surprised as the greens firmed up but if the wind kicked a bit the final score could be over par here. Based on your practice rounds and today, as well as you did play, are the scores that you see out here kind of what you expected and how do you expect things to go as the weekend approaches?

TIGER WOODS: If we would have got the conditions that we had in the practice rounds, where there was no rain, the greens weren't soft, and the wind -- and the wind never blew. Even par would have -- par would have kicked it in. But that's not the case. The greens are going to get softer, we're supposed to get rain tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. And if that's the case, if they drive the ball well, they can be aggressive then.

Q. People wondered whether this course was going to hold up; there was speculation there would be low scores, some said it would be very high. Do you think the course held up?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the way the USGA set up this golf course, I think the widest fairway, I was told, was 28 yards, and most of them are narrower than that. When you play a golf course that's 7200 plus par-70, and you don't have wide fairways and you have rough where you can't advance it to the green, that will tend to make the scores a little higher. I don't know why people were saying there would be three or four guys at 10-under par or better. That's what I was told before I got here. That's not going to be the case.

Q. Considering the putting stats had you, I think, tied 81 on Tour this year, is this the best you've putted all year. And there was a scene in between 14 and 15 where you went to the rest room and there was a raucous reaction, did you have any kind of reaction to that crazy scene out there?

TIGER WOODS: Putting one, I think the only time I've putted better than this was at Augusta. I really putted well there. I didn't have a 3-putt until the fifth hole on Sunday, and I was, what, 70, 80 feet, or whatever it was. So I really putted well there.

As far as 14, 15, it was so loud coming out of there that I made -- everybody knows me, that I'm kind of -- I make smart comments every once in a while, and I made one there. And they couldn't hear me, obviously, because they were yelling so loud, I said, "Are you guys clapping because I'm potty trained?" (Laughter.) I made it this far, you think I'd know how to go.

Q. I have no idea how to follow that up. The first round in your Open seems to be the momentum setter for how you do. The other two times you broke par, you finished first and third. Is that a matter of confidence, momentum, the fact that you don't have to try to go out and make up ground on a golf course that typically isn't set up to yield anything but maybe pars at best, combination of all of the above?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's none of the above. I think I just played well. And it's always nice to play well the first round, because then it's easier to keep the momentum going, rather than playing poorly, and somehow having to go find it on the range, put it together, and somehow go and compete -- shoot some good numbers from then on. The years that I have shot under par, I've really played well. And I was able to continue that for the rest of the event.

Q. (Inaudible.)

1-putt greens: No. 1, I made a putt for par from about 10 feet.

I made a putt for birdie on 2 from about 10 feet.

7, I made about a 12-footer for par.

9, I made about a 15-footer for birdie.

13, I made about an 18-footer for birdie.

14, I made about a 15-footer for birdie.

17, I made about an 8-footer for par, and 18, I made about a 20-footer for birdie.

RAND JERRIS: Thanks very much for your time. Wish you luck.

End of FastScripts....

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