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March 15, 2002

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for spending a few minutes with us.

Good day out there. 12-under par for the tournament. Why don't you make a couple of comments on your round, and then we'll into some questions.

TIGER WOODS: I felt like I hit the ball really well today. I got in position to make some putts, and I was able it get off to a really good start on the back nine and it carried from there. I made a lot of putts that felt like I had a really good chance of making, and it's always nice to make those and get off to a good, solid start.


Q. Is this kind of a continuation of your play from the weekend of Doral or is it improving?

TIGER WOODS: It's just getting better as the things I've been working on are starting to come together. It's nice to see the pieces come together from the range onto the golf course, in play. At Doral, it was a lot better than on the West Coast; and I'm still working on the same things and they are starting to come together.

Q. YOU talked earlier this year about sustaining the roll, etc. Did you feel like you were on one today for the most part? It didn't look like you hit a bad short, really, until 8.

TIGER WOODS: Actually, it's interesting, because I felt more comfortable over the ball yesterday than I did today.

Q. Thanks. I figured you would say that.

TIGER WOODS: But I swear, that's how I felt, even though I hit the ball close, I felt like I was going to hit better shots yesterday than I did today.

Q. How much of it is your putting and how much of it is the better greens?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, better greens by far. I feel like I -- I feel like I've been rolling the ball all right. Now I'm on greens where you get rewarded for hitting good putts. The greens were perfect at Doral and again this week.

Q. The bunker shot on 16, pretty good by your standards?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was -- I lost a tee shot just a little bit right there I and bombed it down there. When I was walking up to the ball, I was looking at it and I said, "There's no way I can go for it.

And Steve said, "You only have 159 to the front."

And I said, "Oh, hey, let's rethink this."

So I had a decent lie. It wasn't a great lie, but it was good enough where I knew I could get the ball around the limb of that tree, it was just a matter of hooking it around. I felt, why not; I'm swinging well and go ahead and try it.

I hit a good positive shot on 10 out of the fairway bunker. I said, just try to do the same thing and it came out absolutely perfect.

Q. Would you maybe not try it if you are not playing as well?

TIGER WOODS: Probably not. (Laughs).

Q. If the greens are better, how come everybody isn't putting better?

TIGER WOODS: I think if you look at the putts the guys are having, the total putts aren't very high this week, but a lot of the guys are putting from the fringe.

Like yesterday's stat was kind of misleading for me because I was on the fringe about four or five times using the putter; so it's misleading. Even though the guys are walking off with 23 to 26 putts, it's kind of misleading.

Q. Which stat, of all of the stats that the infamous ShotLink System gives us, which ones can you look at and say that's legit?

TIGER WOODS: Probably greens in reg and fairway accuracy and scrambling.

Q. How is the state of your game today compared to this time last year?

TIGER WOODS: It's about the same. You know, last year, I was playing well on the West Coast, but I wasn't getting anything in the hole. I said just wait until I got onto smoother greens, and I got to Dubai and the greens were great and I was 20-under par or something like that. And I came here and I played well and I played well through Augusta.

And it's the same thing. Felt like things I was working on on the West Coast were starting to come together. I've been in position to make putts. I just need to be rewarded for hitting good pus. Now I'm on greens where I get on greens where I can hit the ball on the line on at right speed and they are not rolling all over the place.

Q. You are better at having the lead and being able to take it home is so much better than everybody else's. Just talk, please, about the mentality of what your approach is playing with the lead?

TIGER WOODS: I feel comfortable with the lead and I would always much rather be in the lead than come from behind, because then you can always make a mistake and still win. That's just kind of how I always looked at it. I would much rather always be in the lead. I just felt comfortable.

Q. You're looking at -- I think this would be staying where you are, you're seventh Top 3 in your last eight starts in the State of Florida. Have you got an explanation for that?

TIGER WOODS: New home. Adopted home. I just feel comfortable here in Florida. That's where I live now and I play on these grasses. I've played in the wind here and I just feel comfortable here.

Q. How different or how similar is this to 2001 when you, again, sort of hatched at the highest level at a very similar spot on the calendar?

TIGER WOODS: It is very similar, actually. I guess you could take Dubai from last year and plug in Doral this year.

As I said, I feel like things I've been working on are starting to come together, and that's when I felt like, last year same thing, get on some good greens, hit some good putts, and things are kind of building from there. And it's virtually almost the same this year.

Q. Sergio said yesterday, when I asked about your dominance and separation in 2000 and how it gets done, that it's a matter of making every single putt you look at, and a couple of others have said the same thing. How much do you attribute that year to putting, and how much to other things?

TIGER WOODS: I did putt really well that year. But I think if you look back on the year, in order to putt well or seem like you're putting well, it's to put your ball in the closer position to make putts. And that year, my iron game was really good. I controlled my distances well. I put the ball where I needed to put it so I would have the easiest putts, and on top of that I was putting well.

I wasn't driving that great but I was driving it all right. It's about the same every year, but my iron game was much better that year. So hence, I had shorter putts, and then I made them.

Q. At what point, if not now, do you think this, "This one is mine"? Do you think that coming in at the beginning of the week or when you start getting a substantial lead?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, no. I've got to keep plugging along. This golf course is very difficult now. If the wind comes up -- we've had two days there's been no wind. If the wind ever comes up on this golf course with these greens, it's going to be really difficult.

Q. I was talking with Curtis Strange how this is not a course where you can scramble and get away with it for long; it's going to catch you. You scrambled today and barely hung on; is that why you think the cream rises to the top as far as who wins this event?

TIGER WOODS: I think this golf course lends itself to a person who is, obviously, hitting well and get rewarded for hitting well. And with the greens -- any time the greens are firm, the guys who are striking the ball the best are going to be towards the top of the leaderboard. It's hard to scrape is around and shoot low numbers. If the greens are soft, yeah, you can slop if around and shoot something in the high 60s, but not when it's like this.

Q. Is that first time you played with David Gossett in a tournament?

TIGER WOODS: No. I played with him actually at the British Open the first two rounds back in 2000. He was the U.S. Amateur Champion.

Q. Did you know you were playing this well three days ago?


Q. You felt good coming in?

TIGER WOODS: I really felt comfortable.

Q. I know you went out to New York and did the video game thing, but you just kind of batted around here in town over the rest of last week?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I just stead here and worked on many I game and took it easy and got some rest.

Q. When you pick a spot on the green that you want your ball to land, how big an area are you looking at?

TIGER WOODS: Depends on the shot. A lot of times I'm just trying to putt the ball in a general region which is 10, 15, 20 feet wide, whatever it is. It really does it all depends on the shot. Like the wedge shot I hit on 9 today, after I laid up out of the trees, I'm trying to be a little more specific because if I pull it left, it's in the water; so I'm trying to put the ball about five feet right of the hole, which I was able to do and I had a putt at it.

Q. Could you go through your card?

TIGER WOODS: I started off on 10. I hit a 2-iron in the right bunker, and an 8-iron to about 20 feet and made it.

12, I hit driver off the tee, a 7-iron lay up, and a 60-degree sand wedge in there to about eight feet and made it.

Q. Did you hit it in the rough on 12?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, left rough.

14, I hit 4-iron in there, landed it flag-high, and it bounced over the green, and made about a 20-footer there for birdie.

16, a driver in the right bunker, 8-iron up there to about 15 feet and 2-putted.

1, 3-wood off the tee, a 9-iron in there to about eight feet. Made that.

4, a driver off the tee, 2-iron just right of the green. I chipped it up there about six feet. Made that.

5, I hit a 4-iron off the tee, a pitching wedge just off the collar, or just on the collar, and made about a 15-footer for birdie there.

And No. 6, a driver off the tee, a 6-iron up there to about 40 feet and 2-putted.

And 8, I hit a 3-wood off the tee into the right trees, pitched out with an 8-iron. I hit a 60-degree sand wedge up there to about ten feet and missed it.

Q. Do you know you've had 75 holes in a row without a bogey at that point?

TIGER WOODS: Was it? That's not bad.

Q. First three years there's been talk about closing the gap; are you about to pull the rug out from everyone again?

TIGER WOODS: That's not my concern. That's just what you guys write. I'm just out here trying to win golf tournaments.

Q. It looked like you hit almost a knockdown 3-wood off 18 tee yesterday and a higher trajectory today. Can you talk about the difference, why?

TIGER WOODS: Yesterday the wind was blowing a little bit harder than it was today. Today I could throw the ball up in the air a little bit high and know I could get it out there.

Yesterday, the wind was blowing hard enough where if I hit it low through, I could run it down the hill. But if I hit it driver on the right side I could run into the rough; so I went with a low, chasing 3-wood. Plus, it was hotter, so the ball is flying a little bit further.

Q. How many holes did you hit driver?

TIGER WOODS: How many drivers did I hit today? Five.

Q. How sure were you that the putt was going to go in on 16?

TIGER WOODS: It was right in the middle of the hole. I just left it about an inch short. I was just trying to get it close. I wasn't trying to make it. I was just trying to get it close and get the right speed and I got it down there and it started tracking right in there. Just didn't quite hit it.

Q. How long was that putt?

TIGER WOODS: About 40 feet.

Q. Would you like to play with Ernie this weekend?

TIGER WOODS: Would I like to play? Depends if it works out, that's fine. I'd like to have the lead that he had at Doral.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us.

End of FastScripts....

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