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March 14, 2002

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Tiger, thank you for joining us. Good round today, 5-under par 67, good start. If we could get a couple of comments on your round, and then we'll go into some questions.

TIGER WOODS: I played well today. Hit a lot of good shots. I drove the ball pretty good, and I didn't really get off to the greatest of starts, but my short game bailed me out and I made a lot of putts today. It was nice to hit some good, solid putts that seemed to go in. Like I said, I hit the ball really well.

When I did make a mistake, my short game bailed me out.


Q. 21 putts; is that right?

TIGER WOODS: It's kind of misleading, isn't it? Because I hit a lot of fringe and I putted from the fringe. So I guess technically it's 21.

Q. What did it feel like?

TIGER WOODS: Probably 25, 26.

Q. The birdie putt you made, did that alarm go off the whole time? Back on the fourth hole, the car alarm was going off?

TIGER WOODS: As long as it stayed on, it was no big deal. If all of a sudden he goes beep, beep (indicating turning off car alarm) in the middle of my stroke it's a different story.

Q. Didn't bother you at all?

TIGER WOODS: No. I grew up on a military base.

Q. Did you yank one right off the tee down the left side on the first hole?

TIGER WOODS: I pulled it left and hit the same shot out, short left and chipped up there about four feet and made it for par.

Q. Have you reached a stage with your swing where you're no longer curious where it's going? Do you have a pretty good idea?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have a pretty good idea. If I'm -- the work I've done, I'm very happy with it, because now I have a feeling I know where it's going to go if I miss it, which is nice to know.

Q. How confident do you feel going back to a course where you've won two years in a row? Is that almost like starting with an edge to begin with?

TIGER WOODS: It feels good because you know that -- you know that you can play this golf course. I've played well here in the past, and I think you usually get good vibes when you are actually able to come back to the golf course that you've won on, especially if you're playing well. I feel like I'm starting to putt a little bit better now.

Q. Were there a couple of holes out there where your approach shot would hit in front of the pin and role 25 feet past, like 14; is that indicative of the firmness of greens?

TIGER WOODS: It's one of those things, my shot on 14, I hit a beautiful 5-iron in there -- actually a little 4-iron in there, it lands and goes over the greens. David hits right behind me, same identical shot short and it sticks.

When they redid the greens, they only did the greens; so they don't do the fringe. If you land on the fringe, it's going to stop. If you land on the green, it's going to go. It's really tough to get to some of these pins. From the dots that we saw out there today for tomorrow's dots, it's going to be a challenge again.

Q. Do you have to be a little more patient and not be just from the middle of the fairway, flag hunting?

TIGER WOODS: I don't normally do that. I usually play away from a lot of the flags anyways.

Q. Obviously, you've played here before, you've won here before. What do you need to do these next three days?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's very simple. Just got to keep driving the ball well to give yourself a chance at keeping the ball in a realistic chance to make putts. If you drive the ball in the rough here with these greens this hard, it's almost impossible to keep the ball on the green. If you don't keep it on the green, the rough is high enough, the greens are fast enough where it's really hard to get up-and-down.

Q. Do you think you'll eventually like this setup better than the old way or does it make a difference?

TIGER WOODS: I've always liked greens when they are more firm. I think it's more of a challenge, and it favors guys who like -- who obviously, hit the ball high. And on top of that, I like seeing the ball move on the greens a little bit, instead of just backing up. It's frustrating when you hit 4-irons and 5-irons and see them back up ten feet. That's not normal.

Q. On which of the three courses are you, do you think you're most comfortable, Bay Hill, Muirfield or Firestone?

TIGER WOODS: I love the look of Firestone, old, traditional straightforward golf course. There's no -- there's no blind shots, nothing blind out there. It's just right there in front of you and the bunkers are there and the golf course is long and difficult, and it's like one of those golf courses that says, "Come and get me." The greens aren't difficult, but it plays tough every year.

TIGER WOODS: I like the look off the tees a lot more there.

Q. Have you ever been paired with John Daly?

TIGER WOODS: '96 Skins Game. They had the football stripes out there for how far we hit it off the tee, do you remember that?

Q. Yeah, I was trying to forget it.

TIGER WOODS: Was it '96 or '97? I think it was '96. I don't think I've played a competitive round on TOUR.

Q. It's a little loud; I don't know how much you notice it, when you're playing, there's a pretty good-sized gallery and then it disperses and today it almost seemed like it was two holes of a wall.

TIGER WOODS: He's playing really well and people love to see John play well. He hits driver just off just about every hole and fans love it, and he's driving it in play. You and I were talking about that out there today; that every hole is out there in the fairway and pretty deep out there, too.

Q. Earlier in the week, we had the Director of Homeland Security here. Does the atmosphere on the course feel any different? Does it feel the same as in previous years?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it has certainly changed since September 11. I don't think we can say that it hasn't. I think there is added security, just for the safety of not only the players, but the fans and everyone who comes out is part of the tournament. Everyone wants to have a good time. I think in order to ensure that, yeah, we have more protection out there and more security. It is a safer environment. There's no doubt about that.

Q. How many drivers did you hit today? I think it was two on the back; how many on the front?


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go through your birdies.

TIGER WOODS: 2, I hit a 5-iron in there to about 12 feet and made that.

4, I hit a driver and a 3-iron just over the green, chipped up there and 2-putt, seven feet and made that.

Next hole, I hit a 3-iron off the tee, sand wedge to about 18 feet and made that.

On 6, I hit a driver off the tee, a 3-iron over the green, chipped back down there to about three feet and made that.

16, I hit a driver off the tee. I hit a 7-iron in there to about, oh, 18 feet just left of the hole on the fringe and left it just a little short and left.

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

End of FastScripts....

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