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March 3, 2002

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room. 66 today, low round of the day, low final round. Gave Ernie a good scare out there today. Want to get us started with a little bit about your round?

TIGER WOODS: I played well today. Hit lot of good shots and made some putts and I made him work for it and he went out there and he played well and he earned it. Came up just a little bit short.

Q. What point was the game on, do you think?

TIGER WOODS: I just wanted to cut it in half by nine holes. If you are at any time within a four-shot lead with nine holes to go, you know, you have got a chance. I was able to do that and little bit more. Started back nine, birdied two of the first three holes on the back nine, I think he answered it with one of the birdies. I got it there with a chance and that's all you can do.

Q. Probably needed a little bit help from him, I guess he didn't really wobble too much, he wasn't -- he was just making a string of pars which throws it all on you.

TIGER WOODS: Under these conditions that's what you are supposed to do, you're supposed to make a lot of pars. It's blowing out there. It is a tough golf course, especially the last two days, and any time you got an 8-shot lead start out the day, you know, if you just go out there and play solid, make a lot of pars, he put the onus on the guy chasing you. I was 6-under through 12 holes, and I came close.

Q. Talk about not only the par save on 15 but also the lie you had. Johnny Miller said it was the worst chili-dip he'd ever seen in his life?


Q. Makeable.

TIGER WOODS: From that lie?

Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: Obviously -- well, no comment. Not going to get myself in trouble (laughs) it was not that easy of a shot. You have to accelerate the blade, but also got to make sure you add a little loft and I mean it's very easy to drill that shot ten feet by, and I hit it just a little heavy, and it wasn't that easy a shot. I hit a beautiful iron shot in there, little 6-iron, carried it too far obviously, but that chip shot was not as easy as he thought (laughter).

Q. You and Ernie hit clubs about the same distance, I imagine your club hit speeds pretty close to the same. Yet your swing is, to the common golfer, looks so different. Yours looks so fierce and athletic and his looks almost more like a Bobby Jones-type swing. Explain why the swing appears so different?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think a lot of us are size d -- he's obviously a lot taller, he has got a longer lever to work from, any time you see guys with the height that he is at, your swings are going to seem little more fluid, little more slow, smooth. Look at Vijay's swing. He's 6' 4'', 6' 5'' whatever he is, and Ernie is the same way. Back in the day, Tom Weiskopf was that way. Guys with that much of a lever to work from, you're going to have a slower looking swing than guys who are a little bit shorter than them.

Q. You say you thought the game was on at the turn. At a certain point did you realize that Ernie was not going to crack and it was going to depend a lot more from you?

TIGER WOODS: No, I just -- I really wanted to get within one. If I could somehow narrow the gap to one, it makes that 18th hole a little bit more different. Knowing the fact that if he makes a mistake off the tee and he has got to play real conservative coming into the green from there, that he's in a playoff if he doesn't get up-and-down. If I could just get it to one with him on the tee, it would have been a little bit different, in my thought process, that's what I was trying to do.

Q. You have been talking for while about the signs of progress and, you know, you were definitely in the tasting blood today. Gratifying to see the steps, Dominoes starting to fall for you, back in the hunt?

TIGER WOODS: As I said, it takes time to work on things and have them come together. The go-around this week only make four bogeys for the week is pretty good under these conditions. Didn't make a bogey on the weekend. That's not too bad.

Q. Where did you start feeling maybe you were losing momentum coming down the stretch some of the shots maybe got away from you, 17 approach --

TIGER WOODS: I still I -- if I could just somehow get it to 1. Even with him out there in the fairway on 18 if I would have made that putt, it puts a little bit of an added -- just a little bit, not a whole lot, but alittle bit more of heat on him for the second shot and I hit a good putt too, just took the break a little too late.

Q. What did you hit into 18?

TIGER WOODS: Just chipped in a little 7.

Q. Does the second shot on 17 here resemble at all the second shot at 9 at Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: Not even close.

Q. You don't worry about backing it off that slope?

TIGER WOODS: The ball doesn't backup here this week. They are just hitting and sticking or actually the greens are giving it up a little bit.

Q. After this week would you like to come back play next year, do you think?

TIGER WOODS: You know, right now I am not really worried about that. To be honest with you. I am just who knows, if it fits in the schedule - every year I look at my schedule and see what I need to do to get ready for the four majors.

Q. Not looking to next year playing here but looking to this year can you talk a little bit about the Doral experience playing here and how this tournament was? You have come back to it for the first time last several years...

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's playing more difficult than the one year I played here in 1998, I believe it was. The rough was certainly a lot higher this week, and you really had to drive the golf ball well to give yourself a chance and I was able to do that this week. I drove the ball beautifully, and I hit some good iron shots in there and the wind blew a lot harder than it did in 1998 as well.

Q. In mind games that are played between players will eastern they get full value out of that victory over you because of the big deficit you made up?

TIGER WOODS: Don't know. I think that's a question you are going to have to ask him. I think any time you can win and leave the tournament with a W, you can obviously feel pretty good, whether it is starting the day with an 8-shot lead and ending with two or starting the day with an 8-shot lead and ending in double digits. The fact that he has the W, he's going it feel pretty good about it.

Q. How close-- 16, going in and was that -- was there a shot out there that maybe you'd like to have back?

TIGER WOODS: 16 -- 16 I thought I landed the ball absolutely perfect on that second shot. I landed it about eight feet short of the hole and with some pretty good sauce on it and it for some reason skidded pretty good before it starting to stop. The putt, I blocked it just a little bit, and the green from there just went ahead and just ate it up and missed it low.

Q. How long was it?

TIGER WOODS: It was about ten feet.

Q. Is there another course with planes flying closer than here and how hard is it concentrating?

TIGER WOODS: I grew up, if you know the L.A. area at all, I grew up playing the Navy golf course.

Q. Okay.

TIGER WOODS: And as you know the runways are right there on the 16, 17, 18 holes. I mean, you have -- C35's, used to fire golf balls at them coming in during Desert Storm kind of make them connect, (laughs). But yeah, that, golf course as well as I believe it's the Army course in Thailand in Bangkok, I played there. You are actually inside the airport.

Q. So you -- these planes -- this was nothing new to you these planes flying so close?

TIGER WOODS: It is just like being how I grew up playing.

Q. Did you ever hit any of them?

TIGER WOODS: (Smiles).

Q. You have gone into some final rounds with big leads and usually you end up winning by 12 or 15. The mentality when you have a big lead how hard is it to just keep doing the things that got you there?

TIGER WOODS: It's really not as hard as you might think because if you focus on the same things you do, day in day out which is play one shot at a time, technically it really shouldn't change. It does change if guys get a little close to you because then all of a sudden you know if you make a mistake, you have a chance of letting it slip away.

Q. Was there ever a point where you thought you might win this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: After nine holes I felt like I had a good chance, if I go ahead and put together a good back nine and I started off the back nine the way I needed to, I birdied two of the first 3 on the backside and from there I just needed to keep executing golf shots and try and get as I said, get that deficit down to 1.

Q. Safe to say that the way you started was pretty much just about close to the game plan that you had?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah (laughs), you know, (inaudible) definitely never going to hurt you, I saw that I think he must have bogeyed two, something like that, I felt like if I could just keep plugging along and maybe get one or two more on the front side, I'd be all right. I got one more. I just felt like I just needed to keep let's just keep getting close to him because you never know with the last few homes here, as difficult as they are playing with this wind that all you need to do is just hit one poor tee shot and you could make five or six very quickly.

Q. Does it matter to you if you win before Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: Like to win every time I play.

Q. I mean is it necessary confidence-wise or --

TIGER WOODs: My game is progressing. As I told you guys, you got to take it step by step.

Q. Are you aware of how quickly you get on the mind of a leader when it's you who does something like this rather than, I don't know, player X?

TIGER WOODS: I am not in their head, so I don't know.

Q. That is the point. (Laughter)

TIGER WOODS: Don't know what they are thinking. I know what I am thinking. I know what I am trying to do, to try and guess what they are thinking, I don't know. I really don't.

End of FastScripts....

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