August 25, 2001
TODD BUDNICK: Welcome Tiger Woods back to the press room. Tiger,66 today. You started the day off with two birdies on 1 and 2. Can you go through those for us?
TIGER WOODS: No. 1, I hit a driver and a sand wedge up there to about 12 feet right of the hole and made that. On 2, hit a driver and a 5-iron. It landed about pin-high and came back off the green. Pitched it up there to about eight inches. Tapped that in for birdie. 4, I hit it left off the tee. I hit a hook 5-iron around the trees and short of the green. Hit a pretty good pitch up there to about six feet and missed it. 9, I hit a driver and 9-iron up there to about four feet and made that. 10, I hit driver off the tee in the first cut of rough on the left. Hit a pitching wedge to about eight feet past the hole and made that. 16, I hit a driver and a 4-iron in the back left bunker and hit a good pitch out of the bunker. Just didn't quite get on the green. It was on the fringe. Made about a 12-footer there for birdie.
TODD BUDNICK: Go ahead and give us a comment on today and how you look heading into tomorrow.
TIGER WOODS: I played pretty good today. I hit a lot of pretty good shots. I'm very pleased with the way I was able to make a few putts and I got myself right there in contention with a chance to win tomorrow.
Q. What is it about Ohio; you seem to have so much success in this state?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know what it is. I've done very well here, off late. Before that -- but before that, it wasn't too good. But I guess I turned it around and some good things have started to happen. Tomorrow, who knows, hopefully we can go out there and compete tomorrow. With the weather coming in, we're going to go off early, hopefully get it in. If we do play tomorrow, I just need to go out there and hit the ball like I have been and make a few putts and try and get myself up there.
Q. This doesn't have the wide fairways of Memorial, but what is it about this course that sets up so well for you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I like -- I love the fact that these -- these fairways are framed. We play so many golf courses nowadays with mounds and blind shots and this, that and the other; that we don't really play golf courses that are straightforward like this. To me, this is pretty neat, to be able to see the lane you've got to hit the ball into and have to go up there and shape it and place it correctly.
Q. How many people are in this?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't seen the board.
Q. With everyone starting with the morning, and we assume it is not going to get any drier or faster?
TIGER WOODS: I think anyone who is at probably 7 (-under) probably has a chance, but they need to have a great round. The way Jim is playing, yeah, they are going to have a pretty good round.
Q. When you guys were put on the clock, was it disconcerting at all?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, it was because of the fact that they were just walking off the green. And we were -- I guess I thought we were in position. I thought we were only three minutes back, which we made up by the time we got to the green. But that is a little frustrating, that they are right there walking off the green and we are just getting into the fairway. So, you would think that we were in position but I guess we weren't.
Q. What hole did they tell you that?
TIGER WOODS: 11.
Q. First time that's happened to you since you turned pro?
TIGER WOODS: Huh? (Laughter.) Come on. (Laughter.) Are you serious?
Q. I don't know.
TIGER WOODS: Come on. I've been put on the clock a lot. It's not -- I don't feel like I play slow, but a lot of times, we get in trouble, you know, our playing partner gets in trouble or I start hitting the ball all over the place and you need a few rulings and you get behind.
Q. You got some press this week about being the $25 million dollar man. Did you think you were going to rack up this many victories in this short a time including the majors?
TIGER WOODS: I never really looked at it that way. I looked at it, first of all, getting on the Tour. That was the main objective in '96. From there, keep myself out here with a few victories and by winning the Masters, ten-year exemption, the grandfather clause then. Then I had a place to play. From there, what I really wanted to do was give myself a lot of chances to win. That's what all the great players in the history of our sport have done. They don't win every time but at least they are there. If you put yourself there enough time, the victories will happen. I'm proud of the way I've been able to do that so far. I've put myself there quite a few times and I've won my share, but I've been beat a few times, too, which that's going to be part of the game.
Q. Did you play progressively better Thursday through Saturday or did you play good all three days?
TIGER WOODS: I've hit the ball about the same but I've putted a little bit better each day.
Q. You've also won on a lot of tracks that Jack has designed. Would you address that, Valhalla, Memorial --
TIGER WOODS: I think that might just be one of those coincidence things. I can't tell you -- the way he designs it, I like the look of it. Some of the holes -- I've had a few conversations with Jack about a few of the holes. (Laughter.)
Q. The way you started today, did you want to let anyone know you were there and is it important to do the same thing tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I just wanted to get myself up there on that board and hopefully get into double digits. With today being as calm as it was -- it's hot so the ball is flying a long way. The way these greens are, so soft as they are you have to make a few birdies. If I can get to double digits and the faster I could do that, the better and I was able to do that pretty quick. From there, once I got to 10-under par, if I could get a couple more, I felt like I would be in good shape going into tomorrow.
Q. Why was it important to get there quick, double digits?
TIGER WOODS: You don't want to wait too long. It's a little bit easier if you get off to a good, positive start.
Q. Jim waited.
TIGER WOODS: Maybe I should have done the same thing. (Laughs).
Q. You've often talked about wanting to go accept challenges, meeting them. Last year, frankly, on the last day here, weather aside, probably you were not going to lose the golf tournament; you won by 11, I believe. Going into tomorrow, is there a part of you that likes the challenge of having to climb the mountain a little bit before you get to where you want to be?
TIGER WOODS: I think everyone who has probably heard me say this a lot -- I just enjoy competing. To me, that's the rush of it, is going out there and having a chance. Whether you win or not I think it's just the thrill of feeling the emotions and trying to deal with them and trying to pull off shots that you have to pull off at those crucial times. That, to me is fun. I thoroughly enjoy that and that is one of the reasons why I practice as hard as I do, to put myself there as many times as I possibly can.
Q. Usually in these conferences, the table is sort of reversed. It is writers asking other players about you; what's it's going to take to beat you. You know Jim Furyk pretty well and you know his game pretty well. What has to happen for you guys to get on top of him because he really hasn't had a bad day out here?
TIGER WOODS: Jim is obviously one of the straightest drivers that we have out here on Tour. On this golf course, as I said earlier in the week, if you are putting the ball in play, you can be aggressive and fire into these pins because the greens are so soft. I think that's probably what Jim is doing is probably driving the ball in play. He's not the longest hitter out here, but he's long enough where he's going to have mid-iron to short irons in to a lot of these holes and if you can do that, with the greens that are soft and you're swinging well, you can post a good number.
Q. This second half of that -- my previous question about how you want to start tomorrow, does the weather affect that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if we get a chance to play, hopefully. I just hope we have a chance to compete.
Q. Is it important to you to go out there tomorrow and start the same way you started today or does it matter because --
TIGER WOODS: It would be nice, but, you know, if the weather rolls in and we have to come back and play later on in Sunday or even Monday, you know, in either case, I'm going to have to go out there and play well. Hopefully, it will be all in the morning and early afternoon.
Q. Have you been paired with Jim in the final round much or at all, and does --
TIGER WOODS: I don't remember, no.
Q. The competitiveness, he seems like a very competitive guy --
TIGER WOODS: He's very competitive. He has a pretty good competitive spirit and that's one of the reasons why he's been very successful out here on TOUR and one of the reasons why he's been pretty good in the Ryder Cup in match-play events, because he's a wonderful competitor. On top of that, he's a great putter. Any time you get those two combinations, it's fun.
Q. Can we have our daily health report? How is the elbow, how is the stomach?
TIGER WOODS: Everything is good, actually, yeah. Everything feels pretty good.
TIGER WOODS: Good enough.
Q. Are you pleased the way you're playing or the fact that you are playing in the last group tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I'm pleased with the way I'm playing. I think if I wasn't playing that well and I was able to keep myself in it somehow -- it's a different type of pleasure, I guess. But I feel a lot better about my game. I feel a lot better about the way I'm striking the ball. I'm shaping my shots. I'm starting to roll the ball again, which is nice.
Q. Make your expectations any different?
TIGER WOODS: It does to a certain extent, because you know that if you get a good situation, you have a good chance at firing at a flag and getting it close. Before, if you're not swinging that well, you're going to have to shade it towards the fat side of the green or shade it toward putting it underneath the hole a little bit away from where you would really like to fire it at. But if you are feeling good, you can take a few chances.
Q. When you are close to the lead, do you look at it as an advantage being in the last group or does it make a difference?
TIGER WOODS: Say that again.
Q. When you are close to the lead like you are, is there an advantage to being in the last group, or does it make a difference?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I've been in numerous situations -- I like being in the last group with the leader, just because you can watch what he's doing; if he's playing well, then obviously you are going to have to start answering him and make your own share of birdies and get right up on him. That's probably the good thing about playing with him. But then again, if you play in front of him, you know if you go out there and post a number earlier and make him know that you are making birdies, he's got to think about that. So there's two different scenarios about that.
Q. Your last time in the last group would be Memorial?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-hmm.
Q. Can you talk about from a fan's perspective, just the different styles of play they will get to see tomorrow with you and Jim? One guy is a long hitter; one guy is not a very long hitter.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think it's going to be a little bit of -- differences in the distances off the tee, but then again, you still need to fire the ball at those flags, and we know where the flags are because of the dots, and typical Sunday positions. With it being soft, if you are just in the fairway here, even if you've got a mid-iron in your hand, you know you can stop the ball. With Jim, the way he's so accurate, he'll be firing the ball in there probably pretty close, like he's been doing all week, and making a few putts.
Q. Will you try to drive more accurately than long?
TIGER WOODS: I try to drive accurately every day. I have no problem hitting it long. Trying to get the ball in play sometimes is a little bit more difficult.
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