August 24, 2001
JAMES CRAMER: Why don't we go ahead and get started. We have Tiger Woods with us, with a 3-under 67 for a 7-under par 133 total through two rounds. Tiger, great playing why don't we go over your score card to begin and then we'll take some questions.
TIGER WOODS: All right. No. 2, hit a driver and 5-iron to about 25 feet, 2-putted. 6, I had a driver and an 8-iron to 12 feet and made that par. 7, I hit 5-iron up there to about 20 feet left of the hole and made that. 8, I hit a driver and a pitching wedge to about a foot and made that. 10, a 3-wood off the tee in the right rough. Hit a pitching wedge out to about six feet above the hole. Made that. 13, I hit it left off the tee and then behind some tree roots and played through the tree roots. Hit a 9-iron. Tried to go underneath the tree and flew over the hill a few yards skipped it over the back and flopped to about three feet for bogey. 16, hit a driver left off the tee and tried to lay up with a 9-iron in the rough. Kind of turned my face open and hit it way right. Punched out to right behind the flag. Missed that putt and ran it by the hole, wrong speed and missed about a 3-footer coming back.
Q. How far was the first putt?
TIGER WOODS: It was about ten feet. 18, I hit a driver off the tee and a pitching wedge to about 12 feet left of the hole and made that.
Q. You said you hurt your elbow and not your wrist. How bad is the elbow?
TIGER WOODS: I kept playing, right. Kept playing.
TIGER WOODS: Me, no, man. Come on, you know me better than that.
Q. It looked like it was really hurting you on the tee at 14. Did it hurt less as you played longer?
TIGER WOODS: It didn't because the painkillers kicked in just nice. Did a good job.
Q. Did you think you hit the ball better today, about the same as yesterday?
TIGER WOODS: About the same as yesterday. I just made a few more putts. I drove the ball -- I drove it all right. Nothing great, but every drive was -- actually every shot today was pretty flush, which is good. I just needed to either pull or push it a little bit, but every shot was pretty flush. Just hit a couple stray ones, but they weren't that bad.
Q. You were on tree roots at 13; correct?
TIGER WOODS: I was kind of right up against them. People have asked me, should I have pitched outside ways, but the problem is the tree root was higher going toward the 13th fairway and if you play outside ways to 14, you literally couldn't get the club on the ball because the tree roots were too high.
Q. That was an issue yesterday, wasn't it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but I didn't know there was a tree root there. It was underground and I was trying to play a low shot out of the trees and bump it off of there, twice.
Q. The best shot or the healthiest shot today on 13?
TIGER WOODS: Out of -- the healthiest shot was to take two-club lengths and drop. But the best shot was to go for it, try and put the ball in the fairway, wedge it up there and make your par.
Q. Should you have taken the penalty --
TIGER WOODS: You know me better than that.
TIGER WOODS: That's just me. I had a shot, you know. It's not like I couldn't play it. The thing is, I'm only trying to hit it 40 yards. Not like I have to hit this the 170 yards. If I have to hit it that far, there's no way I could have done something like that. Trying to advance it 40 yards, you figure you could handle that. You could handle that.
Q. Was the plan all along to release at impact?
TIGER WOODS: Plan all along was to try and hit it hard with the right hand and let go with the left. That's what I tried to do.
Q. It looked like it actually chopped up a part of the root -- I tried to watch in slow motion and it looked like --
TIGER WOODS: I took it out a little bit, yeah. I think the tree root won.
Q. How many times did you hit driver and how would that compare with playing here last year?
TIGER WOODS: I hit driver more this year than I did last year because it's a lot softer this year. Last year you could run the ball down some of these fairways. I remember hitting 3-wood off of 8 and running it down the hill and today you just hit driver and it's going to probably back up out there. It's really soft. You could be a little bit more aggressive now this year than the last year and I hit driver probably -- I don't know how many times but majority of the time.
Q. How long was the putt on 17, the first putt?
TIGER WOODS: First putt, about 20 feet.
Q. Go over No. 3, please. You had to play the shot left-handed?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and pulled it. Only shot was to hit it left-handed and I just kind of hacked it out left-handed. No big deal. Again, just trying to hit it 40 yards in the air, 30 yards; that's not that far, to keep it in the fairway somehow. And from there just play and put the ball up there where I had a chance to make par. That's all I wanted to do and I was able to save par there.
Q. Phil was saying because there's not like patches of automatic birdie holes on this course that it's difficult for someone to really run away with it. Would you agree with that and was last year kind of an exception? Is this a course where you expect to see tight bunches until late Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: Generally at this tournament, this golf course, lends itself to that type of play. Last year, I really played well starting out the tournament the first two days and was able to post some low numbers. I was able to -- I did continue it throughout the weekend. You know, this golf course lends itself to just kind of plodding along and making birdies here and there. If you are driving the ball well here, if you are a longer hitter, this golf course lends itself to being able to shoot some lower scores because the greens are soft this year. You can be a little bit more aggressive, especially since, you know, you have 9-irons and wedges into a lot of the holes, and you know that the only thing that you really have to watch for is spinning the ball back too much.
Q. I'm sure you know of players who have injured themselves and hurt their careers by -- with wrist injuries off tree roots and things like that; this is not a major, would you have envisioned yourself -- you used the phrase "you know me better than that." Would you ever envision yourself playing it safe in that situation?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have taken drops before. But there is a point where you think you can make it, and hitting it that far, yes, it's going to -- you can probably sting a little bit, but it's not going to -- you figure it's not going to hurt too bad. I've done this before. I've hit balls into trees and I've played out of bushes, off of rocks, off of just about any kind of surface and you know what a lie will take out of you if you do try and go at it. Probably the only shot that I really should never have hit was probably at THE TOUR Championship in Houston, going through that little rock -- well it wasn't a little rock it, was bigger than the ball. That's probably the only shot I can recall where I think I should have taken the drop.
Q. Do you think you are immune from something like that doing to your career what it did to John Cook's?
TIGER WOODS: No. We all are susceptible. We all are human. But the thing is, you have to also take into account; your past experiences and what your body can and can't handle, and also, the situation that you are in. You know, if that tree root was higher and was embedded more, then there's no way I could have done it. But there actually was -- it was kind of running away from me and trying to only hit it 40 yards, I figured I could handle that. I only hit it about ten yards short of that.
Q. This seems kind of obvious, but the subject came up a few minutes ago. Do you feel like you've had a Player of the Year, and do you think there's anybody else realistically within ear shot of you?
TIGER WOODS: I think I've had a pretty good year. I've won -- I think I've won, what, four times on our tour and once in Germany, and one of them was a major and one of them was a so-called fifth major. So I think I've had -- I haven't had a poor year.
Q. Phil said earlier that no one has played better than him throughout the year; he knows of one guy who has won more tournaments, but no one guy more consistent, more Top-10s. Any thoughts on that?
TIGER WOODS: He definitely has had more Top-10s than me. But I figure I've also had a decent year. I haven't played poorly. I've won a couple tournaments here and there. But there's a long way to go before the Player of the Year is all said and done. We have a long way to go. This tournament is a big tournament. We have the AMEX tournament. We have our TOUR Championship. So there's some big tournaments coming up that will probably end up deciding who gets it.
Q. How much do majors and PLAYERS Championship factor into that, given what happened a couple years ago when Mark O'Meara won twice, but just those two and Davis won four?
TIGER WOODS: That means a lot, because those are the tournaments we all want to win. We only get four chances at winning major championships a year, and there are a lot of TOUR events, but there's only four majors. Those are the type of tournaments that will define your career and I was very fortunate enough to win one this year.
Q. How aggressively would you say you played today; you hit a ball off a tree root. And will you play more aggressively the next two days?
TIGER WOODS: I can't really say I played that aggressive, honestly. Because I played this golf course the same way I normally play it. There was only two times where I took out a club that I normally don't hit, and that was on 14 and 17. I don't normally hit iron off those tees. But if I'm feeling uncomfortable, yeah, I'll put it out there in play and just put it in play and bump it up on the green somewhere and try it get out of there. Normally, I hit a lot of drivers around this golf course; it's soft, because you know if you land the ball on the fairway, it is going to stay on the fairway and it is not going to run out. When this golf course is hard and fast, I hit a lot of irons off the tees.
Q. Are you recovered now physically from your ailment?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. I'm able to eat. Back to my old eating habits.
Q. In fact, you look like you are physically better than a year ago when you won and had a cold or whatever it was.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, last year -- I think the last day I played I had like 102 or 103 fever or something, something ridiculous. But, who knows. That was then. This is now.
Q. Was that a 2-iron 14, was that a concession --
TIGER WOODS: I just didn't want to take a chance of ripping driver down there and putting myself in a position where I would make bogey. I know if I bump it down there, 220 yards, 230 yards, somewhere in play, I know I can put it on the green and maybe give myself a chance at birdie. There was really no need to force it down there with driver, the way I was feeling so, I just kind of was playing real conservative. Same way on 17. I could have hit driver down there, but the play for me, I thought, with the pin all the way in the back is just go ahead and conceded the fact that it's a hard pin to get to. Just hit your 2-iron down there and maybe a mid-iron into the green and try and make a putt.
JAMES CRAMER: Tiger, thank you very much.
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