March 25, 2001
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Tiger Woods for joining us in the interview room for a quick minute. Great way to end the day heading into tomorrow morning. Why don't you talk about the round and going into tomorrow.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we all knew that if we could get in nine or ten holes it would be a good day. I tried to, obviously, get off to a good, solid start. A little bit different than what I did yesterday. I was able to do that; birdied the first hole. Hit a nice little chip-in on 2. The golf course was playing a lot different than it obviously would have been the first three days. A lot softer. The greens are more receptive. The greens are picking up mud, like on the second shot on the last hole, the ninth hole, I hit a little mud ball, and that ball went straight right. I was aiming in the middle of the fairway; it went in the right rough and all of the sudden came ducking back left, and it was back in the fairway. You hope not to pick up too much mud out in the fairway, but that's the way it goes.
Q. How big was making the putt on 9 to get the lead?
TIGER WOODS: I think it was just nice to end the day like that. I had -- I think I really putted well for -- I can't say today -- but nine holes. I felt like I was really putting well. And the putts I did miss were either dead center, or I hit the ball on the line and it just didn't break. I hit every putt exactly where I wanted to hit it. You can't really be disappointed with that.
Q. You got off so fast, did it take you any time to adjust to the change in the course from yesterday to today?
TIGER WOODS: The only thing I really tried to be more protective was once I got the ball in the fairway, the shots into the greens. I was playing a little bit short of my number, whatever it was to the flag. I was playing short of that in my head, because I knew that if I shall (shallow) it out and hit a good, solid shot, more than likely that ball would jump a little bit. The first hole was a perfect indication of that. That ball flew probably six yards further than what I tried to hit it in my head. And I did make that swing; the ball just jumped. Like it did on 5, it jumped, as well. The balls are just loaded with water, and you come in shallow, you're going to get some water in the grooves.
Q. Do you take on more of a match-play mentality with just nine left tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: No, because I've got -- one, I've got obviously Jerry in my group, playing well, and Vijay is ahead of me, and then Bernhard is ahead of them. So it's hard to -- you really can't say it is match play, because, obviously, there are not two guys who have separated themselves. Right now, I think there are four guys with a legitimate chance to win one.
Q. You still enjoy playing in the dark, don't you, finishing up in the dark. Sort of like NEC?
TIGER WOODS: NEC, yeah, kind of funny. I just stepped up there, and I just trusted my swing. I guess when it does get dark like that, you have to rely on your instincts and just trust on your skills in practicing, all of the diligent hours that you have put in. I stepped up there and hit that wedge shot, just trusted it. Said "Go ahead and make the swing; just feel the shot, feel the distance." I just hit it up there -- the putt was kind of funny, I thought. Because I saw Jerry's putt go a little bit left at the end. Stevie and I were both reading it. He says, "Well, it's inside left." And I said, "I can't tell where it's at. You think it is inside left, that's fine. I'll hit it there." I hit it inside left. It broke there, and it went in.
Q. If the ball was dry and you did not have mud, were you thinking about going for it in two or not?
TIGER WOODS: No chance. There was not enough wind behind me.
Q. How long was that putt?
TIGER WOODS: The putt was about ten feet.
Q. Could you talk about the start to your round, if that was the perfect way to change your dynamics of the pairing that quickly?
TIGER WOODS: I thought it was the ideal start to get off to, obviously, when you go 3-3. The chip I hit there, it was reminiscent to the chip I was practicing last night back in the chipping area. I was just kind of practicing those type of shots and getting ready for Augusta. Lo and behold, I had the same chip.
Q. It was an Augusta chip?
TIGER WOODS: It's like the same chip you would find on No. 11, if you bail out to the right, kind of chip it across to the green.
Q. 30 yards or so?
TIGER WOODS: About that, yeah.
Q. What club?
TIGER WOODS: My regular sand wedge.
Q. You were in the same situation last year, finishing up on Monday. Does that experience help you at all? Will you do anything different for tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going to do anything different, no. I'm disappointed. I wanted to sleep in my own bed tonight. I was really looking forward to it.
Q. Earlier in the week you said that if the course is difficult, it is going to benefit the player who is playing the best. Now that the course is a little bit easier and a little bit softer, who do you think it benefits?
TIGER WOODS: Right now, I think it obviously benefits the person who is striking the ball well still, because you need to get the ball in the fairway. The rough is wet. It's really long. If you drive the ball in the fairway, you can take advantage of it. If you get a good situation, you go at a pin, because you know if you hit the ball at the flag with the right distance, it is going to stay. The first couple of days, the first three days, if you do that, more than likely, that ball would probably skip over the back or skip into a swale. Now at least you know the ball is probably going to hit and stay right there.
Q. You said you are not going to be able to sleep in your own bed, but what will you do tonight to get yourself ready for tomorrow morning?
TIGER WOODS: Watch the Laker game.
Q. Is it better for the leader or for the contenders to do what they did at Bay Hill last week, double up on the tees in the morning, get the round on in, or is it better just to sit around all day -- (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: I think the problem with that is that I don't think they really expected the weather to come in like this. The forecast -- I was watching the Weather Channel last night, and it said only 20 percent chance of rain. I don't think that's enough to go ahead and change the entire tee times around.
Q. Can you talk about Jerry, the way he handled himself and the way he played?
TIGER WOODS: I think Jerry handled himself beautifully. He went out there and played, I thought, really well. He made just a couple of bad shots in nine holes, which is to be expected. We all do that. He hung in there and made some putts. The putt he made on 9 was a nice putt to end on, especially getting as dark as it was.
Q. Well, you've still got nine holes left, but can you talk about the importance of the putt on 9, giving you at least an overnight lead?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't look at the fact that I have the lead. I think it feels -- it just feels good to end the day like that, end on a positive note. When you hit a good tee shot, a good second shot, a nice third shot in there, and to really stay steady and hit a good putt. I hit good putts on the previous three holes and didn't make one. It was nice to go ahead and make that one.
Q. With the greens wet now on the back nine, especially with all of those far back pins, how much easier do you think the back nine will play compared to what it could have been without the rain today?
TIGER WOODS: A lot easier, because yesterday afternoon, the greens were getting a little brown. The green over on 14 was just all baked out on the left side. It was looking like it could play awfully difficult, if we got some wind on top of that. But from talking to some of the guys, they said it plays completely different today.
Q. Could you explain what a win tomorrow would do for your confidence going into Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: Whether I win or not, it's not going to change the way I prepare or change the way I feel about my chances going into the tournament. I've played, I think, some pretty good golf this year. I've really played well in the last two tournaments I've played in, Dubai, as well as Bay Hill and now here. So, whether I win tomorrow or not -- hopefully, I do. If I don't, I don't think that's going to deter my feelings going into Augusta.
Q. Are your preparations complete?
TIGER WOODS: Not complete yet. I still haven't worked on all of the shots I need for that tournament, because obviously I have this one.
Q. Some of the players yesterday were saying the greens were too fast. Do you prefer playing them like that, or do you prefer the course playing slower like it was today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, talking to Deane Beman about it, this golf was not designed to be played at the greens -- the greens were designed to be played at 9 on the Stimpmeter, not 12 and 13. That's just the way it is getting now. The scores were really low in '94, whatever Greg shot; he shot 24-under par. I think they are trying to not let it get to that extreme and they went the other way. I think the following year, or whatever year it was that Janzen only shot 5-under par to win. That's what they are trying to keep it at, where a good, solid score would be somewhere around single digits, which I think it could very easily have been if we didn't get the wind today and we would have had some wind.
Q. Do you prefer it like this? Should it be played slower? I know you had (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: No, I prefer it fast, but not to the point where it is like how it was in 1990 when it was out of control and they lost the golf course, lost control of it. It's fine to play it fast, but they are trying to find a delicate balance of getting it towards the edge, but without going and jumping over the edge.
Q. The three other players that have a chance to win tomorrow play well. Is there a certain number of birdies that it may take to win tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I think it all depends on, obviously, what the guys are doing ahead of me, as well as my playing partner. If they get off to such a great start, the par 5's are going to be a little bit longer. It's going to be harder to birdie. At least the par 4's and the hole on No. 13 I think is going to be playing a little bit easier, with the flag on the left with that hard and fast, it would be a pretty tough shot to hold it in that bowl. A little softer, you know if you hit a good shot, it is going to be okay.
Q. You've had a lot of stuff happen to you, like the chip-in at 2 during your career. When stuff like that happens, do you think "Omen" at all?
TIGER WOODS: Omen? Like, "Oh, man"? (Laughter.)
Q. When you chipped in at 2 today, do you think this could be an omen, the start of something good?
TIGER WOODS: Jeff, I really think you're stretching on that. (Laughter.) I mean, it's not a novel. Omen, no. I think it is a wonderful start to a round. How about that?
Q. Have you ever worked on a specific chip for Augusta on the third round at any tournament this year when you have been in contention?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. If you get the right conditions, like Dubai, we'll work on that.
Q. Dubai, you were working on it?
TIGER WOODS: Last week at Bay Hill or Isleworth. But you need to have the right condition. And obviously this practice facility is absolutely -- it's perfect for it. Just go ahead and practice the shots on the pins.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us.
End of FastScripts....