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March 18, 2001

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations, Tiger. Great win. Interesting day. Why don't you just begin with your emotions and defending your title.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's like I said out there: It was ugly. That's all I can say about it. I didn't really hit the ball that solid, and definitely didn't really know where it was going to go but forward. I made my way along and got up-and-down and made some wonderful saves with great putts and was somehow able to get the momentum going with my short game and kept myself in it and was able to get some wonderful breaks coming down the stretch, which you need to have sometimes. I was very lucky to have the breaks that occurred and executed a couple good shots after that.

Q. Did you hear what actually had happened on 18; it caught some guy on the neck and his wife picked it up? PGA-like almost?

TIGER WOODS: I heard I smoked somebody over there and some lady pick it up, but they said she dropped it right back where it was. And I had to re-drop it anyways because the fact -- they don't really know it was an identical spot. They didn't know where it was, so, in essence, you have to redrop and from there,but then caught a really good lie being on some really hard pan there.

Q. What kind of lie on 16 did you have out of that?

TIGER WOODS: 16, I was about a yard, yard and a half.

Q. What did you have? What was the ground like?

TIGER WOODS: Ground -- I had a flyer lie out of the rough, downgrain. But it was kind of halfway decent. If I could get the club on it, I knew the ball was going to jump. I had 195 to the front and hit 7.

Q. On the tee shot at 16, specifically on the tee shot at 18, as soon as you hit it, you almost looked like you were resigned to the fact that it has gone left, which you had problems with your driver on the back nine?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I either hit it left or right, one of the two. It was going one of those two directions.

Q. Could you have hit anything else but driver on 18?

TIGER WOODS: I figured driver has got the best chance, because the face is deeper, of missing it.

Q. Seriously, did you think about 3-wood?

TIGER WOODS: No. Because the problem was hitting three wind with the north wind, I leave myself so far back. As it was, I had to smoke a 5-iron in order to get there, so if I would have hit 3-wood off the tee, it's going to be between a 3- or a 5-iron.

Q. You've been saying all year that you've got to have a few breaks to win. Sometimes we've been listening. How does it feel?

TIGER WOODS: It feels great. This is what you need to have happen in order to win. You can't always go out there and shoot -- like, say, what Phil did today. You're leading the tournament and go out there and shoot 66. You can't always do that. You're going to have to somehow grab some great breaks and have luck on your side. You can't always play well on Sunday and win. Today, I didn't really play well, but I hung in there and I gave myself a chance.

Q. How important was it to win before Augusta? Did it mean anything?

TIGER WOODS: More than anything, it really feels -- it feels, obviously, good to win. But, you know, this week, as well the week ahead and Dubai, it's really nice to be able to hit -- exclude today -- some really good shots. I had played well in Dubai and I started really rolling the rock again and this week I really putted well and have really hit the golf ball and drove it wonderfully for the first three day, until today. Today, I just struggled.

Q. Are you relieved? Is that in your emotion right now? Happy?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it's one of those things where I -- if I could somehow get the ball on the green, I knew I could -- had a wonderful chance at making a putt. That's just how I had played all day. Just get the ball on the green somehow. I hit some long putts today that I don't know how they didn't go in. They were such beautiful putts. I guess the feeling is a little tired. When you struggle like that, you are going to wear yourself out mentally. I'm definitely a little tired.

Q. You've talked about people that kept bringing up the slump; said we didn't understand golf. How do you explain to them then that you've been playing so well and have not won and the day you win, you didn't play well?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's the beauty of our game. It's very fickle. That's one of the reasons why we all love to play it because there are days when you go out there and you play great. Other days, you play great and you score like a dog.

Q. We've heard that before.

TIGER WOODS: Some days, you go out there and do what I did today: Play not very good at all, don't really know where the golf ball is going to go, but you score somehow to get the ball in the hole quicker. Days like today are more satisfying to shoot the same score than obviously going out there and puring every shot and shooting 69.

Q. Is it not possible, though, if you've had the start to the year that you've had when you've been in position and things just are not going your way that you can reach a point of saying: " What's going to go wrong next?"

TIGER WOODS: I didn't think that way out there. I was just trying to get the ball between the little OB (out of bounds) stakes and keep it on the property. If I keep it on the property, I was going to do all right.

Q. What were your thoughts as the drive in 18 is in the care air? Did you think it could go out of bounds?

TIGER WOODS: With that many people over there, it was more than likely it was going to smoke somebody. It was ducking. It wasn't going to -- it's not one of my high hooks. This thing was the Nolan Ryan curveballs. It was ducking. That means it is probably going to hit short and hit somebody in the gallery and probably stay?

Q. The next bounce is going to be on the cart path --

TIGER WOODS: If it would have hit the cart path, it would have been gone.

Q. Do you see any irony in that this year -- inaudible -- the putting has been the essential thing for you to win?

TIGER WOODS: On the West Coast, as everyone knows, it's not exactly the easiest thing to make puts on poa. Sometimes you've just got to get some lucky bounces. But when you get on good greens like here, as well as Dubai, those greens were rolling true, you hit good putts; you are going to get rewarded. Those two weeks, I felt all year that I've hut good putts; they just haven't gone in. The hard part when you, obviously, face something like that is not to change, not to change anything, not to second guess yourself, because you know you are rolling the ball well. Just a matter of getting on some good greens and trusting your stroke, and that's what I've done. Now I just need to get my ball-striking back to where it was at the beginning of the year, and I was able to do that for the first three days this week, and today was a different story.

Q. Talk about the putt at 18. How long was it left-to-right?

TIGER WOODS: It was about probably 12 feet left-to-right, 15 feet.

Q. Are you more motivated to win or just continue your preparation for Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, I'm motivated to win every week. There's no doubt about it. But, obviously, I need to start hopefully hitting the ball and controlling my trajectory a little bit better. Going into Augusta, that's what you're going to have to do. You're going to have to control your spins and control your trajectory. Obviously, next week is a wonderful test because we face very similar conditions, with the greens being that severe.

Q. Does the win give you momentum for the next two weeks, three weeks?

TIGER WOODS: I would say yes, but the way I played today -- it would be hard to say yes it gives you momentum because it -- if I look back at my first three rounds, yeah, I really played good. I just scored well today. I guess that gives you positive vibes.

Q. The self-deprecation aside, the approach shot at 18 was pretty well struck?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, that was probably the best shot I've hit all week, excluding the 2-iron I hit the other day on No. 4. That shot, obviously I had to keep it flat in order to get it there. If I blow it at all, it's in the water. I try to hit this ball with the low fade and aim -- there's an American flag there in the distance. I'm trying to aim at that, which puts me at 20 feet left of the hole. If I bleed it over there like I want to with the low fade, I'm in there where I was. If I don't, I'm in there 20 feet left of the hole and I give myself six yards more room to carry it if I don't get there. I hit that shot so flush. It was just so much fun to see it in the air, just kind of going out there and then bleeding to the right.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: The funny thing is in Dubai, I really hit a good shot. It's just that when we were coming out of the rough, I played for the jumper and it didn't jump and I had to go over a huge palm tree. Throwing it up that high, not catching a flyer, ended up in the water. But I felt good about my execution. Now, the tee shot was a different story. Hit a bad tee shot there.

Q. Why did you hit 2-iron on 11?

TIGER WOODS: Why did I hit 2-iron on 11? Just trying to keep it on the property. I wanted to hit 3-wood or driver so bad, but I just -- I knew that 3-wood would bring in the water and the same with my driver. But if I could keep my 2-iron on the left side of the fairway, I would probably take two clubs off my approach shot. And what do I do: I stick it up in the air and hit it over to the right.

Q. What club did you hit in there?


Q. When you have a significant event that you have not won yet, like next week, are you even more juiced to accomplish that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I give myself some chances there. The year David won, I had a chance going in there on Sunday, and obviously last year I had a wonderful chance. But playing that golf course, you really need to be precise. I feel good about -- exclude today -- I feel pretty good about the way I was hitting the golf ball. That golf course, from what I've been told, the rough is up and with all of the rain they have been getting up there -- we haven't gotten anything down here, but they have been getting it. They haven't been watering the greens so they will be baked out and brick hard and deep rough. It will be a good test and I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. From a mental standpoint, is it better to have won before you go to Augusta than to have not won? We are all still talking about a --

TIGER WOODS: A slump. Yeah. I guess if I win -- if I don't win next week, I don't know if it's a slump or not. One in a row, I don't know.

Q. Better to go to Augusta having won once or does it really matter?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it's always nice to win. It really is. Today was very satisfying, with the fact that it was not a pretty round of golf, but I scored well. I got the ball in the hole. From that perspective, it's a great feeling to win, because to beat Phil when he was really playing well and I wasn't playing so good. But I was really putting well -- my short game was pretty good. I was kind of playing what he does sometimes, just kind of short-gaming it to death and I was able to do that today.

Q. Going to 18, were you absolutely thinking birdie or did you figure you might want to just take your chances in a playoff and see how things go?

TIGER WOODS: First off, just get the ball in the fairway, somehow. I hit the quick snipe left and then I had that 5-iron in there. I just grabbed the 5-iron where I wanted to hit it. Then the putt -- I had that putt before and I missed it low twice in the final round. I know that putt breaks for -- obviously, today because of the north wind and the greens are dried out so there's no -- I said, "trust the break. It breaks more -- whatever you read, play it just a little bit more than what you read." And I read it to break probably about a foot and I said, "Well, just add that couple little more inches just in case, because the putt will break a little more at the end." And I hit the putt just the way I wanted to and it took its time breaking. Didn't really start breaking until toward the end, but once it started snapping, it went sideways and caught the hole.

Q. Did you want to avoid my playoff just because Phil was playing so well and you had been struggling to keep it between the stakes?

TIGER WOODS: The thing is, with that putt being as quick as it was, you don't want to go out there and just gun it and obviously 3-putt and lose the tournament. I hit it with the proper pace to give yourself the best chance and if it goes in, great, and if doesn't, go out there and try to win in a playoff.

Q. How annoying was all of the slump talk?

TIGER WOODS: It is annoying? Yeah, it was annoying, because of the fact that most of the people don't understand the game of golf. If they believe that's a slump, then they really don't understand. If you look at the numbers, the numbers aren't that bad. This year, the guys have really played well this year. Obviously, with scoring records and tournament records following. It just goes to show that you guys have really played well this year and that's just the way it goes sometimes. Sometimes you go out there and you give it all you've got and you just come up a little short.

Q. There was a pretty big roar when Phil almost holed his wedge shot.

TIGER WOODS: I heard it.

Q. Did you figure it would be another birdie?

TIGER WOODS: No, not with that roar. It wasn't, like I said, a quick crescendo and they kept it up there. It was just kind of slapping and: "Yeah, he hit a good shot." I figured he'd probably hit it in the bunker, played a great spin shot down there. By the judge of the roar because you could hear them kind of slowly built up to like the ball was creeping down towards the hole.

Q. Had you putted yet on 16?

TIGER WOODS: I think I had already putted on 16. I just was waiting there.

Q. How did you know it wasn't his approach going in and catching the slope and slowly bending toward the hole?

TIGER WOODS: Because of the fact where -- when I was walking to the green on 16, Phil was already in the fairway. So, you know, just by time, obviously he's not going to sit there and wait for 15 minutes to go by.

Q. Was the pace of play an issue for you today?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was really slow out there. It was hard to get a rhythm. We had rulings left and right in our group as well as the group ahead of us.

Q. What did Sergio -- Sergio wanted you to help him with the line of flight on 6?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he thought the ball had a -- possibly could have crossed up on this little point. I had told him that I had a bad angle on it, but if the ball had landed where it did, it would be really hard to cross that point, unless you really swept it in there. That's what I tried to ask him, did you really snipe it in there. Obviously, he took it -- the fact that he didn't hook it in there and it just kind of fell left.

Q. Can you talk about the 7-iron on 16 and also the putt there and the putt on 17?

TIGER WOODS: The putt there on 16 was probably maybe two, two and a half cups outside right. I hit a really good putt. It's just that it took its time breaking. It didn't break until the end when it was too late. 17, I thought I had made that one. That putt looked good. It get good. Looked good. Second putt was good, too.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Well, he asked me what he want to do on the shot, and I said, "The American flag is going to be my line. Give me my numbers according to that." So he gave me one number on that line, which was six yards less on the carry and then a number to carry the whole thing and then the flag number.

Q. What was the flag number?


Q. Do you remember a time you hit it that erratically -- (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: No. I can't remember offhand. I've had some stretches where I've really played bad, like in the PGA against Sergio, I played bad on the back nine. I had a great chance to win and was able to sneak it out. But to play bad from the word go, I don't think I have done that in a while.

Q. How about Memorial in '99 when you got up-and-down from everywhere?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I played bad there, too. I didn't think I drove it that bad there, but I really hit my irons terrible. I mean, I hit really bad -- I had the flop shot going that week. Most of the greens were soft from the grain and I kept flopping it up there and the ball just kept falling dead. This week was a different story. The greens were pretty bouncy.

Q. Would 9 have been your hardest work of art?

TIGER WOODS: 9? I think probably 8. 8 was a lot harder, because that pitch was really, really tough. I could stub it and have it down there 20 feet. I could nuke it down there and come off the green the other side. It was hard because I had to putt a little cut spin on it and hold it against the slope and it still went by ten feet.

Q. Can you go through your approach shot on 1 and did that set the tone to are your day getting off on the wrong foot?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the tee shot was not very good, but I necked it out there and kept it in play. Second shot, I was trying to play about 15 feet right of the hole and ended up hitting about 30 feet right of the hole and then long on top of that because I was struck trying to get back on line and get more speed and there it went. Yes, I yipped the first putt down there and then pulled the second putt. But then tapped in for a good, solid 5.

Q. What was the club?

TIGER WOODS: 6-iron.

Q. How close were the OB stakes on 9? You thought it was gone, didn't you?

TIGER WOODS: I thought if it didn't hit the tree it would go because Tom Pernice, when we were playing the other day, hit it out of bounds on the line a little further right. Obviously, I hit the ball a little further than Tom does, but with it being a little bit downwind, I thought if it doesn't smoke that tree, then I think it would be out.

Q. What do you see in Sergio right now and how close do you think he is to breaking through and winning on a regular basis?

TIGER WOODS: I think Sergio is very close to really playing some great golf. Now, today, he just hit one bad shot that ended up killing a lot of his momentum. He got off to a good, solid short and just hit one bad shot at the wrong time. But, I feel like Sergio is really controlling his flight. His putting stroke still looks good. Obviously, his short game is brilliant. The shot he played on No. 11 was -- people have no idea how good of a shot that was, little 3-wood down the hill. I never even thought about that play until he pulled it out. I said, "Well, that's actually a smart play."

Q. Do you think he's in a slump?

TIGER WOODS: NC. No comment.

Q. How many fairways did you miss today?

TIGER WOODS: I could probably give you a better number of fairways that I hit.

Q. You hit 5, 6 --

TIGER WOODS: No. 5. I hit 1. I hit 5. I hit 6. I hit 8, 10, 11, 13, and there she wrote.

Q. How many of those are with driver?

TIGER WOODS: 6 was. That's it. Seven fairways today. See, not that bad.

Q. When was the last time you won playing like that with your tee shots?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I've missed fairways before and I've hit seven fairways like that, but they were not, obviously, off the planet left or right. They were just kind of in the first cut and sometimes that stat can be misleading. Today it wasn't the case. It was the truth.

Q. Phil has earned the reputation for winning tournaments where you were in the hunt. Does it mean anything to make it to beat him? Is there any psychological residual effect there?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it was nice to be able to sneak one out on him like that. You know, Phil and I have never played in the same group on Sunday where he's either won or I've won. We've always been either a group ahead, two groups ahead or vice versa, behind. It was nice to score as well as I did on the back nine, knowing the fact that he's making birdies and I know he's playing well, because he had not made a bogey all day. With this north wind, that's incredible playing.

Q. How will you work this out with the driver, just go to the range?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I know what I'm doing. It's just I can't stop it right now. When you're out there having to hit a shot and then work the ball in this wind, it's hard to step up there and really trust it; that that's the right move and the right thing to change.

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

End of FastScripts....

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