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March 17, 2001

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: All right. We'd like to thank Tiger Woods for joining us in the media center. Great round today, 12-under par. Why don't you talk about your round this afternoon and heading into tomorrow on Sunday.

TIGER WOODS: Okay. I really played solid, I thought today. I hit a lot of good, solid shots. I made a couple putts early in the round, which got my round started, and from there, I just kept plugging away and really played real conservative off the tees, because of the fact that the tees were up a little bit today. With very little wind, the ball was flying a long way today and just kind of bump it up there and either attacked or played it safe coming into the greens.

Q. Do you think the way the leaderboard shaped up today, with you and Vijay making big moves and Phil and Sergio up there, everybody is kind of starting to sniff a little bit about what's there next week and a couple of weeks down the road?

TIGER WOODS: That's usually what ends up happening. The guys, once they get to Florida, they know it's springtime and not too far away from Augusta. I think that's what's on the back of everyone's mind. But not right now, at least in the forefront. They are all out there trying to play well and get ourselves in there with a chance to win.

Q. How many times did you hit driver today?

TIGER WOODS: Not that many.

Q. Twice on the back nine?

TIGER WOODS: I hit driver on -- three times on the back nine and I hit it three times up front.

Q. You're in familiar territory from last year going into the final round with the lead. Do you know how you will play tomorrow? Do you try to protect that or do you go aggressive?

TIGER WOODS: It all depends on the weather tomorrow. I know that we are teeing off a lot earlier, just because of the fact that we do have a great potential of some rain dumping on us tomorrow. If it starts getting ugly out there, you know, you just need to grind it out and make a lot of pars. But if it gets like it was today, guys are going to go low, because of the fact there's no wind. This golf course is relatively defenseless when there is no wind. But when there is some wind, as you know from the first round, guys in the afternoon got hammered in the wind; it can play hard.

Q. I was on the phone with a couple radio networks and the anchors were using words like "possible breakthrough" and "he's back." Are you kind of amazed at the way this quote "slump" has been exaggerated?

TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah. One thing I've come to realize since I've been on TOUR is the media does a wonderful job of exaggerating when I'm playing well and exaggerating when I'm playing not so well. I can understand it, because, obviously, they are trying to please their editors or producers or whomever and trying to cater to the public. I understand it. But if you really do understand the game of golf, you would understand that I'm not really playing that bad.

Q. Do you feel that?

TIGER WOODS: Do I feel that?

Q. Do you feel that pressure?

TIGER WOODS: What pressure?

Q. The pressure of people thinking that you're not playing well, when you feel that you are playing well?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, because of fact that I know I'm playing pretty good. My stroke average is lower than it was last year at this time. It's hard to be disappointed when you're -- through my first six tournaments, I'm 75-under. That's not playing bad. It's just, I didn't win. That's part of the game. I try and sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't.

Q. With the weather being so iffy tomorrow, I know you want to be in the lead at all times anyway, but were you trying to make sure you got in the lead just in case --

TIGER WOODS: That was in the back of my mind, yeah, to try to play a good, solid round and get myself either in the lead or near it, just in case we -- hopefully, I can get myself in the lead just in case we can't go tomorrow. But, you know, you never know what these guys are going to do coming in. They could make eagle on 16. 16 is playing pretty easy right now or maybe birdie one of the two holes coming in. Right now, I do have the lead. I'm counting on playing tomorrow. But Mother Nature, you never know. We were supposed to get dumped on the other day and never saw a drop the entire day. So you never know.

Q. You've been saying since start of the year you're not that far off. Now, is it fair to say you are closer now taking into consideration Dubai, than you have been all year?

TIGER WOODS: Dubai, the funny thing is, I don't think I've really struck the golf ball that poorly. I feel like I've hit it really solid. It's just a matter of a few putts going in. Once I got on some good greens over in Dubai, I started rolling and I shot -- the Pro-Am doesn't count, but on three consecutive 64s, and I shot a 68; and so that's 28 under through four rounds. I knew once I got on some good greens, the putts would go in and my scores would come down. I felt like I was hitting the ball good enough to shoot those numbers. I just needed to get on some greens that were rolling true.

Q. Did your confidence suffer just a little bit in California?

TIGER WOODS: It's frustrating from the standpoint that I hit good putts. You know, when you are lipping out a lot of putts after feeling like you made a good stroke and they don't go in, you know, it's not really rewarding. But when you get on poa greens, that's what happens. You hit good putts and they are not always going to go in.

Q. The first two holes today, didn't you miss by about that much (indicating an inch) -- inaudible?

TIGER WOODS: It's just because of the fact that that putt was so fast, just burnt out down there. It's not too often you hit a nice little high, soft, pinning pitching wedge that skips 20 feet. I don't do that very often. I knew how fast that putt was, especially watching Steve Lowery's put go down there and just dove. I knew that putt was so quick; I needed to be committed to the line. We haven't had too many putts like that this year where, you know, from such a short distance that you had to play it so much -- with so much break. I think that's one of the reasons why I was taking just a little bit longer to make sure that I was committed that line.

Q. Was it maybe because you didn't want to go to "here we go again," another --

TIGER WOODS: See, you don't think that way when you're out there playing. Maybe you might think that way (Laughter.) When you're out there playing, you've just got to stay in the present and focus on one shot at a time. That putt was different from what we've had this year, just because of fact it was so much faster.

Q. You talked yesterday about you are releasing the putter blade better. Is that a mechanical adjustment or just a feel adjustment?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just feel. I feel like my posture has not changed. My eye line has not changed and basically my techniques has not changed. It's just a matter of getting out there and just letting it go.

Q. Trust?

TIGER WOODS: Just trusting and letting it go. It comes with making a couple putts and seeing them go in.

Q. How nice was it to come back with the near ace on 17 after your only bogey?

TIGER WOODS: To make a good solid swing like that; I tried to make the same swing I made over on 14, the par 3, but this time just hit it five yards further. That's the mindset I had. I said, "You know, you made a good swing there. Make another good one here. You've been doing it all day. Let it go." I release it and it's one of the very few times when you feel nothing come up the shaft, when you know you've made a good swing. And I hit it and I started walking because I knew that I hit it the right distance in the air from -- once it gets on the ground, I don't know what it's going to do, but in the air, I knew I hit it the right distance and that was a pretty good feeling.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, just your arms and your body match up. Your clubface comes down. It just releases right at the perfect time and you don't feel anything come off the shaft and you know you hit it flush when you do that.

Q. Did you get a little bit of a psychological bump, coming off the 16th, just the frustration, coming off the 17th that you wanted to get it back?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I wasn't very pleased myself -- (smiles) -- coming off 16 green. But when you -- I was thinking, you know, if I birdie the last two holes, I basically end up with the same score I would have if I had birdied 16 and parred in. So go ahead and just make a good swing; give yourself two chances at birdies. And I like the way I'm rolling the ball. I gave myself two good chances and, you know -- I missed that one on 17 but I misread the one on 18.

Q. On the front side, you were hitting absolutely hole-high and then at 8 you left it -- (inaudible). How dialed in were you or were they just real good yardages for you?

TIGER WOODS: It's so funny, because the first day, for some reason, I could never get a good number. I was always in between clubs. Today was all the right club. That's always a full club. And that's -- it's just luck of playing the game. You know, you hit fairways and next thing you know, you've got some days you just never seem to have a full shot. It's always -- full shots end up too short, or pull one more club, you're going to have to take a lot off of it. But today, I just had the right numbers and right yardages where I could have some nice swings at it.

Q. How many days does that happen where you have really good numbers?

TIGER WOODS: Not very often.

Q. How many times did it happen last year?

TIGER WOODS: Not very often, no.

Q. What happened on 16?

TIGER WOODS: On 16? I hit a quack off the tee, left, hit a skank fat ball to the right. Dropped it into a hole. Pitched it on. Pulled the putt and tapped in from about six inches.

Q. The tee shot was a what?

TIGER WOODS: A quack. Duck hook. Quack, you know, duck. Birdied 3, took forever on the putt and then made it from about eight feet. 4, I hit driver down the middle of the fairway. I hit -- made just a nice, high, 2-iron in there that landed short of the hole and drove to the back. Burned the edge there from about 25 feet. Birdied 6. I hit a driver and a 4-iron just to the first cut of rough, pin-high. Chipped it down there to about a foot and a half. Made that. Birdied 7. The tees were up today. I hit a 7-iron from 175 pin-high. Made about a 12-footer there. No. 8, I hit a 3-wood off the tee. A 9-iron in there to about, oh, 12 feet right below the hole. Made that. No. 11, hit a 2-iron off the tee, but then hit a 9-iron long, pin-high and just made about a 30-footer down the hill. Then 16, I described and 17 I described.

Q. What was the club on 17?

TIGER WOODS: A 4-iron.

Q. That putt on 11, I think that was the longest putt you made all day, one of the few that was outside from that distance. How satisfying was it to see one go in?

TIGER WOODS: It's so funny, I was telling Stevie on that putt, we were coming on the green. I said, "You know I made the same putt but from a different angle last year and I was playing with Davis." I said, you know, "I can do this again." Completely different putt. Different year. Last year it broke right-to-left, and this year it's breaking left-to-right. You just have these weird flashbacks and somehow the ball went in.

Q. Can you give me one example of a perfect number for you today on a hole?

TIGER WOODS: Perfect? No. 7.

Q. What did you have?

TIGER WOODS: I had 175, breeze coming off the left. Just a nice, normal stock off the shelf 7-iron. For me. (Laughter.)

Q. Is there no question that you are going for the green on 16 with that shot? Is it just you get up there or any thought of laying up or is it just too close?

TIGER WOODS: I had a good lie and I had 200 yards to the hole. That's downwind. I know I can hit it 200 yards downwind out of a bunker, but I just hit it fat. Just made a bad swing at the right time and it cost me a shot. Possibly two.

Q. What club was that?

TIGER WOODS: I had 5-iron.

Q. When the greens were bumpy on the West Coast, do you change your lost in the putter at all?

TIGER WOODS: No. From growing up out there on the West Coast and playing those kind of greens, you release the club a little bit differently. You release it so your loft is a little bit different than what it normally is, and that's just from growing up out there.

Q. You don't tinker with the club?

TIGER WOODS: No. Just because I've had some success with this putter, and it's just really hard to change.

Q. At Dubai when the score is 10 -- (inaudible) is it fair to say you were pissed? Does that at all relate to what's happen this week?

TIGER WOODS: I wasn't very happy with myself, that's for sure, because of the fact that I hit -- I had a chance to win and I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time. That's just very disappointing. I had that shot you need to sweep it about 20 yard off the tee in order to keep it in the fairway. You are know, Thomas Bjorn hit just a gorgeous drive. He drew it about 20 yards in the air and it was perfect. I knew that I had to start just a little bit left of that and sweep it just as much to keep it in the fairway with my length, and I just got stuck and hit it straight right. You know, I hit the shot in the water there. Just very disappointed because I had a chance going down the last hole. Any time you do that, it definitely leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

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

End of FastScripts....

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