August 25, 2000
LEE PATTERSON: All right. Matching the Firestone course record today, and another good position heading into the weekend. A couple thoughts about that.
TIGER WOODS: I played well today. A lot of good shots and some wonderful shots, and some good, solid iron shots. And I left myself some makeable birdie putts inside 15 feet and in, and I was able to convert most of those. So from tee-to-green, I hit the ball very well, and on top of that, I made a few putts.
Q. The difference between yesterday and today for you?
TIGER WOODS: A lot better off the tee. Yesterday, as you saw coming down the back nine, I did not drive it very well. And today I felt a lot more comfortable. I was able to drive the ball the correct shape -- right-to-left, left-to-right, whatever it may be. I was able to change my shape and trajectory from whatever shot I wanted to play so it felt good to be able to do that.
Q. Any idea that par on the last hole was a 36-hole record?
TIGER WOODS: No. I just knew it was 61 today.
Q. Was that of any significance to you?
TIGER WOODS: Not really, because it's very misleading, because it is par 70 here. Most of the low scores have been shot on par 72s, and they have gone low -- I've seen like 17-under par after 36 holes. It's still par 70. I guess the only way to look at it is in relation to par, I think is probably the best way to look at the 36-hole record. I don't think you can just strictly look at just a number.
Q. So you're not disappointed?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm not disappointed at all.
Q. Because it is a record-tying round, could we do a hole-by-hole?
TIGER WOODS: Birdies and bogeys. No. 2, I hit driver off the tee and hit an 8-iron, 176, in there to about 10 feet; made that. No. 4, I hit a driver off the tee and hit a pitching wedge from the first cut of rough to about 15 feet behind the hole, and made that. Hit a 7-iron on 5 to about four feet and made that. 6, hit a driver off the tee. Hit a 9-iron from 155 about 15 feet short of the hole, and made that. 10, pumped up my 3-wood on 10. Hit a 9-iron out to the right, and was very fortunate, caught the slope and rolled down there to about a foot from the roll, and made that for birdie. No. 11, I hit a 2-iron off the tee. I had 88 yards to the hole. Hit a 60-degree sand wedge to about six feet behind the hole, and made that. No. 12, had 177 to the hole, and I hit an 8-iron to about eight feet left of the hole, and made that. 14, hit a 2-iron off the tee and an 8-iron just over the flag, over the back fringe, and hopped on the first cut of rough. Hit a chip that ran by about four feet, and just missed that; pulled it. 16, I hit a driver off the tee down the right-hand side, and I had 269 to the hole. I hit a 2-iron that landed 272 and rolled over the green. Hit a little chip shot that just burned the high edge, left edge, and tapped in from about a foot. 17, I hit a driver off the tee, a 60-degree sand wedge from 84 yards to about 10 feet, and made that. And that's it.
Q. The putt on 18 was how far?
TIGER WOODS: 18, I made about an 8-footer, right-to-left.
Q. 16 has been reached in two several times here, and you flew the green. A little more detail about the mystique about that hole.
TIGER WOODS: It was a long hole. Generally, when we go for it in two, the tees are up, which they usually like to do on the weekend, to get more guys going for it. The two days -- I've never seen the tee up on the first two days. You know, on the weekend they might do it, to see more guys go for it, just to have a chance for birdies and eagles. I tried to keep it down the right side --. Yesterday, I hit the ball with about a 2- or 3-yard draw down there. And when you do that, the slope accentuates it and brought me over to the left side of the fairway. So I said: If I kept it going right, I probably would have sent it down the hill. So I aimed it through the trees, and again 2- or 3-yard draw down the right-hand side of the fairway, and it came out perfect. Started off in the trees, drew back, and just went down the slope. A 2-iron that I only had 256 to carry, which I know I can hit that if I hit it solid; and the hard part was a slight downhill lie, which meant that I really had to stay committed to the shot, and possibly even release it a little early to get some more loft on it. I hit it flush.
Q. Your leg kicked up like almost out of the weeds at St. Andrews.
TIGER WOODS: I was trying to get the club down in front of me with some loft on it, instead of getting it stuck behind me. When I do that, sometimes I let my right side go through the ball a little bit. And I was really trying to get the loft on the club and shape it with the correct arc out to the right, hit that little high sweeper.
Q. What did you hit yesterday?
TIGER WOODS: I had 284 or 286.
Q. And it wasn't working?
TIGER WOODS: Slightly into my face. The wind was in, off to the right.
Q. Basketball players talk about how the game sort of slows down when they are playing well. Have you ever heard that? When a golfer is playing like you've been playing lately, what's your mental state? Does the hole look bigger?
TIGER WOODS: Everything is the same. I think more than anything, you have -- just like any day you play, you have a -- you have an idea of where you want to put the golf ball. It's just that you're able to do it. You know, that's when it becomes -- the game becomes more -- looks easier when you do that. And I want to hit the ball out there 10 or 15 feet below the hole off to the right, so it's an uphill left-to-right putt, boom. Like the shot I hit on 17, it's is a sucker flag, and I know it's hard and crusty on top. And if you come up there and land it flag-high, even with a 60-degree sand wedge, it's out of here. So I land it below and to the right, lo and behold, boom, I have a 10-footer right up the hill and right-to-left.
Q. Along that line, there were a couple of things that looked like they happen when you're playing well, good things happen when you're playing well. The approach to 10, how far did that land right of the hole?
TIGER WOODS: It landed on the right fringe, probably about six inches into the fringe, and kicked down the slope about 20 feet.
Q. Did you have a ball come off a tree into the fairway in the middle?
TIGER WOODS: I smoked a tee shot on 13. The problem with that for me is that's -- that tree is the perfect trajectory for my fade. And I have to hit a low burner there or try and skirt it high and to the left of the tree. And I thought the wind was a little bit off to the right, so I felt I could still hit the ball high, the wind might hold it, and I absolutely flushed it. It flew right in the top of the tree. If it doesn't hit the tree, I'm down there with a wedge in my hand. I nailed it, and lo about behold, I have a 6-iron in my hand.
Q. When Furyk hits it up there inside, were you looking to do that?
TIGER WOODS: Mm-hmm. Inside four feet, sort of a mini-goal, mini-task you try and accomplish. If I can put the ball inside him, obviously, I've got a pretty good chance of making a birdie.
Q. Were you thinking about 59 at all?
TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, Scotty Van Pelt just asked me: "Were you thinking about that?" And through 12 holes, I didn't even know how many under par I was. Was I at 8?
Q. Could you hear it? You heard those people, didn't you?
TIGER WOODS: What people?
Q. The ones that kept shouting "59!" You didn't hear that?
TIGER WOODS: To be honest, I had no clue how many under par I was. At the time, I think I had a five- or six-shot lead. I just tried to increase that.
Q. I know you're very careful about your schedule and getting your rest, but do you feel it's the mere fact that you played so well this year has enabled you to maybe feel fresher at this point than if you were struggling or maybe not playing as well as you are capable of?
TIGER WOODS: If anything, I think it would be the opposite of that, because I've had to play more rounds in contention, which takes a lot of energy out of you. But I think that's where being more fit and in pretty good shape, I think, helps -- is that you're able to play more times under that type of stress and that type of competitive atmosphere, and still feel pretty fresh late in the year. To be honest with you, I don't play that many tournaments. I'm not playing 30, 35 tournaments a year like some of the guys do.
Q. When someone is playing as good as you are playing for as long as you're playing, it's not a case of being in the zone. But correct me if I'm wrong, other than your hard work, this playing really started right after your eye operation and led into the TOUR Championship last year. I wonder your thoughts there.
TIGER WOODS: Well, after I had the LASIK surgery done on my eyes, it took me probably two or three months where my eyes stabilized, my vision would be that way, hopefully, for the rest of my life. The first couple weeks I came back, the hole looked bigger and the slopes looked bigger, because I was seeing everything in its natural size. The only problem was that my eyes would fluctuate from day to day. One day, everything would be blurry, the next day it would be perfect, even to the point where -- I remember in the third round of Disney, I shot 66, but the problem was the first nine holes, I couldn't really see. All of the sudden my eyes cleared up and I could see and I made everything. It was just one of those things where they kept fluctuating and that's what Dr. Witten (phonetic) told me is it's going to be that way for a couple months. Lo and behold, they stabilized; I'm able to see things the same way each and every day, which helps a lot.
Q. Going into today, you had a one-stroke lead, tomorrow you'll have seven-stroke lead, do you change the game plan because of the cushion or do you keep it the same?
TIGER WOODS: My game plan is really not that complicated. Hit a lot of fairway, a lot of greens and try and make putts.
Q. Are you as aggressive, maybe that's a better question?
TIGER WOODS: I really wasn't that aggressive today. It may look like it, yes, because the balls are lying next to the flag, but a lot of times that is just alignment. For instance, on 13, I was aiming about 10 feet right of the hole and with a 6-iron, I pulled it 10 feet and landed right on top of the flag. People said, "Great shot." And I told Stevie, "great shot, here's the club"; I pulled it 10 feet, you know, people think, oh, it's a such a wonderful shot, but in essence it really was not that great. It ends up good because of my alignment. That's what you -- that's course management. Try to give yourself a little room for error, and at times you look great, and at other times, you don't look so good.
Q. It seemed almost like this week, after being pushed to the very limit last weekend, you come out and decided to show you really still are a class apart. Does that thought cross your mind at all?
TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, it hasn't. Last week, you all saw it; I really wasn't hitting the ball the way I have been. It was kind of here, there, coming in stretches, and I hit some shots that they just weren't very good, but I was able to scramble and make pars and keep myself in the tournament somehow. This week, when I was at home down in Florida, I was working on a couple little things with my swing plane and I felt pretty good coming here. I worked it out. I felt -- on Wednesday, I felt pretty good going into Thursday. It lasted for about nine holes. But I worked on it pretty good yesterday afternoon after I finished, and I felt really comfortable today with the move I was making. And as a result, I was able to hit some good shots today.
Q. Is this your lowest number competitively, amateur or pro?
TIGER WOODS: I shot 61 at the Nelson in '98. That was a great day. I shot 61, Goydos shot 62 and Price shot 63 in the same group. That was pretty cool.
Q. You could say this every day; that there was one or two strokes you left out there, shots that might go in. And I'm referring specifically to the putt on 13, half a roll away, and 16. How close were those to going in?
TIGER WOODS: The one on 13 was dead center, and 16 just caught the top edge and was -- just one of those chips that I -- just saw the line. I had a wonderful lie in the rough. It was not sitting all the way down, but it was not sitting right up on top. I was worried about whiffing it. I was sitting right in the middle of the grass and I was worried about being aggressive, but it came out perfect. I thought I holed it when the ball landed because I knew it was going to start breaking to the right, and it just hung there.
Q. The chip on 12 looked like you were actually trying to make that?
TIGER WOODS: I was trying to find the ball just on the green, and I threw that thing about -- almost two feet on the green, and it wasn't very good.
Q. It looked like it had a chance. Did it have a chance to go in?
TIGER WOODS: At that speed, no. If I had landed the ball where I wanted to, it might have a chance because it could have gone softer and it might have started breaking.
Q. Phil said that he has seen golf tournaments that were over after 54 holes; namely, a couple of your wins, he's never thought any tournament was over after 36 holes. Where would you put the odds of you coughing up a touchdown?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I'll try to go out there tomorrow and play my best. I don't know, if I shoot a good score or shoot a bad score, at least I know, and everyone else does, I'm going to try my best and whatever happens, happens. But as far as the odds, I don't know.
Q. Do you have a number that you think will win this?
TIGER WOODS: I think 30-under par will be a pretty good, safe number.
Q. Given the way you are playing, is there any sense that since Augusta is eight months away --?
TIGER WOODS: No. That's just the way it goes. At times where you start playing well early in the year and you wonder where it goes in the summer. Other times, it's the other way around; you start playing great later in the year after the majors and you can't wait until next season. I've had it both ways. I've played great early in the year and fizzled off like in '97, and I've played great late in the year like I did last year. Granted, Augusta is eight months away. You can't do anything about it. Hopefully, I can continue to do it next year, finish it off correctly and finish playing the same way, if not better.
Q. Do you ever wonder if this streak will end?
TIGER WOODS: I really don't feel it is a streak. I feel like I'm just playing well.
Q. Do you think you can keep this level of consistency going year after year after year?
TIGER WOODS: I think if I work hard and have a lot of patience and manage my game well, I feel like I can play this game at a high level for a long period of time. I don't know how long that may be, and only time will tell.
Q. 7-under through 12 yesterday, 8-under through 12 yesterday, 15-under, that's where you are. Are those the scoring holes, the first 12 holes on this course? And I'm trying to remember if you scored better on the last six last year?
TIGER WOODS: The day I shot a 62 on Saturday, I really played well -- I played well on the back nine. I hit 30 on the back nine. I tore it up on the back nine last year on Saturday. But I guess so far I've just played well early in the round. Is there any reason for it? I don't know.
Q. Some of the other guys are scoring well early in the rounds, too, here, this week.
TIGER WOODS: Well, you have a par 5 early on, and it's reachable, and today I hit driver, 8-iron on it. And any time you can start off with two straight days with 3's, that is not a bad way to start.
Q. What do you remember about those two swings at Augusta, at 10 and 12 that resulted in the double and triple?
TIGER WOODS: The one on 10, I don't remember what club it was on 10. I know I buried it in the right bunker, played it long and right and 3-putted coming back down. The one on 12, I tried to hit a little punch 8-iron and the ball floated on me, coming into the wind. The ball floated up there and didn't catch the bunker, just short of the bunker, rolled back and I think the pin was front left that day and I was just trying to play to the middle of the bunker, putt back. From there, I pitched long and then 3-putted.
Q. Did you make good passes on both of those?
TIGER WOODS: The one on 10 I did. The one on 12, did I not. I hit it straight right.
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