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February 22, 2000

Tiger Woods


JAMES CRAMER: Let's go ahead and open it up for questions, now that we have Tiger.

Q. Tiger, how are you feeling? You've played three or four weeks in a row, are you still fresh after rain delays and funny greens of the last few weeks?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know about fresh, but definitely it's nice being able to be in tournament shape. It's a little different than practicing every day to just come out and play one tournament. My body is geared to play tournament golf, as well as my mind. From that standpoint, it's very good. It's nice to be able to have a nice little break from playing stroke-play and having something else. I think it definitely makes your excitement level go up a little bit more than it normally does, because it is a different format. It is pretty exciting to get to play a match play event.

Q. How do you feel about your putting after last week?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I hit so many good putts last week that lipped out. It was ridiculous, actually, how many putts I actually lipped out that were good putts. And I wasn't the only one doing it. I four-putted once, Jesper four-putted once, Casey and Notah both four-putted. The greens weren't all that good to putt on, to be honest with you, because we get that much moisture and a lot of foot traffic.

Q. Lehman was saying the other day that considering that you only have to beat six guys to win, that this could be the easiest of all tournaments to win. Agree or no? Could you see both sides of it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, if you look at it that way, yeah. But then again, you can go out there and shoot 8-under and lose. That's also a factor in match play. Whereas, in stroke-play, you shoot 64 out here, you're looking pretty good in the tournament. And match play, you could be gone.

Q. Do you consider this one of the hardest because of the format?

TIGER WOODS: Just because of the format, yes. Anytime you're playing match play, it's more difficult to win.

Q. You've got Michael Campbell, who is No. 64, but probably should be ranked a lot higher. So it shapes up as a really interesting match, doesn't it?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. He's playing well; he obviously has a lot of confidence. And it's definitely a match I'm looking forward to playing, and I know he is, as well. And we're going to go out and give everything we have, and see what happens.

Q. How well do you know him?

TIGER WOODS: I've played a few practice rounds with him.

Q. Are you worrying about the course?

TIGER WOODS: It's going to get worse. The forecast is it's going to rain tomorrow. If that's the case, I don't know if we're going to play. If you walk around the golf course, they haven't cut the fairways. And I don't know if they can cut them tonight. Definitely if it starts raining, there's no way they can cut them. The greens are spongy and soft. We were the first ones out there, and we were leaving footprints, being the first ones out there this morning.

Q. Does it even play up at all?

TIGER WOODS: If you play the ball down, you're going to get bad breaks, mud being on the ball every shot. Every drive I hit I kept on the fairway today had mud on the ball. From that standpoint, I definitely prefer the lift clean and place.

Q. What about the greens, do you think there's not going to be as much traffic, so they're not going to be as bad as the last couple of weeks?

TIGER WOODS: No, because they're so wet. Even if we had half the guys playing, only had 32 guys playing, it would still be pretty tough. As I said, we were the first ones out there, we were leaving huge heel prints and spike prints on the greens just walking around.

Q. When it's like that and you're playing 150 other guys, it's one thing. But what is it when you're both playing the same greens at the same time? Does that get in your head anymore or less?

TIGER WOODS: I think it will be different just because of circumstances. Some putts you may have to take a run at just because your opponent already has made birdie. You take a go at it, even if the greens aren't that good. You say go ahead and let it rip. If it goes in, it goes in. You don't have to worry about a three or four foot coming back, if your opponent is already in. From that standpoint, it is going to be a little different.

Q. Tiger, when you were talking about that match play is more exciting, is that one of the examples why it is more exciting?

TIGER WOODS: It's more exciting because of the momentum swings within a match. You go out and play, and there's always a couple of holes that usually determine the outcome of a match or even a couple of shots. And sometimes you can swing three or four times in one match, and the ebb and flow of it, and it's kind of neat to see the changes that go along in a hole. Let's say, for example, a guy hits a ball in the bunker off the tee. You hit the ball down the middle, the guy hits it from the bunker stiff for about three or four feet for birdie, and you hit up from the middle of the fairway 20 feet. You make it, and he misses it. One guy is going to win hands down, and the other guy looks like he's going to win, and it switches back and forth. And I think that's what makes it so exciting is that you're never really out of it. Anything can really happen.

Q. Do you prefer it?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. Always have.

Q. Tiger, you were worried about your swing at Torrey Pines. You didn't have those same worries last week. What's the state of your swing now?

TIGER WOODS: I hit the ball well last week. I hit it -- I drove it pretty good, I just didn't hit my irons consistently as good as I'd like. I hit a lot of shots within 10 feet and didn't make them, but then my bad ones -- were obviously pretty bad. They weren't the ones you get upset by hitting a 5-iron 20, 30 feet. It was like two rows into the gallery.

Q. Are you motivated because of what happened here last year?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, no. Just got to take it one match at a time.

Q. Do you think match play makes people mentally tougher? It was always Nicklaus's contention that the reason we didn't do well for a lot of years was because college kids weren't playing matches, they were playing stroke-play. But you have a good reputation in match play and other guys you've played, do you find that?

TIGER WOODS: Definitely. I think what you're taught in match play is you have to stay in the moment. And stroke-play, you can get looking ahead: "Okay, tomorrow the conditions aren't going to be that good. So if I shoot kind of an okay round today, I should be able to be right in contention." You start looking in the future. Match play, you look in the future, you're looking to go find a ticket counter somewhere, and catch a flight home. I think that's one of the beauties of match play is that you have to stay in the moment. Like when my father first taught me to play match play, he said there are 18 matches out there, you just have to win the majority of them.

Q. When the conditions are damp, is there any particular player that has an advantage, the European players have more of an advantage?

TIGER WOODS: I think when it's wet, any player who is a picker of the golf ball is going to have the advantage, because the guys who like to trap the ball and then take huge divots are going to probably catch them some flyers occasionally, because the ground is so wet. Today, got steep on one shot and hit a ball about 30 feet too far. I didn't really get that steep on it. And if you can shallow out and be able to play a lot of pick shots, half shots, and just kind of control your ball up there with very little spin, I think you're going to have a tremendous advantage.

Q. Do you feel like a marked man here more than any other tournament, the guy to beat?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, because as I said -- as you said, there's only six guys. If I go all the way --.

Q. By six -- marked by six guys, then?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, it's hard to say, because you have to take each match as it comes.

Q. Do you get the sense though that whoever you're playing they're going to give you the best shot?

TIGER WOODS: I think they're going to find probably not only that, but just trying to advance in the tournament as far as they can, as well, and hopefully get the title.

Q. So the answer is no?

TIGER WOODS: In going around it.

Q. Tiger, in match play a lot of people say that what they do is dependent on what the other guy does, which is unlike stroke-play, where all you control is yourself. Do you play that way or do you just play your game?

TIGER WOODS: As I've gone up in levels in match play -- as you move up in levels from junior golf to amateur golf and then to professional golf, what you find is you have to play not only a little better, but you also have to expect your opponent to go ahead and salvage a par or make a great birdie, just because of the talent level. If the guy hits the ball in the green-side bunker, you can't dump the ball, 30 feet, 2-putt and win the hole. These guys are much better than junior or amateur golfers, that you have to play your own game and make sure you're always in position to make birdie. And just to answer, if they make a miracle shot, you can answer them and put it right on top of them and move onto the next hole.

Q. Have you heard you're engaged?

TIGER WOODS: I've heard it from so many people, it's a joke.

Q. What do you think? This has happened over your career?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know where people come up with this stuff. It's not true. I'm here to tell you that right now. Let's put an end to this crap right now and just -- I remember back in '97 when I won The Masters at the Byron Nelson four weeks later, I was engaged to Kelly Kuehne, I was dating Fergie and Tyra Banks the same week.

Q. No wonder you didn't win. You will tell us, though?

TIGER WOODS: In the future. You may be the first one I tell, let me tell you.

Q. You don't think you'll frighten the girl off by sounding so dogmatic?

TIGER WOODS: No, we've talked about all this. You can't control it. And it's unfortunate, because it's not all of you, all of the people here, but the tabloids make a living out of it. And making a living out of fabrication. And unfortunately it's an intrusion on our lives. And it's very tough to handle at times, especially since she didn't cause any of it. I'm the one that's in the spotlight and they're trying to get to me through her, and it's unfortunate.

JAMES CRAMER: Tiger, thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts...

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