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January 9, 2000

Tiger Woods


JAMES CRAMER: We have 2000 Mercedes Championships champion Tiger Woods with us with his fifth PGA TOUR victory in a row and second title in this tournament. Congratulations, Tiger.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

JAMES CRAMER: Quickly go over your score card. I'm sure these guys have a lot of questions after that.

TIGER WOODS: I birdied 5. I hit driver off the tee, then hit a 5-iron down right of the green, chipped up to about ten feet and made that. 6, I hit a driver all the way down to the bottom, almost on the green. I chipped past about 15 feet and made that. Bogeyed 7. Hit a driver off the tee, a sand wedge short, about 30 feet. Left the next putt about six feet short and missed that. What was the next birdie?


TIGER WOODS: 9, I hit a driver off the tee, a 3-wood into the front bunker, blasted off to about six feet and made that. 10, I hit a driver off the tee. What did I hit in there? Hit an 8-iron in there to about ten feet and made that. 15, I hit a driver off the tee, 3-wood that; landed, I guess, pretty close to on the green. I couldn't tell. It rolled back down the hill. I chipped up from about 20 yards to about ten feet past the hole and made that. 17, I hit a 3-wood off the tee down the right side, rolled down the hill. I hit an 8-iron, pulled it left, chipped up to about ten feet short and missed it. And 18, I hit a driver off the tee, a 3-wood to about 18 feet and made that.

Q. How far was the 3-wood, Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: About 262 front, whatever that is to the hole. I don't know. 36 back, 45 back, something like that.

JAMES CRAMER: 303 on the broadcast.

TIGER WOODS: All I know is 262 front. That's all I was concerned about. Playoff, I hit driver off the tee, then I hit a 2-iron from 242 this time to the front. I guess it didn't kick left; was just on the fringe. I putted down from about 40 feet, left of the hole, made about a 10-footer there for birdie. Then on the first playoff hole, I hit a 3-wood off the tee, down the hill into the rough. Hit a sand wedge past the pin about 35 feet and made that.

Q. Talk about your thinking on that final putt.

TIGER WOODS: You know, to be honest with you, Ernie had the same putt this morning, but half the distance. I remember him hitting it. It didn't break very much. I was kind of surprised by it because I thought the grain would tug it a little bit more, especially with the slope. I said, "If his putt didn't break very much, with my angle, I'm a little further up the hill, it's going to break, but not quite as much as it looks." I kept looking at it, kept looking at it. I figured it's only going to be two and a half feet outside to the right. Looks like it's got to break at least four feet, but won't come that much. I just trusted it, figured the grain would hold it up. It held it up, went right into the hole.

Q. What about eagle-eagle finish? What's going through your mind then?

TIGER WOODS: Once I made mine, the way he's putted the last three days, I think he's just putted beautifully, you knew he was going to make that putt. You have to expect the best out of the best players. There's no doubt about it; he was going to make it. He made it center cut, perfect speed, too, fell right in the middle.

Q. Everybody is happy to start off the season with a win, but to win the way you did, to have Ernie with you, playing the way he did, does it feel that much better?

TIGER WOODS: It feels a lot better when you can beat the best players head-up. I was fortunate enough to get him this time. He's gotten me before; I've gotten him. It's been a nice little tug we've had together. Both times, actually all the times we've played, we pretty much have played some great golf. It's just neat to finally not only end the way it did, but to play beautifully all day. Even though I missed a couple putts, hit a couple bad shots, he missed a few, too, overall, under these conditions, we hit the ball beautifully and made a lot of putts.

Q. I read somewhere, I think it was the first year in amateurs, you were trailing, your dad whispered in your ear to "Let the legend grow." Is this another example of that?

TIGER WOODS: I guess. I don't know.

Q. To finish the way you did?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I guess you could say that, yeah.

Q. What was the toughest putt? The 10-footer to keep you going on the first extra, or the birdie on the second extra hole?

TIGER WOODS: The putt on the second extra hole, if you just get down there close, it's going to be a good putt. But to have to go ahead and make that putt on 18 to force a playoff, to keep it going, you know, that's what it's all about right there. Again, I was fortunate enough to see Ernie hit the same putt when he made three, and it broke, but it didn't break that much. I was surprised at how his putt kind of just held there, even though the grain is going pretty hard. I was reading the putt. It's pretty much a straight putt, but the grain is going to take it probably about a ball outside the right. I said, "Just trust it. His went in, maybe mine can go in, too."

Q. When you play your next event, wherever that is, the talk about the streak that you stopped counting last year is going to continue to grow. Do you think what you've been through since you first turned pro, all the hype that surrounds you, is going to help you deal with that better maybe than some others?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. Not only to go through it, but to go through it at an early age like that, to have to deal with all the changes, not only on the golf course, but just in my life in general, was one of the tougher things that I had to go through. To come out of it with the experience that I have now will make, I guess, what I'm doing now a little bit easier, on and off the course.

Q. In your mind, you've got one in a row?


Q. Was it like Matchplay today?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it didn't feel like it until the last few holes because David was playing well ahead of us. He made birdie on 15, I think, to get to about 11-under at the time. When I saw that, unless he birdied coming in, every hole coming in, he wasn't going to have a chance. So then it became one-on-one. It was a good one-on-one.

Q. Somebody asked Ernie whether he thought you could almost will the ball into the hole, which is what they used to say about Arnie years ago. Do you have that feeling that it's going to go in when you hit it?

TIGER WOODS: You just feel like if you believe in something so hard, for some reason it only happens when you're in a crunch situation, when all the pressure is there, if you truly believe that you can make the putt, you can make the stroke, the ball will go in.

Q. Ernie said that he felt he played better tee-to-green than you did the last two days. Would you agree with that?

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. Today I hit the ball pretty good, but I didn't drive the ball as well as Ernie did. I hit a lot of good irons. I definitely didn't drive it as well as he did. He played beautifully yesterday. To shoot the score he shot, it's obvious. If you exclude 18 yesterday, it really wasn't that great a round.

Q. You beat a guy that made one bogey and one double in 72 holes - 80 holes - no, 74 (laughter).


Q. I mean, do you even think about something like that, the guy played consistent golf and you still beat him?

TIGER WOODS: It's a very competitive atmosphere. You got a lot of competing. When he's not making mistakes, obviously you can't either. I didn't make that many. I made my share, but I didn't make that many. It was just a great, great fight between both of us. To hit the shots that we did at the times we did against each other, he'd make a bogey, come right back with a birdie, or I'd make a bogey and come back with a birdie. That's the way it was today, and even yesterday.

Q. Did you guys talk much about it? Was there any joking out there?

TIGER WOODS: We were talking quite a bit at the beginning of the round, but as we got closer to the finish (laughter), it was just, "Good shot, good putt." A couple times we both would say, "Knock it in," after I make mine or he makes his, we both say that. Other than that, we really didn't talk coming down the stretch.

Q. Is that as good of a head-to-head duel as you've ever had? Going back to Steve Scott --?

TIGER WOODS: That was pretty good.

Q. -- anything as a pro that comes as close?

TIGER WOODS: Head-up? Head-up and lost? Probably Mark O at Pebble Beach, shot 63 of 64 and lost. That was fun, but I lost (laughter).

Q. That's how Ernie feels right now.

TIGER WOODS: Ernie and I have had some good battles so far, it's been great.

Q. You mentioned in passing a little while ago, you choked back the word rivalry, said, "We had a nice tug."

TIGER WOODS: To be honest, I never thought of the word "rivalry," swear to God.

Q. Some of us were.

TIGER WOODS: See, it's you guys (laughter).

Q. We're giving you a chance to join us. Really, you played more head-to-head against this guy, who has won major championships, than anybody else. Do you feel there is a rivalry with this guy?

TIGER WOODS: You know, we've played head up at Phuket, Bay Hill, Orlando last year, and now -- I'm sorry, Disney, and this week. That's only four times.

Q. Are you guys head up at LA last year?

TIGER WOODS: I was a group behind him. He posted. I didn't even make birdie on the last hole to force a playoff.

Q. Weren't you someplace this fall with him in Asia?

TIGER WOODS: I wasn't doing very good. I was down. He was up there. He was giving Michael Campbell a run for his money. I was trying to get in the Top 10.

Q. You have your schedule, but the way you play this week, would you like to go on, playing next week again, or can you just cut it off?

TIGER WOODS: I like to cut it off right now because I played last week, go through all the things I had to do last week, then come out here and player under these conditions. I'd like to be able to go home and practice and reset my golf swing. I don't know. I'm driving a car looking like this, leaning on my left side (indicating). I'd just like to go home and practice and actually make a follow-through. It will be something different, but something I'd like to do (laughter).

Q. One tournament doesn't make a year, but do you feel like this sets a tone not only for yourself but for the rest of the Tour? Obviously you're not going away or slipping in any way, they're still going to have to think of some other ways to deal with you?

TIGER WOODS: If you think about it, I didn't play for four weeks, that's it. Not an off-season like most guys, three or four months, and then come back and have to defend something or whatever it is. I only took four weeks off. I played last week, didn't play very well, but then came out and played this week. I didn't really lose that much in four weeks. Maybe if I would have had a normal off-season like most sports, then I probably would have lost something, or gained something. I don't know. You don't really know.

Q. Does it set a tone, do you think?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it -- I don't know for the other players, but it definitely feels like I'm still improving, still hitting better shots, which is nice.

Q. Do you feel right now you can be beat?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah.

Q. The only way you could not win a tournament would (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Today was a perfect example. If I didn't make that putt on 18, he probably makes it to win. To know that you have to make three in order to continue, you know, if I miss it and he makes it, obviously he beats me because he played better this weekend than I did. I just made more putts at the right time.

Q. What's your other car?

TIGER WOODS: A Buick (laughter). That was pretty quick, wasn't it?

Q. Pebble your next stop?

TIGER WOODS: Possibly.

Q. We've heard that that jacket goes for $3300. Was there a $3,000 check in the pocket?

TIGER WOODS: It feels pretty good. Definitely feels all right.

Q. What is it?

TIGER WOODS: Briani? I don't know. It feels nice, real light.

Q. Is it better than the old La Costa jacket?

TIGER WOODS: I think it was the same. I don't know.

JAMES CRAMER: Anything else for Tiger?

Q. Tim said today they're going to bump the American Express back ahead of THE TOUR Championship starting in 2001. I'm curious if you had any thought about that? People are complaining that THE TOUR Championship and Volvo Masters should end each respective Tour. They're going to put it back that way.

TIGER WOODS: That's what I said to you guys, when was it?

Q. At least a year ago, TOUR Championship in Atlanta.

TIGER WOODS: I thought that would be the best way to end it. Traditionally our season ends with THE TOUR Championship. To have it where we have to go overseas or other players have to, it just felt weird not to have our TOUR Championship, our season-ending event, not be the season-ending event. This year was a little different. Felt like you were playing one extra event instead of ending the season at Valderrama.

Q. Do you surprise yourself at all? You finished eagle, birdie, birdie, with some amazing stuff going on there, great theater. Do you surprise yourself at all or are you too busy?

TIGER WOODS: I think when you're in the competition that close, that intense, you don't really realize exactly what you're doing. Even when I came back and beat Trip in the US Am and Steve Scott, you don't really realize the enormity of what you're doing because you're so focused on the next shot, trying to make the putt, then focused on the next tee shot, next approach shot, just focusing on the next shot. It's very difficult to step back and look at what's going on. After I'm done, yeah, but when you're out there in the heat of the battle, I don't think you can.

Q. Kind of kicks in when you watch SportsCenter at night?

TIGER WOODS: It will be pretty good to watch. It's a different perspective. That's one of the neat things I like about watching it on TV because it's a different perspective. As I've said, when you're out in the situation, you know exactly what you have to do. You don't know what other people are doing on the golf course, the scenarios, everything. You just know, "I have to hit this shot right here, right now." Because of that, it's completely different watching it on TV. When you watch tournaments that I've won and lost on TV, it's a completely different feeling than I get when I'm playing.

Q. Is the new Mercedes going to anybody in particular?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know yet. We'll see. We'll see.

Q. Anybody in this room (laughter)?

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts…

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