June 19, 1999
PINEHURST, NORTH CAROLINA
LES UNGER: Well, Tiger it's good to have you in again. I know that this was an up-and-down day, and very exciting day. Can you give us a resume of it for us.
TIGER WOODS: It was a tough day. The wind today was blowing and swirling. It was calm and it was rainy. It was blowing again. It was just a tough day all around, and I just had to keep hanging in there and making pars and hopefully make a birdie every now and then.
LES UNGER: Are you content as things are to be sitting where you are at this time?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. I kind of hoped I would be at even par, but after the start I got off to, that's all right, I'll take it.
LES UNGER: Sleep easy tonight?
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to watch the hockey game. I need to practice real quick and get home.
LES UNGER: Let's go through the round. Ignore your pars that were routine, and just the other holes.
TIGER WOODS: I hit a driver off of 1, hit a good drive. The wind knocked it a little left. I hit a good sand wedge. It was just about a yard too far left. It caught the slope and unfortunately it did get into the bunker. I hit it in the rough. I tried to play a shot that was about 10 or 15 feet long and right, but with both hands on the shaft it's a tough shot, especially in the Bermuda grass. I bladed it on the green, hit a poor 3-wood from there and just 2-putted for about ten feet. No. 2, hit a great drive off the tee, a solid 9-iron that was about a yard right of the hole. And next thing I know I've got about a 20-yard chip up the hill. I hit a 3-wood there, another poor one past the hole about 15 feet and 2-putted. Birdied 4. Hit a driver and a 3-wood just short left of the fairway, chipped up there to about 2 and a half feet past the hole and made that. Bogeyed 14. I hit a driver, almost on the 13th hole, pitched out, hit a wedge, pulled my wedge trying to -- I hit it up about 30 feet left of the hole and lipped that out.
15 I hit a 5-iron to about four feet and made that.
LES UNGER: You started off at 3 over in two holes. You have to make some special effort to put yourself together?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't make any special effort to hang in there, because the conditions are so difficult out there you've just got to keep making pars. And it's just like somebody making 3 bogeys for an entire round. And unfortunately I started off that way. But if I made no more bogeys throughout the round, I figured I'd be right there.
Q. Tiger, how big was the par you made on No. 6?
TIGER WOODS: It was a good break. It's really weird, if you look at most of the bunkers here, they bury. Mine on 17 buried. Then I get on 6, I get in there, I dig in and there's absolutely no sand under my feet. I'm already scraping bottom and it's rock hard, and I think there's no way. Every shot I've hit in there this week has basically buried. I've got play for the fact that there's a lot of sand, just so I don't leave it short. It came out hot, and made about a 6-footer, I was very lucky to escape with a par.
Q. Tiger, what did you hear on 17 that made you turn and smile?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know who it was in that group who teed off on 18, but it was so quiet out there, everybody is silent and then the metal, wood sound, it was just right there. Whoever it was made contact right on my downswing, and I flinched. I didn't even know they were on the tee. And I flinched, but I was committed to a shot. I bowed it down on my left hand when I flinched, just to make sure I didn't hit it dead left and it worked out great. The bow really helped me there.
Q. Tiger, you appear to be loose out there. We've seen a few smiles, that is one example, certainly. What's the psychological approach for you in the face of such difficult conditions?
TIGER WOODS: I love it. I love playing in the most intense pressure. How can you not? This is what we play for. This is why you play hard, why you practice is to get in these positions where you have to be so committed to a shot and be so mentally exact that it takes a lot of effort. And that's what we as players love. I absolutely love it and it's a lot of fun. Don't forget. I am nervous. There's no doubt about that, but I love the pressure. It's a lot of fun.
Q. Is double bogey, bogey easy to accept on this U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: I started off double bogey, bogey in a regular Tour event I'd probably lose about 5 shots. Realistically probably about three or four, but you never know. It's just the way it is. That's golf, and U.S. Opens, you're going to make mistakes like that, and it's going to happen. Everyone is going to do it. It's just a matter of when you do it. Hopefully you don't do it down the stretch on Sunday. You get it over with, and I got it over today.
Q. Tiger, how draining was today? Was it fun while you were doing it or did it seem like hard work?
TIGER WOODS: It's a lot of work. It's a lot of work and you've just got to hang in there and execute and be patient. You know you're going to hit good shots and in some places you didn't ever think it would end up at. That's the way it is at this golf course. And I hit a lot of good shots today that ended up in places that I just had to grind it out and make par, and I did.
Q. Tiger, you seem very angry after 14. And what was going on in your head then, going from 14 to 15? You kind of stalked away?
TIGER WOODS: It's just that I hit such a great putt on 14. I mean that putt, if you look at it, they had a camera view from right behind it, it's dead center from about three feet. If you look at that putt, there's no way it can go left. And unfortunately it went back up the hill and lipped out. And I don't know, even now I don't understand how it went up the hill. But that's just the way it is. And I got angry, yeah. It got me going a little bit. I got it under control and I just tried to hit the ball to the center of the green on 15. I have to admit I did over cut it and it worked out great.
Q. Tiger, what do you foresee for tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know what the weather is going to be. I heard it might be rainy, but I don't know. But if it's like this today, it's going to be a very difficult round where even par might win the tournament.
Q. Tiger, you said that you thought that even par -- you said that you thought even par would win. Can you see us with an Oakmont situation, should the weather remain like it was today, a 6 or 7 over?
TIGER WOODS: No, because even as difficult as it was today, guys only shot a couple over par. And I know that guys at the top of the leaderboard are guys who are playing the best, so it's hard for us to shoot 6 or 7 over, all of us. I'm sure one of us will play well and won't do that, if the conditions are tough.
Q. Tiger, could you go over your par saves real quick on 11 and 12, and then I have a follow-up question for you?
TIGER WOODS: 11 I hit a great drive out of the fairway, had a sand wedge, dead aim at it and landed pin-high, and see you, skipped over the back. It had a lot of grain coming into me, real sandy and a lot of grain. I knew it, but I didn't want to hit a shooter that's going to go up real quick and it's gone, so I protected on it. Unfortunately I protected too much, left it about six feet short, but I made that putt.
Q. What did you hit there?
TIGER WOODS: Putted. And on 12 I hit a bad driver to the right bunker, hit a good 7-iron, just trying to put the ball in the middle of the green or to the swale left of the green, somewhere up there so I had an easy putt up the hill. And I executed that perfectly, hit the ball in the swale, and had a nice, easy putt, a lot of grain coming into me, and it started bouncing right away, and didn't get up the hill with enough steam, left it about 10 feet short and made that one.
Q. The follow-up question is we watched you at the Memorial Tournament get out of some pretty hazardous predicaments. Did that prepare you for what you face this week? And how do you approach that to have to constantly just weather up-and-down after up-and-down, what's the approach?
TIGER WOODS: What's the approach? You just have to do it. Did Memorial prepare me for this? No. I've been doing this my entire life. Anyone who has actually watched me play growing up as a kid can attest to that.
Q. Do you think you might have handled double bogey, bogey start better this year than you might have in past Opens, and also did the chimes distract you at all on 18?
TIGER WOODS: What chimes? (Laughter.) Honestly, I didn't hear.
Q. They were playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
TIGER WOODS: I'm sorry. I didn't hear anything. What was your first question?
Q. Would you have handled a double bogey, bogey start as well last year, in past years?
TIGER WOODS: Probably not. I probably wouldn't have handled it as well as I did this year and I'm sure I'll get better at it. It's just one of those things that I don't know, people in here, I don't know if you guys think I'm old or anything, but I have a long way to go in learning how to play and learning the mental approach to this game and I'm still learning, and I'll continue to learn.
Q. Could you talk about today's pin positions and if you've given any thought to can they make them even tougher tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they already did. I saw the dots out there for tomorrow. Oh, Lordy. They're going to be tough. They're going to be tough. Some of the pins are in corners; they're near slopes. I think the one on 13 actually is on a little bit of a downslope. It's not that severe, but it's on the downslope. If they cut it right, the pin will be tilted just a little.
Q. Tiger, you finished your round strong in the first three rounds on the last three or four holes, do you take anything from that going into the final round tomorrow, because it seems like you've hit very good shots from 15 on in? Do you take anything into the final round tomorrow from that?
TIGER WOODS: I guess now that you mention it, yeah. But I think more importantly, it's not necessarily how you play those holes, but you need to get to the point where you can play them for a championship. So I think the start is even more important, to just try and make a lot of pars, and not make any big, bad mistakes, just keep making good solid pars, and getting it around. From what I hear the weather is supposed to be windy again, and possibly some rain, and it could be very difficult out there. When I get myself in that position with a few holes to go, yeah, I'll feel more confident than probably I would if I hadn't finished well the previous three days.
Q. Tiger, you talked about the wind and the rain and the wind and the conditions. Did you find that you had to make a lot of adjustments throughout the day or were you able to stick to your gameplan from the beginning?
TIGER WOODS: My gameplan was just to hit fairways and greens. I hit a lot of greens today. The bull didn't stay on them, but I hit them (laughter.) You just have to understand that's just the way it is, and you need to give yourself good opportunities to spin the ball, which means you have to get the ball in play, and get the ball in the fairway. From there the second shots are a lot easier, because you can spin the ball, control it, hold it on the greens and occasionally attack. There aren't too many penalty occasions you can attack. I attacked one pin all day, and that was on 11. I had a sand wedge with no trouble anywhere and I went right at it. It landed pin-high, and see you, over the green.
Q. How much have you played with Tim Herron, and what do you remember about the match at the Amateur with him?
TIGER WOODS: I've played a lot with Timmy. Actually quite a bit this year. It's really been weird my three years on Tour. '97 I got paired with Justin every week. It seemed like. Last year it was Nick Price. And this year it's been Timmy. And I've played a lot with Timmy, probably 6, 7 rounds, maybe 8 rounds this year. And Timmy is a great player. He played well last week. I played with him three days at the Masters, and he played well there. Tim hits the ball a long ways, heck of a curve the ball either way. He's kind of unorthodox on his finishes sometimes, but the ball seems to go perfectly straight. I remember a lot about the Amateur match. I know I didn't play that great. I was 1, 2, 3 over par, and he was I think 5 or 6-under, and I was done pretty quick. Easy walk in. We were right next to the clubhouse.
Q. Tiger, did you lose a little bit of faith in the 3-wood around the green after the first couple of holes? Secondly, do you think you might have psyched out Phil a little bit there?
TIGER WOODS: First part, I didn't lose any confidence in the 3-wood, because the 3-wood got me to this point, unfortunately I couldn't get the speed right on the first two holes. I didn't use it again, because I was closer to the green on the other little chip shots or even putts that I didn't go with it. But did I psych out Phil? No. The guy's won tournaments. He's won 13 tournaments or something like that, and he won't be psyched out with me. But the guy may birdie the last hole.
Q. Tiger, can you shoot at many pins here, and since you've seen the dots, will you be able to shoot at many tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: The answer is no and no to both of those. No, I haven't shot at a lot of pins. I think the first three rounds I fired at 4 pins. And that's including a chip shot, par-5 today on 4.
Q. Tiger, how large is the effective landing area you're ending up most of the time, the top of a school bus, can you give us a visual?
TIGER WOODS: Probably -- most holes, in order to get the ball in a reasonable area, we might have a good legitimate birdie chance, probably two yards by two yards. And it's got to be coming in with the correct spin, too. Because if it doesn't, it's going to go off the wrong side of the slopes.
Q. Tiger, you talked about the wind, you talked about the difficulty of the greens, all the other adversities, and yet everybody says they're willing to come back here and love it. Can you explain why that would be?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the reason is is because it's fair. This golf course will set up fairly. If the USGA would have moved the rough up right along the greens, it might have been a different story. I don't think we'd see too many guys saying the things they're saying, because this golf course is designed to for that. It's designed for us to be challenged with our short games, and most U.S. Opens, lob wedge, hack it out, try to make a putt. Here you have a plethora of shots to try to play from around the greens. And I think that's one of the reasons why the players here this week are loving the challenge, because you can make par a little bit easier than normally.
Q. Are the pin positions fair?
TIGER WOODS: NC, no comment.
Q. Tiger, you mentioned yesterday that you were swinging the club a little better than on Thursday. I was curious if that carried over into today, and you actually mentioned that you wanted to make a couple of minor adjustments, and I was wondering if you did those and if you feel like you have anything to change going into tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Today was a day I felt very pleased with my golf swing. I executed the shots I wanted to hit, except for a couple of drives where the shot laid down again, same thing I've been fighting, and will continue to fight for the rest of my life, but I was very pleased. I hit a lot of good shots. I shallowed out nicely. I bowed the hand down when I needed to. My trajectory was good. So overall I was very pleased.
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