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June 17, 1999

Tiger Woods


LES UNGER: After 16 holes he wasn't on the guest list, but here he is at 2-under. Tiger, if you'd live us a rundown of your round.

TIGER WOODS: I'll go over some birdies and bogeys and some saves. Birdied 4. I hit a driver and a 2-iron in the right bunker, blasted to about 8 feet and made that for birdie. I bogeyed 5 and hit a driver down the left side into the left rough. I tried to hit a 9-iron out. I thought I was going to protect against a flier; it didn't fly. It landed on the green, came back off. I had up to 6 feet left of the hole and missed it. Bogeyed 7, hit 3-iron off the tee, hit a 9-iron, just trying to put the ball about 20 feet left of the hole, but unfortunately it got steep on it, hit straight right, plugged in the bunker. From there I tried to blast, if not on the green but over the green, and go ahead and make my bogey that way. But I barely got out of the bunker, came back into the bunker, then I proceeded to blast it out to about 10 feet and made that for bogey. No. 11, I hit a driver off the tee, then hit a 9-iron to about 2 inches; made that. Made a good save on 12. I hit a driver off the tee, put it in the right rough. Hit a pitching wedge out, left side, landed on the green, rolled over, perfectly pin-high, then I almost put the ball in the right bunker. I hit it too hard, and made about a ten footer for par, there. I birdied 17. Hit a 7-iron to about six feet, made that for birdie. On 18 I hit a driver and a pitching wedge from 137, hit it pin-high and made about a 12-footer.

LES UNGER: So your overall assessment, how you're feeling right now.

TIGER WOODS: I'm feeling very happy. If you saw me play today, you would say there's no way he could have shot the number he shot. It was not a pretty round, but I scored. And the name of the game is scoring, and that's something I've always been able to do. It's just one of those things that I didn't hit the ball as good as I'd like.

Q. The early guys were talking about how heavy the course was, and by the time you got out there, was it a little drier?

TIGER WOODS: It was a little drier. As we played, it started to get a little drier, but people are going to look at me and say I'm crazy for saying this, but I think it might have played harder when it's wet like this, strictly because of the fact that your bump-and-run shot is gone, that's been taken away, and this golf course is designed for you to roll a ball up. You don't have that option anymore. It's taken away from you. Today Corey hit a couple of 3-woods that backed up and landed in the slopes short of the greens. You don't see that very often around here. So I hit a couple of shots like that today that hit and bounced back off the green that normally would be bouncing up onto the green. That's taken away from you. Because that's taken away from you, you have to line the ball on the flat spot, and sometimes it can get away from you and scoot over the back and from there you're dead.

Q. Can you describe your strategy on the two par-5s?

TIGER WOODS: On 4, I just tried to hit a cut off the tee, it was in the middle off to the left and tried to ride the wind, hit it perfect, up the left side of the fairway. And from there the pin is on the left side. I tried to miss it right, so I have an angle coming in, and unfortunately, I got a little stuck and to the right. If I would have hit it solid, it would have been over the bunker and no problem, 2-putt. Since I didn't hit that solid it hit the bunker and got up-and-down. 10, that's one of those drives where you say, depending on the wind, you either go for it or you don't with your tee shot. If you feel comfortable with it, go ahead and let it rip, if you have the right wind. If you don't, just bump it out there and keep it in play and lay it up and make a birdie. Today we had downwind right-to-left. I hit the ball to the right side and turned it over. From there I had 287 to the front and I flew it, basically, pin-high in the right bunker. And from there I blasted it to about three feet and missed it.

Q. This is a very packed leaderboard. Could you attribute that to any one thing, the weather or the course setup or anything?

TIGER WOODS: Most U.S. Opens are packed after the first round. It's the second or third round that separates the guys that are hitting it well or managing their games and their emotions. Usually you have a few guys you've never seen before at the top of the leaderboard. That's kind of exciting being in a U.S. Open, but normally it usually isn't as packed. And right now I was informed there were seven guys at three. And I'm not surprised at that at all because the conditions are soft, and if you are driving it well, you can take advantage of that.

Q. Tiger, how many times did you hit the 3-wood today from up close? And also can you talk a little bit about how the gallery was today as compared to the normal rationing of Tiger mania that you see?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a 3-wood twice today. I used it on -- didn't use anything on the front 9, but I used it on 12 as well as 16, and I got up-and-down both times. I hit it up there to about two and a half feet both times. As far as the galleries, the galleries were great today. Their not as raucous as they were during practice rounds, because they respected what we have to do out there now. It's game time. And the people around here have a lot of respect for us out there playing. Practice round was a little different story, trying to get the pictures and autographs and stuff. But we're playing the U.S. Open and they understand.

Q. Tiger, could you talk a little bit about the putt you made on 7 and how big that was to your mindset, because you avoided a double there?

TIGER WOODS: If I made it I made it. It's one of those things. But if I didn't, that's fine, too. A double is not going to hurt me. I'll only be 2 over par. And 2 over par is fine. It's just going to take me a little while to get it back. You don't go birdie, birdie after that. I had some pretty tough holes after that. I tried to manage my game and hang in there. I made that putt and figured I'm only 1-over. That's not bad. I got out of it very luckily. I should have been making double there, but then again I figured I also should have made easy par, too, with a 9-iron in my hand.

Q. Tiger, could you talk about the way that you approach the 5th and 16th holes, and I guess are they playing as difficult as people expected them to play as par-4s?

TIGER WOODS: 5 was playing very difficult because we had a two group wait on the tee. On the 4th green, Greg, Justin and Davis were right there in front of us, and that group was teeing off, so there were two groups on that tee. And we had to wait a good 25, 30 minutes there. And that disrupts your rhythm. And it's not an easy tee shot to begin with. You can't see the fairway. It's a long hole. It played a little more difficult because of that one reason. 16 is basically the tee shot. If you can somehow get it out there and turn it over and run it down that fairway, it's not that bad a hole. But if you don't and you miss that fairway, it's a tough hole. And today I hit on the first cut. I hit a 6-iron in there.

Q. Could you describe the 17th, your shot on that tee shot, what your feeling was when you were watching it?

TIGER WOODS: The wind was coming a little off the left, and I just tried to at the time, tried to put it about 10, 15 feet left of the hole. There's a camera tower in the background. I just tried to aim at it. If the wind pushed it, that's fine. If it didn't, I'd have a 15-footer, at worst. And I hit it perfect. I hit it right there. I hit it dead straight. As the ball was falling, it was falling right. I know I didn't do it. The wind was pushing it over there. And I was just hoping it would be the right distance, and it was.

Q. Tiger, can you talk about the collection areas around the greens, and when your ball falls into one of those areas, are you finding that you have to contend with almost divots that have been left by the people in the field that played before you?

TIGER WOODS: Most of the guys aren't playing shots where they're taking divots. For some reason I didn't see a whole lot of divots out there. I think some of the guys are using 3-woods or bump-and-run with 4-irons or 3-irons or putting it. The conditions as soft as they are, it's very difficult to play a sand wedge, because if you do spin it too much, it's definitely coming back. You don't have that "maybe" factor, like it might skip and get up to the top and continue on. So I think a lot of the guys are using putters and 3-woods and long irons.

Q. Tiger, with Love and Duval and yourself on the leaderboard, all the guys that hit the ball a long way, are doing well today, is it easier to keep the ball in the fairway, as wet as it is, and is that going to be more difficult as the week goes on?

TIGER WOODS: I think it is easier when the fairways are softer because it does widen the fairways, in effect, because it won't roll out. I can't say that for myself, because I hit a lot of first cuts today, and that's just the way it goes. In general, yes, the fairways do seem bigger. Today I hit a couple of drivers where I normally won't, just because I knew the ball was going to land soft. And some of the pins weren't accessible. I just busted it down there and put the ball in the fairway. If I don't, I still have a wedge in my hand; no big deal.

Q. Tiger, what are the holes you consider playing the most difficult and the ones that you consider to be really either must birdie or pretty much potential birdie for the round?

TIGER WOODS: I think the birdies come where they come. There's no holes where you say, "Gosh, if I make par here, I feel like I'm losing a shot." U.S. Opens still make you feel that way. You make par, usually you feel very satisfied. As far as some of the difficult holes, I think the 2 long par-4s, obviously, being 8 and 16.

Q. 5, also?

TIGER WOODS: I'm sorry. 5 and 16, as well as 8, because it was converted, and it's basically a par-5 green, it's not a par-4, and that plays pretty tough. But I think the par-3s determine a lot, because they're so long and so difficult, so severe, too. I think those are the most severe greens on the golf course, that if you can walk away with pars every day on every par-3, you're feeling pretty good about yourself.

Q. Tiger, usually whoever wins a Major looks back, there's a round that when he didn't play quite up to his game, but still somehow managed to get in red numbers. If you win Sunday, will you look back on today as that kind of round, will you go home tonight and tell Mark, boy, I stole a 68 out there today?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know, because I don't know how my next three rounds are going to be.

Q. If you win, is that the kind of day this was for you?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I don't know how the next three rounds are going to be.

Q. How many courses do you play that require as creative of play around the greens with the extreme undulation? Is Augusta one of them?

TIGER WOODS: Augusta as well as British Open courses. I think those are the only venues where it's that firm, where the banks are shaved and you have the ability to use your imagination. If you look at most tournaments on the PGA TOUR the rough is higher than it has been in years past. They're trying to make things more difficult, because guys are getting better, equipment is getting better, trying to make scoring a little more difficult, as well as in U.S. Opens. How many times have you seen the guy hit the ball in the rough around the green, and automatically pull a lob wedge and start walking? You don't see that here. The guy has his whole bag and chooses what he wants to play. I think that's the ultimate, because you have so many options that you can actually get kind of confused out there, because you say, well, I could play a sand wedge here. Well, but it looks pretty good for a 7-iron. I could hit a 4-iron, that's pretty easy, or 3-wood. I could even putt it. Which option do you choose? But you have to be committed to that option. Today on 16, for example, I had a perfect lie, easy uphill chip and I was thinking this is an easy sand wedge shot, but again it's so soft up in front. If I spin it too much, it's not getting to the hole. I could putt it. I've been putting most of these all day. Well, it's pretty soft, again, so it should be a little slow, so I'm going to use my 3-wood. So I said be committed to my 3-wood, and go ahead and put it up there. And I did. I put it up there to about two feet. This is great, because it brings out your imagination, as well as confusion, as well.

Q. Tiger, I'm sure you're aware of your dad's comments that have been reported about what he said about Scotland. I wanted you to give a chance to talk about it. What do you think about what he said?

TIGER WOODS: He didn't say it.

Q. Reporter says he has it on tape.

TIGER WOODS: He didn't say it. My dad is not like that. He's definitely not like that. My dad knows that Scotland is a wonderful place. The weather is not what it is in Southern California, that's for sure, and everyone knows that. But my dad didn't mean any harm if he did say it, but I don't think he even said it.

Q. Tiger, you were pretty animated on front 9. Did you feel like you had to get your emotions under control. You didn't seem like you were waving your clubs around as much as you did on the front.

TIGER WOODS: Actually I hit it worse on the front 9. That's part of my walk. On the front 9, if you look at the way I hit it, I wasted a couple of shots, and it's not too often where you tee off on 4 and you don't sniff the fairway. That's not a good feeling. And that's kind of how the front 9 was. But I was hitting it better on the back 9 and just trying to hang in there.

Q. Tiger, with the conditions being what they were and the number of guys who sort of got some red numbers, did you go out with a different mindset, that you felt like you had to take the opportunities when they came as opposed to making par?

TIGER WOODS: No, just trying to make pars. I think because the golf course is more difficult that par is still a good score. But you know if you do have a few good numbers, that you might take advantage of it, but again you can't afford to make the dumb mistake and make bogey or even doubles. Today I tried to get away from the sucker pins. There were a few out there, as the majority were. You try to play in the middle of the greens. You put the ball in the middle of every single green, you're going to have a good putt. The putting surface of these greens is not very big. The overall square footage is huge, but the putting surface is not. If you put the ball on the green, I'm sure you'll make a couple throughout the week.

Q. Tiger, following up to the question about the longer players and how they played the course today, do you feel now after playing it that they have an advantage on the course, the longer player, that it plays for them?

TIGER WOODS: You could say that, but then again you can also say that because it is softer, that you know that some of the shorter hitters, even though they won't get the ball as far out there in the fairways, they can still hold the greens. So there's an argument that can be made both ways. But I know from my own experience today that I thought the fairways were playing wider because they are soft and the ball is not going to run and you don't have to go ahead and hit 2-irons for 455 par-4s and run them all out there. You can hit a driver on them and know if the ball is going to land in the fairway, it's going to stay in the fairway.

Q. Tiger, two-part question. You went through a period of time where it appeared that your putting was a bit of a detriment, maybe, to your game. I was wondering, Germany and The Memorial Tournament, you putted well, you seem to be continuing that here. How much is technique and how much is just gaining confidence?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as you know, putting is a lot of just confidence. But I look back at some of the videotapes and I found out my posture was not right. My eye angle was not right, as well as my hands. So I went back to some of the old basics and tried to get where I felt comfortable. Basically anytime you feel comfortable over a putt, you are going to make a pretty good stroke. And that's what I tried to get to. I went back to some of the old keys I used years ago and they're working.

Q. Now that you're able to make more 6-, 8-, 10-footers and feel comfortable, how much of that filters back into the rest of your game and has allowed you to be more comfortable with the swing changes that you made; if I make a mistake, I can probably get myself out?

TIGER WOODS: You can't look at it that way. You can't look towards the future and know that if I hit a bad shot I know I can get up-and-down that way. You've got to look at the fact that you're already present, you have to hit the shot right where you want to and play the next shot when it comes up, but you've got to live in the present. I don't look at the fact that I am putting better. I look at the fact that I'm hitting the ball better, I'm leaving myself better chances, hence I'm making the putts. You try to feel comfortable and relax and hit the putts. But I've always tried to stay in the present and not get ahead of myself, and if part of your question is looking ahead, and I can't afford to do that out there, especially on this golf course, because it is so severe. I think what I'm doing is working pretty good.

Q. Tiger, would you be happy to settle for three more 68s?

TIGER WOODS: Okay. I'm done. I'd like that. (Laughter.) I'd walk in right now, if you are going to give me that.

LES UNGER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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