June 5, 1999
LEE PATTERSON: Hey, good to see you.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
LEE PATTERSON: Maybe just a couple thoughts about today heading into tomorrow.
TIGER WOODS: Today the conditions were obviously very difficult out there. Wind swirling, coming from every different direction. The toughest thing about today was staying committed to your shot. As you know, the wind can switch at any time. Sometimes you may feel a little gust on your face and that's not the true wind on the shot. You have to go ahead and trust what you thought about stepping in to the shot, and that's where the mental discipline really comes in to play.
LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?
TIGER WOODS: It's late. I can get out of here. (Laughter.)
Q. Tiger, I just asked Vijay about shooting around par. You're in the lead. Are you thinking par's a good score?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it all depends on the conditions out there. It's supposed to be hotter tomorrow. I don't know if that means windier or the same amount of wind. I think the wind determines how long you're going to have to go. If it is just as windy as it is today, obviously par looks all right. But I think I'm going to have to shoot a few under, just as you said, to make sure.
Q. You'll have to react, too, if somebody's moving up from behind.
TIGER WOODS: You might have to change, but then again the conditions -- the greens are getting so fast and so firm that you really do need to make sure you don't get careless. You can get aggressive, but not to the point where you get careless.
Q. Tiger, the conditions obviously, as you said already, are more difficult today than yesterday. They were probably also much more difficult in the afternoon. This morning they had two 66s, those were the best rounds of the day. Four 69s, those are the next scores. That's all you've had under 70. So the greens apparently were obviously harder.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah.
Q. Much more difficult.
TIGER WOODS: You're right. They were getting faster. I remember when I teed off today, 1 was very receptive and so was 2. I hit an iron shot from -- on No. 2 from 182 with an 8-iron downwind, rolled 3 feet. Next thing you know, you get on the back nine, landing the ball 15, 20 feet short and it's going past the hole. So you have to make sure that you're very careful and understand that these changes are going around through the course of the -- basically through the course of the round. And adjust to them. You're not going to be stupid and not adjust. So I adjusted my game plan today. I did play a little more conservative. When I had a chance to throw the ball in a little higher, I did. But the wind dictated that, whether I could or not. And I just tried to play one shot at a time. That's the old saying. But just try not to get ahead of myself.
Q. The greens could be tougher tomorrow.
TIGER WOODS: True. You know the traditional Sunday pins around here are always the same; they're always going to be difficult. I have to be very patient. A lot of fairways, a lot of greens. It's fine to make par. Just don't shoot yourself in the foot with a couple bad shots. If you're going to hit bad shots, make sure you get them in the correct places so you can get up-and-down.
Q. What are your thoughts of tomorrow playing head-to-head probably again with obviously Vijay, how he plays, how your games compare?
TIGER WOODS: Playing with Vijay's always a lot of fun. I've always enjoyed playing with Vijay. We always had a good time; we kid each other all the way around. We ham it up a little bit. But then again when we get to our shots, you have to go take care of business and so do I. So we both enjoy each other's company. I enjoy Davie, his caddie, as well, listening to the stories he tells, his thick Scottish accent. If you can actually understand it. (Laughter.)
Q. Tiger, on that same subject, you went head-to-head against Vijay a lot in the last year between the Grand Slam and the Presidents Cup. Did you learn anything about him then that you didn't already know, how good a player he was?
TIGER WOODS: He's the same. I mean it's a very -- he hits it very long. He hits it solid. Obviously you know he's going to go out and hit a few balls right now. (Laughter.) You know he practices, so he's going to hit good shots. With that in mind, you know that coming down the stretch that this guy is going to trust his game because he's hit so many golf balls. And he has a lot of confidence; obviously he's playing very well. And he hit a lot of good shots today. I look for the same thing tomorrow.
Q. You talked either yesterday or the day before about how much work you've put in to your swing in the last year and how well you feel that you are playing coming in to this tournament after winning in Germany. Do you think you're playing better now than you ever have?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. I've got more shots. My misses aren't as bad. I got more control. It's just all the changes I've done over the past couple years, especially in the last year. I was very committed to making the changes with Butch, said no matter what happens let's get this done and move on. I knew I was going to go through some tough times, I did last year. I didn't win that much. But a lot of high finishes, but my game wasn't -- it was a little iffy down the stretch because I didn't have the club in the right position. And I just had to go ahead and keep trusting it, keep trusting it, keep trusting the work we're doing. And finally it started to pay dividends this year; I'm starting to hit the ball more consistent, control my traps, I'm starting to see the benefits.
Q. How long can a player such as yourself hold that level?
TIGER WOODS: You're always going to go through ups and downs obviously. Look at the span of all the great players in time, they have little stretches where they can maintain for maybe a couple years. But obviously they're going to have down cycles. It's part of the game. You can't maintain that high level forever. But what you can do is you can work on it very hard, and that's what I've done. I've continued to do that. I always continue to do that. And hopefully when I go down, it won't be as long because I will continue to work.
Q. Tiger, what kind of a window did you give yourself for those changes, and was there ever a point where you maybe doubted --
TIGER WOODS: I never doubted it once because I could feel when I did it right; God, it felt good. You know? It was just a perfect shot. Perfect trap. It was very flat. Very thin, shallow divots. That's just right where I wanted to be. I knew it was going to take some time. And it took a little while.
Q. Longer than you thought or less?
TIGER WOODS: I showed signs of it towards the end of last year. I played really well. Especially overseas, I played great. Especially down at South Africa and then at the Presidents Cup. I really played good at the Presidents Cup. Won the rounds with John Houston, shot 64. And then played really well against Greg in the singles. And then this year, at the beginning of the year, my West Coast swing, I really played well. So the changes were definitely coming around. I could feel more and more comfortable with them.
Q. Was there a moment where you, you know, in the middle of competition, before a fourth round, where you attempted to go back and revert?
TIGER WOODS: That's one thing you always think about. But I'm the type of player that if you can't do it in a competition, then why even do it at all? So you have to try it. And I've always been one of those players. If I put a new shot in that week, I'm going to try it. A little high spinner. I finally learned how to spin a little wedge shot in there from 15 yards and make a check, I learned it right before I went to St. Andrews for the Dunhill Cup. Put it in play on those hard fairways, hard greens, and it came back 20 yards. But you have to try it in competition to find out whether it works or not. That's what I've been able to do. Always will do.
Q. Can you show us that shot? (Laughter.)
TIGER WOODS: You have to play the right ball. This is not cutting it. (Laughter.)
Q. Tiger, yesterday you said your 66 wasn't pretty. Even though your score wasn't as good today, how did your play compare?
TIGER WOODS: I hit the ball better today. I controlled my ball flight much better. Overall, my swing felt so much better today than it did yesterday. And yesterday was -- I got a lot of lucky breaks yesterday. Bouncing balls through bunkers and making birdie, sweet rolls. These are things that you take advantage of. You get lucky. But the conditions were much more difficult today. And, you know, being in the lead is always more difficult to shoot a low round than it is when you're trailing, like I was yesterday.
Q. You've proven to be a very good front runner. My assumption is you definitely like your position, given the conditions of the golf course and so forth, this is definitely where you want to be?
TIGER WOODS: I love winning, it's great. I love when people have to come get me. I love to feel that intensity, that fight. It's a great fight. And it's right where you want to be. Because you know that it's going to take more effort for them to come get you than it is for you to just maintain par. They're going to have to go ahead and be more aggressive, and the key for anyone who's leading is not come back to them. There's the key to making par, no bogeys my last round, that's always in my key. I did it in Germany, no bogeys 14 pars, 4 birdies. And I had won.
Q. Tiger, after being, I think you were 4 up on the front maybe after 5 or 6 holes, if Vijay would have tied you at the 12th hole, if he would have made his birdie, would that have been a big deal to you?
TIGER WOODS: There were a lot of holes left. So many holes. We still had a lot of birdie holes and bogey holes coming up, potential holes where you get careless, make some mistakes. I knew that. Just got to keep hanging in there. Keep playing your game. The only time I ever see, if you're near the lead and someone ties you, that's one thing on Saturday. But on the back nine on Sunday, that's a little different story. Then you have to sometimes react to that and go ahead and force him to make a mistake.
Q. When did you start making the changes? And whose suggestion was it?
TIGER WOODS: Mine.
Q. Your suggestion?
TIGER WOODS: I was not happy with my swing or my game. Basically it started in '97.
Q. At what point in '97?
TIGER WOODS: Middle of the year. Even though I had a lot of success, I won four tournaments through July, the Western, I wasn't happy the way I was swinging. If you look at it, it was either I was winning or I was way down the list. And when you're hot, I mean anybody can play with a swing when they're hot. That's not a problem. But it's when you're off days, are you able to still shoot 69s, 70s? Like even yesterday, I didn't play well, as well as I'd like, but I shot 66. There's no way I could have done that in '97. I didn't have the swing for that. I didn't have the game for that. I didn't have the shots. So, it's just a gradual process, always try to get better.
Q. Around the greens today when you missed, for example No. 8, wonderful shot over there. And then a lot of 3-woods, several 3-woods around the greens. The one that got away from you at 10, 3-wood, was there something peculiar about that?
TIGER WOODS: Just really quick. I've done it two days in a row.
Q. On that hole?
TIGER WOODS: On that hole. Today I knocked it about 8 feet by. Yesterday I had a putt and I hit it about 10 feet by. And yesterday I was able to make the putt coming back, but the green's quicker than it looks.
Q. What was your best shot of the day around the greens would you say?
TIGER WOODS: Probably two of them. The shot I hit obviously on 8 was pretty good. Right at the bunker and no green to work with, hit it up there and made par. And the shot I had on 15, the par 5, the ball was sitting down in a rake mark, and you obviously have to hit the ball very high very quickly. But, more importantly, when you land the ball in the green, it runs straight away from you. Then it goes back uphill. So it was just such a difficult shot. It got very risky. I got the blade way open and hit almost on top of the ball. I barely took enough sand behind the ball. But it's the only shot I had. I had to be very aggressive. It came off and I made birdie.
LEE PATTERSON: How close was that?
TIGER WOODS: It was about 6 feet past.
Q. Tiger, you talked about Vijay being able to trust his swing just because he's hit so many balls. You talked about some of the shots that you've been working on. Are you to the point where you can trust them coming down the stretch possibly?
TIGER WOODS: Yes. Even though I was making the changes in my game, I was still trusting the motion. Because I knew from practice, doing it right, I could see the difference. And, yeah, I know that even if I do it wrong now, it's not that bad. Not as bad as it was. And hopefully will ever be. But who knows?
Q. Tiger, are your games similar, you and Vijay? What does he do?
TIGER WOODS: I think what he does a little different than I do, he's a little more aggressive off the tee. If you noticed today I was hitting 2-irons off the tee. But then again that's my shot. I love hitting a low trapping 2-iron on fast fairways and run it out there. He likes hitting a high-cut 3 shot. That's his bread and butter. He calls it a low fade. I think that's probably the only thing that's different. But our games are very similar. Good touch around the greens. He's got fabulous hands. A shot he hit on 18 today, he didn't have a very good lie in that bunker. To be able to spin it like he did was pretty impressive.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
Q. Where does your putting fit into all of this? Are you a better putter than you were before? You talk about the mechanics and the swing, what about the putter?
TIGER WOODS: Definitely a better putter. Putting on different grasses and being able to change and see lines better now. You know, these are things that I had to learn, I had to go through. In college, every green speed was the same; it was slow. Here on the PGA Tour, it's Bermuda, it's bent, it's poa, they change from day to day. They change pretty quickly, too. And I was able to adjust, but I wasn't able to get my speed just right, where I was making putts. And that's the big key; is to know when everything's changing around you, to be able to change with it and pour in the putts.
Q. You had that same problem here, didn't you actually, you have two different types of greens, 9 through 14.
TIGER WOODS: Actually --
Q. You have an adjustment there?
TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it. The putt I had in 9, I had to hit the ball up in the fringe and bring it back down. Back in the old days, I would have taken probably a lower line and gone ahead and just knocked it up there tight, probably busted it by about 10 feet.
LEE PATTERSON: Tell us about your birdies, 4 and 5.
TIGER WOODS: 4, what did I hit there? I hit a 7-iron on 4. I take that back. I hit an 8-iron. Downwind. Hit to about 8 feet around the hole. Made that. I think that's my third straight 2 there. Play that hole well. (Laughing). Next hole, 5, I hit a 2-iron off the tee and then hit a 3-iron right at the flag, just flagged it. And it landed just past the flag, bounced in the back bunker, blasted it to about a foot and-a-half and made that for birdie.
LEE PATTERSON: 11, is that your other birdie?
TIGER WOODS: 11, yep. 11 was a fabulous tee shot, high flamer out to the right in the trees. (Laughter.) Proceeded by a hack-out sand wedge and then I hit a good wedge, finally hit a good shot in the hole. I hit it to about -- just trying to play the ball to the right of the hole, use a slope to bring it back. I did that successfully and had about a 12-footer straight down the hill and pulled that in.
LEE PATTERSON: Bunker in 16?
TIGER WOODS: I made bogey on 12, though. On 12 I hit a wedge, just one of those holes. Gosh, I mean you know the wind's downwind left-to-right. I knew it. 141 yards to the hole. Actually 144, just a soft wedge. But as I set the shot up, the wind started cropping up against my face. I thought go ahead, let me hit it more than I normally would for the shot, and it was the true wind that was above the trees, which I hit. And it landed on the back edge, see ya. And it ended up on the back lip of the bunker. Hit a great shot out of the bunker, probably one of the best shots all day. But pulled the putt right away. It was a bad putt.
Q. How far?
TIGER WOODS: I'm sorry, pushed the putt. That was the one I pushed. About 8 feet. I had no chance. Duck hook.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
Q. Saves were at 8 and where else?
TIGER WOODS: Good saves? (Laughter.)
Q. Anything you count.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I made a good save on 3, hit the ball over the green there. Back bunker, got that up-and-down. 10, I made bogey there. 8 was a good save. Great tee shot in the right gallery. Pin-high though, that was perfectly pin-high. That's what Mark is always telling me, pin-high. And I did. Then I hit a great shot from there about 6 feet and made that for par. Made a little 3-wood chip on 13 up against the back collar, just missed on the top edge, tapped it in. I made a good save on 16, hit a 7-iron, left bunker and blasted it out to about 3 and-a-half feet, made that for par. That's it.
Q. Do you have any recollections in your pro or amateur career of having lost a lead on the final day?
TIGER WOODS: I had a good collapse at Quad Cities. Was it my third tournament? Second tournament. No, third tournament because I went to Canada. Yeah. I had -- I think I had a 2 or 3-shot lead going into the final round against Ed Fiori and lost "The Gripper."
LEE PATTERSON: The only man that knows how to putt those greens.
TIGER WOODS: That's right.
Q. Anything particular going on that day that you remember that you obviously won't do again?
TIGER WOODS: I think a Quad. That usually kind of hurts things. Quad, Quad Cities, that was a lot of fun. I think I had about three 3-putts, had a 4-putt in there, too, and I think I made 6 or 7 birdies. It was just an ugly round. I think I made about 4 pars, 5 pars.
Q. Did you ever have a 6-putt?
TIGER WOODS: No, honestly I haven't. 4 is the most I've ever had in my life. I've done that too many times, too.
Q. Look Daly up, he'll show you how.
TIGER WOODS: Did he actually concentrate or did he play a little hockey?
Q. Hockey, backhanded it. One-handed.
TIGER WOODS: Kept Lanny (phonetic) backhand.
Q. You've always been confident, but you sound like you're as confident now as you've ever been. Is that correct? And is it purely from your swing changes, or is it just growth process?
TIGER WOODS: Both. With all the changes I've made in my game, I'm very happy and very pleased at where I'm at. The growth process, I'm just learning how to play at this level. It's a little different than playing in the college and amateur golf. And just the transition of understanding how to play and learning more shots, course management, short game. Just the whole package has gotten better. That's one of the reasons why you're seeing, I guess, my name more at the top of leaderboards again.
Q. Did your confidence ever waver? I mean in the natural -- is it always in the same --
TIGER WOODS: You know what, I believe in every shot I hit that I can pull it off. It's just I guess my mindset. I've always believed that. Because I've done it so many times in practice, horsing around on a golf course by myself, I throw balls in trees and, okay, I got to get these up-and-down. I have to make birdies from here to win tournaments, and you go ahead and do it and it gives you a lot of confidence to know that and, again, to beat guys you play against at home. I got Mark O'Meara, Payne Stuart, Lee Janzen, Stuart Appleby, to beat those guys at home, that also gives you a little confidence.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate it.
Q. Tiger, I want to back up one day, please. A question I couldn't get in yesterday, an academic one at 11. Why the 2-iron off the tee and then why the 2-iron off the fairway?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. Because it worked and because it worked. (Laughter.)
Q. Same thing like 5 today.
TIGER WOODS: Exactly, see. Perfect. No, because the fairways are running now, and I think it's about a 2 -- let me get this right, about a 240 carry over the hump in the fairway. I can land about 270, 280. You have to land the ball on top of that slope to get the true roll that you want. Then 248 to the front, my 2-iron, I can hit 240 with no problem in the air and the wind at the time was coming downwind right-to-left. And if I could have hit a high enough 2-iron, the key is I had to hit it high enough. If I hit a flat one, it would have been in the water or left bunker. If I hit a high one with a low hit, it came off perfect. It rounded the flag, I cut it, moved away from the flag I guess about 8 or 10 feet, then wind brought it back and I hit it right on the flagstick and rolled up there.
Q. Thank you.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else? It worked.
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