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June 13, 1997

Tiger Woods


LES UNGER: Looks to me like you turned it around quite a bit today, Tiger.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I played well, and, hence, a 67.

LES UNGER: Question as to whether the delay after you were going to 17 --

TIGER WOODS: We were on the tee box. Lehman was already addressing the ball, yeah.

LES UNGER: Did that have some effect on --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it had an effect on all of us because we all had momentum. We were all loose. We were all ready to go. And, we were playing the round, and they call it when, you know, obviously there's no rain coming down. And, Tom was pretty upset by it, by his reaction, at least what I could see. And, I think it hurt all of us because we didn't have any kind of momentum having to hit one of the toughest tee shots on the golf course.

LES UNGER: Following yesterday's round and before taking the tee today, what was it that you tried to work on that perhaps was --

TIGER WOODS: I did exactly the same thing. Stuck with my guns, played the golf course actually virtually identical. I didn't change any clubs off of the par 4s and the par 5s, exactly the same clubs. The only difference is I hit more fairways and hit better iron shots.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. Was there any thought process from the time you hit the ball in the water on 18, instead of getting off this morning, was there any frustration -- did you have to work your way through that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was pretty upset, obviously. Having made double on your last hole, I think I was 6 over on my last 8 holes. So, it was tough. And, last night was, you know, business as usual, just had me a burger and fries and watched some TV and that's about it. But, I knew going out today, I had to shoot a good number and try to get myself back to even par for the tournament and I did one better than that. Unfortunately, I had three holes to go and just couldn't quite hole it.

Q. Tiger, two birdies in the first three holes. Obviously got you going right out of the gate. How much did that mean to you?

TIGER WOODS: It meant a lot to birdie the first hole. When you know you have to shoot a good number, it's always nice to get off to a good start, especially since you've got that short par 4 2nd hole to face. And, it was nice, and then I hit a great iron shot into 2 and just didn't make the putt. But, 3, I hit another good iron shot, so, I hit three good iron shots right in a row. That's how you build positive momentum. And, I kept it the entire front 9.

Q. Tiger, can you talk about the chip on 15 and you thought the momentum would carry you, the one up the hill for the birdie?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, you mean the one straight down the hill?

Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, let's see, I think the bigger putt, the bigger up-and-down -- not really the up-and-down, but the putt was for birdie because that's a putt in which I get just a fraction too aggressive with it, even lip it out, this putt, straight downhill is running by at least 4 feet, and hit it dead center. Then you go into 15, I felt pretty pumped up in the fact I'd just made birdie, just got back to even par after bogeying 13. And, now I put a driver in the fairway, put a driver anywhere in the fairway. And, I had a little cut out there and it went right down the middle. And, I believe it was 265 or something like that to the hole. Just tried to hit a little soft cut 3-wood and I pulled it and hit it long because I didn't cut it. And from there, hit it pretty easy -- actually pretty easy shot anywhere on the green, the ball is just going to funnel all the way down there because it's straight downhill. And landed about 10 feet on the green and rolled down there to about 2 feet.

LES UNGER: Tiger, I wanted to ask you to go over your birds and others, please.

TIGER WOODS: Want to do that at the end?

LES UNGER: We can do that at the end, sure.

TIGER WOODS: That's fine.

Q. Tiger, you had said you thought you would only hit three drivers each day. How many have you actually hit each round?

TIGER WOODS: Same, I've hit three, yeah.

Q. Tiger, could you talk about the up-and-down at 10 and you pulled a 3-wood out. What makes you, in that situation, pull it out to pitch with it?

TIGER WOODS: 3 was a very easy shot, with short cut grass like that, because the grass is wet, and if you hit any kind of putt, it usually sticks running up these hills. The 3-wood does -- it's got more loft and it's got more mass at the bottom, so, as you hit the shot, the ball tends to get up in the air and float on top of the grass early. And, that's the key to any kind of bump-and-run shot or any putt from off the green. So, with that in mind, the 3-wood, what it does, I can hit the shot easier than a putt and accomplish the same thing. So, it's actually a lot easier shot if you do it that way.

Q. Tiger, if I may, what's the mind-set right now, 36 holes to go and you have a history of being able to come from behind? Have you kind of divided this up and thought what you need to do? Is there a special mind-set you put yourself in?

TIGER WOODS: I think the key is to keep getting better each day. It may not happen scorewise, but if you strike the ball better every day, you're going to be right there at the end. And, right now, at 1-over, if I keep hitting the ball better and better, I'll be right there hopefully on the back 9 on Sunday.

Q. Tiger, you made a couple over par on the last three holes both days. I wonder, despite the great round with a couple bogeys down the stretch, is it the holes themselves or is it the concentration at the end of the round that's getting to you?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's hard to explain. I hit a good shot on 16 that carried too far, and it was -- it's kind of unusual when you have like 195 and hit a 6-iron over the back. That usually doesn't happen. And, it's frustrating when that happens. But, then 17, I can understand, too, with the delay. And, it's one of those things that just happens today and yesterday. It's part of playing the U.S. Open.

Q. Tiger, you said you hit the same clubs on the same holes as yesterday. 7 stroke difference. Is there a physical difference? Was it timing? Was your timing -- more relaxed or what was the mind-set today?

TIGER WOODS: Today I hit the ball much more solid. I controlled the trajectory as well as spin and my direction of shot, so when that happens, your distance control is going to do well and look at my front 9, I stuffed it a lot of times with perfectly pin-high, and out here, that's what you need to do. You need to hit a number. And, I was doing it on the front 9. I did some on the back, but not as well.

Q. Was there any temptation to do anything radical after yesterday's round?

TIGER WOODS: No, no. You can't do that at a U.S. Open, because the conditions are so severe. You're going to pay the price if you, as you said, get radical.

Q. Would you discuss the drop you got on 15? Was it a TV cable or what?

TIGER WOODS: No, what happened is (laughing) a media person kicked my ball, kicked it onto the cable. A person there saw that one of the media people kicked my golf ball; hence, I had to mark my ball and drop it as close to the spot as I possibly could to where it originally was lying, and I did that, and drew a reasonable lie.

Q. Tiger, how does the rain change this course and is that better or worse for you?

TIGER WOODS: I think the rain actually makes it a little bit easier if you drive it straight, because what happens is now your mediocre tee shots, which would have hit on the sides of the fairways and gone into the rough, are now sticking, so, that makes it a little bit easier on your drives. But, then again, if you hit them on the rough, it's even more penalizing because you can't get to the green now because it's wet. And also makes the golf course a little bit longer, so you have to carry the ball a little bit further.

Q. Tiger, given what happened to you early Wednesday morning, did you begin the tournament yesterday feeling as fully prepared to attack the golf course as you would have liked to have been?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I felt fine. I got in my rounds I needed to get in, and I felt comfortable with my game. And, I was really looking forward to playing Thursday. I don't like to play a whole lot the day before. I just want to put my feet up and just relax. I do all my work the week prior to a major, and then do a little tune-up at the tournament, that's all I wanted to do.

Q. Tiger, do you feel like you fought your way around the course better today? You looked kind of frustrated yesterday. Was your thought process a little better today?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it's kind of funny because I felt the same. I felt the same. It's just that yesterday was one of those days when you're not hitting the ball the way you would like to, so you get a little frustrated. And, at a U.S. Open setup, you're going to pay the price for bad swings. And, I knew what I was doing wrong. I just couldn't stop it. And, you know, hence, I got angry at myself and I lost my patience at that times.

Q. Tiger, can you explain why you chose not to talk to the media whether it was just your frustration from the double or what it was yesterday?

TIGER WOODS: No. What it is: Why would you want to talk to a guy who is 9 shots back? The thing is, I think that may be a double standard. Do you require, I guess, Greg Norman or Steve Elkington or Phil Mickelson who ended up at 5-over to come in? They don't require that. And, for me, I have to come in. And, I just want to be considered one of the 156 players playing the tournament. And, if I'm not near the lead, then I shouldn't be required to answer questions. And if I am, then great, I will because I'm near the lead. You're supposed to be asked questions. But, when I'm that far back, I see no need.

Q. What about the early tee time, you know, what time do you have to get up in the morning? Does it have any impact?

TIGER WOODS: I got up at five. That's pretty early.

Q. If I could just follow up on a previous question. We talked to all sorts of people who are four or five shots or nine shots behind if they're big names. For example, Greg Norman shot a 75 yesterday. He was quite gracious. People are interested in you, and even when you don't play well, they would like to know why. Can you explain why you don't want to even stop and talk to us when we're all assembled out here?

TIGER WOODS: What happens is I have to do that every week. And, you know, there's going to be times when I'm not going to play well, and there are times when any guy who's big, whether it's Norman or Ernie Els, or whomever, whoever the big names are, they don't play well, they don't have to talk to the media because they're not playing well and they're not anywhere near the lead, they're not anywhere near being in contention. So, hence, I feel that it is a right for me to decline if I'm that far out of it. I was nine shots back. I was way out of it. And, today, I shot myself back into it. So, I feel that I'm obligated to come in here because I am back in the tournament.

Q. You mentioned being nine shots back. Does it ever enter your mind about the cut?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it did last night just a little bit, but I knew that I had to get back to even par. That would take care of itself.

Q. Tiger, there's an unbelievable amount of interest in New York if you're going to play in Westchester next week. Are you? And, if you are, why would you play the week after the Open?

TIGER WOODS: Well, yes, I am playing because (1), I'm doing a clinic in the area, my Tiger Woods Foundation. I'm doing a clinic on Monday. And, I feel there's a right for me to play in the tournament which is right next to the site at which I'm doing the clinic.

Q. Just going back to yesterday. What was it that unhinged you most? Was it that 11th hole and what was the distance and the club in your hand?

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea how far it was. I just know I hit a wedge. You know, 11 was not one of my better holes, but that's not what really got to me. It was kind of a cumulative thing. I hit a bad shot there. I hooked another one on 13. Hooked another one on 18. I just hit some bad shots. And, then the shots that I did hit good, I -- on 15 where I played out of the rough, and what does it do, it rolls up against the primary rough, and just one of those things. Or, even on 16, where I absolutely flagged an 8-iron. I was all over it. And, it happens to go in the one spot you can't beat it, which is long. It's kind of a cumulative thing of hitting good shots that turn out bad or bad shots that turn out really bad.

Q. If Sunday turns out to be a 27-hole day, do you feel your youth and conditioning could pay dividends?

TIGER WOODS: Definitely, it does help, being young. I work out a lot, so, I'm in pretty good shape to play golf. And, this golf course, what it is going to do is not really test your physical being. It's going to test your mind because if you had to play 27 on Sunday, hypothetically, we're going to be awfully tired mentally because we have to put up with so much playing a U.S. Open setup because you get worn out after 18 holes. It's tough even after 27.

Q. What do you think about all those kids who are coming especially to see you and who are discovering golf?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's great that they're coming out. They get introduced to a game that I truly love, and I think that it is a sport in which they can learn and grow as a person. And, it's also another opportunity for them to expand themselves because you meet so many different people, whether it's in a business environment or it's -- they're doctors, a whole bunch of different people that play golf. And, I think it's great.

Q. Tiger, two things: Are you saying on 15, somebody, a media person literally kicked it like on purpose?

TIGER WOODS: No, not kicked it. They weren't watching my ball.

Q. Secondly, this would be the 7th straight year that you would win a USGA event. Are you thinking this in terms of just a major or is that in the back of your mind that this would be a seventh straight year of a USGA --

TIGER WOODS: That has no bearing on the tournament. I can't think that way. Because those tournaments are in the past, and plus, they're a matchplay, and this is a totally different format, I guess a totally different field. And, for me right now, the only thing I'm concerned with is getting myself under par for the tournament and in contention to make a run at it on Sunday afternoon.

Q. Do you still feel like you're right in it?

TIGER WOODS: Actually, anybody that's even 3-over par is right in the ballgame.

Q. Explain what happened on 18 today, what your emotions were given what happened yesterday as the ball was in the air, how this affects your thought process the next two days?

TIGER WOODS: Well, when Tom hit, it was downwind left-to-right, so I knew that was -- an 8-iron was a perfect club for me. I could go ahead and just hit it, and I absolutely striped it. It was right on the flagstick. You could see the wind change on me, you could see the ball just stand up, and I said, oh, no, it could end up short because you could see the ball all of a sudden peak. Because the wind switched, it came back into me. When I saw the ball land, once it landed, I figured it would roll back because the banks are shaved, but thank God for the rain.

Q. How about the next two days?

TIGER WOODS: The next two days, I'll be fine because it will be totally different situations, and I have a totally different moment in time.

LES UNGER: One or two more. Then we're going to ask him to please go through the card.

Q. Tiger, you mentioned that yesterday you knew what you were doing wrong, but you couldn't do anything about it. Was it something with your swing?

TIGER WOODS: It was mechanical, yeah. It was my position at the top, as well as my downswing. I wasn't getting in the correct position to go ahead and hit the shot, and when that happens, you know, you're going to spray a little bit, especially with my speed that I generate at the bottom. You've got to be in the correct spot.

Q. How long did that take you to cool down or cool off after yesterday's round, and who did you talk to about it?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't really talk to anybody about it because no one really wanted to talk to me because I was pretty angry. So, I was left alone. I just watched TV by myself and just kind of cooled off on my own. All right. Birdies and bogeys. No. 1, hit 2-iron off the tee, an 8-iron to about 6 feet, I made that. No. 3, I hit a 6-iron to about 8 feet, and I made that. No. 5, I hit an 8-iron again to about 3 feet, made that one. No. 7, I hit a 7-iron to about 4 feet, I made that. What did I bogey?

Q. 13.

TIGER WOODS: 13, let's see 13, I hit 2-iron off the tee into the right rough, hit a 5-iron into the bunker left and short, blasted up there to about 15 feet below the hole, and I lipped that out. I birdied 14. I hit a 7-iron to about 12 feet above the hole and to the left, and I made that. I birdied 15 with a driver and a 3-wood to the left side of the green and got up-and-down, made about a 23-footer. 16, I hit a 6-iron to the back edge, the first cut of rough, chipped it past about 12 feet, and I missed that. 17, I hit 3-wood off the tee to the right, hit a 7-iron to about the front third of the green, and I 3-putted from about 35 feet, and I missed about a 5-footer for my second putt. That's it.

Q. Tiger, how about No. 9 -- the third shot at 9, what happened on that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, 9, I just didn't hit it hard enough. It's just one of those things where it just came up short at the wrong time.

Q. How close was it to being --

TIGER WOODS: Where it landed, it had to have no spin at all. If it has any kind of backspin, it's coming back, and I happened to spin it a lot on that shot, so it came back even faster. But, in either case, it would have come back anyway.

LES UNGER: Tiger, thank you very much. We wish you good luck tomorrow.


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