August 24, 1996
CRAIG SMITH: Tiger, you were extended quite deep in the back 9 at this time. But for some reason your back 9 is a strength on this golf course for you.
TIGER WOODS: Don't ask me why, I just feel more comfortable on the back 9. I don't know what it is. It just seems to work out that way.
Q. Mentally tough today, struggling, but your short game keeps you in it?
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't struggling, I was hitting the ball extremely well. And I just hit a couple of loose shots but they weren't bad. But when you're playing against Joel and how hot he was earlier, it just makes it look even worse. But I hung in there and I made some key up-and-downs, some key par putts to keep it going. And unfortunately for me he made a couple of his key birdie putts for when he had his chance and I was scrambling to make the pars.
Q. Everything talked about the key on 10. But I thought a big one might have been 9 when you both halved at that point?
TIGER WOODS: I think before that it was 8, because I was 2 down after 7, still, and I was looking to go 3 real quick. And I needed to get this ball up-and-down and I did. And he had a nice uphill putt, and I thought this is where it looks like I'm going to go three down and I've got 10 holes to go. If I get it inside he's going to putt, so I want to see what he does. And that's exactly what I did. And he missed the putt and I had to make mine and I did. I felt confident going to 9, I had a great drive, and a conservative shot up there and made the putt. I thought I might win the hole, but the way he was putting I thought he'd make it and he did.
Q. Tiger, you've been able to remain obviously very focused and ignore all of our questions about the whole tournament. One match away, do you dare now think of perhaps winning three in a row?
TIGER WOODS: No. I've got 36 holes tomorrow. I have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow. So that's the hard part about the Amateur, there's no rest. You're always playing. And you go home you're always tired. And with this heat it makes it even worse.
Q. Talk a little bit about Joel's play. He really hit some quality shots. He was 4 under at the turn and he actually missed a couple or three ten to 12 footers that might have been even better?
TIGER WOODS: Right. He was striking the ball -- I've seen him strike it better, since I've played with him, I've seen him strike it better, but he struck it above average for him. He made some key putts early. That's what you need to do to get off to a quick start and that's exactly what he did. After a perfect start by getting a birdie on 1 and looped a long one on 3, which was huge, and actually 4, too. 4 looked like I might get the hole and he made that one. And I lost the hole. So I thought I've got to keep hanging in there. And his putter let him down a little bit to let me in the door.
Q. The putt you made at 3 was big for you, wasn't it, after he makes what I thought was about a 30 foot and you had about 28 feet or something like that?
TIGER WOODS: You don't want to go 2 down.
Q. Not that quick.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, not that quick. It sets the stage for maybe a rout, that's not what I wanted to have happen. Brian and I read the putt and we said 4 inches outside left, and I said I'm going to play if it more like 3 or 4 and a half, and I got the break and made it. To me it showed that I'm not going to give you a hole, that's what it felt like. And unfortunately I lost 4.
Q. Tiger, what was the level of your concern through 9 holes? You make the turn at 2 down, and he's playing as solidly as he is?
TIGER WOODS: I figured that I'm going to have to make birdies to win holes, he's not going to give me anything. If I made some birdies early on the back 9 he might give me one hole, maybe. He was still hitting it very well and putting very well. And going to the back 9 as I said I feel more comfortable, I've played better on it. Somehow I dug down deep and didn't really make a mistake on the backside.
Q. Tiger, was this a difficult match psychologically, because Joel is a hot player coming in, you know him, he knows you and maybe there's not that sense of nervousness on his part and maybe he didn't fear you as much as another guy might?
TIGER WOODS: I doubt it, because Joel is a great competitor, and he, himself, will dig down very deep to win matches. He's done it before, I've seen him do it. And I knew that coming in. I just knew that I had to play very solid, very steady and hopefully it would wear him down. Either that or I might have a hot putter, who knows? That's what I was hoping on.
Q. But it wasn't necessarily a harder match for you because of whatever --
TIGER WOODS: The friendship?
TIGER WOODS: No. As I said, to one of the media guys before I teed off, I said this is all business today. I'm going to treat this like another match. And that's the mind set you have to have, especially when you're playing against a good friend.
Q. You talked about how physically demanding this is. And I don't know what you're going through mentally as a professional golfer or great amateur golfer, how difficult is this mentally for you, playing 36 tomorrow after playing all this week?
TIGER WOODS: I think the only gratifying thing is to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you don't have to play Monday. I think that's the only thing. But overall you're very tired. I've had to get up at 4:30 in the morning; for three straight days I got no later than 6:00. So it gets hard on the body because you're always tired. And then to come out here and face this heat and you play against tough competitors, which drains you even more, so you always go home and think I'm really tired. And you go to bed early and wake up sore. It's just one of those things. It's just part of playing the U.S. Amateur. I think it might have been worse at Sawgrass, because it's so humid. But this is a lot hotter, not as humid, but very hot.
Q. How about a comment on your opponent tomorrow? He said you'd played together at Hilton Head, he said, you were paired together. What about his game?
TIGER WOODS: He's very consistent. He hits it very straight. And he's a good putter. And he's played very well this summer. I think he's had two seconds, and a lot of high finishes, so he's played very well.
Q. Tiger, you talked about a hot putter, maybe you'd have a hot putter, Joel had a hot front 9, doesn't 36 holes kind of eliminate the possibility of that?
TIGER WOODS: It does. A perfect example is Sawgrass with Trip, 7 under after 13. You can't keep that pace up for 36 holes. You can, but it's obviously hard to do, especially with the pressure of the U.S. Amateur involved. I've had it before where I've played very well for -- actually at the PNGA, I played well, but that was not the U.S. Amateur. It's a big difference, and this is our national title. So he may be hot but I don't think he can hold it for very long. But you may have hot streaks, a couple of them in a row or a couple of them for 7 holes there, and afternoon might have five or six. And that could be the difference in the match.
Q. Tiger, was there a swing, a shot where you kind of clicked in and you found something and kind of rode it out the rest of the round?
TIGER WOODS: I have to say the bunker shot on 8. Because I knew I had to -- it wasn't sitting all that great, but it was firm sand and if I spun it, great, if I didn't, I can't afford to go three down. It's just one of those things psychologically you don't want to do. After I made that putt I felt very, very positive coming up, especially with my hole, which is 9. Because I can take it down the left side. Today I overcut it, but I carried the bunkers and made birdie. But 10 was awfully big. I thought I made the chip, though. It just didn't go in. After having 10 I still have three par 5s left. And with my length that's a big advantage.
Q. On 14 when you were on, 10 feet away, what were you thinking when he pitched that ball and it almost went in the hole?
TIGER WOODS: Quite frankly I thought it might go in the water, it hit fat. But since he did hit it fat, if it landed short, which it did, on dry ground it was going to roll. And I saw it and I said gee, that's it. I've got to make this to tie. And then all of a sudden it lipped out and we were joking up at the green a little bit. And I figured this is a very important putt, I need to make this putt to set the tone for up and coming holes, especially the closing stretch. And the way I've been putting I felt very positive over the putt and aimed at the left edge and hit it right there and broke right in.
Q. How far were you from the pin on that bunker shot on 8, roughly?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't have a clue. I just saw where the pin was.
Q. How important is it for you as a place in history to win three in a row?
TIGER WOODS: How important is it? Not very. Not right now.
Q. You don't think about that.
TIGER WOODS: I can't afford to. That will all happen after the tournament is over, win or lose.
CRAIG SMITH: Just a little bit short of that, in getting to the finals, in doing what no one has done since Bobby Jones, can you at least feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfied with this week?
TIGER WOODS: I feel very satisfied in the fact that I've played well in qualifying and I kept getting better every day. Today I played very solid. I didn't make any bogeys today. And that's what you need to do with matches at this stage. You need to play awfully solid. And I felt like I did that today. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
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