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March 15, 2006

Tiger Woods


Q. You hit it in the rough today?

TIGER WOODS: A couple times today.

Q. And?

TIGER WOODS: Certainly a little more lush than we're used to seeing. The greens I think are again more lush as well. With the growing conditions they have had and the warm weather, the whole golf course is a lot more lush.

Q. Does that mean out of the rough you can keep it on the green?

TIGER WOODS: I think if you can get a good enough lie, yeah, you can. But I think it's hit or miss whether you get a good lie or not because the rough is a little bit higher and thicker this year.

Q. Can you grow rough long enough to where you can hit a 9 iron out?

TIGER WOODS: I can hit 9 iron out. How far, it's a different story.

Q. What's what you are thoughts on the change in name for the event to the Arnold Palmer Invitational?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's a title that certainly it deserves, he deserves it after what Arnold has meant to not only our game of golf here in the United States but around the world. It's certainly something that I think has been long overdue.

Q. Looking forward to next week at Sawgrass, what is it about that course that brings everybody together and allows the short hitter and long hitter to compete?

TIGER WOODS: I think just the nature of its design, with the doglegs. How Pete designed it with the cutoff bunkers and the mounding that it just brings all of us together. We're all hitting the balls to the same spots. A lot of times for the longer hitters, it's 3 wood or 2 iron or some kind of utility club off the tees where the shorter guys are hitting drivers so we're all in the same spot. With that in mind, it becomes a second shot course and see who can hit their irons the best and put themselves in positions where they can make putts.

Q. Where did you watch the '86 Masters and what do you remember?

TIGER WOODS: I just remember the putt on 17, that was it. I was nine at the time nine or ten, whatever it was, and I just remember him hitting that putt on 17 and his arm going up and I thought that looked pretty cool.

Q. Put it in your repertoire?

TIGER WOODS: I just thought it looked kind of cool. I had never seen anyone do that because obviously I was only nine or ten at the time.

Q. Speaking of The Masters, now that you've had a chance to play the course firsthand, what do you think of the changes?

TIGER WOODS: Interesting, very interesting. I didn't hit enough club to No. 4. I needed wood to get to 4. 7 is certainly changed. It's a totally different hole now. 1 is 300 yards just to get to the bunker now. If we get any kind of cool north wind like we have today, you won't be able to see the flag. You won't be able to see the green. Some of the changes are pretty dramatic and certainly going to be very interesting if the wind ever blows.

Q. Do you think they accomplished inaudible?

TIGER WOODS: I've talked to some of the older guys who played there back in the '50s, '60s and '70s and they never had to hit wood into 4 before, but you'll see a lot of guys hitting wood in 4 this year.

Q. What do you think will happen if there's rain?

TIGER WOODS: It will be brutal because now you're hitting some really long clubs into the holes. Again, we haven't seen the greens hard and fast either. With the rain, with or without rain last year, we were thinking in the practice rounds that over par is going to win the tournament. If you can keep it around even par, you're going to win it easily.

So, you know this, year, if it stays dry, probably the same thing.

Q. So for you, does that just increase your mental edge?

TIGER WOODS: I think I feel comfortable every time I go there, just because I think the holes set up well for my eye and I've had some success there, as well. That always breeds confidence. I've gone to that tournament not playing well and I've played well there just because I've had success and I feel very comfortable there.

Q. What Arnold was saying a few minutes ago, he grew the rough up, as power has caught up to skill, and that may be a wash in some setups, is there more of a premium placed on the driver this week?

TIGER WOODS: Today I hit driver more often just because it was a different wind. But normally I don't hit driver that often here around this golf course. The par 5s and a few par 4s, but other than that, it's usually a 3 wood, a lot of the holes out there.

Q. Does this maybe accentuate inaudible?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it accentuates, there's no doubt about it. He gives you plenty of room. The fairways are plenty wide. If you miss the fairways, you should be penalized because they are plenty wide.

Q. When you go to Augusta pre tournament like that, do you get to enjoy it and

TIGER WOODS: I hit some balls on a few holes just because it's different and I wanted to hit a few putts and a few approach shots, just to take a look at it. But also I was playing against some friends and wanted to dip into their pocket.

Q. What about this golf course, you have a lot of success here all the way back to U.S. Junior days, does it fit your eye, fit your game?

TIGER WOODS: Again it's one of those golf courses, like I said earlier if fits your eye. Not too many golf courses you play all year that you have that happen, but this is certainly one of those for me and it started when I was a junior, playing here when I was 15. I just liked the look of it, I liked the lines, and I've had a lot of success since then.

Q. Living in Orlando, do you play here outside of the tournament?

TIGER WOODS: No, I usually don't. I usually stay over at Isleworth and take my cart out where we can play a little bit faster.

Q. Too crowded?

TIGER WOODS: No, this is a little slow. We like to play 18 holes in about two hours.

Q. Inaudible?

TIGER WOODS: I tell you, it's nice, it's nice to be at home because we don't get a chance to do it very often. I'm lucky enough where I get to play two tournaments at home, so it's a nice feeling to wake up and just roll out of bed and go play a tournament.

Q. One of our local guys at Augusta, Vaughn Taylor, is making his Masters debut and you've played with him at Wachovia and Mercedes, can you talk about his game?

TIGER WOODS: He's got a lot of talent. You can see his ball striking and wonderful putting stroke. It's just a matter of make something putts at the right time and getting some momentum. He's one won out here, so obviously he's shown he has the talent to win.

Q. A victory here, what kind of tone could that set, not only for you, but for the run up to the Masters?

TIGER WOODS: It's always nice to win prior to Augusta. I've always tried to do well in Florida heading up to Augusta and so far I'm off to a good start. Hopefully I can continue to build on the things I've been working on with Hank and try and piece it together more and more as I go along and try to get into April.

Q. Was he here yesterday?


Q. Did you guys do a little work?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a little work and we did a little work this afternoon.

Q. You've had such a great start so far this year and you've been working on things and you have confidence now, heading into the spring stretch?

TIGER WOODS: You just try and keep progressing and never have any setbacks. Things that we've been working on, I'm hitting more proper shots each and every day. I'm doing things correctly more often and that's where you want to get to. As I said, ultimately I want to do that in April, so hopefully I can do that.

Q. You played so well despite not hitting as many fairways as you would like, is that the main thing you're working on?

TIGER WOODS: No, just overall game. I feel like I drove the ball great at Doral. Stevie and I were talking about that today, how the stats are so misleading. We kept a stat there and I hit 13 balls in the first cut. So it wasn't like it was that bad. But obviously the numbers say that it's not in the fairway. So if you add that into the fairway mix, it's not that bad of driving. So it depends on your perspective what you look at driving. I feel like I am driving the ball so much better now than I was earlier in the year just because of things that we've been working on are starting to come together now.

Q. When you do those early trips to Augusta, you play one for line and one for score, do you ever go crazy low on the score?

TIGER WOODS: No. No. My lowest round has always been in competition there. I always struggle there when I go up there and play just because the greens are never at speed, and I always leave putts short. Some of the putts up and over knobs, I have my lines and I have the feel, and I putt by memory a lot and it always throws me off a little bit.

Q. Considering the changes there, do you think that the 63s of Norman and Price are safe records?

TIGER WOODS: Yep. You got it. Unless you want to play just 16 holes, it's not so bad. But if you're going to play all 18, yeah, they are pretty safe.

Q. Why do you suppose that '86 win was such an emotional thing, Jack's last hoorah, might be the most famous, Ernie said they could show it every day on the Golf Channel and forget all the rest of it.

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just because of his age. He had been pretty much written off and had just an unbelievable career, the greatest career ever in this game, but had been written off. And all of a sudden he's kind of in the hunt, turns it around, and pieces together one of greatest back nines you've ever seen. I think that's what everyone remembers.

And the way it's playing nowadays, you may not see those type of scores anymore on the back nine. I think it's pretty exciting to look back and see how it was playing back then; no rough, guys trying to draw the ball off of 15, landing the ball on these big mounds to the right and now we have nothing but trees over there. Just to see where they are driving it, it's pretty interesting.

Q. Off the course, the commercial inaudible?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't pick the outfit, let's put it that way.

Q. Did you have fun doing it?

TIGER WOODS: I did have fun doing it, especially with my dog.

Q. Was it your backyard?

TIGER WOODS: No, it wasn't my backyard, no.

Q. Firm and fast at Augusta, it's going to be, what, 2 over, even par winning?

TIGER WOODS: I'm saying if you shoot even par with it firm and fast like it was in the practice rounds last year, you'd win.

Q. My question is: Would that also firm and fast allow some of the shorter or medium length hitters a better chance?

TIGER WOODS: But then again it depends on what they do on the fairway length. Some years, they have not cut the fairways and left them a little long. They do their little tricks every year. It's just a matter of what they decide to do.

Q. Just curious if there's two sides, long and wet it seems like it would tend to favor some of the longer hitters?

TIGER WOODS: But then again if you miss the green with it softer like that, you can get up and down. With it hard and fast, I mean, it is really hard to get up and down.

The year that I remember being hard and fast was Ollie's year in '99. I'll never forget how nervous I was over 8 footers, 9 footers downhill. I'm usually never nervous over putts like that. But if you hit it a fraction too hard, you're that far past the hole. They had a different sheen to them and that's the way they were looking last year in the practice rounds until the rain came.

Q. Did anyone ask you about Jack's comments, and do you agree that there's only ten or a dozen or so guys that are capable of winning because of the changes, because of the length?

TIGER WOODS: It eliminates a lot of guys, yeah. If you hit it low and rely on your game that way to get the ball out there and hit your irons not so high, if you have a flatter ball flight, you're going to be struggling there.

Q. If even par were to win there, is it a shame in a sense that you guys already have a U.S. Open?

TIGER WOODS: It's just different. I think it they should get rid of that second cut and get rid of and bring the pine needles and the pine trees back into play. But they see it differently than a lot of us do as players.

I remember pulling that ball off the first tee and it's going straight through the pine trees. Now you have a chance of it stopping in that second cut. They think it's harder to play out of that than it is out of the trees.

Q. Does Will (Nicholson) talk to the players about the changes?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he always asks all of us, our opinions on how we think the tournament could be better.

Q. No, I meant after you played this week?

TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't see him. He wasn't in town.

Q. Did you hit 9 iron into 7?

TIGER WOODS: No. I hit a hard 8. I was between a 7 and 8 and decided to lace an 8.

Q. What was your club at 4; 5 wood?

TIGER WOODS: It should have been. I hit 3 iron and didn't get there.

Q. Do you remember a par 3 like that in your life?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, L.A., No.4.

Q. In a major?

TIGER WOODS: No, because I haven't played a major with my 5 wood yet.

Q. Ernie was saying how The Masters used to be most fun major and now it's become the toughest, do you think it has gotten up to that?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt, it's gotten so much more difficult now. With the added length, with those greens being the way they are, it just makes it so hard out there. You're hitting clubs that, granted, they are trying to get you to hit clubs like the older guys used to hit, and yeah, but the greens were not running at 13 on the Stimpmeter either. So it just makes that much more difficult now.

With the speed of these greens now, each and every year, it all depends if they are firm. I mean, if they are firm, that golf course is probably the most difficult golf course you'll ever play.

Q. Could you have imagine them dialing some of those changes back a little bit, get rid of the rough or move the tees forward a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: They may move tees around. I think that's what they did with some of the tee boxes. Like on 4 and 7, they are really long tee boxes, so they have the ability to move it around and play with the tee markers a little bit. Because if you get soft, yeah, you can go ahead and move the tees up a little bit and give the guys a chance. So I think that's one of the smart things they have done.

End of FastScripts.

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