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March 15, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Tiger Woods, a 5-under par 64 today. If you can just talk about your day and let them go through the rest.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit the ball well today. I feel like I controlled my flight all day, even when the wind started picking up, and missed a couple of putts early but after that I felt like I rolled the ball really well.

Q. When is the last time you hit 17 out of 18 greens?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. Ever?
TIGER WOODS: Ever? I think I've done that before. (Smiling) I think.

Q. I guess the miss would have been on 18?

Q. What happened there?
TIGER WOODS: I was between 9 and wedge, and I went with wedge. Landed just short, landed on the green, skipped up about halfway between that and the flag and spun back off.

Q. No shot there?
TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. Where was the ball exactly?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if I were playing a practice round or a Pro-Am, I would have hit it.

Q. How many times?
TIGER WOODS: Might have been there a while. (Laughter) But I would have played it.

Q. It was driving down in the John Daly rocks down there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I had just one little rock behind it that it was questionable whether or not I could get a club on it, and, hey, if I chipped from there, lateral hazard. If I chipped in, it's still a par. That's what I was trying to do, just didn't do it.

Q. Was there any hangover at all from the Match Play for you, do you put that behind you immediately, or do you stew over it for a day or two? And seeing guys in the last two weeks miss putts at the end, do you think it's harder for them to get over that than it is for someone like yourself who has had a lot of success?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was actually -- it's easier for me to probably get over it just because of the fact that all I had to do was fix a ball mark. It was a good putt. I just didn't see the ball mark. I got so locked in on my line, I just forgot everything else. And so that part wasn't so bad.
I was more disappointed at the iron shot that I hit on the very next hole with a chance to -- I mean, Nick (O'Hern) was over in the trouble in the bunker there and I was right in the middle of the fairway, put the ball on the green, 4 probably wins the hole and I trickled it almost over in the desert.
So I hit the ball pretty bad all day. I was really frustrated with that and didn't pay enough attention to detail on my putt, which ended up costing me a match, as well.

Q. As good as this round was, do you still feel like you left shots on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I may have left one or two out there. Obviously what happened on 18 and I missed a short birdie putt on 10 and 12. Well, 64 around here is not too bad. (Laughter).

Q. A lot of talk about 4 and 16, changing to par 4s and the course being harder; did it feel harder than past years or did it feel about the same?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it felt about the same just because 4, they moved the tee up one whole tee box. I hit 5-wood, 8-iron into that hole today.
And 16, it was just like the par 5, you have to drive the ball in the fairway in order to get to the green. So I hit a good drive there and hit a 5-iron on the green and 2-putted.

Q. I've teased you about this before, when you are playing a par-70, given the way you obliterate the par 5s, usually, yet your winning percentage drops precipitously in inverse correlation to the number of par 5s, and yet you go out today and shoot 64. Is it just as much of an advantage for you to be playing I guess a long par 4, since you're going to be hitting less club in? How do you look at that?
TIGER WOODS: I understand your point, though, I understand what you're saying. If you get par 5s -- most par 4s, even if they are long, the whole field can get there in two. So two good shots on the green, 2-putt, par.
The par 5s, when they are longer, it's only maybe a handful of guys who can get there on all four of them, which means that if you're playing well, you've got a tremendous advantage over somebody who has to lay up and hit a full wedge in there to inside ten feet trying to make a putt. You know, for guys like myself or Phil or Vijay, longer hitters, most of the par 5s, if they are all reachable, generally you're going to have a tremendous advantage overall for the day.

Q. You switch putters I guess in 1999, was that the last time?

Q. Can you tell me why you did at that time and why have you been so loyal to this one?
TIGER WOODS: I switched because I had played most of '98 with O'Meara's backup putter. It was a Ping. And he gives me, well, I'll say crap all the time about how he won the British Open and I finished one shot back. That's why it's his backup. (Laughter).
So I played most of '98 with that putter and then early '99. I asked Scottie to make a putter that looked like an Answer II, basically is what I grew up with. My eye as an affinity for that look, and he built this putter, and I've had it in the bag ever since the Byron Nelson of '99.

Q. Did you come close to divorce last year?
TIGER WOODS: It has -- yeah, well, the shaft has certainly been altered a few times. (Laughter) It hasn't been straight.

Q. As far as the quality of your game today, how highly do you rate this round, and is it perhaps your best round of the year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is definitely the best round of the year, definitely. I haven't played that many rounds, so -- (laughter).

Q. When can you remember the last round where you hit the ball so well from tee-to-green?
TIGER WOODS: I did pretty good at AMEX. I did it for all 72 holes there which was fun.

Q. You talked about this as being just one of those weird things that you can't explain yesterday, but was it on your mind at all, the fact that you didn't break 70 the last two years in any round?
TIGER WOODS: No. I just wanted to go out there and -- today, I figured we had the benign conditions early, and you figured wind was going to pick up this afternoon; that we had the easier of the conditions today.
So I thought it was important for me to shoot at least under par on that front nine and that was all I was concerned about was getting off to a good start on that front nine before the wind kicked up.

Q. You brought up the fact that you shot 64 today, so are you still in the mind-set of those are par 5s, or can you make a change that quick to say, no, I have to play the hole different or do you play it the same?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we had to play it differently. As I said No. 4 was moved up quite a bit from yesterday's Pro-Am. As I said, I hit 5-wood and 8-iron. John Rollins hit 3-wood and an 8-iron. Yesterday wind was in our face from another tee further back and I hit driver and a 4-iron.
The only one that played exactly the same was 16.

Q. How are these greens rolling compared to previous years? Some have said they are good.
TIGER WOODS: They are good. They are still a little bit grainy. But once you get a handle on the grain, they are rolling out better this year. I think that for some reason, I just think they are a little bit drier. They feel a little drier. But downgrain putts, those putts are rolling really well.

Q. Do you think the change at 16 is going to give an advantage to somebody who is in the lead come Sunday because it removes a birdie hole; and, do you think making that change there reduces the excitement level or the opportunity for big swings coming down the stretch?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, you're going to see swings there. You're not going to see eagles, that kind of swing. But you're going to see, especially if they put that pin over on the left on Sunday. I know they were very kind today putting the pin back center. That's normally not where they put the pins when it's a par 5, because you had a wedge in your hand.
But as a long par 4, I just think that that hole, you have to hit the ball in the fairway first of all in order to have a chance to get there. And on top of that, that green is not designed to have long irons hit to it. So it makes for a very difficult challenge, especially if they put the pins where they normally would for a par 5.

Q. You mentioned you had not played many rounds this year, but do you feel like your game is maybe starting to peak at the time of year you want it to peak in, and also, how hard is it, if you do play great all week long, how hard is it to carry that over to next week and then two weeks from there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the whole idea is just to keep improving, keep getting a little better, keep fine tuning and have everything tomorrow together Thursday and the first week in April.

Q. Next week you've obviously won the last two years at Doral, how is it going to be a different tournament for you next week with it being a World Golf Championship event, and also, talk about the fact that the fact that all of the World Golf Championships are back in the U.S. again.
TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as Doral is concerned, I think it's one of the best golf courses we play all year. If the wind blows there, it's pretty difficult. Now they are guaranteed to get a stronger field being a World Golf Championship, and everyone is over here getting their last tune-ups for Augusta. So I think it will probably be very similar obviously to The PLAYERS Championship in field strength, just not quite as many players.

Q. Do you wish they would move around more, played more World Golf Championships events around the world?
TIGER WOODS: They are called World Golf Championships, so ... (laughter).

Q. I know you don't have a lot of experience with Vaughn Taylor other than the Ryder Cup, but what kind of reputation is he getting out here, particularly as a putter? He was ranked fairly high last year and this year as well.
TIGER WOODS: He's one of the best putters out here. He's extremely competitive. Very quiet, on the shy side but once you get to know him a little bit, he opens up. He's a good dude.
We had a lot of fun at the Ryder Cup, and all of the young guys, we were all hanging out and giving each other grief the entire time and he was leading the way.

Q. When you guys went to dinner, did he say anything at all?
TIGER WOODS: He asked a few questions here and there:

Q. "How much was the bill." What else?
TIGER WOODS: No, actually we had a good conversation (laughter) with all of the guys there.

Q. What are your feelings about the name change to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and does it add even more prestige to this event?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we all knew what the tournament was. It was Arnold's tournament. If anyone deserves to have his name associated with a tournament, it's Arnold for what he's done for the game of golf and what he's done for our tour. I mean, he's the one who basically brought us into TV.
So without Arnold, we obviously wouldn't have the purses that we're playing for and wouldn't have all of the great things that come with playing the PGA TOUR.

Q. I'd like to ask you a little bit about your television commercials. You're no Peyton Manning, but you have a pretty good list going, how much involvement or input do you have in them, what is the fun part of doing them, just how do you approach those and maybe which ones are the favorites that you've done?
TIGER WOODS: Caddieshack was hard. The reason why Caddieshack was so hard to do is because every commercial, I'd just have to be myself. Pretty easy to do that each and every day. But to try and imitate a legendary character, it's not my deal. That was hard. That was probably the hardest thing I've ever done.
But as far as the commercials, you know, the whole idea is to have fun with it once you're there onset. A lot of times we critique the lines because a lot of times the lines are not written how I would say it, and we also want to present the best quality product we possibly can.
A lot of the directors and I usually get together and we have a bunch of fun with it and change things around a little bit.

Q. Do you think that the public figures out who you are a lot of times by watching those; do they make judgments on you?
TIGER WOODS: I think so. I think that it's a way for me to get across another side of, besides what they see on the golf course. What they see on the golf course is not how I am each and every day. I'm out there grinding, extremely focused on what I'm doing, and I'm walking with my head down a lot. That's what I've found works best for me on the golf course. But away from the golf course, I can't take anything seriously. Some of those spots have certainly helped that.

Q. My wife would have me ask you, are you going to make more commercials with Frank?
TIGER WOODS: Great question. You know, traditionally what Nike does is what they did with Mars Blackman, with MJ back in the early days, is they have maybe a year and a half of or maybe two years most with a run of those spots, go in a different direction and then come back.
So in the future, yes, we will definitely do something with frank in the future. But I think Nike has gone in a different direction for now in the golf business and eventually we'll come back to that.

Q. Two of your more remembered wins in your career have been here, although for very odd circumstances. You zapped that guy in the neck one year on 18 and made birdie to win, and from the last time you won here, I think there are still pieces of your lungs out there on the golf course. Wonder where those two ranked of in the pantheon of your great wins, maybe in perseverance?
TIGER WOODS: The one where I beat Phil, I was not playing well on that Sunday. I was struggling pretty good on that back nine. I was hitting it all over the lot. I basically won that tournament with my putting.
I hit a couple good shots here and there but they were all recovery shots just to give myself a chance at a putt, and I made it, but I didn't play well. I was playing the last round with Fax, I believe. I got pretty lucky that that day it was cool. It was raining and it was cool. Because if it was hot and humid like it was the day before, I think I would have been in pretty good trouble. I really wanted to go to a hospital that night to go get some IV fluid put in me. But as we all know, it's easy to check in, but it's hard to check out. So I wasn't too sure they would let me go, so, just, nah, I'm not going.

Q. Does Elin still cook pasta?
TIGER WOODS: She does.

Q. Do you still eat it?
TIGER WOODS: Of course. (Laughter).

Q. There was's story earlier in the week that you were done for the year playing internationally, other than the British Open; is that true, and do you see that's how it's going to go over the next few years, as well?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I am done, yeah. That's just this year. Obviously we have a lot of new things happening starting in July and I want to be around for that.

Q. Will that affect your schedule going forward with what's happening in July?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's just this year.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Tiger, thank you.

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