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March 23, 2007

Tiger Woods


LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thanks for joining us. A nice 66 today, six birdies, no bogeys on this course, with the wind and the conditions, you have to be pretty happy with that result.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, very happy. (Smiling) I made two good par putts in my 18 and I basically kept it clean all day, no dropped shots, and under these conditions, very proud of that.

Q. Do you ever get to the point where you think it's futile to try to figure out putting?
TIGER WOODS: No. You might think at times for a minute or two, but you've got to go right back to work because you know that you've got to figure something out so that the next time you hit a putt in a tournament, you're hitting the putt on the right speed.

Q. Anything clicking when you were working on your putting before or after the round?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, worked on it for a little bit yesterday and worked on a couple things. I told Stevie what I was feeling and he told me what he saw and we just kind of worked through it and finally got it to the position where I felt I could release the blade again. Yesterday I felt like I just could not release the putter head. I was dragging it quite a bit, and I don't putt well that way.

Q. How long did you spend on the putting green yesterday?
TIGER WOODS: Not that long. Maybe 45 minutes, something like that.

Q. You talk about the two par putts, the last one basically determined your score and the margin of lead, but I wonder if you can talk more about 9 coming in the middle of the round when you've got the two birdies early and then were kind of in neutral for quite a long time?
TIGER WOODS: Well, after how I putted yesterday, I made basically two short putts on the first two holes. And I hit good putts throughout the next six holes but still had not made one yet.
Then all of a sudden I had this one up here at 9 and I poured that one in. I said, "That's my stroke. Just try and keep this thing going," and I did.

Q. Did you pour it in?
TIGER WOODS: Right center.

Q. On the 17th tee, you were pretty upset about your tee shot; do you find anger helps you, or obviously you're reacting to a shot, but in general, do you find anger helps you?
TIGER WOODS: Sometimes. Sometimes. A lot of times -- I use it to get myself fired up to be focused for the next one, release tension from the shot I just hit.

Q. What did you think of Ogilvy's quote? Did you happen to see that, that you're the angriest guy on the golf course? He meant that as a compliment, I think, but just in terms of -- I'd imagine using it to -- and forgetting it at the same time?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think it's -- I'm not like McEnroe or anything like that.

Q. Yet.
TIGER WOODS: I just think if you understand yourself, you can utilize energy, and to me getting angry a lot of times will help me get into a deeper sense of concentration where I can be more focused on the next shot.

Q. Did that happen there or was that just reacting? You birdied the hole --
TIGER WOODS: Both. I mean, both. The rain is coming in, it's getting real sloppy out, and this is no time to drop any shots. Let's get focused and clean this thing up and try and play the last two holes even par.

Q. You mentioned several times already this week the number of mental mistakes last week. When was the last time between the ears you were kind of that loose for, I guess the last three rounds; the first round was pretty solid, 17 green.
TIGER WOODS: Probably U.S. Open last year.

Q. Was there anything you can attribute that to, or was it just a bad week of thinking?
TIGER WOODS: Just the way it was. I just was not as decisive as I needed to be on my, not only club selection, but lines into the green where I needed to place the golf ball. My misses were not where I needed to put them. Even though I knew I needed to miss the ball in certain spots, I didn't hit the shape of shot that would put me there.
You just can't afford to make mental mistakes. We have all the time in the world. It's not a reactionary sport. So to have plenty of time to figure something out and I didn't do it; that really drives me up the wall.

Q. You won here the last two years, 20-under, 24-under and today you're grinding 7-under, just talk about the disparity.
TIGER WOODS: Well, wind conditions are a lot more difficult this year. We have new greens, a lot of the guys don't know what's going on out here with the grain yet.
After a couple of years of this, of playing this, I'm sure the guys will start figuring some of the putts out. I mean, because like 18 today, my little chip shot and those -- my two playing partners, our putts actually right-to-left and left-to-right on top. Before in the old days, they kept going right-to-left, and going straight, maybe a little bit they would dive hard left. Now it actually goes away from the water, and that's something that's -- these little things that happen throughout that takes time to figure out.

Q. And you obviously prefer it being a more difficult course, don't you?
TIGER WOODS: Always. I always enjoy when if you play great golf, you might get to double digits. I don't like when you have to shoot 30-under par.

Q. How quickly was last Sunday over with once you left the golf course, or by chance, did you want to bring some of the feeling or emotion down here from that?
TIGER WOODS: No, not at all. I analyzed it. I went through the entire tournament like I always do. And I just -- as I said earlier, I made too many mental mistakes and shot shape, selection, trajectory, I just wasn't making the right choices. And that's not how I play golf. I figured that out and applied it to this week, learned my lessons and here we are.

Q. What's the trick in shedding anger quickly, for instance 17, the mistake you said you made, angry for different reasons, but what's the trick in shedding the anger for the next shot?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you know you have to perform. I think that's the most important thing, is being more focused for the next shot if you hit a bad shot.
Over the course of my career, I think I've done all right at that.

Q. Could you talk about your early morning rounds with Pampling and what you think of him as a golfer and as a person, too ?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Pampling, I always enjoy playing with him. He's one of the nicest guys out here. We get along great. I've just thoroughly enjoyed watching him develop his game.
He's improved quite a bit. To watch him, the progress from practice rounds over the course of time in major championships, it's amazing how competitive he is and how fiery he is. I really do like that.

Q. Is he one of those guys who probably gets the most out of what he's got out here when you think in terms of what he has physically?
TIGER WOODS: The only person I think would be Furyk.

Q. Do you remember the first time you guys got together in a major?
TIGER WOODS: I think it was the Masters. Either Masters or U.S. Open.

Q. Two years ago, three years ago?
TIGER WOODS: Three years ago.

Q. Your second shot at 18, were you blind from the green?
TIGER WOODS: No, I could see it. I just had some palm trees in the way.

Q. Were you trying to hit --
TIGER WOODS: I was trying to hit the ball center of the green to right bunker, or over, and it came out really soft. I got some grass between myself and the ball. I hit it on the line I wanted to. If anything, put it to the right, put it in the bunker, put it over to the right and get up-and-down from over there hopefully. Ended up happening that way.

Q. Because putting at least appears to be easier than hitting long shots and drives, does it make it more frustrating for you when it is not going well on the greens, as opposed to if you're struggling with your driving or long irons?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's frustrating I think when you're placing the ball on the greens where you need to place it and you give yourself chance after chance, and you're not taking advantage of opportunities. That's awfully frustrating. Somehow, you've got to stay patient through that period.
It's usually -- that's how the game works. You know, you hit it great, putt poorly; hit it poorly, putt great.
You know, welcome to golf.

Q. In terms of ball-striking, is this as good as it's been, better than San Diego?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely better than San Diego. What I did on Thursday last week, obviously what I didn't do the last three rounds, but at least it was there. And to show that kind of consistency for all 18 holes; again, I'm doing that again this week, which is nice.

Q. The player that seems to be on the rise these days is Henrik Stenson. How well do you know him, and what do you attribute that to?
TIGER WOODS: Well, Henrik has worked extremely hard on his game. He lost it there for a little bit and now he's on his way back. He's got a fantastic caddie in Fanny on the bag. I just think the way that he strikes the golf ball, that's pretty fun to watch, how solid, how crisp he hits it.
Nothing really gives you more confidence than winning. When he won at Dubai, obviously gave him a pretty big shot of confidence and obviously he won the Match Play. We all new Henrik had talent to win out here. Just a matter of time and his time is now.

Q. Do you still go to see Roger tomorrow night or does your position in the tournament change your plans on tennis?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm going. It's just a matter of hopefully I can see -- if he doesn't beat the guy too bad. (Laughter) Make it make three sets so I can get there in time.

Q. When you analyze the round, I'm sure you can always find a place where you made a mental mistake or two, but when you analyzed last week, were you surprised at how many you made, and when was the last time you had made as many as you did?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, the U.S. Open last year. I analyze every round after I play, so you figure I would be able to figure it out not to do it the next day, and I do it again, and I do it again.
So, that's just the way it goes. You learn from the mistakes and you apply them. The hard thing is taking an honest look at yourself when you do make those mistakes. What was the thought process; what did I do wrong, what did I do right. If you find more wrong than right, that's not good.

Q. Can you elaborate on the Furyk comment you made a minute ago, I wonder what you like most about his game or his personality and why you guys mesh so well in team things. It's unrelated to today I understand, but intrigued by what you just said.
TIGER WOODS: Well, Jimmy -- I think Jimmy and I play the game the same way, mentally. Obviously, physically, I hit the ball further. But our strategy and how we go about placing the golf ball around the golf course is identical and however he putts, identical.
It's one of the reasons why we mesh so well in these team competitions, because it really doesn't change when he looks at a putt or we're considering a shot. We're seeing the same shot the same shape, but obviously I hit the ball further. So that's the only difference.
I've been around Jimmy when he's lost tournaments and close matches. I mean, he takes it hard. I love that. I love the fact that he's that competitive and that fiery and wants to beat your brains in. That's the way it should be.

Q. Just curious with this tournament being at the back end of March instead of the front end of March, if you've noticed a difference in the atmosphere, moods of yourself or others or being more suppressed this year and we don't have all of March as we work our way to Augusta; have you noticed a difference this year?
TIGER WOODS: No, not really. I see guys grinding a little bit more on the putting green than normal. That's about it.
Usually more at THE PLAYERS Championship, you see guys practicing quite a bit after the rounds because you can utilize the practice area, the facilities to replicate a lot of the things you're going to have to face, then, in two weeks.
Here there's really nothing you can do except to get the ball online or hit your shots correctly on the range.

Q. But does the atmosphere seem a little more tame than previous years?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe just from the gallery standpoint. Maybe not as many.
LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thank you.

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