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May 4, 2007

Tiger Woods


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room here at the Wachovia Championship. Tiger, great round of 68 out there today. If you could maybe talk about a couple highlights of your round as well as the conditions that you faced on your back nine.
TIGER WOODS: I got off to a pretty good start this morning. I birdied 10 and basically played along and made a couple other birdies, but overall I felt I made a couple good par saves at 15, 16 and 18 to basically -- even at 1, as well, to keep the middle part of my round going, and made a nice par putt at 3. From there played pretty good coming in.

Q. Do you feel like you're in a nice groove with your putting right now?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit a lot of good putts. I missed two short ones there at 8 was a good putt, hit a little patch of poa and kicked it off-line, but the one at 5 was a joke how bad that was. I said earlier to one of the guys, I kind of as snap-hooked that putt.

Q. You said you clipped a couple trees and got good bounces and I heard you might have actually drawn flesh with the one at 18 and kicked it back out?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit a bad tee shot there at 15, 16 and 18. That's just the way it goes.

Q. How much is it an advantage to be finished, considering what's going on?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we don't know what's coming in, that's the thing. If it builds, these guys are going to have to play through it or play through squall lines or whatever, then it's going to be pretty difficult. But we had very consistent conditions to play from yesterday and today, so we didn't really have to make that many adjustments. The greens got just a touch slower at the end, but we only had like two or three holes to go.

Q. I think you had the 36-hole lead a few years ago. Do you feel comfortable around this place and do you get kind of a positive mojo playing it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I like this golf course, I really do. I like this golf course. That's what I said earlier in the week; we don't get a chance to play golf courses like this very often. It's an old, traditional golf course, and it requires you to shape the golf ball both ways. You can't just go out there and just hit it one way. With the fairways this fast, it puts it even more of a premium on shaping the golf ball.

Q. When you hear stories like Thomas Björn putting away his clubs and coming back or Stenson walking away from the game and coming back, is there empathy at all? Do you understand? Why doesn't it happen to football players or basketball players? They don't seem to walk away from the game in the middle of their prime. You hear about that, guys having to put their clubs away.
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's interesting because if you look at reactionary sports, you know, they really don't lose it as fast as someone in this sport. You know, you have to make the ball move yourself. You see more guys lose it here than you would in like reactionary sports. It's very rare that you see somebody like Steve Sax or Chuck Knoblauch get the throwing yips; that's very rare. But in our sport you see quite a few guys get the yips, not only in the golf swing but a ton of guys with the putting and chipping.

Q. Is that the mental aspect do you think?
TIGER WOODS: I think so, I think so. This game is so demanding mentally that sometimes it is really nice to shut down and get away from this thing before you crank it back up again.

Q. When you're playing with two guys that are 12-over and staying to stay out of your way, do you just not watch and focus more on your game? Harrington was in here yesterday. He played with Jason Bohn I guess it was. Jason shot 5-under and Padraig shot 6-under and they were just kind of feeding off each other. You sort of experienced the other end of that spectrum with two guys limping around trying to get finished.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they were struggling a little bit. But this game is an individual sport, so you put your head down. I had enough things to worry about. I was struggling with my swing a little bit and I had to keep focus on what I was doing. I know those guys were still grinding, still trying. We all were.
Sometimes it's pretty fun when you get into a group when all three guys go low together and just feed off one another and everyone is making birdie after birdie after birdie. You know, today I had enough issues out there myself.

Q. Are you hitting it good enough to win?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've got to go fix a few things. I didn't hit it very good today. I need to do a little bit of work today.

Q. Is your short game good enough to win?

Q. Are you pleased at all with your score, all things considered?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm very pleased with my score. I felt like I pretty much have maximized my rounds. You know, today was part of a pretty good balance. I missed a couple short ones but also got away with a couple bad drives and made a pretty good up-and-down after a terrible iron shot at 3. All in all, pretty balanced on both ends.

Q. You have a very good record first tournament back after a break. A lot of players take time to play their way back into form. It might be a generalization, but how many days and balls do you feel like you need to hit to get sharp again if you've had two weeks completely off?
TIGER WOODS: Well, generally it's whatever my layoff is split in half. So if I am off for four weeks, I'll be practicing for probably two weeks. If I'm off for three, a week and a half, that kind of thing. So that's about my practice schedule.
So I try and take half the time off to enjoy and get away from it, do other things, and spend half the time coming back and getting ready.

Q. Do you feel rusty at all on the first day on the range, or it somehow just clicks right back?
TIGER WOODS: It's both. I think that the mechanics and the physical part, that's pretty easy to come back. But as far as getting into the flow of a round and adrenaline, you haven't had adrenaline in your system, you haven't been hitting the golf ball. I hit the ball further out here than I do at home because obviously I'm pretty excited to play and have a little adrenaline in my system. Getting used to hitting those type of shots probably takes you a few holes before you get into the flow of a round again.

Q. Do you go harder in the weight room during your off times when you know you're not going to play for three weeks and do more max-out stuff versus maintenance stuff?
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. I have a hard time keeping the weight on. When I come out here and I play, I always lose weight. The only time I can put weight on is when I go home and get away from it where I can eat more, lift more and basically get the weight that I just lost out here back on.

Q. Do you ever play sore? Are there ever rounds when you can feel -- Gary Player was telling a story --
TIGER WOODS: You mean at home or here? No.

Q. Do you ever lift hard enough on your play days to where you feel --

Q. There's a story going around about you running with a weighted jacket on the driving range back home recently.
TIGER WOODS: I've done that, yeah. That's fun.

Q. The theory of that being just stamina and leg strength?
TIGER WOODS: I just enjoy pushing myself. Whether it's trying to outrun my border collie or lifting weights or whatever it may be, I just enjoy pushing my body to the limit. I think it's fun.

Q. In the morning say -- well, today would be a bad example because you played early, but do you run five miles on a play day?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, probably four to six.

Q. And home on an off week?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe that and a little bit more, maybe get two runs in there.

Q. In a day?

Q. Early morning, late at night?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I like to run in the middle of the heat. I enjoy the heat because obviously it's more of a test than it is running in the evening when it's cool.

Q. Are you a big boxing fan, and if so, do you have any predictions about Saturday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I made the cut so I'm not going (laughter). If I would have M.C. Hammered it this week, I would have been there. But no, I've watched both of them fight. I've been to one of each -- yeah, one of each of their fights, and it's amazing the hand speed. Obviously de la Hoya hasn't fought in a while, so it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Q. Any predictions?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Well, I'm not going to say though. Because we don't bet out here on TOUR, right (laughter)?

Q. Second time this week I've heard that line.
TIGER WOODS: And at Bushwood.

Q. What did you have in the trees at 9? Could you have done anything else there?
TIGER WOODS: If I had a better lie I could have tried it. Probably in a practice round for sure, but not in competition.

Q. As you play this course more often, have you changed the way you play or learned to play it a little differently?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't played it with the fairways this fast. So I'm hitting a little bit less club off the tees than I normally would. I've played here a couple times when drivers were plugging out there in the fairway.
No. 8, for example, it's -- I've had to hit driver there and I've plugged it on the downslope. Here it's anything that lands short of the hill, get up and over and run all the way down to the bottom. The golf course is playing very different than the years I've played it. But overall the shot shape is still the same. You've still got to maneuver the golf ball.

Q. What's the fascination with dry golf courses? We're talking a lot about that now because of next week, really, and the changes.
TIGER WOODS: They're harder. They're a lot harder. Mis-hit shots will get further off-line. You have to understand how to control your golf ball in the air with the correct spin, especially if the fairways are tilted like here, versus next week the fairways aren't really tilted all that much, not really pitched. They're pretty flat with some mounds, but they're pretty flat.
Here you have to shape the golf ball, and when you get fairways running this fast like they were say at Olympic like in '98, how many guys missed fairways with good shots because the fairways just kept running and running and running. Marginal shots are not going to end up in the fairway with fairways this fast.

Q. Can we go through your card?
TIGER WOODS: Started on 10, hit driver and a 5-wood just over the green, pitched up to about three feet and made it.
No. 12, I hit a 3-wood and a 7-iron to about 20 feet and made it.
14, I hit a 3-iron and a 60-degree sand wedge to about eight feet, made that.
No. 4, I hit a driver and a 9-iron to about five feet, made that.
7, driver, sand wedge, 9-iron to about four feet again.
And No. 9, driver left, pitched out with a 60-degree sand wedge, hit a 7-iron up there to about 20 feet and two-putted.

Q. And 15, could you run through that one real quick?
TIGER WOODS: 15, I hit a driver just -- obviously right behind the bush over there on the right, I pitched out through the fairway, hit a 5-wood just short of the green and pitched it up there to about eight feet and made it for par.

Q. Of the pars you made, which one was the most important if you had to pick one?
TIGER WOODS: It was probably two, probably the one on 15 there and the one on 3.

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