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August 4, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Tiger for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Bridgestone Invitational. Tough course out there today obviously, and you played great. Looks like you're going to have maybe a two-stroke lead going into the final round. You've been in this position before, and you've won this tournament five times. Looking for your sixth. You've got to feel pretty comfortable.
TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. I felt like I hit the ball pretty good today given the conditions. I basically grinded my way around the golf course. Again, left a bunch of putts short, just having a hard time getting the ball in the hole. But overall I felt I kept myself right there in the tournament. I felt that anything in the 60s today was going to be a good score. You look at the leaderboard, not a whole lot of guys really took it low today.

Q. It looked like you played a driver off the tee on 18.
TIGER WOODS: I did, yeah.

Q. And you had been playing pretty conservatively, pretty smart, not taking a whole lot of risks up to that point. Can you talk about the decision to do that?
TIGER WOODS: The wind kicked up. If I hit a 3-wood I didn't know if I could actually get actually 100 percent past the corner, and if I did, then that tree up by the green comes in play. So I wanted to make sure I took that corner out of play. I just tugged it a bit.

Q. Did you think about going for it there on the second shot?
TIGER WOODS: No. I didn't have the lie and didn't have the shot. If we were playing a practice round I could probably try to play something to the front edge of the green. The problem is if I didn't get it out, it would have been in the rough short and I would have had no shot.

Q. What club did you hit out of --
TIGER WOODS: Sand wedge.

Q. What about No. 4?
TIGER WOODS: What about it (laughter)?

Q. I was just going to say, you're giving yourself a lot of good looks at birdies (laughter).
TIGER WOODS: You go ahead. I'm just going to sit back.

Q. Two-part question. First, you've given yourself three good looks at birdies and didn't make them, 1 through 3. A, what kind of relief was it to see one go in?
TIGER WOODS: Actually, ironically enough, as I was walking off that tee, I told myself that I hit basically three good putts on the first three holes. I hit -- first one I didn't hit hard one but it was on-line. The second putt I thought I made it, on the 2nd hole, and the third one I just misread. But each one I started the ball on-line, and then when I got to the fourth hole I said I've hit three in a row that I've started the ball on-line, and this is a pretty simple putt, dead downhill, so hit the ball on line like you did the first three holes, and it went in.

Q. That helped you?
TIGER WOODS: It really did because I felt I should have been under par for the first three holes, where I left myself, and I was even par.

Q. What did you think walking up to the green?
TIGER WOODS: I left myself with about an eight-footer.

Q. What about before you got to that eight-footer? Is that the strangest thing you've seen on a golf course inside the ropes?
TIGER WOODS: Yes. Well, kind of.

Q. There was the lady at Carnoustie.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can we go through your round.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. 4th hole, I hit driver and a 9-iron to about eight feet, made it.
6, I hit driver and a pitching wedge to about ten feet above the hole, made that.
Bogey on 10, I hit a 5-wood off the tee in the right bunker, second shot in the right bunker again, the last one I missed about a 15-footer.
11, I hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge to about ten feet, made that.
18, I hit driver, sand wedge, sand wedge and two-putted.

Q. What do you make of Rory? What are the pros and cons of playing with him in the last group tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: He's fine playing with. Obviously Rory is full of confidence. He believes in what he can do, and there's a lot to be said for that. You've got to believe in what you can do out there. He just goes out there -- I've got to go out there and do my business, and I'm sure he'll probably do the same.

Q. The putts on 16 and 17, they looked like they were about one revolution from going in. Was that the case?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, I left a lot of putts short. I just had a hard time the last two days getting the ball to the hole for some reason. These greens look fast but they're just not really -- some of the greens aren't really putting fast. I just haven't made the adjustments. You've got to make the adjustments out there, and I just unfortunately haven't done that.

Q. You're no doubt aware of the sad passing of Taylor Smith. In '96 Disney when you won, was that the most bizarre circumstances under which you've ever won a tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt, yeah, because I was told when I was playing that he was playing in protest. He was told after nine holes, I believe. You know, when I completed the 18th hole, I thought that I had won, but it was still in protest, but the rules officials told me when I was playing the back nine that it was basically a done deal. He wasn't going to be in it. I felt like the back nine was between Payne and myself. The last nine holes Payne and I were duking it out, trying to see who could win.

Q. Did you ever talk to him about it?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I really haven't seen him afterwards because I don't think he -- I don't know if he kept his card that year or not, but I really didn't see him the rest of the years I've been on TOUR.

Q. Were you aware he fell on hard times after that?

Q. When you look at this week and next, I mean, you could probably make the case that this feels like, course-wise, like some majors you play. What is the difference? I mean, is it almost like the LPGA when you have to -- not convince yourself, but there's just the label on it, this is a major next week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that the course setup here is faster than most years. We all know if you get the golf course fast it's going to play hard. We've had major championships here before. I think the biggest thing is that the golf course has been ultra quick. The rough is probably -- we've seen it higher before, but we've never seen the greens this fast.
8 and 9 used to be two pretty easy holes for the longer hitters. 8 was just a driver and a sand wedge or driver and a wedge. 9 was about the same thing. But that's not the case anymore.

Q. But I mean, if someone had said this is a major this week, it would feel -- might it feel that way?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, look at scores, look at the guys, the way they're playing, the strategy. They're grinding. I think just the overall feel is of a major championship, but it just doesn't quite have that label.

Q. So we're speculating here, but next week say the greens aren't quite as quick, the rough isn't quite as tough, you'll know it's a major just because of the blue bunting and whatever?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it'll be two totally different setups. I mean, next week you don't have to have rough very high with Bermuda rough. Two, three inches is all you need and you can't control your shots. Here at least you can somewhat control your shots, even when the rough is longer.
You know, Southern Hills, as we all know, has a lot of history behind it, and on top of that, they've toughened it up since the last time we played there, even from the Open, making the fairways a lot more narrow.

Q. I heard you talk about earlier that you played pretty conservatively today, obviously being careful, but going into a final round, trying to get a win, when do you turn that mindset around, and at what point do you have to attack more, be more aggressive? Kind of talk about how that mindset switches at some point where you can't be conservative anymore.
TIGER WOODS: It all depends on the situation. There were a couple times today where I just fired at the flag, and it was a pretty easy pin position. And other times, well, the majority of the day I didn't, just dumped the ball in the center of the green and moved on. If I didn't dump it in the center of the green made sure I missed it on the fat side. I think I only short sided myself once today, and that was on 13. But all my other misses were on the wide side, and with them being this fast, you need that room. You can't afford to short side yourself here.

Q. As much as you've won, no one really calls you out that much. What goes through your mind when, for example, Rory said you're as beatable as ever and things like that?
TIGER WOODS: That's fine. I mean, he's trying to obviously think of ways to motivate himself. A lot of guys don't really externalize it, they internalize it. We all say things like that inside, and he's just trying to gain any kind of edge mentally when you're out there playing. He just verbalizes them. A lot of guys I know, we play that way, but we don't say it to you guys.

Q. Does that fire you up?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I feel like I've had a pretty good record in my past (laughter).

Q. Does he get the new Tiger or the old Tiger tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: We'll see.

Q. Did somebody do something rude on 16 while you were putting? You kind of turned away real fast and looked at the crowd, or were you kind of upset that you missed the putt?
TIGER WOODS: I was pissed, yeah. No, galleries have been great. I was just mad at myself for leaving another putt short, another layup on a putt.

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