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August 11, 2007

Tiger Woods


KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 1-under par 69 in the third round of the 89th PGA Championship. Tiger is the leader at 7-under par 203. Tiger is the defending PGA Champion and three-time winner of this championship.
Tiger, thoughts on your play today, please.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I accomplished my goal today. My goal was to shoot under par and increase my lead. And I was able to do that today. So positive day all around.
Only made one bogey today, which was good. And really kept myself out of trouble most of the day. Just try to keep hitting fairways and put the ball in the center of the greens and lag putt well. Try not to leave myself a second putt. The greens aren't very smooth out there.
So never really tried to take a run at any putts to try to lag them up there and hopefully tap them in.
KELLY ELBIN: Pretty steady round. Could you go through the two birdies, one on the front and one on the back and the bogey on 14.
TIGER WOODS: 4, I hit a 3-iron off the tee down there, ended up on the downhill lie and hit a 9-iron to about 12 feet right below the hole and made it.
What else did I birdie? Birdied 12. I hit a 2-iron and an 8-iron to about ten feet right behind the hole and made that.
I bogeyed 14.
I hit a 6-iron in the left bunker, blasted it out to about 18 feet and missed it.
KELLY ELBIN: Start off with questions.

Q. Tiger, how much more difficult was the golf course set up today and do you think it was in reaction to your 63 yesterday or was it a typical Saturday at a major championship?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's going to be difficult. The pins were tucked a little bit. But all in all it wasn't -- I mean probably couldn't shoot the numbers that some of the guys were shooting, 4-, 5-, 6-under par the first two days. Mainly because I think the greens aren't very smooth. Scotty and I were talking about that out there today, you just don't want to leave yourself a second putt.
Lot of spike marks out there.

Q. When you have this strategy, which you know you've employed a lot when you've been in the lead at a major, which is find the fairway, hit it in the middle of the green and lag put. Is there a risk that somebody -- you could leave the door open for someone to go low on you and then suddenly your lead is down or maybe you're even behind?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it all depends on the golf course, what kind of golf course we're playing. If we're playing a golf course in which you have to make a bunch of birdies, like Valhalla did, where Bob and I both shot lights out, well, the golf course lends itself to that.
Here, it really doesn't. I think if you shoot 3-, 4-, 5-under par, that's great playing. And just trying to basically keep yourself out of trouble. You can get yourself I think more in trouble firing at some of these pins because they're only -- we had, like the first day, six pins that were three from the side. I mean, that's unheard of. They don't normally do that. But six pins was a lot.
And that's kind of how it's been all week. Now you've got four or five today. It makes things a lot more difficult.

Q. This kind of follows up on that. It was almost as though it was reminiscent of the kind of golf that you played at Hoylake in terms of the percentages you were playing today?
TIGER WOODS: It's totally different, totally different golf course.

Q. Can you tell us in terms of how you played?
TIGER WOODS: You're hitting the fairways, there the ball's running, here the ball's not running that much. You need to stay out of the bermuda rough because you can't control the golf ball, even in the first cut you just can't control it. I caught a pretty big flyer there on 3 today. It was dancing all over the place. And you just have to hit the ball in the fairway to have any kind of shot of controlling your golf ball and going to greens.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Tiger hit 14 greens in regulation today. It's his best figure of the week.

Q. Some players were talking about how the trouble they usually get into is trying to protect a lead, maybe trying not to back up to other people and being a little too conservative. But you don't seem to do that. Even though you might not play as aggressively, why is it you don't seem to fall under the same trap that other guys tend to do?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe I have had experience winning. I know what to do when I'm in that situation. I know what it takes.
And there's a certain feel that you get out there that you can understand what the guys could do and capable of doing on the back nine, the round, how the wind's blowing. You just get a certain feel for what the number's going to be that day. And a lot of times, a lot of times I've called the number and I've been pretty good on it.

Q. Tiger, for virtually anyone else on Tour, finishing two majors in a year is a great year for them. You made it perfectly clear the other day that's not an acceptable year for you. How important is it to win this one now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always said in order to have a great year you have to win a major championship. You can win every tournament, but the majors are where it's at. And this year I've had some opportunities to deal with this. I haven't done it. I'm in good shape going into tomorrow and hopefully I can get it done tomorrow.

Q. Can you explain just how dominant you've been in the 12 majors you've won where you had the 54-hole lead and always closed it out, and also could you please talk about how the greens are holding up this week?
TIGER WOODS: As far as I guess winning the majors that I've won, I've put myself in that position. I've always enjoyed being out in front. And hopefully tomorrow I can go ahead and play the way I've been playing the last few days. I felt like I've really controlled my golf ball around the golf course. And as I said earlier, the greens are a little bumpy in the afternoon. A lot of spike marks.
And you just don't want to leave yourself a putt, if you get a lag putt you don't want to leave yourself a 3-, 4-footer because it can easily bounce off line. Just get up there dead where you can tap it in or it may fall in.

Q. Beyond the 12 for 12, you're over 90% in your career as a closer with the third-round lead. I know you're asked always to try to explain why that is. Maybe a new way to ask it, Ernie was in here earlier and he said not as a competitor, but if he's a guy on the couch, it's over. The creation of that mystique, what that does to the field, how do you characterize that advantage?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's experience. I've played a lot of tournaments starting at a very young age. And I've had to deal with that pressure before. And I've lost a lot of tournaments. But I've also won my share as well. And you learn. You learn what it takes.
As I said earlier about getting a feel for what the number may be, I think that comes with a lot of experience. And knowing what to do when you're out there in that situation. And you get a feel for what you need to do and luckily I've been able to get it done.

Q. How would you describe the effect? I know I'm not asking you to go outside yourself here, on the field, why a great golfer, repeat major champion like Ernie, would say that?
TIGER WOODS: Maybe because I've won 12 majors, maybe (laughter).

Q. Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan both called No. 12 here one of the favorite holes they played. You have the great par save there and birdie today. What are your thoughts and is it becoming one of your favorites?
TIGER WOODS: It is a neat hole. You can -- the only thing that makes it a little more difficult this week is the wind's coming off of left, which kind of goes against the hole.
A lot of guys who have been aggressive off the tees have taken over the top of that tree off the tee. I don't hit my driver that high. I don't launch it high enough. I have to alter my swing to launch it over that. I played down the fairway to the corner and played onto the green. Accept the fact if I make four 4s for the week I'll probably pick up a shot, or a percentage of a shot on the players. So that's what I've tried to do. And what I've been able to do so far.

Q. You talked a lot about having to play a lot of different types of shots to be a great golfer, and today on 5 you had that punch that got you out of trouble and got up on the green. Is that something that when you were a kid you and your dad used to develop that? How did that kind of develop through the years?
TIGER WOODS: Well, maybe because my last name is Woods. My dad thought I was crazy as a kid. I used to enjoy going out there in the evening, throw golf balls in the trees. I played three balls and the average had to be a par. I enjoyed creating shots. I didn't like hitting balls in the range; I would much rather chip and putt and create and do that kind of thing. So that to me was fun. Standing out there and hitting golf balls on end was boring and still is boring. I'd much rather create shots and do things like that. So maybe that's indicative of how I grew up, I guess.

Q. Stephen Ames bristled a bit when he was asked about your memorable match in Match Play, the comments were taken out of context. Do you think his comments were taken out of context? Have you been paired with him since then and do you think you can use it to your advantage tomorrow and have you ever talked to him about that match?
TIGER WOODS: Christ, that's four questions? (Laughter). Can you help me out on this one? First one was -- out of context. I don't know about the whole out of context thing. All I know is I read the quote and I knew if I went out there and played well that I felt pretty good about it. And ten and eight.
KELLY ELBIN: Have you played or talked with him since then, played with him or talked with him?
TIGER WOODS: Have I played with him? I have played with him before. I don't know where, but I've certainly played with him since then. I think his brother was still on the bag at the time when we played again.
KELLY ELBIN: Have you talked with him about it since?
TIGER WOODS: No, I haven't talked to him about it since. And the fourth part?

Q. Do you think you can use it to your advantage?
TIGER WOODS: I'm just going to go out there and play tomorrow. I know what I have to do tomorrow. And I would just stick to my guns and go do what I need to do. And hopefully I can execute to where I know I can and what I've done so far this week. That's all I'm going to do tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned the feel for the number, the conditions are going to be virtually the same weather-wise and course-wise probably tomorrow. What is that number in your mind right now?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm not going to tell you, no.

Q. That's why I had a second question. With regard to the Ames thing, did that tick you off when you read that quote? And how did it make you feel about him? I don't know how well you know him, probably not that well, I'm assuming?
TIGER WOODS: We all know Stephen is a person who likes to speak his mind. He's opinionated, and I think he's very honest. And when he's asked a question, he answers it honestly.
And I think that's what he did there in that instant, and it is what it is.

Q. Given what you'd said about the boredom you might feel in just hitting balls on the range and maybe enjoying more the challenges of scrambling and so forth, how much of a challenge is it to go out and play this golf course this week, basically trying to hit range shots and not trying to create too much excitement for yourself, and keeping yourself throttled down, concentrating on a very conservative type of game?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you play what the golf course gives you. And one thing I've learned about playing over the years is not to go against that. There are times when you do because you're trail and you have to make a move on the back nine and you gotta go get it.
But a lot of times if you just play what the golf course gives you and understand what you can do and go out there and do it, more than likely you'll probably put yourself in position each and every time you play.

Q. Just as a follow-up, do you fight any boredom doing that?
TIGER WOODS: No, never. I focus on what I need to do, where I need to place it. How I need to get it there and go do it.

Q. Can you compare how effectively you've putted this week in this major as compared to Augusta, Oakmont and Carnoustie this year?
TIGER WOODS: Carnoustie, I putted the best. I was never close enough. I never hit my irons close enough. But I had just great feel for the greens and just seemed like every lag putt I had was just a kick-in, 60, 70, 80 feet, didn't matter. I was lagging it right up there. Felt great about it. When I got inside ten feet on approach shot I made them just didn't hit it close enough, often enough.
U.S. Open I never left myself one of those easy putts everything seemed to be a 10-, 12-footer that broke three, four, five feet. It was one of those weird tournaments I hit the ball close but I was never in a position where I could be aggressive.
Augusta, I was pretty streaky, get on hot streaks and cold streaks.

Q. That towel you're wearing looks kind of like a cape except it's not red. Is there any message for that?
TIGER WOODS: No. I don't want to freeze and get a cold.

Q. Would you be interested in a friendly wager with Ames tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I think we all understand we have a major championship on the line. I think that's enough, isn't it?

Q. Tiger, you mentioned before you said I've lost a lot of tournaments, which losses really stick in your craw?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's a process of learning. A lot of junior events and a lot of amateur events I've played in, I didn't win that many. But you live and you learn. And I played a bunch of tournaments and you apply that knowledge. And over the years when I put myself in position to win events, I think I've done a better job of that as I've matured and have gotten older.
KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, the leader after three rounds of the PGA Championship. Thank you.

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