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September 9, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, congratulations on your 60th career win here at the BMW Championship. Your fourth career BMW Championship title, and you move back to the first in the FedExCup standings heading into the TOUR Championship next week. Maybe some opening comments about a great week and a great day for you, 63 today.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I got off to just a great start. I was 1-under through three. I made a nice birdie there at 9.
But after ten holes, I thought -- well, first of all, starting off the day I thought 20-under par was going to be the number. But that had to be altered. I figured if I got it to 21, I'd be assured of at least getting into a playoff and guys were making birdies everywhere. Stricks and Badds were lining up back there. Easy holes on the back nine, 10, 11, 15, 17, and just felt I had to keep making birdies, and I was able to do that today.

Q. Talk about the easy holes on the back nine. You had to work for par on 10, leave 11 short, and what is your feeling like at that point? And then talk about at 12.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I felt that those were two missed opportunities, and I just had to keep making birdies, just had to keep playing aggressive. I hit a pretty safe shot into 12 today. I played way left and made a nice bomb there. Then made a nice birdie at the very next hole. So birdieing 12 and 13 back-to-back, I felt -- it was about even because I should have birdied 10 and 11, so I was right at the number I should have been anyways.

Q. Stricks said he was pretty sure when you made your putt on 12 you looked back at them to make sure they were watching.
TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't do a Sergio (laughter).

Q. Usually trying to get you to brag about something is nigh impossible, but when is the last time you felt this good on the tee box?

Q. This good?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Fairways were a lot narrower at the PGA, though.

Q. What is the difference between you and the rest of the field that allows you to raise your game to a level on the weekend where they can't touch you even if they play their best?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I play pretty good, too. That's kind of what it takes out here. It's soft, and you know you have to continue making birdies. You have to play aggressively.
Normally you don't have to make this many birdies. But with conditions this soft, the guys are just going to tear this place apart. I think the three of us just got wrapped up in it. We were all making birdies, and we kept pushing each other. I just made a few more on that back nine.

Q. I know you said yesterday you felt like you left a couple putts out there, but these last two days combined, can you play much better golf than this? I mean, I know it's probably a little hard to think about that right now, but if you were to think about it, can you play better golf than the last two days?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah (smiling). I mean, if you don't think that way, just quit. You know, I hit the ball wonderfully today. I just made a couple more putts than I did yesterday. That was about it. I hit the ball very clean the last two days, and that felt like I didn't really take advantage of it on Thursday. Thursday I hit the ball just as well as I did the last two days, and I didn't get anything out of the round, felt like I should have been 6 at the worst and then making a double bogey there at 7. So that was a round I thought I let go.
And I didn't make many putts yesterday, but all of a sudden I made a bunch today. But I had to. I mean, I had no choice. If you wanted to win this tournament, you had to make putts, and I just happened to make them today.

Q. There's been a fair amount of talk about player fatigue lately with a bunch of tournaments being bunched up. How important do you think your workouts are as far as having you fresh at the end of a tournament or even at the end of a long season like this right now, and do the workouts help especially with concentration on the last nine holes?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Generally I feel pretty fresh. Once that adrenaline is going, the adrenaline is going. You're fired up and you're playing.
I think that the more tournaments you play consecutively, I think that's when fitness plays a big part of it, or you have rain delays and you've got to play a bunch of holes. But overall you shouldn't really be too tired after playing 18 holes. The only thing that's going to be -- wear you out, I think, is the mental grind of it, trying to block out things and trying to focus and then trying to turn things around in a round of golf. You're not really necessarily physically tired, but generally I'm mentally tired after a tournament, just the grind of being so focused for so long.

Q. You talked about feeding off the other players when they're all making birdies. Does it get you pumped up? Does it give you more confidence? What's the feeling that you have when you hear a lot of roars out on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'd better make them. I don't really have much of a choice. I just have to keep making birdies. The way that Stricks and Badds were playing behind us, it just -- it forced your hand to be more aggressive. I was 4-under par through nine holes, and I didn't have the lead. You know, that's pretty good playing by Stricks. So I just had to keep making birdies and keep being aggressive.
I don't normally fire at that flag there at 14, but I had to take a chance at it. I ended up only making a par there, but how the tournament was turning out, you couldn't really play too conservatively coming in.

Q. Only four other players in TOUR history have won more than 60 or more tournaments. I was just wondering if you could put that accomplishment in perspective, and also at your age, I think you're five years younger than anybody else who got the 60 wins. Just if you could talk about that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I said out there, I never, ever would have dreamt that this could have happened this soon. I've been out here, what, 11 years, my 12th season, I believe. And to have this many wins, you just never -- I never could have foreseen that. I've exceeded my expectations, and it's been a lot of fun to enjoy that whole road, that whole process to get to 60. It's been a lot of work. There have been some changes along the way, you know? But I think that's all been great.

Q. What does it mean for you to pick this win up at Cog Hill, a place you played for so many years, a place kind of close to your heart, if you will?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this tournament has been very special to me. I got an exemption to play here as an amateur. I ended up making my first cut ever on the PGA TOUR here. This town has always been great to me. The people have always come out and supported this event, have supported me over the years. I've always just loved playing here, and I think that's kind of how -- for some reason it's kind of showed up in my victories here in the Chicago area. I really somehow have played well here, and I've just enjoyed the atmosphere.

Q. Knowing how you like to take advantage of the par 5s and how key that is, can you talk about your third shot on 9? Normally you don't have to hit in from over 200 on a par 5, and you gave yourself a birdie chance there.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit just a great tee shot, just a pull left right up in the trees there and pitched out. I had 211 to the hole and 204 to carry, and it was blowing downwind and just ever so slightly off the left, and it was just a full 6-iron.
I knew if I hit it up in the air I could get there. So I tried to throw it straight up in the air and let it ride the wind, land it just short of the hole. I had an easy putt right to left, and I had to make sure it got there. It's a pretty slow putt.
I saw Rosie hit his pitch, and I thought he hit it too hard. Well, he did hit it too hard, but I thought it would have gone further past the hole. It was a pretty slow putt, so just go ahead and ram it up there.

Q. Obviously at the PGA it was hard and dry and fast. Here it's soft and you've got to make a lot of birdies. There's probably two different mindsets to playing here and at Southern Hills, but what are the commonalities maybe of trying to win those two tournaments with the different conditions as they are?
TIGER WOODS: You know, at the PGA it was about just giving yourself an opportunity to make birdies here and there and never really making a bogey. But if you made a bogey and if you made a birdie within the next two or three holes, you'd be all right, you're not going to lose ground.
Here if I made a bogey I was just going to get run over. I had three dropped holes for the week, I had a double and two bogeys, and that's always a pretty good feeling when you lose four shots for the week. You play basically 69 holes without dropping a shot, it's not too bad.

Q. You mentioned the atmosphere. Obviously earlier this week a lot was made of the crowds or lack thereof. Did it kind of live up to how it has been in the past, especially with the last couple rounds here?
TIGER WOODS: Say it again?

Q. Did the atmosphere here live up to how it has been in the past in Chicago, especially with the excitement?
TIGER WOODS: Today it was, yeah. Today people were out, people were fired up today. They saw birdies from every which way. Everyone was pretty excited about how it all turned out. You had Stricks who went to Illinois and then you had Badds playing well, and I was up there. Everything just was a lot of fun for all of us. I think the fans got into it, which was great to hear, great to feel, and you could hear all the roars back behind us with Badds and Stricks making all those birdies back there.

Q. For all the times you've won this tournament, is it going to feel weird to go defend it next year in St. Louis?
TIGER WOODS: It's like the American Express Championship, isn't it?

Q. Did you just play the one practice round at Bellerive?
TIGER WOODS: I was somewhere through -- well, yeah, I ended up playing all 18, but we were somewhere on the back nine when 9/11 happened.

Q. I hate to ask this question, but how do you feel about leading the FedExCup?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I'm leading it, and next week will be a lot of fun for Stricks and I. We'll be paired together again. The only thing that will be interesting for all of us, players, fans, media, is just to see how it's going to turn out condition-wise, the golf course for us.

Q. Strick made the point that it's the same for everybody.
TIGER WOODS: It is. You've just got to -- you don't want to say this, but it's true. You're going to have to accept missing a bunch of putts. It is what it's going to be. Just like playing -- sometimes when you play at Pebble or Poppy and Spyglass, you hit good putts from two feet and they just don't go in.

Q. Just to clarify with the FedExCup thing, there's a lot of scenarios, not a ton of them. You could win, you could finish second and you might still win. Do you focus differently or do you just go play East Lake?
TIGER WOODS: You just go play. You try and win the golf tournament. As I've always said, winning takes care of everything, so you don't have to worry about it if you win.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, congratulations on winning the BMW Championship.

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