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December 13, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room. Tiger Woods, a 3-under par 69 today. Good start for you, some birdies on some opening holes. Looks like a little miscue there at the end. Maybe just talk about that and we'll open it up for questions.
TIGER WOODS: It was a pretty good day actually overall. The only thing I messed up on I think were two easy pitch shots on the two par-5s on the back nine, didn't get those up-and-down, easy pitches, and hit two atrocious pitches there. 18, hit a bad tee shot, pulled my second shot just a touch, and obviously made 6.

Q. Where were you?
TIGER WOODS: Left water.

Q. You seemed totally relaxed and in control of it. After the 6, do you walk away from 18 holes like this totally positive in the way you struck the ball?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's frustrating the way it ended, no doubt, because it was a good round of golf, and as I said, the two par-5s on the back nine I had two easy pitches and then obviously miscued 18. So it could have really realistically have been 7-under par without being all that stressed out. I ended up at 3-under par.
I've got a lot of work to do the next three days, but first round back, very pleased at how consistent I was. I obviously have to clean up the round a little bit around the greens, make sure my level of pitching gets a little more sound than it was today.

Q. First round back after a nice layoff, are you surprised at all as well as you hit the ball, because sometimes it just doesn't come back that quick?
TIGER WOODS: You're right. I was surprised at how quickly I got into the flow of the round, basically took a hole and a half before I got into the flow of the round. Long layoffs sometimes it takes you three, four, five holes before you feel comfortable with the flow of a round, the rhythm of a round. I got up really pretty quick today, which was nice.

Q. I assume if you feel comfortable it's going to continue on for the week?
TIGER WOODS: Once you get back into the flow, it's there. The long layoffs, sometimes it's taken me four or five holes before I feel like I'm into the rhythm of a round. But it happened pretty quickly today.

Q. You hoped to get into it by the second or third hole, but this event, we know how much you put into it, and beyond the golf, does that affect you when you're playing, or can you block it out and say, okay, I've got all the stuff ready, hit the first tee shot? Or are you thinking, ooh, we've got to do that on the golf course?
TIGER WOODS: It's nice when you get the chance to play (laughing). Leading up to it, obviously the staff does an incredible job. They work tireless hours to try and get things seamless, but it still takes a little bit of effort. This week I haven't quite exactly felt my best, so all that combined, you just can't wait to get inside the ropes.
I told Stevie today, it felt interesting, getting right through the round. We haven't done this in a while. Am I forgetting anything? Okay, do we have enough tees, balls, little things like that, are we all set for the day? Do we have 14 clubs? Okay, we're all good.

Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: It was nice, I hit a nice little 5-wood off the tee, but the nice thing was actually the second shot. I wanted to take it up over the tree, but it would have spun back too much, I couldn't control it, so I actually played a low hooking 60-degree sand wedge. So out of -- the second shot out of the gate, to be able to have to play that shot and feel comfortable playing that shot off kind of a downhill, sidehill lie and pull it off, I think that's one of the reasons I think I got into the rhythm of the round so quickly is because I was able to pull off a shot that you don't normally hit.

Q. What did you have?
TIGER WOODS: I had 75 to the hole to about 15 feet.

Q. With the drug testing kind of in the forefront of the news today, I was wondering your thoughts on what the PGA TOUR has done thus far to educate you guys and maybe if you could speak a bit about that large manual that you guys were given.
TIGER WOODS: It is thick. Yeah, I think it's a good thing. I know that our sport is clean, but obviously the perception is all athletes -- not all athletes, but certainly athletes in every sport are trying to push the envelope illegally.
You know, our sport, I believe we don't do that, but it's nice to have a chance to prove that to the whole world. Golf is a game of honesty. Can you imagine offensive linemen calling a holding call on themselves (laughter)? That's what we do in our sport. The ball moves, we call a penalty on ourselves when there's no one around. That's the great thing about our sport.

Q. If the TOUR doesn't have this testing now, do you think there eventually could have been a Mitchell report for golf?
TIGER WOODS: I think it could happen. What you're trying to prevent is the kids look up to athletes, and you don't want to have kids going down the wrong path at an early age and knowing that they can get away with it.

Q. Kind of a tough day for baseball today, the Mitchell report did come out, over 80 players named, many significant, including Roger Clemens quite prominently. Just wondering about your reaction as a sports fan and what this means for baseball.
TIGER WOODS: That's not good. It's a shame that -- I haven't seen any of the reports. We've been playing all day. When I get out I'll take a look at it. But as a whole just the fact that athletes have tested positive in general I think is a shame. You know, just as a fan you just wish that didn't happen.

Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: No, I got a little sick. I'm on the good side, though.

Q. Zach was in here a little while ago. He sort of expressed some surprise at how much this felt like a regular tournament. He meant it in a good way. I'm just curious, did you ever consider any other formats when you conceived this? Did you want it to be like a regular tournament as much as possible for these guys? Anything else ever considered?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the idea and the premise of the event was to bring awareness to what we're trying to do with the foundation. That was the foremost. Now, how do you do that? Well, in our sport you bring the best players in the world together, and what better place for me than bringing it back to my hometown in Southern California? To have a championship venue like this, to have world-class players from all over the world come here and compete and that lends awareness to what we're trying to do for kids, so that's -- and as a competitor, you certainly like to play against the best.

Q. In regards to coming home, do the juices get flowing a little bit more because you are back here and in familiar surroundings and there's a lot of people who obviously want to see you in a different realm because you're a local?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's always nice to come back to Southern Cal. I grew up here. And for me to come back here and be able to have an event like this and showcase -- obviously what we're trying to do with the foundation in front of my hometown, it feels so good, it really does. Each and every year how it just keeps getting a little bit better, and that's what we keep trying to do.
There are a few tournaments that are here. There's obviously the tournament at Riviera and Torrey Pines, and those have always meant a lot to me because obviously I grew up around this area.

Q. I think the contract with Sherwood is through next year. If it doesn't return here, I don't know what the status is, is it important that you keep this tournament in Southern Cal?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, there's no doubt about it, we're going to try and do everything we possibly can to keep it here, obviously at Sherwood, and then in Southern California if it doesn't happen here.

Q. Any progress on finding land on the Eastern Seaboard for your learning center?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we have a couple pieces that we're looking at right now. It's not as easy as it sounds, just building a learning center. No, it's a little more complicated than that. It has taken some time. Our staff has done a great job of narrowing it down, and we're going to continue to work hard to try and have something for everybody by the AT&T National, which would be nice. It'll be in the D.C. area, obviously in two different locations. It'll be in the triangle there -- the beltway area.

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