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January 26, 2008

Tiger Woods


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome third-round leader of the Buick Invitational Tiger Woods to the media center. Tiger, one bogey so far, no bogeys today. Talk about what you had going right.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I drove it a lot better today and hit some good iron shots, made some putts here and there. But I really lag putted well. I didn't really try and fire at a lot of flags today and just made two nice birdies there at 4 and 5, which got me kind of -- got the round going. But I missed a short one at the second hole.
I had a nice putt at 12, which was great.
And then 18, I got a lucky break and it stayed up.

Q. The 4th hole is supposed to be one of the toughest holes at Torrey Pines. You made two birdies on it. Can you talk about your mastery of that hole?
TIGER WOODS: I've had two good shots in there; one was a 6-iron on Thursday and today was a 5-iron. Normally -- today was the easiest pin they have on that that entire green, so it was actually a perfect situation for me. I knew it was a full 5-iron. The wind is coming off the right. I just hit basically a full holdy cut, and I could never hit it past the hole, which was great. I hit it pin high and made the putt.

Q. With the forecast of Armageddon and the weather and whatnot, what does that do to your Dubai plans and how long does it take to get there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a short flight. It's only 20 (laughter).

Q. With a guy leading by eight, how long should we wait around to play the final round?
TIGER WOODS: Whatever it is. We're going to probably have to get it in on Monday, and if so, so be it. I'll still go over there and still play -- I think I'll still be in time to play the Pro-Am, which will be my practice round, then tee it up on Thursday.

Q. In the various wins you've had here, you've had a come-from-behind the last day, there's been the hype of being paired with Phil going into the last day and all the stuff that creates. What's different about an eight-shot lead, more enjoyable, less fun? What's the deal?
TIGER WOODS: A lot more enjoyable (laughter).

Q. Less stress, what?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I'd like to have the biggest lead you can possibly have, which would be nice. You've still got to go out there and play well and post a number. Whether that takes us tomorrow or into Monday, whatever it is, I still need to go out there and hit good shots and make my share of putts. You don't ever want to give guys a chance by playing poorly.

Q. Do you visualize Open conditions, and how much different your club selection might be in June on these holes?
TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily. I mean, to be honest with you, the tee shots are going to be about the same, but the shots on the greens are night and day. You know, we're backing up 5-irons and 6-irons. I've never seen that happen at a U.S. Open.
These greens -- for instance, the shot I hit on Thursday on No. 4, that's just an impossible pin to get at. Some of these pins are going to be just extremely difficult, like, for instance, the third hole; any of those pins up on the left, how do you keep the ball up there without it bouncing off the green?
And 14, the same thing, two top corners, any ball that lands there is probably going to repel over the green. Are they going to keep it as a hazard like it is now or will it not be a hazard? It'll be pretty interesting, probably some pretty long rounds.

Q. If you win tomorrow will you text Arnold?
TIGER WOODS: Does he actually receive texts (laughter)?

Q. I think he has a cell phone but no computer.
TIGER WOODS: Is that what it is?

Q. Yeah, I don't think he's got a computer, not in his office anyway.
TIGER WOODS: I know I tried to text Jack one time, and he doesn't ever -- doesn't know how to do that.

Q. Certain age.
TIGER WOODS: That's why I asked you about Arnold.

Q. The circumstances in I want to say '98 when they were washed out after three rounds, looking back you were one shot out of a playoff and Scott Simpson won. Does that sound right?
TIGER WOODS: Was it '98? I thought I won in '98. '99 I thought it washed out.

Q. '98. Was it frustrating to not get the extra day to maybe --
TIGER WOODS: I wanted another shot at it, but that's the way it goes. You know, I remember, what was it, two, three years ago, that the TOUR really tried to make sure that we tried to get all tournaments into 72 holes. Monday is always a plan, sometimes even a Tuesday if you don't have to travel very far to the next venue.
Back when I first turned pro that wasn't always the policy. Guys played 54 holes, and if you didn't get it in, you didn't get it in, you called it. I remember at the Byron Nelson one year, Billy Ray Brown won, I think, 36 holes.
Yeah, the TOUR has made more of a concerted effort to try to get tournaments into 72 holes, even if they have to go into Monday.

Q. Which is good.
TIGER WOODS: Which is great. It's more difficult obviously for the volunteers and trying to have everyone organized, but I think it's great for our tournament.

Q. They have a guideline where if the course -- it rains so much the course is unplayable and the forecast is even worse for Monday, they could go ahead and just call it at 54. Do you think situations ought to feed into that, for example, an eight-shot lead, whether it's you or someone else?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I mean, as you said, it's all based on the conditions. If the forecast is, as you said, not supposed to be getting better, then the chances of it being good enough to go on Monday, and if not, Tuesday -- is Tuesday even relevant? It is what it is. We have to, as players, tee it up if our times are posted.

Q. What are your two or three favorite holes out here?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I like them all, actually. I really do like this golf course. There really isn't any hole that really stands out that I really love more than others. I know some play harder than others. Obviously 4, and any pin up on the top left on 3, 15 now with the added length compared to what it used to be, you know, I think those holes -- 12, that's shaved, and obviously during the Open 13 is going to be very interesting.

Q. 18 today, Open conditions, from every description made so far, nothing is in the water because it's completely shaved. How much would that have changed your strategy in the Open with the shot you had condition-wise, same conditions?
TIGER WOODS: Here's the deal. Steve and I probably over-thunk it a little bit. We played the South Course on Thursday, and if the wind was the same on 11 and 16, I'd need 2-iron. 3-iron is not enough, 5-wood is too much, so we put the 2-iron in the bag today thinking that the pin is probably going to be back on 11, which it was, maybe back on 16, which it kind of was, but we didn't get the wind. I was able to hit 3-irons and 4-irons.
So coming to 18 it was a perfect 5-wood. I couldn't ask for a better number for a 5-wood. I had 236 front and four more for 40. Back in the old days that's no problem for the 2-iron.
I said, you know what, I've got to throw this ball up in the air. If I throw it up in the air I can get it there. If I hit it low, there's no way I can get it there, but if I throw it up I can get it there, and I hit it perfect. I was actually surprised it didn't get there. During the Open obviously that's wet. If I was in the same position during the Open, more than likely I'd probably be hitting some kind of slicing 3-wood and put it maybe in the back bunker and try and pitch it down.

Q. You talked about how it could be night and day, some shots between now and the Open, and obviously you've talked about how comfortable you are here and how much you like this course. How much will that matter in June because it's the same course in some respects but a different course in others?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's totally different, just like Pebble was in 2000. You just have to change your game plan, change what your thought process is and play the golf course, what it gives you. Stewart and I talked about it today while we were playing, how much easier it is with the greens soft versus how much more difficult it's going to be when they're hard because a lot of these pins have these three, four quadrants where you're putting up and over ridges all day. Like Stewart said today, he had four or five putts, like he did on 18, up and over, up and over. That's all you're going to do during the Open because you just can't fire at these flags.

Q. It worked out okay for you, though?
TIGER WOODS: I made a couple putts.

Q. How much do you feel like putting is innate, and how much is learned? And can you become a good putter, or do you hit the wall and it is what it is?
TIGER WOODS: I think that people are given a certain amount of talent for feel. Every great putter out there I've ever talked to, they've always had good speed control, so it's easy for them to read putts.
Now, their strokes may be totally different. You watch Crenshaw, Crenshaw hooks putts; you watch Raymond Floyd, he cuts putts. But they're both great putters. But they have an innate feel and they read greens differently because their strokes are different, but their speed has always been good. Guys who are sporadic just don't have the speed day in and day out. All great putters just seem to be able to lag putts up there with the same speed all day, every day.

Q. When you were younger how much of a percentage of say your two hours of practice were putting? It seems like some of the younger guys today coming up --
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I didn't like to hit balls. I'd much rather chip and putt. That was always so much more fun for me because I like to be creative. I don't mind putting out there for hours on end. I don't like to hit golf balls. That to me is boring. I'd much rather go chip.

Q. Are you that result-oriented, the fact that you're chipping and putting and you see the ball go in the hole?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you can hit different shots. There's so much variety around greens, what you need to do and the different angles, different grasses, different wedges. You had to learn all those shots. From the fairway, 150 is 150. It's not really going to change a whole lot. But around the greens you have to be able to do different things with the blades through the ground.

Q. A couple years ago I think there was an eight-way tie for the lead with about four holes to play here. It's always been fairly tight. How do you explain one guy up by eight?
TIGER WOODS: I've only made one bogey. That's basically it. I'm sure some guys have made just about the same amount of birdies as I have, but I've only dropped one shot.

Q. Just wondering what you thought of Kevin's game today and especially the way he handled himself?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think Kevin did great. He drove it on a string most of the day. He just had that one bad hole there at 9, which kind of derailed him a little bit. But other than that, he hit the ball pretty good today. He just didn't make any putts. I think it would have been probably a different story if he had made the putt on the first hole to get the round started early. But overall he handled himself great.

Q. How will heavy rain affect this course?
TIGER WOODS: (Laughing) well, hopefully we can play. Hopefully we'll be able to get it in. It's not looking good.

Q. All the joking about Arnie's technological wizardry aside, assuming you finish this off, you've passed many guys or tied many guys on the list, but is it different with him? Is there a special caché with catching Arnold Palmer?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's -- the relationship Arnold and I have, I think it'll be more fun when I get to the point where I get one up on him and I can jab him a little bit because he's always jabbed me. That's the great thing about Arnold; he's the best that way.

Q. Will he mention that you never served in the Coast Guard?
TIGER WOODS: Good point (smiling). He has mentioned that, actually.

Q. Over the course of your career would you say that your preparation with the lead heading into the final round has changed like on Saturday evening? Has it changed at all?
TIGER WOODS: No, it really hasn't. Probably the only -- well, maybe it has. Probably the one thing that has changed is my workouts over the years have gotten more intense, but that's about it. Since I've gotten in better shape, I've been able to work out more. Otherwise the mindset and the rest period and just getting ready for the preparation for the next day hasn't changed.

Q. After Federer lost in the Australian Open, he spoke a bit about you and the challenge of being No. 1 and having that target on your back. What are your sort of thoughts on that, and how do you keep sort of maintaining a level and keep pushing onwards?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a very interesting question because it's something you have to find from within. You have to keep pushing yourself from within. It's not about what other people think and what other people say. It's about what you want to accomplish and do you want to go out there and be prepared to beat everyone you play or face. Then you've got to put the work in.
But if you really don't, if that really doesn't matter to you, then so be it. But I think that's one of the great things about Rog is that he will pay the price. People don't realize how hard he trains away from a tournament leading up to an event. I was surprised at how hard he trains. You get out there and you see him move so effortlessly, see him at practice. See what he does then. That's when you understand why he never gets tired. He runs on every ball and makes it look so easy because of how hard he trains away from it.
And that's what we do out here on TOUR. I work hard away, then when I come here it's time to play.

Q. Looking ahead a little bit, why can't this be a 72 for the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. That's a great question, because where they have the tee there on 6, you're going to have to hit some kind of slice off that tee around that tree. Go take a look at that tee box and you'll see it's kind of uphill right to left, so it's going to be a very interesting tee shot, and the further left you go on the tee box the more kind of slanted.
I know it's going to play about 515-ish, but I think the USGA has -- if they can turn Pebble Beach into a par 71, then they can turn pretty much anything.

Q. Is it at all hypocritical of them to say that we're not trying to protect par but they won't leave a longtime 72 as a 72 or a 71 as a 71, whatever the case may be?
TIGER WOODS: It's a great question because I just think that the USGA just thrives on that -- obviously testing you. Par is all, I guess, really -- it's just a number. What I mean by that is that Pebble could set up for a par 72, and I would have been, what, 16 under par? So under par doesn't really matter that much. It's just going out there and shooting a number.
I know when you have four par-5s in a U.S. Open you always feel a little bit more comfortable because you're going to have some more birdie opportunities. When you get to par 70s and 71s, those opportunities are taken away.

Q. Would you be more upset with yourself for making a 5 at No. 6 if it were a par-5 as opposed to making a 5 on No. 6 as one of the toughest par-4s on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on how the par-5 is set up. If it's playing pretty long, then no, I would not be bothered by it at all. But if it's playing short, downwind, and I can hit an iron to it, then I'm pretty hot, yeah.
CHRIS REIMER: Tiger, thank you very much, and good luck tomorrow.

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