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February 23, 2008

Tiger Woods


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome Tiger Woods to the media center. Tiger, obviously a long day today. Start maybe by talking about the opening match with K.J. and then a little bit about what just went on with Henrik.
TIGER WOODS: Well, K.J. was a good match. I made a lot of putts on the back nine. It helped that I chipped in at the 9th hole and took the lead there. But then I made a couple of putts on K.J. There wasn't really an opportunity for him to get back in the match.
This afternoon Henrik played well. It was a tough match. We had to make birdies to win holes. And the putt I made at 16 was a big putt.
Henrik, with his success out here, he was going to play well, and he certainly did.

Q. The putt that you made at 17, that was a great shot. But the bunker shot, was that just as difficult?
TIGER WOODS: I thought that was the best shot of the hole. Uphill sidehill lie, had probably 18 feet of break. You hit it two or three feet past the hole and it's off the green. I was telling myself, just get inside of him and at least give yourself a putt at it, and I did that. I left myself about a 10-footer, which was fine. Henrik rolled his past the hole and basically gave me a free run at it.

Q. Couple of us were talking, it seems like you thrive on this type of format. Is it just because there's no dancing in the Thursday and Friday rounds to sort of put yourself in position, and every round is sort of like Sunday for the tournament and it's do-or-die, mano-a-mano?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, usually I've always enjoyed this format. Sometimes it's three days, three and a half days to get yourself into a position where you're like this. Generally in our TOUR it's usually not the guy in your group you play against. Sometimes it's the guy ahead of you or guy behind you. We don't get a chance to play this format very often, just in the team events and obviously here. When we do, it's a lot of fun, going back to the amateur days. Most of the big amateur events are match play. When you come out here and play professional golf you never play this format.

Q. You made big putts at 8, 9 and 12. Which one was key?
TIGER WOODS: I think the putt at 8. I messed up, hit a shot to the right, fatted my iron out there and hit a bad pitch. So it was nice to get out of that hole with a halve and not give him any momentum.

Q. In two rounds, certainly nobody, including you, is going to hit every ball the way he wants to. But you seem to take it so hard, grimacing and getting upset at yourself when you hit a shot that's a little off. Is that -- can you ever accept that or is that going to drive you all your life?
TIGER WOODS: Well, sometimes you do that to get yourself more focused for the next one. Sometimes you do it just to get your anger and frustrations out. This afternoon I tried to get as frustrated and mad as I possibly could at times to get myself fired up and back into the match and refocus what I have to do and not let this match slip away. It's very easy to do that because it's been a long day. He's playing well. All it takes is just one mistake and the tide can switch, and you don't ever want that tide to switch.

Q. You've played so much, and you've played matches, in the NCAA -- actually you don't -- but in the U.S. Amateur, et cetera, do you get mentally tired after a long day like this?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, definitely.

Q. Do you lose concentration a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: That's also why you get hot and try to jack yourself up again, to get yourself back up on that level where you need to be. It's one shot, attention to detail, you've got to stay in the moment. Because as I said, it just takes one slip and you can have the match swing. And with the quality of players in this field, you can't ever have that happen.

Q. You mentioned that twice now, about one mistake and it can turn. Are you cognizant of that as you're playing?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, totally.

Q. Are you thinking 1-up or 2-up or --
TIGER WOODS: Depends on the situation, depends on how the match is at that moment. Every match is totally different. Even though I was 3-down at one point with five to go, and I made birdie at 14 and I hit a good tee shot down 15, all of a sudden I felt like I had the momentum, and even though I'm 2-down with four to go. You don't normally think that way, but it takes that one little switch.

Q. What were you thinking today? You never trailed; it was clearly a tight match. Were you thinking that or --
TIGER WOODS: I felt like I was in control of the match all day. I was in control. I was up early, and even though we got all square, he never took the lead. He never got -- he had a couple of putts early to take a 1-up lead but never did. Because he didn't, I felt like I had control of the match.

Q. Did you still feel in control standing on the 17th tee?

Q. Before he hit?

Q. It's two holes left, anything goes, one mistake and --
TIGER WOODS: We're both long hitters and I've been in that position before. I've played umpteen more matches in match play than he has. And I've seen it all and nothing really surprises me out there.

Q. As you alluded to, you've won in a lot of different ways this week. Do you sort of accept that it's going to have to get done in different manners to get through this whole thing, and do you think your ability to deal with that is a strength of yours?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you're facing the best players in the world in 18 holes, which is a sprint. Anybody can beat anybody out here in this format. So you just -- like for instance, yesterday, if Badds makes a putt on the 1st hole, the 19th hole, I would have had 10 birdies through 19 holes and I would be going home. That's one of those things where anything can happen. You just know that the best players in the world you've got to expect that they're going to pull off every shot.

Q. When you get up at 3:45 a.m., what do you do for like three hours until the sun comes up when you're in a hotel room or rented house?
TIGER WOODS: Watch SportsCenter.

Q. Like three straight times?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, exactly. Don't you (laughter)?

Q. Is this the hardest tournament to win? Could one build a case -- obviously majors are tough, but this is a totally different animal.
TIGER WOODS: It is. You've got to exclude the majors. But if you do, then I certainly put this up right there with one of the toughest events to win, just the fickleness of match play. I don't know how many under par Badds was yesterday, 8-under par or something like that and he's going home. One of the guys I know in the first round shot 2- or 3-over and he advanced. You just don't know what can happen. Anything can happen.

Q. Funny, because you mentioned the SportsCenter, and the second day we were talking about you like you were going to blow through the field and then you come out and get this tough match against Baddeley a day after surviving Holmes. It's a constant change; I would think that would be --
TIGER WOODS: Every match is its own little battle. One of the things I learned from my dad is in match play you have 18 battles. You've just got to win more than they do.

Q. As many times as you've taken say a three-, five-, six-shot lead in the final round of a World Golf Championship, is it more gratifying to just reach the final in this one than it is to have a big lead?
TIGER WOODS: I would tell you it's harder to reach the final here than it is to go out and get the lead in the World Golf Championships, because that's a regular TOUR event. If you get hot, you're going to be leading the tournament. Here, you get hot, you're going home. Badds was hot yesterday and he's going home. So it's just a weird format, because anything can happen. It's happened to me in junior golf, amateur golf and obviously now out here.

Q. You talked about trying to fire yourself up kind of as the day went on. I'm sure you have a thousand tricks to do that. What were you using today? Do you talk to yourself in your head? Do you say things to kind of get yourself worked up?
TIGER WOODS: Whatever you can do just to be in it at that level that you know that you perform at your best. You've got to be at that energy level at all times. You can't let it slip; you can't let it get too high. I know where I need to be at, and it's just a matter of being there. I can't play like Goose does. And certainly I don't play like Trevino used to. But I have my own way where I need to be on each and every shot and I need to get there.

Q. You talked on TV about -- they asked you why you were able to make big putts. I'd like to have you follow through on that. And also you're playing a guy who's a big putter, too. In match play it doesn't get down to putting, but it should be an interesting match with the two guys. He apparently was really hot and shot 29 on the front.
TIGER WOODS: Stewie can light it up. I believe he did the same thing to Sergio at the K Club. He can make a bunch of birdies. He is one of the best putters out here. And he usually drives it pretty good. And anytime a person is a very good putter, it's always going to be -- you know it's going to be a good match.
As far as getting back to your question about that putt on 17, it's like I said out there, that's why you practice, to put yourself in that position. Whether you succeed or fail, it's going to happen both ways. You're going to make putts and you know you're going to miss them. There's only two things that are going to happen, you're either going to make or miss it.

Q. Sometimes you know or feel you're going to make it. Did you feel you were going to make that?

Q. Is that the -- what's the biggest putt you've made all week?
TIGER WOODS: The biggest putt I made, probably the one at 16 against J.B.

Q. Are you wearing that shirt because it matches the color of your energy drink, or is that a coincidence?
TIGER WOODS: One of those "quinkydinks."

Q. Do you think the fact that you've had so many big putts over the years has had a positive cumulative effect on your ability to perform? We see so many guys miss putts, and certainly you seem to putt better as the putts become more important. Is there a momentum factor there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that you just have to put yourself there enough times. I've been in that situation ever since I was early in my junior golf days, whether it's playing nine-hole matches all the way to being out here. You take those memories and you put them back and you file them away.
I've missed my share, there's no doubt. Just like MJ; MJ is taking the last shot, and he's missed his share. That's why you want to have the opportunity. That's why you practice, that's why you grind, that's why you put yourself there. You enjoy that situation.

Q. Would you follow that through? Did your dad get you that, or as a kid five or six years old, I want the ball. In other words, was that innate?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I would have to say probably innate because ever since I can remember my dad was always a better putter than I was. I always wanted to kick his butt. I had to bear down. Even when I was a pro, early in my pro days, we'd out and we'd putt nine holes, and he'd routinely whip me. So he's always been a good putter. I think that you just have to -- I've always loved competing, ever since very early in my life against my dad.

Q. In terms of pressure putts, whether it was Bob May at Valhalla, whatever, Furyk once said that you told him, you either make it or you miss it. When did you reach that conclusion, and how does that play out over the big putts that seem to have just an enormous amount of pressure on them?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you just come to that realization. You just go up there, there's only two outcomes. There's no third. It is what it is. You go up there and you give it your best, you stay focused and trust in what you've seen and what you've read and what you believe the putt will do, and the whole idea is to be committed to what you've seen and what you can do. I get mad at myself when I waiver on what I've seen and I change my read when I get over the ball and things like that. That's when I get hot. But if you go out there and you trust what you do, you trust what you've seen, you read it, you get committed, hit the putt, and your lag will hold the line if it wants to.

Q. In the year you lost to Darren Clarke, even though you won five matches, did you walk away thinking that was a failed week?

Q. You go into every match with a bull's eye on your back. Do you go into matches thinking everybody's best shot, knowing that they're kind of playing with the house money --
TIGER WOODS: Well, in this format you have to. These are the best players in the world. You have to expect that they're going to pull shots off and they're going to make birdies and you have to go out there and earn them. The whole idea in this format is never to give them holes. Never make bogeys and give them a hole, but make them earn it.
If they do, if they go out there and make more birdies than you and they go out and win the match, so be it. I can't stand it when I lose matches and I've made a few mistakes and given them holes.

Q. We're outnumbered three to one on the world stage from Europeans and others to Americans. What kind of foreshadow do you see from the Accenture Match Play Championship looking forward to Valhalla in Louisville? Was this a little bit of a stage we should look for?
TIGER WOODS: Wow, that was a stretch (laughter). These are two totally different scenarios. We play four different sessions before we have a singles match in the Ryder Cup, so it's two totally different scenarios. Some of these guys that have played well this week may not be on the team, the nature of the way the points are set up for World Rankings and the way it's set up for us with our money.

Q. Did you bring your tux with you this week?
TIGER WOODS: You're a beauty.

Q. I was curious about one thing. You made 12 birdies yesterday and it was a really thrilling match, high quality match. K.J. had kind of plodded his way through the two previous ones. And you go out and you have seven straight holes with pars before your chip-in on 10. What happens there? Is that hole location? Is it just playing down or up to the opponent if you look at your last two, or what? Why does that happen?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that, one, you're not going to probably play well in every match; that's just the way it is. And as we've gone on in the matches, they've set up the pins a little bit more difficult each and every round. And today was tough; man, they had some good pins out there. A couple of times you felt like you could putt the ball right off the green.
I think the first day they don't really set up the pins all that difficult, just because they're trying to get us around, 32 matches. But as the week goes on it gets a little more difficult.
CHRIS REIMER: Back in the finals for the first time since '04. Good luck tomorrow.

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