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March 21, 2008

Tiger Woods


LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thanks so much for coming in. Two eagles today and finished birdie-birdie. Not a bad way to finish out the second round.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was a lot better than yesterday's. It was nice to basically get away with one there at No. 8. Hit a poor tee shot, and I hit a poor layup, hit a good wedge and a good putt.
No. 9, it was nice to have two teaches before I hit my putt. The putt broke a lot, but also I kind of wanted to go back right at the end. After seeing Louis hit his putt down there it changed my read a little bit, and it worked out pretty good.

Q. You're obviously bothered by the way you finished yesterday. Were you stewing at all over it? How long afterwards did you get that out of your mind?
TIGER WOODS: Pretty much all the way home until Sam came crawling, and then I don't even know what I shot after that. That's one of the cool things about seeing Sam when I go home.

Q. I was wondering what you thought of that kid in the red t-shirt that had your daughter's name on it. You flipped him a ball.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he's got some stats on there, as well (laughter). Actually, I think I've seen him out here before. I don't know what tournament, but I've seen that shirt before.

Q. He said he was out here last year, and then he just updated it for this year.
TIGER WOODS: There you go.

Q. How satisfying is it to obviously very quickly, because it's back-to-back weeks, maintain the momentum that you built on the weekend last year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it was important for me to hit the ball better like I did on the weekend last week. I didn't hit the ball very good the first two days, turned that around, and then I've hit the ball well this week. You basically have to, with the wind blowing this hard. If you don't, the wind is going to take it pretty hard.
It was nice to build on what I had done over the weekend, did a little practicing at home Monday and Tuesday and got down here on Wednesday.

Q. Obviously so much is talked about the streak. To use a little bit of a cliche, do you feel like you're in a zone right now? Can you be in a zone from one tournament to the next?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, because every day changes. Every day your feel changes. That's why you have to make adjustments each and every day, from shot to shot. Each and every day you feel a little bit different, and you have to make those slight adjustments to make sure you're able to hit the shots you want to hit.

Q. I think you had four par putts today that were at least six feet. I wonder if you could talk about that?
TIGER WOODS: The putts I made actually on 17 and 18 were the ones I really needed to make. I played well on that front nine and didn't -- well, my front nine, didn't want to lose any kind of momentum I had going into a par-5, my 10th hole. It was nice to make that putt at 17 and not three-putt.
I hit two good shots at 18 -- actually three good shots at 18 and then left myself that kind of putt. Stevie was saying, "Geez, you've had three quality shots and you've got an eight-footer for par. Might as well go ahead and make it and make it four quality shots."

Q. Where is home this week? You said you got home and saw Sam.

Q. There was some discussion last year that the buzz out here maybe wasn't quite what it was the year before with Camilo, or the year before that when it was you and Phil. To the extent that you can feel that, given the circus that seems like is all around, I wonder if you can think of why maybe that's the case, smaller field or narrower tee times, if you believe it at all?
TIGER WOODS: Stevie was actually saying that today. I mean, his rationale is maybe the ticket prices might be high, but I don't know if they're high compared to what they were the last couple years when it wasn't a World Golf Championship.
But the year that Camilo and I and Phil battled out down the stretch, it was pretty loud.

Q. Could you take us through holing that bunker shot for the eagle, and also what club did you hit into 1?
TIGER WOODS: 12, I hit a good drive down there, had just a sweet 3-wood. I had 265 to the front, and I tried to use the wind to ride it back in there and turned it just a little bit too much, ended up in the bunker. Had just a simple little bunker shot. Kept telling myself, make sure you hit it hard enough because it's uphill, into the wind and into the grain. Make sure I fly it most of the way if not all the way to the hole.
It came out, it landed, I was like, okay, that looks pretty good. About two feet out, it was center cut.
Then No. 1, I hit a good drive down there. I had 189 total. I hit a 7-iron. Started the ball basically right of the green, kind of swept it in there, used the wind to ride it in there.

Q. On the last hole it looked like halfway down you knew that putt was going in.
TIGER WOODS: As I said, my read after watching Louis's putt, his putt -- you could see it was breaking a lot, but all of a sudden it straightened out and then kind of rocked back to the right the last foot or two, and I adjusted my aim just a touch. Once I started seeing it straighten out I knew it was going to be in.

Q. Obviously this course and Firestone, as well, suit you quite well. Do you think that these World Golf Championships would be more interesting if they got moved around a little bit more?
TIGER WOODS: You know, this tournament probably moved around the most. Obviously I've played it in Spain, played it in England, Ireland.

Q. I mean, now it's turned into --
TIGER WOODS: Now it's turned into it, but prior to that, it was all over the place, and I guess they were trying to, I guess, have permanent venues.
I thought the World Golf Championships were instituted to move around a little bit. But out of all the tournaments that were World Golf Championships, I think this is the one that really has been a global event. We've played it everywhere.

Q. Obviously streaks and such are good for confidence and momentum and continuity and all that stuff. Let's say you were able to finish this one off. Is there a negative carrying something like that on your back into The Masters from pressure or anything like that that you might put on yourself?
TIGER WOODS: I can't see that being a negative (laughter), I just can't.

Q. Would you talk a little bit about Louis and whether or not you knew him before? Did you get to know him at all during the round?
TIGER WOODS: I had never heard of Louis prior to our pairing. But after watching him play the last couple days, man, he can really play. He hit some great golf shots out there, some quality shots. He drives it great. He hit driver just about every single hole and was just piping it down there. It's just a matter of time before he gains experience and has some success. I know next week he's playing with Ernie, so that will help.

Q. Did you guys have any conversation at all, or not really?
TIGER WOODS: The only thing he really talked about was how he came up. If it wasn't for Ernie, he probably wouldn't be here. He came up through his junior golf academy.
Things like that are very special to hear, guys who come up with the guys on TOUR. They're giving back like what Ernie is doing. It allows him to have the success he's had and to get out here. It's pretty cool.

Q. There's an assumption that the Masters is already over. Calc has already got you won through Birkdale, by the way. But as you look at say either last year or the year before of where you didn't putt very well on Sunday, or say 2000 when you were also playing really well and had those two bad swings on Thursday, which do you think would be a greater reminder that you still have to play this game?
TIGER WOODS: That's why they play the sport. That's why you tee it up. They don't hand it to you just because of the way you've been playing. You have to go out there and earn it. Just because I won last week doesn't mean I'm going to win this week. I still have to go out there and tee it up and earn a victory, same thing with the Masters.

Q. Tiger, that said, you addressed it a little bit after the win at Bay Hill about your swing and how much more comfortable you are with correcting things. Do you feel more comfortable with all facets of your game right now than you ever have, and how does that feel as you go into tournaments? You're in contention every week you play.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I feel like I can fix my game while I'm playing better than I ever have. My understanding of my game is leaps and bounds better than it ever has been. That allows me to not have those big high rounds like I used to.

Q. Do you credit Hank or is it experience?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly Hank has helped a lot, helped my knowledge of my swing, and also the years of experience. I've been out here for 12 years now. All the things that I've experienced, you've just got to put into the file, and you know what works and what doesn't work. You know what swing thoughts work, what swing thoughts don't.
Then obviously my knowledge from working with Hank and ball flight has really helped it.

Q. When you were working on the swing changes over the last few years, did you ever neglect your putting at all or look back and think maybe you didn't put the effort into it that --
TIGER WOODS: I did, yeah. I definitely did. I didn't putt as much. Unfortunately there's only a certain amount of hours in a day. You're out there hitting golf balls for 8, 10, 12 hours, you start realizing you're too tired to hit a few putts, too tired to go out there and spend the hours that I need to do on my short game, and relearn all the shots that I know and make sure they have such a spin and all the things you have to know.
I knew that that was going to happen. It's happened before when I first made changes with Butch. It happened through the end of '97, most of '98. I went through that stretch there where I was making a bunch of swing changes and my short game wasn't as good. Then you start hitting the ball better, you're allowed to practice a little bit more. You have more time to delegate to the short game, and all of a sudden everything kind of basically comes together.

Q. Do you think that's one of the best benefits of feeling so good about your swing now, is that you know you can devote that extra time?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's nice to be able to go out there and understand -- I know what I need to do to fix it, and I don't have to spend countless hours hitting golf balls, and then I can basically shorten that span of time of practice and make it more quality so I can go to my short game.

Q. I know you talked about the putt at nine, but how many feet of break do you think you played on that?
TIGER WOODS: I couldn't tell you. I was aiming -- there was a ball mark there and I was trying to aim it two balls above the ball mark.

Q. When you were looking at that second shot on 3, was that an example of course management that you thought about last week?
TIGER WOODS: Stevie said, you only had 168 yards to the front, but I didn't know what that lie was going to do. I didn't know how it was going to come out. I had to turn it just a little bit to avoid the water. Let's say hypothetically I hit a 7-iron, avoid the water, it comes out screaming, ends up in the back rough, and then I've got no shot to the pin, downhill, down green, down grain. I'd rather take my chances with a wedge where I know I can basically put the ball in there ten feet.

Q. I remember reading a quote from Michael Jordan that even after all he accomplished and after all the championships that he'd be motivated every day because there might be somebody watching for the very first time. Do you ever think like that?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't, but he's told me that a few times. I've never looked at it that way. I've always had -- I don't see how you can live with yourself not trying and not giving your best. I don't see how you can go home and say I didn't give it my best. People do that. I don't know how they do that. That to me is unacceptable.
I've got four to five hours out there playing. I don't see how you can't go ahead and give it everything you have. You've got 19 other hours to recover. I just don't see how you can think any other way or play any other way.

Q. So you've never found yourself in a moment where -- it doesn't sound like you're wired that way obviously.
TIGER WOODS: We're wired the same way, but we probably use -- our phrasing is a little different. M.J., he couldn't stand losing. He would do anything he possibly could to beat his opponents. I'm the same way, but we phrase it a little bit differently.

Q. You said you've honed your swing now. Do you feel like you've also honed your mind now?
TIGER WOODS: You guys are like psychoanalyzing me here (laughter). I hate to keep coming back to this, but it's just experience. I've been out here for 12 years, and seeing all the things that have happened over the years, and you learn from them. I guarantee you, ten years from now that I'll be a hell of a lot better with my course management than I am now, just from that many more years of experience.

Q. Speaking of psychoanalyzing, I asked Mike Weir what's the biggest thing with Tiger this year. Mike said he thinks since the British Open last year, your entire focus has been on scoring, on getting the ball in the hole. You put the work into the swing, and from now on you're just going to score. That's what he said. Do you understand what he means? Would you agree?
TIGER WOODS: I wish it was that simple. After the British Open I knew -- my practice sessions going into it, I didn't have it where I wanted to. Then when I was hitting the golf ball I wasn't flighting the ball properly. I wasn't doing all the things that Hank and I had been working on. That's frustrating when you don't put it together in a major championship like that. I can't have that happen again.
LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thanks for your time.

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