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June 15, 2008

Tiger Woods


Full Audio Interview

RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Tiger Woods, with a round of 2- over par, 73 today, 1-under par for the championship.

Tiger, walk us through the final shots on the 18th hole.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I tried to play a cut off the tee and I kind of hit a pull cut, but ended up in the bunker. I had just an absolute pure lie, if I was in a practice round I would have gone for it. I stuck a 9-iron in the sand and hit it straight right. I was trying to play off the right side, but not that far right.

And then I had a 95 front, 101 hole. It was just a perfect number for my 56, but didn't think that I could stop a 56 in there, so I tried -- if I hit a 56 I had to hit it short of the green, bounce it in, and that wasn't going to be the shot. We decided to go with 60, hit it hard, make sure you play to the right, just in case it doesn't get there. If it does, it should land on the front and skip past and I should have a putt at it. And it turned out perfect. The putt was -- probably about two and a half balls outside right. And the green wasn't very smooth. I kept telling myself make a pure stroke, if it bounces in or out, so be it, at least I can hold my head up high and hit a pure stroke. I hit it exactly where I wanted it to and it went in.

RAND JERRIS: What's it like playing in a 18-hole playoff in the U.S. Open.

TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. I've never been in this position before in a U.S. Open. After I got the start off today, it looked like I could play myself right out of the tournament. But I still have a chance going into tomorrow. I kept telling myself after I started, if I shoot even par for the day, I win the tournament. And that would have been the number. But also very fortunate to get to the playoff, as well. Roc could have easily birdied 18 and put it out of reach for both Lee and I.

Q. Thanks for another thrill, Tiger. If you can, can you please define what excellence means to you?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I guess succeeding.

Q. You said you were going to Mexico tomorrow for what? What are you going to be doing?

TIGER WOODS: Golf course design project.

Q. Are you going to be going there on Tuesday?

TIGER WOODS: Looks like I'm busy tomorrow (laughter). I think they'll understand.

Q. Obviously those first few holes, there was a lot of grimacing, a lot of pain. You were swinging smoother. Did you think -- firstly, did it not bother as much after those first few swings? And then secondly, can you talk us through 13 and 14, which were pretty pivotal holes?

TIGER WOODS: Did it get better, no. I took some things to relieve that, so I feel a bit better now.

As far as 13, 14. 13, I was trying to hit a high cut in there and ride the wind to get it there to the front edge. It was 275. I just hit double cross, like the first one, just a quick snipe.

14, I couldn't have had a worse number. It was a 5-wood front number for me, but it was into the wind. I can't get a 5-wood there. Now I have to lean on a 5-wood, which means it brings the left bunker into play. I don't know if I can even get it all the way to that left bunker. If I bale right, I have absolutely no pitch. If I hit a cut 3-wood I have a choke down 3-wood and hit a cut. That's not exactly an easy shot. If I overcut I'm in the right bunker with virtually no shot. If that tee would have been on the back part of that tee, I could have hit a 3-wood with no problem. But it was on the front part, and it was perfectly caught between clubs. I said all right, no big deal. I can still make three by laying up. I laid up to a good number, had a little wedge and hit a little hard and ended up making par.

Q. You obviously had your reactions on the 72nd hole. How is this different, the emotion different when you get into a playoff tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I think it was very similar to what Valhalla felt like. If I don't make that putt I don't get to continue playing. At least I gave myself a chance to win the tournament tomorrow. And that's all I can ask for.

Q. After you go left of left and right of right at 2 you're coming down off the tee at 2, you look like you're really in bad pain. Are you worried you may not be able to finish, you may not be able to compete, how bad was it at that point?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, I was going to finish. It might have been on the clock, but -- (laughter) --

Q. How much did your knowledge of this course help you on that last hole? You must have had that putt before at some time playing?

TIGER WOODS: We actually had that hole location this year for first time. But I remember I hit it -- I think I hit a 2-iron right at the flag and hit it just short of the green and it actually held up because it was rough there. And all the guys were giving me a bunch of crap saying, thanks for ruining the U.S. Open for us, because they shaved the bank. But that's the only time I ever hit to that pin. I was short of the hole and had an easy chip and made birdie.

Q. You've been pretty forthcoming about the knee thing. So let me throw this one at you: Is what you're experiencing right now residual soreness from the surgery or is this the way it is forever and ever?

TIGER WOODS: It's different.

Q. I don't understand. You don't know?

TIGER WOODS: I know. (Laughter).

Q. Standing on 18th tee are you thinking you need eagle?

TIGER WOODS: Eagle to win. But realistically just trying to make four, give myself a chance. Just put the ball in the fairway. I didn't do that. I laid up in the fairway to at least have a good number, I didn't do that. At least give myself a putt at it, which I did do and I happened to hole it.

Q. Obviously three times you've started with double bogeys, and the other time you opened with a bogey. Can any of this be attributed to the knee?


Q. Just bad swings?

TIGER WOODS: Just terrible swings. The bogey I made on 10 the other day was just a three-putt on Friday. The other days were just terrible golf shots. I hit two snipes off that first tee. The other one I hit to the right which I made just -- I made 3, half of what I made today. Oh, well, it is what it is.

Q. And you were dead behind that tree and you hit -- two trees, if I saw correctly, on one?

TIGER WOODS: The second shot wasn't that hard. It was not that hard. I had a funky lie. I didn't know how it was going to come out, and it squirted left. I didn't envision that happening. I didn't think that lie would turn my club that much. I had the face open just to make sure if it did turn it would turn into the left bunker, no big deal, easy pitch. And it turned straight in the tee.

The next shot was -- I came down too steep and popped it straight up into the tree. Then I had to whack it out of that rough. I finally hit a good pitch. And made just a great two footer (laughter).

Q. Because of Rocco's personality, happy-go-lucky guy, is that going to make it a different playoff atmosphere for you. How much talking do you think you guys will have?

TIGER WOODS: I'm sure I will talk a little bit. Roc is -- he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. He's been a friend of mine ever since I've been out here on Tour. We'll talk. But we'll also understand we're try to win a U.S. Open. And we'll have our moments where we'll go our separate ways and be focused for each and every shot.

Q. Kind of a two part thing. First of all, I'm not sure if you've ever been in the situation where, like Rocco, waiting around to see if you're going to win a tournament, a Major obviously you haven't been in that situation.

Can you talk about what you think that is like for him? And then expanding on Rocco, I know you guys are buddies, he doesn't have that many chances left, he's at 45 and he's talked about that a little bit. Do you feel for him a little bit, since he had it in his grasp. I know you want this.

TIGER WOODS: No. (Laughter) Have I been in a situation on the last hole? I'm sure I have. I can't remember when, but I'm sure I have. I've been in enough situations where that probably has happened. But never in a Major championship.

Rocco is a -- he's played well in U.S. Opens before, and he hits that nice little draw out there and it's good to see him healthy again. I know this is one of the very few times that -- last year he wasn't in the situation where he could play. Now he's healthy enough to play pain free, and he's got all the talent in the world. Now he's shown us.

Q. You're now a father these days playing on Father's Day. Given the knee, years from now when your daughter is old enough to understand, regardless of tomorrow, what do you want her to know about what you did this week considering the knee?

TIGER WOODS: I got a W (laughter).

Q. All the majors are a huge challenge, of course, are you having to work harder and overcome more to get in this position to win this than all the others?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, yeah.

RAND JERRIS: Tiger, congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. End of FastScripts

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