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March 11, 2009

Tiger Woods


LAURA HILL: Tiger, thanks for joining us. You have a practice round under your belt now, maybe just talk about being back here at Doral in the CA Championship.
TIGER WOODS: Well it, feels good to be back here. This golf course is playing just in great shape right now. The greens are perfect. Fairways are great. It was fun to get back out there and get a practice round under my belt and get ready for tomorrow.

Q. What is it like to see hundreds of people out here on a practice round, people supporting you on a day that doesn't even count as part of the tournament; what did it feel like?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's obviously nice of them to come out. Obviously getting up at the crack of dawn, it's nice to have them come out and support that and we really need that on the TOUR, for people to come out and support this TOUR, especially at times like now.

Q. How is Charlie doing and is he going to be here?
TIGER WOODS: Charlie is doing fantastic.

Q. Will he be here?

Q. What did you learn from your time in Arizona?
TIGER WOODS: Well, everything was better than I thought. It was a big shot of confidence for me to get out there and play again and feel physically sound. To walk out there and play and then compete and get a feel for that competitive environment was everything I could possibly have imagined.

Q. Was there any setbacks after or anything that you had to work through?
TIGER WOODS: No, it was actually better. Like I said, it was actually better than I thought. I thought I would be a little more sore than I was. Recovery from day-to-day has been great. It couldn't have been more positive, except for obviously getting beat in the second round. But from a physical standpoint, it was better than I thought it would be.

Q. Can you quantify on like a percentage basis how ready you are compared to how ready you would want to be?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't know. I haven't played a stroke-play event yet. So it's kind of hard for me to give you a number on that, because I've only played in the Match Play event. Physically, I feel good.
But getting into a stroke-play event and where you're not playing an opponent and you're playing the golf course again; I'll have a better idea when the tournament is done.

Q. Last year you were just on a tear and all of a sudden a year later, you go through what you've been through with the injury, mentally what was that like and now getting to this tournament like, getting back to that point last year, what does it take mentally, do you think?
TIGER WOODS: I think it just takes reps, rounds, being in a competitive environment and competing again. I've only played basically two rounds, or if you could say, two tournaments in what ten months, not a whole lot of golf.
So for me, I just need rounds under my belt, and this week will obviously be a very positive week for me: Four rounds and no cut, to get four more rounds competitively, which is exactly what I need.

Q. Do you have any plans in the future to play in Latin America at all?
TIGER WOODS: I do not. As of right now, no, I'm sorry.

Q. I wanted to ask you this in Arizona, but I never got a chance. You've made some really good commercials over the years, but this Sunshine Lollipops Rainbows one, this is outstanding, this one. What is the story on this one, and commercially, do you dig them or are they a pain?
TIGER WOODS: We had fun on that one. The guys were great. We were needling each other the entire time, it was great. That's what we do. It was a lot of fun, and I think the spot turned out, you know, probably better than I think we all thought it would. It was actually a really fun spot to do. I know we all had a good time on the set.

Q. Would you say that you're 100% ready for this week, or are you not? What percentage would you put yourself at?
TIGER WOODS: I'm ready to win, yeah. That's why I'm here.

Q. You alluded to this earlier, that state of the TOUR, with sponsorships and whatnot, are not the best, and early in the season, Commissioner Finchem asked people to be a little more participating, I guess, and asked for cooperation of players. Do you contemplate playing in events that you typically haven't before? Of course, this is assuming the knee is in good shape; or any other kind of contributions?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I can help out as much as I possibly can. I know I'm doing a few things for Tim down the road, but as far as competing in more events, I really don't know.
This year is one of the more frustrating years trying to plan out my schedule. As you all know, I try and peak for the major championships and get that, and I really don't know, you know, what I can do physically.
The Match Play, as I said to Doug, was a big positive, because I got some great signs from that. But as far as now competing on a full-time basis, I'm excited to see how the leg feels and how it responds day-to-day. Hopefully I don't have any setbacks and maybe I can play a few more tournaments somewhere down the road.

Q. Can I have your thoughts about the game of the Spiderman, so-called, Camilo Villegas, and if you see him as a threat for this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Of course. He's playing well. He was playing well last year and had a few big wins, and he's played well here before. There's no reason why he won't play well this week, and I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing, and I'm sure he is as well.

Q. Obviously you've had a lot of success on this course before. What do you attribute that to?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Maybe it's just, certain golf courses just fit your eye. I've had certain success on -- well, some success in certain places. You know, one being Torrey Pines here, Firestone, Augusta I've won multiple times; Bay Hill. Certain golf courses just fit your eye. This golf course, ever since I played here in '98 for the first time, it just fit my eye. Even after the re-design, it still fit my eye.
Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes re-designs may throw it off. For instance, Torrey Pines didn't when they re-designed that golf course. I still felt the set lines were great. But this golf course has just always fit my eye.

Q. Along those lines, a question about No. 16. For you, is that a drivable green every round, or what conditions would prompt you to go for that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, my younger days, yes. (Laughter).
No, I need help. Every day, if the wind is down, then I can get there, but I certainly need help. I need to have a little bit of wind behind me.
All of the years I've driven the ball -- I can drive the ball in the front bunkers with no wind, but even that takes a pretty good shot, and it also takes a pretty good pin location, too. If it's helping, yeah, I can take a run at it.

Q. After the Match Play event, I think the assumption was that this would be your next tournament, barring any physical setbacks; why did you wait till the last minute to commit?
TIGER WOODS: Kind of typically what I always do (laughter).

Q. Why?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I just tend to do things that way. (Smiling).

Q. In terms of your knee, do you feel sore ever, and how does that change your regimen in terms of stretching?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think recovery is obviously a big thing, trying to make sure that there's no swelling from day-to-day, and residual soreness in the knee, I really don't feel much, which is weird. I've had it sore for so many years; to wake up in the morning and not have it throbbing is a different feeling. It's great.
But after a long day of practicing, yeah, it's going to be a little bit sore. But then again, as I said during the night, obviously recover, and the swelling goes down, and then after that, you feel great the next day.

Q. How would you describe the difference in the challenge to stroke play? I know you said you played the course, but going farther than that in your mental prep, compared to the format that you returned to.
TIGER WOODS: Well, stroke-play events, you're just trying to get yourself in position come Sunday, Sunday afternoon, the back nine on Sunday. But in match play, the very first hole is Sunday. You can play well and go home. You can play poorly and advance; you didn't know.
Stroke play is more of a marathon. You're trying to set yourself up for the last round, and in match play, it is the last round, each and every round you play. That's what makes it as much fun as it is, is the unpredictability of it all. It's the rush of going out on the first tee in match play, knowing that you had better have it.
In stroke play, you can actually have a bad day and still win a golf tournament. In match play, you just don't know if you can get away with having a bad day and still win your match.

Q. There are going to be three teenage guys at Augusta and they have all already won, Danny Lee, Ishikawa, Rory McIlroy, all 18, 19 years old. Why have these guys been able to fast-rack? Obviously we are talking generalities here, but you were seemingly the most accomplished amateur player of your generation of 12, 13 years ago, and these guys are seemingly light years ahead of you developmentally, as professionals.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it is a different time. You know, I grew up here in America where the college system was more prevalent. Guys go to college either for one or four years, whatever it is, but they usually go.
On the international level, that's not always the case. You look at a lot of the European players, even during the big heyday of the European Ryder Cup teams, not a lot of those guys went to college.
It's just a different mentality. They go to the club pro ranks, do that for a year or two and then try and become a professional golfer. You know, it is different now. Guys, I think, are developing at an earlier age and a faster rate because, one, you have technology and you have video cameras, better analysis, better instruction now than we have ever had. And they have aids and progress of these kids at an early age; and you give them the right tools, the clubs fit them. You don't have to fit the club to your swing. Or the other way around, you don't have to fit your body to the club.
All of these different advancements help kids progress at a faster rate.

Q. You and Mike had kind of a casual day preparing for the golf course. How important is it for to you relax on Wednesday, and how much did you miss that part of it while you were aware?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did. I missed getting out there and seeing the guys. Weirsy has been a great friend over the years, and we played together today. It was good to get in preparatory mode again and at a tournament site. I've done it, as I said, basically only two times in ten months, and that's not a whole lot of time to prep; just a lot of time at Isleworth at home and trying to get ready that way.

Q. Does Augusta fit your eye as much as it used to, and will your preparations include a scouting trip this year to go see it?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not going up there, no. They have only basically changed one hole up there. They just moved the tee up.
As far as the rest of the golf course, yeah, it does fit my eye. The only difference is that some of the par 5s are obviously different. Some of the par 4s are a lot longer, bunkers are deeper. I just hope the excitement comes back on the back nine; it's not what it used to be. 13, 15, were good drives were automatic irons into greens, and that's not always the case now.

Q. Do you miss that?
TIGER WOODS: I miss guys being able to go out there and shoot 31 on that back nine and win a championship. You know, granted, we have had bad weather the last two years and that's aided the high scoring. But hopefully we can get some good weather and the ball will be flying again, like it can, and guys will be a little bit more aggressive on that back nine and create a little more excitement on Sunday.

Q. A lot of younger players nowadays are getting compared to Tiger Woods. What's it like for Tiger Woods to be compared to Tiger Woods before the injury? And what's a fair way of judging your performance this week, would it be on whether you win or don't win the tournament, or are there other parameters?
TIGER WOODS: As far as the comparisons, it is a little bit -- it's nice in the sense that, you know, players are compared to what I've done at an early age. And as far as comparisons with -- well, pre- and post-surgery, well, I've had four of them, so pick which one you want.
As far as this week being a success, well, the whole idea is to come out and win an event. I didn't win the Match Play, and hopefully I can win this week.

Q. You always get asked this time of the year about peaking for the Masters. I wonder if you can just talk about how different that is, trying to peak for the Masters, compared to, say, last year for example.
TIGER WOODS: It is much different, because obviously I had an idea of how my game was, and the things I needed to work on, where I needed to have my game go towards.
Right now, that's kind of out -- I don't really know yet. That's why it's nice to be able to have the four rounds here and get into a competitive stroke-play mode again. I've only had the two matches there in Arizona and that's it. But other than that, it will be nice to get a better understanding of what I need to work on come down the next month.

Q. When would you like to know where you are, and when do you need to know where you are?
TIGER WOODS: Probably maybe the next couple of weeks would be nice. Start to dial it in a little bit more.

Q. Tavistock Cup maybe?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Monday. (Laughter) peak on Tuesday.

Q. First off, welcome back.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

Q. Good to have you back. Just wondering in terms of preparation for the Masters, how Doral sets up to Augusta, what the playing conditions are like and what you can take from Doral and apply to Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: All you can do is just play well. That's the only -- they are two totally different golf courses. You know, here, the wind obviously tends to blow. There's no swirling winds here. Augusta, that's all we've got. Uneven lies; not a lot of hills in Florida.
So it is two totally different venues. But the whole idea is to make sure you are controlling your ball flight, and here or at Augusta, obviously that's prevalent to distance control is to hit the ball the right trajectory, and here, if the wind blows, it hasn't -- I don't think the forecast is for wind, but if it does come up, you still have to control your ball.

Q. Can you please talk a little bit about what kind of technical swing changes you did to guard against a new injury?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, as far as swing changes, I haven't made any. I've been trying to make these changes, but I haven't had a leg to swing on. So it's the same things that Hank and I were working on for years. It's just that now I actually have a leg to hit against.
You know, some of the shots, the movements I was trying to implement on my golf swing, I couldn't physically do. I didn't have a left leg to hit against. The Bones would move and I tried to jump out of there because of the pain, try and get off of it. It hurt like hell to hit against it.
So it's finally nice to be able to actually hit against a left leg and feel that stableness. I'm controlling my ball a little bit better now, with less effort. I don't have to work as hard, because obviously my legs are more quiet, because they can be now.
LAURA HILL: Tiger, thanks for coming in and best of luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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