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March 14, 2009

Tiger Woods


Q. Step forward today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit it great today. I hit it the best I've hit it in a long time. Granted, I haven't played in a long time, but still. (Laughter).
I have not controlled the golf ball that well in a very long time, and that was fun. I was hitting shots that I had not been able to hit before which was such a great feeling, unfortunately. I'm just not making any putts.

Q. Apart from the scoring, what do you mean by when you're playing like this you have to drive -- (inaudible).
TIGER WOODS: I haven't been able to do that in years.

Q. Shot at 18, best of the year?
TIGER WOODS: That's all I had, 3-iron, and it was 207 to the hole. I started it uphill lie, hook lie out of rough, 207 I had, started out over the water, and that was not a shot I was willing to play and went with 3-iron and it worked out perfectly.

Q. If you can assess what you're getting out of the week, you seem like you're on the rise.
TIGER WOODS: I'm getting better each day, the feel of playing in the game again at this level is coming back. Unfortunately I'm just not making putts. As I said earlier over there, six lipouts the first few days and seven lipouts today for birdie; that's a lot of lipouts for birdie, so it's pretty frustrating.

Q. That aside, are you happy with the way things are progressing, even though you would rather be in a better position on the board?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, it's not that far off, because if I make those putts or half those putts go in, I'm pretty close to the lead. Ball-striking-wise, very happy with how things are progressing. Unfortunately I'm just not getting it done on the greens.

Q. Faldo raised kind of an interesting theoretical point. He said you've been playing all this time at Isleworth and you know the greens and you don't even have to read them. Can you get rusty reading greens? Is that possibly part of this?
TIGER WOODS: The greens are so different here. I putt a lot by memories, and since they redid the greens last year and obviously this year, putts are doing things differently than they used to in the past. All of those years with the old greens, I knew all the breaks before I got here, and now it's a little bit different.
Some greens are taking it, some are not. Sometimes I gave the wind too much credit today, and sometimes I didn't give it enough credit and blew the ball. It's just a fraction off.

Q. Did Stevie threaten to walk off if you didn't make a putt?
TIGER WOODS: He always does that. That's typical.

Q. Is it the stroke?
TIGER WOODS: It's not the stroke. I feel like I'm rolling the ball on my lines at the right speeds. I hit a couple of putts today that were too hard but other than that, my speed has been good. It's just they are either hanging on the high side or just drifting across the front edge of the hole.
And you know, it's just that close to being some pretty good scores.

Q. In the bunker at 17, is that just an aggressive play?
TIGER WOODS: It's the shot I was trying to pull off, because either I get blasted out directly sideways or I can hit trying to play that shot. The palm tree was in the way, so I couldn't actually lay up to the front part of the green, so I had to try to play either kind of a miracle shot or a pitch kind of sideways. Looking at the leaderboard, I'm pretty far back; might as well try it.

Q. Does it feel like it's been four years since you've gone up against -- (inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't. It does not feel like that long. I've won there a few times. But hopefully this year I'll play well at the right time.

Q. Has it gone more differently than you thought getting used to playing; did you think it would be this difficult?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't think I would be out here this long. We used to play 36 holes in this time at home just speeding around in a cart. We've been playing at home, two three guys, 18 holes in an hour and a half. That's a little different than playing out here.
Just the pace of play, getting used to all of that; time to think, all of the different things, I had not experienced that in eight months. So, it's been a while.

Q. Does that take longer to come back than you thought it would?
TIGER WOODS: I think it did, the duration, and also the rhythm of playing this way. You just get used to playing out here, but I had not done it for a while.
Basically if you look at it, I've only played two tournaments since the Masters, so that's not a whole lot of rounds. At the U.S. Open, I had a hard time finding the rhythm of the round. I got off to poor starts every day and found the rhythm after a few holes.
And here it's happening quicker: I'm finding the rhythm, my pace of play, my feel, my swing, my touch is coming back now. Hopefully it will keep progressing as I come closer to Augusta.

Q. Do you see in the future Rory McIlroy -- (inaudible).
TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt. There's no doubt. The guy's a talent. Hopefully while I'm not around, or while I'm around. Certainly he has the talent. We can all see it: The way he hits the golf ball, the way he putts, the way he can chip, get up-and-down. He has the composure. He has all of the components to be the best player in the world, there's no doubt.
It's just a matter of time and experience, and then basically gaining that experience in big events, that takes time, and I mean, geez, he's only 19. Just give him some time, and I'm sure he'll be there.

End of FastScripts

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