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September 12, 2009

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us after a third round 62, setting the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club course record, and you're the leader heading into the final round of the 2009 BMW Championship. Maybe some opening comments about a great day for you.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was obviously -- after I got past the first hole, I did all right. I made bogey there on 1, and I hit a sweet 4-iron into 2, but I missed the putt. It was a good shot.
I birdied 3, and next thing I know, I think Paddy birdied three of the first four, got off to a quick start. After seeing that and seeing what Marc was doing ahead of us, I just figured that you had to get into double digits today, and I thought that was going to be a good score to end up at.
And then all of a sudden I made a good save there at 5 and hit a pretty sweet shot there at 7 to make par, and then from there I hit a lot of good shots after that.

Q. A couple details on the round. It's probably not getting a lot of attention, but the pin on 6 is pretty dangerous. I wonder if you could talk about your 7-iron there, and then what was the difficulty beyond the obvious of the tree that you were so pleased on No. 7?
TIGER WOODS: The 7-iron I hit there at 6 was -- with the tee up, it was 187 or something like that, but it was down right to left. I was trying to hit the ball, there was a "6" sign probably about 15 feet right of that. If you could land it on that, sweep it a little bit, it should kind of get down towards the hole somewhere. I started at the middle of the green, hit a high, sweeping draw, and it landed just a little left of that "6" sign and then fed on down to the hole. It was a shot that even if you bail out to the right, it's a tough putt. The only thing you can't do there is go in the back bunker. That's one of the reasons why I didn't hit a 6 and try to hold it in there. I wanted to take the back bunker out of play. But I had to hit the 7-iron really good to get it there, and I pulled it off.
The 6-iron I hit there at 7, I had to start that ball left of the green and cut it out of that rough like that. I had to take something off of it, which I didn't want to have to do, because when you're trying to cut it, you need some speed, trying to cut as much of that -- I had to try to cut it and I didn't want to try to take something off of it, but I had to. It came off perfect, couldn't come off any better than that.

Q. Are you okay with missing the putt there?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. I mean, just happened to make 4.

Q. Yesterday when you were in here you suggested it might be difficult to go really low. Was that a self-motivation for you, because it seems like you just went out and did what you said couldn't be done.
TIGER WOODS: Well, the round just kind of built upon itself. As I say, I bogeyed 1 right out of the gate and birdied 3 to get back. It just kind of built it over itself. I made a nice save there at 5 after hitting a really good drive, landed in the fairway and kind of ran into an impossible spot.
Birdieing 6 and then good save at 7, it kind of just built. And then going birdie-eagle to finish off the front nine, you're always can make up shot from 8 to 11, and I did today.
The only hole I didn't take care of was 10. 10 was a -- I wanted to hit wedge in there so bad, but coming out of the first cut, I wanted to take over the green out of play, and I came up a little bit short.

Q. You've probably been asked this before, but what is it about this place that allows you to dominate like you have?
TIGER WOODS: I've always liked it. I played here even as an amateur in the old Western Open. I've always felt comfortable playing this golf course. Even though the golf course has changed this year for us, the routing is still the same, and I've always felt comfortable playing this golf course for some reason, and even though, for instance, they changed Torrey Pines South, I still feel comfortable on the property. And this is very similar to that.

Q. You didn't leave much out there, but you were an inch or two away from 60 and maybe even 59. Was there any point you were thinking about that at all?
TIGER WOODS: No, no. I was just doing what I always do, and that's kind of plodding along and playing shot after shot. You know, certain rounds, if you can get off to a quick enough start and you see some easier holes coming up, you might entertain the fact that you might have an opportunity to go near 60 or somewhere near 50s. But you've got to have the right golf course for that. This golf course is a little bit more difficult than that.
But it was just a round that, as I said, just kind of built upon itself, and I just kind of gradually just kind of kept making -- hitting good shots and then making a couple putts here and there, and lo and behold, I end up at 9-under par.

Q. You're obviously putting quite nicely. That wasn't really the case at a few tournaments previous. When things are going bad, when you're putting poorly, you don't seem to panic or make a lot of changes. Were you ever tempted to? Did you ever think about trying something different, or do you just figure you're going to come out of it?
TIGER WOODS: There's certain situations when you get more frustrated than others. The stretch there where I didn't make any putts, I was hitting good putts and lipping them out. It's frustrating when you hit good putts and lip out. Obviously when you hit poor putts they're not close. But when you're putting well, sometimes even a poor putt will dive in.
I just felt that I wasn't that far off because I was hitting so many lips. They weren't just blatantly bad putts, they were good putts that just weren't diving in. You've just got to stay patient through that stretch, and hopefully you'll come out of it hopefully quickly. It took me a couple tournaments.

Q. When you got here this week, did you see a 62 out there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. 16 holes, 15 holes. (Laughter.)

Q. A lot was made of Hazeltine about how you got yourself out, you got a nice lead, and you just kind of played relatively conservatively, which in the past has worked for you; you've won tournaments like that. Have you changed in terms of realizing maybe I've got to play hard all four rounds; I can't think that everyone is going to go backwards? And was that somewhat today's impetus for you, that I'm playing good, let's just keep making birdies?
TIGER WOODS: It's funny that people were saying I played conservatively. I played the same way for the first three rounds and had a two-shot lead. I mean, I was playing what I thought the golf course gave me. That's one of the things that I've learned and have matured over the years is play what the golf course gives you.
You just start understanding how to do it better, and I think that's one of the reasons why you look at over the years I've become much more consistent. I may not go as low, I may not win by as big a margins, but you don't have to. The whole idea is just play for what the situation gives you. If you get some good situations like I did today, I had a lot of good numbers where I could make full swings. Then you can go at flags. But a lot of times it doesn't work out that way. You have a lot of half shots and not quite good situations.
So there's nothing wrong with being a little more conservative and trusting your putting and getting yourself around that way.

Q. Just as a follow-up to that, so you would say that your mindset hasn't changed at all in terms of how you're going to manage your game in a tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I manage my game much better now than I ever have. That's just maturity. Plus I have so many more golf shots now than I used to. I almost had to play aggressively because I didn't really have too many shots to kind of work with. I didn't have the ability to change my trajectories like I do now, change the shapes and change the spins. I didn't have that ability. I learned that over the years.

Q. Two questions: Back to Bob's question on putting, it would seem like it would almost be more frustrating even if you were putting well, catching so many lips, knowing what it cost you in terms of winning; is that not the case?
TIGER WOODS: Of course it's frustrating, there's no doubt. If I putted well, I would have won a few more tournaments. One of the things that I was very proud of is that even though as poorly as I putted, I was still there in contention and could have won championships. Not a lot of guys can do that. I've been able to do that pretty much this entire year.

Q. And secondly, you may have restored your one-and-a-half-stroke lead in the Vardon today. Do you take more satisfaction out of the fact that I think you were eight shots better than the field today or out of that than the raw number?
TIGER WOODS: Probably the easiest way to answer that is that I'm very proud of the entire year, how I've played. To be that far ahead in the Vardon Trophy means that, one, you've been consistent; and two, you don't dog it. You don't have a round that you just say, go ahead and let it go. You try until the very end. That's what you have to do in order to win the Vardon Trophy. You've got to be very consistent.
If you look at over the years the guys who have -- since I've been on TOUR, the guys who have won the Vardon Trophy are those type of players.

Q. When you measure some of the great rounds you've played, do you do it more against what you shot that day and the circumstances or more, again, when the field averages 70 or 71? Valderrama, for example, comes to mind for whatever reason.
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's a tough one to answer because you just -- as I alluded to with Robert, you kind of play the golf course, what it gives you. Today I got a lot of good situations. You could see where like the first round I had a lot of half shots in there and didn't quite have the right number to go after a lot of flags. And today just happened to work out that way, and I happened to stiff a few. It's kind of a tough question to answer because it depends how you're feeling and the situation you get for the day.

Q. What was your favorite shot out there today, whether it was the curve at 7 or the 3-wood at 9 or the big hook over the trees at 11?
TIGER WOODS: It had to be the shot at 7 because it could have easily flown and not caught -- if I go in that back left bunker it's an automatic bogey. That's one of the reasons I was telling Fergie that I didn't want to have to take something off of it, but I had to to try to protect it from going into that back bunker. If anything you miss it in the short left bunker, then you've got the entire green and you've got a big shelf but you have an angle to play to.

Q. Considering the changes that they've made and how the course seemingly is compared to how it was, how good was this today? With the tees, pins, all that stuff, how difficult was the setup?
TIGER WOODS: It was difficult, but as I said, I had a lot of good numbers today and a lot of full shots. I went after some flags just because of the situation, because I had a good number where I could make a full swing at it and kind of go after it. You end up five yards, six yards either way of a number, then you're kind of not doing that. But it happened to work out that way today with just good numbers all day.

Q. Best round post-op today, on TOUR this year?
TIGER WOODS: Probably, yeah.

Q. The numbers would indicate that. You said you're trying to get to double figures. Did you mean for the week or just for today?
TIGER WOODS: No, just for the week. I felt after how everyone started, if I would have got to probably 10- or 11-under par, I probably would have been tied for the lead or maybe one back or somewhere right around there. Just because of how low the guys went early, I figured that 10 or lower would have been a good number to be at.

Q. To borrow one of Steve's expressions, a bit of "Inside Baseball" on this one, in terms of your evolution, your swing evolution, how happy are you where you're at with your swing, and would you say that your swing model now has become sort of more Hogan than anyone else if you were comparing guys? I know you're a different build and you've got different dynamics, but you're long through the hitting zone. Is that more your goal, and is that Hank or is that you?
TIGER WOODS: I'd have to say that's more of Hank's teaching and his philosophy. A lot of guys who are long through the hitting zone as you alluded to, obviously Byron Nelson did it a different way, hit it with his legs and kept it going towards the target. Hogan did it, again, a little bit differently than Byron did. But still, that's how you can be very consistent day in and day out. And I feel that my overall plane and my swing and my release and how I play now is just so much more efficient.
Bad shots aren't what they used to be, and that's what we were trying to get to. Anybody can play when they're hot, but it's how poor are your mis-hits, can you control them, and more importantly, can you fix it.
Overall I've gotten a better understanding of my swing over the years working with Hank. You hit a couple bad shots like I did at 1, how I over-hooked it there, and then immediately fix it, and then I hit a sweet little low fading 4-iron into the second hole. That's what you have to do all the time.

Q. Are you near the finished product?
TIGER WOODS: You're never near the finished product. You're never there.

Q. In terms of your swing model, tweaking and --
TIGER WOODS: You're always tweaking. You're always trying to get better. It's never -- the game is fluid. It's never concrete. That's the beauty and also the most frustrating thing about it. You have moments where you hit it good like I did today, and then you have moments where like at Wachovia I wasn't hitting it very good or THE PLAYERS I wasn't hitting it very good. That's just how it goes.

Q. Having the good numbers in on your approach shots, how much was that a function of the way you were hitting the ball off the tee?
TIGER WOODS: I did drive it good today. I've driven it good all week. Actually the last few weeks I've felt like I've driven the ball much better. You know, when I'm able to get it down there, obviously with my length, I can get in there with some shorter clubs. This golf course has allowed me to kind of get down there a little bit.
When we were playing at Liberty National, it was kind of hard to get the ball down there. It just didn't fit. Some of the tees were up and some of the angles just didn't quite fit. But this golf course, it fits.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: World No. 1, Tiger Woods, thank you.

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