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August 14, 2005

Tiger Woods


Q. After today you're right there, really right there; some of the guys are struggling out on the course. Yesterday you mentioned "welcome to golf," as in reference to leaving some putts short, leaving some shots on the course. Are you frustrated because you could be a little closer?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, certainly, because I did not get off to a very good start again today. I was 2 over early and made it there on 7, some miracle fluke shot, should have been about 20 feet past but went in, so got lucky.

From there I really played some good golf. I hit some good golf shots from there on in. I wish I would have gotten off to a better start. This golf course ain't easy, especially the first seven holes.

Q. Are you going to be sticking around because something might happen in your favor?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there's free lunch (laughter). You know, you don't know what can happen out there. I just see the guys are having a hard time out there because the golf course is getting faster and drier and the pins are brutally difficult to try and get the ball close.

Q. Ultimately how do you assess how you played 17 this week?

TIGER WOODS: I hit great drives and two poor 3 woods unfortunately. Today I hit a wonderful 2 iron in there. I'm just trying to put the ball anywhere right of the flag. Get up there in the front right bunker, right gallery, right over the green, anything right of the hole. I just happened to flush one and hit it pretty straight.

Q. The fear early in the week was the course would dry out and there would be a lot of runout in the fairways. Is that what's happening now?

TIGER WOODS: That's exactly what's happening. You have to be committed to your line but also understand what kind of shot you're going to try and place in the fairway because if you hit a low one and it's kind of on the edge, it can run out. The shot I hit on 18, I hit it perfect but I hit it on the right side 360, and it went right through the fairway. The fairways are running. You have to be committed to put some spin on it and keep the ball in play, and sometimes a little spinner, floater, just doesn't go as far but it will land in the fairway soft and stay there.

Q. Did you have a number in mind today?

TIGER WOODS: If I could shoot going out with the wind the way it was blowing, I felt if I shot 66 today, that would be a really good number to post early because I'm two hours ahead of the leaders. I figured the golf course, I watched the scores this morning, no one was there was two guys under par through 11 holes, and that was it. The rest of the guys were all over par, and looking at that, you say, well, the golf course is not playing easy. They have nothing to lose. They can be aggressive and try to do something, and no one is doing anything.

I contributed to that (laughter). I was 2 over through 7. I wish I could have shot a couple more shots lower and posted that, but you never know.

Q. How aware of the leaderboard were you at 17?

TIGER WOODS: I was aware of it on 16, what the guys were doing back there. When we were walking off the tee on 17, you know, there was a big ooh and aah, and we didn't know if Davis had made something or Elk had made something or Phil had made something, and we got to 17 green and saw the board and it had changed. Guys were making some mistakes back there. I thought if I could somehow go 4 3, post 3, I was looking pretty good. I left a chip right in the center of the hole and hit the best drive I hit all week on 18.

Q. Do you think what if, Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: If I did that playing golf would drive me crazy. Every guy who plays golf, if they did a what if, especially out here on Tour, you'd drive yourself crazy. Only thing you can do is take a learning experience from it, positives and negatives, and apply them to the future. What did you do right, what did you do wrong, and I did a lot of things right this week. Unfortunately I did a few things wrong on the greens, as well as my starts this week, got off to poor starts every day and had to somehow fight back. I was able to do it.

Q. Did the heat and humidity affect you at all? I mean, I know it's an outdoor sport, but it is really, really hot and humid out here.

TIGER WOODS: I live in Florida. This is what it's like every day in the sun. That's why I run as many miles as I do in this stuff. This is nothing. Only difference is I'm wearing shorts and I'm in a cart and I can quit any time (laughter). That's why I work out hard and that's why I stay in good shape is for days like this, so I can keep going forever.

Q. How do you compare the ability within yourself to come back from adversity from the time you dunked it in the water on Friday as compared to say St. Andrews where you were out front? How do you rate that achievement within yourself?

TIGER WOODS: The same. The reason why I say they're the same is because it's the same effort level. It hasn't changed; starting from the first tee the switch is on until you finish out on 18 and then the switch is turned off. There's no turning the switch on out there; you just have it on from the very getgo. One day you might be better than another, that's it.

But you have the same effort level day in and day out. It doesn't change. You grind from the very first tee shot until you finish out. If you can't do that for five hours, then there's something wrong with you.

Q. Would you like to see another major come back here in the near future?

TIGER WOODS: Why not? This is a wonderful golf course. I had never played it until last week when I played my first practice rounds here and then this week obviously in the Championship.

I can understand why everyone loves this golf course. I mean, it's hard but it's fair. It's right there in front of you. There's no hidden tricks, and it's a golf course that it finally showed its true form today when it dried out. It was playing soft and they were afraid to lose the golf course earlier in the week and they didn't let it dry out and finally let it dry out the last couple of days, and you've seen the scores go up.

Q. What did you do during the break, the rain delay?

TIGER WOODS: Just ate some food and had two pieces of something in there, I don't know what it was, but it was something (laughter). They said, "Okay, you're teeing off in ten minutes." I'm like, "Excuse me?" "You're back in position in ten minutes." So I ran back out, hopped in the cart and went.

Q. Is it a little strange being in contention after almost missing the cut by one shot?

TIGER WOODS: No, it's not. It's a major championship. The only way I say that is because a major championship, if you shoot good rounds in the 60s, you move up the board. You know, if this is like the Bob Hope and I shot the same scores obviously I'd be lapped by five, six shots every day. It's a different deal. You feel like if you're shooting scores in the mid 60s or high 60s you're going to move up that board and you might even get yourself back in it.

Q. Four majors this year, how close you came, can you comment on that?

TIGER WOODS: I had a wonderful four tournaments. I won two, I was close in one, I don't know about the other one yet (smiling), so I've made some great progress working with Hank over the past year or so, and now I'm starting to see why I made the changes, for moments like this in major championships, when you've got to put it put it together I've been able to put it together.

Q. I think this week you had five three putts and I think Pinehurst was the same number. That kind of separates you from the Grand Slam really?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't have my speed very good this week, as well. Either I made it or I was struggling with it. It was one of those weeks, again, it was just very frustrating because it came in streaks again this week where I'd power them in a little while and then lose it for a few holes. I had a tough time getting my speed. It's just one of those weeks where I didn't have it for all 18 holes every day, for four straight days.

Q. How do you get yourself psyched up for next week when it's draining like a major?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a World Golf Championship. It's a big event. You'll have the same players that you have here will be there again, so it'll be a lot of fun. I like that golf course.

Q. Is there a self gratification for you when you perform at such a high level and so consistently?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. I mean, that's why I've busted my butt on the range for hours on end and made changes to get to this point where I'm able to compete at the highest level in major championships. That's where you want to be. This year has been very exciting because I've made some wonderful strides over the past year or so again working with Hank, and that's what's so gratifying is that I'm starting to see the fruits of my labor.

Q. When you started the majors in April, given the changes you've made this year, would you have anticipated what you've been able to do so far this year?

TIGER WOODS: I thought that after the start of the year that my game was good enough to contend in every major championship. Whether or not I did or not remained to be seen. I felt like my game had progressed, I was narrowing up all my misses each and every day. They weren't as bad as they used to be, and my distance control with my irons are so much better than they've ever been, just a matter of putting it all together at the right time.

Q. How do you assess Elkington as a player and as a competitor?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Elk, when he's playing well, he really plays well. If you look at where he's won, he's won on some great venues against some of the best fields. Granted, he's had a hard time the last few years, but it's one of those things where you notice a lot of guys, once they get older, once they get back into contention, they remember how to do it. Elk has been there enough times, has so much experience, he knows how to handle it.

Q. What did you think of the setup and PGA Championship setups in general?

TIGER WOODS: Extremely fair, hard but fair. I think that's why can't all championships be that way? The PGA gets it right. They make the rough difficult but it's playable. They put the pins in difficult spots but they're not where they could go over the edge, and it's one of those great tournaments, and you go to great venues but they set it up fair every time. It's never over the limit.

Q. If you end up short here, will you kick yourself a little bit or do you let it go pretty quickly?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it'll be frustrating, no doubt about it. Any time you lose you're not going to be happy. If you aren't happy losing, there's something wrong with you.

Q. Do you think the streaky putting is a cyclical thing, that you'll snap out of it?

TIGER WOODS: It's just one of those things. I didn't putt that way at the British, and for some reason I putted that way here. Putting has always been cyclical, but I think over my career I've putted week in and week out over my career. I've had some spells where I haven't putted well, but all in all over my entire career, I've always putted well. It's just one of those things I've got to keep working at so I'll be better next time.

Q. Does that fit into that category, Tiger, "welcome to golf"?

TIGER WOODS: It is. You know, it's part of playing it. You're going to have stretches where things work and things don't, and your feel is great one day and then your feel is not. That's more indicative in the short game than anywhere else.

Q. How does preparation for a major carry over into the following week sometimes?

TIGER WOODS: Sometimes. I think a lot of it is confidence. If you're playing well you feel very confident in what you're doing and you have so many positive experiences the week of a major, and the very next week, it's like, why not continue this? There's no reason why it can't continue. So far in my career that's kind of how it's worked out.

Q. Best ball striking week of the year for you this week?

TIGER WOODS: Yesterday was, without a doubt. I hit it so well yesterday, and ironically enough, I shot better scores over the two days where I didn't hit it as well.

Q. Welcome to golf?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly, you've got it.

Q. That leads to one thing. People still think that you can do this miraculous thing; they don't seem to think, as you say, welcome to golf. Do you think people are learning now that golf is not a sport where you shoot a perfect score?

TIGER WOODS: Well, golf is one of those sports that when you're off you get exposed because there's no one to bail you out. They say in other sports if you've got one part of your game not going well let's say basketball. If you're not scoring well you can shut somebody down on defense and apply your efforts somewhere else. Golf doesn't work that way. You can't apply yourself anywhere else. You've got to keep applying yourself all the time and if they're not working well you get exposed.

Q. Can you explain Barkley?

TIGER WOODS: You can't. He's exposed you can't explain the way he plays.

End of FastScripts.

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