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July 29, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Tiger Woods to the interview area. Tiger, congratulations on a great round today.

Just a couple of notes: 61 ties his career low, which he accomplished twice before. It also ties the course record set by Billy Mayfair in 2001. And Tiger, with back to back eagles, is the fourth player to do that in tournament history, and we'll have all of those specifics for you in your notes.

So with that, Tiger, great round, maybe just talk a little about getting it going finally.

TIGER WOODS: I broke 80. (Laughing). It was a fun day. I didn't start off all that well to be honest with you. I hit a drive almost on 10 fairway on the first hole. Pulled a drive on the second hole.

But after that, I got it going. I hit some beautiful shots and I got the putter rolling, which was nice. From there, it was just a bunch of fun just to kind of keep the momentum going. Yesterday I didn't do anything as far as momentum. Any time I put myself in position to get some on my side, I botched it up. Today was the exact opposite; I got it rolling and kept it going and I had it all day.

Q. At what point did you feel the momentum start?

TIGER WOODS: I think that front nine, I shot 5 under and it wasn't like I was pressing to shoot 5 under. It was just a nice, comfortable one. I left two putts on the front nine right dead in the heart about an inch short, so I felt like, you know, I wasn't it wasn't a 5 under par that I was, like, wow, I can't believe I shot that. It was like, that's all right, now let's keep it going.

Q. How does this rank with some of other great rounds you've shot on the Tour, and were you ever thinking about 59, or don't you let that enter your mind?

TIGER WOODS: I've shot some good ones, but any time you shoot 61, it's going to be a special day, and today was certainly one of those special rounds.

As far as 59, somebody yesterday it out on 14 after I made eagle. But I said, I kept telling Steve and I were talking about it, and we said, "These people don't understand, you still have to position the golf ball." I got to a point where I was 7 under par, or 9 under par, and I got there because I was positioning my golf ball. So you just focus on positioning your golf ball. And I birdied the next two holes, same thing. 17, put the ball underneath the hole; didn't do that and made par there. 18, tried to keep the ball below the hole again and didn't do that either.

I mean, yeah, it crosses your mind, but you still have to position your golf ball in order to make birdies.

Q. With obviously being a spokesperson, and this one of the Buick events, it's kind of like a home course, home crowd advantage, what can you draw on or how much did you draw on from the fans getting into it so much with your game coming around there so spectacularly on 13 and 14?

TIGER WOODS: They definitely got into it today. Stevie and I were talking about it; this is more electric out here on a Friday than we are used to seeing. You always find this place loud and ruckus on the weekend, but today was certainly a crowd that was definitely into it. It was fun. I had the momentum on my side, I was rolling with it and you could feel the gallery was excited about it. Freddie was playing well; Ryan was playing well; we were all playing well at the same time. So birdies were flying in from everywhere in our group so it was a fun day.

Q. How important is it to keep your momentum going for this tournament, but also for the PGA after a round like this?

TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to play well here. Obviously it gives you confidence going into the PGA, and hopefully I can win this tournament so that I can go home and have a nice practice session at home.

Q. At St. Andrews, you talked about getting better, the goal is to get better every day, every year, every season. Do you feel now that you are a better player than you were five years ago, that you have more shots and you can do more things than you could do then?

TIGER WOODS: I certainly have more shots, there's no doubt about that; and experience, too, five more years' experience. If you would have asked me '95 versus 2000, big time difference, you know. Five more years, you learn a lot of different golf shots. It's been a nice learning curve, too. Certainly my game has gotten a lot better, a lot more sound over the past year or so working with Hank, and good, positive things are starting to come about from our hard work.

Q. Earlier Vijay was talking about the 7 and 14th fairways, didn't really worry about that. You guys are No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, but driving accuracy, neither one of you are near the top, can you talk about the importance of driving accuracy or maybe the lack of importance of driving accuracy?

TIGER WOODS: Well, when you're hitting the ball 320, it's hard to be really accurate all the time. Because if you take the same line that somebody who hits it 30 yards shorter, you're going to be in the fairway. Add 30 more yards, you're in the rough. So your margin of error becomes so much smaller.

Like, for instance, they made a concerted effort to make the fairways smaller. Next week at the PGA, or next two weeks from now, at the PGA, the average fairway width was 37 yards in '93 during the U.S. Open, right? Next week, it's 27. So everybody is making fairways narrower and we're hitting it further. Add those two things in, it becomes a lot harder to hit fairways.

It's just part of put it this way: If you hit the ball dead straight down the middle of the fairway, if you hit it too far, eventually it's going to be out of the fairway, and you're going to hit it over the green. If you look at it that way and look at the different angles, like today I hit a couple of shots that were on exactly the same line as Fred, Fred is in the fairway and I'm not, and that's just because of the difference in our distance.

Q. How many drivers did you hit today?

TIGER WOODS: Quite a few. I don't know how many times. If you want me to go over it I can.

Q. Did you flight your drivers differently on 13 and 14? Are you in that complete control of this right how?

TIGER WOODS: What do you mean "flighting" it differently?

Q. High, low?

TIGER WOODS: Depends on the wind.

Q. You seemed to hit it a little bit lower on 13 and 14 to try to get a little more run on it.

TIGER WOODS: Say that again?

Q. You seem to be trying to hit it a little bit lower to get a little more run on it on 13.

TIGER WOODS: It was the exact opposite, actually. I hit 13 higher than I did on 14. 14, I was just trying to cut it a little bit more and put it up the gap.

Q. It seemed like you were having fun with your playing partners, especially late in the front nine. You guys were all rolling and I think Funk once pointed to you, like everyone made long birdie putts. How much can that help on a day like this when you're having fun and other guys are making birdies? What kind of factor is that?

TIGER WOODS: It was a lot of fun, because Freddie was off to an unbelievable start. He was like 4 under through five, I think it was. He was making eagle on the first hole, birdies here and there. And what's kind of cool is that we all three of us birdied No. 3 and all three of us birdied No. 5. That doesn't happen very often when all three of you birdie the same hole. So we were kind of laughing about that.

It was a fun day because we were all rolling at the same time, and you just want to get on that train and let's all go together.

Q. Did you know the course record was 61?


Q. Was your goal to get close to Vijay and catch him?

TIGER WOODS: Just try to get to double digits somehow. It would be a great day if I got to double digits, but realistically if I fell one or two short of double digits, I would still be there with a chance. I'd only be four or five back going into the weekend, and anything can happen with birdies. So that was my goal starting out the day, and, you know, I got hot.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the birdie save on 16 when you went left of the green with a second shot?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit a drive up the right and I was trying to hit driver and trying to hit a nice, hard cut up there and just make sure you don't lose it right. So I chickened out and pull fatted it left, and I had a nice little shot right up the green and I was trying to hit the ball past the hole so I didn't have to worry about the ridge on my putt, and I was able to do that.

The putt was actually a tricky putt because if I didn't see Ryan's putt I probably would have missed it. Ryan's putt really dove at the hole. I said, you know what, it looked like it was dead center and then he took a step to go pick it up and it rolled. So I said, you know, maybe I should give it a little bit more, and I gave it probably another half a ball more and it fell in.

Q. Do you have any sense what it's like for the guys you're playing with when you shoot a round like this? Fred Funk, for instance, he shot pretty well today, but I'm sure to a lot of people in the crowd, he was invisible.

TIGER WOODS: He was right there with a chance to win the tournament, and that's the whole idea. You know, Freddie and I were laughing and joking; he said some pretty funny things out there. You're trying to put yourself in position going into the weekend, and you know you've got to continue to make birdies. You can't stop. You've got to keep it going because everyone is shooting good scores out there. If you feel like I mean, yesterday I shot 71 and I just got ran over by the whole field. You just can't afford to shoot a low score out here, not when the greens are this soft. When the greens are this soft, 5 irons are backing up, you have to continue going at flags.

Q. I don't know if you heard about Ernie Els' knee injury?

TIGER WOODS: I just heard about it.

Q. Can you talk about what his absence will mean for the Presidents Cup and the rest of the TOUR?

TIGER WOODS: That's a huge loss for all of us out here. I mean, Ernie is one of the best players, obviously, in the world. It's a tremendous loss for all of us out here playing golf, and especially Presidents Cup, their team is certainly going to miss him. He's one of the stalwarts of their team and one of the leaders of their team, too. It's hard to believe. But anything can happen. Accidents do happen. Unfortunately it happened at the wrong time. You know, last year, Goose got hurt, and now Ernie. Accidents do happen unfortunately out here.

Q. When you get into a stretch like you did, what are your emotions like? Do you have to tell yourself to maybe stay on an even keel, or do you try to feed off that excitement and keep it going?

TIGER WOODS: I actually found it very easy to stay calm out there today because I just had to continue to try to make birdies and that's it. Even if I felt like I birdied every hole on the back nine, I'd still probably be one back or two back, so I just had to continue to try and make birdies all day.

Q. With young players out there, and this tournament in particular, a 17 year old local doing well yesterday and some of the others

TIGER WOODS: How did he do today?

Q. He had a tough day.


Q. Tough day, yeah. And Nick (Watney), of course, playing so well yesterday, and now at 29, or at least your first year as a 29 year old, some of us go back and live it again, do you get a sense now of being one of those wily veterans on the TOUR, as opposed to being one of those young guys?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm no longer part of the young gun crew. You first start out, it was the up and comers; and then the young guns; and then you become a vet; and then you become a little more experienced and then you become wily; and as you get a little later on like where Fred is at right now, 49, you become grizzled. (Laughter). So I'm not quite to that stage yet, but I've been out here enough and I've played the same tournaments.

It's amazing, it's actually kind of funny now that I've been out here long enough to you know when you go and you're in line at the airport, you know how to get to the hotel, you know how to get to the restaurant, you know how to get to the golf course, you don't even need anything, that's when you know you've been around a little bit.

Q. How important is it for you to always think about the next shot or the next round? Like yesterday, you weren't down at all about the 71. Today, your first tee shot was on the other fairway almost, your second tee shot behind the score board, to not get rattled and think about your next shot, how important is that for you?

TIGER WOODS: I think that's one of the things that I've certainly become better at as I've gotten older and more experienced. You don't let it bother you, you've just got to continue to move on and continue to focus on preparing and playing the next shot to position yourself for the best opportunity. And you're going to hit bad shots, and I did that starting out. I had a lack of commitment on the first hole, it's no big deal, okay. That's all over and done with, and trying to make birdie from here somehow and I didn't do it. It's just one of those things where you've just got to be committed to your shots and stay in the present as best you can.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Tiger, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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