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February 21, 2018

Tiger Woods

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Q. Just a few comments on being back to an event where you've enjoyed some success?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. It's nice to be home and playing this great event, and sleeping in my own bed. It's been a while since I've played this event, and really looking forward to it.

Q. What did you do between last week and the start of here?
TIGER WOODS: I just took a couple days off just to recover, recoup, start lifting again, start training, and then started hitting balls Monday afternoon lightly and then did a pretty good practice session yesterday.

Q. Some specifically you're working on?
TIGER WOODS: I just felt like I just needed to continue going down the things I've been working on. I just needed to get better at. It wasn't very good on Friday, and more importantly, I didn't put very good. I didn't feel good warming up when I was warming up for Friday's round with my putter. I had terrible speed and it showed.

I got exposed there on the back nine with three 3-putts. I've worked a little on my putting since I've been home each and every day. Same little drills, you see me do the gate drill with my two tees there. Just making sure I hit every putt solid and every putt flush.

Q. Any equipment changes?
TIGER WOODS: No. I haven't. No, same.

Q. Now being named officially as a vice captain with Stricker to The Ryder Cup team, it must be very pleasing.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Jim asked me a little while ago, Stricks and myself at the same time, if we were interested in going and I said of course. He's one of my best friends and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I'm there to help him. We've worked well the last couple years in the Cups together.

Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical and just he's a fantastic leader. For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.

Q. As you build toward and start thinking about Augusta, the role of experience there, can you talk a little about that, and is there any place where it's bigger than Augusta National?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think so because we play there each and every year. It's the only major we do play there each and every year. I just think that even though the golf course has changed dramatically from when I first started playing till now, I just understand where to miss the golf ball.

It helps that I've won there four times and I've won there under different layouts, basically. It really -- it's a comfort, you look at what I've done, what Phil's done, what Freddie does every single year for the past hundred years. Same with Bernhard.

We just know where to miss it and how it play the golf course, where to be patient and when to really be aggressive. And you know, this is -- it's like don't get me wrong when I say this, it's like another TOUR event. Only reason why I say that, we play there each and every year, that helps. When we play the same venue over and over again throughout the years, even though like Muirfield Village changed a lot over the last 15, 20 years, certain guys really do well there because they are comfortable with it and I think that's how some of the players are at Augusta, myself included.

Q. What do you miss most about not being able to play the last few Masters? What have you missed the most?
TIGER WOODS: I just miss the rush of competing for a green jacket. I've been doing it since I was 19 years old, and been a long time and I've enjoyed every single challenge, and having to sit out on the sidelines, not fun. It really isn't. Especially since I know how to play the golf course and wish I could play but I was unfortunately physically debilitated, I could not compete. This year, it's different. Looking forward to it.

Q. Are you able to get into a routine back to tournament golf?
TIGER WOODS: I am. I'm starting to get that feeling again of playing tournament golf, where you know, each and every shot counts. I'm looking at where I need to putt the golf ball. I'm looking at forecasts.

Before, you're at home, who cares where the wind is coming from; who cares what the forecast is the next couple days. But now playing tournament golf, I'm starting to get into that flow again. I missed it, and it's becoming familiar again.

Q. Have you played any recreational rounds here the last few weeks?
TIGER WOODS: I have not. I know that Rickie and Duf came out here and played but I didn't play that day. I haven't been out here on this golf course since the last time I played. I've been on property. I've done a couple commercial shoots here but I haven't played it.

Q. Bay Hill, a lot of great memories at Bay Hill. I know you don't like to set your schedule too far in advance, but what are your thoughts on that tournament and what it means to you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always loved playing there. There's certain tournaments where they are so special when you're able to win it. When you're able to walk off the green and Mr. Nelson shakes your hand at the Byron or Jack shakes your hand at Muirfield Village or Arnold is there to shake your hand, those tournaments are very special to win.

To have won it eight times with Arnold there, and him calling a couple of my putts that were unlikely I should make them but I ended up making them somehow; he called a couple of them. There's no other handshake that's that aggressive I think in golf -- and most of you guys have met Arnold, when he shakes your hand, you definitely know it.

Q. Will it be be in your schedule this year?
TIGER WOODS: We'll see.

Q. As you ramp up towards Augusta, you're in the very early stages of what you're doing now, how far behind are you in your preparations compared to previous years when you were playing regularly or are you in a catch-up mode? How does it manifest itself here?
TIGER WOODS: Compared to previous years, you mean, just previously or -- it's like ten years ago.

Q. Are you in catch-up mode right now?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't necessarily say catch-up mode. I'm just learning how to play tournament golf again, and unfortunately I've made some of my mistakes, i.e., last week, and that's just unfortunately that's part of it.

As far as catch-up mode, no, I don't feel like I am. I know most of the guys have been playing tournament golf a lot more than I have. As I said, I'm looking forward to April, trying to get my game solid for April. I've got some work to do.

Q. How many tournaments do you expect to play between now and Augusta --
TIGER WOODS: I would say yes but there's only time where I didn't play, 2010, I came back out and I played and finished fourth, I believe. But that's one golf course I can get away with it. As I explained earlier, I know the golf course.

But yeah, I would like to play well. I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I've won there, I've played really well early. I've always tried to get a tournament on the West Coast. That's kind of my -- one of the things I really look forward to because I know how to putt poa, except for Friday.

Now coming back to Florida, this is so different than what we're going to face at Augusta, because it's tournament reps, and I need tournament reps.

Q. The difference from last time --
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm not in pain. Yeah, I am a lot happier. I've been struggling for quite some time, probably just near five years now. So it was a long period of time where I was really struggling.

Q. You said in the Bahamas, you asked for a bit of time and patience. Do you feel you've had that and are you being patient with yourself?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm still learning. Probably the thing is, I'm so happy I'm not in pain anymore. I'm still learning that I'm stiffer than I used to be.

You know, I can't create the same angles that I used to be able to create naturally. Obviously I'm fused, so it's a little bit different, and I'm still learning what that feels like under the gun. Some of my shots, I like to play, they are not the same as they used to be. That part, I'm going to have to learn.

It's not something that I'm used to because I've never felt like this before, but this is the new norm.

Q. How many times will you pull driver?
TIGER WOODS: If the wind blows like this in this direction, probably four, maybe five.

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