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March 9, 2018
Palm Harbor, Florida
Q. How would you compare yesterday to today?
TIGER WOODS: Different kind of conditions today. Awfully cold this morning, calm early and now wind is dancing all over the place. We're having a hard time making up our minds out there which way it's coming from. It's quite a test for the guys in the afternoon.
Q. One of the most impressive things about your career is you've been able to play anywhere and play in any types of conditions.
What does it say about where you are right now so that you can play late in the day, cool and windy conditions and come out in the morning the next day and play every bit as well with not better?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not in pain, stiffer. So, takes a little while to warm up and get loose and going but, other than that, I'm all right.
Q. You've had four starts since we left the Bahamas. How would you compare where were you then and where you are now on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Totally different. I had been away from the game from competing for a year. I didn't know really what to expect, what I was going to do, how I was going to do it. The green light was only given to me a month prior to the tournament. I've come a long way in a span of time.
Q. One of the things we chatted about in the Bahamas, getting yourself back into contention and on the leaderboard. You've done it hundreds of times to get to the finish line 79 times on the PGA TOUR. What is it like seeing your name a top the leaderboard late in this round?
TIGER WOODS: I just saw it at 4 after I made bogey there on the last hole. I didn't really see any leaderboards. By the time I looked up there was already on Jordan or on Henrik and their putts or whatever they had to do. So, I didn't really see it out there.
Q. Last thing, you say you kind of tempered your expectations. Now that you've done this with 36 holes and going to be playing late on Saturday, what's the mindset going forward?
TIGER WOODS: Got a long way to go, 36 holes. The wind is going to be totally different, conditions are going to be different, come close to coming out of the south this weekend. Ball be flying a little bit further. Be a completely different test than what we had last couple days.
Q. Got to feel pretty good to see your name up there on the leaderboard.
TIGER WOODS: I'm up there. I don't think this will be leading but at least I'm there with a chance going into the weekend. Today was a good day.
It was cold early, then the wind starting blowing a little bit and it was just inconsistent, tough to get a bead on which way it was coming from. Did a lot of guessing and guessed pretty good, also.
Q. This little comeback here, I mean early into the 12th round competitively, how much further have you got to go?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I keep getting a little bit better here and there, making these little subtle tweaks and I've done that from tournament to tournament.
As I've said, I just need to get a little bit more tournament time in and I think I've done that and I'm starting to get a better feel for it. I'm figuring the rhythm of the rounds. I'm hitting the shots. I don't have a problem posting scores. Not like I'm -- I'm able to play more feel golf, just trying to figure out how to play golf again.
Q. Good luck out there.
TIGER WOODS: Thanks.
Q. Tiger, how satisfying and maybe even how surprising is this to be at this point so quickly in this comeback?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it felt good. I mean -- I felt like I was playing well, you know, at Honda and just a matter of cleaning up a few holes and a few shots here and there and I had a shot with a few holes to go and so I just tried to basically try and continue what I was doing.
What I was doing it worked, little changes I made from L.A. worked and, you know, I'm especially feeling more comfortable this week than I was at Honda with the changes I made.
Q. Obviously 12 and 13 were a pain yesterday. You really struck back on those holes today. Talk about your ball striking.
TIGER WOODS: I hit it well today. This was -- it was cold this morning. Ball wasn't flying very far. As I started to warmup the ball started flying further and we had to make adjustments for yardages, warmer.
Tomorrow will be even warmer still, ball be flying even further. Then towards the end the wind was tough to get a bead on where it's coming from. Not consistent. It's just tough.
Q. What's the biggest challenge of being in contention after it's been awhile?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I thought I had a shot at Honda with a few holes to go and I was -- instead of making birdies coming in I didn't, made some mistakes.
But to play myself -- play myself into contention this early into it, was nice and on top of that to build on what I did a week ago, I feel comfortable out there.
Obviously this is a very difficult golf course, not the margin -- the margin is very small so I enjoy that aspect where par is a reward. I don't feel like I'm behind if I make four pars in a row. You make a couple birdies here you shoot up the board. I like that kind of golf. I like that kind of test.
Q. Tiger, on Sunday Phil talked about getting that win under his belt before Augusta, get that first one in five years. Do you feel a sense of needing that one before --
TIGER WOODS: I'm not looking at it like that. I hadn't played. He's been playing the last four, five years. I haven't. So, that's two totally scenarios. He's been there with a bunch of chances to win, played really well, where I'm just starting again.
Q. You talked about feeling comfortable out there. How would you describe your emotions now looking forward to the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: I'm looking forward to it. I felt like I was able to grind today out. Today was a tough day especially early on with it being so cold. I thought I was very patient in the way I hit the golf ball today, placed it away from a lot of flags and when I had a few chances I took a run at them. I was able to convert.
Q. Was there any shot today that stuck out as realization that you were going to be in control of your game this morning?
TIGER WOODS: No, not really. To be honest with you, I didn't have a very good warmup. I was freezing out there (laughter). I was just trying to stay warm.
Granted I was hitting it all over the place. Just keep warm, that's all that matters, keep warm. I know how to play. I've been playing well. If I keep warm I'm all right. I was able to do that.
Q. Shot at 9 bring you a smile?
TIGER WOODS: No, on 9 because the wind was supposed to be in off -- in off the right originally and it switched to down off the right and when I hit, it was off the left and so then when Stenson hit it was straight into his face. He got a wrong puff and ended up in the bunker.
That's what these guys are going to deal with this afternoon. It's not blowing hard enough to staying in one spot. It's dancing in the trees. I got fooled a few times. I got fooled on 7, bad gust there. We got a couple bad gusts on 4. It's just tough to pick your spots and hit it and trust it and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.
But, more importantly, if I did miss today, I missed in the correct spots so I had some easier pitches, I had uphill pitches, plenty of green to work with.
Q. Tiger, what were you doing a year ago this week?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know.
Q. Were you watching a tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I can't remember. Sorry.
Q. After you took the sole lead, did you feel like the energy around you changed and are you able to plug into that, does that help you in turn when --
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I didn't know I had the sole lead.
Q. You did not.
TIGER WOODS: No, because I looked at the board and it kept saying after I'd make a putt, Jordan's putt and Jordan or Henrik. I never got a chance. Last time I saw the board I was telling Sandsey over here, I was walking off 9, it showed 68. So I was at 4. So puts me in a tie with Sneds and whoever else is up there for right now.
Q. It felt like there was a frenzy among the gallery.
TIGER WOODS: Were you out here yesterday?
Q. Yes. You seemed to be talking a lot with them, conversing like. How much -- what about Joe?
TIGER WOODS: We're talking a lot. Way more than normal. It's hard to get a bead on what it's doing up there. He's doing his best to try and figure it out. I'm doing my best to try and figure it out.
And then we had to pick the club that I'm going to hit a certain trajectory and shape and I'm backing off with it here and there and switching clubs. It's tough. This is a tough week for Joe trying to figure out what we're doing in these trees and wind.
Q. You talked about the greens being little grainy, overseeded. The thought process, you have your putting chart, you opened up?
TIGER WOODS: I do.
Q. How much of the slope and the gravity versus the grain do you --
TIGER WOODS: The grain is definitely thick up there. You know, they're putting the pins on spots where either it's really grainy or on a switch between two grains.
The Tour has done a pretty good job of trying to fool us but as far as giving it -- you know, yesterday we had to not only had the slope but also the wind. Playing with gusts, two, three balls, things of that nature.
Today we didn't have that. But most of the putts I had today were uphill. Did a really good job of hitting my irons in the correct spots where I could be really aggressive. Most of my putts today weren't feeder, they were into the grain uphill and let it rip.
Q. Tiger, you remember at the Presidents Cup when we were talking to you, you said you really didn't know what was in store, that you hadn't really hit any full shots yet.
Could you have ever envisioned this that day?
TIGER WOODS: No. I wasn't looking at it like that. My surgeon at the time is telling me my back isn't fully fused. It's in the process of. He hasn't given me the okay to go ahead and start letting it rip.
Still had two more scans post-Presidents Cup before I was given the okay and so at that time, yeah. Did I feel any pain? No. But I hadn't done anything golf-wise, you know. Hit a couple putts here and there is not really doing much.
Could I have envisioned myself being here? No. My surgeon hadn't told me I was fused. If I'm not fused, this is a totally different game. Am I going to feel what I did for the last four, five years or am I going to be like this?
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports