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March 15, 2018
Q. Just talking about the weather, normally it's hot and humid in the state of Florida. You kind of had two days here cold in the morning and kind of warmed up towards the end. What was it like out there for you?
TIGER WOODS: It was difficult this morning. It was not as cold as last week, but still cold. We were able to shed a good couple layers here on the front nine, which was nice, and it turned out to be just a beautiful day.
Q. Almost like southern California weather. You started on number 10. What did you see here on the green?
TIGER WOODS: This was just straight up the hill, just a little left-to-right and poured it in there.
Q. A lot of the guys are saying this golf course is in very, very good condition. As we look at your birdie putt at 1, how are these greens rolling?
TIGER WOODS: I've never seen the greens roll this well. The golf course is in perfect shape. Here I kind of stuck a wedge in the ground, hit it to the right of the flag, but was able to hole that one.
Q. The other side of the golf course now, your third shot at 6. This was a very difficult shot.
TIGER WOODS: Oh, this was money. To be able to spin the ball like that, I took a chance to try and play it and pulled it off.
Q. So you continued the momentum as you go to 7 from just off the green. You're laughing there. What were you thinking here?
TIGER WOODS: As I did last week, as my dad always told me, just putt to the picture. And I was asking for it to bite as it came over that knob, it was a little too hot and it had to crash in the hole.
Q. You're playing very well, you're scoring well, when you're standing over a 11-foot par putt at the last, how much does that mean to you?
TIGER WOODS: I don't like making bogeys, period. That was a nice save. I got a little bit, probably a little too cautious with the flier. Hideki had just hit one over the back and I was trying to play a little bit right there and just kind of didn't hit it hard enough and it ended up in the bunker. I was able to make a good save from there.
Q. One of the things you told us when you came back at the Hero is you needed to get back into the competitive mode. So now this is your fifth start and it is your second in a row. How would you judge where you are right now?
TIGER WOODS: I feel way more comfortable in the tournament setting. It's taken a little bit of time in terms of tournament rounds under my belt to be able to get into this position and I've got my tournament feels now, which is nice. That was only going to come with time and with patience and just playing golf tournaments.
Q. Given your form heading in here, your form last week and now today's round, how do those expectations increase each and every round you come back?
TIGER WOODS: I'm starting to get the feel playing tournament rounds and that just took time. It took time and patience and playing tournaments. I'm scoring now, so I'm going out there and hitting shots and I'm scoring. I know where to miss it, I don't have to really think that much and just going out there and doing it.
Q. Talked yesterday about what you needed to do, one of the biggest things you talked about was maybe re-learning the golf course a little bit.
TIGER WOODS: Well I've never seen the golf course in this good a shape before. Some of these greens are a little testy now, they have been redesigned since I played it, resurfaced. They're definitely quick when it drys out. Right now it's drying out nicely and the putts are running out. This morning we were leaving putts short, they were a little bit sticky with the moisture on it, but after that, they were able to pick up some speed.
Q. We saw the monster putt at 17 last week, so talk us through the putt on 7. It was nice to see that one go.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because that was coming over that hill a little too quick, obviously I was trying to lag it down there and just make my par and get out of here and it had to crash at the hole, which I'm not complaining, and it went in.
Q. The par-5s here at Bay Hill, how imperative is it to play those well?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, today all four par-5s were reachable if you drove the ball in play. I didn't drive it in play on 12, I just tugged it a little bit left, but the other par-5s I handed well. I had to hit a wedge shot in to 12 and make a putt, but the others were all irons into greens.
Q. Briefly on this venue, how does it fit your eye, but what about the emotions you have at this place?
TIGER WOODS: I always liked playing here. This golf course, it sets up well to my eye and I've had some success here. I've had some success under different conditions too, so that's always kind of a feather in the cap when I come to a golf course where I've had some success over the years, this is one of them.
Q. You seem very happy mentally where you're at right now. Just give us a sense of that, the excitement and energy, what you're feeling right now between the ears in particular.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was struggling there for a number of years there and it was a very difficult life to live and now on this side I'm just very thankful to be here.
Q. Talk about the round today.
TIGER WOODS: It was a good round today. It was awfully cold this morning, not as cold as last week though, which was nice, the wind wasn't blowing. But the greens were a little bit slow starting out. As soon as they dried out, they got quick. The ball wasn't flying, really, and then it started to warm-up and then it started to have some jets. Joey and I were talking a lot about what club we were hitting out there today coming into the greens because the ball's starting to pick up some distance as it warmed up. We communicated really well today and I thought I played well today.
Q. What was explained to you on the OB situation there?
TIGER WOODS: The OB is measured by the poles, even though there was a net in the way, but -- and if the net was the other way, then I was able to be in the field of play and you could play it.
Q. Did you agree with the ruling?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you look at the two poles I'm out by probably three, four five inches.
Q. (No Microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: I didn't know, I wasn't exactly in the mood to ask.
Q. Coming back from that though how do you feel about the way you finished the round?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, to come back on the very next hole and hit just a sweet drive up the left side and hit a monster 3-wood up there, that was nice. To pull off that pitch shot after Jason and I both had mud balls there at 6 and I pulled off a pretty sweet pitch there. That one felt good. And I made that bomb on 7.
Q. What was the degree of difficulty on that chip and on that putt?
TIGER WOODS: The pitch on 6? 6 was hard. I took a chance and tried to play the spinner and I did, I pulled it off. It had plenty of sauce on it and it landed right there and I tapped that in.
7, I was just trying to get down in two, just not make a bogey, because I didn't want to drop another shot. And that putt, as it came over the ridge it had too much steam on it, it was going down grain as it switched grain and luckily it hit the hole or else it would have probably gone at least eight feet by.
Q. When did you feel good about it?
TIGER WOODS: As soon as it hit the hole.
Q. How energizing it for you as you're getting on this comeback that the crowd is also energized by watching you?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, they're into it. It's been fun, it's been fun to see and the atmosphere that we have and to be able to play in front of since I've come back has been absolutely incredible. I've had two tournaments in my hometowns and I have another tournament here in Florida hometown and then basically two hometowns out here. So it's been places that I know very well and I've been at for a number of years.
Q. Do you feel much different from last time you played here five years ago?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, yeah, I don't remember the golf course being obviously in this good of condition but also the greens being like this. They were, they're the best I've ever seen them. They're quick, they're smooth, there's some grain in them, but still, but they're so smooth. You just feel like you can make a lot of putts here.
Q. You haven't made a lot of bogeys the last five rounds. Does that please you how few bogeys you're making?
TIGER WOODS: Well I think it's also just playing tournament golf. I've been away from it for so long that when I first came back it was just a matter of just getting my feel for tournament golf again. I think I have. I feel like I'm not really thinking as much around the golf course, I can just see and feel it and go and that's just because of I got my feels back again.
Q. What do you have left to do to get ready for Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: I got three more days here and hopefully cap it off with a nice win.
Q. Everyone is talking about you being back up near the top of the lead again and it looks like every part of your game is clicking. For you though what part of your game do you feel like needs the most work?
TIGER WOODS: Everything. Everything. Everything can be shored up a little bit tighter, a little bit better. Everyone always says that, so I'm no different.
Q. You're the betting favorite -- Vegas today made you the betting favorite going into the Masters. When you hear that, what does that make you think?
TIGER WOODS: A lot of gambleholics out there.
Q. The length of putt you made today was it more difficult than the one you made in San Diego, because that one was pretty lengthy?
TIGER WOODS: San Diego? I don't remember making one in San Diego.
Q. Joe said that's where you made one long one.
TIGER WOODS: Where did I make one there? I'll have to think about that one.
Q. How big was the putt on 9?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think anyone likes ending the round with a bogey and I got a little too cautious with the second shot after watching Hideki catch just a nucker out of there. It was a bad angle to chip from and I knew that, so I favored myself to the right. And I didn't carry it far enough, so I was in the face of that bunker and I thought I hit just a great bunker shot to give myself a putt at it and I poured the putt in.
Q. Talking about the crowds' energy, just how big of a lift is that for you?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, it feels great. The people are so supportive, they have been right there with us and our groups and not only supportive of myself but of my playing partners as well. I think it's been a great atmosphere overall as since I've come back and started playing again.
Q. You said on Tuesday that you just want people to enjoy this. The better you play, do you feel like it's going to be hard for people not to raise their expectations and do you need to play like this to enjoy it as much as possible?
TIGER WOODS: Which part do you want me to answer?
TIGER WOODS: I think that it's -- you guys are asking different questions than you did when I first came back and that wasn't that long ago, that's two months ago. The narrative has completely flipped from how you guys ask me questions and I just wanted to remind you guys that it wasn't that long ago that you were asking a different set of questions and that you need to enjoy it. No, I enjoy just playing again after what I've been through. Playing feels good.
Q. Is it good that the narrative has changed to the positive and we're not asking about your back, how are you feeling now, it's about why did you hit iron off this tee or that kind of thing?
TIGER WOODS: Well that's all positive, all well and good, but just take that different perspective over it, that's all I'm asking.
Q. So you're saying to slow down on the expectations and temper things?
TIGER WOODS: I'm just trying to tell you guys, look at your questions before and look at your questions now.
Q. On 8, on 7, sorry, did you think that, again, you were going to have the lead, did you know that that putt gave you the lead again and obviously you didn't expect to make it, but?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't expect to, I was just trying to get down in two. I didn't know I took the lead there. When I got to 8 green I saw the board there and I was tied for the lead and by the time I got into the 9th bunker I was one back. So we have a long way to go, it's just the first day, and so just the fact that I was able to shoot a round in the 60s today, there won't be a lot of rounds out there that will be in the 60s, the golf course is playing difficult.
Q. What do you have to go through to get ready for a cold morning like this? Obviously you're up early anyway, but I'm guessing it isn't just show up and hit balls?
TIGER WOODS: I wish it was. I wish it was. But it's not. I have to loosen up, stay warm, keep everything loose, strong, activated, and I'm there to try as best I can to keep warm out here. It's not easy to do because it was cold this morning. But once we start walking it feels a lot better. But warming up here my hands are cold, body doesn't really want to do this because it's cold, but just push through it and then as soon as I get to that tee the competitive juices start flying and let's go.
Q. Was it a concern though because of the back problems and having to work through that when it's cold like that, obviously when it's hot it's probably --
TIGER WOODS: No, it doesn't, it's not painful. It just is tight. As I've explained, it's just, with the fusion, unfortunately I've lost rotation down there so I need to keep everything as loose as possible. I'm not worrying about pain or being sore or anything, I just try and keep my mobility, especially when it's colder, and I was telling Joey, hopefully we play well this morning and tomorrow afternoon and we don't have to deal with any cold mornings anymore.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports