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March 16, 2018

Tiger Woods

Orlando, Florida

Q. What positives do you take out of today?
TIGER WOODS: Today was a hard fight. It was a grind. It wasn't sharp, but I hung in there and just kept grinding away and chipped away at the golf course. I didn't hit the ball close, I didn't hit the ball well, but I was just hanging in there, hanging in there and just try not to shoot myself out of the tournament, just keep myself in the tournament. I thought something in the red would be great and I just wasn't quite able to do it, but came close.

Q. Given that, do you take that score then? Just given what you just said?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was grinding, I was fighting and didn't hit anything close. I had some, I had a couple wedges in my hand and didn't hit them within 20 feet. So it was a little off today and the only thing that I felt really good with was my putter. Even though I blew it off the green on 9, I hit a beautiful second putt and the putter was releasing and flowing, really felt good. But I just couldn't get to the green fast enough.

Q. You mentioned the wedges. Obviously, the distances can vary greatly with that club, is that just part of the process you're having to go through right now?
TIGER WOODS: No, today was just a bad day. I didn't really feel all that comfortable with a lot of my motion today. It wasn't sharp, it wasn't crisp, and I think it was contagious in the whole group. We all mishit a lot of golf shots today in our group. But we all hung around and we grinded out a score.

Q. When you look at the way you've been lag putting the last three tournaments, does that bode well for Augusta where you obviously have to do that well. It seems like you've not left yourself a lot of stressful par save putts.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and even if I did hit the ball outside of that one-hander zone I've been pouring most of those in there. The only time I really had a bad stretch there was the last nine holes at Riviera where I 3-putted three times. But other than that I felt good with the putter all year.

Q. Does that bode well for Augusta? Do you have to be using --
TIGER WOODS: You have to lag putt, but you also -- the misconception is, yeah, you got to lag putt really well, but you also got to hit your irons in the correct spots to lag putt from. That's probably bigger than people might think. You have to miss the ball in the correct spots there in order to lag putt. If you don't, well, sometimes a 3-putt is actually a good job.

Q. The galleries are so big around you, I'm wondering, do you ever get self conscious, you're just getting back, all these other guys have accomplished this stuff since you've been gone and, boom, immediately everything's about you now.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that this is my hometown. I used to live here, I lived here for over a decade. They have supported me over the years, my kids were born here, I've had a lot of success at this golf tournament. And this is Arnold's tournament and we have all come out in support, I'm one of them, and there's nothing better than coming off the 18th green and having Arnold give you a big old hug.

Q. Is the way you felt today, is it a result at all of you have now spent two consecutive weeks on the front page of the leaderboard, grinding, was there any kind of mental fatigue that comes with that or are you just one of those days out there today?
TIGER WOODS: I was just a little off. As the golf course dried out a little bit, it became a little bit more difficult and I needed to be a little bit sharper, not the other way around. And I had to -- if I missed, I definitely erred on a conservative side. And I missed widely, but I tried not to short side myself on any of the holes, because the greens are just getting too slippery and consequently I didn't have any birdie putts that were, that I could take a run at.

Q. How do you see your position going into the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: Well I'm quite a few back. I'm seven back right now. There's a lot of guys between myself and the lead and if it gets warm like it's supposed to get on the weekend then we're going to make some birdies, the golf course is going to be very short, the only thing that's going to maybe be a deterrent is I don't think they're going to put any water on these things. They're starting to get a little burned out. The fairway on 15 was really quick. Jason hit a 2-iron that went about 325 yards. That's the way this golf course is meant to be played, that's how Arnold always wanted it to be played, he always wanted it hard, fast, he wanted the greens dead by the time we played on Sunday and I think we're going to have that.

Q. When you started out this year, to play four times in five weeks, would you have been pleased with that at all?
TIGER WOODS: My plan was not to play four of five. The only reason why I played last week is because I missed the cut in L.A. and only got two rounds in, I wanted to get some more competitive rounds in before Augusta and ended up being four out of five tournament weeks, yes.

Q. Feeling good throughout that four, does that surprise you?
TIGER WOODS: No, as I said, I don't have any pain in my back, I'm just stiffer than I used to be and that's about it.

Q. Do you feel like maybe as good as you feel right now, do you feel like perhaps you came back too early from the other surgeries and this last one you gave it the rest and recovery you needed or what's the difference?
TIGER WOODS: Well they're completely different surgeries. One's taking off pieces of fragments and this one is taking off the whole disk and letting the whole thing fuse together. They're completely different. The first three surgeries were all the same. But this last one is, it's the last rope, basically there's no other options.

Q. They were just failing, the first three?
TIGER WOODS: Depends on the shear force. In golf we put a lot of shearing on our spines, a lot of rotation. On top of that we hit hundreds of thousands of shots and so it's the cumulative affect. And I've been playing this, playing tournament golf now, what am I, 42? So been playing tournament golf for 38 years, so it's a lot of shearing.

Q. Was the pace of play to your liking today? You've always been a fast player but it seemed slow at times.
TIGER WOODS: It was slow. But that's what happens when you have threesomes, two tee start. It wasn't windy out there, so it would have been a little bit slower. But tomorrow we'll be flying around there in twosomes.

Q. The second shot on 16, it's hard to get a gauge from our advantage point of just how hard a difficult a shot it is. Can you explain that one?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the fact that Joey asked me, do you want any layup numbers, pretty much said it all right there. I said, no, what is it flag. And he said 92. And I said all right, just don't go anywhere. So I pulled out a 6 first. Didn't like the 6 because if it doesn't come out I'm wet. So I took the 5, opened it up, and hit it pretty much as hard as I possibly could. And I held the face open. It worked out, I can't believe it landed that soft. I was just trying to get the ball in the bunker, over the bunker, up to the right of the green, chip back, anything like that. I wasn't going to mess with anything left of that flag. It came out perfectly.

Q. The bunker on 15.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was --

Q. That was ugly?
TIGER WOODS: That was ugly, yes. The hard part, besides it being buried, is that it was so far you up against the lip that I was afraid that my shaft might hit the lip before I could my club head could enter the sand. So I took a pretty big swing at it to make sure. Normally I wouldn't have taken that big a swing from that short of distance, but I was just afraid that if my shaft hit that I might just leave it right there in that same spot.

Q. That 3-wood you hit off the tee on 18 is that like an abbreviated swing or a punch or is that the stinger?
TIGER WOODS: It's like trapping a 2-iron down there. I just trapped a 3-wood instead. And I can hit it pretty hot.

Q. That went pretty far, like as far as Hideki's driver. What made you decide to do that?
TIGER WOODS: It sets up well for -- that's the only hole it really sets up well on. It's a runway down there for my little 3-wood down there. I can land it on the flat, if not on the down slope, and it can just chase. And the fact that I hit 3-wood, wedge into the last hole, it's nice.

Q. Graeme McDowell said yesterday that he thinks you're able to go to a place mentally that the other guys on TOUR aren't able to get to. Do you think that's true?
TIGER WOODS: Well I think it's the fact that I've played under the gun so many times out here and I've won so many tournaments, that I've experienced so many different things, so many different ways of winning, and I think that's, I'm comfortable with that. I'm comfortable about being in a lot of different scenarios because I pulled off a lot of wins under so many different scenarios.

Q. Has that helped you stay so patient these past couple weeks and not really forced the issue at any point?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, as long as I can just keep chipping away at it, keep working my way up the board. Last week I didn't really know the golf course as well as I would like and so I was a little bit on the more conservative side. This one I know, but I wasn't sharp. And so again, I haven't made a lot of bogeys in the last week and a half, but I haven't made a lot of birdie either. I haven't hit the ball close enough to make a lot of birdies. So I got to do a better job of that this weekend in order to run down these guys.

Q. Were you making adjustments now that these greens are not overseeded this year and just not just a putting but your chipping and do you have any preference?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they're slippery, they're fast. They're rolling great. They're perfectly smooth, they're holding their lines. It's just that they're not what I have been used to putting on here. Generally they have been overseeded. Arnold likes having the greens slightly overseeded, he wants a more of a green look, except for the weekend. So this is very different from what I have been used to. Because I haven't played here in like five years and they have redone all these greens, resurfaced them and I hadn't seen it under these conditions where they're this quick, this fast, and got to give them a lot of respect.

Q. A personal question, with the two children now at an age where they probably appreciate what you're doing, do they, do you get any encouragement from them?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, they do, I was surprised on Monday after I picked them up from school how much they had watched on Sunday and how much they could, they recounted. It was pretty neat. Because I have been away from it for so long and they were so young when I was playing well they don't remember any of it. So this is pretty neat for me to be able to experience this with them. Dad's got a chance to win on Sunday, he made a big putt on 17 and, you know, they went through all the different scenarios and the people who were there and what they hit, what shots, I mean, they were watching. To me that's really neat because the last time I was seriously in contention, was doing really well, was in 2013, that's five years ago. Charlie doesn't remember any of that he was so young, he was only like three or four.

Q. Off topic a little bit here, but when you hosted the Masters dinner in 1998, when you went back in 1999 and walk in the room, how did you know where to sit?
TIGER WOODS: I just sat next to Freddie.

Q. Was it awkward at all? Because I hear there's no instructions on where to sit, you just pick your spot?
TIGER WOODS: No, there's not really instructions, but there's suggestions. And certain people sit in certain parts of the room and that's the way it's been since the '60s and before that '50s. And some of the guys and, yeah, it's definitely suggested and it's one you just don't ever go against the suggestion.

Q. Do you have your spot now?
TIGER WOODS: I have my spot.

Q. Who is with you?
TIGER WOODS: I've got Mo, I got Freddie, Raymond's right there as well. Sometimes I'm next to Jack or, yeah, usually I'm next to Jack. So that's pretty neat when Jack and Arnold and myself were all three together we have 14 jackets right there between the three of us.

Q. Mo said you saved him his first year after hosting that he didn't know where to go.
TIGER WOODS: As I said, a suggestion. So I suggested he sit right here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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