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September 20, 2018

Tiger Woods

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. You missed only four fairways and four greens. It was a great day. You have to feel really good with that round.
TIGER WOODS: I did. I played well today. It wasn't exactly the start I was looking for, but I made two good putts there at 5 and 6 and got to under par, and then from there I hit it pretty good, made a few putts. But more than anything, I missed it all on the correct sides. Even the fairways I missed, all were on the correct sides. I had nice angles. The shots I missed were on the greens, all had beautiful angles. All in all, I had a lot of control today.

Q. 14, you hit it on that short side about seven feet, that was a heck of a shot.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was a good one there. You know, this golf course right now is playing -- I'm kind of surprised how fast these greens are. It's hard to get the ball close because there's a lot of chase to them, and you've got to allow for run. A little different than what we played a couple weeks ago at the BMW.

Q. How good was 18?
TIGER WOODS: 18 was nice. I hammered that drive up the left side, and it was nice to see it not in the rough. I hit 5-wood there. I had to try and not have -- in order for me to get it there, I had to not have my 5-wood kick up in the air, and so once it hit its peak, I knew it was good and I started walking after it, and it ended up on the green and I had a good look at eagle. It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.

Q. That 5-wood checked up, by the way.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was a good one, thank you.

Q. How special was that putt at 18? How much does that improve your Thursday evening and give you huge momentum going into Friday?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit so many quality shots all day, whether it was tee to green or it was putts. I didn't really mis-hit a single shot today. The only shot I can honestly say that I necked pretty bad was the tee shot at 17. Hit a 3-wood there, and with an iron, I probably would have shanked it, but ended up in the fairway there and made par.

Q. You talked the other day about putting all the aspects of your game together. Statistically, it looks like you did that today. Would you agree with that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I felt in control today. I had a lot of control over my shots. The only hard part was getting my speed on the greens early. I missed every putt, blew it through the hole. I had five, six feet coming back, and once I figured out the pace of these things, it was all good.

Q. Considering the course and the conditions, how does this compare with the 62 at Aronimink?
TIGER WOODS: This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is -- it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close. The Bermuda rough, you just can't control it. It puts a premium on driving and puts a premium on allowing for a little bit of chase on some of these greens. When I had some good looks, I went right after it, and otherwise I played pretty conservatively.

Q. It seems like the driver change you made a few weeks ago with the shaft and the loft is really paying off, delivering some accuracy. What's the trade-off on distance, and are you okay with that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, if I hit it normal, I hit it just as far. And so that's to me like 300 yards in the air. But if -- the neat thing about this one is that if I miss it and spin it a little bit, those spinners stay in play instead of chasing off on me, and I can turn this ball. Like the tee shot I hit down 18, I didn't have that shot earlier with -- not enough loft. I turned it, my spin rate would be so low that it wouldn't stay in the air. And so, yeah, if I hit controlled shots, they're in play and they're shorter. But if I go ahead and step up and launch one, I'm just as far. The neat thing is I don't have to swing it as hard to hit the ball as far. And so it puts a little less toll on my body. I don't have to have my speed up there at 120, 121, 122 miles an hour to carry it 305, 310 like I did before.

Q. Is it more guessing, or is it experimenting to get it to this --
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was just, I had enough of it that I couldn't turn the ball over, and I had -- I was pretty one-dimensional with a flat cut, or if I hit a straight ball, it was just not carrying far enough. So my -- I'd have to make a different swing with a driver than I would with a 3-wood or 5-wood or 2-iron, and I didn't want to do that anymore.

Q. Lots of great wars out there, a lot of terrific atmosphere out there. How much are you enjoying being out there and getting the crowds going?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the last couple months have been fantastic. I've played some pretty good golf in the last couple months. The people have been so supportive and appreciative. I've been gone for a while and come back, and I hadn't played this tournament in five years, and some of the people said they haven't been out here in five years. That's kind of nice that they're coming out and supporting this event and supporting me, as well.

Q. Can you discuss your thoughts on the back nine, holes like 14 and 15 on the back nine?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm still thinking it's the front nine. When you say 14 and 15, I have to think about it a little bit. I've got to think about it just a fraction there.

It's probably one of the tougher starts that we have. The old 10th hole, they used to have some rhythm, some stuff you could work your way into it. But I remember playing here when it's been in the 30s, and that 18th hole was no joke. Everyone was hitting woods in there and it was cold. Not cold this week. But I think it provides a good environment with the last hole being a par-5. You know that things can flip there versus if you just make a par with the lead, the way it was originally done, you know you're going to win the tournament.

Q. Was there anything in particular that you really missed about not playing here the last few years, especially the feeling of being back?
TIGER WOODS: Well, in order to play the TOUR Championship, you had to earn your way here. You have to play consistently. You have to play well, and you've got to be in the top 30, so there's no exemptions into this event. I've earned my way back, coming out of where I came from and starting the year this year, to work my way to here this year, I think is a pretty good accomplishment.

Q. The setting, anything you missed about the setting?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've played this golf course well over my career, and there are certain golf courses that I want to get to and play because I play them well, and this is one of them.

Q. Is it difficult to discipline yourself to not go at some of the flags knowing the greens are as tricky as they are?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not like we faced a couple weeks ago when you felt uncomfortable firing at 18 straight flags. Here we're playing a little bit more conservatively and working the ball in there, and take your par. Dump it and move on. The scores are indicative of that. The guys aren't going to be running away with this. The golf course is just too difficult and too hard.

Q. You kind of touched on this the last three or four weeks about not getting here. Can this be a successful year without winning because of what this year is?

Q. And if that's the case, what would winning do to the year?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it would just enhance the year. To be able to play golf again and to earn my way back to this level is something that I was hoping I would do at the beginning of the year, but I didn't know. And I've done it.

Q. Was your objective to win at the start of this year?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, my objective was to win a golf tournament and give myself plenty of looks at doing it. But in order to do that, I have to play. And I hadn't played in a while. But the objective is to always win, but how am I going to do it when I had no game at the beginning of the year? And somehow I've got to find a way to piece it together and give myself a chance with what little game I had.

At the beginning of the year I didn't have much game. You saw it. But I was playing again, so it was a start.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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