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April 10, 2005

Tiger Woods


BILLY PAYNE: Ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to welcome and to congratulate Tiger Woods on his fourth Masters championship. Tiger, from all of us, congratulations, and share a few comments with us, please.

TIGER WOODS: Cool, yeah. It was an exciting day with the culmination of obviously making the putt, but just to go out there and compete at the level that Chris and I were able to compete at.

Chris hit a lot of beautiful golf shots. You know, I was just trying to hang in there and snuck out a couple putts. Got a great break on 16, didn't go in the bunker, didn't go in the rough and somehow an earthquake happened and it fell in the hole.

Then to play as poorly as I did on 17, 18, to have a chance to go in a playoff and hit two of the best golf shots I hit all week was pretty sweet.

Q. In all of your major wins, where does that shot on 16 rank in good shots that you hit?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think under the circumstances, it's one of the best I've ever hit because it looks like it's -- only because of the turning point. I mean, if Chris makes his putt, I make bogey and all of a sudden it's a different ballgame. All of a sudden, I'm one back.

So I figured I need to get this thing at least up-and-down, give myself a chance to make a par. I remember Davis chipping in from back over there, so I just tried to not necessarily try to chip it in; I wasn't thinking about that. I was just trying to throw the ball up there on the hill and let it feed down there and hopefully have a makeable putt.

All of a sudden, it looked pretty good, and all of a sudden it looked like really good and it looked like how could it not go in and how did it not go in and all of a sudden it went in, so it was pretty sweet.

Q. Is the nearest parallel to this do you think Medinah where you had your swing, your new swing? You weren't quite there with it, but you gritted it out and you won a major. Is that the parallel, and also, where are you on that learning curve of the new swing? How much did you trust it this week?

TIGER WOODS: I trusted it the entire way around. You're right, it is comparable to Medinah in what I went through there. But, hey, when you're out there playing, you've got to trust what you've got, and I trusted it because it got me this far. You know, why not?

I hit some beautiful golf shots today and also hit some bad ones, but this entire week, I hit so many beautiful golf shots. So just stick with it, you know, and even though I tried to set up and tried to trust it on the last couple of holes, it just didn't happen. It made absolutely poor swings.

You know, at least I got into a playoff. At least I didn't lose it on the last hole. Got into a playoff and then I hit -- for some reason, I hit two of the best golf shots I had hit all week. The 3-wood was perfect. I felt so good over that shot and I hit it, and all of a sudden, the 8-iron I hit in there was flushed. That golf shot was cool (laughter), that thing to go up there just the way it did, and I made a nice little putt, too.

Q. Can you share with us the thoughts again about your father? How is he?

TIGER WOODS: He's struggling, he's struggling. He's not able to come out here today, or all week. His health has been pretty bad all year, and it's one of the reasons why Doral was so big when I shot 63, just to give him on his birthday, a birthday wish. He's struggling. As we all know, anyone that knows my dad, he's as stubborn can be, so he's going to fight through it. He's had his moments where he's turned it around and other times where it hasn't been so good, so this week is one of those moments where it wasn't so good.

He's hanging in there and so that's why it meant so much for me to be able to win this tournament with him kind of struggling, maybe give him a little hope, a little more fire to keep fighting.

Q. You made 16 birdies out of 30 holes. Where does that rank on your all-time hot streaks?

TIGER WOODS: I've had hotter streaks (laughter).

Q. Okay.

TIGER WOODS: Maybe not in majors.

Q. Any courses comparable to this?

TIGER WOODS: No golf course comparable to this. They set up this golf course a little different than most.

Q. Based on what you said about your dad and the criticism you've had with your new swing, is this the most satisfying Masters for you?

TIGER WOODS: No, I wouldn't say the most satisfying.

Probably the most satisfying was probably the first one I won, you know, to finally get a ten-year exemption on the Tour. I mean, I didn't really have any exempt status, so that was pretty big, except it runs out in a couple years (laughter).

Q. Between your first victory and this one, your body has changed. Do you have the same size for your jacket?

TIGER WOODS: You know, the first time I got it, I made sure I got it big, because you know a lot of the guys have told me that either the jackets shrink or they might expand (laughter).

So I got my jacket just a touch big when I first got it.

Q. How long was the chip on 16 and how long was the putt on 18?

TIGER WOODS: The chip, probably only about 30 feet. But not the direction I took it. It was a little longer than that. You're talking about the playoff?

Q. The playoff.

TIGER WOODS: The playoff hole, that was probably about 15, 18 feet, somewhere in there.

Q. With reference to your swing change, two questions. One, do you feel vindicated; and two, does this victory mean that -- you've been saying "I'm almost there" for quite a while, so does this mean that you are there?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think you're ever there. You never arrive, but if you do, you might as well quit because you're already there. Can't get any better. And as players, if you ever have that moment -- you should never have that moment. You're always trying to get better.

So to answer that part of the question, no, I'll never be there.

Q. And the other part?

TIGER WOODS: The vindication? Yeah, more than anything it's validation of all the hard work I've put into it. Hank and I have put some serious hours into this, and, you know, I read some of the articles over past year of him getting ripped, I'm getting ripped for all the changes I'm making, and to play as beautifully as I did this entire week is pretty cool.

Q. Have you thought about being halfway to Jack's record, the 18 majors?

TIGER WOODS: I haven't thought about it. That's the first time, you've mentioned it, so I guess I am halfway. A long way to go.

Q. At what point today did you think that Steve was really, really, really all right for being with you?

TIGER WOODS: All right? Stevie's always all right. Stevie's the best. I mean, he's always into it. I mean, he's always focused and he's driven to get me to play at a higher level, which is pretty sweet, because I know not all of the caddies are like that, but Stevie's into it at all times.

Q. Could you just kind of characterize Chris's play out there? I mean, he's probably one of the more mule-headed guys in terms of stubbornness, and I guess that's pretty much what you got.

TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt about that. He's a fighter. What else can you say? The guy got out there and grinded his way around the golf course and fought.

He's a wonderful competitor. He drives the ball extremely straight, and we shot 68 today. That's some pretty good playing. The only really bad shot he hit all day was on 12. He pulled his tee shot all the way to the left, but he hit an amazing pitch just to try to keep the ball on the green.

Just goes to show you, he's going to be in your face all day, and I knew that from all of the times that I've played out here and I've watched him compete down the stretch in tournaments. You know, he was very gritty at the PGA last year at Whistling Straits, and the times I've played with him on the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.

Q. On 18, on the 72nd hole, the last hole in regulation, your second shot when the siren blows, the first time from out of the street some where, you backed off and the second time it blew again and you still hit 3-wood. Any impact on that swing for you at all?


Q. Any flinch?

TIGER WOODS: No, no flinch, no nothing. It was just a bad golf shot at the wrong time. I'm trying to hit some kind of right fade there and put it on the right middle part of the green and I hit some kind of high-push-slice or over the right edge of the right bunker, put it on the downslope. That's pretty far with an 8-iron. You're trying to put it on the middle of the green and you put it on the downslope of the far side.

Q. The first time you backed off --

TIGER WOODS: The first time it did distract me. The next time, I was always focused on my target and just tried to hit a shot and just didn't pull it off.

Q. Not only has your swing changed since the last time you've been here, but the golf course has changed. Can you talk about if you had played this week with your old swing with this golf course how you would have played it any differently?

TIGER WOODS: Strategy-wise, same. I know where to put the golf ball. It's just a matter of putting it there. Maybe the ball flight and the spins might be a little bit different, but other than that, everything is the same.

Q. Could you have won with that swing this year, performed at the same level?

TIGER WOODS: I've won seven majors with the other swing, or six majors and one previous with a different swing here the first time around. So it did all right.

Q. Is this new victory special for you just because it was since 2002 that you didn't win a major?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it is special. You know, I've kind of battled the last couple of years to work hard on my game and make some changes. I wasn't winning major championships and I contended a couple times and didn't win. But for the most part, I wasn't in contention on the back nine on every major like I like to be. That's where you want to be. It was nice to get back there again and be in contention with a chance to win coming up the back nine on Sunday. It's a thrill.

Q. At the time Jack made the comment in '95 that he thought you would win more green jackets than he and Arnie put together, what did you think of that comment? And subsequently, has it been a stimulus for you?

TIGER WOODS: No, just wondering what was he smoking (laughter).

I mean, if you saw the way I hit the golf ball in '95, okay, I bombed it down every fairway. I had a wedge, I flew over most galleries, the gallery over the green, and they are going like this (indicating covering heads), that's not good. So I had no idea why he was making a comment like that. I had the length, no doubt about that, I had the length to play this place, but I had no understanding of my golf swing or distance control or shot-making. I could curve the ball either way but how much or how far it could go, I had no clue.

So it was kind of mindboggling he could make a comment like that back then.

Q. There's a lucky fan in the crowd with a ball. Your reaction to Stevie throwing the ball?

TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. There's a lucky fan in the crowd with a ball. Your reaction to Stevie throwing the ball?

TIGER WOODS: Cool. Probably going to be on eBay (laughter).

Q. Do you ever practice that shot in practice rounds on 16?

TIGER WOODS: No. Never, ever, ever. No, you're not supposed to hit the ball over there.

Q. Where does it rank in your all-time great shots?

TIGER WOODS: It was one of any more creative shots. I've hit what I think are better golf shots but under -- that was more of a creative shot, just trying to spin the ball, and it was also luck, too, because you're just throwing the ball up on the hill somewhere, and hopefully it will be where you have a chance to make a putt for a par, and it just happened to go in.

Q. I just wonder, how long in your mind and body and heart did it seem for ten majors to go by without you winning one, and how sweet is it to end that, your longest stretch without one so far?

TIGER WOODS: Ten majors is not that long. Some guys go without for life. I've had my major championships. I know what it takes; it's just a matter of putting myself there. I put myself there a couple of times and didn't get the job done. This time, I got the job done.

Q. Chris talked about on the 18th, he said to his caddie, this is as much fun as he's ever had, the battle. Is fun the word for you, too?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. This is a thrill. This is why you compete and why you practice all those hours. You log in all the time to put yourself in that position and see what you've got.

It's pretty cool when you're able to pull it off.

Q. I don't wish to sound negative, but what on earth happened on 17 and 18?

TIGER WOODS: I hit just a block on 17. What do you call it, the second shot, I got too conservative with it and tried to putt the ball short of the green and overdid it. I just had one of the worst lies you could possibly have for that shot. My ball mark was just behind my golf ball, so I could not make contact with the golf ball flush.

I thought about, you know, could I put the ball up there and leave it short right of the green, but, you know, just try, more than likely you're probably going to fat it and put it short of the green. Just make sure you don't blink it, and that's what happened. I hit it pretty decent but it was pretty fat because of the golf mark right behind my golf ball, spun up and made my putt.

18, I hit a decent drive up the left and just hit a bad shot with an 8-iron. I tried to hit a cut to the middle of the green and I pushed it and then cut it. Hit a beautiful bunker shot and just hit a poor putt and pulled it.

Q. Was it weird not to be able to dust a guy that you're 80 yards by?

TIGER WOODS: No, this golf course is such that you're not going to go out there and make a bunch of birdies and shoot low scores, not with these pin locations, especially on the front nine.

The back nine is a different story. You can get the ball close a couple times on the back nine. The front nine was a different story. It's hard to get the ball close.

Q. Was the fact that he could hit a 4-iron inside you sometimes --

TIGER WOODS: Well, I made three. That's the whole idea.

Q. The chip on 16, how much break and what happens if you hit it wrong?

TIGER WOODS: Well, to be honest with you, I don't know how much it broke to be honest with you. I was just aiming at a spot, it was a spot in the trees that had a little light coming through, and I was just trying to hit the ball somewhere in that area, somewhere in that area, which should leave me somewhere in the range of the hole. It depends on how hard I hit it, whether I read it right. A lot of it's luck, and I hit the spot, I hit it pretty good, I hit it right on the spot, but when I have a collar like that behind my golf ball, I don't know whether I'm going to spin it or not going to spin it. But it checked up nicely and then rolled down.

Q. What's the biggest danger, skulling it through?

TIGER WOODS: No, the biggest danger I thought was fatting it and getting too cute with it. I said, if anything, just blow it up on the hill. It will come back down, just as long as I'm inside Chris. If I can get inside Chris, even if Chris makes it, I can still make my putt to be tied for the lead. You know, if I'm outside Chris, I make my bogey, all of a sudden he feels like he's got a free run at it.

Q. Coming back to Medinah, that's when the seven majors started. Is there an impetus to do something like that or has the landscape changed with guys raising their game? Competition is tougher than it was five or six years ago.

TIGER WOODS: Competition wasn't easy then. It's just a matter of going out there and playing your game, and hopefully you're better that particular week. That's as simple as it gets. I feel like the work that I've done with Hank has turned things into the right direction. It's pretty cool to go out there and play the way I did this week. I hit some beautiful golf shots this week, and to do that in a major championship setting and do that when it means a lot, it's pretty cool to be able to do something like that.

Q. As well as you played yesterday evening and again this morning, did you assume that DiMarco was still going to come back? Did you feel like you had a chance to put him away at any point?

TIGER WOODS: No. Chris is not the longest of hitters, so he's accustomed to laying up or relying on his wedge game, just like David Toms, same deal. He's a wonderful wedge player. That didn't shock me he hit the ball in there on 15 tight. That's just normal. I was just trying to make my putt to make sure I increased my lead.

But overall, Chris is just -- he's very straight off the tees. He hits his little butter cut out there and keeps it in play and pretty good with irons.

Q. When do you start thinking about the Grand Slam?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. When we go to IHOP or something (laughter).

Q. That's Denny's.

TIGER WOODS: Denny's? Lenny's?

Q. Back to Jack's comment, ten years and four green jackets later, what do you now think of what he said back then?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it would be pretty cool if I got -- that would be six more. That's a lot, isn't it?

Yeah, I think it's pretty neat for me to have an opportunity to have won four before the age of 30. No one's done that, so to be able to do something that no one has ever done is pretty neat.

You want my card? I birdied 1, hit a driver and a 60-degree sand wedge up there to about six feet behind the hole and made that.

No. 2, I hit a driver into the right bunker. I hit a 5-iron layup in the right rough, hit a 60-degree sand wedge to about ten feet and made that.

Parred 4.

3-putted 5. I hit 3-wood off the tee, 7-iron up there just past the flag about, oh, 20 feet. I ran that putt by about six feet and missed it.

I birdied 9. I hit a driver off the tee, a pitching wedge up there to about eight feet and made that.

10, I pulled my 3-wood in the left rough there. I got a great break through the tree, I guess, and came out of the left rough. I hit a 7-iron in the only spot you can't put it, which is right of the hole. Got a little cute with a chip, left it short and then somehow 2-putted from there from about 15 feet.

15, I hit a driver in the right rough and caught a nice little flyer with an 8-iron up there to about 18 feet and 2-putted.

16, I hit an 8-iron off the tee and chipped it.

17, hit it almost into 15. I then hit a pitching wedge short, described the chip, had to chip it again and then made about a 2-footer for bogey.

18, hit a 3-wood off the left side, 8-iron in the right bunker, blasted up there to about eight feet and missed it par.

BILLY PAYNE: Tiger Woods, four-time Masters Champion. Thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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