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March 15, 2005

Peyton Manning

Tiger Woods


Q. How was your round today?

PEYTON MANNING: It was great. We had a great time, playing with the folks of MasterCard, and of course, our pro was pretty good, too. Tiger was a great host and real gracious, and I played pretty well and I had a lot of fun.

Q. First time you played with him?

PEYTON MANNING: First time I've played with him. I've got to know him a little bit the past couple of years. He's a big football fan. He keeps up with the Colts and calls me during the season. A little busier than my off-season, but first time playing together. He offered me the chance to go play 18 again at his place after that, so I had not decided yet. But I really appreciate him, and MasterCard for having me play with him, and playing with Tiger is really special.

Q. You can't turn that down, 18 with Tiger?

PEYTON MANNING: Yeah, I might have to go check my schedule here. I think I'll probably make it work. That's a pretty good offer. I don't know how I can reciprocate with Tiger. I'm not going to invite him to practice. I probably won't get him out there on the practice field, find a way to protect him out there.

Q. What was it like the first time on the tee box, with Tiger watching you?

PEYTON MANNING: It's just so much fun watching him hit the ball. I like to play golf. Like I told somebody earlier, I know what my day job is; I'm a football player playing golf. It's fun watching him play, and he gives you a new tips every now and then. It was pretty special. It was a neat day.

We had a little bet at the end. He stopped giving me tips on the last six holes when he was trying to beat me. You can see why he's such a great competitor. It was a lot of fun.

Q. We saw you throwing the football with him.

PEYTON MANNING: Yeah, good athlete, good hands. I think I'd probably put him in the slot, somewhere in the middle with those linebackers. You know, he's a great athlete, but pretty good hands and throws a pretty good ball, as well.

Q. Aren't you supposed to say, "This is priceless?"

PEYTON MANNING: This is a priceless moment, without a doubt. It was a lot of fun. It was really special.

Q. Would Tiger play defensive back?

PEYTON MANNING: Probably wide receiver. Somewhere in the slot. He can kind of sneak around those linebackers. He's got good hands down the middle. You know he's tough, he would be a slot receiver.

Q. Peyton says you're a slot receiver?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, right. I'll be the water boy. I'm not going over the middle. (Laughter.)

Q. He said you'd throw over the middle.

TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't have a hand by the time I came back to the huddle.

Q. How is his game?

TIGER WOODS: He hits it long, hits it hard. You can tell he's played a lot of golf. He actually knows how to play the game.

So that's what pretty cool about playing with other athletes from other sports is that we both can relate to competition and the competitive nature of it. But it's the fun of going out there and just having a great time.

Q. He said you had a little game going on last few holes.

TIGER WOODS: Yes, we did.

Q. Who won?

TIGER WOODS: Who do you think? (Laughing.)

Q. Did you give him any strokes?

TIGER WOODS: I did. I gave him a few playing the last six holes and just happened to birdie the last hole to get him.

Q. What's your favorite course in Florida?

TIGER WOODS: Isleworth.

Q. How does this compare?

TIGER WOODS: I like Isleworth. You can play in shorts, be in a golf cart all day and it's pretty cool with a basketball hoop there.

Q. If somebody was visiting from Florida, where would you suggest they play?

TIGER WOODS: Probably when I'm in town, they will play Isleworth -- no, but honestly, I think it's a great place to play.

Obviously Bay Hill is a wonderful golf course; Lake Nona; you've got the Ritz. You've got a lot of good golf courses in the Orlando area. So you really can't go wrong either way.

Q. There's a lot of excitement right now in the golf world. Ernie is winning and Vijay is in a playoff and you're winning; it's just as thrilling as it can get from a fan's perspective. Just speak to what you think this week will bring and how exciting the game is right now.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a lot of the top players are winning. On top of that, you know, it would be nice if we played together more often, but it's usually just probably two or three of us in the same field.

This week is the same thing. It's just one of those things where it's just pretty exciting when we all get together, which will be next week and we can all go and buck heads. But still, it's very rare that all of us play well in the same tournament. I think that's the hard part about it all.

It's fun, usually you'll probably see two of us, maybe one of us on the top of the board, but very rarely that it's all four. And at Doral it was three of us, 1, 2, and 3, so that was pretty exciting.

Q. Four of the Top 5 are here this week. Talk about this field and this course this week.

TIGER WOODS: It's a great field, again. The golf course is playing a little bit slower than I thought it would play. Obviously the rain kept it a little slow, but the rough is up this year which is great to see. It will be just another good test. You're going to have to make a lot of birdies.

Q. With where your game is now, there is always talk comparing over the years since 2000; where do you measure yourself at the moment?

TIGER WOODS: Well, my whole goal is just to be better. Even back when I was in 2000 going through that great run in '99, 2000 and so forth, my whole idea was to get better. Right now, I'm trying to do the same thing, get better and each and every day, try to improve.

I'm pretty excited about the things that are coming together because I'm hitting the ball at the correct trajectory just about every time, and that's exciting.

Q. Compare to this time last year, your confidence level going into THE PLAYERS Championship and the four majors?

TIGER WOODS: It was totally different because I was struggling last year trying to find my game. This year, I just have to do a couple of touch-ups, just like you do every day. You always have to do a couple touch-ups before you play, but it's not like it's a complete overhaul.

Last year, I was really struggling trying to find the rhythm and the timing of the swing. Thank goodness I was putting well, but at the end of THE PLAYERS I actually hit it good and putted terrible. It was one of those things where I never put it together.

Q. Having said, that are you hungry for THE PLAYERS?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I'm excited just about playing and competing this week. I have to take care of this week first before I start letting my mind go to THE PLAYERS and eventually to Augusta.

Q. All of the people are paying homage to Arnold Palmer; what do you think about when you're out here?

TIGER WOODS: It's cool, you can come over here any time during the week and see him out here playing. You don't get a chance to see that in any other sport. And I think that's what makes it so exciting is that he's continued to play. He's continued to enjoy just being competitive and he's a great guy to be around. I mean, just the stories that he'll tell you, I mean, that's -- over the years that I've gotten to know him. It's been pretty special because he's pulled me aside a couple of times and we've just rapped for hours, which you don't ever find that very often.

Q. They crunched the numbers in the World Rankings, and dependent on all of the permutations and such, but any of you Top 3 guys could come out of this thing this week No. 1 in the world. If you were not in the middle of it and having to deal with it and were just watching this as a fan, would that be something that you'd find interesting?

TIGER WOODS: You know, but it's not the No. 1 ranking; that's not what drives me. It's about winning golf tournaments.

As I said, the rankings, the Player of the Year Awards, the Money List, all of these things will be taken care of by winning tournaments. And that's the most important thing is putting up W's, you try and put up as many W's, more than anybody else for the year; you're doing pretty good.

Q. From a fan's perspective of the interest right now; it's like throw them in a hat and pick a name.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I guess it might be more interesting for the fan, but I'm not a fan. I'm a competitor. I'm playing and my whole idea is to win a tournament. I'm going to go out there and give it my everything I've got to win this event, just like Vijay and just like Ernie and anybody else in the field.

Q. Did you notice the changes on 2 and 17?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but 2 was more mild. It wasn't as much. 17 is a little bit more dramatic in the back. They definitely flattened it out.

Q. Looking ahead to THE PLAYERS and No. 17, is that something special? Would you talk about that?

TIGER WOODS: 17 is a hole that it's very easy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Come tournament time it becomes a little more difficult. Even in tournaments, it's a tough hole but it's really not that tough unless the wind is blowing. The wind is howling up there, it's a brutal hole and I've hit as much as a 5-iron in that hole and I've hit as low as a little wedge, so it can play very difficult and last year we got a squall that came through there, it was raining coming downside ways and I hit a little 6-iron up there. It's one of those things where it can play very difficult.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Tiger, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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