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March 6, 2005

Tiger Woods


TODD BUDNICK: We'd like to welcome the winner of the 2005 Ford Championship at Doral, Tiger Woods. Tiger, the win today moves you back to No. 1 in the World Rankings. Let's start with there.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it was just -- what a day. You know, to go head-to-head against Phil like that and just to play that well, we both played well. It's not like we went out there and slopped it around and shot 73s and 74s. We both played really good golf. It was just one of those things where we were just trying to make some birdies and just trying to keep the ball in play, hit the ball on the green and make putts and we were both doing it. And you know, on that back nine, it was something, a lot of fun. I started the back nine 1-down, three holes later I'm 2-up, two holes later, we're even. It was just a great turn of holes and we both were playing well. Phil answered my eagle with back-to-back birdies which was just huge for him to suck it up like that and hit quality shots and make quality putts.

Looking back on the day, the only downer was our mess-up of a hole on 16. We both kind of played it a little ugly, but we both made bogeys though.

On 17, I hit a great drive down there and just did not hit my sand wedge hard enough. I kind of chickened out on getting it back there and was lucky enough to make the putt and then Phil's chip on 18, from where I was looking, that thing was just center cut. It was high, looked like it was going to break right in the hole and it must have just drove across the face of the hole. It looked like it had perfect speed and was going down there like a putt.

TODD BUDNICK: You had a career-high 27 putts today but the loan eagle.

TIGER WOODS: It was nice. To be honest with you, I really kind of got away with that because I hit a nice drive and the 3-wood I hit in there, I kind of hit it a little thin. I'm surprised it got there. For sure I thought I was in the bunker but I was pleasantly surprised I could carry it on the green. It will be great to go ahead and make this and take advantage of a nice break and I was able to make that putt.

Q. Did you feel tense from start to finish; was it that kind of day?

TIGER WOODS: It was, there's no doubt about it. We were both excited. I can't speak for Phil but I certainly was nervous out there. If you're not nervous on a day like this, you're not alive. That's what's fun about it because we are both going at it and we both knew that we had to make birdies. It wasn't like a U.S. Open where you just go out and make a bunch of pars and you probably end up winning the tournament. You could not sit on a par. You had to be aggressive. You had to be aggressive on every hole to try to make birdies.

Q. Were you more nervous than other final rounds even if you were tied for the lead, even if you were one shot behind just because of the whole dynamics of everything?

TIGER WOODS: Depends. You know, it certainly was an exciting atmosphere and you're always nervous when you play. But certainly, this was a lot of fun to be able to be a part of something like this.

Q. Do you accept the fact that this 1 and 2 thing, there could be a lot of flip-flopping and it could be down to having a good tournament with one guy is not playing, and for the fans is it going to be a fun season as it winds down?

TIGER WOODS: The rankings will take care of itself with wins. I said that from the very beginning. That's how I got there. That's how Vijay got there, that's how Double-D got there. It's just nothing but winning golf tournaments.

So far, I've gotten two this year, which is a nice start to the year.

Q. You downplayed a little bit the idea of you versus Phil, but you have to acknowledge what an event that it became today for the crowd, the electricity.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was electric, there's no doubt about it. It was definitely bipartisan out there. You could hear Phil's fans, you could hear Tiger fans. They were both yelling at the top of their lungs. You know, I told Stevie, I said, "Stevie, I can't hear you." When we get to the tee box, my ears are ringing. You guys walked with us; between green and tee, how loud was it? They are screaming from two feet away from you, screaming right in your ear.

Stevie says, "Yeah, you got a lot of advice today." So it was a lot of fun. The thing that made it special today is that we both played well. Win or lose, we both played well. I think that's what I'll take out of it is that as I said earlier, we don't go out there and shoot 73s and 74s and slop it around. It was a quality day of golf. Lucky we don't slop around and shoot those numbers because Vijay and DT were making a run behind us.

Q. What did you do to your finger after you caught --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was smart.

Q. And secondly who gets the keys to that car?


Q. Figured.

TIGER WOODS: First of all, I missed that putt on 14. It went over the side of the green and I was not happy with myself and kind of tapped my pocket. (Smiling). With my right hand, and I happened to catch the divot fixer with my index finger and it kind of had a little bit of an abrasion.

Q. (Laughter.) Can we see it?

TIGER WOODS: It should be cleaned up now. It wasn't bleeding all over the place.

Q. It's not the finger you really wanted to show them, is it?

TIGER WOODS: No comment.

Q. Talk about 16, what was your thought process there?

TIGER WOODS: I was -- I mean, I hit probably the absolutely whiffed my drive and even if I whiffed it and hit it online, it's in the front bunker. If I hit it solid I could have carried it probably pretty close to the front edge. It wasn't that hard of a golf shot. That's the only shot I came out of all day. It was unfortunate because that's the only place you can't put it. You can put it left in the trees, that's fine because then you have the whole green to pitch up.

Q. Were you surprised Phil didn't drive it in?

TIGER WOODS: If you look at his drives, he wasn't hitting the big bombs out there. He was hitting a lot of cuts and keeping the ball in play. I didn't see him turn over one golf shot until 18, and that was the only one he turned over all day. So for him to go out at that with the wind the way it was, the wind was a little bit off the left, if he would hit his cut it would have slammed up against the wind so it would have killed it.

Q. He was hitting first, I think just about on every hole today, except one in the middle of the round, would you have preferred that he hit first on 18 and were you surprised you guys were that close getting down there?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a good drive down there and Phil turned it over a little bit and you know he hit it well, you could see the flight of it. And when I got down there, it was only a yard difference. I had 143 to the front and he had 142 to the front. That's the way it worked out.

Q. The second shot at 12, ShotLink said it carried 300 yards.

TIGER WOODS: It ended up rolling out that far. It was 277 to the front and I probably carried it, what, 280 and it rolled the rest of the way.

Q. But you thinned it?

TIGER WOODS: I did. If you watched my reaction I kind of, oh, great, because I up shot it. Luckily the wind was a little bit down off the left and it stayed in the air. It kind of floated a little bit. This 3-wood is a little bit longer than my older 3-wood but it was nice to get a great break like that. What's important is I capitalized on that break and made the putt.

Q. Just wanted to ask, how far have you come now in the past year with all of the things that you've been working on with your swing and do you feel as good as you've felt about your game in a long time?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, there's no doubt about that. I thought I could place the ball on the correct side of the fairways, pin was in the left, you know, I put it over on the right side of the fairway, pin is on the left, I put it on the left side of the fairway. That's kind of how I felt most of the week. Only day I really didn't hit that good was on Friday, and kind of got away with it, really. That's the only day.

Q. Phil downstairs used words like "deflating" and "disbelief" that he did not get it done today. Are you satisfied going the other direction emotionally as he is deflated?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I can understand why he's feeling the way he is, because all the pressure was on Phil. He had a two-shot lead. I'm spotting him two and he's playing that well. I mean, he's 20-under par through three days, guys. You know, that's a tough person to spot two.

But I can understand why he felt that way, there's no doubt about it. A lot of the pressure was on him and I was -- I caught him at 10, all of a sudden I took a two-shot lead, two holes later he comes right back with back-to-back birdies. That shows you what kind of competitor Phil is, what kind of player he is. Don't forget what he did on that back nine. That was impressive to watch.

Q. But your satisfaction?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I'm happy. (Laughter.)

Q. After your last putt and you backed off, there was a big sigh and you just looked spent; what were you feeling?

TIGER WOODS: I was grinding so hard on that back nine because the ebb and flow of the match, we had separated ourselves away from Vijay and David that we didn't have to worry about them. They could not catch us, so it was just Phil and I.

After he made back-to-back birdies, it was just, who was going to flinch first. We both flinched on the same hole. (Laughter.)

To come down a stretch like that and then I made that nice putt on 17, but 18, it's no piece of cake even with a one-shot lead. Anything can happen on that hole. To watch Phil's chip down there, from my angle, I tell you what, it looked pretty good, it looked awfully good. The pace of it, you know he chips in balls all the time, and you know this thing, he's eyeballing it and he's giving it the eye and you know this ball is going to have nice pace. It had nice pace and line.

Q. Were you surprised Phil didn't go ahead and put out there, given how long your putt was? ShotLink said --

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, he was inside of me.

Q. Would you have putted out in that situation?

TIGER WOODS: Not if I'm chipping from off the green. I would not have done that, no. It's just kind of a, I don't know -- it would be improper to do something like that.

Q. Grade the comfort level of your swing changes now; is it total trust in what you're doing?

TIGER WOODS: I feel very happy with it, there's no doubt about it. I was able to fly the ball, to hit the shots at the trajectory I wanted each and every time.

Q. Will you come back to defend?


TODD BUDNICK: That was an easy one.

Q. Go through your thoughts on the eagle putt on 12 and how long has it been since you gave us that double-pump fist?

TIGER WOODS: Is that what I did? I tell you what, all of a sudden -- okay, first of all, the putt. You know, Stevie, when we got out there, it looked like a cricket wicket. It was all burnt out. We kind of joked it looked like Wimbledon on Sunday. There was no grass on the back of that green. That putt we said it looked like it's about two feet faster than it normally is, all day. So go ahead and play for that, and I did. I took a lot off that putt. It rolled out with the hole.

Next thing I know, I don't know what kind of reaction I did. I honestly don't know what I did. All of a sudden I know Stevie is right in front of me and I'm like running into Stevie. I don't know how close I came to being where I almost ran into Stevie but he sure looked awfully close to me.

Q. Two-parter. I know this might get lost in the round today, but would you talk about how crucial 4 was, that chain of events?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 4, after I had just missed two right in a row on 2 and 3, to have Phil give me one of those, which was nice, because I missed two putts I probably should have made and he missed that little one he should have made. But after that, we got it going.

Q. Was that a pretty routine putt?

TIGER WOODS: Which one.

Q. The par putt on 4.

TIGER WOODS: It was just inside left and just trust it. It was just a nice, general break.

Q. In terms of the mental grind of the day, can you draw any comparisons to this and the big boy at Kapalua in 2000?

TIGER WOODS: The one at Kapalua, I think Ernie definitely outplayed me that day, but I outputted him that day.

Today, we both played well and we both made some putts.

Q. But just more on the inside churning and grinding, was this more than that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because I think the golf course here is so much more difficult than Kapalua. I mean, you hit driver, who cares, it's 100 yards across the fairway. Here, it's a little tighter and on top of that, you know, the bermudarough, you can't put that ball in the bermudarough and expect to control the ball coming out, so you had to put the ball in play.

TODD BUDNICK: Tiger, your birdies, please.

TIGER WOODS: Birdies, I birdied 1. I hit a good drive right down the middle and 4-iron, flared it over to the right.

Hit a good bunker shot up there to about six feet and made it.

5, I hit a driver down the right side of the fairway and hit a 60-degree sand wedge up there to about five feet past the hole and made it.

8, I hit driver and a 6-iron over the green and I chipped back to about eight feet and made that for birdie.

10, I hit a driver -- I'm sorry, a 3-wood and a 3-iron to the front edge. I chipped it up there to about three feet and made it.

12, driver, 3-wood and made a putt.

16, hit a driver over the right-hand side. Had a decent lie, wasn't that bad. Boy, I hit a good second shot, too. It was just about a foot short of being perfect and ended up in the bunker. Had a great lie in the bunker and just hit a terrible bunker shot. Blasted out to the right and then hit a good putt, just misread the putt unfortunately.

Then 17, hit a driver and a sand wedge and made about a 30-footer there.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Tiger.

End of FastScripts.

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