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January 6, 2005

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Past winner of the Mercedes Championships, Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us. Good round today. 68, off to a good start. Two off the lead but let's just talk about your round today. Good day for you.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt like I played well. I hit a lot of good shots, and didn't really make a lot of putts really. I took care of the par 5s and hit a few in there close and just had some three, 4-, 5-footers in there for birdie. But outside of that, I didn't really make any putts.

Q. Can you talk about how hard it is to read the greens out here and make putts?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's being here before and playing on these greens at different pace for a number of years. You kind of get a feel for how they are going to play. It's so different, I've never seen them like this before, where they are this slow and this grainy. They are not cutting them this year for the first time so hence there's a lot more grain on them. The uphill, in the grain putts, man, like I told Steve yesterday, I said, "Did I make a big enough turn there?" (Laughter.) It's just unreal. You can hear the ball bouncing on the grass, just the way it is.

Q. You mentioned the other day that you won your tournament by not making any putts and it was kind of rewarding. How do you feel about a day like this where you could not make anything and still be floating around right there?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt very good. I hit the ball well, as I said, and I tell you what, if you look at that leaderboard, you can see the guys aren't making a bunch of putts, because there's really no wind out there for this golf course and the greens are soft. You could fire the ball in there. You would expect some, at least four or five guys to be 7-under par or better, but it's not going to happen with the greens like this. It's just too hard to make putts.

Q. Are you surprised to see Vijay up there or do you just expect it at this point?

TIGER WOODS: Hey, it's the first day, and the way he's been playing, it's a continuation of it.

Q. Good names up there.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's a bunched leaderboard really. You could see that there are a bunch of guys who have shot basically between 4 and 6-under par. That's basically what the golf course is giving you, because there really isn't any wind out there and the greens are as soft as can be.

Q. Outside of the first fairway which you just went straight down and kept rolling, you didn't miss any fairways, did you?

TIGER WOODS: I missed one.

Q. Fairway bunker.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, on what was that, 13?

Q. 14?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, other than that I hit the ball really well.

Q. And you had talked about being encouraged; does this round further encourage you now that you've really got it?

TIGER WOODS: It's just the way I've been playing. Since the end of last year and then even my off time, I've been playing a lot and hit the ball the same way. So this is no different than how I've been hitting it. And further validating it in competition is even better.

Q. Given what you've said about putting, do you feel like you have a better chance to make a downgrain putt right now than an into-the-grain putt?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt, because into the grain, you can see the ball bouncing all over the place. It's very rare that you ever get one straight in the grain. It's always in the grain at an angle.

Heath and I were talking about it, he's never seen anything like this. I've been in Japan and putted on Koria and it's similar to this, the way it's putting right now. But you don't want to be downhill, downgrain on a lot of putts because then it's hard to make yourself go ahead and take a rap at it.

Q. You seem to hit more drivers than you ordinarily do here; is that a product of conditions or confidence?


Q. Pick one, just once?

TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. Can you pick one, which was more of a factor; the confidence or the conditions?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's both, really. Like on 13, it's almost impossible to hit that fairway unless you drive it on the upslope on the other side. I've hit 2-iron and 3-wood there and it always rolls in the left rough. So, I said, you know what, I'm just going to drive it on the upslope up there and try to put it as close as I can in that bunker and see what happens and it worked.

Q. You were about a foot and a half, weren't you?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I hit it pretty close there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's touch on your round and we'll take one or two final questions. Your first birdie of the day was on No. 3.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 3, I hit a driver and 60-degree sand wedge up there to about four feet and made that.

4, I 3-putted. I hit it past, I had about a 15-footer down the hill and rolled it past about, oh, three and a half feet and missed it.

5, I hit a 9-iron in there and it landed on the green and spun off and went down the hill. I pitched up there, to, what, three feet and made it.

9, I hit driver -- sorry, I hit 3-wood, driver and I hit it to about 18 feet left of the hole and 2-putted that.

10, I hit a driver and a 60-degree sand wedge to about a foot.

13, I hit a driver and a little pitching wedge to about a foot and a half.

15, I hit a driver off the tee and I hit a 5-iron up there to about, oh, 15 feet, 2-putted.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: One or two last questions.

Q. Last year you may have gotten more out of some of your rounds than anybody ever could; is the level of your play indicative of the fact that maybe you didn't get a lot out of this round as well as you played, get back to where you actually may have left something out there?

TIGER WOODS: It's nice to not have to work so hard to shoot a low number. If I putt the way I normally do. That's three or four shots right there. So from that standpoint it's very encouraging.

Q. Just to follow up on that, with the conditions the way they were and with the way you played, do you feel like you could not have gotten any more out of this round because of the situation? You said the greens are hard to putt and a lot of times you're putting the greens and some are going to go in and some aren't, but what you came up with, is that what you would have expected with the conditions?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I felt like I hit the ball better than that and I hit it in there close enough where I had a bunch of 8 and 10-footers for birdie and I didn't make them. You know, that's awfully frustrating when you hit the ball in there that close and not make those putts, especially when I thought I hit -- some of them were good putts, some of them were just bad putts and they should not have gone in.

The good putts I hit, you could see the grain just snag that putt and bring it right out of the hole. I don't know, maybe I've got to bring out my Arnold Palmer stroke or something. (Laughter.)

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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