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November 7, 2004

Tiger Woods


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome the runner-up at the 2004 TOUR Championship Tiger Woods. Tiger, bogeys on 2, 5 and 7. Just couldn't get anything going to start the day.

TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't. I hit it good starting out and then I just had terrible speed on the greens. The 1st hole I probably should have three-putted that thing, but I made a 15-footer coming back.

I just had no speed control. Then all of a sudden my feel came back and I started putting good, and then my game left and I didn't hit it very good. You know, it's just one of those things where I just had to -- if I look back on it, I had to pick my poison, which one I wanted for the hole, hit good putt bad or hit it bad and putt great. It wasn't real positive.

TODD BUDNICK: How disappointed are you after your rounds of 64 and 65?

TIGER WOODS: I was really disappointed. Jay and I were in great shape to win the tournament. We were four ahead of the other guys. The only thing you couldn't do was give those guys hope by coming back. Jay and I both did that, and consequently we gave the guys a chance to come from behind, and Goose took advantage of it and just played a great round of golf. He did absolutely everything he needed to do, posted a number, and hopefully it would be good enough, and it was.

Q. You played with Retief the other day. Does he talk to you any more than he does to us civilians?

TIGER WOODS: No, he doesn't really talk. We played in South Africa in the Presidents Cup. I mean, I played him in two matches and he didn't say one single word (laughter). That's hard to do (laughter).

Q. A lot of times when you're playing with somebody and the guys are both shooting great, made all kinds of birdies, you guys feed off each other. Is it the same thing when two guys are struggling?

TIGER WOODS: I try not to look at it like that because I had my own problems on the greens. Jay was playing fine. He was doing the things he needed to do. I was the one who was struggling on the greens early on. Yeah, we both made some bogeys out there early, but we didn't make any birdies until 9, then finally we got something going, and we both gave it a high five and said, "finally."

Q. Did you at one point on the back side start to press a little as you started to see Goosen move further and further ahead?

TIGER WOODS: No, I was only one back most of the time. Those closing holes, anything can happen. I just had to keep staying in there and keep keeping pace with Goose like I did yesterday in the middle part of the round. I kept pace with him. On the back nine today I was trying to do that, and then what really hurt me and hurt my chances was the fact that he birdied 16. That's just an awesome birdie there.

I needed to make that putt come up the hill to keep it a one-shot lead because two shots with those two holes to play makes two pars, makes it more likely he's going to win the tournament. I needed to stay one back and didn't do it.

Q. Your second shot on 15 --

TIGER WOODS: I have no idea how it went that far, no idea. The shot I hit on 11 off the tee, same thing, same club, 7-iron. I had 188 to the hole uphill. Granted, it was downwind but it was uphill. You don't hit a 7-iron over the green 188 uphill. There was no ball mark up there so I flew it over the green.

Q. We thought it was going in for a second?

TIGER WOODS: I saw Stevie flinch like it was going to go in. I was happy to make 4 there. When I hit it I thought it was the perfect club, it was going to carry the hill, be back there where I had four, five, six, seven feet in there to make an eagle and get right back in this tournament. Then all of a sudden I see people flinching and getting out of the way. I couldn't believe it went that far.

Q. When you hit that first putt way back, that's really unusual for you to hit a putt that far past.

TIGER WOODS: Yesterday it was downhill on the other side. This one was straight uphill all the way. My hitting a putt that bad, yeah, it kind of threw me for a loop, but I made the second putt. I said, you know, just focus on that. The next hole I went ahead and left it about five feet short. I don't normally do those things, hit putts, two holes back to back, that bad of speed.

Three-putt on 5, same thing, left it a little short, and I three-putted 16, same thing, blew it by the hole six feet.

Q. When you look back at the week, do you grade it as a success or are you a little disappointed that maybe some of the swing changes didn't hold up so well under duress and I had a two-way miss going in the middle of the week and blew your 54-hole lead streak thing, which people are going to be talking about that, I'm sure.

TIGER WOODS: Of course (laughter). I was fighting a little bit today, but I knew what I was doing so I could fix it. I fixed it with most of my iron shots fine. Some of the longer clubs I had more of a difficult time to fix it, and obviously you've got to trust it and try to put a ball in play, and I didn't do that very well.

As an overall week, it was a very successful week as far as progressing in the right direction, but ultimately it was disappointing, too, because I lost the tournament, especially when I had a golden opportunity to win.

Q. We talk about the big four. Has Goose crashed that party, and how under-appreciated or underrated might he be in the eyes of golf fan?

TIGER WOODS: If I remember about two and a half years ago he was winning just about every single tournament he played in. Goose is one steady player, and we all know that. You don't win two U.S. Opens by being very erratic. You have to be very steady, and he's done that.

Q. In a situation like today, is your level of confidence exactly the same as it was say three, four years ago?

TIGER WOODS: No. I mean, how can it be? I was winning a lot of tournaments three or four years ago, too. No, it's not, but it's headed in the right direction.

Early this year it was not very good, but as the summer progressed and into the fall, things are headed in the right direction, which is very exciting.

Q. Do you need to win to get it back there?

TIGER WOODS: I just need to keep taking steps like this. I thought Deutsche Bank was a big week for me to put things together. I played great there, just didn't win. NEC I played well there, just didn't win. This week, same thing. I'm putting the pieces together and they're starting to come together. Now I just need to build more consistency and do it week in and week out and on top of that, day in and day out.

Q. Is it fair to say that this is probably the largest step you've taken in the changes, this week?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, without a doubt, yeah.

Q. You alluded yesterday to kind of the time frame on that and when you decided to start incorporating some different things. Was there a flash point? Was it post-Bay Hill, post-Masters? When exactly did you say, "okay, I'm going to give this a shot," versus whatever it was before? Any lightning bolt event or epiphany?

TIGER WOODS: No, it was more of a gradual process because I didn't like the way I played at Match Play, even though I won. I really wasn't playing that well. If you look at my match with Davis, Davis outplayed me, I just out-putted him. That's why I won the match.

I needed to take steps and go a different route and make a change to become a better player.

Q. Your streak of winning with the 54-hole lead are 30 and 3 but two of them have come here. Do you like this place?

TIGER WOODS: I really do love this golf course. I wish we could play more golf courses like this that are straightforward, no elephant burial grounds out there to try and trick it up. This golf course is straightforward and it's one of the hardest golf courses you'll play, and this was soft. Imagine if it was hard and baked out? There probably would have been only a handful of guys under par.

It certainly hasn't been all that great for me on Sunday here (laughter), but then again, I think it's still one of the greatest golf courses we play all year.

Q. Will you be glad next year to come back and have a chance to make up for the two times you've been disappointed here? Are you glad now it'll be here for a while and you'll have a chance to get back after the last couple years?

TIGER WOODS: I'm excited to have an opportunity to qualify (laughter).

Q. Not automatic, is it?

TIGER WOODS: I'm exempt for next year, which is good, so I've got some tournaments to try to qualify to get in here.

Actually the two golf courses that they did play back and forth, Champions and here, are two of the best golf courses you can ever play because they are old school golf courses, and we don't get a chance to play too many of them. Generally we play those in U.S. Opens, but two very classic golf courses, and I think it's great for us to come back and play a golf course like this that's just straightforward. There's no tricks here. If you look at the winning score, I mean, granted, Goosen is at 11 and I'm at 7, and this was a soft golf course. As I said, if it was baked out, hard, dry and fast, there might have been only maybe a handful of guys under par.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through the round.

TIGER WOODS: Bogey on 2, hit a 7-iron past the hole about 30 feet, left it five or six feet short, missed it.

5, I had probably about 50 feet or so and left it about 12 feet short of the hole, missed it.

7, I pulled my tee shot left, hit a pitching wedge up and over the cup in the grass there between the bunker and the green. I hacked it out of there on the bottom side of the ridge, hit a good putt, dead center, too, if I would have hit it from about 30 feet. I just left it about three inches short right in the middle.

9, I hit a good drive and I hit a 3-iron over the green left, chipped it up there to about 12 feet, made it.

11, I hit a 7-iron past the hole about 30 feet, made it.

15, 7-iron over, had probably about a five-foot putt.

16, hit a driver, 9-iron down there and had about 35 feet up the hill and blew it by about six feet and missed it.

17, I drove it in the right bunker, hit a 7-iron just right at it, and again, ended up between the bunker and the green, chipped it up there about eight feet, missed it.

Q. On today's round, do you consider today's round somewhat a step back, or do you just like say it's an anomaly and toss it and not worry about it?

TIGER WOODS: The great thing is I knew what I was doing and I fixed it most of the time. Other times I didn't do it right, so from that standpoint it's nice to be able to go out there and play like I did today, not have it in the middle part of the round and then fix it and get it going again, and then I was right back to the tournament, even par for the day, and it looked like I should have been out of the tournament, but I fixed it, got it back, got things rolling, and then I tried to make that putt on 16 and it ended up right by the hole.

I think it was a big step for me to understand what my problems were early in the round, rectify them, get back in this tournament and give myself a great chance to win. Obviously I didn't do it, but at least I turned it around.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Tiger.

End of FastScripts.

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