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October 5, 2003

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, congratulations on defending your title at the American Express championships. It was your fifth win of the season on the PGA TOUR, your eighth career World Golf Championship win and 39th on the PGA TOUR, tied with Tom Watson and Gene Sarazen for ninth all-time. Obviously a tough day out there, but you did what you needed to do to win.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was tough. The golf course was playing firm, fast. It was similar to what it was on Friday but not quite as firm as Friday. It was pretty testy. A lot of the pins were in the corners again, and it was a challenge to try and get the ball close. You had to drive the ball in the fairway and you had to try to get it down there far enough where you had short irons in there so you could spin the ball.

For some reason today I hit the ball pretty good starting out and then I kind of lost it a little bit in the middle of the round. I didn't really putt well today. I had the speed right, just didn't get the ball on the correct line. I kept blocking them early, kind of pulled one over on 11. Made a big putt on 13 for par and then a huge putt on 16 for par.

Q. Are you surprised somebody didn't make a run on you?

TIGER WOODS: Timmy was making a run, but it was so difficult to try and make a lot of birdies. I saw that David Toms was playing great. He got to 7-under par for the day, but made a couple bogeys coming in. But overall the golf course is playing so difficult, if you get too aggressive, you can run the ball off those edges and be 30, 40 yards away from the flag with a good shot, so you had to be kind of conservative, and then hopefully you could get the hot putter going. The pins were much tighter to the sides than they were yesterday, and with the firm greens it made it even more difficult to try to get it close.

Q. Was it almost a U.S. Open mentality out there?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt, yes. You had to drive the ball in the fairway and from there just get the ball to the green and get the ball in the hole if you could, but more than anything, just starting out, never really fired at the flag. I had a sand wedge into No. 4. It's a perfect situation to go right at the flag, but I fired 15 feet right of it because if I missed it left with any kind of spin, it's coming right back past Vijay. So you had to be very careful about where you're going to hit the ball and put it there.

Q. Talk about on 12, you could see that Herron had made it to one back of you. You had a quick chip down there back to the hole. How important do you think it was getting that birdie and made sure you got back to two ahead into a tough stretch?

TIGER WOODS: I thought it was big, especially for me. Not necessarily for the one-shot lead or two-shot lead, but for me just to get something positive because I just missed a really short one on the previous hole. It looked like it was going to be a two-shot swing between Vijay and I, and the only person I really worried about was Tim. Then all of a sudden he makes par and I missed a short one there. So I thought making that birdie there was just huge for my momentum just to try and keep it going, and then on the next hole I made a good par putt and kept it going.

Q. Are you surprised at those bogeys Vijay had at 9 and 10 when he was in the middle of the fairway? Is that kind of uncharacteristic?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. That shot on 9 is understandable because if you land that ball anywhere near the flag, I mean, it's out of here, over the green, so he had to try and land it just over, and people don't realize it's pitched away from you, so he tried to bring it in high and soft, and was just a yard short away from what would be a great shot, and then that putt he had on 10 was just so fast. He ran it by and I think he might have pulled the second one. Yeah, they were uncharacteristic bogeys, considering that he just needed to put the ball on the green and walk away with pars and eventually make one or two birdies and he would be right there.

Q. Talk about the significance of this win given what we've talked about all week, with the stuff at the end of the year, knowing that if you don't win this week, it's looking really bleak.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but it depends who would win, that's the thing. If Vijay would have won the tournament it would have been very difficult for me to win the money title as well as Player of the Year, but if Tim would have won, then it would have been a different story and it still would have been up for grabs. We would have gone down to the Tour Championship with everything on the line and no one really knowing.

Right now it still is kind of up for grabs because if Weirsie or Furyk or Vijay, those guys win the Tour Championship, they have a chance to win, or even Davis, so a lot of different things can happen at the last tournament.

Q. Do you think you have to win again to make it a contest?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. We'll see how the Money List plays out between now and then.

Q. The last two days they put water on those greens. You may feel like they're not that much different than they were, but by scoring average it's a lot different from where they were the first two days, but yet you didn't score as well the last two days as you did the first two days. Could you talk about why that was?

TIGER WOODS: Well, yesterday you saw I made some uncharacteristic mistakes. I made a bogey with a sand wedge in my hand, another hole I made a double, and then I three-putted. I didn't do that the first two days. Today was just being conservative. I didn't have to try and shoot a low number today. I knew that if I shot one, maybe two at the most, that would get the job done. As it turned out, after nine holes, I figured probably even par for the day would win, probably win by one, but it ended up by being more than that.

Q. Just to follow up, you never felt like you had to change your strategy that you came into today with at all during the round?


Q. You were talking about a U.S. Open type of feel on the course as far as how you had to play. I'm wondering internally was there anything resembling a major type of pressure for you because of all the things that were at stake, the Money Title, all those externals, anything like that?

TIGER WOODS: No, nothing compares to what you have to feel coming down the stretch in a major. Any player can tell you that, whether it's a World Golf Championship or not. Coming down the stretch the last couple of holes at the Masters or the British Open or the U.S. Open or the PGA, I'm telling you what, it's tough. It's hard to swallow. It's a little bit different atmosphere than today.

Q. You had a nice par on 10. Can you talk about that hole?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I just hit a terrible tee shot, another one of those shots where I didn't quite trust it and pulled it left. Then I just tried to hack one out of there and run the ball up -- tried to actually hit it through the gap and over the green where I could actually pitch back uphill. I didn't do that. Obviously it got caught in the rough, but I had a great break, a great lie up on top, and I could go ahead and play a big flop shot there. I don't know how I actually spun it. I actually hit high on the face and came out with some spin on it, which was kind of sweet.

Q. Talk a little bit about your overall impression of the course. A lot of people were complaining earlier in the week that everything was a little bit too hard. What are your overall impressions of how you like the course?

TIGER WOODS: I think this is the way it should be. If we could get more tournaments with the greens hard and fast like this, I mean, that's fun. I think the -- I've always said I'd much rather play in a tournament like this where the winning score is in the single digits under par versus going out there and shooting 20-some under par to win the tournament. That's just not as fun for me. For me I enjoy playing major championships because that's what it takes. U.S. Open championships are a thrill to play because if you shoot something under par every day you're going to have a chance to win.

Q. You seem to be a minority in that opinion. A lot of guys are complaining it's too hard. Is that one thing that separates you from some guys, that some guys flinch where you see it as a more of a challenge?

TIGER WOODS: That's what Jack used to say, that guys would take themselves out of it mentally at the beginning of the week. Playing a difficult golf course puts more emphasis on good ball striking and course management. You can't go out there and just blindly hit shots. If you've got 142, hit it 142 on the number. You can't do that. You have to shape it in there, feed it and use slopes. You've got to be creative and really be very patient, and I think that's a lot of fun for me.

Q. How would you rate this week's play compared to the other weeks of the season?

TIGER WOODS: Comparable to how I played at La Costa.

Q. Stevie said that he didn't even have to tell you that this was the 100th.

TIGER WOODS: I was trying to get it done for him at one of the majors. I thought that would have been pretty sweet to make it a 100th win, but it didn't quite happen. That's why I think the British Open was so disappointing, too, was that I was right there.

Q. Does he get a bonus for this?

TIGER WOODS: He gets his normal percentage.

Q. You seem a little subdued. Is that because that was a good bit of hard work out there, some of the places you were putting yourself?

TIGER WOODS: It's so much work when you've got to play a golf course that's this difficult. It's like in a U.S. Open where every shot you're stressed. There's not one shot where you can go ahead and say, oh, wherever I hit it, no big deal. Augusta used to be like that. You could go ahead and hit driver, if you miss it 40 yards off line, no big deal, it's in the fairway. Obviously now there's more rough and trees and bunkers out there. But it puts so much pressure on you starting out the day knowing the fact that you have to drive the ball in the fairway, you have to hit the ball on the green, and then when you get there, you've got some pretty tough putts, and you're always stressed throughout the entire day, and some of the holes that were the most difficult were playing into the wind, 9, 16, 15, those holes were playing into the wind left to right, which is a very difficult wind to play those three holes.

Q. Did you feel like you had it won?

TIGER WOODS: I was walking off the tee on 18 and I saw Timmy putting, and I thought it was for birdie. When he missed the putt I assumed that I could make bogey and still win the tournament. That was a big relief right there.

Q. Tiger, Stuart said you had him over to work on your Porsche. Why would you have a professional golfer come to work on your car rather than a professional mechanic?

TIGER WOODS: Did he explain the whole technology that he's into, the chip that he puts in there and it adds another 15 horsepower to your car? He did it to O'Meara's car, too, I believe his E55 as well as his Porsche, and Mark loved it. Mark was the test subject first.

Q. Did he do the job properly?


Q. Considering your drive on 9 and 10, was there any point at all despite having a two-stroke lead the whole time that you felt things getting a little bit tight, and if you could talk about the importance of the tee shot on 11.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, things were getting a little bit tight there. Vijay made a mistake on 10 by three putting and I made a great save to try to turn the momentum around. I was walking there and telling myself just trust it, and I did. I just bombed that tee shot down there, hit a sand wedge and hit an atrocious putt.

Q. (Inaudible).

TIGER WOODS: I think it's fun when you get a chance to play against the best. We have the majors and these world golf championships.

Q. Are these any more meaningful than say a Western or a Bay Hill?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because you're playing against a better field. Any time you get to play against the best players, I mean, it's right off the world rankings. You can't get any better than that. That's when it's the most challenging because you get the guys who are the best players in the field. It's not a watered-down field. These are the strongest fields, and that's what makes it so difficult to try and win these tournaments.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go through your card and take two quick questions, birdie on No. 5, the short par 4.

TIGER WOODS: I hit 3-wood and actually got away with it. I hit it left and I think cut it. Hit it short of the bunker, hit it on the green and two-putted from 40 feet.

Bogey on 9, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and lost it right. Then I hit an 8-iron into the front bunker, blasted out to about eight feet, missed it.

Birdie on 12, hit driver and 4-iron over the green, pitched it back there with a 9-iron to about three and a half feet below the hole and made it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Bogeys on 14, 17 and 18.

TIGER WOODS: 14, hit a 3-wood off the tee to the right, hit a pitching wedge from -- I had 190 to the front, and I hit it over the green. As you can see, it was Bermuda rough and the fairways weren't slow. I chipped it back and I hit a good putt from about eight feet, just missed it on the low side.

17, I hit a great driver right down the middle of the fairway, just hit a bad pitching wedge. I was trying to put the ball left of the hole 15, 20 feet and I just stuck it in the ground and hit it straight right. I was just hoping I'd get the ball on the green, and I got the ball on the green and two-putted from about 15 feet.

18, hit 3-wood left in the rough, laid up short, hit a 60 on the green and two-putted.

Q. How much better with your driver do you feel about your swing and your game versus any other time this year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, any time you can shape a driver, for me, I can step up there with a left-to-right wind and know that I can hit that ball and hold it. That to me is huge. That's how I play. This driver enables me to do that. It kind of frees you up to go ahead -- I was kind of swinging this way with all my clubs, but with my driver I was more apprehensive because I wasn't feeling comfortable, and as I started feeling more comfortable, I started letting go, which was producing more distance. Does this driver go further, yes, but not as much as people might think. It just frees me up and now I can let go again instead of having both hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. Consequently the ball is getting out there again.

Q. Do you feel like this is the best you've swung all year or close?


Q. Any thoughts on catching Watson and Sarazen and what that means for you?

TIGER WOODS: I guess I'm tied for lead cardinal, so if I get one more --

Q. Will you have that discussion with them? Will you rub that in a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: Hopefully I can get one more in before I see them.

End of FastScripts.

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