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October 3, 2003

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Defending champion Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us. A 66 is good by any stretch, but when the stroke average is over 74, it's a tremendous round. If you could talk about your day out there today.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's one of those days where you just have to be so patient. Above all, get the ball in the fairway, and if you didn't, make sure you don't short side yourself. No matter how well you play today, you're going to have some par putts eight or ten feet, and you're just going to have to make those to keep the momentum going, and for most of the day I was able to make those putts.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Par doesn't seem to be your friend on the PGA TOUR very often except for maybe the majors, but it certainly was today.

TIGER WOODS: True, and it's fun to play a tournament where you have to play like this. We don't get a chance to do this very often. This year at Riviera was like that. I think 9-under won there in a playoff. You don't find too many regular tour events like that, but it's nice to get those every once in a while. It's just enjoyable to go out there and have to -- you get rewarded for shooting a round under par. Normally you shoot a round under par you could be lapped, but here you're definitely going to move up.

Q. Some of the shorter hitters are complaining that the course is unplayable because even from in the fairway they can't stop the ball on the greens. Obviously you don't have that problem, but my question is do you feel the longer hitters have a massive advantage here?

TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say a massive advantage, but if you don't hit the ball in the fairway, you don't have a chance of holding the ball on the green, so it all starts there. Some of the front pins I could see that, on No. 8, that front pin there, if you didn't drive the ball down there far enough where you had a wedge in your hand, then you can't play aggressively to that flag. A lot of times you just have to play away from the flag. I did that today a lot of times. I played well short or well away from the flag and just tried to take my 20- or 30-footer and move on.

Q. Is there a risk of this thing getting away from you this weekend?

TIGER WOODS: The conditions?

Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I thought if we would have had that frost this morning, I thought it might have a chance to get away if the wind blew, but we didn't have the frost, which helped, so the greens weren't completely ridiculously hard, but they were still pretty firm.

The golf course -- it won't take much. If we get a wind that blows in here 30, 40 miles an hour, the golf course will become unplayable.

Q. You won $8 million or thereabouts at these events alone. It's a princely sum by any standard. Do you have any explanation for why you seem to get more attentive or whatever it is in these invitation-only events?

TIGER WOODS: I thoroughly enjoy playing against the best players in the world. Major championships, these World Golf Championships, The Players Championship, those are events where you will get the top players in the world from all over the place, not just here in the United States, but you're going to get them from Europe, Australia, from South Africa. Everyone is playing, and I think that's what makes these World Golf Championships so much fun to play is you get a chance to basically buck heads against the best.

Q. Are you liking what you get out of your driver?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I am. I hit the ball today.

Q. They measured one at 382.

TIGER WOODS: Well, if you carry it on top like I did, it can get out there. I was able to get that one out there.

Q. Do the results continue to be promising?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I didn't hit as many drivers today because the golf course didn't allow me to with the wind conditions. The wind kept switching around where 3-wood was a comfortable place, so I didn't hit driver as many times as I did yesterday, but the times I did I hit it pretty good.

Q. I think you said it was on Wednesday that your best tournament this year was at Match Play. 67-66 here in what seems to be very difficult conditions, would you say you're on the cusp of having your best tournament here this week?

TIGER WOODS: It's close, but I think I played better at the Match Play, at least those matches I played, I didn't hit a bogey at all.

Q. I have a Swedish question about your future mother-in-law --

TIGER WOODS: He knows more than I do.

Q. Have you heard about the news?


Q. Barbara, she's becoming the Immigration Minister of Sweden.


Q. Can you tell us when you met her and say some words about her, please, what you think about her?

TIGER WOODS: Last time I saw Barbara was I believe during Christmas last year, but I think it's fantastic for her. It's a great move for her and her family. Obviously it's a very difficult position, but one that she's looking forward to the challenge of it.

Q. Have you spoken to her?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we talked yesterday.

Q. So you knew it before even the Swedish media knew it?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I have an inside -- you know.

Q. The combination of taking a month off and this course that seems to be maybe something that fits your eye obviously with the scores you're shooting, does that help having that time off as well as maybe the new driver versus some other times or doesn't that really matter?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's a combination of all of that. Taking time off and coming back is great because you come back fresh. I think what helped a lot is my practice sessions at home were really good. Playing at home, I played with my buddies and I was able to play well and shoot some good numbers. That gives you a little bit of confidence. This driver, obviously I can shape it again and hit shots that I haven't hit for a while, which is nice.

Q. Realizing we're only halfway through, it's probably been a while that you've been in the lead. I was wondering if you could talk about the difference of having a three-stroke lead, whatever it is, now and being in the position that you've been in before at other tournaments where you're anywhere from three to seven strokes in the blink of an eye.

TIGER WOODS: When you're in this position, especially on this golf course, that can go away pretty quickly. You just have to be so patient. I'm going to try and do the same things tomorrow and just try and go out there and really be as patient as I possibly can. I think the hardest thing about today is trying to keep your rhythm. It was so slow out there, and tomorrow is going to be the same way. A two-tee start, it's going to be slow.

Q. And three-somes.

TIGER WOODS: Any time you play threesomes it's going to be slow, and then you get greens this hard, this fast and the wind swirling in the trees, the guys are going to take their times. We had to wait on just about every single shot today. That really throws off your rhythm. You have to really be focused on what you're doing and bear down more than you normally would.

Q. How many times have you played like that this year?

TIGER WOODS: Not that often, no.

Q. At all? Is this the first time?

TIGER WOODS: Don't you remember the British Open on Sunday?

Q. Could you talk about that ricochet shot on 16? It looked like you're rolling the ball real well.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. Well, I hit it on line at the right distance. It's kind of funny because that good a shot and that good a putt, and I'm the only one to walk away with par. K. J. makes a bomb and Ignacio hits a great shot down the hill and buried it right in the middle, and I felt like I hit three great golf shots and walked away with par.

OEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go through your score card.

TIGER WOODS: Birdie 2, I drove it just in the left rough and I hit a 60-degree sand wedge to about a foot and a half, made that.

Bogey 3, I hit it left -- actually rolled it on the green and it rolled back and I was in between the two bunkers on the left. I pitched over the green and got up-and-down from there.

Then came back with birdies on 5 and 6.

IGER WOODS: 5, I hit 3-wood, rolled it up there through the gap about 18, 20 feet, two-putted that.

6, I hit a 7-iron up there to about 15 feet just short of the hole.

Then 8, I hit a 3-wood and a pitching wedge to about 15, 20 feet, made that.

9, I hit a 3-wood and a 7-iron to about six feet. 10, bogey, I hit a terrible tee shot over the right with a 3-wood, caught a jumper left of the green, pitched it over the green from there, then chipped a 7-iron up there to about a foot and a half, made that.

OEL SCHUCHMANN: Came back with a birdie on the par 5.

TIGER WOODS: The par 5, hit a driver, 2-iron to about 40 feet, left my first putt about eight feet short, made that.

Bogey 15, I hit a 5-iron in the right bunker, had a perfect lie and just an easy golf shot and I just hit a bad golf shot short.

inal birdie of the day on 18, hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge to about eight feet, made it.

Q. People bring up your ability to close out tournaments once you've taken the lead. In your mind what are the keys in being a good front runner?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's awfully nice to be in front. You have those shots to kind of play with. I've always said I'd much rather be in front than trying to make up shots from behind because if you're three, four ahead versus three, four behind, you go out there and don't get off to a good start, if you're coming from behind, now you're further behind, but if you're ahead and you have those shots to kind of play with and still turn it around and still maintain the lead, which I think is a nice comfort level.

Q. Did you have to learn how to be a front runner?

TIGER WOODS: No, I've always been able to do that. I'd always much rather play with the lead than try to make up shots because you have those shots to play with. A lot of times if someone gets off to a good start up ahead of you and they're making some birdies, you can always say, well, I have the same holes to play. I can make birdies on those holes in answer to that person ahead of me, and all is even. I think that's what's nice about playing the last group and having the lead.

Q. Do you think some guys are afraid when they have the lead, start playing defensively?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you can be. I think some guys have admitted that, have gone through that. What's the worst thing that's going to happen? You lose. You're either going to win or lose. It's like making a putt, you're either going to make it or miss it so you might as well give it your best and enjoy being in that situation.

Q. With the season running down, do you think if you have a five-shot victory on this event that you will be considered the front runner for the Player of the Year?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think I would be because I would have more wins than anybody else on the Tour, and I would be ahead on the Money List. It all depends on what Vijay does obviously, but I think, yeah, with a few tournaments to go, I'm sure I would have just a slight edge. You know, as I said, it's going to come down to this event and the Tour Championship, who's going to win the money title and the Player of the Year award.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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