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February 25, 2003

Tiger Woods


Q. Different golf course obviously today than yesterday.

TIGER WOODS: Normal, isn't it? This golf course is always flooded, seems like each and every year, we get too much rain. But it's one of those things: Lift, clean and cheat, this week.

Q. People have said that maybe they won't see the rash of upsets because the course will favor some of the longer hitters, most of whom are in the top five seeds, the rough is up, the course is wet, so maybe not a lot of upsets?

TIGER WOODS: You never know. When you've got 18 holes, anything can happen. That's the thing, if we were playing 36-hole matches, you normally would see the better player win those matches, but not when you are in an 18-hole boat race, anything can happen.

Q. You usually say you play every tournament to win. Are your expectations any different or altered slightly because of the fickle nature of 18-hole matches?

TIGER WOODS: It's like it was back in amateur days, you just try to advance. Whatever it takes to advance, whether you shoot 10 over paragraph and advance or 10 under par and advance. Whatever it takes to advance, that's the name of the ballgame.

Q. You could play as dominant as you were at Pebble for the 2000 Open, have that kind of week, and lose win?

TIGER WOODS: You lose in the fifth round. That's just the nature of match play. Each and every match is completely a different animal, and I've been through enough matches to understand that.

Q. What do you know about your first round opponent?

TIGER WOODS: Carl played great a couple of weeks ago, had a 2nd over in San Diego. He's playing pretty good. It's going to be a fun match. I think we both are going to enjoy it.

Q. Do you know who's next after that if you win?

TIGER WOODS: Is it Fred Funk or KJ? I think it's one of those two, but I haven't got past that. I don't know what bracket I'm in, though.

Q. This is the first tournament you and Ernie are playing together for the year. How big a deal is this for you?

TIGER WOODS: Not big at all. It's not like it's a stroke-play event, where you can go out and play the best and for four straight days. It doesn't matter here. You can be out in the 5th day. It's just one of those things where we both have to win five matches in order to see each other.

Q. How likely is that?

TIGER WOODS: Not real likely, because of match play. It's very fickle, you don't know what can happen how many times have you seen the U.S. amateur, the No. 1, No. 2 seed get to the final? Last time -- the times I've played, I've never seen that happen. So it's even very rare for one of those two to even get to the final, because you never know.

Q. You can see why we're all interested in this. It's kind of a neat thing.

TIGER WOODS: You know, I understand it, but it's more viable in a stroke-play event, because if two guys aren't playing well, it's going to show. You could play well here and be actually down the road.

Q. You had such a good -- you did reach the finals here a few years ago. Are you surprised you haven't done better?

TIGER WOODS: At this level it doesn't take much to lose a match. You go out there and lose a couple of holes in a row and get behind. These guys are that much better. They don't make mistakes. And that's one of the things you realize when you play at this elite level, is that the guys don't make a whole lot of mistakes, and you have to make birdies in order to win holes.

Q. Tiger, people talk about the gap being imposed on you. Seems like they don't often bring up the fact that you may also be improving, while they're also improving. Where are you better today than you were say a year or two ago?

TIGER WOODS: Healthy. And that to me is a lot, because all the stuff I had to play through last year. Granted, I had a very successful year, but as I've said time and time again, a lot of sleepless nights, because of all the pain I had to endure last year. And it wasn't a whole lot of fun getting out there and having to play on some of those days. It was pretty tough getting out of bed knowing the fact that it was going to absolutely hurt.

But it's neat to come out here and practice like today, and play and hit any shot I want and be pain-free. And that to me is better.

Q. Have you seen Ernie this week?


Q. No evidence he's here?


Q. Tiger, a question for a feature on memorabilia. Are you irritated by people who get your autograph and then sell it on eBay, and are you irritated with the number of forgeries?

TIGER WOODS: I think we all are. It's not just myself. I think anyone who signs an autograph, that's not the intent. The intent is for you to treasure that. We're giving up a piece of our time to go ahead and do that for you. And it's a shame that that's what happens.

And on top of that, now they're using kids as runners, paying them, what, five bucks to get five autographs or whatever that is. And they'll go mat it, frame it and make a lot more than that. So it's a shame where it's going. I've had numerous talks with Jack and Arnold about it, and they never had to face that back in their hey day. But times have definitely changed.

Q. Back to golf. You had the good round Sunday. Obviously, you know you're going to play well sometime. In other words, did that really sort of get you into that tournament? If you had not played as well, would you have been as encouraged?

TIGER WOODS: Probably not as, certainly, because if I played the same way I did on Saturday, it wouldn't have been a whole lot of fun, and I would have had to be working a lot harder out here. But I played really well on Sunday, and I just needed to come out here and just basically tune it up a little bit. I don't have to do any major overhauls or anything like that, just keep backing up the rhythm and find my rhythm and hit the shots.

Q. Are you going to watch your opponent when you play match play? Do you watch everything he's doing or shut him out and play your own game?

TIGER WOODS: Everything changes. Everything is on the moment. Sometimes you block out your opponent, other times you watch what he does. It's hard to say, because it's the moment, and how it flows from hole to hole and from shot to shot, what you do. And a lot of times you can force your opponent to make a mistake and other times you may play conservative and go ahead and let him take the chance. But a lot of it, it's just a feel, from experience, and playing a lot of matches.

Q. Do you like the changes they've made to the format?

TIGER WOODS: What do you mean?

Q. 17, the length on 17, 85 yards, the setup, is it conducive to match play?

TIGER WOODS: I enjoy the setup. The golf course is getting more difficult, the rough being higher, the pins are getting more difficult. I enjoy that. And I think that's where the Tour should go, if they want to protect their scores, and not have the winning score between 20 and 30 under par every week.

Q. Unlike the last couple of years here, though, do you think we'll see more holes won with scrambling pars?

TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt.

Q. Does that matter?

TIGER WOODS: Not for us. You play -- as I said, you can go out -- I don't care if I shoot 10 over par to win the match, as long as I win and keep advancing. That's the key: You have to keep advancing and move on, so you can play the next day.

Q. Do you think there's any disadvantage being -- (inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: I don't think so. I think we're at a point -- these are the best players in the world. It's not like you get some of us out here on -- at the elite level, and you get a mini-tour player. There really isn't a whole lot of discrepancy between the top and the guy who's 64th in the world, there really isn't.

Q. Generally luck doesn't matter much in a 72-hole event. On an 18-hole event, how much does luck matter here, and how lucky do you feel this week?

TIGER WOODS: It's going to be -- there's definitely always got to be luck involved. You're going to hit some poor shots, and especially the rough being this high, get a lucky break and get a great lie and get it on the green. The other guy hits it in the same spot, and he's got to hack it out with a sand wedge. Luck plays a part in every match you play. I've had my share of good fortune in matches, where it's turned the tide in the match.

Q. Do you think these conditions are going to be more that obviously you can be in the fairway and really not have as good a lie because it's wet. You might be in the rough and it might be drier, because --

TIGER WOODS: I think we're going to play ball in hand, at least starting out. I don't think we're going to play it down, not when you have a river -- or a lake now. I think with ball in hand, it's more imperative that you hit the ball in the fairway, where you can put your hand on it and give yourself a good lie.

Q. Obviously you're trying to beat everybody in the field. Are you looking forward to the first stroke-play event with Ernie, since he's played so well and there's been so much talk about it?

TIGER WOODS: If we both play well at the same time I think it will be a lot of fun, not only for us, but I think for everyone watching it would be a lot of fun. But there aren't a whole lot of times we're both playing well at the same tournament. That's the fickle nature of golf, as you know. Would it be great? Yeah. I would thoroughly enjoy it if we both played well at the same time.

Q. Have you made a decision about Dubai?

TIGER WOODS: I have not.

Q. Sort of a day-to-day monitor thing?

TIGER WOODS: I'll make a decision probably by late this week.

Q. Tiger, any other events overseas that might be under question by you if war were to break out?

TIGER WOODS: We're not that far in advance yet. No. Right now, this next week, the next tournament is the tournament I'm committed to playing. We'll see what happens.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: Anytime you go overseas and there's war not too far away, it is a danger.

Q. Speaking about war, the issues with the war in general, have you been in touch with the government, our government, or have they been in touch with you about the issue?

TIGER WOODS: We have been in touch with them.

Q. You have been?


Q. Can you give us what their thoughts are, what we've said to you?

TIGER WOODS: It keeps changing. They're giving the politically correct answers to our questions, which is pretty much nondescript.

Q. You get what we get?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly. The questions you guys ask, yes.

End of FastScripts....

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