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September 22, 2002

Tiger Woods


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome the 2002 World Golf Championships/American Express Championship champion, Tiger Woods, with a tournament record 25 under 263. Tiger, 71 holes without a bogey and then the last hole got you.

TIGER WOODS: The last hole did get me. I wasn't exactly too happy in the fairway. I had a chance of making a nice putt, just blocked it.

TODD BUDNICK: Such a miraculous recovery on 17.

TIGER WOODS: That was probably one of the best shots I've hit all week. People think, yeah, you hit it 15 feet, big deal, but that lie was pretty gnarly. It was in the grain and sitting down on top of that, and it was hard underneath the ball. I knew that was probably going to be the shot of the tournament. If I'm aggressive on the shot and I hit too far behind it and blade it, I'll probably lose the tournament. So I said, "Just suck it up there and put it on the green like you know you can and put yourself in a position to make a putt."

TODD BUDNICK: Your 6th World Golf Championship victory. This week begins top 49 of the top 50 players in the ranking. Does that mean a lot to you.

TIGER WOODS: It means a lot when you play against the best and come out on top. As you said, 49 out of the top 50 players of the world are here this week. On top of that the scores we shot, we had to play well. A lot of guys did play well this week. It was nice to keep it up.

Q. How aware were you of Goosen's position?

TIGER WOODS: Very aware of it. We were on the 16th green and you knew someone stuffed it on 17 and you knew it wasn't Vijay because of the roar. If he hit one close, he wasn't in contention to win the tournament. He was far enough back that he probably wasn't going to be there, but that roar was a little louder than it normally would have been, so you figured it had to be Goose. And when we were on the tee when he buried the putt.

Q. Does that put you under any pressure? When you have a lead of five? You talked about being nervous at Augusta in the last round at Augusta. Does it make any difference when you're on the back nine and someone closes the gap so quickly.

TIGER WOODS: You knew you had to keep making birdies because the golf course wasn't playing hard at all. It was playing like it was the first two days. The greens were soft and very little wind. The greens were absolutely perfect. You knew somebody was going to make a run, somebody was going to shoot a low number. I didn't figure it had to be that low; you go out and shoot 66 to win by one.

Q. What happened on the 18th fairway?

TIGER WOODS: One of the photographers just took a picture while I'm over the ball. The most important shot of the entire week and he gets a happy finger. It just threw my focus off. I never probably got it all the way back to where it should have been. I was so hot because of all the times for him to take a photo. I'm 236 yards out, I'm trying to hit a 4-iron there, and it's not exactly an easy shot. There are so many things that can happen. I was just hot.

Q. You don't seem to let a lot of that stuff bother you. Was it the circumstances specifically this time? Was it the timing, a combination of the above?

TIGER WOODS: A combination of everything, because I've played so well the entire week, and to have it come down to the last hole. I'm 26 under par, I have to play the last hole well in order to win. I can't just scrape it around and slap it around and make anything I want to win. I have to hit quality shots. Maybe if I had a one-shot lead I would have settled down a little more. But I had a two-shot win, so subconsciously I think I got a little hotter.

Q. Are you still hot?

TIGER WOODS: I'm hot at him yes. I'm also hot for blocking that putt. Both scenarios, if he doesn't do that -- the way I've hit the ball the entire day and not really missed a golf shot until the 18th hole.

Q. You still won.

TIGER WOODS: Yes, I still won.

Q. Are you bitter about the bogey, in terms of what we've talked about the last couple of days?

TIGER WOODS: Yes, because I played so good the entire week. I played 71 consecutive holes without dropping a shot. That's pretty good golf. It's not like I've been playing poorly. I've really played well, especially today. Today is the best I've hit it the entire week. I hit so many quality shots. My trajectory was right where it needed to be. I was shaping the shots right to left, left to right, high, low, whatever the shot called for.

Q. Where does it rank in your 72-hole performance?

TIGER WOODS: It's certainly not at the top, but it ranks up there.

Q. You're pretty much a global player and this is another international win to put on your CV. Are you considering playing on the European Tour as a member and going after that money list as well?

TIGER WOODS: It's something I've given serious thought to. But each and every year, I'm thinking how can I cut my schedule down so I don't play as much. I think it would be very difficult because I'm trying to cut my schedule down so I don't play as much, and this year I'm playing two less than I did last year, so it would be really tough for me to do that.

Q. Can you make some comments on the Irish galleries.

TIGER WOODS: Fantastic. They were gracious the entire week, knowledgeable, understood the game. And as I've said, that's the most fun when you can play in front of fans who appreciate what a good shot really is.

Q. Does that illustrate how important records are to you? That would have been the first time you would have won without a bogey.

TIGER WOODS: It's not the end of all things either. I didn't want to end on a shot like I did on the second shot, and certainly not the putt, because I really played well today. As I said, I didn't really hit a bad golf shot today. I hit every shot flush. When you're able to do that and make putts -- I lipped a few out today, I could have shot a 62 as well. But I think that's what really frustrates me, I didn't really miss a shot the entire day until the last hole.

Q. When you say this doesn't rank among your best, is that because it's not a major or because the course wasn't playing tough?

TIGER WOODS: The course wasn't playing very hard.

Q. That's how you measure your performances given the conditions?

TIGER WOODS: Given how I played at the U.S. Open and Pebble Beach.

Q. That was good.

TIGER WOODS: You think? That was probably the best tournament I've ever played.

Q. That's how you measure yourself, not necessarily amongst players and scores, but a course?

TIGER WOODS: The course determines how you're going to play. This golf course, the fairways are pretty wide, the greens are pretty soft, the greens were perfect. The scores were going to be low. At the U.S. Open, the fairways were narrow. Every fairway at Pebble Beach was tilted. It was the hardest course in the U.S. Open rotation. I think the course setup has a lot to do with it.

Q. There's been some speculation about a tournament coming back here again. What changes would you make?

TIGER WOODS: I think every player would attest the fairways need to narrow up a little more. They narrowed it up since July. The rough wasn't as consistently thick throughout the entire week, they were spotty. You can hit a tee shot in there and you can get one to the green or you can hit a 3-wood out of the rough. It was one of those weeks you just knew you had to shoot something. I told Steve, 20 under par was probably going to be -- 20 plus, somewhere in there the entire week, just because of the conditions.

Q. You've won in an awful lot of countries; do you keep a list. Are you aware of how much you've won?

TIGER WOODS: I honestly don't know.

Q. It means a lot as an international player?

TIGER WOODS: It means a lot to win around the world. I enjoy playing around the world. I enjoy playing around the country and seeing other places. I think that's pretty cool. Granted we have a great setup at home on the PGA Tour, but I think when you play overseas, you're spreading the game of golf, and I think that's important.

Q. You've won five times on this tour for the second straight year, but what seems to be different is, I don't think you've had, except for one day at Muirfield, been out of contention on Sunday since probably March, I think. Would you say you're getting close to one of those quasi-rolls you had in 2000? If you look at your last X amount of tournaments -- I wonder if you could speak to that?

TIGER WOODS: I'm glad you recognize that. Not too many people are. I have really played well this year. I think I've really played consistently. And that's important to me, to put myself in contention. I can't win every tournament, but as long as I'm there with a chance on the back nine on Sunday, that's where you want to be. I've won my share this year.

Q. The rolls come in spurts?

TIGER WOODS: Of course they do. A lot of it is mechanics. Mechanics breeds confidence, and from there you do get on those rolls.

Q. Are you possibly on the brink of another sustained one?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know.

Q. Do you feel like you are?

TIGER WOODS: In 2000, I didn't know I was going to play that well. I knew the things I was working on were getting better, but who would have predicted I would have won 12 times that year around the world.

Q. How long does it take you to come down from a win like this and start focusing on the Ryder Cup next week?

TIGER WOODS: I'll start focusing on Monday, tomorrow. I'm going to celebrate tonight. And tomorrow when we all get on the bus together and head on down there, then obviously things change, I'll start getting ready.

Q. What area do you feel technically you most see you could improve on or would like to work on? Are you happy with everything?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's overall consistency. Obviously trying to hit the ball -- your ball flight more consistent day after day, shot after shot, and if you have a consistent trajectory you can control your distance, you can control keeping the ball in play in the fairways, and that to me is where I'm trying to get to. I'm trying to get more consistent.

It's a lot of work, let me tell you. It's not easy. When you get to this level how we are on tour, there really aren't a whole lot of things you can do to get better. It's a little bit here and a little bit there. You just need to find that little bit to get that much better.

Q. Is there something in your swing?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just the overall consistency of the plane of the swing, making sure I'm arcing the plane off properly in the correct spots. There's a certain position in the swing where I know I play my best from, trying to get there day after day after day. That's the hardest part, is we're going to get just a little bit off, not only from day to day, but moment to moment. It's not easy to try to tie all that together, but it's also a lot of fun, too.

Q. Sergio put down a bit of a marker for the coming week with his 62 today. He said he would relish the chance to go head-to-head with you at the Belfry, given obviously it's a blind draw; is that something that would get your juices going?

TIGER WOODS: I think it would be a lot of fun. Sergio and I have played head-to-head before in match-play I think at Bighorn. I think we actually played together in the best ball, I think it was. Is that right? Do you remember? Was that best ball? So we've played together in match-play before, and I think it would be a lot of fun. I think we would both enjoy it. I'm sure the fans would enjoy it, but I think it would be a lot of fun for both of us, to go out and compete in that type of atmosphere. Hopefully we both would play well, but I think it would be a lot of fun.

Q. There is an American-team dinner tonight at the hotel. Will you be buying the drinks?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't know there was a team dinner. Is there a team dinner? What time?

Q. 7:00.

TODD BUDNICK: We need to get him out of here.

Q. You went into this week with a new set of irons; did they work out as expected or better than expected?

TIGER WOODS: Better than expected. I knew that the clubs were just as good, if not better than what I've been playing, and to come out this week and hit it that well with them -- I knew I was hitting well at home, but to come out here and do it in a tournament is a different story. When you know you have to hit good shots because the guys are going to go low. I was able to hit shot after shot flush consistently, and I controlled my trajectory well.

Q. We saw Curtis charging around in a buggy talking to Phil and Mark Calcavecchia and Azinger; did he come up to you?

TIGER WOODS: He came up to me on Friday.

Q. Did he say anything to you?

TIGER WOODS: No, nothing, just "how are you playing." I said, "what do you think?"

TODD BUDNICK: Just go through your birdies and eagle.

TIGER WOODS: First hole, I hit a 3-iron off the tee, hit a sand wedge up there to about 10 feet and made it.

No. 4, I hit a 2-iron off the tee and 8-iron up there to about 15 feet, made it.

No. 5, I hit a driver and 2-iron and 2-putted from about 40 feet.

No. 10, I hit a driver and a 3-iron to about 12 feet and made it for eagle.

And No. 14, I hit a 7-iron up there to about eight feet, made it.

And 17, I hit a 3-wood off the tee left, hit a 4-iron right of the green, pitched it up there to about 12 feet and made it.

Q. Is this the first time you've hit a 3-wood off the tee this week?

TIGER WOODS: I've hit it every day, except for the first day.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, congratulations, Tiger.

End of FastScripts....

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