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March 24, 2001

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Thank you so much for coming to spend some time with us. Wonderful position heading into the final round. Maybe some thoughts about that, and then we'll open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: I feel pretty good about my spot right now. Even though I made the wrong decision on 18, I made bogey in the end; but overall, I can't really be too disappointed with 66 on the golf course that set up as difficult as this was.

Q. Do you feel good about your spot because you are two behind and the way you are playing, or because you are chasing a guy who has never won before in this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: I think I'm two back right now. And whether he has won or not I think is irrelevant, because he's playing well. Right now, I need to go out there tomorrow and get off to a little bit better start than I did today. Hopefully be able to put a little pressure on Jerry.

Q. What was your mistake at 18?

TIGER WOODS: I made the wrong call on 18; pulled the wrong club.

Q. What did you hit?

TIGER WOODS: 3 -iron-.

Q. What should you have hit?

TIGER WOODS: 2. I hit 3-iron on No. 9 from 270 out and hit it over the green. Stevie was figuring, 3-iron, 270; so if I hit 3-iron the same way and -- 3-iron, and probably about a 7-iron into the green. But I didn't feel comfortable with my swing, the line, the way the wind was blowing. It was kind of -- it was blowing down, and then it would switch back and come into my face. I just didn't feel comfortable with the club, and went ahead and hit it anyways.

Q. Hit it to the right?


Q. What did you hit for the eagle at 11?

TIGER WOODS: I hit 4-iron. I think I hit it in there -- even you could have made that, Art. (Laughter.)

Q. No, but he could have made the one on 12.

TIGER WOODS: That's a good point.

Q. What was the yardage?

TIGER WOODS: On the 4-iron, I had 229.

Q. It worked out well, but why 9(-iron) instead of wedge on 17? And I wonder if you could talk about the putt and what your thoughts were on the putt as the ball reached the ridge?

TIGER WOODS: It was a perfect wedge number, but if I land that ball on the bank with that wedge, I'm going to sweep it in there with a draw. If I get it on the slope, it is going to go into the water. You see how fast the putt was coming down -- I knew if I hit wedge and if I hit on a holder -- even a holder would be even worse, would have more spin. If I hit it on that slope, it's going to go into the water. So I tried to hit a little chip 9. I cut in there, and you could see the wind just changing and go straight downwind. The ball just got up and flat-lined on me. It was just gone.

Q. What were your thoughts as it was sweeping to the left and then heading towards the right?

TIGER WOODS: I was trying to just get the right speed. I've had that putt before, but not quite that deep into the green. I've missed it to the right every time. And I know -- I just need the ball coming off the slope, going at the hole, because when it goes at the hole, from where I'm standing, as it catches the slope it will go straight left. And as it goes left, it just dies and comes back to the right. As it started -- it started peeling back to the right, I kind of have a pretty good feeling I would have a chance; that I put the putter up probably a little earlier than I should have. I just had a good feeling about it. It just snuck in somehow from the right.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: I like being in the final group, whether the person is playing me plays a good round or not, it gets -- I think it is just advantageous to put yourself there time and time again in the final group with a chance to win. I've done that quite a few times. I enjoy it, because when you're playing the final group, it's a little bit easier to react to what the guys are doing ahead of you. You know, if you make birdies -- they are playing the same holes you are. You can make birdie and get right back.

Q. What did you hit in on 17, and did you get a bad feeling, because it looked like it almost made it to the water?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a little 9-iron in there. I cut it in there. It was a nice shot. I played it the way I wanted to play it. Unfortunately, I got a little gust there and it flat-lined. When it does that, it's out of your hands. I was very fortunate that ball hit soft, because it very easily could have hit the other way.

Q. What was the read on the putt? It looked like it took a big break.

TIGER WOODS: Right-to-left early, coming down off the bank; and as it starts dying, it comes back probably another six feet to the right.

Q. So it was -- overall?

TIGER WOODS: Overall, just on top of the right edge. The slope should send it about six or seven feet out to the left and should die back.

Q. How long was it?

TIGER WOODS: Probably from here to the clock.

Q. 50? 60?

TIGER WOODS: 50. I don't know. From here to there. (Laughs.)

Q. From the first five or six holes, you had some nice up-and-downs to kind of save you there from some erratic iron shots. How are you feeling about your game right through then?

TIGER WOODS: Not very good.

Q. You looked like you were struggling?

TIGER WOODS: I was. I was not swinging the club very well. I got off to a poor start making bogey on 1. 2, I didn't really play that well; but made 4. 3, I pulled an iron shot and made birdie. No. 4, I skanked one over to the right bunker, hit an 8-iron in there to about a foot. You know, the next hole, I kind of pulled one up the left side and hit a flame out into the right gallery, and chipped up there to about eight feet and made that. No. 6 was a good hole. Hit it straight right in the trees. Hit it up through a gap in the palm trees, and put it on the green and 2-putted. Was not very pretty, but I was under par somehow.

Q. Given how much you have accomplished in your career so far, you have not won this tournament. Does that sit in your mind when you go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow? Does that matter to you? Is it important?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'd like to win, but it's not life or death. If I win or lose tomorrow, life will go on.

Q. Are you having more trouble with your swing this year? It seems so often you are having four, five, or six holes where you cannot control your swing, like in the last round at Bay Hill, and then you came in and seemed to be rectified. Is that more than last year, or did you have the same problems last year?

TIGER WOODS: Last year, I played better last year. I know that I drove the ball better last year. I don't know if I quite hit my irons better, but I know I drove the ball better than what I am right now. I was able to shape it both ways: High, low, didn't really matter what shot. I knew could I get it in play. Right now it is not quite as good. My iron game, I feel, is more sharp than last year. I just need to get the ball in play.

Q. Talk about your putting today. Obviously, you had that good feel with the putter. You looked so comfortable over it. Yet the last two days, everything has sort of burned around the hole, this and that. Today they went in. I wonder your thoughts there, sir?

TIGER WOODS: I feel like I have been putting pretty good all year, actually. I just felt like once I got on some good greens that I could make some putts, and these are as good as they get. They are smooth. They are fast. They are rolling true. I went up there today and felt pretty good over my putts. Felt pretty comfortable and stayed committed to my lines. That's the key; you have to stay committed your line and release the blade, and I feel like I did that pretty well today.

Q. When you go -- of all of the thousands of shots that are hit every year, when you hit one that's, obviously, going on SportsCenter for however long to come, what kind of thrill is that?

TIGER WOODS: Most of the shots I hit that will probably be on the highlights are probably not the shots that I know that I've hit the best.

Q. How so?

TIGER WOODS: Because I know that a lot of times, timing may be off, but the results are good. I've only hit probably a handful of shots that I think are great shots, you know, that are just absolutely perfect through impact.

Q. Was that one of them, the putt on 17?

TIGER WOODS: That's just luck. When it rolls down there and falls in.

Q. What about 16? Everybody is concentrating on 17, but 16 was a tough one.

TIGER WOODS: 16 was a good putt. It was a bad pitch. I had a good enough lie where I could easily have kept it on the top shelf. I just let the rough dictate the shot too much. It came out hot and rolled down the slope, but I had the a wonderful putt coming up the slope, and it didn't really move much; just went right in the middle.

Q. How far?

TIGER WOODS: About 20 feet.

Q. Aside from the fact that he's playing great, what do you know about Jerry Kelly?

TIGER WOODS: I've played with Jerry before.

Q. He said no.

TIGER WOODS: I thought I had.

Q. He would remember.

TIGER WOODS: But I know Jerry. I've seen him in the locker room. Had lunch. I mean, everyone knows Jerry. He's just a piece of work. (Laughs).

Q. He sat up there and was cracking us up.

TIGER WOODS: He's a great guy. He's a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Obviously, he's a wonderful athlete. It will be a lot of fun playing with Jerry tomorrow.

Q. He said there's more pressure on you than him. Do you agree?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I really don't know. I don't know what he's feeling.

Q. Even though you won so much last year, how disappointing was it to lose here on Sunday, with you and Sutton, and did that inspire you for the rest of the year at all?

TIGER WOODS: Did it inspire me? No. Was it disappointing? Yeah, because I felt that I was playing good enough on Sunday to have put a little bit more pressure on him early in the round, and I was not able to do that. I missed the big putt on 11. He made a big bomb on the slope to the back of the pin, and I missed a 6-footer there for birdie just past the hole. Things like that, I could have taken advantage of and was not able to do it. Granted, I made the eagle on 16, but by then it was almost too late; and in actuality, it probably was too late.

Q. You got into the final group when Vijay missed a couple putts on 17 and 18. How important is it to be there with the leader and look him in the eye?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's just nice to see what the leaders are doing. I think it's always advantageous to see and react to how they are playing.

Q. Based on the experience last year, do you worry that if you don't get off to a quick start against Jerry, that maybe he builds confidence and has more of an advantage?

TIGER WOODS: The thing about it is this golf course right now is playing so difficult. If you get off to a slow start, so be it. The golf course is playing so difficult that just making pars is going to be a good score. I've seen some of the pin locations that they have tomorrow, and they are traditional Sunday pins, over in the corners. It is going to be quite a test. If they leave the greens like they are right now, like they were coming in, baked out, it's going to be hard to just try to keep the ball on the green sometimes.

Q. Stanford's loss frees up from Minnesota. Does that make it one less distraction for Augusta?

TIGER WOODS: That would have been a pleasant distraction, very pleasant. When they made it to the Final Four last time, I was here. And I've always wanted to go to a Final Four. Although, I'd only go if Stanford was in it, and unfortunately, they got beat.

Q. You and Phil have had some competitive tussles, but you have not played in the same group. Any thought on that today? Did you think about that at all or just concentrating on your own stuff?

TIGER WOODS: I had enough stuff to worry about. Phil looked like he was playing pretty good, actually. I was the one over in the trees in the rough and the sand and whatever have you. I was everywhere. No, Phil was fun to play with. We talked about a few things out there, which was nice. I enjoyed it. It's just that, obviously, he's disappointed, obviously, because he didn't play as good as he wanted to, but, you never know. He could get it going tomorrow.

Q. You were in somewhat of a similar situation at Disney when you were one or two behind Steve, a guy who had never won before. You said someone could easily throw down a 62, which Duffy did, but because of the tough conditions, can you see someone coming from, you know, that 4- or 5- (under) range back or is it too hard to make up that much ground?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think it's that hard to make up that much ground if you get off to a good start. Justin came back from 5 when he won. Freddie came back from 4 when he won. It is possible to do that on this golf course. And the way the conditions are, as dry as they are, I think if you post a really good number, that it will probably stand up a little bit better than it would if it were soft.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

TIGER WOODS: No problem.

End of FastScripts....

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