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June 15, 2000

Tiger Woods


LES UNGER: Congratulations on a very nice opening round. If you don't mind taking us through the holes to start off, we'd appreciate that.

TIGER WOODS: I birdied 4, hit a 2-iron off the tee. I hit a 60 degree sand wedge to about a foot; made that. 7, I hit a pitching wedge to about 20 feet left of the hole and made that. 10, I hit a driver and an 8-iron to about 15 feet and made that. 13, I hit a driver and a 9-iron to about a foot and made that. 14, I hit a driver, driver; pitched up there to about a foot, tapped that in. 18, I hit a driver, 4-iron in the left bunker, blasted out to about a foot and a half and made that.

LES UNGER: What do you consider the best shot of the day?

TIGER WOODS: The best shot of the day was probably 11 from the right rough. That was probably one of the worst lies I've ever gotten. I was able to advance it up near the green, and got it in for par.

Q. What about the other ups-and-downs?

TIGER WOODS: Well, 5, I hit it left of the green, pitched it down there to about 8 feet past the hole and made that. No. 9, I hit a 2-iron off the tee, a 5-iron to about 8 feet above the hole, and ran that by about another 8 feet and made that. 11, 3-wood in the right rough, blasted out of that -- terrible lie, and hit it up at about pin-high left rough; chipped it down to about 12 feet and made it. 15, I hit driver in the right rough, chipped -- hit a sand wedge short of the green; chipped up to about 6 feet short of the hole and made that. 17, I hit a 4-iron long. Ran the chip by about 12 feet and made that for par.

Q. Tiger, after your round yesterday, after your practice round yesterday, you went back and did a lot of practicing with the putter. Is there something specific? Did you find something? Were you happy with today's results?

TIGER WOODS: Yesterday, actually since I've been here, my stroke hasn't been as comfortable as I'd like to have it. I was making putts, yeah, but there are certain ways of making putts. Either they go in properly, or you just kind of scoot them in. I didn't like the way I was rolling the ball. I was making quite a few putts in practice rounds, but the ball wasn't turning over where I'd like to see it roll. And I worked on it for about a couple of hours yesterday and found that my posture was a little off, my release wasn't quite right, I wasn't releasing at the right time, and I just needed to get, basically, some reps in. Once I get enough reps, I feel a little more comfortable; and today I putted beautifully.

Q. Tiger, after saying all week that you thought that par would be a good score on any hole, when you woke up this morning and saw the conditions were rather benign in regards to the wind, did you change your outlook at all to become perhaps a little more aggressive?

TIGER WOODS: Not really. I think a lot of us, it depended on how well you're driving the golf ball. If you're driving it well and driving in a lot of fairways, obviously you're going to have some chances and have situations where you can attack. But today, early in the round, I was able to do that. I had a couple of situations where I had some wonderful lumbers, in the fourth hole. I had one on par-5, 6, even though I missed it to the right of the green. I had some pretty good situations where I could fire on the fly. I was able to take advantage of that.

Q. Tiger, if you find that you need to play aggressively on this course, first of all, can it be done; and secondly, if it can, is it done from the tee or is it done around the green?

TIGER WOODS: No, this golf course -- always felt that I -- I played here in the State Amateur once like this, and it was fast. If you can drive the ball well, you can drive it down there where you can be aggressive. If you're not driving well with this rough, the ball isn't going to run. And there are a couple of holes where, if you're feeling comfortable with your driver, you can drive the ball down the hill. Like on 9, for example, you can drive the ball down where you have a little 9-iron wedge into the green, or you can lay back on the top of the hill and putt that way. All depends on how comfortable you feel. And today I felt pretty good overall of my tee shots. I hit a couple of bad ones, but most of my shots were pretty good.

Q. Tiger, at the Masters you dug yourself a little bit of a hole, and you had to play catch-up most of the rest of the tournament. Just wondering how important you thought it was to get off in the tournament to a little more solid start.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's a lot easier to play from a spot near the lead than it is when you're that far behind. I've had a lot of guys I had to try and pass. And I was very fortunate to play as well as I did on Saturday in The Masters, to make my way up the leaderboard, and then have the conditions be as demanding as they were that afternoon. So I got a good break there. But you can't rely on that each and every time. You need to go out there and play well. At Augusta, I really did play well. I just had a couple of bad rolls, and I doubled 10 and tripled 12 the first day. Other than that, I played beautifully. That's just the way it goes sometimes. And today I just tried to go out there, and I felt if I could drive the ball well, then I could score. And today I drove it beautifully.

LES UNGER: Tiger, judging your play in the Open, this far in your career, where does this round rate?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's definitely one of my better rounds I've played. It's the lowest score I've shot in the Open. But I think, all things considered, probably my best round in an Open was probably back in '96 in the second round. The debacle I had on Thursday, and then to come back and shoot 69 as an amateur, I thought was pretty good.

Q. Tiger, you have such a great record of winning off of third-round leads. Do you understand about yourself what it is that makes you so comfortable in that circumstance?

TIGER WOODS: I've always felt that it's nice to lead, because if you make the mistake, let's say you have a 1-shot lead, at least you have one shot to play with. I always felt I'd much rather have the lead than try to catch up. If you shoot the same score as someone else that's leading the tournament, you lose. I'd rather be leading.

Q. Tiger, you had such a remarkable final round here at the AT&T. Obviously, the course has changed. But when you walk out on the course now, do you feel that, after that, there's a little bit of leftover feeling of that time?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, no, just because the golf course is so different than what we played. We played under conditions where the ball is backing up in the fairway. It's not really doing that out there. For instance, it's not too often where I hit a 4-iron off the hole. I hit a 4-iron, 8-iron, the fairways are running, it's downwind, the ball is flying. Normally a 3-wood off the tee, let it plug back up, and you've got a 6- or 7-iron to the green.

Q. Tiger, if you would have talked to a hundred people before the tournament started, 99 would have identified you as the favorite. I realize this isn't an original question, but would you talk about those expectations?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I go out and play. If someone wants to say that I'm the favorite, then so be it; the underdog, so be it. But I just need -- I just focus on what I need to do. To be honest with you, I don't watch TV -- actually, I got pretty good vibes last night after my Lakers won.

Q. I believe you played here -- (inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: I really don't know. I remember the golf course being really long. We played in the fall, and I think it was probably November we had some rain, and I just remember the golf course playing just so long. But when I came back again, I played the State Amateur; I had grown-up a bit and added some length, and I thought the golf course played short.

Q. How did it play today?

TIGER WOODS: It played difficult today. The fairways were fast; the fairways were running. And you can run out of room on some of those dog legs if you don't shape your shot properly.

Q. Tiger, this is a little off the beaten path. What was your thinking and thoughts about not going to the Payne thing, and practicing? What were your thoughts?

TIGER WOODS: I've figured I've gone all through it with the memorial service; and I felt by going, it would be more of a deterrent for me during the tournament, because I don't want to be thinking about what transpired. Plus, also, Mark O'Meara is one of my best friends, and we both went out and played. And he's known Payne longer, and he felt the same way. He felt that we've gone through it all before, and we don't need to keep bringing it up, especially during a big week, even though most players would like to do that. It all depends on how you are personally. If that's how you want to put closure to it, that's how you want to put closure to it. I handle things a little differently.

Q. Tiger, on the 14th hole, you went for the green in two today -- (inaudible.)

TIGER WOODS: I had 257 on the front, which I thought I could hit 3-wood to with no problem. But I did feel that was the play, because if I hit a 3-wood and it flies in the bunker, it could bury. I went with a driver, tried to get -- trying whatever not to cut it, so it doesn't run up the gap. I was trying to put the ball in the rough, short of the green, over in the bunker. The driver -- I felt if I could hit the ball out of the bunker, it would roll up the bank and back down and still be on the upslope of the bunker. That didn't happen. I pulled it a little bit, got underneath the tree, and played a good shot from there.

Q. I want to clarify something you said out on the green-side. Did you call it "June gloom"?

TIGER WOODS: Well, people from So-Cal, you know. This is what happens every June. The fog, the low clouds roll in. They burn off in the early afternoon, and you have a wonderful summer. But generally, that's the way it is along the coast.

Q. Tiger, what do you think about Jesper's orange shirt (laughter)?

TIGER WOODS: Well, he was noticeable out there. You could see him in the fog, that's for sure. He's our beacon, so no one would hit into us.

Q. Tiger, you've gone over your play on the 18th hole, but I wonder what you could see from the tee, what you could see on the second shot, and you couldn't see much. How did you go about lining up for those two shots?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I know where I need to line up on 18 off the tee, so I went with my target out there. And there are a couple of -- my hazard stake wasn't visible, but there were three corporate tents out there in a line, and that fit perfect with the line I wanted, and I ripped it right at it. Unfortunately, I did cut it just a little bit, so I ended up in the first cut of rough. And from there, I just tried to punch the ball up short of the pin, either in the bunker or up in the gap, where I had a chip or putt if I happened to roll it up on the green. And the ball -- the wind was coming off the left. I hit it right to the flag. I hit it up in the bunker, and it was an easy bunker shot.

Q. Tiger, some of the people that were expecting a challenge, didn't get it today, anyway. What do you remember from Jimenez from Valderrama?

TIGER WOODS: What do I remember about him at Valderrama? I know that he and I had a wonderful little battle down the stretch. We both played well on Sunday, and I made a few birdies. And I was able to catch him and pass him for a little bit, then he came back and had a little incident on 17. But Miguel is a wonderful driver of the golf ball. And because of that, he usually plays well on golf courses where it is tight. And Valderrama is one of those golf courses, this is one of those courses. And that's what you need to do. And he's obviously doing it pretty good. Plus he's a darned good putter.

LES UNGER: Thanks a lot. Congratulations on your round.

End of FastScripts…

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