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March 25, 2000

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Thank you so much for spending some time with us. Wonderful effort today that got you in good position for the Championship Title. Maybe just a couple of comments about that, and we will open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: Today I knew that the golf course was going to be playing a little bit more benign than it has been just because of the fact that the wind wasn't blowing; and, more importantly, it was coming more out of the southeast, which meant that some of the easy holes were -- some of the longer holes are now playing easy. I could be a little more aggressive. I saw some of the scores early in the round -- earlier in the day, saw Sluman was 6-under through 12 and playing some great golf, and I figured if I could go out there and do something very similar to that, I would be in good shape, and kept making a lot of birdies. But Hal kept on making a lot of birdies as well, and looks like I am in pretty good shape.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. What was the key to the round today?

TIGER WOODS: I think the biggest key is not only I made putts, but more importantly I drove the ball in a lot of fairways today. I hit a lot of 3-woods off the tee just because the fact that the golf course was playing faster and shorter with less wind, and I was right in the middle of the fairways and down there aways and I was able to attack and made some birdies, and that is basically how I did it. I didn't hit the ball in the rough where I had to save myself all day long, with par saves, I drove it right down the middle of the fairway. And from there, if I had a good number and good situation, I went after it.

Q. You look up, Hal kind of responds to your four birdies. What goes through your mind when you see it is going -- (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I didn't really figure that. I figured it was going to be a long day. Not only today, which there is always tomorrow, with the weather conditions being as difficult as they are forecasting for tomorrow, I just knew I needed to keep playing solid golf and not necessarily have to make birdies, but at least just give myself chances, and I am rolling the ball well. I just figured if I can get the ball up there in some birdie range, I'd pour a few.

Q. When you walked off 18, you were 4 back, and now you are just one back after Hal tripled. Has your mindset already changed from: "Okay, I was 4 back; I might have to do something," to: "Now I am one back."

TIGER WOODS: You know, as I said, if the weather conditions are what they are forecasting, for some, even if you are 4, 5 back, it is not that much on this golf course. If we get winds like we did on the first day, which they are forecasting again, then you go out there and shoot even par, you might win. Just because this golf course is so penal and we saw the dots out there for tomorrow's pins. They are in the typical spots way over in the corners, and tucked. There are some difficult pins. If they keep the greens the speed that they are right now, geez, it is just going to be very difficult day.

Q. The putt on 4, I am going to take a wild guess, say you didn't really want to leave yourself that putt. How much of a boost did that putt give you, and what kind of shot were you trying to play with the second shot?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it is a shot that, if you hit it left of the hole with any kind of spin, it can go right in the water. And I mean you can hit the ball eight feet left of the hole and it is wet. That is not very comforting, when you have those thoughts and you can see that. I mean, I looked at that dot yesterday. I was saying: "There is no way you can hit left." Hit it right. If you leave it out to the right, it kicks up in that bunker, you are dead. That is a nice bogey. Even double if you hit it in the water or worse. So I just said: "Let me try hit a nice soft wedge." It was a perfect sand wedge number. But if I hit a nice sand wedge in there with a lot of spin, I could spin it is right in the water. I went for those -- soft wedge, trying to take the spin off of it; hit it flush, but hit it too flat. I wanted to hit it up in the air a little softer. I tried to hit the ball in the back shelf in the hill; let it roll-back, but I carried it too far.

Q. So then, once you made it, what kind of a boost was that making?

TIGER WOODS: Just trying to get down there, and hopefully that ball has a wreck down somewhere near the hole, and it did. I was able to move on to the next hole with a nice little 3 on the card. No one knows how difficult that putt was, but that is a putt from about 30 feet that I tried to -- feel like I hit it eight feet, max.

Q. On 16, I noticed you turned around with Steve and sort of laughing. Did you have any discussion about club selection on your second shot?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, that lie I had was just so difficult. I only had 182 to the front, and Stevie suggested I should just lay up. Just because the lie was such that if it comes out warm off that grass, that ball is in the water over the green. If I try to hit a hard -- I tried to hit a hard 7 there from 182 to the front. I don't know what it was to the back to the hole. I wasn't concerned about that. But if I hit a hard 7, if it comes out normal, I could be wet in the right water. So I am thinking: Well, let me just go ahead and aim way left, hit it, and if the wind blows it over the right, great; if it doesn't, I will be short of the green. I can pitch up the entire green and try and get my birdie. It came out a little warm, a little knuckling, and I was able to keep it on the green somehow.

Q. Can you tell us your thinking at No. 5? Take us through the -- excuse me, your shot at the 11th hole.

TIGER WOODS: I had 200 yards to the front, 211 hole. I thought it was a perfect 5-iron, but it was just that I had -- there was so much sand in the bunker that I had to choke down on the 5 which meant that I couldn't get a 5 there anymore. Perfect 5-iron number if I was in the fairway, which meant that I had to go to the 4. So what I did, I weakened my grip up a little bit, opened the face up, aim a little left -- choked down when I had just swung it out there, hit a little fade to take some distance off of it, make sure I didn't send it over the green, which was the last place you want to put it with that pin. And it came out absolutely perfect: Just a nice high fade, about four, five yards. I had it nice and soft and made the putt.

Q. You got to know Hal pretty good at the Ryder Cup. He has got his game together. He is not going to back down.


Q. You are going to have to -- that has got to be the kind of match you look forward to.

TIGER WOODS: You can always look forward to a player who is playing well, and Hal is a veteran. He has been around the block, and he is playing so beautiful golf this week and has for quite a long time now. It's good to see. And tomorrow, going out there, it is going to be quite a challenge. I need to go out there and hit a lot of good shots, put a lot of pressure on him. Hopefully I can make a few putts and try and win this tournament.

Q. On 17, the tee shot -- is that the flight you wanted to take?

TIGER WOODS: 17 was the flight I wanted, but I thought when the ball landed, I thought it landed short of the hole, not past the hole. It was a shot that -- it was just, what, 145 to the hole, 130 over the bunker, I just hit a nice soft wedge. I didn't try hit it very hard. It flew over 145 -- just because it is so hot out there, and the ball is flying a little downwind, and I was looking at the shot. I got 130 to carry. I am thinking: Okay, I have always had that problem of getting stuck, I said: This is not a good time to get stuck, so let's try and get the arms down faster in front of me. Let's slow the body down, go ahead and release it, and I will be all right. I absolutely flushed it. I hit the shot. I said: Now that should be about two feet. And I was surprised that the ball actually flew past the hole.

Q. Did you think -- figure it might go in when you saw where it landed?

TIGER WOODS: When I saw it coming down, I thought it might hit the flag. Then I saw it hit, I said: Well, that is fine, because I thought it landed short of the hole. My view, it landed short of the hole, not past the hole. Then when I got up there, Stevie and I busted up laughing, because it landed past the hole and it stopped.

Q. How far was that putt?

TIGER WOODS: That was about twelve feet. And I saw Hal right there -- I mean, he missed that putt from the opposite direction. It is hard to believe that I -- actually goes west, you look at, that whole green slopes from my putt, from right-to-left, from his putt left-to-right. It is hard to believe it goes the other way.

Q. (inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Goes west. I know what you mean, it goes up towards the walkway, and it is hard to -- no way I would have ever seen that in my read, and Hal didn't either, because you could see his putt at the end move a little bit.

Q. You made that long downhill one I think it was --


Q. You also -- there were a couple of putts, I guess you thought you were going to make 2, 3, and 17 where you dropped to your knees. Were those -- you are going to miss a couple of those --


Q. -- Could have been a spectacular round, had you made a couple of those?

TIGER WOODS: I figured if I made that putt on 2, hit it right in the middle short. That is the last place you want to leave an eagle putt is short. I left it short. 3, hit a good putt from up against the collar, and at just burned on the top edge, but you can't be disappointed with that. But the putt on 17 would just still boggle the mind that it could break that way. Overall, I felt very happy the way I putted today. Hit a lot of good points; made some saves, even though I yanked a couple of -- missed that short one on 10. Came right back and poured it on 11 from that same distance.

Q. (inaudible) -- hey, I can't break 17 --

TIGER WOODS: Just the way it goes sometimes. I don't understand it sometimes. I go out there and play well, and sometimes you need the conditions to be right. And the last few years the conditions have been very difficult. Winning score hasn't been very low. And it is hard to shoot a round in the 60s, and I haven't done it. It is just nice not to have to answer that question anymore.

Q. (inaudible) How tough is it for a guy that is not used to --

TIGER WOODS: He played, I believe he played in the final or second-to-last group last year, two years ago, when he had a chance to win on 17 and 18. But he has been there before at this tournament. He has had huge galleries. I don't think it was really a problem. I think he wasn't as comfortable as he wanted to be over the shots. Not being comfortable on this golf course is not a good combination.

Q. That long bunker shot at 11, Johnny Miller on TV was carrying on it was one of the great ones he has ever seen. Where does that fit in with your shots you have hit and who else could hit that shot.

Q. God.

TIGER WOODS: (laughs) Thanks, Bobby. I think it ranks up there, because the fact that I had to throw it in there pretty high and I wouldn't figure a lot of guys could hit that, just because of the fact that you got to have club head speed to hit it that high. If you have club head speed -- like John Daly could have done it or even Davis could have done it. But if you have the club head speed to get it up that high in the air and land it that soft, then it obviously is a hard shot, but it makes it a lot easier.

Q. 17, 361 days a year is a very easy shot. These four days it is one of the hardest shots in golf. Is it that hard of a hole this week?

TIGER WOODS: I will be honest with you, it's not that hard of a shot unless the wind is blowing. As soon as that wind blows, it makes it -- the targets shrink; because, obviously, if you miss-hit a shot, the wind is going to affect it, knock it right in the water. And you just have to be very patient. Step up there, be committed, hit a good solid shot up there, and hope it turns out good. Yesterday, I hit a great shot in there, wind gust hit it straight left and almost ended up in the water. But that is why I said it is so much more difficult when the wind is howling.

Q. When you play yourself into contention, as you have done so many times this year, does it motivate you at all about who you are playing, who you are going up against sort of?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, you really -- it really doesn't matter, just because the ultimate goal is just to win. And in order to beat somebody, I mean, you got to beat the rest of the field and not -- just of the extra motivation of having a top player up there, well, if you look back on it after you win, then, yes. If you lose, then obviously, probably not going to answer the question the same way.

Q. Kind of same question. Hal came in the other --

TIGER WOODS: Ask it, Hawk.

Q. Let me fire it. Then you can -- Hal came in the other day and sort of tried to put an end to the whole "Tiger worship" thing. He said he played with you in L.A. and he beat you in medal -- didn't really mean much, because it was the first two rounds, then it might come in handy. And here, you guys are paired in the final group. Do you have any thoughts? Is something that happened a month ago, is it totally insignificant? Or, I mean, are we talking about, you know, too much hype here?

TIGER WOODS: Well, he is obviously looking at L.A. as a positive for himself, and that is probably the smart thing to do. If I was in the same position, I probably wouldn't look at it that way, because I finished 18th. I don't know if you can look at that as being a very positive finish. Even though he had a chance to win, I didn't on the back nine on Sunday. So he is obviously putting a spin on it, and that is probably the right thing to do.

Q. Let me ask it yet another way: You talk about putting pressure on a player, and there just has been so much talk this week about your presence, perhaps being pressure on the rest of the guys in the field. Do you put any validity in that? Or do you just sort of block that out and let them think whatever they want to think?

TIGER WOODS: The second part, definitely, because when you are out there, you are not going to feel as if what you have done in the past has any bearing to what you are going to do right now has absolutely zero, because when you are in the heat of battle, all you focus on is the moment and coming down the back nine on Sunday tomorrow. What I have done in the past, since I have turned pro, has absolutely no bearing on what I am doing right now. I have to go out there and execute the golf shots. Just because I hit good golf shots in the past doesn't mean that I am going to hit one now. That is just -- that is the way I look at it. Maybe other players look at it a little differently.

Q. A little bit off the subject, Karrie Webb is leading the tournament at the LPGA's major event. She has had success on her Tour similar to the success you have on this Tour. Have you taken note of any of what she has done?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, definitely.

Q. What would your thoughts be on what it might be like for her to be having that kind of success?

TIGER WOODS: I think it is great, because obviously she is young. And Annika was up there for a while, and now Karrie is there. And they have battled head-to-head a couple of times now this year. It is good to see, I think. It is great for that Tour to have two top players like that playing well. And Karrie obviously playing great right now. I think that is a great boost for their Tour to have someone obviously basically dominating their Tour right now. Annika did it for a while now Karrie is doing it and if Annika can pick it up an start doing it together, then their Tour is going to grow.

Q. Hal said on Thursday that he would not be intimidated by playing with you on Sunday. He thought that he could even beat you on Sunday. Do you like to be challenged like that?

TIGER WOODS: Well I am going to go out there and play my own game we will see what happens. Obviously Hal may think a little differently. That is fine. That is the way he plays, and he needs to motivate himself the way he needs to motivate himself. For me tomorrow I am going to go out there and try the ex could cute the golf shots the best I can and see what happens.

Q. Tiger, Jeff Sluman said earlier that on this golf course Hal has the kind of game that will make him maybe the toughest guy to chase. Your thoughts on that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, this golf course is a ball-striker's golf course, and if you are hitting the ball well driving it well an hitting your irons well, you are going to make a lot of birdies just because a lot of the pin location you can feed the ball from knobs and get it in there nice and tight you don't have to exactly fire at a pin. Very similar to what we are going to face in a couple of weeks (S. Fire eight way from it 20 feet spin it down there next thing you know you have 2, 3-footer. Actuality, if you look at what the ball mark is it is 20 feet away. But if you are controlling your iron shots around this golf course, you are going to make a few birds bid and Hal is obviously doing that. He has always been a great driver of is the all ball and if he is hit something his irons well which I generally does then he is going to have a lot of success.

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