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January 7, 2000

Tiger Woods


JAMES CRAMER: We have Tiger Woods with us. Low round of the week so far, a 7-under 66 for a 9-under 137 total today. Good playing, Tiger. Why don't we begin by going over your score card before we take some questions.

TIGER WOODS: No. 1, I - what did I hit there - 2-iron off the tee, 2-iron, sand wedge, to about 25 feet, and made that. No. 2, I hit a 7-iron off the tee, and 3-putted from 105 feet. Is that right? Yeah, 105 feet. I was one yard on, it was 36 deep. What else did I do? 5, I hit a driver and a 5-iron to about 40 feet. I'm sorry, wrong day. 20 feet, and I 2-putted there. 6, I hit a driver down there on the green and 2-putted from about 25 feet. 12, I hit a driver just over the back, and 2-putted from about 20 feet. 13, I hit a 3-wood off the tee, a 4-iron on the green, and made about a 30-footer down the hill. 15, hit a driver and a 2-iron to about 20 feet and 2-putted again. And 16, hit a driver off the tee, a pitching wedge from 96 yards to about two feet, made that. And 18, I hit a driver and a 2-iron and pitched it on from about 40 yards from the hole, and made about a 8-footer there for birdie

JAMES CRAMER: Questions.

Q. Did you just figure the wind out today?

TIGER WOODS: No, the wind wasn't blowing quite as hard as it was yesterday. It blew hard on 9 and 10, probably harder than it did yesterday when we played 9 and 10. Didn't quite blow as hard today. You could actually stand still on putts and shots. A couple times yesterday, as I took the club back, I was in transition, the wind would blow you. Whatever direction it would blow you, you would have to adjust with your hands and try to hit it with your hands somehow. That's tough playing when you have to do that. Today it wasn't quite as strong, you could widen your stance, lower your center of gravity and be okay.

Q. How does it feel to drive 2-par greens, 375?

TIGER WOODS: You can do it. Well, I can do it; you can't (laughter). If you look at those holes, downwind, if you just carry the ball, one you carry it 285, it's going to roll another 80, 100 yards. Then on 12, again, this one is a little further of a carry, up in the wind a little higher. The wind is blowing pretty hard at that point, straight down behind. Carry it 300, it's going to roll another 60, 70 out. Just a matter of laying the ball in the right spot. That's the hard part.

Q. Jim said it was bad luck for you that you didn't hit him, because then you would have had a much shorter putt. I gather you thought the green had cleared? What was the story?

TIGER WOODS: What happened is there's a marshal on top of the left bunker, and he had his hands up. That's fine, I mean, the green is still occupied. He put his hands down. That means the green is cleared, so I went. It wasn't. He apologized later, said, "I didn't think you were going to go for it."

Q. Ernie Els said yesterday that he didn't think he was in the ballpark of you or David as far as where he is in his game. Assess how Ernie is playing? And, in essence, is he selling himself a little short?

TIGER WOODS: Ernie hit a lot of good shots today. It was a very difficult day, and he executed a lot of good shots. He missed a few, but we're all going to do that out there under these conditions. Good shots sometimes don't turn out good. That was the case for both of us really. But he hit a lot of good shots, made some good par putts when he had to. His light putting was beautiful today. A lot of putts he had from 30, 40, 50 feet were stone dead, tapped in; obviously a good touch.

Q. He's won two US Opens. He certainly would have to be considered in the upper echelon of the game.

TIGER WOODS: No doubt about it.

Q. Doesn't seem like he wants to put himself there.

TIGER WOODS: Who knows? That's why he's the Big Easy.

Q. When you've won four straight and then you come and start doing this on the first tournament of the year, what kind of comments are you getting from your peers?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I haven't really talked to them. I've been working and they've been working on the range and putting green. Just my friends out here, they say, "Great playing."

Q. They're not joking with you, telling you to lighten up, anything?

TIGER WOODS: Huh-uh. Only after two rounds, and I just came in here. Maybe might be different if I play well tomorrow, too.

Q. Do you have a feeling in sports when teams go well, when athletes go well, I hate to use the term "zone," but just that you can do anything you want if it gets going? What's your mental approach at this?

TIGER WOODS: Right now, I'm just hitting good shots and making some putts. My speed is good. That's about it. I'm thinking, well, I'm not really making, you know, big mistakes physically. Mentally you can always play perfect golf, but sometimes physically you're going to make some mistakes, and I haven't done that. As far as being in the zone, I really can't say that it is because I've only had that a couple times in my life where I really have been in the zone.

Q. When were those times?

TIGER WOODS: I guess probably the time I shot 59 was a pretty good one at Isleworth and the other one was I shot at the PAC-10 Championships, in the same day, 61, 65, for 18 under par.

Q. Which course?

TIGER WOODS: Big Canyon, Newport Beach.

Q. 36 in one day?

TIGER WOODS: First day of the PAC-10's, which was 36.

Q. Even though it's not a streak, because you talk about the lack of continuity from last year, is this string of victories important to you? Is it important to you to keep it going?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's more important to you guys, something to write about, than it is to me. I'll be honest with you, it really is not that important to keep a string going, because the string is over, I think. That was last year; this is a whole new year. I need to start a fresh start. What I did last year is in the past. I need to go ahead and move on and try and play good golf and try to improve my game this year.

Q. Sure seems like you're picking up where you left off. Is it like once you got out here, maybe memories of how you played at the end of the year kicked in, everything sort of came together the way it did at the end of last year?

TIGER WOODS: I wish I could say that because then I would have played better last week (laughter).

Q. Is it not that important to you now, because to win this week would be the fifth, but if you did win and kept it going, do you see it at some point, if you get to 10, being important to you?

TIGER WOODS: Maybe if I got that high, then it would be. You know what, what Byron Nelson did and what Hogan did, they did it in the same calendar year, the same season. To do it in the same season is different than having it spread out over time from one calendar year to the next. For some reason, it just seems different. Season's over, season's over. It's already in the books. This is a fresh start. Granted, it's a continuation, I guess, of a streak, you could say, but in the books, it's already over. That's kind of how I view it.

Q. I remember Pete Sampras was 19 when he won the US Open for the first time. At his press conference after, he said he wanted to be the greatest in every category. Do you feel that way?

TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. That you want to be the greatest in every category of golf, you want to win the most in a row, win the most Majors, tournaments?

TIGER WOODS: You would like to. That's always your ultimate goal. Sometimes you don't achieve them. That's just the way it is. But there's nothing wrong with having your goals very high and trying to get to them. That's the fun part. You may come up short, I've come up short on a lot on my goals, but it's always fun to try and achieve them.

Q. What is that zone that you referred to you were in a couple times, what does that feel like? Just concentrating better than usual?

TIGER WOODS: About the way you feel when you write a good article.

Q. That never happens.

TIGER WOODS: I know that (laughter). That's why I said it.

It's a weird feeling because you know stepping up over a golf shot that you can shape the ball the way you want to with the right trajectory and land the ball on what number you want. If you have 163, you want to hit a high draw, you land the ball 163 with a high draw, not 164, not 162; it's right on the number. It's a feeling, if you're lucky, you probably get maybe a handful of times in your entire lifetime. I've been able to have it a couple times already in my life. It's just one of those days when everything you do, what you want to do, does happen.

Q. So is that what drives you right now, is to get to that point?

TIGER WOODS: No, no, because I guess it's when the stars and the moons and the planets all line up, that one magical moment, it happens. But, you know, I guess what drives me, is just to become more consistent and become better in every facet of my game. That's the fun part about it, that you can always get better. That's the great thing about this game, no matter how good get in one department, can you always get better. If one department becomes pretty good, you feel, "I need to improve these things," you improve those. A continuation of just always growing as a player.

Q. What facet of your game do you feel is the best now? You were putting at 6:10 last night, you were still working on that part of your game. What part of your game right now is at its best?

TIGER WOODS: When I'm swinging well, to be able to shape the shots the way I want to. Today I was able to hit a couple times, little hook sand wedges into the wind, I was able to cut a 4-iron in there. I hit 8-irons with nice little cut, holding them into the wind, turn it down, turn it over, burn it. It's nice to be able to feel the trajectory that you want to hit it and then hit it. Inevitably when you do that, the distance is always going to be good. I was able to do that today for the majority of the day, try to hit those type of shots. It just feels so good when you do that. When you end up doing that, you're obviously going to have some pretty short putts. If you're going to do that for the whole day, you're going to make your putts.

Q. How long did it take you to master the three-high --?

TIGER WOODS: I'm still working on it. You never really master it. It's a shot that's something I've just learned. Butch has showed me, I've done it with my 2-iron. For a long period of time, you've seen me do it. I've kind of gone up the ladder into my 3-wood.

Q. How long before you felt comfortable doing that in tournament play?

TIGER WOODS: He showed me at Carnoustie this year. I was reluctant to put it in on 17. It was a perfect club to put in on 17, burn a low 3-wood in there head high, chip it down, land it 240, roll it out. I could never do it. I ended up having to hit a 2-iron and a 3-wood to the green. It made things a little more difficult.

Q. You didn't try it?

TIGER WOODS: I couldn't do it. I could do it on the range great. I could hit low cuts, low draws, straight ball. Whatever you wanted me to hit, I could hit. Get on the golf course, I'm not trying it. I just don't quite have it yet, especially on that hole because you couldn't miss it left and you couldn't miss it right. Maybe if I had a little bail-out area, maybe I might try.

Q. Was that the sophomore year or freshman year?

TIGER WOODS: Sophomore.

Q. '96?

TIGER WOODS: '96, yeah. Spring of '96.

Q. How would you rate the day, putting, in comparison to your other days of putting?

TIGER WOODS: Today I rolled the ball beautifully. I think more importantly I was able to get the speed right with the grain and the wind, able to stay steady enough where I can make solid contact on my putts. If I look back on my round, when you play in wind like this, if you can say that you miss-hit only a couple putts throughout the day, then you're going to be doing pretty good, and today I only miss-hit one putt. That's a pretty nice thing to say coming off a day like today when you're moving the balls, oscillating, it's a tough day.

Q. Are you going to work on anything now?


Q. What?

TIGER WOODS: My swing, my chipping, my putting and my eating habits (laughter).

Q. When you played the winds yesterday, you stand on the tee today and feel the same thing, what would have been your thought on a 66?

TIGER WOODS: I thought it would be more attainable today than it was yesterday, yeah. The wind was blowing harder yesterday consistently. Today we had a couple lulls, which was nice. For instance, yesterday on 6, we could barely stand up on 6. Today the wind didn't even touch us down there. It was great. I could hit a nice putt. I didn't have to widen my stance out that much, normal stance, go ahead and hit it.

Q. Do you find that a pretty remarkable score in these kinds of conditions?

TIGER WOODS: It's obviously a good score. It's definitely something you can do if you hit a lot of good shots and make your share of putts, stay patient. To be honest with you, I didn't hit it that close. I knocked it on one par 5, drove two greens, hit one ball close on 16. Other than that, I made some long putts and was able just to 2-putt a lot from 40 feet.

Q. How many eagle putts? Four today?

TIGER WOODS: 5, 6, 12 and 15.

Q. How do you like Maui?

TIGER WOODS: It's windy (laughter).

Q. Have you seen any of it yet?


Q. Are you going to be able to see it?

TIGER WOODS: No, don't have time.

Q. First 18 holes.

TIGER WOODS: It's tough out there.

Q. That putt downhill, if that was a flat putt with no grain, how far would that putt have gone?


Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: With no wind and no grain?

Q. Right, flat.

TIGER WOODS: If I just had a flat putt?

Q. Yes.

TIGER WOODS: Maybe eight feet.

Q. It was 30?


Q. Coming back up the hill, about two feet?

TIGER WOODS: Exactly. Downwind, downhill and down grain, it's a very quick putt. I had the same putt last year. I remember hitting that putt. I misread it off to the right. I thought the grain would take it towards the corner of Molokai. I was wrong. I said, "This putt is a little shorter than it looks." I played the ball on the top of the right edge, noticed a double breaker. If the wind blows it, nothing you can do. Start the ball on the right edge, feed it down there. It went in, luckily.

Q. Why do you guys need a cart to take you from the 4th tee to the top of the 4th fairway?

TIGER WOODS: We're not in as good of shape as you (laughter).

Q. Seriously, you didn't have it last year.


Q. The Tour said some slippage is clearly an issue, but shouldn't that be a test of the athleticism in golf to walk that, let the fitter guys have an advantage to hit the second shot? Isn't that an integral part of the game?

TIGER WOODS: You could say that. Then again, if you say that, we shouldn't be able to have shuttles from 5 to 6 either, or from 9 to 10. We should just be able to hoof it all the way. I don't know. Maybe it's just pace of play, as they say. I remember, I don't know who it was in our group last year, one of the caddies did slip because it was a little wet going up the hill, fell right on his knee. It wasn't that bad a fall. You're already leaning anyways into the hill (laughter).

Q. What is your best Notah Begay story? He's won twice last year.

TIGER WOODS: What's my best Notah Begay story? You know, probably the first time I ever met -- not met Notah, but when I roomed him was at the Canyon Cup. I remember coming into the room and, I'm telling you, it was an absolute pigsty. He was only there for a day. He got the room so incredibly messy, just throwing stuff anywhere. I said, "Can I have part of my room over here?" He had stuff everywhere. Even then he was pulling seniority on me.

Q. You had to clean it up?

TIGER WOODS: I'm not touching some pieces, I'm telling you (laughter).

JAMES CRAMER: Tiger, thank you.

TIGER WOODS: You got it.

End of FastScripts…

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