August 28, 1999
LEE PATTERSON: Okay. Thank you. Earlier, we had Freddie in here with the low round of the tournament, but then you came in and topped him. Maybe just a couple thoughts about today's round, and we'll open it up for questions.
TIGER WOODS: Today I hit really well. I hit a lot of good shots out there. I honestly can't say I putted great, because most of my shots were within 10 feet. I just made all the makeable putts, except for two of them.
Q. Given the difficulty of this course, how does it stack up to some of the best rounds you have played, Cottonwood?
TIGER WOODS: I've had some pretty good rounds in my career. I think the 59 probably ranked as the No. 1. I think probably my second best round or second best day, I think overall, probably was the Pac-10 Championships back in college. I shot 61, 65 on the same day, 18-under par on the same day, which is pretty good.
Q. How about tournaments where they give you money?
TIGER WOODS: Oh, one of those. (Laughing.) I think the best round I've played probably as a pro had to have been San Diego this year, because it's kind of -- Cottonwood, I was only 9-under. San Diego was 10-under.
Q. So it was just so-so then?
TIGER WOODS: You could say that.
Q. Freddie talked about how most guys are going to look at the situation and feel they are playing for second place. Talk about playing for first place tomorrow with the lead that you have.
TIGER WOODS: Right now, I need to go out there and practice a little bit. But after that, getting ready for tomorrow's round, I'll just -- I've been here before, and I've experienced it. But more than anything, you have to go out there and not make any mistakes and not give these guys an opportunity to feel like they have an opportunity to win. And I need to go out there and play smart golf, solid golf; make some birdies, but eliminate the bad numbers.
Q. Talk about playing smart golf. Talk about 16. There was some questions about to whether or not you could go for it in two there. Was that a more mature Tiger that just an easy lay-up?
TIGER WOODS: Lay up if you have the lead. If I was a 1- or 2-under, I would have gone for it because I had to. I need to make a move, if somebody was at 10 or under. I would have tried to get there and get up-and-down, or try to make an eagle to try to get back in the tournament. With the lead, it's a different story. This, I don't need to force the issue. I don't need to go out and make an eagle to try and get back in the tournament. I'm already in the tournament. That shot, if it was a flat lie, I probably would have gone for it. It's only 250 to carry, and it -- I can hit it with my 2-iron, no problem. The ball was flying today; it was so hot out there. If it was flat, no problem. But it wasn't; it was on a steep downslope. I just said: Lay up, make sure I have a hundred yards where I can take the spin off the ball. If I had more than a hundred yards, it would have been a question on what club to use: Pitching wedge or sand wedge. Just make sure I can get a hundred yards and take the spin off of it because of short distance.
Q. People talk about how far you hit the ball. But just watching today, it seemed to be for all that, you probably had as strong of a wedge round; smart, different kinds of wedge shots. What do you think of your better part of your game, long off the tee or taking care of business from 120 yards?
TIGER WOODS: Probably my best is probably my driving. No doubt about it. The fact I can hit a lot of fairways with my driver as far as I hit it lends itself to the wedges. If I don't drive the ball in the fairway, you probably won't see these wedge shots. I was able to drive the ball in the fairway all week so far. Actually, I've driven the ball beautiful all year. It's just now that my swing is starting to feel more comfortable. All the changes I've made have really come together now.
Q. It seemed like guys were playing well, scoring today. From your view, why do you think the course may have lended itself to that? And also, as well as you were playing with wedges, does that make you maybe even more aggressive when you're knowing that you're so locked in? It seemed like there was no lack of confidence. Did you feel more aggressive?
TIGER WOODS: As far as the low scores, I think the low scores today were a product of having the fairways as soft as they are. But more importantly, the greens were smooth today. Yesterday we had a lot of traffic on them. We played all morning long. They didn't cut them. Went right back out in the afternoon, and you could see all the spike marks. You could see guys missing putts, short putts. Looked like they were going, and they kind of waver. Today, they were perfectly smooth. Because of that, guys were making longer putts, and scores were going to be better. I don't think it's necessarily a fact of the guys were hitting it very closer, because the pins were difficult. But I think if you have smooth, almost glassy-like greens, guys are going to make their share of putts.
Q. Not that I've ever seen you in a bad mood. You've seemed to be relaxed and focused this week. Was it something you did on the driving range or something that you did that got you started?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if you would have asked me that question after yesterday's round, you probably would have asked a different question. I wasn't too happy with the round. (Laughing.) More importantly I wasn't happy with my putting. I wasn't very happy with my putting. I felt terrible with the putts. I felt like I hit a lot of great putts, but nothing went in. I did some practicing last night and found out my hand position wasn't right. But yesterday, I just tried to get my tempo better on the range. I felt as if my tempo was too quick off the ball; hence, my positioning was bad going back; hence, it worsened on the way down. And I laid the shaft down a lot on my driver, which means I hit it out to the right or flipped it and hit it left. And worked on that, and felt pretty good going out today. My rhythm was wonderful on the range, but doesn't necessarily mean you're going to play a round. I knew that and made sure I hit a lot of solid shots. And lo and behold, I started to get things rolling.
Q. You may have noticed we've been trying to find a rival for you for some time. Playing as well as you are right now, is Tiger Woods your only real rival?
TIGER WOODS: I think anybody in the field is a rival and competitor. You can't say it's just one person, or even just myself. I need to go out there and play solid golf and give myself a chance of winning, and that's what I'm doing right now. I think it's a product of a lot of hard work. All the things that I've done over the past couple years to get myself to this position, etc., starting to payoff now. I think that's what everyone is starting to see. I answered your questions last year and said I was a better player. And you go: How could you be a better player? Well, I was. I was on my way to the goal of where I'm at right now, with my swing as solid as it is. And to have a rival, yeah, there are a lot of wonderful players out there. I can't say that there's just one. There's a few. As far as myself, well, I just need to keep playing well.
Q. For those who don't know, what does it feel like when you're playing that well?
TIGER WOODS: It feels pretty solid. It feels pretty good. To know that whatever shot you want to shape, you can hit it. And I was able to do that today; shape the shots I hit. I hit two bad shots today I wasn't too pleased about, but that was it. They were both drives. One was on 17; the other one was on 3, I popped up a 3-wood. Hit a kind of high sky ball that I thought left an idiot mark on the top of my club, but it didn't. I got it down there; hit an 8-iron to about six feet and made it. I got away with one.
Q. I heard you talk about the records --
TIGER WOODS: I knew 61 was the course record, but I wanted to increase my lead, not necessarily get the course record. My goal was to try to extend that lead and build as much space as I could between first and second place.
TIGER WOODS: I felt that 2-iron was a good play until I started thinking about the pin location. The pin location is only 5-over the bunker, which meant that if I lay the ball back underneath the original, I'm probably hitting between a 6- and 8-iron, which meant that it would be a difficult shot to get precise. And I felt that if I could hit a driver up there with the right-to-left wind, which is my favorite wind to have where I can bang a driver and slide it up against it, that I could have another wedge in my hand. My wedge play, as good as it was on the back nine, why not. I went for it and laid the shaft down, flipped it left, and had a wedge in my hand. Just unfortunate it wasn't from the spot I wanted.
Q. Talking about the changes with your swing, are you all the way there?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. And if not, how close are you?
TIGER WOODS: I'm pretty close, but not there yet, no.
Q. Could you talk about how close is pretty close?
TIGER WOODS: It's pretty close. You can see the results.
Q. We can see the results. I mean like on a 1-to-100 scale?
TIGER WOODS: No, no, no. You guys bashed me way too many times on that. (Laughter.)
Q. What was your reaction to Fred not making the Ryder Cup team? And have you ever played the final round with him on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: No, I have never played with him on a final round. I played with him in the Presidents Cup. I think that's the only time I've actually ever been paired with Freddie. Freddie not making the Ryder Cup, I understood our captain's decision of not picking Freddie because he hasn't played that much. Steve Pate has had a wonderful year. At the time, he was at 1.4 million, which I think justified his solid year. I felt that the captain made a wonderful choice. Granted, we all would have liked to have had Freddie on the team. But the fact that he hasn't played that much leading up into it and hasn't really done that well, I think the captain did a wonderful job.
Q. What's it like -- by his own admission, Fred has said he's had kind of a dull year. What's it like seeing him get back and finally firing one out there?
TIGER WOODS: It's nice to have Freddie playing well. We all enjoy watching Freddie. I grew up watching Freddie as a kid. Went to L.A. Opens to watch Freddie play, because obviously, the nickname, Boom Boom, you wanted to see how far he could hit it. Granted, he had a persimmon driver at the time. It was just nice to see Freddie back. He's happy with his life. It's wonderful to see a person as content and as happy as he is. And now that he has that happiness, I think you're going to start to see Freddie play more good golf when he did play.
LEE PATTERSON: Can you go over your birdies?
TIGER WOODS: 2, I hit a driver and a 6-iron pin-high about 40 feet right of the hole. Ran it by about four feet and made it. No. 3, I told you I popped it up with a 3-wood in the first cut of rough. Hit an 8-iron up there about six feet and made it. 8, I hit a driver, and I hit a little 9-iron in there to about eight feet right of the hole and made that. 10, I hit a driver and a sand wedge to about a foot. Kicked that in. 11, I hit a 3-wood off the tee. Sand wedge to about six feet. Missed 9. One on 12. Hit a 7-iron in there about four feet and missed it. And 13, I hit a driver around the corner. Hit a little 9-iron up there about 12 feet short of the hole and made that. 14, hit a driver off the tee. A sand wedge to about three feet right behind the hole and made that. And 16, I hit a driver and an 8-iron and a sand wedge to about three feet.
Q. How long was the putt on 18?
TIGER WOODS: 18 was about eight feet right up the hill.
Q. Where did your drive go on 17?
TIGER WOODS: Almost in the 18th fairway.
Q. You seemed to really get that ball on 18. How far down the hill were you?
TIGER WOODS: That drive? To be honest with you, I didn't hit it very good. I was just trying to hit a hard slider out there and make sure I kept out of the left trees. Actually I started the ball in the middle of the left trees and sliced it all the way across the fairways. It was a shot I just wanted to get it in the fairway, not necessarily hit a big one down the hill, but just keep it in play. And from there, I could attack.
Q. What's your swing thought? What's your management thought for tomorrow with a five-stroke lead?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, to go out there and play solid golf and not make any mistakes. I'm sure one of these guys will come out of the pack and make some birdies, and I need to go out there and still play some solid golf and make my own share of birdies.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you. We appreciate it.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
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