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April 11, 2002

Tiger Woods


JIM BLANCHARD: I'm delighted to present Mr. Tiger Woods after a strong round of 70 today, and I'll ask Tiger if he would just to comment on his round with particular emphasis on any birdies or highlights during the day.


TIGER WOODS: Well, I got off to a good start score-wise. Through the first five holes I was 3-under. I just kind of grinded my way around the golf course, made a couple of mistakes here and there, but just hung in there and stayed very patient today. I didn't hit the best shots today, but I just hung in there and I knew where to miss the ball and I was able to do that for about -- well, just about all of my misses today.

JIM BLANCHARD: Be happy to entertain questions.

Q. Is it harder, easier or not what you expected out there?

TIGER WOODS: Some of the shots were obviously more difficult today, with the wind blowing out of the east, the tee shot on 9, that shot was more difficult. Any time the hole is blowing left-to-right and you have to draw one with the wind, if you hit it left, it's almost -- it's almost bogey written all over it. You have to step up there and be committed to the shot. I hung one just a little bit to the right and ended up in the first cut and hit 6-iron out there to about 15 feet and 2-putted for par.

Q. Arnold Palmer just told us tomorrow is his last competitive Masters round. Your reaction?

TIGER WOODS: Well, for him to compete as long as he has, has been to his credit. It's been actually incredible. He's kept himself in good enough shape and to hit the ball as far as he does. How old is he, even par for this golf course? For him to stick around for this long is awfully impressive. The golf course has just gotten a little bit too big for him.

Q. Back to even after 14 you sort of collect yourself and say, let's finish strong, 70, or somewhere thereabouts is right in the neighborhood?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I just wanted to shoot even par or better and that was the goal even though I dropped to even par, you've just got to keep hanging in there. It's not one of those type of golf courses where you can say, just turn it on here and make a few birdies and no big deal. You've still got to keep plugging along. That's what I did. I hit a bad tee shot on 15 and got away with it, but hit some good shots coming in from there.

Q. With some of the changes, were guys just being a little cautious today feeling things out more than maybe they normally would?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think -- the first round of a major championship, I think that's kind of how you have to play. You don't want to put yourself out of the tournament. Just keep yourself in the tournament is obviously what you want to have happen. I think a lot of the guys just kind of play that way.

Q. But even more so because this is a somewhat new course?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think so. I think you just go out there and play what the golf course gives you, and I think that's what you'll find from most players, what they have done.

Q. Do you want to explain the hot streak on 3, 4 and 5?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 3 I hit a good drive down the middle of the fairway, a little 60-degree sand wedge up there to about ten feet right below the hole and made that putt.

4, I hit a nice 5-iron out there to about 15 feet and made that.

No. 5, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and a 9-iron to about, oh, 15 feet right of the hole and made that one.

Q. Do you find that your past experience here was a factor or wasn't a factor, given that you were hitting into greens in new places today?

TIGER WOODS: You would think that -- you could say that, but you know what I was kind of -- you just play what the golf course gives you. I've never hit 3-wood off No. 5 before in a tournament, but I did today because the wind was downwind left-to-right and I hit 9-iron in there.

Some of the bigger holes like 18 I hit 3-wood off the tee because it was downwind off the right. You just kind of play what the golf course gives you.

Q. After 5, you're 3-under, were you starting to think at that point, I could really have a special round?

TIGER WOODS: No, you don't think that way. You just kind of play -- you just play one shot at a time. I hit not a great tee shot into 6, but good enough one where I hit it on my line, carried about a yard too far and skipped it in the gallery and didn't get that up-and-down and made a couple more mistakes from there.

Q. How about the drive at 1?

TIGER WOODS: Like I said out there earlier, it was, the catcher called pitch-out, and just hit a weak old duck slice over there in the trees. I don't know how, but it came back in, and I was in the first cut. I just tried to put the ball in that bunker somewhere where I could get up-and-down and that's what I was able to do. There's no way I would have made that putt if it wasn't for Bubba. His putt first it was a double-breaking putt left-to-right and then right-to-left at the end and it broke a lot more at the end than they both thought. He hit a really good putt and missed it on the low side and was kind of befuddled. I saw what he did and compensated on mine.

Q. Were you trying to blow it over there?

TIGER WOODS: On the tee shot? No. I was trying to hit the ball down the middle and just hold it back up against the winds. The wind is coming down off the right, which if I would have hit it correctly, it would have been a straight shot.

Q. With conditions really being about as good as it gets, cloud cover, not much wind, fairly soft, and our best score so far is a 69. Is that about what you thought?

TIGER WOODS: That's about what I thought. I thought it might be one or two lower. I think Padraig is on a pace to probably do that.

Q. And secondly, is it possible that we might see less separation as we get deeper into the tournament? Could you see it being more bunched than it has before?

TIGER WOODS: I think it's still going to play the same way because I think if you're playing poorly, it's going to show probably a little bit more than it probably did in the past.

Q. Could you just review the second shot clubs you hit on the five pars?

TIGER WOODS: No. 2, I hit 3-wood. I hit 3-wood off the tee and a 3-wood just over the green.

No. 8, I drove in the right bunker and hit a 4-iron to lay up.

13, I hit a 5-iron in there left of the green.

15, I hit a 4-iron just over the green.

Q. Given your age, I'm sure you associate the Masters in '86 or what Nick did in '89, but what about watching videos of seeing Arnold playing the Masters --

TIGER WOODS: That's the only thing I can say is the highlights, I wasn't born yet.

Q. So you do not associate it with Jack this place more than Arnie because of your age?

TIGER WOODS: I think you associate Arnold before Jack. If you associate Arnold was there, and then Jack kind of came along and started winning his, and I think that's kind of how it worked from there.

Arnold's charge here and what he has done in the past, it's pretty neat for we've played the same golf course, even though it's changed, it's still the same piece of property, it's neat to see this is where some of the guys used to play from and this is what they did. It's neat to do that in history and go back.

Q. Did you have an inkling this might be coming today?

TIGER WOODS: I played with him in the par 3 yesterday, with my buddy, Mo, and you can kind of get that sense, that he was kind of hinting at it, but he didn't come out and directly say it.

Q. What's the most important thing Arnie has ever told you?

TIGER WOODS: I think just to be an ambassador of the sport. Just go out there and keep doing the same things you're doing, but just be an ambassador of our sport.

Q. Arnold just spoke a moment ago about remembering seeing Bobby Jones here. Do you imagine one day you will say that about Arnold? Have you ever sat down to pick his brain in a private moment?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have picked his brain. We've shared a lot of good times, a lot of great conversations.

Yeah, there will come a point in time where it will be neat to be able to tell my grand kids, that, hey, I played with the great Arnold Palmer. Even though it was a par 3 course -- (Laughter.) -- in his last Masters, I can always say that.

One of the things, one of the memories that I will always take away from this championship and the experience that I've had with Arnold was my first Masters in '95, when I was able to play a practice round Wednesday with Arnold and Jack. I'm a little 19-year-old kid, and I didn't really know anything. Just to be able to play with those two guys, and we played a skins game all the way around the golf course, and Arnold birdied the last hole to take all the skins. And then Arnold comes up to me, puts his arm around my shoulder and says, "Let's go play the par 3 course." I'm not going to say no. So I walk over there and I go and play the par 3 course. So we come to 9, and No. 9, Jack hits first, hits it about three or four feet. Arnold lips it out, and now I've got to hit. Thinking, whatever you do, just don't hit the ball in the water. And I hit it up there to about two feet just inside both of them, so it was a neat memory for me.

Q. What club was your second shot on 18, Tiger?

TIGER WOODS: 4-iron.

Q. What was the lie like?

TIGER WOODS: The lie was pretty good for pine needles. (Laughter.)

The follow-through, I took out half a tree, and the ball ended up just short of the green.

Q. Does '95, with all you've accomplished and all that's happened, seem a long time ago, or like yesterday?

TIGER WOODS: A long time ago.

Q. Because so much has happened?


Q. And have you yet had the experience of a younger player in the locker room coming up and calling you Mr. Woods?


Q. Do you remember when that first happened?

TIGER WOODS: No, I don't. But it has happened, yes.

Q. How did you play 17?

TIGER WOODS: 17, I hit a driver off the tee and hit a good one down there. Hit a little pitching wedge to about, oh, about 18 feet short of the hole and made that.

Q. You've talked about this somewhat in the past, but can you fathom playing at 72 here?

TIGER WOODS: I hope I'm on this side of the grass at 72.

JIM BLANCHARD: Thank you very much. Great champion, Tiger Woods, a great round and a lot of folks pulling for you, Tiger.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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