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April 13, 2002

Tiger Woods


JIM BLANCHARD: Delighted to have Mr. Tiger Woods after a brilliant 66 today, and I'm going to ask him, if he would, to please comment on his round.

TIGER WOODS: Well, today it was a long day, 26 holes. But I feel like I really -- I really played well today. I hit a lot of good shots, and with the conditions being as soft as they were, you had to be very creative on some of the shots playing into the greens, just because you don't want to have the ball spin off the greens. On top of that, a lot of the balls had mud on it, one side or the other and you had to be committed that the ball is going to move with the mud. It was a long day, and a tough grind out there. But I felt like I hung in there and I really played well.

Q. There's a lot of internationals on the leaderboard. What's your theory about why this is coming up now?


Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think if you look at the World Rankings, you'll see a lot of the guys are international players. I said earlier, yesterday, that I think if you look at the guys who have been playing well the last six months, they are all playing well this week, and it's the same guys, whether international or American, but I think they are the same guys that have been playing well.

Q. Talking about how you need the occasional break to get over the top sometimes, did you hit one that went over the creek, 13 or 15, at the completion of your morning round that --

TIGER WOODS: No. I had a pretty good mud ball on 13 in the morning. Mud was sitting on the left side of the ball, and I -- you know it goes to the right because of that. It's kind of hard to be committed to starting off this hook-lie with a 2-iron, left there to the green and knowing the ball is going to have a slice over there. I didn't commit to it, like I wanted to, and it squirted to the right and ended up right of the creek. Actually, it was probably the easiest shot you could possibly have, other than putting yourself on the green to that pin.

Q. It looks like you'll be in the final group barring some sort of miracle, how important is that, being in the final group of a Masters Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: I've been there before and I look forward to it. Stevie and I really wanted to get into that final group, just make birdie on 18.

He was so funny. When I hit my shot in the air, he says, "Get in the final group." (Laughter.) My ball, it just took off and he knew it was a good shot the way I hit it. He was just being typical Stevie.

Q. Retief apparently hit his tee ball on 18 into the trees. You may be tied for the lead going into tomorrow. With the way the day started would you have anticipated being tied for the lead after today?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I think -- my goal going out this afternoon session was to get to double digits, just anything in double digits was what I wanted to have happen. And I got there. Whether that was going to put me in the lead or not, I felt like I would be within striking distance, there's no doubt about that.

Q. It was a very long day. Can you talk about just what time you got up this morning, what time you went to the course and what did you do in between the two rounds?

TIGER WOODS: You want to know what time I went to the bathroom, too? (Laughter.)

Q. If you'll give it to me, why not.

TIGER WOODS: (Laughs).

I got up fairly early this morning, up at about 4:30.

Q. See, we're impressed.

TIGER WOODS: We were supposed to be in position to tee off right at 7:45 this morning and they moved it back to 8:15 and then 8:30 and nine o'clock. So I stayed out there the entire time and I was already kind of warm. I didn't want to cool off and then have to warm back up again. So I was on the range for a while this morning.

After the morning session, I just hung out in the locker room, had lunch. Actually, I had a nice lunch with Ollie, actually. We were just talking about, telling stories, BS'ing, having a good time.

Q. Are you surprised to be 11-under, considering you have not racked up as many birdies on the par 5s, and why haven't you scored as well as you could have?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the par 5s aren't exactly playing short this year. They are playing awfully long.

You know, when it's dry, yeah, you can go ahead be and a little more aggressive off the tees and get the ball down there, and knowing the fact, you can get some of the irons into the greens. The only one you feel comfortable birdieing after a good drive is probably 15. The rest of them are either borderline of being out of reach, and you're probably better just laying back and trying to wedge it.

Q. You are aware of the great history of this game and we often ask you about your historical accomplishments. Can you talk about the significance of having the great Arnold Palmer end his Masters career, his major career here today, your thoughts, what you feel, how you feel he should be honored at this moment?

TIGER WOODS: You know, it was kind of funny. I was actually telling Stevie, I said, "You knew somehow he was going to make it to the weekend." (Laughter.) And he somehow pulled it off, with a little help.

I don't know, they asked me that question earlier about did I hear Arnie's ovations coming up, and I did for a couple holes here and there, but also, Ernie was making a run this morning and you couldn't really tell who it was. I knew Arnie's ovation was on 18, but I wasn't exactly paying attention to that because I was a little hot at myself because I just hit the ball in the right trees on 17. So I kind of knew what was going on, but also I kind of blocked that out at the same time.

But to have Arnold Palmer end his Masters career on the weekend, I think that's what everyone wanted to see.

Q. The scores are not too much different than last year, despite the lengthening and everything. Is that because the greens were considerably softer?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. It would have been a completely different story if it had played like we did on Monday and Tuesday. The scores never would have been like this.

Q. You said after last year, you said you were so much a better player than when you won here in '97, in what ways are you a better player now than you were a year ago?

TIGER WOODS: I think I'm more experienced. I've gone through more -- I guess every year, you go through a learning curve. You improve shots and you learn how to handle yourself and handle certain situations a little bit better, through either failures or successes, and I think that's what's happened from last year to this year.

Q. Can you talk about your birdies on 10 and 11, and is that like stealing out here?

TIGER WOODS: The one on 10, I think you feel pretty good about, because that back left pin is a little -- normally it's pretty dicey, with it being firm. With it being as soft as it was, I knew I could throw -- be pretty deep into that green and knew it would not hop over the back. It landed pretty soft, and I made about an 8-footer there.

And on 11 it really wasn't that hard a shot. I had a little 9-iron in there and just tried to -- I had a downhill hook-lie so tried to feed it off the slope which I was able to do. The hard part was making that putt. That putt was really quick. I probably hit it just a touch too hard and somehow it caught the lip.

Q. For all the talk about long hitters here, it always seems to come down to putting, the winner normally putts pretty well and you seem to be rolling it better now than you have perhaps in recent play. Would you just talk about your level of confidence on the greens here for the final round?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I've made my share of putts, but I think I've made my share of par putts. I think that's -- I've always said that it's a better feeling making a big par putt than it is making a birdie. This morning, I made a lot of par putts. I made about a 10-footer on 11 starting out. I made about a 4-footer on 14. I made about -- on 17, I made about a 10-footer again. And today, I made about an 8-footer on 14 for par.

These are things that you have to do in order to keep the momentum in the round going. I seem to have been successful at it so far.

Q. Has had this become more of a bomber's course because of the wet and did that increase your comfort level?

TIGER WOODS: If you look at it, I played the same way. I haven't changed anything.

Actually, the only thing I've actually changed is my approach to No. 5, with the -- they moved the tees around, and the winds has never been out of the east like this. I've played it a couple of times downwind and I've hit 3-wood off the tee; I've never hit 3-wood off that tee.

Q. To you, what are the main points of value getting in the final group with the guy you've been chasing all day?

TIGER WOODS: Just a goal. That's about it. You know, if you can get in the final group, you know at least you've done your job that day. You've played really well.

JIM BLANCHARD: Tiger, thank you for being with us. You're a great favorite here and we wish you well tomorrow.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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