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April 14, 2002

Tiger Woods


BILLY PAYNE: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to have with us the 2002 Masters champion, with a wonderful score of 12-under par for a total of 276. As you know, Tiger joins only Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo on a list of players who have successfully defended their title here at the Masters. A three-time winner, Tiger, congratulations.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

BILLY PAYNE: I know you're anxious to share your thoughts.

TIGER WOODS: I am. (Laughter.)

Today was a tough day, with the conditions being, again, different. You know, with Vijay and Phil ahead of me, getting off to some pretty good starts; Retief did not really play as well as he wanted to early. But the golf course was playing so difficult early today, conditions that we were not accustomed to, and I just tried to stay as patient as possible today. I hit some good shots and made a couple good putts when I absolutely needed them, and just really hung around and I was able to outlast the guys today.

Q. You've always said that what really gets your juices flowing is the battle on the back nine at a major. It did not eventuate today, it seemed like you were pretty much on cruise control. Was that in some way disappointing?

TIGER WOODS: No, no. It did, in a different way, because if you have a lead like that, it's only three or four shots, anything can happen around Amen Corner, as we saw with Ernie ahead of me. You can make mistakes like that, and it can happen very quickly. And then with the mistake Vijay made over on 15, things like that can happen and they can escalate.

I knew that only having a three or four shot lead, I still had to continue playing and continue plugging along and hopefully get one or two myself, because if I was able to do that, then it would make it very difficult for the guys to make a run at the end.

Q. You talk about how things like that can happen, why don't things like that ever happen to you? (Laughter.)

TIGER WOODS: For instance, today, I had a chance to go for it on 13. I only had just a little over 200 yards to the front edge, but that wasn't the play. I laid up, and I laid up far enough down there to make sure that I took the spin off my third shot; spin of sucking it back into the water.

I put it down there for enough where I only had a little shot, played left of the hole, 15, 20 feet and just tried to make that putt. Not trying to do anything heroic at all.

Q. How early in the day do you start to glance at leaderboards?

TIGER WOODS: Right away. I'm always looking. You always want to know. I'm naturally kind of curious.

Q. Anymore juice in the fact that Ernie and Phil both birdied the first two holes?

TIGER WOODS: I knew that they did that, but you know what, there's a long way to go. Granted they got off to good starts, but there's a lot of good holes and a lot of great pins out there that we had to somehow make pars or birdies. They had to continue to make a run. If they just stayed right where they are at, and I stayed right where I was at, I'll obviously be ahead of them. And that's kind of how you've always got to approach it.

Q. Athletes are always saying it takes time for an accomplishment to sink in. You've won three Masters in six years, I believe it is, and two in a row, can you just sort of look at the perspective, and did you ever think you could do this; and certainly, you think you can do more, I assume.

TIGER WOODS: You know, I always felt that I had the game that was good enough to win here at this tournament.

You need to have -- I keep saying it -- you've got to have some good breaks. I played well this week, made some good putts when I really needed them, but I had some good breaks as well. I was able to somehow finagle a way to get up-and-down and save a lot of pars this week.

Q. Isn't that part of your game? You are able to make the big shot at the right time.

TIGER WOODS: You know, you have to just kind of focus and bear down and you know those shots are crucial, especially those par putts, you've got to make those. I've always said that it's always a better feeling inside when you make a big par putt than it is a birdie. It's always nice not to drop a shot.

Q. You mentioned outside that some of the fairways have been cut and others have not.


Q. You are adjusting all the time to the lie, the wet grass and all, were there times you had to play a different shot?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. You had to play a lot of different shots. You had to control your arm speed a little bit better, control your angle of descent into the ball, you had to do a lot of things, hit a lot of weird clubs. And don't forget, we had mud balls out there. I caught two or three of them, and it's just part of playing on a wet golf course. Everyone is going to have to deal with it.

I tried to deal with it the best I possibly could. The shots I played today, I thought they were the best shot I could have played at the time, and I may not have executed properly, but my intentions were good.

Q. Was the pulled tee shot on 5 your only bad shot? What happened there and what club did you hit to get it back out?

TIGER WOODS: I hit a quick duck off there.

Q. Was it driver?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. And then hit a 4-iron out. And then 3-putted from about, I don't know, 70 feet or so.

Q. You ran up the hill to see the ball?

TIGER WOODS: Did it run up the hill and come back?

Q. No, you ran up the hill after you hit it.

TIGER WOODS: It's one of those things where if that fairway was cut to it's normal length, that ball is actually on the top shelf, if not over the green.

Q. Was it in pine straw?

TIGER WOODS: No. It was on dirt, on grass.

Q. On a percentage basis, how much of this win is based on physical skill and how much on mental ability and can you contrast those percentages with when you won here in '97?

TIGER WOODS: I think this golf course has certainly changed on your approach mentally. I think it's more of a mental test now than it was when I first won here, because of the lengthening. You have to hit different shots into the greens, and especially this week, with the golf course being as wet. We had all different kind of lies out there, we had bad lies, good lies, mud balls, non-mud balls, fliers, we had a lot of different things going on. I can't really give you a percentage, but I can tell you, it's more of a mental test now than it was in '97, certainly.

Q. After your third shot on 15, how relieved were you, did you feel?

TIGER WOODS: I felt pretty good, because I hit the shot just the way I wanted to. It's just a little 115-yard dead-arm wedge with a little bit of a cut-spin on it. It was a shot that I had to pull off and I was able to pull it off and that just makes you feel so good.

Q. What were the main differences between yesterday's and today's golf course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the fairways. The fairways are all different lengths. Some were cut, some were not cut. Some of the greens were different speeds than others. Every green seemed like it was a different speed. It was really tough to get a gauge of what's going on. Some of the fringes were cut; some weren't cut. So some you could play bump-and-run and sometimes you couldn't. They were all different.

It was just a test out there, because these are conditions that we are not accustomed to playing in. Usually the fairways are a lot shorter than this.

Q. And the pin positions?

TIGER WOODS: Some of them were new. Some of them were definitely new for Sunday. The pin on No. 8, I've never seen it there on Sunday, just over the knob there. It's usually on the back left or front center. They were using the front center this year.

Q. 18, of course.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 18 being back right. That's why they redesigned the green. But you would have figured they would have kept the traditional Sunday pin.

Q. How much of an edge do you think already having two green jackets gave you today?

TIGER WOODS: A lot. A lot. Whether I win or lose today, I'm still coming back next year. (Smiles).

I don't know, I haven't got a letter yet. (Laughter.) But if I don't get a letter, I'm coming back.

I think going into today, that's a big relief, knowing the fact that no matter what happens, I'm still a champion here and I've done it before. Then you also can take the other side of it, too. You also know what it takes to win here. I've been in the final group twice. I know how to handle my emotions and being in the final group here at Augusta, and go out there and just play.

Q. How much importance did you put on not falling behind early today?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I wanted to get off to a positive start and I didn't do that with my first tee shot. I hit a good tee shot, but I also leaked it too much, put it in the bunker. But that second shot I hit out of there was really pure. That was a good one there. I hit two good shots on the next hole and got up-and-down for birdie there.

Any time you can be 1-under through two or three here, you're feeling pretty good, and I just happened to be 2-under through three.

Q. Could you please share with us how you plan to celebrate and with who tonight?

TIGER WOODS: You know, tonight -- right now, I'm going to go to a dinner here, the Champion's Dinner. I think when I go home, I've got to pack up my suitcase and get ready for my flight. But I will celebrate. I'm not going to tell you how, but I will celebrate. (Laughter.)

Q. Following up about three green jackets in six years, that's not PGAs or British Opens or U.S. Opens. Why here? Why is it working out so great on this course on these grounds?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I wish I could give you the answer. I wish I knew.

I just -- I think this golf course allows you to play creatively. You get to hit different shots. You use your imagination around the greens. You have different kind of putts. That, to me, is pretty neat, when we can use our short game to get around. Some of the major championships, you can't. PGA and U.S. Open, normally that's not the case. It's been the case a couple of times here and there, but normally it's not the case.

Here, we are playing all different kind of shots. We are playing bump-and-run, we are playing high lobs, we are playing spinners and all different type of shots, and you have the availability, which sometimes makes it even more difficult, because of all your different options.

Q. You got the lead after the first hole. At one point do you go from building the lead to protecting it, and at one point did you think you had the tournament won?

TIGER WOODS: When I played that putt on 16, that was huge. Because now I still retained a four-shot lead over Retief. Three shots is just not enough with three holes to go, and anything can happen. He can go birdie, birdie, and I can make a mistake like I did on 17, and I made bogey. I thought being able to 2-putt from the top shelf was, that was huge.

Q. Where do you go from build to go protecting?

TIGER WOODS: I think you're always trying to build.

Q. There was a lot of emotion and history associated with your first two victories here. How does this one compare?

TIGER WOODS: This year it's different. This year was more of a physical test than it was last year, being a chance to win all four major championships in a row and retain them all; that was a mental test to try and block everything out.

This year was just a physical grind. Yesterday I played 26 holes. That was a long day. I was here at the golf course just before -- just before 7:00. I didn't walk off until 7:30 and I was here for 13 hours. That's a long time to be on your feet and playing, and be under this type of pressure and grind. It takes a lot out of you.

This year was definitely a physical test, without a doubt.

Q. What does a 26-year-old guy do with one of those jackets all year?

TIGER WOODS: It's in the closet.

Q. Don't get it out much?

TIGER WOODS: You're not going to walk around with this thing, are you? (Laughter.)

Q. What does it mean, the fact that there are only two golfers who have won more Masters than you, Nicklaus and Palmer?

TIGER WOODS: Well, that's pretty neat. It's pretty neat to be able to have my name mentioned with some of the golfing greats, especially at this tournament. This tournament is obviously very historic and very special to all the players. This is a tournament we really want to win, and to be able to put my name on that trophy three times, it's really cool.

Q. And could I also ask you, every time you're going to win the Masters, this will be a question you're asked; you now have a chance to win a calendar year Grand Slam, you're still eligible for that. Is this something that you have thought about at all? Is this something you would like to achieve?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I've done four in a row before, but it would be nice to do it four in a row in the same year. It would be different than how I did it the last time.

Q. I'm just wondering, in each of your wins, your dad and your mom have greeted you with a hug and things like that. Did your dad have anything special he said today?

TIGER WOODS: No, just said, "I'm proud of you." That's always neat any time you get to have your parents say that. That's awfully special. It means a lot to me when my mom and dad are there to share in this with me. Because you can't do it alone, you just can't, and to have the support like I've been able to have, it's always nice to be able to know that any time you go home, everything is going to be all right.

Q. Did your dad have anything to say during the week at all? How much contact did you have with him?

TIGER WOODS: We had dinner just about every night.

Q. Any words of wisdom during the week, anything that stands out?

TIGER WOODS: A lot of things that stand out, but they were mostly -- (Laughter.). He was basically probably giving me a good ribbing like he always does. We love to jab at each other quite a bit, and it's a lot of fun. He had some good liners this week but I came right back at him with some good ones. That's about how my dad and I are. We're a lot like that.

Q. How do you feel? Last year your body gave out. How do you feel this year?

TIGER WOODS: I'm tired, man, I really am. Going 26 yesterday and having to come out and play in the final group in soft conditions. I think playing in soft conditions takes a lot out of you because the ground is just sucking at your feet all day. As I said earlier, I was out here for 13 hours, which is a long time to be out at a golf course, and to come back today and have to give it everything you've got, one more time, it took a lot out of me physically, and I'm glad it's done.

Q. My allergies are killing me, how are yours?

TIGER WOODS: Mine have been good this week. The rain settled down, thanks.

Sorry about you, though. (Smiles).

Q. Even at a young age, 26, given what you've accomplished, do you allow yourself to think about where you might fit in on the history of this game some day, and do things like Nicklaus' greatest records come into your mind?

TIGER WOODS: It would be nice to win as many majors as Jack did. That would be great. And 23, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

I think the thing I keep saying to myself every year and I keep telling all of you guys this, is that I want to become a better player at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year. And if I can keep doing that year after year for the rest of my career, I'll have a pretty good career.

Q. Did you expect more of a fight from the rest of the field today?

TIGER WOODS: There was, but it just -- I think everyone thinks that it was -- everybody laid down. That's not how it was out there, when you're out there playing. Vijay was at 10-under par for a while and Retief was hanging around there and he could have made a run at any time. You know that any time you make a mistake on the back nine, especially if you're leading, the guys can go right on by you. With as much water, and as much trouble out there, and these tough pins, you have to just keep plugging along. I think it was a lot tighter than people thought.

Q. The guys before came in and talked about how they didn't think you would make a mistake. How much of a mental edge does that give you in that, if they have that in their minds?

TIGER WOODS: Well, that's awfully nice they think that highly of my game; that I'm not going to make a mistake. I'm trying not to make mistakes, trust me.

Generally, under these conditions, you're going to make a mistake somewhere, and this golf course is playing too difficult today not to make a mistake somewhere.

I think I made three bogeys today. But I also had four birdies, which was good.

Q. Do you think sometimes maybe they press to catch you?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. You've got to ask them.

Q. You said that you're always trying to widen the gap. Does your strategy change at all when you're looking at the turn and you're seeing that gap, or does your strategy stay the same?

TIGER WOODS: I think the only time my strategy changes is when I found that Vijay was not -- did not make birdie on 15. I had a shot between the trees to lay it up on the left side of the fairway to give myself a great angle up the hill for my approach shot and I decided not to do that. I decided to play out to the right. So I don't even have to deal with going through the gap, because I didn't have to make birdie there. I didn't have to hit the ball in there close.

Q. Was it the same at 13, too?

TIGER WOODS: 13 is one of those holes where I had a shot -- yeah, I could have knocked a 2- or 3-iron on there, but it just wasn't the play with, off of pine needles with a hooked lie like that, and I had a three-shot lead at the time. Just knock it down there and wedge it on and trust your putting. I've been putting well all week, and there's no sense in going away from that, deviating from trusting my putting.

Q. What's your tournament schedule?

TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. I know, but I'm not going to tell you. (Smiles).

All I know is that I'm not playing next week, obviously, as everyone knows, but we'll see after that.

Q. You're obviously extremely analytical about the golf course, slopes and terrain and all that. When you are watching tapes and looking at the game, besides looking at swings of classical players, are you looking at history of design evolution, change in character of architecture, as well, as part of your preparation?

TIGER WOODS: You know, you used to be able to watch a videotape over three or four years from the current year you're playing the tournament and actually get a read on how the golf course might be playing, some of the breaks you might see on the greens. But they have changed the greens it seems like every year. There's all new greens. Now there's more trees they plant here or there that I don't think that the fans or maybe you guys are picking up. But they plant one or two here at different angles and all of a sudden they start growing up and blocking shots.

They have changed this golf course so much in the last three or four years, that you really can't go back and look at it.

Q. But generally, with other courses as well?

TIGER WOODS: As far as analyzing architecture? Yeah, I. That's something I want to do in the future, design golf courses.

Q. The course changes you just touched on, what about tradition changes, as far as the green jacket? Retief talked about adding some green pants for the runner-up.

TIGER WOODS: Well, if he wants to wear green pants. (Laughter.) I'll just stick with a green coat.

Q. There's been a lot made about technology, but what you are using today is not what you used in '97 and not what you used even last year, how has technology advanced for and has that made a big difference in how you are scoring out here and with your wins in general?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you I'm not hitting the ball any further than I did in '97. If anything I'm hitting just a touch shorter because I've dialed my swing back, kept it more in play.

I have the ability to hit the ball as far as I did in '97, but I don't. I don't swing at it that hard anymore. I'd like to keep the ball in play and maneuver it around and try different shots. Play a completely different game than I did in '97.

I think the biggest change for me has been the golf ball. The golf ball is now so much better in the wind than it was even in '97 and it's going to keep getting better. That's just the way it is. But I haven't -- I haven't fully taken advantage of the new technology. I haven't gone to graphite. I haven't lengthened any of my shafts. I still play 43 and a half inches, which is a lot shorter than what the guys play out here now. And I still play steel. So nothing has really changed in my bag.

I just really have improved my technique.

Q. Looking ahead to the U.S. Open, are you familiar at all with Bethpage?

TIGER WOODS: I am not, no.

Q. Do you plan to go up there early?

TIGER WOODS: Yes. I plan to play early.

Q. How much was a factor with your putting this week? So many 6-footers for par and birdie.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you have to do that. In order to win a major championship you can't always hit the ball close, especially on these greens. You can hit a good shot, but you still have to make a 5- or 6-footer somehow for par.

The good thing is the greens are so smooth that you know if you hit a good putt you know it's in the hole.

Q. Can you explain why you were so comfortable this week?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, I've been putting well. The last two tournaments -- actually, since Doral, once I got on some pretty good greens, I putted good at Doral, obviously I won Bay Hill. At THE PLAYERS Championship, I just put myself on the wrong side of the slopes and I wasn't able to get the ball close enough. But I felt like I was putting well, even though my stats didn't show it. I felt comfortable and I hit good putts, but they just didn't go in that week.

My preparation this week, I just wanted to stay the course. You're putting well, just trust it, go out there and be committed.

Q. Do you feel like you won this Saturday?

TIGER WOODS: No. I won it today.

Q. In that last group?

TIGER WOODS: No. They didn't cancel it yesterday, no.

Q. After shooting 66 yesterday, seeing the scoreboard at the end of the day, are you maybe a bit surprised you are sitting here as Masters champion by three shots after shooting 71?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, no. I honestly don't think that anyone can really appreciate, except for the players, how difficult this golf course was playing today. The fairways being completely different lengths than we are accustomed to; your ball is picking up mud; you're catching some weird shots out there; balls are knuckling, and you still have the traditional tough pins here at Augusta. It's just so hard to get the ball close, it really is. I mean, even if you have a good lie and a good situation, even then it's hard.

Now you add all of these other factors in, and the hard part today was not only the fairways, but the fact that the wind kept coming up and dying down, but it was in different directions all day. When I was on -- for a great example, No. 4. I have a 6-iron in there, and so, you know, I'm telling Stevie, I've got to rip this 6, because it was into my face right-to-left. When I stepped over the shot I backed off once because it went downwind, left-to-right, completely opposite direction. I said, I've got to be committed, it's downwind now. And I hit the shot, and lo and behold it was downwind and knocked my ball left-to-right.

BILLY PAYNE: I know everyone would like you to go over your card briefly before we finish.

TIGER WOODS: Okay. 2, I hit a driver 3-wood to the right and pitched up to about four feet past the hole and made that.

No. 3, I hit a 4-iron off the tee. I hit a pitching wedge to about 7 feet past the hole and made that.

No. 5, hooked my drive left. Hooked a 4-iron out short and 3-putted from about 60 feet. Missed about, I don't know, a 15-footer there for par.

6, I hit a 7-iron over the back and chipped it in from about 30 feet.

11, I hit a driver off the tee in the right rough. Hit a 9-iron right of the green. I hit a good chip up there to about six feet and missed it.

15, I hit a driver off the tee. Punched out with a 9-iron. Hit a pitching wedge to about a foot.

17, I hit a driver off the tee in the right trees, punched out in the front bunker and blasted out to about eight feet and missed that.

Q. What iron into 18?

TIGER WOODS: I hit 7-iron.

BILLY PAYNE: Tiger, congratulations, and see you next year.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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