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February 22, 2006

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us. What a start to the week. Just talk about getting started off there and just kind of walk us through it.

TIGER WOODS: I hit the ball really well today. I got a great break on the very first hole. I hit it up the right side, hit a tree and came back into the fairway. I was conceded a birdie there.

And No. 2, I left it short uphill, but thank goodness it was downwind and it fell in.

From there I put the pressure on Stephen, and he made a couple of mistakes, gave me a couple of holes. But other than that, it was some pretty good ball striking for me today.

Q. Is that about as good a nine as you've played in your career, would you say?

TIGER WOODS: It's been a while since I played one like that. I hit just a bunch of good golf shots today. And basically it was an extension of yesterday. I hit the ball that way yesterday all day, and I just wanted to continue it today and actually use it in competition, and I finally did.

Q. Were you aware of Stephen's comments yesterday that you weren't striking


Q. I assumed you were.


Q. What was your reaction when you saw that?


Q. Is that the best match you've ever played?

TIGER WOODS: The best match I've ever played, I think, was in a final at the Pacific Northwest Amateur. I won the match 11 & 10, but it was a 36 hole final.

Q. Waverley?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. But that was the best I've ever done there.

Q. What year, you were 18?

TIGER WOODS: It was '94.

Q. Obviously you like challenges, the idea of someone saying you're not driving the ball well. It must have lit a fire under you.

TIGER WOODS: You might say that.

Q. It would be better if you said it.

TIGER WOODS: As I said, 9 & 8.

Q. You've been around golf, but can a golfer a football player can say I'm going to get out and really show this guy. But golf being a game of finesse, can you actually do that? Can you get yourself psyched out where I'm going to stomp this guy?

TIGER WOODS: It's different; it's not physical where you go up there and put a shoulder in somebody and take them out; it's not like that. It's about the ability to bear down and pull out quality golf shots on your own, and you go put an inordinate amount of pressure on your opponent. That's what you have to do. That's the only thing you can do in our sport. The physicality is just not there, so you have to do it a different way.

Q. Tiger, after today, I'm wondering if your fighting weight is maybe five pounds less than you previously thought (laughter).

TIGER WOODS: You might say that. I actually put a couple of pounds back on.

Q. You made it look so easy. Was it easy?

TIGER WOODS: I felt good. I felt really good. I had a good warmup session today. As I said, it was an extension of yesterday. I hit the ball that way yesterday all day, and I wanted to just use it in competition, just go with the same thoughts, the same feel, and execute the way I did yesterday. And I came out and warmed up today, I hit it just like I did yesterday, I said keep it going, just go out there and trust it. And I put together a pretty good round.

Q. Even after today, Tiger, you're off to a good start. Do you think you can be as dominant through your 30s as you were through your 20s?

TIGER WOODS: That's ultimately what you want to happen. But you have to work. I've done a lot of things to put that together, but it's very exciting.

Q. Before you got sick last week, you played in the Pro Am. Were you hitting the ball good when you were healthy?

TIGER WOODS: I was hitting the ball good on Tuesday, and it started deteriorating on Wednesday. And that's when I got my fever and I couldn't shake it.

Q. Thursday you didn't play a bad round?

TIGER WOODS: I didn't have much, and it progressively got worse from there.

Q. You said there's a lot of things you have to do better. What?

TIGER WOODS: Positions of the golf swing, short game, putting, mental approach, course management skills. These are all things you have to continue to improve. Bunker game.

There's so many things you have to work on. This game is fluid, and you have to continue working on things. As soon as you work on one thing, then that will break down.

Q. Is the game easier or harder for you than it was eight or ten years ago?

TIGER WOODS: It's certainly easier.

Q. It's easier now? Why so?

TIGER WOODS: Understanding the game so much better. My misses aren't what they used to be. Understanding how to put together a round of golf is something that has happened through the maturation process. And when I first came out here I didn't really understand how to put together a round of golf. Just go out there and hit it and try to put it here and make putts. But to manage the game and put the balls in correct spots and miss the ball in correct spots is something it takes time to learn.

Q. Do you think it's disrespectful for a golfer to suggest a weakness in another player's game, or is that fair comment?

TIGER WOODS: That's fair comment, I understand.

Q. But you don't like it, obviously?

TIGER WOODS: I just don't do it.

Q. Are you the least bit surprised about the victory being so large?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because the only two holes I didn't birdie on the front nine, he made bogeys. I mean that's what is the chance of that ever happening? So I put together a good start, but you figure downwind, like on 3, that's a par 5, pretty reachable, he got a bad break, it hit the tree, and the second shot was a pretty easy 5. And I somehow weeded one through the gap. There were some momentum shifts out there. There certainly was on 6. I drove it up there just in front of the green. He hit it laid up, he had a wonderful iron shot in there, short. I hit a terrible pitch, past the hole long. If he makes this putt then my putt becomes really hard. And there was another momentum shift right there.

Q. To go that low, do you wish you could play 18 to see how low you could go?

TIGER WOODS: I'm happy with it.

Q. In terms of concentration and adrenalin, are they heightened when you come across comments as disrespectful as those? How does it manifest?

TIGER WOODS: You have to bear down and focus on your own game and put a lot of pressure on your opponent. This is different format; this is not like stroke play. Stroke play is over 72 holes, and whatever someone says, it's a marathon. Here it's a sprint. It's 18 holes. So bear down, put as much pressure as you possibly can on an opponent.

Q. Have you played here before when it wasn't a quagmire? How different is it to play in these kind of conditions?

TIGER WOODS: The greens are still soft. I had 132 yards, I think, on 7 to the hole. I hit just an 8 iron in there. Normally that's a wedge for me. So that's the greens are still backing up. You can rip the ball back 50 feet, if you're not careful.

Q. Do you have any head to head experiences with K.J. Choi or Robert Allenby?

TIGER WOODS: I can't remember off the top of my head. Robert's been playing great. He won the Triple Crown. And K.J. is starting to play a little bit better.

Q. Tiger, beating the big being the big sports fan that you are, is there any way to compare, like what you did today, is there a way to compare to a performance like you've seen anybody like your buddy Kobe going for 81, is there a way to compare this to another sport?

TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I can't remember MJ has done it so many times, it's like which time. So it's different.

Q. The momentum changes, obviously, because you're starting off fresh tomorrow. Does this round carry into tomorrow, unlike stroke play where you would have a big lead?

TIGER WOODS: That would be your intent, and hopefully you can carry the momentum into tomorrow and piece together another fantastic round. That's ultimately what you want to have happen. I'm going to try to do that tomorrow. I'm going to work on my game this afternoon and refine a few things and hopefully tomorrow go out and put a lot of pressure on my opponent.

Q. Generally speaking, in match play, do golfers take more chances?

TIGER WOODS: At times they do, at times. Sometimes you play a lot more conservative, as well. It's all dependent on the situation. It's 100 percent dependent on the situation. You're not playing against the field; you're playing against one guy, and you react to what he's doing. If he puts the ball in the hazard, then you'll lay up or fire away from the flag, even though you might have a good number. In a situation with stroke play, you wouldn't think twice about not firing at the flag. And you think here I'll fire at the flag and get it in the hole. It's different.

End of FastScripts.

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