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August 19, 2006

Tiger Woods


KELLY ELBIN: 1999 and 2000 PGA Champion Tiger Woods joins us after tying the Medinah course record set earlier today by Mike Weir. Tiger's 7 under par 65 has him currently tied with Luke Donald for the lead at this point in the 88th PGA Championship.

Tiger, some comments on your lowest PGA Championship round ever.

TIGER WOODS: Well, it turned out to be a good day; after that tee shot I missed wasn't really so good. Got lucky, made a big putt on the first hole and stuffed it on the second hole, made birdie there and basically should have been probably 1 over par through two and I was 1 under through two. Basically, off and running from there.

Really thought I hit the ball pretty good after that.

KELLY ELBIN: Go through your birdies and one bogey, please.

TIGER WOODS: I birdied 2. Hit an 8 iron to eight feet and made that.

5, I hit a driver and 5 iron to about 20 feet and 2 putted.

7, I hit a driver and a 5 wood to about 25 feet and 2 putted.

9, I hit a 5 wood off the tee and a 9 iron up there to about four feet.

13, I hit a 3 iron to about eight feet.

14, I hit a driver and a 5 wood in the front bunker, blasted out to about two feet and made that.

15, I hit a 3 iron and a 9 iron to about three feet.

16, I hit a 5 wood off the tee, a 6 iron and I 3 putted from about 40 feet, missed about a 6 footer there.

And on 17, I hit a 7 iron to about 12 feet and made that.

Q. For someone who doesn't like to talk a lot in a major round, it appeared if you were not talking, you were at least listening a lot, and it didn't seem to take from your focus?

TIGER WOODS: I love playing with Riles. He's one of my best friends. I've known Riles since geez, it's been I think about 20 years now. So we go way back. We were just bs'ing about nothing out there, which is normally how we do it.

Q. Based on the conditions of the course, do you feel it will take another 65 or in that range to win the tournament tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: I'll take 65 right now, yeah. But you know, it's different than most major championships today when you hit greens this soft and fairways this soft. And the greens, basically this slow, you know, you're going to have to make a bunch of birdies.

As I was watching on TV this morning, it seemed like everybody was 2 under, 3 under through three or four; definitely 4 under through seven. It looked like it could be had out there. I felt like I had to go get it. And I was able to post a good one today.

You know, hopefully tomorrow, if the weather stays like this, you're going to have to make a bunch of birdies. You can't sit there and make a bunch of pars. In most major championships, you make pars and sprinkle in a couple birdies here and there, you're looking pretty good. Today you would have just been run over, which is different.

Q. How much coming home are you thinking about getting the 5 hole lead in the final pairing?

TIGER WOODS: To be honest with you, it didn't really cross my mind. I was just trying to place the golf ball and try to make the putts. That's about it. I wasn't trying to do anything more than that.

I didn't realize I had at the time a tie for the lead until 17 green when I looked over across the lake on the board. I was tied with Luke.

Most of the day I was behind. I was behind, trailing all day. So I wanted to make that putt, at least to get to 14 and get that shot back I just dropped at 16 and go ahead and try to handle 18 and I was able to do that.

As of right now, I'm tied for the lead, so at least I'm going to be in the final group.

Q. I'm from Thailand. It was fun watching you today. I saw something written in Thai on your head cover. What does it mean to you?

TIGER WOODS: It means a lot. It means a lot. It means, "Love, from Mom." It's her way of saying that she's always there with me, even though she can't be there physically, she's always there each and every round I ever play.

It's always comforting to look at that and to see her there and know she's always there in spirit.

Q. A couple years ago, the USGA was criticized for letting weather intervene and lose control of their golf course at Shinnecock. Is there the anti Shinnecock, and are criticisms justified in the same context of letting weather intervene and lose a certain element of control of the golf course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you really can't toughen it much up, other than getting the greens a little faster. That's about the only thing you can do. The pins are pretty tough as it is. They are not extremely difficult, like, you know, they could be. But they are still pretty tough.

The only thing that's different is the green speeds are slow enough where you're not really afraid of any downhill putts. You don't have that roll out after a good putt. Everything seems to be stopping.

If I look at most of the telecast, if the guys do miss a putt, it's usually short. In major championships, that's normally not the case. It's always rolling out past the hole a little bit.

Q. For most of the day, the leaderboard was pretty scrambled and it seems like you and Luke now have some separation from the rest of the guys. Do you prefer that as opposed to having a bunch of guys bunched up behind you?

TIGER WOODS: I thought after three rounds at the beginning of the week, there were probably going to be 15 or so guys within four or five shots of the lead. It just seemed like that kind of golf course. With it being this soft and with the par 5s pretty reachable, generally it means that it's going to be a bunched leaderboard.

I'm kind of surprised that we were able to get a little bit of separation, but still, there's still a bunch of guys at basically 9 through 14 all with a chance to win tomorrow.

Q. The common thread in your 11 majors has been playing from ahead, playing in the last group. I was just wondering if you could talk to the psychological advantage of being back there and being able to counterpunch and having the last crack, especially given it looks like for once in a major, being on the golf course and having more opportunities to make birdies might be an advantage.

TIGER WOODS: True. True. Most U.S. Opens, it's the exact opposite, you know. This week, it's nice to be in the last group where if the guys make a bunch of birdies, which you know they are going to do, you have the same opportunity to make birdies on those same holes.

You know, you can react and make birdies, which you know, most majors, especially U.S. Opens, that's not the case. You're just trying to survive and make pars. Tomorrow I think anyone who wants to win this championship has to make some birdies.

Q. Played with Luke several times, I believe. Can you give us your impressions of his game and what it's going to be like for him tomorrow out there trying to win a major?

TIGER WOODS: Well, Luke's very steady. Very solid iron player and a pretty good putter. Doesn't get emotionally up and down. He's very level headed. You know, that's how you need to be in major championships. I think that's why he's obviously played well this week, but overall he has a temperament for major championships. It's a new experience for him to be in the final group.

But, you know, I'm sure he'll handle himself very well.

Q. Some players have been criticized because they think the course is playing too easy, it's not like a major. Personally, would you rather it be a very, very tough setup or do you mind where you can go out and make birdies and not just be making pars all day long?

TIGER WOODS: I've always preferred the winning score is in single digits. I think that's always good. If I can shoot 1 under par per nine holes for all 18 holes sorry, for all 72 holes, then 8 under par I think is a very good way to play. But, you know, you'd be run over if you did that this week.

Q. Just 17, you sort of chased after your putt thinking it was going in the center but you realized it slid in the side door. Did it jump on you in either direction?

TIGER WOODS: It broke a lot more than I thought. I knew it was going to break quite a bit. Riley made a good putt and it dove at the hole and he wasn't expecting it to dive like that so I gave it a little bit extra.

When I hit the putt, to be honest with you, I was waiting for it to turn, just break, and all of a sudden I took a step and it kept going. I was lucky enough that it caught the edge and went in.

Q. Two months ago when you missed the cut at the U.S. Open, could you have imagined you'd be in this position with a chance to win three tournaments in a row, two of them majors?

TIGER WOODS: Mm hmm. (Laughter).

Q. Why?

TIGER WOODS: Well, if you enter a tournament, your goal is to win a golf tournament. I figured I was going to enter a few tournaments after that U.S. Open, so yes.

Q. This stretch, Western, Hoylake, Buick, here, best you've felt about your game since when?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's been a while. It's been a while. I hit the ball pretty good last year at the British Open all week. Maybe since then.

KELLY ELBIN: Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen. Tiger, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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