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March 1, 2006

Tiger Woods


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Ford Championship at Doral. Great memories here, and a great event last year with you and Phil dueling it out here. Why don't you just talk about being back.

TIGER WOODS: It's nice to be back here at Doral, it's nice to be back in some warm weather, too. Greens are great out there, golf course is playing a lot slower than it was last year. Overall, the golf course is a little different this year, a little more receptive than it was last year.

Q. A couple of the, shall we call them, control players, were disappointed that the golf course last year didn't play it played very much into the hands of a power player. How much does the ball landing and stopping change, is that similar to last year, what are your thoughts?

TIGER WOODS: It's softer this year than it was last year. Last year we had a little give in the fairways. This year, it's not really much of that at all.

If you can hit the ball high and get out there, you're going to have an advantage over a guy who hits the ball low and tries to chase it.

Q. Your Sunday duel with Phil last year, how does that rank with some of the other memorable final days you've had; Furyk, seven playoff holes, going back to Steve Scott in the amateur?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's different. We knew we both had to make birdies in order to win the tournament. I started the day two shots back. So I had to try and catch him as fast as I could, and you had to make a bunch of birdies because the golf course was playing fast and the greens were more receptive last year. We were hitting a lot more short irons into the holes.

With that being the case, you knew that you had to make a bunch of birdies and we tried to birdie just about every hole. You look at the scores on the final day, they were all low. All of the guys shot, mid 60s, most of the guys in the Top 10 were shooting in the mid 60s or high 60s.

Q. I know you've been quoted as how you get a charge out of that kind of duel with another top player; are you able to appreciate who you're going up against and that kind of crowd atmosphere?

TIGER WOODS: Not when you're in it. You could care less. You're just trying to post a low number and try to beat your opponent. You're just in your own little world and you're trying to handle your own business.

Afterwards, yeah, you can reminisce over what happened, but not when you're in it. You don't ever look at it that way.

Q. Because of the conditions out there, this year versus last year, is your approach going to be different, things like trying to drive 16 and things like that, will you have a different approach to the course than you did last year?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I probably hit driver a little more often this year because the fairways are not running. Some of the holes I was hitting 3 wood off of, I hit 3 wood off of 7 just about every day, just so I would not run it through the fairway. The last two days I've hit driver on the same line and I didn't even come close to running through the fairway. The ball has been hitting down there and maybe bouncing a few yards and that's it. So it's playing a little bit longer off the tees.

Last year you knew if you hit any kind of lowball, you could run it down there. This year, that's not the case. So 16, today I hit it just short of the bunkers, but last year it was blowing like Mach 2 dead downwind, two totally different conditions.

Q. I have been seeing you hitting kind of a stinger driver shot out there. When are you going for that shot?

TIGER WOODS: It's just I'm working on a couple little technical things that Hank and I have been working on. He wants me to work on a couple of things with my release and just out there practicing.

Q. You won tournaments on the Stadium Course in two very different conditions, August and March. What do you think it's going to be like in May, and right now the debate is whether or not to overseed, they are going to make that decision in a couple of weeks, but what do you think they should do for a March date?

TIGER WOODS: They shouldn't overseed. I mean it's warm enough down here. Bermuda should already be popping by then, have the greens grainy, normally they are hard and fast. I played in '94 in the amateur and that thing was brick hard. When we play up there for the players, it's super soft. Hopefully they don't overseed and hopefully they will have it where I always enjoy playing golf courses that are like runways, you know. Then it brings shot making back into play, where you have to shape shots and maneuvering the golf ball.

Q. Next year when the schedule changes, the Florida swing will be Honda, Tampa, Bay Hill and then back down here. How will that affect how you will make your schedule?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I'm going to look at it a little more in depth, obviously end of this year, where I need to schedule my breaks and get things organized.

So obviously it affects it a little bit because it's not the same order and obviously having a World Golf Championship, you want to be ready for that.

Q. From a player's standpoint, is there anything different about this tournament next year, this week, for example, you have 144, I think, guys in the field, a couple of European, what have you, next year, given the makeup of what we know as AMEX, does that change anything at all about this tournament?

TIGER WOODS: Well, we should have a better field.

Q. It's pretty good this year?

TIGER WOODS: We'll get more international players, for sure. I know it's a great field this year, but it will be even better as a World Golf Championship because we'll get some of the guys from Europe coming back over here. Usually they come back over here for Bay Hill right before the players and go back to Europe for a little bit.

Q. It will be a shorter field.

TIGER WOODS: Shorter field, but I think better quality throughout the field.

Q. It wasn't that long ago that this tournament didn't attract the big names and locations. Now you're here, and this year and last year, a lot of big names are here; talk about the progression of this tournament into more of a major event?

TIGER WOODS: I think once they improved the golf course, once they basically made the changes and went back to how it was played, you see a lot of the guys coming back. When they made the changes the first time, a lot of the guys didn't come back, so it's nice to see it playing this way again.

Q. Your record in playoffs and in duel situations is so good, is there anything that changes in your approach or your focus? What changes in those situations?

TIGER WOODS: It's just, it's fun. It's an opportunity to go one on one and eyeball to eyeball because you don't get a chance to do that very often.

Usually most duels in the same group. You know, maybe a group ahead, a group behind, two groups, whatever it may be, it's usually separated.

But when you get an opportunity to go head to head, it's always a rush, because we don't get to do it very often.

Q. People always talk about how rivalries generate great interest in sports. If you had more Sunday moments in majors like you had with Phil last year, another top player, I know you've held up your end, how much do you think that would create extra excitement or interest in this game?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think you have kind of seen that. You've seen the top guys up there. Sometimes maybe not you've seen myself, Mickelson, Goose, Ernie, or Vijay, generally one of us five in just about every major championship down the stretch. So whether or not we can separate ourselves and go one on one, it's a totally different story because the fields are so good.

Q. You've accomplished so much in your 20s and now you're 30 years old; do you view yourself approaching a little bit different as you get older, your game?

TIGER WOODS: I certainly have a better understanding of how to manage my game, especially on days that aren't there, where I don't really have my game. I'm able to get around and understand how to do it, I think that's progressed eons from when I first came out here because I didn't have a good understanding of how to do that.

Q. Davis was in here talking about how it's reached comical proportions of guys showing up to tournaments and working out with their trainers and whatnot; to what extent do you see guys who once resisted fitness and working out now embracing it, guys that you never saw in the gym?

TIGER WOODS: I knew times had changed when I saw Lumpy in the gym. Times have definitely changed.

Q. When was this?

TIGER WOODS: Last year. So we've come a long way.

Q. Was he lost?

TIGER WOODS: No, he's actually got a program. Can you believe that? (Smiling).

No, the guys understand that you have to do it now. The game has changed so much. In order to compete and hit the ball as far as some of the guys are hitting it now, you've got to get in there and spend the time. You've got to get stronger and you've got to got more flexible. Look at the scores we're shooting now on the golf courses that are so long, you really have to get in there now. You can't afford not to.

Q. Have you played the latest rendition of Augusta National?

TIGER WOODS: Have not.

Q. Any plans?

TIGER WOODS: I will play it before I get up there the week of the tournament, yeah.

Q. A lot of you guys talk about how it's a totally different course, even on Tuesday or Wednesday than it is on Thursday. How much do you glean from going a week early, lies off the tee, just familiarity?

TIGER WOODS: I think now it seems like every year they keep changing it, so you have to go to get the lines. Like No. 1 has been changed again, obviously 4, 7, 10, 15. So you've got to get a game plan for your practice sessions, what you need to work on, the lines you're going to have to take and just get a feel before you get there. So you don't want to be shocked when you get there and say, this is what I have to work on. You have to have an understanding before you get there.

Q. Do you go one day and play twice basically?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, one day, play 36. First round is more like just kind of taking a look and the second round, trying to post a little bit of a number.

Q. What's the status your move to Jupiter Island and what was it that attracted you to that area?

TIGER WOODS: Right now we're still looking at changing a few things on the property. Going to be patient with that.

As far as moving, I grew up near the coast out there in L.A., so I've always loved being near the ocean. Being in Orlando is not exactly being near the ocean. Near water, but not the ocean.

Q. As reining champion, do you still have to play with a member when you go?

TIGER WOODS: No. Any past champion, you can play on your own or any other past champion or member. But you can't bring anybody unless you are a true member.

Q. If I can ask you a non golf question, you're a big basketball fan, do you follow the Miami Heat at all?


Q. Do you follow Shaq?

TIGER WOODS: Of course.

Q. As players, how do you view them as athletes?

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely incredible. These guys, as big as they are, to be that fast, that quick, to be able to jump that high and do all of the moves that they are able to do, basically it's like balance how gifted they are at that size. You don't really appreciate it unless you get down on the court and you can hear the banging, it's absolutely incredible to see.

I've seen Shaq at Isleworth, and when he stepped through to the door to the grill, it's kind of funny when he has to kneel down to get in. You don't appreciate the size of Shaq until you actually meet him and you realize that if he looked short next to Yao, just imagine how big those guys really are.

Q. Does he play our game?

TIGER WOODS: No. I don't think you could make a club long enough. Could you? (Laughter).

Q. Compared to a sport like NASCAR, known for pushing the envelopes, how would you describe how golfers perceive cheating just in terms of golf, the importance of maintaining credibility?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that's the nature of our sport and that's what our sport is based upon. It's a gentleman's game, it's a game of honor, and any time I mean, it's not too often you ever see say a guy in the NBA, oh, sorry, I hacked him, I'm sorry, official, call it a foul, please.

Here, if the ball moves, you're calling a penalty on yourself, even if there's no one around. That's the difference in our sport. You're not trying to get away with things out here. You play with honor and you play it with pride.

Q. When you do go to Augusta for the first time, would you be inclined to drop a few balls at 16 and just try it again, I know the pin probably wouldn't be in the same spot.

TIGER WOODS: I hope I'm never there again. (Laughter) I won't try it again, no.

Q. Is that a shot where if you'd have put down 20 balls, you might have only made the one?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, hundreds of balls and you might only make one. That's a shot, once in a lifetime.

Q. How much of that was luck and how much of it was skill?

TIGER WOODS: Mostly luck. A little bit of skill to put the spin on the golf ball, and after that, it was all luck, could have read it wrong, could have released it wrong. Only skill was I put some sauce on it.

Q. Were you uncertain you would be able to?

TIGER WOODS: Because of the grass behind me. It was coming out so steep and trying to wipe across it to put some kind of spin on it.

Q. And if you don't, where does it go?

TIGER WOODS: Probably down behind Chris's ball.

Q. What do you think of World Golf Championships being anchored at the same course?

TIGER WOODS: I don't think that's the intent of a World Golf Championships. It should be moved around. I think it should be played all around the world. It is a World Golf Championship. (Laughter).

Q. They keep talking about lengthening Augusta, do you think there's a point where they don't need to do that, the tournament is the tournament, and where it was 6900 yards or 7,500, because it's the Masters you don't need to be messing with the place?

TIGER WOODS: Well, not to the extent they have done it. I mean, last year, they lengthened it more since last year and last year we had, you know, the guys I play practice rounds with, we were all predicting if it stayed the way it did if a front came in and it didn't rain and you shot 1 or 2 over par, that can win the tournament. And then a deluge of rain and it's a totally different golf course. If it ever gets dry and baked out and it doesn't rain like it did in '99 when Ollie won and the greens get blue looking like it did that year, again, it will be even par or over par will win, easily.

Q. If I can follow up on her question, what would you do if you saw a guy cheating and has that happened to you and what took place?

TIGER WOODS: I have never witnessed it. I've witnessed guys, you know, trying to do marginal things, but not a blatant rules infraction, no.

Q. What's marginal?

TIGER WOODS: On junior golf, guys up against the collar would move the ball further forward so they were not against the collar anymore.

Q. Did you ever call them?

TIGER WOODS: We would have a rules infraction, we would have a meeting with the rules official, but the problem is it's my word against there and they always take their word.

Q. When you switched to the putter you're using now in '99, what did you have before that and what prompted the switch? You had a whole bunch of fairly mediocre rounds in the 70s, was it that simple?

TIGER WOODS: I putted with one, two three putters since before I made that change on TOUR. So I really don't change putters very often. But I like the way that putter looked and I liked the way it felt. It looked very similar to what I grew up with, and I grew up with Anser 2 and I asked Scottie to make me one like an Anser 2, can you make me one like an Anser 2. I put one in play after he made that putter up and I've had some success since then.

Q. Wasn't one of them O'Meara's backup?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I tried his backup at the British Open in '98, and that's why it's his backup, finished one short (laughter).

End of FastScripts.

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