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December 15, 2006

Tiger Woods


DAVE SENKO: Tiger, 8-under right now going into tomorrow. Maybe look back at today and a little bit ahead to the weekend.
TIGER WOODS: Well, today I drove it good again. Iron game was not very precise, and my speed on the greens was a little bit lacking, and another three-putt again today.
Overall I've got a little bit of room for improvement. Hopefully tomorrow I can get it cleaned up a little bit more.

Q. You've not been able to really take advantage of the par 5s. Is that something you're going to try to do over the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there's no doubt about that. I played them, what, 1-under today? I was in positions to make birdies on a couple of them and didn't do a very good job, three-putted one and missed a short one there at 16. That's the way it goes.

Q. The play on 5, how much consideration -- you had nothing but to go backwards; is that correct?

Q. Could you talk about your distance and any consideration you gave to giving it a good whack?
TIGER WOODS: You mean the third shot?

Q. Yeah.
TIGER WOODS: The third shot, well, I had a shot to go up over the trees and hit a high cut. It was only 260 front, and that's not a problem with a 3-wood, but the problem is the wind changed. It was blowing down but changed and went back in our face on my third shot, which meant I couldn't get there. After I laid up, Henrik HIT his shot as we were walking and it switched back to down, and I thought that was nice timing.
Then I proceeded to hit I thought it was a pretty good fourth shot, hit the flag. It was right at it. It's the second time in two days I've hit the flag.

Q. Have you ever found yourself when you're hitting it well to aim away from the flag?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not as good as Mo, no (laughter).

Q. To hear you talk about the things you went through today, it seems like you're sounding like an ordinary golfer in that every day there's something new that won't work, and you fix one thing and then you always have something else. How does a guy at your level look at that challenge? Do you recognize that every day there's going to be something, and what do you do? How do you cope with that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, golf is fluid. It's always changing. It's always evolving. You always have to make adjustments. It's not just from one round to the next, it's from shot to shot. That's what we do.
It's just whoever makes adjustments the best and most consistent usually wins the tournament.

Q. I have a question about Dubai and the project that you're doing there. What made you choose Dubai out of all of the other places in the world that I'm sure you are solicited for?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was all timing. I wanted to play all around the world first of all before I ever decided to get into course design, and then lo and behold, this opportunity came up. I really haven't been subject to a lot of other different opportunities, but this one certainly came up and they mentioned it last year when I was over there and playing the tournament, and then all of a sudden it piqued my interest, and here we are.

Q. You're going to play the Desert Classic again this year?
TIGER WOODS: I am, yeah, I'm defending.

Q. And any other events in the Middle East, Qatar or Abu Dhabi?
TIGER WOODS: No, I've got to play the Buick the week before and then go to Dubai.

Q. I wondered about your thoughts as both a player and a golf businessman, we've seen sports going through popularity booms, tennis, ice hockey, maybe the NBA, too, and inevitably they plateau and face issues. Is golf facing those kinds of issues now, or is it going to in the near future? Where do you see it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the popularity of the game is still increasing but our market is flat as far as entrance of new golfers. We really haven't been climbing. New golfers really haven't been springing up as much as we thought. It's been pretty flat over the last ten years now. So that's very interesting.
But popularity-wise and our viewership, that's increased dramatically, as well as gallery size and attendance at tournaments. That has increased dramatically. But for some reason, newcomers to the game really haven't been following suit for some reason.

Q. Why do you think that is?
TIGER WOODS: Well, probably price and availability. It's pretty easy to find a place to play hoop, pick-up game of football, soccer anywhere you want. But it's hard to find a golf course where you can actually learn and train and be equipped to train first of all and then have the ability to go out there and play and then get better.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's one reason why the First Tee was developed, to try and shorten that gap. But it still needs some work.

Q. Your position I guess on the board, the tournament by 9 and 10, I wonder if you could talk about those putts and if there was any hole damage on 9.
TIGER WOODS: Well, first of all, 9 was uphill and would have been probably six to eight feet by. 10 was downhill and easily would have been six or eight feet by. So two lucky breaks. Again, people say how can you be complaining, you made two putts. But if you look at my speed on those putts, and if they don't go in, then I'm looking at probably two more three-putts. I've already got three this week, and that's three too many.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. This is one of the only years I've ever had that. I've been very streaky this year, and the tournaments I've putted well I've won.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: No, you don't ever go out there and think I'm not going to three-putt. It's about concentrating on your speed a little bit more, concentrating on dying the putts around the hole. A lot of times just like anybody else, I get excited and get a little aggressive and think I can pour this thing right in the back of the hole and get out of here. It doesn't always happen that way.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: Well, I putted terrible on Sunday at Augusta. I had a chance to win that one.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: I can't really think of any. You've got to probably say those two and a few more because I had probably five or six three-putts that week, and if I don't three-putt I probably win the tournament.

Q. Can you imagine -- do you think there's pressure on somebody not to finish last in this tournament even though everyone is pretty great?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. I was in that position last year (laughter). I was thinking, oh, yeah, you're leading the tournament. Oh, I'm sorry, I have the paper upside down (laughter). You don't want to be in that position, no.

Q. No matter what the prize money is?
TIGER WOODS: No matter what it is. This is an elite field. You don't ever want to bring up the rear like that.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt about that. Of course we do. Of course we do. You don't want to be out there setting the pins for the guys coming up behind you, making sure all the dew is off the golf course.

Q. Speaking of elite field, Tiger, there's a lot of international here. We've talked a lot lately about the fact that there's only two Americans under the age of 30 who have won more than two tournaments. What is it? Can you give us some thought as to why the European, the international players, have gotten so much better?
TIGER WOODS: I think a lot of those guys turn pro at a lot earlier age, and our college system -- also don't forget, too, that generally they don't start out playing this Tour. America is by far the most difficult Tour, and if you start off playing here, getting an opportunity to play, trying to qualify through Nationwide or Q-school is not exactly easy. It's a lot easier to go through other avenues, which I mean by other places around the world to play. You learn to develop and you put yourself there in contention more often.
Because of our depth here in America, if you put yourself up there with a chance to win on Sunday and you don't win, well, when is the next time you're going to do it? That's the problem. Other tours don't have the depth that we have, and it's a little bit easier to get yourself back up there sooner with a chance to win and learn to do it again.
These guys have done that. If you look at most of the guys who are international players, they didn't come here right away when they turned pro. They played in Europe, played in Australia, played in South Africa and even some played in Asia.

Q. Do you think that some of our younger players should be playing other places before coming out?
TIGER WOODS: They won't do it because they were born and raised here. They know this culture. Also it's very convenient to travel from state to state and never have to change currencies. Everyone speaks the same language. Over in Europe that's totally different.

Q. Let me follow up on that. Are we saying the Nationwide Tour hasn't done what it's supposed to do? A lot of guys come off of it and win. What's your thoughts on that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I say, you play the Nationwide Tour, that's another few years out there before you get out here. Well, that's time. Also people don't recognize the Nationwide wins as European wins, the same level. You look at it as like basically AAA. You look at the European Tour on the same level as we do. Say like Seve has got 50-some odd wins. If he had 50 Nationwide wins, is that a big deal? I don't think you want to be leading the home runs ever hit in AAA.

Q. Your friend Notah Begay went to the European Tour Qualifying School and got his card. Can you talk about the bravery of that decision to go and base himself in Europe and try and get back that way?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's a very smart decision. We actually talked about it at length, and I said I think it's a great -- I like where his head is at. He's been struggling and his back has been bad for years. It hasn't been any good since 2000, his back. To play six years in pain is not a whole lot of fun.
He wanted to go somewhere he can basically get away from everybody and things that he knew, and also, as I said, depth of field, give him a chance to get up there in contention a little more frequently. I think that he's going to do well over there. He's finally healthy, and he's starting to get his length back. When he was out here he was in the Top 10 in driving distance. When he had that back injury, he dropped pretty significantly. You know, I think this will be great for him to go over there and basically get his confidence back.

Q. Please indulge me since it's that time of year; your most memorable Christmas gift you've ever received, or best?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Most memorable Christmas gift? Probably last year. Dad said merry Christmas to me. I was on the floor watching TV. I had been up for like three days in a row, hadn't slept. I finally passed out on the floor, and he threw his shoe at me and said, "Merry Christmas." I said, "Oh, thanks, Pop." I knew it was the last time he'd ever say that again, so that was pretty cool.

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