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January 28, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOE CHEMCYZ: Well, we welcome 2007 Buick Invitational champion, Tiger Woods, to the interview room today. Final round 6-under par 66. Tiger, the numbers are staggering as far as wins, your 55th, seventh in a row. For the first time we get to say something new about a win. You're on the board on the FedExCup points list with 4,500. Congratulations on the win. Just talk about your day if you would please.
TIGER WOODS: Well, overall, very lucky to be on top there. The way I was starting out, you know, 13 was up on the board quick and I made a bomb there on 9 to get myself up there with a chance. It seemed like in order to win the tournament you had to make birdies on the back nine. I knew these guys, even though they have not won golf tournaments before, they still were going to be playing aggressively. They had nothing to lose and I figured I had to go get it.
I played pretty aggressive on that back nine, for me, and just happened to come out on top.

Q. What was the shot on 17 and would you have guessed as you started out your back nine that your challenge would come from Charlie?
TIGER WOODS: Well, at the time, starting the back nine about four or five guys had a chance and whoever was going to get hot early. And I thought the key was if you could play 11 through 15 -- 11 through 16 solidly and then play about 2- or 3-under par, you're probably going to win the tournament.
Chuckie all of the sudden started making birdies left and right through that stretch and he hit some great shots, too. They were just fantastic shots. I made two mistakes on 14 and 15, I short-sided myself on both occasions but I drew good lies in the bunker. 15 was actually on the upslope and that helped.

Q. 17?
TIGER WOODS: 17 I hit 9-iron and had 145 to the hole, a little bit downwind off the left.

Q. Your third shot on 18, what club did you use and did you hold your breath when it started to spin back?
TIGER WOODS: When I hit it was pretty interesting, the wind was actually down off the left when I was hitting. Stevie, when I hit the shot, you could hear him say, "The wind just switched." It started fluttering up there and actually came back into me.
When he said that, that's when I started thinking, you know, I thought I hit it far enough. I played the shot to fly it five yards past the hole and executed just the way I wanted to. When he said that, I started thinking, oh, that's not good. It landed short and spun back and ended up in a hole.
Stevie wanted me to ask for a ruling, see if it might be in a sprinkler, just check it or not. But it's not going to be in any sprinkler, it just a hole, a bad lie. Somehow we have to get it up-and-down and win the tournament somehow.

Q. You've had a lot of streaks with the USGA, cut streaks, four majors in a row, what's seven in a row do for you, and what about Nissan, people are going to kind of wonder where we are going to see you again and whether you would take a seven-game winning streak into that place.
TIGER WOODS: I'm going to Dubai. But as far as how special seven is, you're in elite company. There's only one person that's ahead of you. You know, he's one of the greatest legends in the history of the game. To be in company like that with Mr. Nelson and Mr. Hogan up there as well, it's pretty special to be in that kind of company.

Q. Just kind of following up on that Tiger, what is your sense where seven in a row belongs in the list of accomplishments you've had, the Tiger Slam, the cut streak and so forth?
TIGER WOODS: If you want to rate it, I think the -- you can't compare four in a row in majors. There's no comparison in that. That' what we play for.
As far as the cut streak, I think that goes to show you, consistency and heart. You know, sometimes you don't always have it, but you just have to find a way to keep yourself eligible to win the tournament on a weekend.
As far as seven in a row, as I said earlier, it's pretty elite company to be mentioned in the breath of Mr. Nelson.

Q. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when you're there and that's what you do. Describe the mode that you go into back nine on Sunday and the tournament is there for the taking?
TIGER WOODS: It's just fun, fun to be there. That's why you bust your butt as hard as do you in practice sessions to get yourself in that position. And when you do, I feel comfortable being there, been there enough times, and I've had success and also I haven't had success. You learn from both. I knew this golf course and how it plays and the things I need to do to get it done. When you somehow pull it out, that's what makes it so much more special. All of the challenges that were up there, Charlie played just an amazing back nine. He put some serious heat on me there on 16 with that tee shot there right at the flag. I was lucky enough to dodge one there. It looked like it was closer than it was. When I got up there, I figured he would make three and I would make three.

Q. Your cut streak was hard to compare, and Nelson's streak he had one or two team events in there and it seems like it's getting harder and harder to compare records in one generation to previous ones. Curious your thoughts on that, and secondly, what categories do you think can be compared no matter what the generation?
TIGER WOODS: You're right, it's hard, because some tournaments are gone and we've added new events. Compare generations is apples to oranges a lot of times. I guess the only thing you can compare is major championships, but then you have to alleviate Bobby Jones. So that part's hard. You'd have to say just professional majors, but it would be up to a certain time era and you don't to justice to a lot of champions in the past.

Q. How many questions do you think you'll get about the winning streak next week?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. Probably a few. Probably a few.

Q. You had several up-and-downs on the back nine, in retrospect, how important was the full-swing flop shot on 11 and what was the degree of difficulty on that?
TIGER WOODS: I was able to drop the ball there, the drop the second time, when it rolled far enough back where I was still in the path, it helped, because where I dropped it, I dropped it on I guess more of a cushy spot with a little bit more grass because it's pretty muddy over there. I knew I had a lie where I could play the shot and I was just trying to throw the ball up there and get it inside ten or 15 feet and just move on and make this putt and get out of here and I pulled it off.
Actually the up-and-down, I think I made at 14 probably was going to be the key point. I hit a 7-iron and trying to hit it in the left edge of the bunker and overcut it, hit it in the bunker, and that shot is not exactly that easy. It runs away from you, and I somehow was able to pull that one off and that really got me going and kept the heat on all of the guys who are on top of that board.

Q. You obviously have a pretty good handle on this course, what do you think it's going to look like for the Open next year?
TIGER WOODS: Let's just say the rough won't be like it was this week. I'm sure par will be adjusted.
You know, the hardest part about this golf course is the fairways, trying to hit these fairways because a lot of them are angled. If you get them hard and fast like summertime -- they will be faster in the summertime, it will be extremely difficult to keep the ball in the fairway. You're going to have to shape the ball into the hills to try to keep the ball into the fairway. A lot of them, some of them are domed. Like No. 2 is domed. You can go either way. Most of them are banked.
So with that being said, it's going to be one of the hardest Opens we'll ever face.

Q. Do you think this score will be shot?
TIGER WOODS: As of right now, par will be probably 280. So if you're under par for the week, more likely they will be handing you the trophy.

Q. What's 18 going to be like as a par 4? You were in the bunker three times, same bunker three times. What's that going to be like?
TIGER WOODS: How far did we play today? The hole is 560, right? So they will probably go one more tee down from where we went and the back edge of it, so that makes it about 510-ish. You probably carry the one on the right if it downwind -- well, Bubba can just hit driver, wedge so doesn't really matter. (Laughter).
But for the rest of us, the hardest part about bringing the tee up and making it a par 4 is that the narrowest part of the fairway is right where you're going to be landing the golf ball. That bunker has the steepest face of any of the bunkers there, so if you run up in it you're not going to get there, period. And if you try and hug the right, I'm sure they will probably bring in the rough and go right underneath those trees there and it will be just brutal.
It will be one of the hardest finishing holes we'll ever play.

Q. For a guy who wanted to stay out of the sand today, seven times --
TIGER WOODS: Better than yesterday, didn't I? (Laughter).

Q. Is that reflective of how much you grinded out today, because it wasn't easy obviously.
TIGER WOODS: No, it wasn't. I was not driving the ball particularly well starting out. Kept hitting pulls, but they weren't flip-pulls, they were just kind of path-pulls, I can fix that and I started hitting some good shots after that.
You know, you had to stay out of these bunkers and I just kept putting myself in them and on top of them, I kept putting myself in them on the short-side. That's not the spot to put it.
The shots I hit on 14 and 15 were two of the worst shots you could possibly hit. I'm trying to play left on 14, trying to hit it up the gap, put it in the bunker and on 15, again, left edge of the green, maybe ten feet in and just put it over there, if anything, pull it left and you have all the green in the world to chip up. What do I do? Hit it at the flag. I'm like, great shot. It kicked in the bunker but got lucky it went on the upslope. If it wasn't on the upslope more than likely wouldn't have gotten up-and-down.

Q. Anymore or less fun playing against one of your three or four best friends out here, and he had mentioned that Heather bought the baby a present and he dropped that on you I guess today; did you open it, do we know what that is yet?
TIGER WOODS: Yes and yes. But as far as -- I know what it was, I'm not saying it.
It's always fun to play with a friend out there. We were talking about all different subjects when we're out there playing. You always have a great time doing it. But come down the end, you know that he's trying to beat your brains in, you're trying to beat his in.
So it is what it is. You're great friends, but it's competition. As I said earlier out there, one of best shots I've ever seen him hit on 18 going for it in two like that, and out of the rough, you can see him debating it, the lie wasn't all that good but he pulled it off. That shows you he's heading the right direction.

Q. There's been kind of an anti-streak sentiment over in Europe because the Shaun Micheel factor and because of the Asian events, etc., etc. What would you say to them if they were to grill you on this quote unquote streak, and does it mean something to you no matter what your global record is?
TIGER WOODS: You have to clarify it. It's not a worldwide streak. I play all around the world. It's a PGA TOUR streak, which it is. And on top of that, it encompasses two different years, just like '99 and 2000.
I play all around the world. I lost to Shaun Micheel, I lost the Ryder Cup, I lost in China and I lost in Japan. There are some L's in there, and they are not all W's.

Q. Is it on your mind?
TIGER WOODS: The thing I'm really excited about is the fact that, you know, my stroke-play record since the Western, well, since the U.S. Open. My worst finish has been second in stroke-play events. That's pretty good I think.

Q. Did the emotion of that eagle on 9 which brought you into tie for the lead -- challenges said once you hit that 3-wood he knew he were going to make the putt. And the shot on 18 fell into a hole, your third shot, can you describe the lie?
TIGER WOODS: The one on 9, I had 265 to the front and just smoked a 3-wood up there. That was a nice shot. I really liked that one. Landed middle of the green and I had a putt downhill right-to-left and I've had that putt before, not at that length but because I've had to lay up and I've had that same kind of putt from a shorter distance and I've always missed it low.
I said, make sure you give it a little bit more out there to the right, just in case it decides to snap at the end. And it started snapping at the end, started losing speed and I kind of almost gave it an early call and it just fell in. So that was a nice three to make, considering I had made bogey at 7 and got it right back at 8 to keep the momentum going in the back nine.
As far as 18, it was in a hole, we were just trying to figure out how to play it. Do you hit it with the toe of the putter? Do you play the sand wedge? You can't chip it, the lie is bad enough where I couldn't chip it, so that was out the door. So do you hit a 5-wood and try and play it that way? I decided to play sand wedge because I knew if I played sand wedge and hit the shot properly, I could put a recoil on it so I could not double hit it because more than likely it would go straight up in the air. If I hit it like a chip shot and I follow through on it, I'll probably double-hit it. So sand wedge so I could just hit the top of it and pull back on it as far as I possibly could.

Q. Charles was in here and said, I really can't imagine what he feels like on the inside when you get in these positions and you said you just feel comfortable. I'm wondering from there's a comparative factor that you could share with us, how comfortable, what is the feeling, like when you get to that moment when, okay, got to start making these shots down the stretch?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've been lucky over my career to have had successes doing it. And I can only say, I've done it before, and know that I've done it. Some guys say I've done it before but they have never done it on Sunday in a tournament before. Well, I've done it on Sunday in a major championship, so I know I can pull these shots off and I just keep reminding myself of these things.
It's like what Jack had always said. Winning breeds winning and the more you win, the more you understand how to do it, and you do it different ways. I've done it with great ball-striking, I've done it with lousy ball-striking, I've done it with great putting and so-so putting and sometimes I've done it with my short game. If you're able to do it different ways, it just breeds more and more confidence when you're put in that situation again.

Q. How did you feel when you did it this week?
TIGER WOODS: Starting out not so good on the North Course but after that I feel like I hit the ball better and better each day. The stats may not show I hit the fairways or, but my misses were so much better. I could play these misses and I could easily fix these, which I did. They were not misses off the planet, they were just off the fairway in the rough or bouncing in the bunker. Those are things that -- that's how I know I've really improved over this off-season and towards the end of last year when I played in the American Express as well as in Asia. My misses were getting so much better off the tees.

Q. Where will we see the next PGA TOUR installment of this streak, and also Charles said that even at Isleworth, he doesn't recall beat you, is that feeding the mythology or is that true?
TIGER WOODS: As far as when I'm going to play again, I don't know yet. Going to go to Dubai, play over there, come back and see how I feel. I always feel -- it's always hard to get back for some reason over that time zone when I come back, I don't know why. But we'll see how it goes. Hopefully I'll come back and play but we'll see what happens.
As far as Charles, I don't think he has. (Laughter).

Q. Is it safe to say it's either Nissan or Accenture?

Q. Did you have a sense that there was less buzz around this tour streak than when we were all here with you in 2000? It seemed like there was; what is your sense on that?
TIGER WOODS: Didn't seem like that out there. It seemed like everybody was yelling out seven, somehow, somewhere. It was a pretty common theme out there today, basically all week really with the gallery.

Q. If you had to win a tournament and your options were reduced to playing either at Firestone or Torrey Pines, which one do you play?
TIGER WOODS: Augusta. (Laughter) I added a third.

Q. How did you feel about your putting this week?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit a lot of good putts. Some of them didn't go in. The greens were very difficult out there. They were a little bit bumpy and you know, my whole deal was just to get the pace right, just make sure that I don't run any putt past the hole. It doesn't go four or five feet where you have any kind of testers coming back because basically 50/50 whether you're going to get a good lie sometimes. Some of the guys end up in hole prints and it was hard, it was really hard. I made sure every putt was dying at the hole and I didn't take a run at any putts and it worked out.

Q. With the greens in Dubai will you change your equipment?
TIGER WOODS: No. I think I'll stick with the same. The choice last year was between 2-iron and 5-wood and I stuck with 5-wood because 18 was a par 5 and that's about it.

Q. Your putting on the South Course seemed to be better than on the North, what adjustments did you make?
TIGER WOODS: I started out putting poorly on the North but felt like I putted good on the North. The greens were actually better on the North than the South, which you never say it before, that's the first time it's ever happened.
I think as I got more into the competitive flow of playing the tournament and started feeling more comfortable with just the pace of the greens, my feel got better.

Q. Do you expect to tee the Tour rookies that were on top of the leaderboard this weekend?
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. These guys have all got wonderful games. They all hit the ball pretty long and it's just a matter of, you know, being there enough times to understand what to do.

Q. Because you've won seven, this might sound like a stupid question, but is it tougher to win or easier to win now than say a couple of years ago?
TIGER WOODS: I'd have to say it's harder. Fields have gotten deeper. Look at the guys on top of the board now. All of these rookies, they all can play now. Couldn't say that they weren't playing before, but the overall fields have gotten deeper. That's only going to get more so in the future as well.

Q. Do these other golfers have to lift their games higher because your game is at a higher level?
TIGER WOODS: We all have to lift our games, period. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse, period.

Q. If you don't play Nissan for whatever reason, if you're not ready or what-have-you, there will probably be some speculation like at East Lake where you're now at a point where you're trying to protect your streak, especially at a place like Riviera where you've never come close to winning; what would your answer be to that?
TIGER WOODS: People can say whatever they want. That's their opinion. They are entitled to it.

Q. Are you saying you're not looking at the courses to say, where is it best for me to be able to continue the streak?
TIGER WOODS: My whole goal is to get ready for Augusta and prepare and make sure my game is peaking towards that.

Q. Seven in a row or fifth green jacket, what's more important?
TIGER WOODS: Fifth green jacket.

Q. We threw out Torrey Pines South, Firestone South, Bay Hill, where you've had a lot of success too, where does that fit it in the comfort level of adding to a streak if it's still there?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's another one of the golf courses do I feel very comfortable at. Actually Doral is very similar. For some reason, some golf courses fit your eye, and some courses just don't and it's just the way it is. Every time I played on the Cottonwood Course at the Byron Nelson, it doesn't fit my eye at all. I've shot some low rounds over there, but it doesn't really fit my eye.
But that's how it is sometimes and you've just got to overcome it. It's more of a mental challenge. You've still got to place the ball correctly around the golf course. That doesn't change, just because the golf course doesn't fit your eye doesn't mean you can't execute. Granted some courses I've had more success at and maybe it's different comfort level.

Q. What turns you on more, the process or the outcomes during all this winning?
TIGER WOODS: It's both. It is both. You have to understand the process in order to have the outcome.

Q. When the last time you spoke to Byron, what were the circumstances and did you guys ever talk about streaks, even back in, say, 2000?
TIGER WOODS: No. We never mentioned that. Usually it was always about his ranch, we would usually talk about what he does on it, things that he's bought and things like that. Sometimes we would talk about golf. But you know, it really wasn't about that. I was very lucky to have a different type of relationship with Mr. Nelson where we could talk about other things besides golf, and that's what made it so neat was that I picked up the called him every now and then just to see how he was and he said, oh, I'm out here at the rather, blah, blah, blah, doing this, I've got to go cut this wood down. It's pretty impressive.

Q. Can you recall the last time you spoke to him?
TIGER WOODS: Unfortunately it was at the Masters this year, or last year.

Q. How long to Dubai?
TIGER WOODS: 18 flight hours, but with fuel stops it will be a little bit longer. We get in somewhere around 2:30 in the morning Tuesday.

Q. Going straight from here?
TIGER WOODS: As soon as I'm done with you guys, yeah.

Q. How is the flight back?
TIGER WOODS: Not as far, because I'm going to Florida.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Tiger, thank you.

Q. When did you get home?
TIGER WOODS: Five in the morning, Sunday like that.

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