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February 20, 2007

Tiger Woods


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger, for joining us here in the media center at the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play. Right now you stand eighth in the FedExCup standings. You're looking for your eighth victory in a row on the PGA TOUR. I would say that coming to a match play event is going to be a tough way to win that eighth tournament. Talk a little bit about that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, this has always been one of the tougher events to win just because of the nature of the format. Match play, anything that happens is unpredictable, and sometimes it takes a great round to advance; sometimes you can shoot over par and advance. You know, we'll see.
All I know is you just have to go out there and beat one guy at a time. You don't have to beat a whole field, just six guys, in order to win a championship.

Q. Do you think you're better in match play or stroke play?
TIGER WOODS: I would say I'm tough when I'm playing well either way (laughter).

Q. Could you talk about the golf course, what you think about it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, yesterday we played with totally different wind than we had today. Yesterday all the holes going out were in off the left; today they were slightly down. So it was nice to see the golf course in two different wind conditions.
The golf course is in perfect shape. The greens are -- the fairways are pretty wide, but the greens are probably going to be the trickiest part just because they're new to us; we haven't played here.
We haven't seen the tournament pin locations yet, so you don't really know -- you kind of know where they're going to put them but you don't know where.

Q. Do you remember the first time you played at a match play event, and did you like the format right away?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I played in the Southern California Junior Match Play. We played at El Dorado and I lost in the quarterfinals. It was something that I didn't understand because I won I think two or three matches and got to the quarters. I shot 69 that day; got to the 18th hole and lost. I didn't quite understand that. I just came home and told dad, "I don't understand, I shot a better score than he did, but he won the match. That doesn't seem right." He explained it to me. That was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that before.
We went out the next couple days and played match play.

Q. How old were you then?
TIGER WOODS: I think I was 13.

Q. Do you remember who you lost to?
TIGER WOODS: James Mohan.

Q. J.J. is a Ryder Cup teammate. What did he show you at The K Club last year?
TIGER WOODS: I'll tell you what, he had a lot of guts coming down 18 -- I remember that birdie putt over there on the back right pin. He hit the ball beautifully during that Ryder Cup and was -- I thought handled himself extremely well, given that was his first time ever in a Ryder Cup and it was over in Europe, and the times he went out and played, he played great.

Q. Which of the European Tour contingent do you think poses the greatest threat this week over this golf course?
TIGER WOODS: You don't know. It's just one of those things where anything can happen out here, whether it's European, American or anybody else. It's just -- you just go out there and see what happens.
I'm sure there will be some interesting matches and some blowouts, some upsets. But technically, I'm sure once you get up to the top 64 guys in the world, there aren't really upsets because anybody can beat anybody on one day. I'm curious just like anyone else to see what happens over the coming few days.

Q. I heard a few years ago in San Diego while it was raining on you, you said, "Why not play in Tucson?" What do you think now that the match is here and you've played the course a couple times?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I guess it is drier. It's nice that the greens are smooth, too. That's one of the things we struggled with at La Costa; it just always rained and they could never get the greens smooth.
It was just one of those things where I was saddened to leave such a great golf course and such a historic site on our Tour. But to come here -- from what I heard the tournament is sold out, so it's going to be exciting for all of us.

Q. What's your history and liking of desert golf? How often did you play it as a kid? You don't play it that much as a pro.
TIGER WOODS: You know, I -- probably not that much. We didn't really have that many tournaments in the desert. I mean, we played Palm Springs, but that was a little different than out here where it's lined with homes and condos.

Q. What did you do at the AJGA thing here?
TIGER WOODS: I won it one year. I remember I think I beat Ted Purdy in the final (laughter).

Q. Do you generally like these type of courses, Phoenix, Tucson, Palm Springs?
TIGER WOODS: They're just different. You know, when the wind blows here there's nothing to stop it, so I think that's the trickiest thing. And also, when you play desert golf, generally there's a lot of chipping areas, which is different because usually most tournaments we play in we miss the green and we're in ankle-high rough. Here there are so many options you can play around the greens.
I'm sure this week, if the wind ever blows, you're going to see a lot of different shots around the greens, which will be great to see.

Q. Do you think this is what you call a power-hitters' course? Maybe it's a little bit reachable, and how did you play 7 and 12 both days? What are your plans on those two holes? Are you going to be going for the greens?
TIGER WOODS: This golf course, with the fairways this fast, short hitters can probably get to some of the par 5s here.
All I know is that -- well, 7 and 12, I hit driver both times and got it on the green yesterday on 7 but not quite on 12.

Q. Do you think that's good play for the tournament?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, why not? It's all about birdies anyway, match play. It's about going out there and making a bunch of birdies, and hopefully it's good enough. Sometimes you make seven birdies and you're going home.

Q. As far as whether you'll go for it during the tournament or not --
TIGER WOODS: It all depends what's going on. You get to 12 and you're pretty far up in a match, I'm sure you don't really have to go for it. But it'll be interesting to see, because a lot of it dictates on who hits first and what they do. If they put the ball out of play, of course you're not going to go for it.

Q. Are you more angry losing or upset or disappointed or whatever, losing to Darren or losing to Peter O'Malley in this tournament?

Q. It's more frustrating why, because it's Darren?
TIGER WOODS: No, you played five matches, you get to the final, and you know how hard it is to get to a final. It's one of the tougher things to do in match play is go win five to get to the final and then you don't get it done. It's very frustrating.
First round you're out. Okay, I lost in the first round. But to get all the way to the final, you work that hard and you have an opportunity, you only have to beat one guy and you don't get it done.

Q. And just having come across Shaun yesterday, was that any type of a reminder of the discussion on the street?

Q. The fact that it is a Tour streak, but this is the one where it really ended?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I mean, it's a Tour streak. I lost at the match play, lost at the Ryder Cup, lost in China, lost in Japan. I've done a lot of losing, too.

Q. Which streak are we talking about?
TIGER WOODS: It's a PGA TOUR streak.

Q. This is essentially a co-sanctioned European Tour event, too, so this could be a losing streak, couldn't it?
TIGER WOODS: I guess so, yeah (laughter). It is what it is. I mean, you go out there and you play and try and get a W. If you don't, you don't. If you do, you do.

Q. It is as you say a PGA TOUR winning streak, so Byron's was, as well. But is it tougher to continue a streak in match play or a stroke-play event, and how much are you thinking about the streak?
TIGER WOODS: Not much at all. Just trying to think about getting past J.J. when you're in -- I think it's always tougher to continue at match play because all it takes is one hot guy. In stroke play, it takes four consistent, solid rounds, and you can have an off-day and still win a golf tournament.
But here your off day you could be going home pretty early, or you could have a wonderful round of golf and still be going home. That's the unique thing about match play, and the unpredictability of it, and that's also one of the reasons why all of us loved it as amateur golfers. We loved playing these events.

Q. Do you ever have the temptation to look further down the brackets?
TIGER WOODS: No. I've just got to get past one guy at a time.

Q. We probably tend to think more about your achievements and how they stack up than you do, but four professional majors in a row, the three U.S. Ams in a row, 142 straight in the money; it's a long list. Where do you think this one falls? Is it among the three or four greatest achievements in your career, seven straight?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. That's a great question. I know that -- I would have to say the four majors are number one and probably my three U.S. Juniors are probably number two.

Q. Is this one Top 5 maybe?
TIGER WOODS: Probably, yeah.

Q. I know you're concentrating on this week, but in the buildup to coming over here, I've read a lot in the media about the dialogue or lack of dialogue between you and the commissioner, about the schedule for this year. Can you tell us anything about that?
TIGER WOODS: I've talked to him quite a bit (smiling), so I don't know where that comes from.

Q. Well, there's been talk about given the new sort of format this year that -- is there a situation where you could maybe fall short of the minimum requirements of playing this year and maybe miss out on some of the climax to the FedExCup?
TIGER WOODS: I've just got to play 15 events, right? That's what I did last year.

Q. I don't know if you're reading the same stuff as me, but basically they were saying that there is a kind of atmosphere between you and the commissioner.
TIGER WOODS: We talk about once a week, so I don't know where that comes from. He's got my cell phone and we talk. It's funny, we just missed each other skiing. I have no idea where that's coming from.

Q. First, can we get your cell number?
TIGER WOODS: No (laughter). Hell, no. How about that (laughter).

Q. And second, not to talk about your schedule, but only playing once coming into this we haven't really seen you that much. Kind of wanted to know what you feel about your game and how important is it to be a hundred percent on your game because of the unpredictability of match play?
TIGER WOODS: You have to be on your game in match play. The whole idea is to put as much pressure as you possibly can on your opponent right from the first tee until it's over. Keep hitting a bunch of fairways, keep hitting the ball on the green, giving yourself chances and forcing your opponent to make a mistake. That's the hard part. That's also the fun part, as well.

Q. How is your game?
TIGER WOODS: I feel good about it.

Q. How much do you play when you're off like that for those long stretches?
TIGER WOODS: The first probably three or four days I didn't do much except just work out, try and get that organized. Then that I start to crank it up on golf.

Q. As a budding golf course architect, when you come to a new venue, come to a new community that has such a historic golfing tradition, do you approach it a little bit differently than when you were just playing, or have you always taken the mindset that, could I come here and design a golf course in place like that?
TIGER WOODS: It's interesting, since I started to get into that part of my life, every golf course I play, I look at the golf course differently now. Why would they construct that? Why would they build this? What were they thinking here? Trying to understand it instead of just plotting my way around the golf course. I do look at golf courses now, and it is kind of fun.

Q. As you've come to Tucson and played two practice rounds here now, have you picked anything up that you thought they did particularly well in this venue?
TIGER WOODS: I think they've given you just a wonderful opportunity to use your short game. I'm sure that they'll probably tuck the pins closer to these false edges. I'm sure guys, if they short-side themselves here, you're going to have some interesting up-and-downs, and I think -- at least you have a chance to get it up-and-down, which is nice. You can play the bump-and-run, you can play a high shot, either a flop shot or a high spinner, either way. You get so many different options, which nice to see.

Q. Could you see yourself designing a course here some day?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, uh-huh.

Q. You've always regarded yourself as a world player. The fact that you're going to become a father this year, will it curtail your traveling at all?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, certainly.

Q. But it's still important to you being a world player in the next few years?
TIGER WOODS: My entire playing career will be all around the world. I enjoy playing around the world. I think that's what you have to do. I think the game has become global, and to me it's always fun to see different countries, different cultures. Because of my travels around the world, I've gotten to know and have made some great friends.

Q. Does it make you a better player?
TIGER WOODS: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. I mean, traveling around the world playing different grasses, different types of golf courses. What you see in Australia is not what you see in Japan. I think from an experience standpoint, that's vital to your development as a player.

Q. With the altitude here and the light desert air, what percentage are you longer than normal?
TIGER WOODS: It goes a little bit further. Probably for me, depends on the club. The longer the club, the further the difference is. I guess if you average it all out, probably maybe about a half a club.

Q. I don't know if this will affect you or not, but what do you think the dynamics of the tournament will be this week, whereas at La Costa if you were playing certain holes there was always activity going on around you? And as you're playing now, you've got green and brown pretty much and a bunch of people.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's going to be almost as if each match is isolated. You might have a group behind you or in front of you, and that's about it. That's all you're going to see. You're not going to see any other groups playing.
Sometimes you can usually get roars and see what's going on that way, but not this week.

Q. In your design career and with a new baby on the way, where do you stand in terms of the environmental aspects of golf, and where will you be designing environmentally-friendly golf courses in the future?
TIGER WOODS: That's the whole idea. That's the challenge of it. As an architect, that's what your responsibility is to do, to also provide a wonderful playing environment. That's a task that I think is going to be -- that's been at the forefront for all architects for decades.

Q. How much is too much of match play over the course of a season or a schedule?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's interesting, because when we grew up playing amateur golf, that's what it was. You have usually a 36-hole qualifier and then just straight into match play. That's what most of the big events were.
As pro golf, I can understand they don't want that as much because of obviously the unpredictability of who's going to get in the final. Obviously TV drives everything out here.

Q. What do you think is the worst of it, the who part of who gets in the final or the fact that there's only two people out there playing only one game?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's the who, because if you have the right match-up in the final, then I think it could be wonderful for the ratings. But if you don't get the people who are household names in the game of golf, then the ratings won't be all that good.

Q. What do you think for TV would be the ideal match-up in the final this week?
TIGER WOODS: As long as I'm in there, I'm happy.

Q. You and --
TIGER WOODS: I don't care. As long as it involves me in there, I don't care.

Q. How well did you get to know J.J. at all? And he told a story yesterday, he was actually the No. 64 seed before in the U.S. Am in one year, in '98. He had trouble at the qualifier and was No. 64 and he played your buddy Joel Kribel first round and knocked him off in kind of an upset. I wonder if you had heard that story and how well you know J.J.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I know J.J. from college. We basically played since he was at TCU. We basically had the same West Coast schedule in college. He played most of the events that I played in.
Then obviously summer golf, we saw each other quite a bit.

Q. Speaking of college, you played in Tucson in college. You played at the FBR Open, as well, but it's been a while since you came back to Arizona to played competitively. Are you apprehensive or excited about coming back to the desert?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm excited. This is going to be a fun week for all of us to get out there and buck heads one-on-one. That brings back the old days of amateur golf, what we grew up playing.

Q. Is there a style with that desert play a little different than what you see on the east coast?
TIGER WOODS: All you do is hit fairways and greens and make a bunch of putts and you're all right.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Tiger.

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