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March 25, 2007

Tiger Woods


LAURA NEAL: Congratulations, not as much of a run-away victory as we thought it was going to be halfway through but a victory nonetheless. Do you feel pretty good about your game and this title?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I do. I think today's conditions, it was a little tough out there, and I stayed pretty patient all day, and you know, the whole idea today was to shoot under par and I figured if I shot under par it would be over. Didn't quite get it done, but ended up winning the tournament anyways.

Q. Brett said you make it look easy out there. Was it easy for you?
TIGER WOODS: No, today I struggled a little bit on the greens today, getting the pace down. The wind was a little blustery and I had a hard time figuring out the grain and which way it was going, because some of the putts, the grain, like on 8, over the years past, that putt is dead downgrain, if not right-to-left. And that putt was in the grain, you know, coming out of the left, and that's complete opposite of how it used to play.
Again, I was putting by memory and probably shouldn't have done that.

Q. Can you take us through 18?
TIGER WOODS: I had a three-shot lead, if I dump the ball in the water, you know, and I've got a three-shot lead so if I dump the ball in the water I try and go from it there. Obviously the scenario is draw back, put the ball in the bunker, blast out two, putt, and next thing you know I'm making 7, he makes 3, he wins the tournament. I make 5, he can't win the tournament.
So I laid up, hit 3-iron off the tee and 8-iron and a wedge and just 2-putted and tournament was over.

Q. Obviously you couldn't have known that Calc had putted off the green and into the water from that very same spot, but how fast was that putt?
TIGER WOODS: It was pretty quick. I saw Vijay putt his putt from right-to-left, it was just a little short of the hole and to the right. It kept rolling off that slope, and when I got up there I could see why. That was probably the driest green on the entire property. I could see how you can run that putt by and I just kept telling myself, just lag it down there and trust your speed, trust your stroke, release the blade, and then get it down there.

Q. You get asked a lot about Firestone and Torrey Pines and other tournaments you keep winning, but this is one where you've won on six courses six times. Can you talk about that; if it's meaningful at all?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, this tournament's been good to me.

Q. It's been an annuity.
TIGER WOODS: I don't know why I've won on six different venues; probably because we play all the different venues.
I don't know, I love this golf course. I've always played well here, and when it was decided that we were going to come here, I just thought that this was a wonderful opportunity for me to win the championship.

Q. When all is said and done now, is this a good way to go to Augusta?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you can't have any better way. Getting a W right before you go.
So I'm very excited about the things that I've been able to rectify on Monday and Tuesday, and then obviously applied it to Thursday through Sunday.

Q. Could you just talk a little about Brett's game today?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Brett, he hit the ball pretty good all day. He hit driver on just about every single hole out there today. He was just pretty aggressive off the tee, was getting the ball down there and driving it pretty straight.
He missed a couple of putts out there early, but, you know, I think everyone was doing that out there. From what I could see, nobody shot a low round today. So it was pretty difficult.

Q. I cannot recall a tournament where you laid up on the 18th to win. Do you recall one?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Firestone. I hit 2-iron and I think like a wedge and a pitch shot and 2-putted for bogey.

Q. Was that last year?
TIGER WOODS: No. One of the times I won there. (Laughter)
Q. Hey, Tiger, could you talk about if Brett had made that putt at 17, how that would have changed your club selection?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if Brett makes that putt, I have to hit driver, plain and simple, unless he soups it left; if he hits it right, I still have to hit driver and be committed to it and get it down there, and basically try and make par just in case he makes birdie, somehow.
Since he missed that putt on 17, he makes 3 all day, it doesn't really matter if I play a three-shot hole and make 5.

Q. Wonder, back to the 18th, would you have done the same thing earlier in your career?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I've done that in junior golf, amateur golf, doesn't matter.

Q. So there's no --

Q. Shoulder bugging you at all this week?
TIGER WOODS: I slept kind of funky one night, and my neck's been stiff for about three days now.

Q. Once again you've come back from less than a top 20 finish with a victory. I think the numbers on that are like 13 in 23 times. What's your thoughts on that, the ability to come back from a disappointing performance with a victory?
TIGER WOODS: I think you have to analyze your performance and where you went wrong. Too many people are afraid to look deep down and look at where you made mistakes. That's not always easy to do, to be honest with yourself. That's something my father always instilled in me and even to this day, sometimes it's difficult, but you have to take an honest look and have an honest evaluation of your performance.
I made too many mental mistakes, which I never do. Physical mistakes I can handle, but since this is not a reactionary sport, it's just frustrating for me to make a mental mistake.

Q. Can you say that again? (Phone ringing)
TIGER WOODS: I kept it going pretty good, didn't I. (Laughter)
Q. Tiger -- your urn in the way or whatever that thing is, somebody's ashes?
TIGER WOODS: I have a really good joke, but I'm not going to say it. Okay. Go ahead.

Q. Do you enjoy the tactical ebb and flow of the last day when you're up six, you're up four, you're up three, up two, all that, versus, you know, just the first three rounds when it's more you against yourself?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the first three rounds is just to situate yourself for Sunday. And then obviously Sunday, you have to get a feel for what the golf course is doing obviously, first, how you're feeling, and then what the guys are doing either ahead of you or behind you; or, in this case, Brett was playing with me.
But it's just, you know, years and years of experience of going through these circumstances help.

Q. Even before 18, did you find yourself playing more protectively than you thought you would, or is that just a matter of the conditions?
TIGER WOODS: No, I just kept telling myself all day, if I shoot under par, it's over. Get to the back nine, if I just could shoot under par on the back nine, just put it away, I'd go ahead and get the W that way. But didn't happen that way.

Q. I'd just be curious, given your record in the final round, when is the last time you even saw Ed Fiori?
TIGER WOODS: I haven't seen him, since maybe '97.

Q. Did he ever say anything to you?
TIGER WOODS: He's been hurt for all those years. Obviously now he's on the Senior Tour. So I'm a little ways away from that Tour.

Q. We're waiting for you.
TIGER WOODS: (Smiling)

Q. Since working with Hank, do you feel better about your swing? Do you feel like it's easier now to self-correct and in mid-round?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have a better understanding of my golf swing and how to rectify it from shot to shot. It's not always easy to do, but I can figure out through ball flight and how I felt through the shot, and, you know, draw a conclusion.

Q. How crucial has that been for you?
TIGER WOODS: It's everything. That's how you win tournaments. You're not going to hit it perfect every day on every shot. You've got to figure out somehow to get it around and piece it together and turn days when you're not feeling well, 73s and 74s into 69s and 68s.

Q. When you get to six, up through ten or 11, whatever it was, does that change your approach when you play those last eight or nine holes, or are you still thinking, shoot under par?
TIGER WOODS: Shoot under par, keep going. Didn't quite work out that way, birdied 10, 3-putted 11, I kept telling myself, I'm at even par on the back nine right now, so just keep plugging along and see if we can sneak one more birdie in here somewhere.

Q. How would you rate this entrance into Augusta National and The Masters with past years?
TIGER WOODS: Pretty good. I feel good about the things that I've been working on, and I'm feeling more comfortable with it and looking forward to my practice sessions this week and leading up to Augusta.

Q. How many times in the years you've played the Masters have you gone to Augusta the week before you get there?
TIGER WOODS: Only when there's changes. Only when they decide to rebuild the place.

Q. So most.

Q. Especially being down here and winning this in Miami, was it special for to you have Don Shula present the trophy?
TIGER WOODS: He's a living legend. What he's done in football may never, ever be surpassed. First of all, to have the patience to stick through it and be that competitive for all those years; you know, job security in the NFL is not real high, and for him to be part of one organization for that long, absolutely remarkable. And what he's done here for all of South Florida has been remarkable.
Stevie knows him pretty well, because obviously he's good friends with Raymond, and when Stevie was caddying for Raymond, they had many dinners and practice rounds and hanging out together.
So I think it's just fantastic that he wants to be part of this tournament.

Q. Have you ever played golf with him?
TIGER WOODS: I never have, no. Love to.

Q. You talked about speed quite a bit this year about putting --
TIGER WOODS: Downhill putts, that's all you can do and just get comfortable with big, breaking putts, but that's about it. Once you get there, for some reason, just the roll-out effect. The balls just want to -- tend to just roll out when you get to Augusta.

Q. How much do you work on it Tuesday and Wednesday?
TIGER WOODS: A little bit. More than anything, you know they are going to change it overnight come Wednesday, they always do. But also, you also want to get a feel for how the golf course is playing. They never change the fairways. But they will change the greens a little bit, and tend to spice them up a little bit.

Q. You referenced earlier this week about how you sort of processed your play last week. I'm wondering whether you look at stats or do you just do this mentally? Do you have a notebook? Annika puts her own stats in her own computer. How do you grade yourself? Is it casual?
TIGER WOODS: Good memory. To be honest with you, I haven't looked at any of the PGA TOUR stats since I think maybe '02 or something, '03. I don't know what's going on, where I rank in what.
All I know is from my play I go over each round, each tournament, evaluate it, look back on it and learn from it. I'm not that analytical on writing things down like Annika, but I will take a hard look at myself, and try and figure out where I went wrong, and also where I went right so I can build on that as well.

Q. Is that analytical approach, is that by yourself, is that something you talk to Steve or Hank about, or what is that approach?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I talk to Hank a little bit about it. Stevie, as well. But deep down, I know exactly what shot I was trying to play, and what the conditions were and what I was feeling and thinking. They don't know, so I'm the only one who can actually, truly take a hard look at it and be honest with it.

Q. Just to follow up, is that evaluation process, like last week, does that happen right away? Do you take a day and sit back?
TIGER WOODS: You don't need a day, geez. I know I didn't graduate from Stanford, but at least I got in. (Laughter)

Q. With Gary Player coming up in the Masters for the 50th time, his legacy is going to be amongst the Grand Slam and the nine majors, amount of miles he's logged in the air, all the traveling he did, can you try to imagine what that must have been like, even though you do it yourself, to do it commercial and six kids and all the stories he's told and what that has meant in the global climate we are now.
TIGER WOODS: Well, truly remarkable. He was the first real global player. I mean, he played everywhere.
I don't know if any of you guys know this about Gary, but back in the day, he had different club deals. So he played here with one brand, in Europe with one brand, in South Africa with another brand, Asia and Australia with another brand.

Q. That's good marketing.
TIGER WOODS: Also pretty good talent, too, different clubs and balls everywhere you go around the world.
So I mean, he traveled quite a bit. I mean, geez, it's hard to imagine. Ernie does it now and he has his own G4. I just look back, from the times I've talked to Jack and Arnold, they said flying privately has prolonged their career. And just imagine if Gary would have come along in this day and age, if he was that successful and flown privately and played all over the world and the success he's had.

Q. Last time you flew commercial?
TIGER WOODS: December.

Q. What year?
TIGER WOODS: Last year.

Q. What was the occasion?
TIGER WOODS: I had to go to Dubai.

Q. You did that commercial?

Q. What will you do about your neck and is there a concern?
TIGER WOODS: No, I just had treatment every day and tried to loosen it up a little bit. That's what happens when you turn 30.

Q. Getting better?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah. (Laughter)

Q. Is it improving? Has it improved?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's improved every day. So looking forward to I guess tomorrow -- yeah.

Q. Do you study wins more than losses, losses more than wins?
TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. You said you study every tournament afterward. Do you study wins different than losses?
TIGER WOODS: Both. How are you going to win if you don't study your losses, and how are you going to win if you don't study your wins? It's both.

Q. Do you learn more from one as opposed to the other?
TIGER WOODS: Depends how you got it done. Depends what you did.

Q. Along those lines, is it more difficult to be critical with yourself after winning a tournament?

Q. Is there something you can learn or is it just not necessary after a win?
TIGER WOODS: No. You can still pick it apart, yeah. But you know, that's part of -- how are you going to get better if you don't look at it?

Q. Obviously next week is the ten-year anniversary of your win in '97, obviously it was a landmark moment for you and for the game. Can you just reflect a little bit on kind of where it's taken you, and did you have any idea of the impact you would have at that time?
TIGER WOODS: No, I didn't know until probably a few years later what that event meant to other people.
I'm too close to the situation, because I guess I was the situation. So I guess when you're in the well, it's hard to see what's going on outside of it. That's something, the perspective I got over the years, years past, and people talking about how much it meant to them; I never knew that. I was out there trying to get my own green jacket and have Nick put it on my shoulders.
LAURA NEAL: All right, Tiger, congrats. Thank you.

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