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May 8, 2007

Tiger Woods


Q. Look any different?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it does. It looks very different. It's faster, it's drier. The fairways are obviously Bermuda now and so are the greens. So it is playing totally different.

Q. Better?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. We don't have the balls picking up mud like we used to. These are not the greens you want to have mud on your ball firing into the greens.

Q. Did you hit any out of the rough today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a couple, yeah.

Q. What was the ball like in there?
TIGER WOODS: Just like we play any other golf course with Bermuda rough, always hard to judge how far it's going to go. The rough is a lot easier out of rye, but Bermudagrass just needs about two inches and you lose all control.

Q. Because they only capped the fairways, is there a chance, depending on weather, if you hit it in the rough you've got mud on your ball and you have no distance control? Could it be a really stark change?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. The shots that I hit in there, they didn't really land softly, they bounced pretty far and I actually got a little bit of roll out of there while in the rough.

Q. It could be mucky out there.
TIGER WOODS: It could be, definitely could be.

Q. With all the work they did here, would you have minded if they threw some dirt in at 17 and kind of filled in that water?
TIGER WOODS: You'd probably lose the allure of the hole. I've always thought that that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship. As far as the 8th hole, I think that would be a fantastic 8th hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament or 17th hole of your round.

Q. Of the holes that they added length, is 1 or 11 going to play more differently or tougher when it comes time on Thursday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, with the fairways running, 1 is the same. You've just got to run it out there the same distance.
11 is a little bit longer. Today it was playing downwind so we had a chance to drive it on with an iron, so it wasn't too bad.

Q. They always talk about how this golf course doesn't seem to favor any particular player as evidenced by like Funk and Scott winning back-to-back years, two totally different guys. After the changes, does that still hold true, or is it even more of a wildcard to try to predict --
TIGER WOODS: Anyone can win here. That's the beauty of this golf course is that when you get -- with all the angles, and Pete likes to funnel things down, we're all playing from about the same spot. There really is no advantage to taking out driver and bombing it down there because of obviously the trouble but also how everything pitches in.
It just tends to -- over the years, we all hit the ball to the same area and just play from there.

Q. Tim said last night, "We can't test these guys without conditions that are firm and fast." What does that mean exactly? Why is firm and fast the best way to test you guys versus wet and slow?
TIGER WOODS: Well, when it's soft, you're just basically throwing darts. The fairways get so much wider.

Q. Point to point to point?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the slopes on these greens become irrelevant. You just fire at the flags. With the firmer and faster, you have to play a proper shot in order to get the ball close. You can't just go out there and fire at a flag.

Q. Does the new date and the work they've done on the golf course open the door for this tournament to grow in any way, or did it have its niche before?
TIGER WOODS: I think it had, as you said, its own niche, but I think that this can only help it because of -- we always had that huge gap between The Masters and the U.S. Open, and now THE PLAYERS is a wonderful fit to bridge the gap between The Masters and the U.S. Open. This is, as we all look at the field each and every year, probably the best field if not the second best, depending on the PGA field, what they have that year.

Q. Does it feel any different to you this week in terms of maybe your anticipation of the event, your focus on the event, than it did when it was in March?
TIGER WOODS: No, same. Same, I come here to win.

Q. Did you put the rainsuit away?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's supposed to rain this afternoon.

Q. How did you wind up with Perks today? Did he not see enough of you last week?
TIGER WOODS: We both walked over to No. 3 together, and I asked if his onesome was full.

Q. How much have you seen him in the last five years and what do you take out of what he's going through right now?
TIGER WOODS: He's such a great guy. For him to struggle the way he's struggling, it pains you to watch, because you know the talent is there; you can see it. He's just struggling right now.

Q. Is this the event you most want to win after the majors?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. This is probably -- as everyone says, it's the fifth major, so it's certainly up there, yes.

Q. If the weather stays calm, what do you think the winning score will be?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. It's anyone's guess because we don't play under these conditions, this firm, this fast. Even though the greens are firm, but they're putting a little bit slow, which means that you can be pretty aggressive on most of your putts and not have to worry about that ball rolling out.

Q. When it comes to your clubs, looking down at them, the way somebody grinds them, are you more particular than other players out here in the look of your clubs and the way they're ground? Is there anything in particular you like, just the look of them?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have a certain style I like, and my look, and I grind them to that, to where optically it looks good in the playing position. Then from there they've got to work out the CG and make sure that's right. And once that's all dialed in I don't change.

Q. Who grinds them for you?
TIGER WOODS: Back in Texas, Mike Taylor does it.

Q. Now that you're a course designer as well as a player, when you come to a course that's redone like this one, do you find yourself wearing two hats, one as a player and one as a designer?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, definitely. I've probably started doing that probably the last five or six years, started looking at that, trying to understand why they would do this, why they would do that and try and get an understanding of it. And then obviously talking to some of the architects over the years and even some of the players who have become architects, why they do certain things, and you start to get an understanding of how a golf course should be played.
You know, when you're an amateur and you go out there and just play and just hit it around, you start understanding why they put certain drainages here and blah blah blah, and it goes on down the list.

Q. Does it ever boggle your mind when you -- I don't know how much attention you pay to the rankings other than noticing you are up there, but does it ever boggle your mind that there's a larger gap between you and Jim than between Jim and No. 1000 in the points? Do you think people understand it that much or does it matter or does it surprise you about how much you are dominating to that extent?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't looked at the rankings. I know I'm ranked No. 1 (laughter).

Q. But there's a larger gap between you and Jim than between Jim and the No. 1000 guy on the points.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I have played well since last July.

Q. I understand that, but is there something about the system that maybe creates that, or is it just illustrating just what you've been doing, 9 out of 13?
TIGER WOODS: I think the latter.

Q. How much on this course, if any, do you have to resist the temptation to always be aggressive? That's your nature, but some courses just force you sometimes to just pull back or play it more conservative than maybe you normally would like to at other places.
TIGER WOODS: I disagree with that. You play aggressive to your spot, but your spot may be 20, 30 feet away. But you always have to be aggressive to your spot. Your spot doesn't always have to be at the flag.

Q. Back to being a designer, do you think that gives you more of an advantage over some of the other guys in the field?
TIGER WOODS: No, no. I'm just getting started. I'm sure that as time goes on, I'll start to understand how a golf course should and can be played, but overall, I'm still learning. I'm just in the infancy stages of my course design business.

Q. Are you 100 percent physically? You looked like you might have been in pain on a couple shots late on Sunday.
TIGER WOODS: I was sore all week, yeah.

Q. Anything specific?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, getting older, Bro.

Q. You said you know you're No. 1 in the World Rankings. Do you know where you are in the FedExCup?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm No. 1 there, too (laughter).

Q. Is it too early for an appraisal of how this is working and its situation?
TIGER WOODS: You know, to be honest with you, like most of the guys, you don't really pay attention to it until probably after the PGA, and then you start taking a look at where things are stacking up because we've never gone through this system before. You know, we have four majors, a few World Golf Championships and a PLAYERS in there, so there's a lot of volatility that can happen in the points and you just play along and see what happens. It's our first go-around.

Q. Will you play all four?
TIGER WOODS: I intend to.

Q. Why do you dislike the 17th so much?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't say that.

Q. Why do you think it's -- you just wish it was like an 8th hole?
TIGER WOODS: Exactly. I just think it's a wonderful hole, but I don't agree with it being the 17th or 71st hole of a championship because I just think that it is a little gimmicky in that sense. I think it's a great 8th hole or another part of the golf course.

Q. What about 17 last week? What's the difference between 17 last week? It's almost the same concept.
TIGER WOODS: Well, exactly. A lot of guys weren't too happy with that, either. If they asked Fazio and all of our opinions on it, and everyone basically said, start over.

Q. What if Tway had made 12 on the 8th hole a couple years ago? He's still out of the tournament, isn't he?
TIGER WOODS: I understand, but I just don't think that it's the right feel. I understand that fans love it. The players, some do, some like it, some don't. But hey, it's a challenge, you've got to hit a proper shot. There's no getting around it; you have to hit the proper shot to the proper distance.
Today with the wind blowing as hard as it is, it would have been a hell of a test in the championship.

Q. Did you see highlights last night of your '94 Amateur?

Q. Is it because 17, the pressure kind of builds as you get further along in your round as opposed to playing it as the 8th? You get to 17, you've only got two holes to go kind of deal in your mind?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I know you guys are digging here (laughter), but I don't know.

Q. Curtis and Ogilvy will both turn 30 before the U.S. Open rolls around, which means there will be nobody under the age of 30 who has a major championship victory for one of the rare moments in history. Is there any explanation for that, and do you feel that maybe you've contributed to that gap because you've hogged so many of them?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not easy to win. Look at the fields, how much deeper they are now. And because the fields are so much deeper, it's harder for a player to gain the experience at a younger age and it's even harder for a younger player to get out here on TOUR. Once you get out on TOUR, how many times are you going to be in contention on Sunday afternoons? You're going to fail, but when is the next time you're going to get back there? You know, that's the nature of how our TOUR has evolved. It's become that much more difficult to get yourself back in there so you can learn.

Q. You've shot a few of those guys down, Sergio and Luke and several guys that you've actually played with on Sundays and those things. Do you think that you're sort of contributing to their, either growth, or their lack of --
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've got 12; Vijay, Phil and Ernie, all three of those guys have three; and Goose has two. So basically you've got four or five guys with the majority of them.
And then you look at how many times that you give other players an opportunity to win and gain that experience, and it's not easy to gain that experience. But once you're able to get one, then it becomes easier to get the others.

Q. Why do you think guys in their 40s haven't won more of them since their career seems to be a little bit longer? You've had Vijay, Mo and Payne in the last few years?
TIGER WOODS: Usually you start going downhill physically. I'm not 100 percent sure, but after your peak years, you start losing one percent of your body functions per year.

Q. You sound like Phil now.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the truth. Certain athletes are able to prolong that, but you still have a dropoff. If you're ten years out from your prime, you're 90 percent as you used to be.

Q. How much of it is short game do you think, putting in particular?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's nerves. Also, you've had that many more years of failure, too, to contend with.

Q. How cognizant are you of that? Does that lurk around the back of your mind? Do you stay up late at night thinking about that, worrying about it?
TIGER WOODS: About what?

Q. Getting older.
TIGER WOODS: Hey, it's going to happen. It's happening right now. Everyone gets older.

Q. Do you know how many drivers and 3-woods you're going to play on par 4s and par 5s?
TIGER WOODS: Probably the same amount of drivers I normally would here, just because the fairways are running. Even though they've lengthened the holes, it doesn't mean that it takes 3-wood or 5-wood out of my hands because the fairways are giving it up. So if you hit the ball low out there, it will roll 40 yards or so.

Q. What was Bubba's best bomb, 7 or 11? 7 he almost got to the cart path and 11 was out there pretty good.
TIGER WOODS: I'd have to say probably --

Q. Or was there another one that I missed?
TIGER WOODS: I'm probably thinking 14. 14, that was pretty solid.

Q. How do you think he does it, or what's he got that makes him so long?
TIGER WOODS: Look how tall he is. He's got long arms. Anybody that has long arms has the ability to create more leverage and more arc. He just naturally has more speed. He can generate speed, and that's just a gift. You either have speed or you don't. You can't ask how can I run as fast as Carl Lewis; either you have it or you don't.

Q. What's the next step Bubba has got to take to get to --
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just like anybody, it's just refinement and honing your misses in. This is obviously a game of being precise and understanding where to miss and how to miss it there. You're not going to always play perfect golf. A lot of times in order to win a championship, it's your bad round, how bad is your bad round. Are you still able to keep yourself in contention with one bad round.

Q. What were your thoughts on Oakmont? You've got two trips around it not long ago, reputed to be perhaps the hardest day-in, day-out members' course in America.
TIGER WOODS: I agree with that. I definitely agree with that.

Q. Can you articulate that? I've never been there.
TIGER WOODS: The greens are nothing like I've ever seen before. They're totally different than Augusta. They're all pitched. There aren't too many holes in which you have the ability to see the fairway and the green on the same hole. It's usually one or the other. You have a blind tee shot or a blind second shot. So there's a lot of experience that goes into learning that golf course.
And then the greens, once you get to the greens, boy, that's the challenge right there, trying to putt these things with the right speed because you're coming over so many different mounds and angles and pitch on the greens that it's going to be one great test.

Q. Over the years when it comes to your clubs, have you ever done any work with Miura in Japan?

Q. He's never ground any clubs for you or anything?

Q. We had a case last week where 85 guys made the cut. Is that too many?

Q. What would be your solution if you had one, Commissioner?
TIGER WOODS: Probably have a lower cut number.

Q. 60?

Q. What about when you get to the summer and the field is 156 and you're cutting 100 guys out?
TIGER WOODS: Play better. Either you play better or you don't.

Q. Would you be in favor of 60 and 10 or just flat 60?
TIGER WOODS: Flat 60. It's about pace of play, and in the summertime with thunderstorms, and then TV coverage wants to finish at 7:00 o'clock all the time now, so it becomes more interesting.

Q. Do you remember the 1987 PLAYERS Sluman-Lyle playoff? Do you remember when the fan jumped in the lake over Sluman's six-footer?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've talked to him about that, yeah.

Q. What's his take on it and what do you guys talk about?
TIGER WOODS: Well, he wasn't really too happy about it because obviously it's a pretty big moment in his career. It cost him an opportunity to win because he was really focused on what he was doing, and obviously it didn't happen.

Q. Of the players in their 20s, whose game are you most impressed with and why?
TIGER WOODS: Well, there's probably a collection of guys. You know, Adam, Sergio, Luke, Trevor, Charlie Howell, these guys all have the ability to do some pretty substantial things in the game of golf, just a matter of getting that experience and building on it from there.

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