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January 25, 2008

Tiger Woods


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Five-time winner of the Buick Invitational, Tiger Woods, thanks for joining us here, followed up your round of 67 on the South Course yesterday with a 65 on the North Course. You're in great shape through 36 holes. Maybe some opening comments.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I didn't quite drive it as good as I needed to today, but all my drives started off on-line, which is good. I just over-shaped them. But my iron game was good and a made of bunch of putts, which can sometimes be a pretty tricky task out there. I got a couple good bounces on the greens, which was nice.

Q. Can you talk about your driving? It's been a little inconsistent the past few days.
TIGER WOODS: Well, yesterday was terrible. I drove it like a dog yesterday. But today I started the ball on-line, over-shaped them, that's fine, okay, I can face that, which is not a problem.
Yesterday I was trying to hit just low cuts trying to get the ball in play. Today I said, well, I feel pretty good with it, just keep going with it. You don't need to go out there and hit that go-to shot yet, just keep making good swings. Again, I was just over-shaping the golf ball, which was an easy fix, which was straight.

Q. Do you know Kevin Streelman?
TIGER WOODS: I do not, no.

Q. I figured for sure you'd know something about him. You seem to know something about all these guys no matter how obscure. Just talk about how comfortable it must be to not be playing near your potential and still be in the position you're in.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I've gotten some pretty good breaks the past couple days, some pretty good lies in the rough, and I've hit my irons well, and that's important. I've made a lot of putts. My speed has been pretty good. I made a couple good saves today for par, made a couple six- and seven-footers for par, which was nice.

Q. If the weather changes and starts to get wet and sloppy, does it change the way you play the course?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, if I hit it long, it would be nice. It's going to play really long, especially Sunday, if we play Sunday. So tomorrow will be important to go out there and play well and hopefully maintain the lead and hopefully increase it. But I really want to play well tomorrow because you don't know what's going to happen in this tournament come Sunday with the forecast.

Q. 7-under today, six fairways hit. Is it less important on a course like the North than say tomorrow on the South?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, there's no doubt. You have to hit the ball better on the South. The golf course is a lot longer and a lot more penal. They were pretty generous with the pins the first day because you're going to have the entire field play basically in the same areas for the next few days. Pins weren't exactly tucked, but I'm sure come the weekend they'll make them a little bit more difficult. I just have to hit the ball better than I'm hitting it right now.

Q. Do you remember the last time you played on a weekend with somebody you didn't know?
TIGER WOODS: That's a good question. I don't know that one.

Q. His World Ranking is 1,354.
TIGER WOODS: I think he might be going up (laughter).

Q. Of the Buicks that you've won here, the Invitationals, can you identify or pick the one that was the best performance by you?
TIGER WOODS: I know the best weekend I had was '98. I really got it going. I shot, I want to say, 62-65 on the weekend, on the South Course.
I think 2003 I hit the ball pretty good, especially coming off of the surgery I had in 2002, and it was the first tournament back and I was very pleasantly surprised the way I hit it.

Q. I was watching the guy you're playing with tomorrow and he pretty much walks around the course with his girlfriend and his caddie and that's pretty much it. You've got a pretty large entourage. How much of an advantage is it to have that many people around you, whether it's Nike reps, whether it's massage people, whether it's physicians, or does it really not matter that much at all?
TIGER WOODS: It's just me and my wife out here this week (laughter). There's a couple people out here following, though. We don't really travel with hardly anybody. That's just the way we are.
Obviously there needs to be more security in our group because obviously all the different things that happen and potential of things that could happen.

Q. At that stretch right in the middle when you got to -11, and you weren't very happy with that approach on 5. 6 was short, 7 you came up short and then 8 you came up short. Was it wind?
TIGER WOODS: Well, 5 was just a terrible shot. I laid the shaft down, got stuck, flipped it over there, hit it real short.
6, I was trying to hit the ball short right of the hole but not that short.
7, wind knocked it down. I thought I hit the ball middle of the green. I was just trying to play middle of the green. Just don't hit it over the green, and it came up well short.
And then 8, I chickened out on it because I was hitting a big hook, and I was thinking, well, if this ball lands it's going to be ripping across the green. Just don't hit it long. I hit it short of the green.

Q. You've played a lot of golf with Jim. You've seen his routine and everybody talks about how he backs off. Does he make you nervous when you watch him?
TIGER WOODS: No, I've played with him enough times in stroke play. He was my partner in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups. I'm actually surprised, I was talking to Fluff today about it, that he's sped his routine up. He's playing a little quicker, a little bit more decisive and just gets up and goes. I don't know if it's a conscious effort or not. I didn't talk to him about it. I didn't want to make him think about it when he was out there playing, so I asked Fluff instead.
No, I mean, I've become accustomed to it. That's just the way he is, and I know his rhythm. With all the years we've played together in team events, I've just seen it so many times, I just know when he's going to go and when he's not going to go.

Q. One might jokingly suppose that this is the first tournament to end on a Friday since the 2000 U.S. Open. My question being, do you ever guard against complacency? Do you have sort of a defense mechanism in place? You've had so many leads, you have such a great track record on the weekends. What do you do mentally? I know you're going to say, well, it's not over. But seriously, how do you prepare yourself mentally to be so successful over the final 36 holes?
TIGER WOODS: That's why they're not handing out the trophy today. You've just got to keep going forward. If they handed out the trophy today then it would be over and no big deal. But since we have so many more holes to play -- as you've seen on TOUR, anything can happen. You've got to keep pushing, keep going forward and keep making birdies.

Q. Will you set numbers for the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: I usually do during the day before I start out, what a good number would be. But that's based on the conditions once I get out here. Some days it's, okay, if I don't shoot 65 I'm going to get run over. Some tournaments if I shoot 70 today I'm going to move up the board at least 10, 15 spots.
As you come out here you see what the weather is doing and see how -- where the pins are once you get the pin sheet, then you start -- well, I start formulating what the number might be.

Q. And you sort of play to that number? Obviously you set a good number and you try to maintain --
TIGER WOODS: You make it realistic. Hopefully I can get there. If I don't get there, no big deal. Some days you just have to get to that number because it's Sunday; you have no choice. But tomorrow hopefully I can shoot a good round and move up -- increase my lead.

Q. The South has yielded unusually low numbers on the course. Are you a little surprised by that or do you think the numbers will still go up because of the weekend pin placements?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as I said, they've made the pins pretty accessible. They didn't really tuck them. Usually they tuck them on the weekend and make it a little bit more difficult.
One thing that's different than when we first had the reconstruction of the greens is that the ball is backing up. You're hitting 5-irons and the ball is backing up. 3-irons into 11 are rolling out a foot. That's not how it was when we first played the redesign. That helps because if you're in the rough or you're in the fairway you just plop the ball on the green, and wherever it lands, it lands. It might come back. That's a totally different thing to guard against, the ball coming back, than when it was repelling and going over the green.

Q. What was the most important shot you hit today and why?
TIGER WOODS: Probably the chip-in I made at 6 -- my sixth hole. It was pretty embarrassing. I hit a terrible tee shot over to the right, bladed my second one trying to keep it underneath the tree. It had a little happy face on it. Get over the green, I was just trying to protect it, don't send it over the front edge of the green, just try and leave myself up on the hill, which I did, which was great. I had a decent lie and it went in.

Q. Two chips?

Q. What was your first one, the first chip?
TIGER WOODS: The first chip I was way over the green. Just had to pitch underneath some trees, through the rough, and as I said, I was just trying not to hit the ball up to the front of the green because the pin is like 30 back. So it was a tough two-putt.

Q. Streelman had to go through all three stages of Q-school to get out here this year and he was the last alternate in the field Thursday, and obviously your road has been a lot different. Just curious if you have an appreciation for what a fine line it is for some guys? There could be 500 guys like him; here he is, he makes it into the last group on Saturday.
TIGER WOODS: It is a fine line. People don't realize the difference between someone making cuts out here on TOUR, getting on the TOUR, and winning a golf tournament. It's just a couple good shots here and there, maybe a couple lucky breaks here and there. It really isn't as big a gap as people might think.
But the great thing is watching guys taking advantage of opportunities, whether they're first alternate like what's happening this week or they get an exemption into an event and they play well. I think that's -- those are fun stories to see transpire because guys are taking advantage of opportunities.

Q. With respect to the weather, the next 36 holes could be a pretty uncertain situation as far as the rain. Do you change your routine at all like leading up to a day, if you think it could be raining as far as maybe spend more time on the range maybe today, for example, if it's going to be raining tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'll probably do a little work this afternoon and get things a little more organized for tomorrow. But just make sure -- try and get your rest because it's going to be a long, long weekend. Well, it might be going until Monday. The whole idea is to stay fresh. For me we've got Sam here this week, so that definitely takes your mind off golf.

Q. It'll take your mind off sleep.
TIGER WOODS: That, too.

Q. We asked about the drug testing thing. Your thoughts about the new cut rule, about the 78 cap and all that thing? Do you think that's a good idea? There's been pretty heavy people voicing opinions on both sides of that.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think what I've tried to talk to some of the guys and with the Commissioner is maybe the fields might be just too big when you have daylight savings because obviously we're trying to get the round finished. Having The Golf Channel, that helps, because obviously their hours are so much more flexible than they were when they were on USA. And we weren't finishing -- the top players weren't finishing on time, guys were finishing Saturday mornings or Friday mornings, their rounds, just because it was too slow. If you had any kind of fog delay, rain delay, guys aren't finishing, a frost delay in Phoenix, things like that happen.
But this whole cut thing, you know, when I was talking to Cookie about it, Charles Howell about it, it affected him. Very simple, play better. If you hit the shots that you want to hit and hit them properly, then you won't have to worry about that.

Q. Were you aware of it?
TIGER WOODS: I was not aware of it until Sunday afternoon. I was at home practicing at Isleworth, and I came in for lunch and some of the guys were talking about this cut thing, and I hadn't heard about it. We sat down and talked about it for a little bit.

Q. A lot of athletes say they can leave their game and go home. Can you leave your game behind when you go home?
TIGER WOODS: Not all the time (smiling). I've gotten a lot better at that, but obviously I still think about it. More than anything it's not necessarily the anger or frustration of how I played that day. It's more of building a game plan for the next day so I can go ahead and move up the board, things like that. That's the difference. I used to beat myself up pretty hard and get all frustrated. Well, the round is over. Let's try to build for tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned your wife and Sam. Why not go the nanny route? Obviously it wouldn't be a financial drain for you. Why have you guys decided --
TIGER WOODS: We're probably going to do that here shortly, but we didn't want to do that at the very beginning. This is our daughter. We wanted to experience it. We wanted to work through it. We wanted to do it ourselves. More than anything it was team work between Elin and myself. Some nights I take the all-nighter or she'll take the all-nighter, and that's how we did it.
We wanted to -- we never had nannies in our families. Elin's mother and dad had three kids within 13 months, and my mom and my dad couldn't afford to have someone take care of me, so they were always there. That's how we wanted to raise Sam. Now things are getting a little more difficult. Elin is doing some school stuff now, so that's going to be a little bit more difficult now.
But we do it ourselves. She cries at night, one of us gets it and gives her the bottle, whatever we need to do, and stay up. Sometimes it's 2:00 in the morning and you stay up for 26 hours, 28 hours, whatever it is. But when you love something so much, you do that. It's just normal.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could quickly go over your seven birdies. Started on the back side, first birdie came on 13, par-5.
TIGER WOODS: 13, I hit driver and a 6-iron lay-up, I wedged it to about eight feet and made it.
16, I hit 3-wood off the tee and 9-iron to about 15 feet below the hole, made that.
18, I hit driver and a 3-iron in the left bunker, blasted out to about ten feet, made that.
No. 1, hit driver to the right, hit a 5-wood just short left of the bunker, pitched up to about four feet, made that.
No. 2, I hit a driver and a 60-degree sand wedge to about six feet, made that.
4, I hit 3-wood off the tee, an 8-iron to about 12 feet right below the hole and made that.
And on 9, I hit a driver and a 5-wood just short of the green, my 56-degree sand wedge to about eight feet by the hole and made that.

Q. For a story I'm working on next week could you take me back to the hole-in-one in Scottsdale and describe what the 16th hole was like the three years you were there?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that hole that year in '97 was interesting. We had flying debris coming in after I made it. I think I was the first person ever to raise the roof (laughter) for a shot on the PGA TOUR (laughter).
The funny thing is I hit a 9-iron up there, but Omar had hit it up there to about two and a half, three feet, and I hit it inside of him, obviously. It was so loud. We couldn't have had it any more loud than that because obviously Super Bowl was that weekend. Everyone was coming out there.
It was actually pretty funny because after I holed out, everyone had already seen what they wanted to see, they were yelling, screaming, throwing beer, and everyone just left. This whole procession of just thousands of people walking out. As I'm playing 17, everyone is just walking by. It was like, we saw what we wanted to see, we're outta here and now really have the party start over there.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Tiger Woods, thank you very much.

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