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February 20, 2008

Tiger Woods


LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thanks for joining us. Not much of an intro needed; just want you to talk about that finish you had and an overall feeling of how you came back.
TIGER WOODS: I was not hitting the ball very good early, most of the day, actually. So I was very fortunate to be in the match. Anytime I got the momentum, I seemed to make a mistake. I made three bogeys today and gave him three holes. You can't do that out there. But somehow I hit a good shot there at 14, made a putt.
J.B. made a mistake at 15. I hooped a putt at 16, and just tried to lag the putt down there at 17 and it happened to go in. But it was just one of those things where everything kind of turned my way. And very, very, very fortunate to advance to the next round.
LAURA NEAL: Was there a turning point that you can point to?
TIGER WOODS: You'd like to say it was 14, but I thought I got a shot of momentum there by making the putt. But I thought 15 was key there because I was running out of holes; I needed to try to get this match to all square as fast as I possibly could. And J.B. made that mistake there, and just kind of 1-down with three to go, it's anyone's ballgame after that.

Q. You were talking, of course you always do, about the good start. You hit that awful tee shot. What happened and were you able to find the ball? Was it out-of-bounds, what happened?
TIGER WOODS: I misread the catcher. The catcher called for a pitch out (laughter). Yeah, that was pretty ugly, one of the worst shots I've hit in a very long time. I got down there and then they told me it was out-of-bounds. I kept telling myself even after that mistake, I was obviously pretty hot at myself. But I still have 17 holes. I kept telling myself, I can make 20 on this hole; it does not matter. At least give yourself a chance to chip in or make a putt for par, that might halve a hole. But if not, granted you can make 20 here and still be in the same position you are, making par and he makes birdie.

Q. Was it a mistake -- you've talked so often about you know when you do, you can correct it. Was it a mistake you could correct?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't correct it at all then until the very end. I was struggling and the -- it's the same shot I was hitting at Torrey. Torrey was a low left ball. But it's the same shot, just on timing. Low left, high right, it's the same shot, coming from the same position, just a matter of when I time it. I don't want to rely on timing, so I've got to get that organized for tomorrow.

Q. It's you and -- we talk about golf courses fitting people's eyes, and obviously several fit yours. Is this a tough golf course for you to get your lines mentally or visually?
TIGER WOODS: No, after playing last year, and even though I didn't play very long here, I played enough rounds where I felt comfortable. I came in here early, played two practice rounds and felt very comfortable with all my lines. I just wasn't swinging well. I didn't warm up today. I tried to piece it together before I went and then felt towards the end of my warm up, felt pretty good. I said, okay, it's not too bad.
And then hit the shot on 1, so here we go. Somehow I have to find a way. And J.B. made a couple of birdies, and next thing you know I'm 3-down.

Q. The shot on 18, you made it look very easy, but there's a dip there. Is that a little tougher than it might look?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you think (laughter)? Yeah, one of the tougher pitch shots you could possibly have. I kept telling myself, I've been in this position before, and it reminded me so much of 14 at Augusta, front right pin. I've been down there too many times on the bottom when I'm not supposed to. The same shot, just breaks a different way. Just trying to hit it just like that and it came off perfect.

Q. What did you use?
TIGER WOODS: I used a little 60. I tried to put a little bumper on it, a little hook spin on it, made sure it climbed the hill and then held its line as it crept over the hill.

Q. Did your foot slip at 16?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that was a good save.

Q. Were you surprised you got it that close?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, I saved it and it was right on the line and I couldn't find my ball marker, looked like it must have hit a ball marker and kicked right on the green, as well. It was actually a very lucky hole because my foot slips, I get down there, and then I have a huge heel print in my line. I hit the putt and I know I have to hit it over to hit it. It hit the heel print, kicked straight up in the air but it held its line on the other side. It could have easily gone either way, but it held its line and went in. Everything was kind of going my way at the end.

Q. I know you've played against him at Isleworth, but what did J.B. show you today?
TIGER WOODS: J.B. is tough. He's playing well. He won a few weeks ago. Even out there -- he went out there with confidence. He did all the things he needed to do to put the pressure on me, especially since I wasn't playing well. I was struggling out there. And he was doing all the right things.

Q. The second shot at 17 you got a lot of people's attention. Can you tell us what -- a little bit about the lie and what the distance was and what did you hit?
TIGER WOODS: The lie was decent. I could never have pulled that shot if I had my 2-iron in my bag, but I had my senior club, which was nice, or 5-wood. And I had 248 to carry the front bunker. And that's all I really cared about is -- whatever it was to the hole, I didn't really care, just make sure I keep that ball in the air to carry that bunker.
I tried to aim at the left bunker up on the green, hit some kind of cut, so it stayed in the air and it came out just like a bullet. And it was dead straight and worked out okay.

Q. This was a little bit like last year's match. You fell behind, you were off.
TIGER WOODS: Right. The one with Nick?

Q. Yes.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I was in a little similar circumstance. When I took the 1-up lead, I kept telling myself, just make sure you don't lose this match. Last year I should have won the match on the first hole.
And then I hit just a terrible second shot on 18. You can hit that ball 30 feet past the hole and it would be fine. I hit it thin, and it came up short and left myself a very difficult pitch. J.B. hit it up there right where he needed to and he had a putt at it, just the valley had a pretty big effect on that putt on 18.

Q. You were super-emotional on 17th green when you hit the putt. As you're walking up to 18, it's a pretty long walk, and I'm wondering with you 1-up, what was the club on the tee box on 18?
TIGER WOODS: I hit driver. I just hit it -- just a low, cutting driver out there. I could hit -- if I was feeling comfortable I could hit my normal driver to carry that bunker. But I hit a bleeder off the left side and get it down there.
J.B. took the shot I wanted to hit, which was throw it up the air and carry the bunker and put it out of play. I didn't feel comfortable. I thought if I did that, I could hit the shot I hit on 1.

Q. Did you consider 3-wood?
TIGER WOODS: I never would hit 3-wood there; I would have probably hit 3-wood or 5-iron and laid up short of the bunker.

Q. This being the first time you've played with J.B., what were your impressions?
TIGER WOODS: J.B., he hits it long. He's probably a good half a club longer than me with my irons and definitely longer with the 3-wood and driver. I hit some good 3-woods out there. I thought, I should be right there with him, he's 10 or 15 by me. He hits it really long, it's just a matter of getting experience. He hasn't been out here very long. And matches like that will certainly harden you up a little bit.

Q. Have there been other matches you've played as a pro against someone who is consistently longer than you off the tee?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think so. No, I think this -- I might have played guys that may be longer with irons, things like that, depends on their lofts. But not just throughout their entire bag.

Q. What was that like? I know you still stick to your own game, but it's got to be something that's different.
TIGER WOODS: He's shorter than Bubba. I've played a lot of practice rounds with Bubba. He's got nothing on Bubba.

Q. What about pace of play; it was a little slow.
TIGER WOODS: It was slow out there, wasn't it? Welcome to the PGA TOUR. Yeah, J.B. was taking his time. But still, the whole day was slow. You have three of the four par-5s are reachable. And then you have two par-4s you can drive. And we're one of the last matches out, match 28 or 29 or something -- 30. Was it match 30? So you figure that it's going to be a little bit slow, but not as slow as it was today because there was no wind out there really.

Q. You've been around long enough, but fast, slow, can you just adjust and say I'm not going to get upset if I crawl and just pace yourself?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, to be honest with you, unfortunately, Art, this is how we play every week. It's the PGA TOUR. We don't play fast over here. So you walk a little bit slower, take a few more drinks, eat more food.

Q. That back nine you had against Ernie in Dubai, and today you started making putts, can you describe what clicks or what it takes to trigger something like that?
TIGER WOODS: If I knew, I'd do it all the time. But it's just one of those things. My effort level doesn't change; it's the same on the first tee as it is on the 18th green. That doesn't change. For some reason momentum just goes your way. You just get on a run. Sometimes the run is early in the round, sometimes middle or late or whatever it was. It just so happened that in the last two rounds it was late in the round. But at least it happened today. At least I had a run. I wasn't playing good enough to win the match unless I had a run.

Q. Have you looked down your bracket yet? Do you know who you have next?

Q. Arron Oberholser. I can't think of another time where you were down this much and still came back to win.
TIGER WOODS: Match play or stroke play?

Q. Match play.
TIGER WOODS: No, not like this.

Q. What was the hardest of the putts to make down the stretch? I know you had the one long one.
TIGER WOODS: 17, I wasn't trying to make that putt, I was just trying to make sure I got it in there and didn't have a second putt. I was trying to lag it down and make sure I got inside J.B.'s. Actually, if I hadn't seen J.B.'s, I would have left it short like him, because it does go back up the hill at the end. I was surprised it slowed up as much as it did.

Q. Yesterday I think you said that especially in this event you get 3-down, guys get 3-down, they don't get back very often. Did that creep into your mind even for a minute, when you're 3-down with five to play? You know how hard it is, obviously. Just wondering if it crossed your mind.
TIGER WOODS: I just kept saying I could win in regulation. That's what I've always done, even if I'm 2-down with three to go or if I'm --obviously 3-down with four or five to go, whatever it may be. I've been in that situation a lot of times. I always say I can win in regulation. It doesn't mean that you do, but you have to believe that you can. And today was one of those lucky times where everything just happened to turn my way at the right time.

Q. What level of satisfaction do you take on something like this?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the way I was playing most of the day, I should be headed home. In a stroke play event, I felt like if I have a run like this, I'm probably three, four, five behind the lead and right there in the tournament. In match play you could be in the same position and going home, so very lucky.

Q. Are you more pleased with the way this turned out than if it had been 3 and 2 -- like J.J. last year, for example?
TIGER WOODS: I wish I was playing better. Obviously I need to go do some work after I talk to you guys here and get everything straightened out for tomorrow.

Q. Did you know it was in or --
TIGER WOODS: No, I was lagging it down there. J.B. had already made 5. I'm just trying to two-putt and it went in. I wasn't trying to hit the ball actually to the hole; I was trying to leave it short, don't let it run by the hole, and hey, it went in.

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