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February 22, 2008

Tiger Woods


LAURA NEAL: Tiger, thanks for coming in. Just counted it up, 11 birdies, and as you said on the way back, you almost went home after making that many birdies. Talk about today.
TIGER WOODS: It was unbelievable, really. I made, I think, two mistakes. I made two bogeys and gave him two holes, but he did the same. But every other hole it seemed like we birdied. I birdied, he birdied. He birdied, I birdied. It was unbelievable how many birdies we made out there today.

Q. It's been a while I would imagine since you've been in a position where you've had to watch a guy twice with a chance to beat you. Usually you're the kind of guy in position to make the noise. Kind of helpless feeling on 18 and 1?
TIGER WOODS: 18, that was a hard putt. More than likely he's going to miss that putt low. The one on No. 1 I thought he was going to make. I had a little bit of that same putt this morning, and it does go left. Actually the pin is so far deep back there, it actually goes left. And he hit just a beautiful putt and just happened -- just started creeping left of the hole, but it was a good putt.

Q. When you're in there struggling or working so hard, can you appreciate the quality of the match?
TIGER WOODS: When you're in the mix like that, probably not. I just figured I had to make birdie to win the hole. If I didn't, I was going to lose the hole. It was just that simple. And that's the way it felt like. It almost turned out that way.

Q. Also, can you compare this to the first round match where you have to catch up? This is basically every hole is tension. There you had to make that great push.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was -- I felt that I was in control of the match the entire way around until I lost it on 14 and then went 1-down. But I birdied the first two holes right out of the gate and it was 2-up. And it was basically 1-up, 2-up, even, most of the way around. But I felt like I had the momentum on my side until he made the putt on 14, and all of a sudden he went 1-up. And I went from controlling the match all day until -- with four holes to go I had to find a way to at least get that control back.

Q. After a match like that, as probably mentally draining as it can be, what do you do as far as getting yourself up again for tomorrow?
TIGER WOODS: I'll hit some balls here, wind down a little bit, go for a nice workout and do some cardio and then some food and be ready to go tomorrow.

Q. He obviously played with you last year at Oakmont. He performed poorly, but he has come a long, long way as a ball-striker. He was very poor three or four years ago. He was hitting it close.
TIGER WOODS: Well, you have to understand he was in a major transition in his golf swing. He went from -- what his swing looked like as an amateur to what it looks like now. And obviously it's a total transformation. It takes time. And it takes time to apply it in the most intense situations. And he's won some tournaments now with his swing and has proven that he can hit shots down the stretch.
He was leading the U.S. Open after three rounds at Oakmont. You can't hit the ball poorly at Oakmont and be leading after three rounds. I know going into the match that anybody who putts well is always going to be a tough one to beat. Aaron has one of the best short games, also one of the best putters out here.

Q. If you guys played stroke play out here, would it take very long for someone to shoot 59?
TIGER WOODS: It's a different mindset. You do play more aggressively in match play because if you do make a mistake it's only a hole. In a stroke-play event certainly we would have been firing more towards the center of the greens on some of these flags, but not in today's match. Today's match you had to go right at it.

Q. Can you talk about your putting today, particularly that middle of the match about 11 and 12, a couple of seven-, eight-footers with a little bend to them when he was already in for birdie?
TIGER WOODS: Well, those putts were nice, but I think the putt I made at 12 was probably the biggest putt I made. I elected it to lay it back and have an angle at that flag. Aaron decided to drive it and put it on. I put it up there on the area with distance-wise a pretty easy putt, but it was straight downhill, down-green. To be able to actually make that on him, even with him being on the green, I felt like I maintained momentum of the match.

Q. Did you get a sense that once he went 1-up with a couple of pins on ledges that he was playing center of the green and having you come get him? And then if you can talk about your shot on 16.
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's what he was supposed to do. 15, you've got to dump the ball left; you can't miss it right. Which he did. Smart play.
16, he hit it right and forced me to actually be a little bit more aggressive and get a ball in there. I just happened to hit a good shot. He was doing the right things. He did all the things you were supposed to do when you have the lead, especially with those tough pins.

Q. 8-iron?
TIGER WOODS: I hit an 8-iron, yeah.

Q. When you turn and face K.J., what do you respect most about his game, and is it tough to get up for a guy who's such a nice guy?
TIGER WOODS: As far as K.J., K.J. is a great guy, as you said, one of the best drivers out here. He drives it on a string most of the time. And as you know, he's been very consistent over the last few years. So I expect for that to be the case tomorrow and it will be a tough match.

Q. Just wondered for context purposes, is that probably the best match play thing you've been in as a pro, for shootout, birdies, red numbers, counter-punch and all that?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the only other match that was similar to that we had more difficult conditions was Match Play against O'Meara, '98, at Wentworth. I think he was 11-under and I was 10-under. I thought that was a pretty good match.

Q. Very similar scenario to Friday last year. You come out on the winning end this year. Did you think back at all to last year on Friday when you were out there today?
TIGER WOODS: No. I was just trying to make birdies.

Q. It rolls a foot from the hole, you know it's going in, is there a feeling of relief, satisfaction, thank goodness, what are you thinking there?
TIGER WOODS: All of the above, all of the above (laughter). You guys mentioned that it was a little early, wasn't it (laughter)?

Q. You didn't take your hat off yet, but you were --
TIGER WOODS: It was kind of headed that way? It looked pretty good from where I was. And there was no ball mark on my line this time, so I knew it was in.

Q. Just curious on 4, the ball hit the stake when you played your Nick O'Hern shot. Should you have removed that? Should you have removed that stake?
TIGER WOODS: The thing is I was actually aiming probably about 15 feet right of that. Club's upside down, so I hit it kind of off the bottom of the club so I kind of shot it left. I wasn't aiming over there, trust me.

Q. The marshal did ask --
TIGER WOODS: He did, yeah. At the time I was pretty hot at myself, anyway.

Q. It pelted the guy in the head-on 13?
TIGER WOODS: 13, yeah, I hit him.

Q. He was all right, though?
TIGER WOODS: He seemed okay. He was totally alert, there was blood everywhere. I didn't see any knot. I didn't see where it hit him that well. He said it was fine.

Q. Bounced 90 degrees right after you clocked him?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, but the fairway is 50 yards wide. It's a terrible shot and you probably deserve something like that. I hit the ball that far right, that far off-line, really don't deserve to be in the hole.

Q. Is that a bad one for you visually? You didn't hit a good one there on whatever day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I tried to hit a shot that I probably shouldn't have played.

Q. A big cutter?
TIGER WOODS: Kind of, but up in the air. At the end I was just going back to what I do and started piping it.

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