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June 13, 2008

Tiger Woods


Full Audio Interview

RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room. A round of 68. 3-under par today. 2- under par for the championship. A 30 on what was your second nine coming back in. Did you think that was possible when you went out there this morning?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I was just trying, to be honest with you, just trying to get back to even par for the tournament. I figured I was playing well enough and just made two mistakes there at 16 and 17.

Then another one at 18. Didn't birdie that one.

So I felt that if I played well in that back nine I could definitely get back to even par for the tournament and I would be right back in the championship and all of a sudden I started running them in there from everywhere.

RAND JERRIS: This golf course playing significantly different this afternoon?

TIGER WOODS: The greens are definitely firmer, faster, and a little bit bumpier too. So it was -- you're trying to leave yourself below hole if you can and trying to hit the ball more aggressively into the hole, so you can take out some of the bounciness. But some of the front pin locations you just couldn't do it. A good shot like at 5 and 7 were going to skip past the hole. Nothing you can do about it.

Q. Did that shot off the cart path kind of get you going, sort of stole one there on a hole where you can't confirm or deny the existence of the fairway so far.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, hit a bad drive there. I mean, I hit it to the right, but I would much rather be on the right side than left side for the angle to that flag.

I just happened to just get a great break. I had -- not only did I have a swing and a stance, but also had a lie where I could control my distance. And it was just an 8-iron up there. Just put the ball in the center of the green and move on from there.

But I wasn't trying to do anything particular with that shot. Just trying to dump it in the center of the green and I had 157 hole and just trying to carry it over that front bunker.

Q. Your drop would have been in the rough?

TIGER WOODS: Would have been right behind the tree.

Q. In the trash can and all that stuff?

TIGER WOODS: Would have been right behind the tree. No shot.

Q. What about the risk involved, cement can be a little slippery with metal spikes.

TIGER WOODS: That's part of the deal. That's part of wearing metal spikes. It is what it is. But I would much rather have the lie.

Q. You're a pretty big sports fan and obviously you know your Raiders, Dodgers, Lakers too. And what did you think about last night and were there any lessons in sports that you found out last night?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, man, that was a tough night. Man, that was a tough night.

Q. Can you believe something like that happened?

TIGER WOODS: No, I can't. But that's also sports. Welcome to sports. Basketball is a game of runs. And I think they went on what a 20-3 run, 21-3 run, and then another 12-0 run.

Q. Because in golf you've seen big leads gone in a different way, where a guy starts making bogeys, another start making birdies, and I just wonder in playing as much as you have and being around sports is there any like, wow, that can still happen?

TIGER WOODS: Well, yeah. What does Herm Edwards say? That's why we play the game. That's part of sports. And I think the only time I have ever seen a big lead go away in our sport is probably with what Greg did in '96.

But you can see it happening more so in Major Championships than anything else. Just because of the setup, the course setup, if you just make a few mistakes here and there it could add up very quickly.

Q. Do you buy into at all the concept of the zone and if so, were you near it or in it on the front nine your second nine today?

TIGER WOODS: I've been in -- whether you call it the zone or not, it just feels it's a nice rhythm. Been there before. I made some, shot some good rounds doing that. But today I was just trying to get back to even par, to be honest with you. That's all I was trying to do. And I just happened to make a couple more putts. That's about it.

Q. And as terrific as the 30 was, you hit some pretty good looks like on 3 and 7. Do you ever think about it could have even been better than that?

TIGER WOODS: No. I shot 30 on my back nine in a U.S. Open, that's not too bad.


Q. I know you were talking about just wanting to get to even par, I'm wondering if you feel like you got a little more out of this than you thought you might and how pleased you are, could you ask for any better position for Saturday?

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely no doubt I got more out of it. Because you turn, I turned 3-over par for the tournament, 2-over par for the day, and I felt like I made -- I got off to a poor start bogeying two of the first three. And then I made that eagle there to get back to even par and then all of a sudden I dump, I feel like I lost three shots there, because I bogeyed 16, 17 and then I don't make birdie on 18. And the tees were way up on 18.

So with that being said, I said, okay, I just missed, I had three shots there on the last three holes on my front nine, if I clean up the back nine I should be able to get back to even par for the tournament, and ended up two better than that. So, actually, yes, I probably did a little bit better, yeah.

Q. Talk about your confidence going into this tournament and do you ever amaze yourself on -- you haven't walked 18 since the Masters, and here you are, even though a little bit of hobbling, doesn't affect your swing at all, huh?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I felt my practice sessions were going well. It's one thing that if I was hitting it all over the lot and didn't feel anything good about my practice sessions. But I felt I was -- everything was progressing. The only variable I didn't know is to be able to walk 18 holes. But I walked nine with no problem three straight days. Didn't want to push it. Could have easily have, I felt, could have easily gone all 18. But just really no reason to push it. Save it for the tournament. And here we are.

Q. Most of the players that are on the leaderboard are facing the additional pressure of handling the golf course, the pressure of handling winning their first for some or their second Major. With 13 on your resume can you compare the kind of Major Championship pressure you felt early in your career as compared to today when you have accomplished so much?

TIGER WOODS: I think that I was very fortunate to have won my first one very early. My first one as a professional basically. So that, I believe that relieved so much pressure, the facts that I can always say that I know how to do this. I've done it before.

One conversation that I've had actually with Jack before, because his first win was a U.S. Open. A lot of guys tend to take a little bit longer to win Major championships. And then everybody starts asking them about that and then it starts building from there.

But if you can get them early, it not only relieves pressure, but it also gives you a sense of confidence knowing that you know how to get it done and you can always say that you know how to get it done because you have.

Q. Continual questions on your knee --

RAND JERRIS: We'll get a microphone to you. Go back here first, please.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the eagle on 13 and the new tee box. Was it a different vantage point? Did you approach it differently?

TIGER WOODS: Well, we played -- there's two back tee boxes. We played the front one of the two. And I believe the number was 320 to the right bunker. So downwind like it was you could definitely reach it, definitely put the ball in the bunker, had to stay left of that. Which I did.

I had 248 to front, didn't want to hit the 5-wood, but felt that if I hit 3-iron if I just happened to not hit it perfect, it would roll right back down where it was yesterday with my 6-iron. So I hit the 5-wood, trying to hit a high cut. If it bounces over the back, just there's plenty of room. Pin was nine from the back edge.

So, yeah, I felt I could get up-and-down from the back bunker there. And it came off absolutely perfect. Actually landed just on the green and actually got killed into the slope. And it rolled behind the flag and made the putt.

Q. Davis Love was in here earlier and he sort of speculated that he felt that you might have more to overcome coming into this tournament with the layoff than the knee. While the knee might bother you at night, that while you're playing it would, you probably wouldn't even think about it. It was more the time off. Wondering if you could just talk about that. If you saw it that way as well.

TIGER WOODS: I've been down this road before. With breaks and coming back and playing. I've had a procedure done in 2002. I took a long layoff last year heading into the Buick.

I think I took -- right after the TOUR Championship last year, before I played at Target was another break.

So I've been down this road before where I've taken a number of weeks off. And it just makes your practice sessions more important. How you practice, how you build, and how you keep progressing in building yourself right into the tournament.

Q. I was wondering, I can't remember what year it was, but you barely made the cut at the Buick and then you shot 62 on the Saturday and you started off --

TIGER WOODS: It was '98. '99. Something like that.

Q. And you started off of 10?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah. I remember that.

Q. Would you like to see them flip the nines for the weekend?

TIGER WOODS: Doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. That was a very interesting year that year. Because my buddy Brian was actually on the bag that week and he was giving me so much grief then just making the cut here we are, dawn 30 off the back nine. And I shot the 62 I think it was.

Then I got a great -- I remember I got a great break on six. I hit a sprinkler head, kicked up on the green, and made either a three or four there. And, I mean, he gave me so much grief for that. I mean, it was a fun day, but that's one that I'll always remember, yeah.

Q. I was in the flash, continual questions about the knee. Do you think that it's over done, in other words, let it go now, if it's sore, it's sore and you're just going to play golf; and do you think that the questions are getting to a point where they are too much?

TIGER WOODS: People want to know. People are curious. And all I can tell you is it's sore. It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Q. There's a lot of build-up to this pairing with you and Phil and Adam Scott, and I know the best players like to play against the best in the world. Were you a little disappointed that all three of you never seemed to get on either of the two days into a trading shot for shot, birdie for birdie, all kind of playing their best at the same time was that a little disappointing?

TIGER WOODS: It was kind of a very interesting way we played. We all went our own little runs, but in different times. We struggled at different times, and we went on our birdie runs at different times. So it was never, as you said, a shot for shot. It was, I would make a couple bogeys here and then Phil or Adam would make a couple birdies. And then all of a sudden we flipped flopped. That's kind of the way it was for these 36 holes.

RAND JERRIS: Tiger, thanks very much for your time.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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