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September 11, 2009

Tiger Woods


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room. Tiger shot a 67 today and is in a share of the lead with Mark Wilson after the second round. If you'd talk a little bit about your round today and then we'll take some questions.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I started off with a bogey there at the first hole, but other than that I didn't make any other bogeys. I had a few opportunities to make bogeys, but I had some good saves there at 3 and a few other holes. But overall kept being very patient today.
It was a day where the wind was blowing just hard enough. It was kind of up and down, kept changing directions a little bit. These greens you have to be so precise going into them. We had some pretty tough putts today up over knobs, but also I hit a few in there pretty tight, too.

Q. Just curious, you and Mark Wilson apparently are going to be paired tomorrow, if I understand things correctly. You guys go back a long way. I'm wondering what you remember from the second of your three Juniors and whether you still consider those three in succession one of your great accomplishments, since, like you've said before, you can only do that once, if that's still atop that list of all the things you've done.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Mark and I go back to when I was 16. We were playing at Wollaston, and I think I was 2-down with four to go or 2-down with three to go.

Q. 2-down with five to go.
TIGER WOODS: I think I won every other hole actually coming in. But it was a good match. Mark went to North Carolina after that, and we played against each other in college and have been out here for a while. You know, obviously we go back a long way.
As far as the U.S. Juniors, I'd have to say that's probably No. 2 on my list of accomplishments. I won four majors in a row; that's not too bad. But the three Juniors, and I've said before, you can only do that once. There's a big difference between someone who's 15 and 17 physically and mentally and maturity-wise. To be able to those three years -- you can win the Amateur three years in a row, whatever age it is, but obviously the Junior ends at 17.

Q. Bogey on 1, you shook that off pretty quickly. Did it bother you after that?
TIGER WOODS: No, I hit a terrible tee shot there at 1, mis-hit a quick hook there with a 3-wood off the tee, just a terrible shot.
Only way to make par there is to get up-and-down with a 9-iron in my hand, and I obviously didn't do that. It was obviously not the greatest of starts, but the golf course, as I said, you had to be very patient on. It was a day that you could give a few back, the way some of these pins were set up.
For instance, the second hole, Steve and Heath hit really nice 4-irons in there, landed just left of the hole. Steve landed a yard on, ended up over the green in the back bunker. Sweet shot, but that's kind of the nature of this golf course. You can hit some good shots into these corners and they kind of run away from you a little bit. As I said, you had to be very patient.

Q. When it's -- I think after you made that bogey, Sabbatini got to 8-under kind of soon after that, so you're six behind. I don't know how much scoreboard watching you do on Friday and the rest of that, but is it like a U.S. Open type thing, when you just think, okay, there's a long way to go, or do you think this guy played well yesterday, maybe he's going to just start running away with it and I need to keep up a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Good point. This is a golf course that's hard to shoot low numbers on, given today's pin locations. Tomorrow we've got a few more accessible pins. But today the pins were a little more difficult than they were the first day.
As I said, just had to be very patient out there, and I know Rory got off to a quick start, but still, there are a lot of holes to be played, and this is the kind of golf course you can just make a couple mistakes here and make a couple bogeys, or hit good shots and make bogeys. These greens are very difficult.
You know, they're making ball marks but they're not stopping. They're kind of hitting and releasing. The first hop is usually pretty good. And if you've got a mid-iron in your hand coming into these greens, even if you dump it to the center, you still have a hell of a putt, up and over knobs, two or three different breaks. It's a tough setup.

Q. Is it U.S. Open-ish, or could you see a U.S. Open being played here?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we were alluding to it today. Imagine these greens being baked out like they were at Torrey Pines. How are you going to get to some of these flags because there's so much pitch over the bunkers? That's one of the tough things in these greens, and as I said, they're making ball marks. What if they're not making ball marks?

Q. Kind of along those lines, there was a number of shots early in your round in which you were on the other side of a knob, even 1. I'm curious, were you expecting, for example, with 9-iron to play that back? Was it a distance control problem? Was it just the pitch? Which was it?
TIGER WOODS: A couple times -- on 1, I just hit the 9-iron too hard. I was trying to play it about ten feet past the hole and use the ridge a little bit, but I kind of got over it a little bit, and it was going to be long the whole way.
For instance, the shot I hit at 3 was a pretty sweet shot out of the rough right at the flag, and a gust of wind came up and knocked it short. It was hard to get the ball close on a few of these pins because the wind -- we got fooled on 16 today. Heath got an into-the-wind gust, I got a downwind gust, and when Strick hit it was just dead across where it should have been.
But the wind is not blowing hard enough to have one main direction. It kind of comes up, lays down, comes up, lays down. As I said, you had to be so precise going into these corners, and the way the wind was blowing it was hard.

Q. And then on 8, what was your thinking on playing so much spin as opposed to kind of dead-arming it up there?
TIGER WOODS: You know, that was a shot that -- after I saw Strick's ball, that it did spin, and I figured -- you know, I was in between clubs, and I said, you know what, I'm not going to take the little one here because if I did hit that -- I just didn't feel it was going to skip up there. I thought I had to carry it back to the hole. But it was a shot that I knew I could never hit the ball past the flag in the air with that club, so I went ahead and took the chance of throwing the ball up in the air.

Q. Based on the course changes and renovations, what's the biggest adjustment you've had to make in playing this course now?
TIGER WOODS: I think the overall is just your misses, where you're going to miss it. The greens are so different that where you used to be able to miss it, the angles, those are not the angles anymore. And that's something that we all are trying to get used to is -- it's one thing hitting good shots, but also, if you are in a situation where you don't quite have a good number or you don't feel quite comfortable, where am I going to miss it? And that's certainly much different than what it used to be.

Q. Mark Wilson does a lot of his practicing here when he's not on TOUR, and he apparently tries to beat the masses out onto the golf course when he's here to play because it's obviously a public course. I take it it's probably not too much like that at Isleworth, but seriously, when you are there, do you ever get bothered, or do you ever have to wait when you're playing the course? The experience there is obviously what you like, but what is it like there for you?
TIGER WOODS: At Isleworth, no. The members all leave all the pros alone and whatever celebs that come in there and play. It's just the rule there; just leave them alone.
Through all the years, you get to know a lot of the guys and their wives and you have a have a few drinks afterwards. It's a pretty laid-back club actually, some good members.
As far as playing through, summertime there's no one there, first of all. There's no one there. It's just dead there in the summertime. Everyone goes up north. But the wintertime you can get a little crowded. A lot of times they let the pros play through and get on with it.
But we have some good groups on there, some good juniors and some good amateurs, and it is a lot of fun, though.

Q. But they're obviously like respectful of your time and leaving you alone?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. I mean, there's so many pros that practice there. I think there's about eight pros that play out there. There's quite a bit. And then obviously Cooky moved out of there, Allenby has moved out of there, but still, there's about eight of us.

Q. Does Mark Wilson rival Stricker among nice, nice guys on TOUR? Does he have that rep as much as Strick does?
TIGER WOODS: He does, he's just a little more quiet than Strick, but still, two great guys. As I said, I've known Mark a long time. Mark hasn't changed one bit.

Q. I just want to ask you a quick generic question about being atop the leaderboard. You weren't really a factor at Liberty National until the final hour, really, and in Boston I don't think you were really in it all week. Just the kind of feeling now of being back up there, how much better that feels.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's been a long time, huh, Fergie?

Q. You didn't play Greensboro.
TIGER WOODS: It obviously is nice. I'm playing well, and I've got up-and-down a few times the last couple days, something I hadn't done. I missed a bunch of up-and-downs at Liberty National. And last week I just didn't make any putts. I was hitting the ball just as good, just didn't make anything.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you, Tiger. Good luck this weekend.

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