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June 14, 2012

Tiger Woods


BETH MAJOR:  We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods.  We are here in the first round on a beautiful Thursday in San Francisco.  Very happy to have with us Tiger Woods who opened a 1‑under 69 today.  Fine round.  Can you talk about the play out there and how you found the course?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, the golf course was, as I was saying earlier, was really quick.  I was very surprised at how much it had changed overnight, just how much speed that the fairways had picked up and the springiness of the greens.  We knew the greens were going to be a little quicker, but I didn't think they would be this firm this early in the week.
So we had to make a couple of adjustments with that.  But I'm really excited how I was able to execute my game plan all day today and pleased with a 1‑under par round.

Q.  You mentioned game plan, alluded to it several times now, could you elaborate on that, whether it's simply fairways and greens or a little more complicated than that?
TIGER WOODS:  It's about like that.  The only thing is we've got to play it by ear on the wind and which way it's doing, because it actually was shifting a little bit out there today.

Q.  At Augusta the first two drives seemed to set the tone, you hit two bad drives, you struggled the rest of the way.  How much was the fact that you hit the ball so nicely starting out this morning a factor in giving you confidence to keep going?
TIGER WOODS:  I wasn't hitting the ball that well in practice rounds at Augusta, either.  So what you saw the first day is basically how I was hitting it.
Today was basically how I have been hitting it.  I figured just keep doing the same things, shape the ball the different directions that we need to today and hit the club that's‑‑ that I felt was the appropriate club at the time.  Some holes were very different than others, but we had to make that determination before we teed off and be committed to it.

Q.  That shot into 4, was that a good example of how you were able to control your ball flight?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I was trying to keep that ball short, if it runs up, fine, if it doesn't I've got an easy uphill putt.  And it chased up there past the hole.  I had kind of a tricky putt.  But I was kind of‑‑ to be honest with you, I was trying to play short right on the front edge and have an easy 20‑footer straight up the hill.

Q.  Phil and Bubba struggled today.  It was a pretty tough day for them.  First, are you surprised at all by that, given their stature and everything.  And also, did it have any effect on you?  It's unusual to have two guys really struggle and hit it all over the way they did?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, this golf course, it's so demanding.  And if you're off your game just a little bit, you're going to pay the price.  And it's hard to make pars.  Phil and Bubba were off just a little bit.  This is one of those Opens where it's just really hard to make birdies.  This is not like I was last year.  This is a tough one.  This is tough to make birdies.  You've got to really grind, and for me I thought I hit the ball well today and I didn't have a whole lot of putts from ten feet or 15 feet or in.  It's just hard to get the ball close.

Q.  One of the birdie holes is perceived to be No.7, is that tee shot tougher than it looks?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I was just trying to put the ball over to the right somewhere, right bunker, right rough, somewhere to the right and pitch up the hill.  And I had a‑‑ left myself in a perfect spot.  And I was‑‑ I should have aimed a yard right of the hole and that was my mistake on that pitch, because anything at the hole, short, is going to come back.  I should have aimed it right of the hole by a yard and missed it about 6 or 8 feet to the right and had an easy putt.  I didn't do that.  And subsequently I had to get it up and down for par.

Q.  I believe on par‑4s, 7‑irons off the tee, a lot of irons off the tee.  Can you run us through your thought process with the fairway first mentality?
TIGER WOODS:  It all depends on the hole.  Some holes set up well for a driver and 3‑wood.  Other holes set up for irons.  That's the thing.  In the practice rounds I hit more woods off the tees because the ball wasn't chasing as much.  Today it was quicker and the tees were somewhat up from where we played our practice rounds.  Consequently that's 20 yards.  20 yards is a lot.  And all of a sudden we're in the steeper part of slopes or now we're through doglegs.  I had to make the adjustment.

Q.  How many drivers did you hit today and where were they?
TIGER WOODS:  I hit one off of 9, 10, 16 and I think that was it.

Q.  Even when we're out there with you, sometimes it's hard to tell if a 20‑foot putt that never really looks like it is on the line is a good putt or a poor one, because some of the putts are so tough it could be good.  Could you evaluate your putting?  And also some of those that seem not to be left out to the right, especially?
TIGER WOODS:  I felt I putted well today.  Most of my putts were life putts.  I was trying to get the speed right and have kick ins.  I did that all day today.  The only putt I missed there was at 3.  And that was it.  I really putted well today.

Q.  You said on television that where you found that the greens were springy early on, you made some adjustments in terms of club selection into that.  Is that guesswork, or how do you go about that and how much does the caddie/player relationship come into that today?
TIGER WOODS:  You have to make the adjustment quickly.  I hit just a sweet drive down 10 today.  And I had just a little flip 60 in there.  And I landed it, what, ten paces on and it rolled off the back.  And it's not too often you clip a 60 degree sand wedge like that and it goes 50 feet.  So that's a pretty good indication that it's going to be a little bit different today.  We made the adjustment.  Joey has been around Majors for 20 plus years.  He understands how to play these things.  We work very well as a team out there.

Q.  Generally the harder the test, it favors the player with the most talent.  Are you in that mindset?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think it's just‑‑ I've always preferred the conditions to be difficult, where the ground is springy instead of soft.  And I think it just brings into shot making, it brings into‑‑ you can't just sit up there and say we've got 150 yards to the hole and beer going to fly it.  This is different.  If you draw it it brings further or cut it it springs less, or you cut it into the slope.  It brings our mind into play and I like that.

Q.  You seem kind of exhausted, with good reason, probably.  Can you talk about maybe how mentally exhausting it is, with all the things you've been talking about, this set up.  And also as a follow‑up, what your level of satisfaction is how you are striking the ball right now?
TIGER WOODS:  As far as being exhausted, I'm just hungry (laughter).  I would like to get out of here and get something to eat.
As far as the golf course, it's just demanding.  It does wear on you, because there's no let up.  That's what I was explaining early in the week.  There's not one single hole where it's a breather hole.  We have two par‑5s out there, and they're so hard.  Normally you have par‑5s, a couple of easy short par‑4s.  You can make a mistake here or there, no big deal and you make it up.  You can't make it up here in this place.

Q.  Your confidence has been at different places over the last couple of years.  But clearly with the convincing win at Memorial very high.  What does it do for you after a round like today, to get off to such a good start on such a difficult course?
TIGER WOODS:  I know I can hit the ball this way and I know I have been hitting the golf ball this way.  And I was able to put it together in a Major championship.  I'm going to need it the next three days.  This golf course is only going to get faster.  We didn't find any dots out there for tomorrow, so I don't know where the pins will be.  We'll make the adjustments to game plan tomorrow.

Q.  How close were you to executing your pretournament game plan off the tee to pin locations, etcetera?
TIGER WOODS:  Very close today.  But we hit different clubs off the tees today, just because it was‑‑ the tees were moved up on a few holes and how fast it was playing.  I didn't think they'd move the tee up on 7 today or any day, but they did today.  And it was only 256 or 257 to the front.  So that's‑‑ again, you've got to make the adjustments.
BETH MAJOR:  Tiger, thanks so much for joining us.

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