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March 8, 2013

Tiger Woods


JOHN BUSH:¬† We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room.¬† Tiger, 7‑under par 65, great golf all the way around, and I know not the start that you wanted but really stellar play all day.
TIGER WOODS:¬† Yeah, I didn't hit too many good shots starting out.¬† Didn't have a very good feel for it, and I hit a decent shot at 3, put it on the green and thought I made that putt.¬† But from then on, starting at 4, I just hit a sweet little 4‑iron in there and after that, I played pretty well.

Q.  At a point in time, you looked like you stopped thinking about the mechanics and could just feel the shots after 3; is that accurate?
TIGER WOODS:  Not necessarily.  I had to work through it.  I didn't have a very good warm up this morning.  Wasn't feeling very good with my swing, and just had a few keys I had to work through.  I didn't do a very good job the first couple holes.  Hit terrible golf shots there.  But I played them even par.
As I said, I hit a decent shot into the green at 3 and I said, you know what, that's kind of halfway to where I need to be and I hit that shot on 4 and that was where I need to be, and I kept that all the way through. 

Q.  You said last week you felt like you were pretty close, and obviously you're hitting on some cylinders this week.  Is it even easy to describe how little the difference that is or how great the difference that is?
TIGER WOODS:  As I said, I wasn't that far off last week.  I had, I believe it was, what, six lost balls last week where I couldn't play, it was either the water or two lost balls, and I think four water balls.  That adds up the score pretty quickly.  I missed a bunch of putts, as well, so my game is really not that far off.  It feels pretty close, and even though my score didn't reflect it, it didn't really feel that bad.
So I just continued working on it and lo and behold, here we are.

Q.  4 and 13, the two long par 3s, do you stand on the box thinking 2s?

Q.¬† It's got to be big enough‑‑
TIGER WOODS:¬† Just making a par.¬† Just making a par.¬† Put it on the green somewhere and lag it down there somewhere if you can.¬† I just happened to hit a really‑‑ they were two totally different shots and I hit a flat, hard cut at 4 and a soft, up‑in‑the air cut with the 4‑iron at 13.¬† And both of them worked out.

Q.¬† You've talked sometimes about rhythm.¬† Can you talk from, say, 4, all the way through about 16 or so, if that felt easy rhythm‑wise?
TIGER WOODS:  It felt like I finally got into a feeling where I needed to have it.  As I said, the range, it wasn't very good.  I was sporadic.  I've been doing it here and there.  All I need is one shot and as soon as I feel it on one, I can pretty much carry through and I did that today.

Q.  Was that 3 or 4?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, 3 I was halfway there, as I was saying earlier and 4 was the right way to do it.

Q.  What do you make of the 17 birdies, which is the most you've ever had in the first two rounds.
TIGER WOODS:¬† Left me with a two‑shot lead.¬† (Laughter).
That's a good start.  You know, I'm playing well and I made a bunch of putts.  But more importantly, I left myself in the right spots to make putts and I think that's probably the biggest key is that I left myself where I didn't have that many downwind, downhill, downgrain, downwind putts.
I kept leaving myself where I could be aggressive.  These things are getting baked out fast and they are getting really tough to get close or even hold the green sometimes.  It was important to leave my ball in the right spot.
For instance, like the bunker shot I hit at 16 today, I didn't want to have anything to do with getting that ball to the hole.  Just make sure I left it anywhere inside 15 feet below the hole and I can hole it from there.
Coming down that hill with the wind blowing like, that it's going to be kind of hard to make that putt.¬† So just leave the ball in the correct spots where I could be aggressive and I've than for the last‑‑ well, the first to days.

Q.  With them blowing up the course, what do you think the greens are going to be like on Sunday?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I think they are going to try and push it a little bit.  I certainly think.  So I think the forecast still is a lot of wind come Sunday.  I don't know how much water they are going to put on them.  But this is a north wind, so it's dry, and with it coming out of the north, there's no humidity, so there's really no moisture.  Only moisture they are going to get is overnight or in the morning.  Other than that, there's really no moisture in the air, so these things will get baked out quick.

Q.  Would you like to see them push it?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, it would be fun if they did.  We did it last year at Bay Hill on Sunday.  It basically was a U.S. Open that broke out in Orlando.  We don't get too many opportunities where the weather cooperates where they can push the golf course to a point where it's pretty tough like that.
Even with the greens firm like it is, look at how many guys are under par.  As I said, I think that having the north wind, some of the harder holes are playing downwind, and we're still even some of the into the wind holes, we are still able to get to some of these par 5s.

Q.  You spoke outside about 15 playing pretty tough today.  If Donald has his way, that hole will look like a cross between Sawgrass 17 and 16 at Phoenix.  Just what are your thoughts on creating a like party hole on a course like this and making it so that it's not just one week a year, but more than one week a year?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I've played in two tournaments where it's been like that, 16 at Phoenix and we used to have 17 at Flint used to be like that.
You know, I haven't played Phoenix in a long time, and from what I've been told from all the players, things have changed quite a bit since when I played.  The timing of the yells has definitely changed.  You know, I don't care if it's loud.  I don't care if it's raucous.  Just as long as it's respectful and as long as they don't do it during swings, it's totally cool, they can do whatever they want.  But a few times it's gotten guys at Phoenix, and the same at Flint, it got a few of the guys coming down the stretch.

Q.¬† A lot of big names on the leaderboard behind you, Phil of course being one of them and he's often talked about that you push him when the two of you play together; that you've kind of brought out some of his best golf, and you obviously won't play together tomorrow but you'll be back‑to‑back.¬† What does seeing his name on the leaderboard or being that close to each other sort of do for you, if anything?
TIGER WOODS:¬† Well, you know, Phil has been one of the‑‑ probably three or four guys that I've battled my entire career against.¬† I've gone toe‑to‑toe with him, Vijay, Ernie‑‑ who else, Duval, Goose, but mainly probably the first three I named.¬† Vijay, Ernie and Phil around the world we have gone at it, and since I first came out on TOUR.¬† I've always enjoyed playing against Phil down the stretch, and you know, we've had our battles will I've won and he's won.¬† So it's been good.

Q.  Another solid day putting.  I think you didn't miss anything inside of ten feet.  You obviously talked a lot yesterday about what you did with Stricker.  Just curious, was it like a light went on with whatever it was he was working with you on, and also, do you sometimes say, how did I even get away from this, the fact that it's going so nicely now?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, it feels very similar, if not almost identical, to where I was at Torrey, my body position, my line, my feel, the way the club is moving and the feels in my hands.
Hey, we get off from time to time, and Stricks knows my stroke, and he saw a few things, and lo and behold, he made a few suggestions.  I worked through it, and then next thing you know, I said, hey, this is like Torrey, how I putted out there.  I've made some putts in the last few days.  But he's still not getting a percentage (smiling).

Q.  If you wouldn't mind, would you comment a little bit on what you saw from Rory McIlroy over the first 36 holes, and the gradual improvement he seems to have made in his game over these first two days?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, you know, Rory played all right today.  He made some nice swings and holed a few putts.  Certainly he's trying to work his way through making some changes in his swing.
It's not easy, especially at this level on difficult courses, it's tough.  But he's put in some time this past weekend, this past week, and you know, from what I can see, it certainly is improving.  He still has got a lot of time till Augusta, so he's on the right track.

Q.  These changes you've been working on with Sean Foley over the last two, three years, would you say you've arrived now; you've finally gotten there?  That old swing is eradicated?
TIGER WOODS:  No, I still have the same faults, the same little patterns are still there, and that just takes time.  Just got to continue to work on what we're working on and I'm becoming more efficient, which I like, and I'm certainly hitting the ball a lot further than I used to.  Those are all positive things.

Q.¬† Wrap it up, kind of off‑topic, I don't think you've played with Thaworn Wiratchant, but I wonder if you can talk about what you've seen from Thai golfers the times you've been there and if you can at all appreciate guys like Prayad who have played with guys, who start by caddying and climbing up trees to find balls they can play with, etc., and to see somebody make it to the Masters at age 46?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, it's really cool to see these guys, because obviously I've been there, since, geez, just after birth, been there a bunch of times, and have seen the golfing programs really grow.
Golf wasn't a sport that anyone ever played.  It was for the very, very elite, but it's neat to see these guys who have worked so hard and work themselves up through caddie programs or just find a stick, a ball, and just try and make something work.  There's a lot to be said about that; that they know and they understand work ethic and they go to it and Prayad is one of them.  It's really neat to see.
All the junior clinics I've done and have seen in Thailand, it is amazing to see how good their games are getting.  Golf is now accepted as a sport that people can play, and it's becoming much more feasible to play and the acceptability has grown.  I think it's fantastic that it has, and I think with golf being included in the Olympics is only going to increase that.

Q.  Had you ever heard of this guy Sukree Onsham, a Thai guy who played Augusta early 70s?
TIGER WOODS:  I have, yeah.

Q.  Your mom ever talk about him?
TIGER WOODS:  No, she wasn't really big into golf (laughter).

Q.  Is she now?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, she follows one person.  (Laughter).
JOHN BUSH:  All right, Tiger, thank you sir.

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