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December 7, 2013

Tiger Woods


DOUG MILNE:  We'll go ahead and get started.  We'd like to welcome back Tiger Woods, third‑round leader of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.  Tournament host Tiger even par 72 today.  Takes you to 11‑under.  Another two‑shot lead heading into tomorrow's final round.  With that birdie at 18 today, just some comments on the day.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, it was a tough day.  The wind was all over the place.  It was really tough to pull clubs, and you know, the greens were softer.  They were still pretty quick, and unless you got above the hole, there's some really difficult pins out there.
So it made it even more imperative to miss the ball in the right spots, because we weren't going to always hit the ball, and you know, hit the ball tight.  So knowing that the scores weren't going to be that low, and obviously a lot of guys shot some higher numbers.
DOUG MILNE:  With that we'll take some questions.

Q.  Just curious about 15.  And I kind of raised this earlier in the week where it seems like outside of 12 at Augusta, not that the holes are the same, but at one time when the ball is in the air and you don't have a clue until it comes down.  What was that like today?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, I thought Zach hit it perfect.  He hit a little cut five and it was right on the flag.  I mean I thought it was the perfect flight to get there.  Ended up just shy, obviously.
And I had 6, and I knew that if my ball kicked up at all, it wasn't going to get there, after seeing his ball get smoked at the end.  So I went ahead and flipped it over to the left and bailed out.

Q.  (No microphone).
TIGER WOODS:  I think it was 193 to the hole.

Q.  Not many guys making putts today.  Talk a little bit about the conditions on the greens and how difficult it was for you.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  I missed my share of putts today.  I didn't putt well.  There's some difficult pins out there.  I mean they're just really difficult.  And it's hard to get the speed right, and especially a couple of times when you're in the shadows coming into the sun or vice versa, a couple of times I hear Zach asking Damon, is it uphill or downhill.  It's one of those kind of golf courses where the hills are so steep but the greens are kind of opposite of that sometimes, opposite of the pitch of the low ball slope, so you kind of feel a little weird.
And today I think everyone was kind of probably a little bit off balance in the wind, gusty.  It was hard to hit putts flush every time.

Q.  Tiger, obviously conditions different from yesterday, but you look at the scores over the years in tournaments.  A guy will have a great round, as yours yesterday.  Rarely comes back with another great round.  Is that because everything was just working perfectly the day you shoot the 62 or 63, and or was it the conditions today that separated it?
TIGER WOODS:  The conditions today for sure.  But I think overall, you know, you'd probably ask a lot of guys on TOUR that shooting something that is nine or 10 deep is obviously very difficult to do, but shooting, you know, 66s and 65s back to back to back is so much easier to do.
You know, if you play the par‑5s well, there's four.  You make a couple putts, there's two, three more; boom.  That's 6, 7‑under par easy, but to get to that 9, 10 level it's a lot more difficult to do, and to be consistent with it more than one day, it's really hard to do.

Q.  (No microphone).
TIGER WOODS:  I had‑‑ I don't know what I had hole, but I had 235 front, and I hit 4‑iron.

Q.  As tough as it was today, how happy are you with the 72 and taking the lead going into the last day?
TIGER WOODS:  You know, I'm pleased at having the lead.  Not real pleased with the way I putted today.  I missed a lot of putts.  Obviously 13, you know, three‑putting there from six, seven feet, and three‑putting 15 as well, you know, I left a few out there today.

Q.  This is a more general question, but if you were to compare your career to an 18‑hole round of golf, what hole are you on in your career at the moment, and how's the round, how do you think the round is going?
TIGER WOODS:  I'm front nine (laughs).

Q.  Have you got a score in mind?
TIGER WOODS:  We'll see what happens.  I'm playing well right now, I think.

Q.  This would be your sixth time.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  I've had, what, five wins and like four seconds here at this place.  Sherwood has certainly fit my eye, and I would love to win here.  It would mean a lot to us at the foundation, and I'm going to try and get it done and then move to my old home course next year where I've played hundreds of rounds and competed in, what, Tavistock Cup a few times there as well.

Q.  You were able to get a couple coming down the stretch.  How much does that give you momentum going into the tomorrow in terms of getting a birdie on 16 and then following with one on 18?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, it was nice to get a couple back after throwing away two shots there with two, three putts at 13, 15.  Probably threw away two shots there at 13 from not close.  So it was nice to finish on a positive note.  I hit the ball well coming in and actually I two‑putted 17.  Pretty pleased about that.  That was a tricky putt.  Anything past the hole is going to go off grain and got the pace right.  And then 18 same exact putts.  Snap at the end, I gave it a little bit extra and was able to make it.

Q.  The second shot you had into 18, you waited for quite a while.
TIGER WOODS:  Oh, God.  Yeah.

Q.  Talk about trying to pick a club there.
TIGER WOODS:  As I said, it was so difficult to pick a club and be committed to it.  13 for me and 18 were the two prime examples where I took forever, because 13 I had it into the wind, I had it downwind, I had it right to left and I had it left to right.  And I couldn't‑‑ there's so many different feels, okay, and we finally got it where it was consistent enough and it was downwind and I went with it.
18, I was at the top of the swing and I could hear the trees start howling to my left and the big gust would have come in, and the feel that I had for that shot, it would have gotten smoked because the wind had turned in.  But then by the time I was prepared for the next one, it had turned down.
Then Joey and I were between 8 and 9, we're 8 all day.  Now we're hitting nine, and then it went back across, so then it's an 8, and then right before I was pulling it, it was down again, so I took something off the 8 and you can see it still carried too far.  I mean realistically I could have gotten 9 there, but it was all over the place today.

Q.  In your previous wins here in the past, have you felt that the wind has been at this similar level in terms of having to take the time on 18 and 13 and really dial it in in those previous wins if you noticed similar conditions there?
TIGER WOODS:  We've played in conditions like this before, whether it's Palo Alto north or we've had the Santa Anas blowing through here.  Either one, we've played in conditions this windy and this blustery and sometimes even worse than this.
Luckily, it had rain and the greens were softer because then we could flight the ball down and not have to worry about it bouncing over.  If you had to throw the ball up like we had the first two days with this wind, man, it would have been‑‑ I don't think our TOUR staff would probably setup the pins as difficult as they did.

Q.  How hard is it to find that balance between taking enough time before a shot, like you said on 18, or‑‑
TIGER WOODS:  Well, it's just‑‑ trying to get a bead on this wind because it literally is going all over the place.  It gets in these canyons and it starts swirling all over the place.
On virtually every Nicklaus golf course, you better be dialed in on your distance control.  He gives you small targets to hit to, and the misses are very penal.  So you know, you miss the ball in the wrong spots here, you're making bogeys.  It's very difficult to make birdies.  Sorry.  Save pars.  And with conditions like this, it's very difficult to make birdies.  So you want to be conservative on some of the iron shots in there, but you look at where am I going to go.  Because the target areas are so small around this place.

Q.  Are you using a different model driver or is it just the shaft?

Q.  Were you using this one in Turkey or just since then?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  I just switched.  I went to slightly heavier shaft and switched heads to the new 14 head.

Q.  Is this part of a little bit of an experimentation phase?  I mean typically, you know, you take a while before you put something different in.  I mean is that part of that process right now?  Is there something that you've really found here?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I tried it on Tuesday, and I liked it.  And so I stuck with it, and Wednesday I had both drivers in the bag.  And there was really no need to hit the old one.  I was hitting this one really well.  And I've stuck with it and I've driven it really well this week.  I think I've only hit maybe one bad tee shot, I think on 10 yesterday where I hit big ball instead of little ball.  But other than that it was all good.

Q.  Just curious on two quick things, was your experience here at Sherwood, was there anything before you and David played here on Monday night.  Was that your first time?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  I've been here before.

Q.  Tournament competition?
TIGER WOODS:  I've played no tournaments, but I've played up here, and I remember coming out to‑‑ this is way back in the Shark Shootout days when Butch was working with Greg, and I was young and still working‑‑ I'd just started to work with Butch and I would come out here and the guys would tee off and Butch would help me out for about an hour on the range and get a little work in.

Q.  And completely unrelated, with a lifetime exemption to the Masters, how long do you see yourself playing there?  And you've also got a lifetime thing at the PGA.  Is there a difference between how long guys or even yourself if you can think that far ahead would tend to play there?
TIGER WOODS:  Let me put it to you this way.  I'm not going to beat Arnold's record.  I'm not playing that long.  That's for sure.

Q.  What would be the (no microphone)?
TIGER WOODS:  Keep me from playing?

Q.  Yeah.
TIGER WOODS:  You know, for me, I always want to win.  So if I can't win, why tee it up?  That's just my own personal belief.  And I know what it takes to prepare to win and what it takes to go out there and get the job done, and there's going to come a point in time where I just can't do it anymore.  We all as athletes face that moment.  I'm aways away from that moment in my sport, but when that day happens I'll make a decision and that's it.

Q.  (No microphone)?
TIGER WOODS:  Well, considering Tom almost won the British Open at age 59, you know.  Sam winning at 53 or 54 at Greensboro.  We can do it for a long period of time.  And you've seen so many guys of late where‑‑ Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Raymond Floyd, Freddy do well in their late 40s and 50s.  Every other sport you're done at my age, or younger.  You know, in golf you examine still win golf tournaments in your 50s, and guys have done it.  Guys have proven it.  And I think that's probably the more difficult thing is that you can still finish Top 10, top 5s, but you're probably just not quite as efficient as you need to be to win golf tournaments.  But you can still be there.  What's Freddie now, 54 now or something like that.  And every single year it seems like he's in contention to win the Masters, like the last 20 some odd years.  You can just do it.  At certain venues you can do it.

Q.  (No microphone).
TIGER WOODS:  Exactly.  You know, it just suits his eye.

Q.  Tiger, when you have the lead at 54 holes your record is fantastic.  At this point in your career when you approach a final round with the lead, is it different than when you're chasing a lead three or four back heading into Sunday or are they the same?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  They're never the same.  If you get the lead it's totally different.  They gotta come get you.
You know, if Zach and I go out there or any of the top guys go out there and shoot the same score, I win.  You know, when you're coming from behind and you have to press it a little bit and you gotta make a few birdies.  But also I think that is all, you know, predicated on the tournament site, whether you're playing at more difficult site like a U. S. Open or something like that or you're playing a shootout in a birdiefest.  I'd always much rather protect leads when the golf course is hard because you know that pars dump it in the fairway dump it on the green, make it par after par after par will win the golf tournament.  Sometimes if you go out there and have the lead and shoot 66 and lose those are tough events, but that's the way some events are.

Q.  Tiger, I think it was a couple of years ago you out dueled Zach here to win.  Other than the win, what do you most remember about playing against him down the stretch?
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah, I birdied the last two holes.  I had an uphill right‑to‑left around 17 which I pulled in there.  And 18 that little downhill right‑to‑lefter, and those were‑‑ I hadn't won in a while, so to have‑‑ not only to have won my tournament but also the way I did can it against the person I did it against, Zach's not going anywhere.  He's consistent.  He's tough.  And he's proven that he can win major championships.  So I knew that, and you know, it was a great battle.
I mean I don't know if any of you guys remember that shot he played on 14 on the green.  Little pitch shot.  He was on the green and he chipped it.  Had a hell of a shot.  He's just tough to beat.

Q.  Wanted to follow up on that Masters question and you saying that you really wouldn't want to play if you didn't think you could win.  Can you appreciate though the guys that have continued to do it taking advantage of that perk and to play into their 60s, some guys have even played into their 70s, and also, could you see your thoughts mellowing on that as you get older?
TIGER WOODS:  No.  Mellowing on that, no.  I'll be on that first tee starting out the event, I'm sure.  So I mean you hit a good drive and you can't get to where you can see the flag, I don't‑‑ I don't know why it's even fun.  (Laughs).
You know, by then, you know, who knows, we may teeing off in Butler Cabin by then.  So we'll see.
DOUG MILNE:  All right.  Tiger, best of luck tomorrow.
TIGER WOODS:  Yeah.  Thanks, guys.

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