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Saturday, June 19, 2010Tiger Woods Media Center Interview
Tiger Woods

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BETH MURRISON: We're pleased to be joined by Tiger Woods here at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Tiger shot a 66, 5‑under par which puts him at 1‑under par for the tournament. Tiger, congratulations on your play, just give us a few thoughts on your round today.

TIGER WOODS: I played better. Not exactly the greatest of starts. I was 2‑over through three, and I just tried to make sure I got to even par by the turn for my round. And through seven holes I was actually under par for my round.

I felt the shot at 8, and then I just kept telling myself I needed to get back to even par for the Tournament. That was the game plan starting out, and I'm at even par and I can turn around this back nine, shoot something around 4‑under par; and I should be right back to even par for the Tournament and just happened to do one better.

Q. Wondering what you were actually telling yourself as you were walking back down the third green after probably what may have been one of the more disappointing bogeys you've had in this Championship. You put yourself in good position. What were you saying to yourself?

TIGER WOODS: I was trying to make sure that I was focused on the next shot, so that I could ‑‑ I kept telling myself there's going to be a roping 2‑iron or a cut 3‑wood. Just make sure I had those two options in my head. And that's what I just kept telling myself as I walked off that hole. I said, just make sure it's ‑‑ be ready to hit the 2‑iron or the 3‑wood to go for the green, and that was basically it.

Q. After those first three holes there and you started climbing back at it, it seemed like you were kind of quietly getting yourself back going with the round and your reactions with some of the birdies became a little more demonstrative. I wonder, how did that feel to kind of get back into that mojo again or whatever word you want to use?

TIGER WOODS: As said, I said it yesterday, it's a process. You have to just build. All the Opens that I've won I've had one stretch of nine holes. It doesn't have to be on a back nine or a front nine, just a nine hole stretch where you put it together.

That's what most Open Champions have done, and I did it today. I got myself back in the Championship with those nine holes. At Torrey Pines, the back nine on Saturday as well. That nine hole stretch got me back in the Tournament as well.

Q. Emotionally you just seemed to really start getting into it. We haven't seen you smile like that and be that demonstrative in a while.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't played that well. The last time I really played that well was at Augusta. And even then I was struggling there. I haven't been in contention in a Tournament since Augusta.

Q. The more stressful the conditions, the back nine today being an example, the more you seem to embrace it. Why do you think that is?

TIGER WOODS: I just ‑‑ I feel you just have to be so patient and I just kept telling myself, just be very patient out there, and as I said, it's a process. Keep building. And make sure I get back to even par for the Tournament. And that should put me, I figured, three to four heading into tomorrow and I figured I would have a good shot at it. And as I'm right now 1‑under, I am four back right now.

Q. Can you take us through your thinking as you're walking to your tee ball on 18? Once you got there, what your scenarios were going through your mind and the decision that you made?

TIGER WOODS: When I first ‑‑ when I was walking up there I was figuring that I would probably have to hit a big sweeping hook to lay up, or I don't think the slice was going to work because it doesn't fit the, to go with the hole, around the bunker there.

And when I got up there I said, you know what, actually I have a shot at this. I was hoping Stevie would give me a good number. Where I could actually give it a run. And he said 260 and I said that's perfect.

I made sure that I held it and if anything just over cut it. If I over cut it, I'm in the front bunker, and if I hold it on that wind that's coming in off the right, if I hold it, then it's going to be up the gap. But make sure I commit to a hold, to a cut, and it came off perfect.

Q. Did you know immediately?

TIGER WOODS: I hit it good. I really did. I hit it good and I flighted it well enough where it didn't kick up in the wind. So it was enough where I knew that it was going to get to the front edge at the worst.

Q. You seemed in your comments to suggest that you were pretty impressed after playing with Dustin Johnson in a practice round. Could you just talk about what you saw in him a little bit and there also was some question as to whether his game would translate to this tournament even though he won the Pebble Beach event.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I've played with long hitters who can play, but he hits it just for miles. I told the story all week, we played a practice round, and he had 226 on 17 and into the wind, and he just pulls out a 4‑iron and hits it flag high in the air. So he carried a 4‑iron 226 into the wind, and Steve and I are thinking, well that's a 2‑iron, you got to hit a good 2‑iron. And Dustin just pulls out 4‑iron like it was nothing.

Q. David Fay took offense to your comments about the greens the other day when you called them awful. Do you at all regret any of that? Was that said in the heat of the moment, or do you still think they were awful two days ago?

TIGER WOODS: A lot of players felt the same, they just didn't say it.

Q. I know you were saying it's a process and all the rest of it, but the reality is that you played good. You haven't played good for a long time. What is it? What turned it around and what's it like to ‑‑ do you feel like you're back in terms of now this is how you can play to your potential?

TIGER WOODS: I was hitting shots like this every now and again. I would get into two, three hole stretches, but I haven't strung it out for more than that. And today I did. I had most of the day that way. I knew that it ‑‑ what I've been working on is building. It's getting better. I was getting better and better. But I just hadn't had a long enough stretch where I would go three holes, but then my fourth hole I would hit a bad shot. And you just can't do that out here. Today I hit a lot of good ones.

Q. How does it feel like emotionally to be back in that?

TIGER WOODS: It feels good to be able to control my ball. Especially in this wind. And to control the shape, the flight, and where I was landing the ball. I was landing the ball on my numbers. Whether it was into the wind or downwind I was landing the ball on my numbers.

Q. Going into this last round after a round like today, does it make you more comfortable? Does it give you a comfort level? Does it give you any momentum maybe not literally, but in your heart that you're in good shape for tomorrow? Does this help having a round like this today, going into the final round?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I got myself back in the tournament. And I was what 25th starting out the day, I believe. Somewhere in there. And I think as of right now if I would have shot even par I would have been I think tied for 11th.

So the golf course is certainly more difficult. When I went out, before I started, I looked at the board and a lot of guys were either tearing it up or just going for a number. And when I got out there and saw where the pins were and what they were doing on some of the tees. You could see that you could make a lot of birdies early, but then again around the turn it starts taking that away from you.

It does feel good to play this well going into a final round and I put myself back in the tournament.

Q. As good as the shots are that you played today, equally important is you converted all those things into birdies. You finished the deal. This is the best you had putted all three days. Did you make any adjustment as far as your putting stroke or what got you going on the greens in particular?

TIGER WOODS: The only thing that really got me going is I hit the ball in the right spots. The only putt I made from above the hole was at 17. Every putt I made was from underneath the hole.

You can't make these putts from above the hole. It moves too much. Phil said yesterday he was below the hole all tight and you're right there. You're below the hole. You can take aggressive lines and you can make these putts.

But coming down the hills, there aren't going to be lot of guys making a lot of putts coming down the hills.

Q. You did make that one at 17. What are you thinking standing over it, what were you trying to dodge?

TIGER WOODS: I was just trying to get it close. Just get it down there, so I don't have a second putt. Somewhere around the hole. So I could just tap it in and move on. Not a putt I was expecting to make, wasn't even trying to make it, just trying to get it down there close, no 3‑putt, don't throw a great round now, don't throw away all the momentum that I built, just make my par and move on, and it happened to go in.

Q. When you saw those putts today your hot putting on the back nine, was it more about the lines you liked, or was it about the speed when those things started dropping? What did you see better?

TIGER WOODS: I had an uphill putt. Uphill putts. Very simple, I had uphill putts. 17's the only putt I made down the hill.

Q. Your positions in the Masters in contention with a round to go how would you characterize technically you a how you're swinging now versus that time?

TIGER WOODS: Definitely swinging better now and I have a lot more tournaments under my belt now. Going into the Masters I just had just played for a few weeks and teed it up.

I've been in a competitive environment now for awhile and I've had the feel of being out there playing, so it's two totally different scenarios.

Q. You obviously haven't played here in eight years, how much do you just sort of ‑‑ what kind of vibe do you get when you play here, obviously good memories from 2000, and did it take you a little while to reacquaint yourself with the shots you needed to hit here?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah it certainly did take me a little bit. Because the lines have changed. They moved some of the lines, they lengthened some of the tees, redesigned most of the bunkers, so that was a big change. It certainly was a big change. I hadn't played this golf course with these changes yet. And I just had to make sure that I really paid attention in my practice rounds.

Q. How long was the first putt on 18, and second, I know you said it's a process, you're building, but was there one shot more than another today that really got you going that was kind of a Bud Light, here‑we‑go kind of moment for you?

TIGER WOODS: As far as the putt at 18 it was about 20 feet. Just downhill left‑to‑right.

Unfortunately I thought myself right out of the putt. Because the first part was, it had a little bit of a kicker down, came down the hill, and then at the end of the hole, or at the hole it comes back up just a touch. And I knew I could be a little bit more aggressive with that putt.

But I just felt like I don't want to run this putt by three feet either. And I died it up there and you could see right at the end it just took the slope because it's a little bit slanted back towards me. So that's ‑‑ that was a little bit disappointing.

As far as any shot today, there wasn't one shot because I hit a lot of good ones. I really did. After a bad tee shot there at 2, I hit a lot of good ones after that. A lot of good shots. And I had to shape the ball both ways.

Q. I know there's still along way to go, this may sound to ask odd to ask someone whose won as much as you have but what would a win here mean for you and why?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I got a long way to go before that happens. It would feel good. I've won U.S. Opens before and it certainly didn't feel bad.

But I have 18 more holes and you got to be ready to play. I'm right now four back and we'll see where I am at the end of the day, but I'm going to have to put together another good round tomorrow in order to win this.

BETH MURRISON: Tiger, thanks very much for joining us congratulations again.

TIGER WOODS: Thank you.

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