Arnold Palmer Invitational interview: Tiger Woods

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March 23, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard

JOHN BUSH:
We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room. 6‑under par 66 today, Tiger. You got number 16 for the second time this week, highlighting the round. If you can just take us through the round?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was nice to make that putt on the very first hole just so I didn't have four straight bogies, three from yesterday and one starting out today. Made a nice putt there, and I putted pretty solid all day. I hit a lot of good shots, and had a couple poor drives here and there, but overall I was very pleased with the way I played today.

I hit a lot of good putts, especially when the wind started blowing. I was able to still hit the putts flush even though the wind was moving me around a little bit; it still was good.

Q. Tiger, even though you've had a couple of short misses, the putting seems to be just where you were a couple weeks ago. Can you just talk about the state of your confidence there, and is it a continuation of what you got straightened out at Doral?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I hit‑‑ I feel comfortable with the putts. I hit a lot of good ones today. They were starting out on my lines, and the two putts that I hit a couple days ago were just two blocks and no big deal. But, overall, I'm very pleased with the way I've been putting, and I've hit a lot of good putts especially into the grain.

You have to hit the putts flush and get them rolling, and I've been able to do that, even today when the wind started blowing. Obviously, tomorrow the forecast is it's supposed to really blow.

Q. All week you've had sort of a quiet confidence about the way you've played. You haven't led, you've missed a couple little putts, and hit some bad drives, yet nothing seems to shake you. Is that a byproduct of having already won twice this year, or is it just the confidence that you know you can play well enough to get out of whatever trouble you're in?

TIGER WOODS:
No, I just understand how to fix my game. It's taken me a while. As I said, I keep explaining to you guys, is that I was hurt for a long time. The changes to make the swing from where I was to now is a pretty big change.

I hit a bad shot here and there, and that's easy to fix. I know what my fix is going to be and that makes a big difference.

Q. Just curious, Tiger, when you got up to 8 green, did you happen to see the board to see what kind of start Justin had gotten off to? Secondly, could you just talk about the importance of the two pars on 8 and 9 to keep your round going?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I saw he was 4‑under early, and I saw that Billy got it going early as well. I felt like the scores were out there. Even though I looked on the computer before I went out, and I think Matt went 6 deep, and a lot of guys were 3‑, 4‑, 5‑over par. So it's one of those courses where I think the par‑5s were playing reachable. You can get it going, but also you can get it going the other way pretty quickly as well.

I was just trying to make sure I didn't drop any shots today. I thought that was important to try to chase down the lead. I was 4‑back starting out date. I only dropped one shot today, but made my share of birdies.

Q. Did you think your drive was in trouble?

TIGER WOODS:
It was in trouble. I was hoping it wasn't OB. It was raining pretty hard at the time and my club got just a little bit wet, and in my transition I could feel it shift in my hand. So when it shifted in my hand, I knew it was going to be open so I threw it at the bottom to make sure I didn't sling it to the right and instead I slung it to the left.

Q. If you can think back to where you were coming into this event just a year ago, how much more comfortable, how much more confident are you in your game right now?

TIGER WOODS:
I'm much more comfortable, but also I think that I'm feeling pretty good physically. That was huge. Last year at this point I had just pulled out of Doral which was the smartest thing I could have done in a long time. I didn't do it at TPC and it ended up costing me a summer. There I did, and came back and won this week ‑‑ or last year. I've had one more year of working on my game and here I am.

Q. At what point, whether it was this year or last year, were you able to kind of fix your swing kind of mid‑round?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, it's taken me a little while. I think I had to get physically strong enough and physically healthy enough to do it. The changes I had to make, I had to be stronger, hence, I feel good; I feel explosive; consequently, my ball is traveling further than it ever has. I'm hitting the ball out there with some pretty good pop.

Q. Was it at some point this year or maybe late last year? I'm just wondering if there's a point you can pinpoint?

TIGER WOODS:
There was no point. It was just a gradual progress. I've gotten better and better, and my short game has gotten better and better as well. I felt that I didn't need to spend as much time hitting golf balls. I could work on my short game. Towards the end of last year, I started coming around, paid dividends at the beginning of this year and here we are.

Q. The eagle on 16, from a scorer's standpoint, how important was that; and also the three bogeys yesterday, curious how hot you were coming off the golf course with those three coming in and then obviously turning around and finishing today?

TIGER WOODS:
I was hot for a very long time yesterday. There were a lot of games on last night.

Q. First of all, what did you hit into 16?

TIGER WOODS:
I hit 6‑iron.

Q. Secondly, how important is it that you've likely played in every type of weather condition here and probably know how to adjust to whatever comes tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I have played under some interesting conditions here. It's been hot, cold, and anything in between. Tomorrow's supposed to be windy. We'll see what the golf course does. We'll see if we get any rain on this thing.

These greens today were a little bit spiky. I mean, they had some movement in them. So tomorrow they might dry out and may not be as bad. We may not be able to hold the ball as well either. I hit a shot there at 7 that only rolled maybe a yard or so coming downwind. That's normally not the case here. It certainly wasn't the case the first day. The first day they were a little bit springy, so we'll see what happens.

Q. The divot on 18, how tough was that compared to other shots you had to hit out of divots? Did it look like that divot, the same could have been replaced in that a little more evenly?

TIGER WOODS:
Well, what made it hard was it was a lefty divot. Somebody who was left‑handed came in and the arc of the divot was opposite of what I had to do, so I was going to be hitting it against the edge of the divot with the heel of my club. Because of that, I wanted to make sure I got on a little bit steeper than normal. I didn't want to take the chance of having it snag.

Obviously, when I get on a steep like that, it's going to be coming out flat, and it did. I mean, I had 175 to the hole and hit 9‑iron over the back, so I wasn't expecting to hit it that far.

Q. Was the shot on 6 your best of the day?

TIGER WOODS:
No, I think probably the shot on 15 was. That 6‑iron was flush.

Q. You've got the lead again, obviously, and we know your record with the lead. What is it that makes you so good?

TIGER WOODS:
Well, I enjoy it. That's why we play is to be in this position. It's why I've spent all that time practicing and training is to be in this position. I have a chance to win tomorrow.

Q. On your health, are you injury‑free now, and, if so, when did you start feeling that way?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, it started toward the end of last year. I started feeling really strong. This year, it's been nice not to have to rehab. I can actually train and make gains instead of just trying to patch things together and rehab things. So that's been huge. Over the course of my career, when I've been able to do that is the time I've played my best.

It's frustrating when you have to rehab and do all these little bitty BS exercises that are tedious, but in the end, allow you to get to a point where we can train.

Q. You remarked earlier about being upset for a while after the round yesterday because of the finish. You're typically pretty good about putting that stuff behind you. Did it help you though this time? Was that a good kind of mad or does it sometimes get in the way?

TIGER WOODS:
I was fine today. Once I got up, it was a new day, but last night I was pretty hot.

Q. You've been through this 10,000 times, but what is it like for you the night before a final round when you know you have a chance to win the thing? Are you nervous? Do you sleep well? Any sort of quirks, things that you do?

TIGER WOODS:
Well, you guys know I don't sleep much, so it's not that. I'm excited about tomorrow. More than anything, I'm curious to see if we get any rain and what the conditions are going to be tomorrow, and I'll play it from there.

Q. You seem more demonstrative on the course today than you have in a while, why?

TIGER WOODS:
I don't know. I honestly don't know.

Q. I've got to ask you, how did you enjoy playing with Gonzo today? Did you feel Gonzo was a lot more relaxed than when you played him in the Match Play last year?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, he was. He's certainly more relaxed when you're not playing head‑to‑head. We're playing for a position. And it's totally different playing in an 18‑hole match versus you have 36 holes left in a tournament to play. He can play his own game and he can do whatever he wants. Match Play is a totally different deal.

But he played well. He hit a lot of good shots, and he made a few putts. Under these conditions, that was not exactly easy to do.

Q. How cognizant are you of the fact that if you win this event, it will tie a PGA TOUR record for winning the same event the most number of times, and how important are records to you?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I guess it would be, but I look at the fact that I've won Torrey eight times. I guess no one counts the U.S. Open.

Q. I don't know if we make too much of this and piggy backing off Mike's question, as a seven‑time winner here, does a feeling of confidence come over you like a wave when you show up here, or is each of the seven wins a separate and distinct event that does not connect to each other?

TIGER WOODS:
They're all different. They're all different. Just because I've won here doesn't insure that I'm going to win the tournament. The conditions are different; the game might be different, but the objective is still to put myself in position to win the golf tournament and somehow get it done on Sunday. Over the course of my career I've done a pretty decent job of that.

Q. How important is becoming No. 1 in the world again if you win the tournament?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, it sort of was one of my goals to get back to that position after being out of the top 50 there for a while, being hurt, and having all my points come off where I couldn't play. That was not a fun stretch, but I had to get healthy in order to compete, and so far I've had five wins on our TOUR in the last couple years. So I'm heading in the right direction.

Q. How many college basketball games did you watch last night? How therapeutic was it? At what point did you calm down?

TIGER WOODS:
I watched just about everyone I could until the very end, and yes.

JOHN BUSH: Tiger Woods, thank you, sir.

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