WGC-Bridgestone Invitational interview: Tiger Woods

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August 02, 2013

KELLY BARNES: Please welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room. Tiger, you shot a 61, tied the course record. Can you take us through your scorecard a little bit?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I got off to a really nice start there. I was 4‑under through 3.

I made a huge save at 6, drove it left and pitched out and hit a 6‑iron in there to about 25 feet left of the hole, made that.

Stuffed it at 7 and made that.

Made nice birdies at 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 was a big save. 14 was a nice one to get, hit a bad drive to the right there and hit a sweet second shot up there and thought it was going to be a good spot, but I had a weird angle, had to pitch it over the corner, pitched it down there to about 10 feet and made it.

16, I stuffed it in there and blocked the putt‑‑ sorry, 15.

17, again, I stuffed it in there and talked myself out of the read.

And then 18, I made a nice bomb there for par.

KELLY BARNES:
Can you make a few comments on playing with Hideki Matsuyama, great young player, and what it was like to play with him.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the kid has got a lot of game. He hits it great. You can tell he's young because he hits those little short ones, whew, they fly in the hole. He hits them pretty aggressively, and he has no thought of ever missing any of those things.

Joey and I were talking about it today, as you get older you start thinking about where is India or where is the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean or wherever it is, he just rams it in there. Pretty good stuff. You can tell he's got a lot of talent. It's just a matter of time before he breaks through.

Q. At what point are you thinking 59, or does that even cross your mind? And is that a barrier? I know you've shot it at home, but what kind of a barrier is it, and how do you approach it when you're closing in on it?

TIGER WOODS:
You know, the funny thing is I didn't feel uncomfortable at all about being there. The good news is I have shot it before, as you were saying. I shot it at home back in '97, and to do that at the time at my course, you had to be 13 deep to do it. I was only 9 today at that point.

I've been 10‑, 11‑under par before out here, so to be 9 is nothing that was uncomfortable or unusual. If I had to get to 13, it would be a different story; that's a lot. But just a couple more coming in, I had two opportunities to make a couple putts there at 15 and 17, so it certainly was an opportunity, but when you're playing a par‑70, it's certainly a lot easier.

But still, 9‑under through 13 is pretty good.

Q. Just wondering, on a scale of 1 to 10, what sort of score would you give it?

TIGER WOODS:
How about just pleased? I'm very happy I was able to post that. I just kept thinking, you know, whatever lead I had, let's just keep increasing this lead, and I think it's at seven now, I believe. So not too bad after two days.

Still have two days and we have some weather coming in, golf in threesomes. So the golf course will be playing slow tomorrow, and we're going to take our time and go about our business.

Q. How does this round compare to your '90s and early 2000s in terms of your putting and your drives at the green?

TIGER WOODS:
I felt like I putted well today. I hit a lot of good putts yesterday. I don't think I missed a putt inside 10, 12 feet yesterday. And today was like that.

You know, that's kind of how I felt like I've been putting is I've hit all my lines. It's just a matter of getting the speed, and I'm starting the ball on my spots. Just got to keep working on the speed, and my speed has been really good the last two days.

Q. Do you remember who you were playing with at Isleworth?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I was playing with Mo, Mark O'Meara.

Q. Can you say what it was worth to you?

TIGER WOODS:
We were playing fives auto ones, and he lost a boatload (laughter) playing for only that nominal denomination.

And then the very next day an even better story is that we played nine holes, and I was 5‑under through 9, and then parred 10 and made a hole‑in‑one at 11. He just drove his cart home. (Laughter.)

That's actually a better story. He didn't say a word to me.

Q. Two quick things: On 16, did you have any chance to go‑‑ it seemed like you bombed your drive. Did you have any chance on the second shot to go for it? And also, at what point, or how much are you thinking, all right, I've got to worry about the tournament more than trying to shoot 60 or‑‑

TIGER WOODS:
Well, the number was good to go. I could have easily gotten there, but the problem was I was in the first cut but I was against the grain. If it was downgrain I would have gone, but against the grain, this grass is so thick, it just doesn't fly out of the first cut, and I just can't take that chance.

If it was sitting downgrain, I probably would have gone. It was 270, I can easily clear that and knock it over the back, but not with it into the grain. I laid up there and I had a lay‑up to a perfect number, but I laid up in a slight depression. And I was on the down side of the depression but also against the grain because of how they cut it. I just can't take a chance. I've got to play long and play safe, which I did.

Q. Is that the example of not wanting to hurt your position in the tournament?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I just can't afford to take that chance. Even if I was, let's say, one or two back with that position on 16, I still couldn't have cleared it, confidently cleared that water with it being into the grain like that. And then with it being wet, as I said, it would have been a totally different story if it was downgrain.

Q. What was the perfect number on 16?

TIGER WOODS:
I laid up down there, I had 89.

Q. Of the many shots you hit today, which one was the best, you're most pleased with, and is there any aspect of your game that you're more pleased with than any others?

TIGER WOODS:
Well, I hit a lot of good iron shots today (smiling). I hit a sweet one, people think it's probably pretty easy because I had a wedge in there, but 10 was a pretty sweet little shot, to take the spin off of it and draw it in there and skip it up, land on the crest and make sure it's not going to hop over the back, but then again, if you hit it with cut spin it's coming back down the hill. I took all that out of play. That's always nice when you pull off stuff like that.

I felt like I drove it really well today, even the last two days, even though I hit a couple loose ones. But I felt like I really hit it well. I'm really pleased obviously with the way I'm putting, really making some nice putts from 15 feet on in.

Q. You had about three or four really nice par saves today. Can you talk about how that helped your round?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, I always think that it's probably more important to make those par putts than it is making birdies, keeping cards clean with no dropped shots is always the key. You get so much more‑‑ I get more excited when I make key par putts than even birdies. They're momentum builders.

I had an opportunity to drop a shot there at 6; I don't. I stuff it at 7, make birdie, and it just adds to the round. That's basically a two‑shot swing easily right through there, that little section, and it just turned my round into something really positive on that front nine, when it looked like I was probably going to lose a shot there, and whether I was going to get a shot back on the next three holes on the front nine remained to be seen.

Q. Would you consider this among the top 10 rounds that you've ever played and is there any tiny sense of not shooting your first 59 in competition?

TIGER WOODS:
Top 10 rounds? I don't know about that.

Q. Top 20?

TIGER WOODS:
It's up there; how about that? Certainly it's up there, but I don't know about top 10. I remember I had four of them at Pebble Beach that one year in 2000. Three of them were pretty good at Augusta in '97, so we're at seven right there.

No, it was certainly‑‑ I had a lot of control today from tee to green and obviously the way I putted. I felt I was in total control of my game. Obviously things like that don't happen every day, and it's fun when it all comes together and I was able to take advantage of it, especially on a golf course like this. This is not exactly an easy golf course. As you can see, 6‑under is in second, so the guys aren't tearing this apart. And the fact that I was able to shoot what I shot today, I'm very proud of that.

Would it have been nice to shoot 59? Yeah, it would have been nice. I certainly had the opportunity. I had five holes to go, but as I was saying earlier, I was only 9‑under par. As I said, it's different when you have to get to 13 and things of that nature to shoot 59. But I just had two more out of five holes. And if you look at it, I had two good chances at 15 and 17 to do it. But the par putt at 18 was even bigger.

Q. Two things real quickly, first of all: When you warmed up today, did you have a feeling going to the first tee that you were going to shoot not necessarily 60 or 61, but certainly a good number today?

TIGER WOODS:
The way I hit it on the range I thought that realistically I was going to shoot something in the high to mid 60s. I thought that was going to be good, just get 7‑ or 8‑under par. I thought that was going to be‑‑ just basically double what I had yesterday. I thought that was going to be a good number to shoot. I thought that would be either tied for the lead if not leading by the end of the day, and that was the mindset going out.

Next thing you know, I'm already there through three holes. So okay, maybe we can take advantage of it and let's try and get a few more out of here. Next thing you know, I get on a run there after the turn, and lo and behold, the round dynamics totally changed. They went from let's try and shoot something like 7‑ or 8‑under par, and next thing you know I'm at 9‑under par through 13.

Q. Secondly, just wanted to hear the rest of the story. After O'Meara leaves, do you play the rest of the round, and what do you shoot?

TIGER WOODS:
No, I didn't. I came in, as well. He didn't talk to me for a day. Texted him; nothing. Called him; nothing.

Q. It seemed like until the birdie putt on 12 that you didn't really display much emotion on the course. Is that something you were aware of today or was that at all a conscious decision through that round?

TIGER WOODS:
No, I wasn't aware of that at all. I was just playing my round, and obviously moments happen. For me when I get excited, I get excited. I think 18 was one of them. It was nice to end the day like that and not drop a shot, and then to post the number I posted, it felt good. And I think that's what that emotion was.

But most of the day I was just plodding along and trying to put my ball in the right spot and trying to give myself as many birdie looks as I possibly could because I was putting so well, just keep giving myself looks, I'm going to make my share today if I give myself enough looks.

Q. Could you compare this to your 61 here in 2000 when it was after the PGA and you won by a whole bunch in the dark and it was your greatest year? How does this rank to that?

TIGER WOODS:
You know, that was‑‑ I would have to say that was probably a little bit more difficult to do, coming off of the PGA win. We're all pretty tired at the time and spent from being‑‑ you have to remember, I was in a playoff, and to try and win three in a row that year, the emotional energy that that took, it was tough. My practice rounds were absolutely dreadful. I didn't hit it worth a darn. I was just‑‑ I would hit snipes and blocks and whatever. I didn't really care, until Thursday came along and all of a sudden I got my juices flowing come Thursday and my tournament built from there, and I shot 61, I think, on Saturday.

Q. You're focused on your round, but in a round like this do you sense anything from the gallery? Do you sense any tension or excitement or anything?

TIGER WOODS:
Oh, they were excited. You could hear it more than feel it. You definitely could hear it. They were into it.

Q. Does that do anything for you?

TIGER WOODS:
Yeah, it's nice. It's nice to be playing in front of people that are excited like that, and especially people aren't yelling just because your ball gets in the air. You know, we are pros. (Smiling).

Q. Obviously shooting 59, 60 is not easy, but given all the gains in technology and fitness over the years, since you've turned pro there's only been three. Does that surprise you at all, that 59 has not been shot more often given all the other gains in distance and all that sort of stuff?

TIGER WOODS:
You know what, there's no doubt, we are hitting it farther. The clubs are more forgiving, and everything is just‑‑ our equipment is just that much better. But also every golf course we go to is longer and they're narrowing it up.

Before it was the 260 mark, and now it's near the 300 mark. They're pinching it in. And so it's conceivable, yeah, but you're seeing the cuts being so much lower. I just can't‑‑ it's hard to believe how many cuts are at 3‑ and 4‑under par. That was never the case when I came out on TOUR. They were never that low. You're not getting a collection of 70 plus guys that are going that low that are all together. But shooting‑‑ whether it's 11, 12 or 13 deep, that's a lot.

But you're seeing it a lot, like the guys on the Web.com are going out there and shooting those numbers. Notah shot it out there and this kid just shot it out there in Idaho. It's happening, but I just don't think‑‑ actually it hasn't happened out here that often.

Q. Is there disappointment at all, you don't get many opportunities for this? It's a rare chance to even be this close that you needed two birdies in the last five?

TIGER WOODS:
Am I disappointed? Absolutely not, nope. 61 is pretty good. I'm not bummed.

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