Tiger’s Pebble Beach press conference: Saturday
THE MODERATOR: Welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. General thoughts on your round at Pebble today.
TIGER WOODS: I didn’t hit it as well as I did the last two days but made some more putts and really managed my game well today. I missed in all the right spots, and even though my game was slightly off today, it’s not as off as it used to be, which is very good.
Q. Four straight stroke-play events now, you’re right there with a chance on Sunday. What is the same about the old days, these scenarios where you’re right there like you always used to be, and maybe what’s different now.
TIGER WOODS: Well, it’s a different swing. But the scenario doesn’t change; the ultimate goal is to win a golf tournament.
So the whole idea of making these swing changes was become more consistent and I’m starting to see that now. My start lines are much tighter now. I don’t hit the ball as far off line as I used to, and my ball doesn’t curve as much. So consequently my off-days are not as far off.
On top of that, if you make a few putts like I did today, and get it rolling, and had a nice little stretch there where I probably could have birdied six holes in a row, so it was close.
Q. Even though you weren’t striking it as well as you were the last couple of days, you did talk yesterday afterwards about getting that momentum going and seeing some of the putts drop. Is that what you were waiting for, that stretch today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a bad iron shot there at 13 and was trying to play off the right side of the green and get it to the right and keep it off the hill and got a tap-in, so looked like I was having a tough time making par, and I was making birdie and off we go. Sometimes we need those type of momentum swings in a round, and from there I made some putts.
Q. You said you didn’t hit it as well today as you did the last two rounds. Was there anything specific? What was the problem today?
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. I need to go hit some balls after this and get it dialed in like I did the last couple days. It’s not far off. I can just feel it, slightly off. Could be a simple thing as posture. Could be just a couple little things. But I need to go hit some balls to try and figure that out. Shouldn’t take too long.
Q. How much more exciting is it for you going into a final round when you’re in contention, as opposed to when you’re not?
TIGER WOODS: That’s why we play is to be there and that’s why I train as hard as I do and practice as hard as I do is to put myself in those positions. And when you’re not in those positions, it’s frustrating because the majority of the time when we play golf, we are not in those positions. That’s the tough part of our sport.
So of late, I’ve been putting myself in these positions, and it feels good.
Q. The back nine today, your front nine on the course, remind you of 2010, third round of the U.S. Open at all?
TIGER WOODS: No. The score may sound like it, but the Open is infinitely harder. The back nine I played during that Open was a good back nine. I hit a lot of good golf shots.
Today, I really didn’t. I just made some putts. When you play 17 where you’re hitting a holdy 8-iron versus roasting a 3-iron, things are slightly different.
Q. You said in the past, the thrill of golf is being in the hunt, and when you get on the board today and you’re moving up, are you just like, hey, here we go again?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was trying to keep in touch with Charlie. Charlie was over at Spy and he was playing well. Every time I looked up the at board, he got off to a quick start. I think he was like 1-under through two or three holes, and he kept building on that round. I needed to at least close the gap so I’m within touch tomorrow. I figured I had to shoot a good one today.
Q. Yesterday he told us about a junior, playing El Dorado–
TIGER WOODS: I don’t remember it but it sounds like a good story. (Laughter) For my version, I think it went in. (Laughter).
Q. Do you feel like you’re able to fix things mid-round now more so than in the past? And secondly, do you feel like you’re back to the point where you’re able to turn a 70 into a 67 and things like that?
TIGER WOODS: Well, define past, because with Hank or with Butch or with Sean, it’s different, or in transitions — that’s a long answer, Bro.
But as far as this model that I’m swinging in now, I understand it. I understand what I need to do. And sometimes I’m not always able to do it, but I know that my bad days — my start lines are not what they used to be. I don’t curve the ball left-to-right or right-to-left as much. The start lines are much tighter.
Consequently, when my days are bad or I’m off, it’s not that far off. You know, that’s the beauty of it. That’s why I enjoyed working with Sean and what we are doing. That’s the exciting part about it, is that the ball just doesn’t move as much as it used to.
Q. How many different game plans do you have for this place, or is it the same game plan or do you adjust or do you keep a notebook or how does that work?
TIGER WOODS: It changes every time we play, because sometimes we are playing U.S. Opens, sometimes we are playing super-soft condition here where we are hitting 8-irons from 120 yards, things like, that to try and take spin off of some of these back pins.
This week the greens are firm, even though it’s rained but the front part is not. So you hit a line in the front, three or four, five steps from the green, it comes off or it stops, you land it two more steps and it’s gone.
So we have to adjust on the fly, and I think that’s — some parts of the grains are similar to U.S. Opens and some parts are similar to when it’s been soft here.
Q. Do you know on holes, the greens — do you keep track of that?
TIGER WOODS: I know how most greens behave as far as drainage, yes, but I can’t play a practice round over here. But I’ve got a pretty good feel within a couple of holes of how they are going to be playing.
Q. Total softball question for you. When someone screams, “I love you, Tiger,” and it’s a dude, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
TIGER WOODS: As long as you don’t say it. (Laughter).
Q. I know you don’t remember when you were nine, but any other memories of playing with Charlie in college maybe?
TIGER WOODS: I remember playing at North Ranch. Stanford was playing there and I think he was with Reno or something like that. I remember that part of it. But a lot of the junior golf more so than college golf.
And then a few amateur events here and there throughout the country we were playing. He didn’t really play a lot of AJGA stuff that I played in, so we kind of missed generations in that regard.
Q. Unrelated question, at some point last year, whether at the Fry’s or one of the majors, you said, “I miss winning,” and obviously you won the Chevron, and that’s not considered an official event; how much did that sate it and how much more different would it be to within a full field?
TIGER WOODS: A win is a win. I’ve won my share of events, and it feels good. That’s the ultimate goal and that’s what we set out to do at the beginning of every event is to win it. That’s the goal tomorrow, as well.
Q. Time-wise, your dad knew your putting stroke better than everyone and could fix it with one sentence; who fills that role now, and do you still hear your dad’s voice in your head sometimes?
TIGER WOODS: I go back to a lot of my dad’s teachings. I’ve written a lot of it down over the years, just from memory of what he used to teach me. I tried to do different putting styles under Butch and Hank, but when push comes to shove, I revert back. And when I have to make them, it’s a must-make putt, I revert back to a lot of my dad’s teachings. It’s something I know; it’s natural, and it’s worked in the past.
Q. What do you still love learning good golf?
TIGER WOODS: I love learning and love competing and love winning.
Q. Do you recall Charlie winning the Pac-10 Championship, and is the rivalry as fierce in golf as it is in football?
TIGER WOODS: No, I didn’t. I only played in one Pac-10 Championship. My freshman year, I was hurt and did not play. I only played my sophomore year. As far as the golf side, no, no. We are just better than them, anyways, in all sports.
Q. Given that each day you’ve had something missing, you haven’t had like everything clicking, are you surprised that you’re in the mix with one thing not there each day? And secondly, looking back six months, are you surprised how fast this is happening now, like you’re back in contention regularly?
TIGER WOODS: The first part of your question, am I surprised, no, because that’s what I like about what I’m working on with Sean.
And the speed that it’s come is I’m finally healthy to be able to do it. I was hurt for most of last year and couldn’t do anything. So when you can’t practice, you can’t make changes and you can’t ingrain those changes. I’ve been able to do it, and been able to do build on it.
Q. Are you surprised at how fast it’s come together?
TIGER WOODS: No. Not when I’m healthy, no.
Q. Third straight week of a guy trying to win his first TOUR event, whether it’s one win or 70 wins in your case, what does that mean on a Sunday when you’re trying to do it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, one, it feels good. It feels good to be there. And on top of that, it feels even better when we are able to win the event.
So I’ve been in the same situation Charlie was in, and you know, it’s fun. I enjoyed it, and over the years I’ve enjoyed it as well.
Q. With regard to Joe LaCava, what are the things that make him such a good fit for you, when you were deciding on the decision, what you were going to do with him and just what about him makes him a good fit for you?
TIGER WOODS: He’s just as competitive as I am. I know that. He’s feisty, and I like his demeanor on the golf course. He may be competitive, but he’s pretty mellow and pretty relaxed out there. I guess when you’re working with Fred it’s kind of hard not to be relaxed.
THE MODERATOR: Tiger Woods, thank you.