Tiger’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Press Conference: Friday
Q: Second round with five birdies and two bogeys. Give us your thoughts on your play today.
TIGER WOODS: I thought I played well today. I made a couple putts here and there but it was tough out there. The greens got a little quicker, a little bit drier and the rough is certainly getting deeper and more lush. So it definitely puts a premium on driving the ball in the fairway and like we were talking about, it seems like every diagonal hole or dogleg, the wind was coming across the opposite direction, so it wasn’t working with the dogleg which made these fairways even narrower.
Q: Yesterday you said you struggled to read these greens. You sorted that out? How did you do that?
TIGER WOODS: I got more committed to it. Once I read the green, I said just play it and trust it. Yesterday a couple of times I was at a distance where the green was changing and I said just be committed to one grain and if it does change it does change. Just go ahead and rip it down there. Worked out all right today.
Q: How confident are you feeling about your game at the moment?
TIGER WOODS: I’m playing well. Feel like I’m swinging well and a lot of things that Sean and I have been working on are starting to feel very comfortable and consequently I’m shooting good scores.
Q: How much have you enjoyed playing with Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy the last two days?
TIGER WOODS: We had a good time out there. We are obviously focusing on our game quite hard but also we had a few conversations here and there. But all in all it was generally pretty quiet. This golf course is playing difficult enough where you can’t really laugh and joke your way around a golf course because you know you’re not going to make nine birdies in a day. It’s not that type of golf course; a lot of us were kind of head down and blinders on.
Q: How excited about going into the weekend in this position?
TIGER WOODS: I’m only two back. It is a bunched leaderboard. So many guys have a chance to win. Just got to keep plugging along and keep doing what I’m doing.
Q: How would you compare Friday to Thursday’s round?
TIGER WOODS: I hit it about the same. Just made a few more putts. That was about it.
Q: How frustrating is it when you can’t combine the two between ball-striking and making putts?
TIGER WOODS: Well, this golf course, it’s a driving premium. You have to drive the ball well here. Once you do that, the greens are pretty big. So you can be pretty aggressive. They have not tucked a lot of the pins. They have been pretty nice to us, but still, these greens are still tough to read and reading a lot of lips, the three of us today and certainly yesterday, as well.
Q: When greens are tough to read, is that something that you can work on on the practice putting green or something that you have to keep playing through?
TIGER WOODS: A couple of the putts, the grain was transitioning yesterday. It was changing directions as I was going through the putt. Today I just said, if it happens to go two different directions, but if it’s generally the same thing, go ahead and play it because the greens are fast enough. Yesterday they were snagging it more because it’s just fresh and slower. Today being quicker, the grain didn’t have as much of an effect so it was a little bit easier to putt.
Q: Take people inside the ropes a little bit. When you’re playing with two big players, Rory and Luke, what is it like as far as conversation, competitiveness, silence, what is it like?
TIGER WOODS: We talked certainly but not that much. The nature of this golf course is you’re not going to go and shoot nine or ten birdies. It’s not one of those kind of golf courses. You have to be pretty focussed. A lot of us were– I’d say the majority of us the last couple of days were head down, blinders on. We didn’t really come out of our zones because it’s the type of golf course you just can’t. It’s playing too difficult.
Q: Dubai last year you had a chance over the weekend and now you obviously have a chance going into this weekend. How different of a player are you from 12 months ago?
TIGER WOODS: Certainly I have much more experience within the system and I’ve grown to understand what Sean wants me to do and how my body is going to do those things and produce the numbers he wants me to produce. So that’s 12 months more knowledge.
Q: All in all, I would imagine that’s a pretty satisfying opening 36 holes under your belt.
TIGER WOODS: It was. I hit the ball well the last couple days. Today I made a few more putts. The golf course is playing so difficult out there. As I was saying, as we were talking out there today, it seemed like every dog-leg the wind was coming across a dog-leg the wrong way, so it wasn’t– we were working the ball against the dogleg and against the wind. Not too many of these doglegs where the wind was actually going with you, so you could actually work it with it. It was going against it. So it just made for a very difficult day and as you can see the scores are not very low, we are pretty bunched.
Q: When circumstances are such as that, is that what you’re looking for in many respect, the ultimate test of your game?
TIGER WOODS: You’re just grinding along, you’re just being very patient. If you get the ball in the fairway, these greens are flat enough where you can be pretty aggressive. The Tour has set it up so that it’s really not that difficult, the flags, but the premium is getting the ball in play, because the rough is so deep that you’re not guaranteed to be able to get the ball to the green. That’s the thing is that it’s deep enough and it’s thick enough that even a good lie is still marginal. A bad lie is obviously there’s no chance.
Q: And what was the key to a performance that obviously got more to grips with the greens today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the greens were a little bit faster. The grain had less effect. Yesterday I had most of my putts, for some reason, seemed like the grain was transitioning. It was changing direction as it moved towards the hole so today– I had a couple of those today but the greens were a touch faster so didn’t really have that much of a pull, so consequently I made a few more putts.
Q: How exciting is it to be going into the weekend in the mix? In that respect, it must feel like mission accomplished for this stage?
TIGER WOODS: So far. We have 36 holes to go and there’s a lot of guys that have got a chance to win this golf tournament so certainly I need to do my job and progress up that leaderboard and see what happens.
Q: It’s the third straight stroke-play event where you’re there through 36 holes and giving yourself chances now. What’s it like now especially compared to six, eight months ago where you could not even walk hardly. Do you consider this fast to get back to this point?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn’t say fast, but it’s probably six, eight months if you would have asked me if I would understand the system as well as I do and the numbers I’m producing, I probably would have said no. Because I can understand certain patterns and certain– maybe didn’t have the true depth of what Sean wanted my to do. Now I do and when we talk, it’s very simple.
Q: Seems like your swing is more effortless than it had been before and you’re hitting it farther but not swinging as hard?
TIGER WOODS: Correct.
Q: What do you attribute that to? Is it confidence?
TIGER WOODS: No, I’m having the club head in the right position. It’s amazing when I’m able to do that, the speed I’m able to produce. The club is in a similar position that I had when I was younger. I’m doing it a slightly different way, better mechanics but a similar position. But I’m overall much stronger. So with that combination, I should be hitting the ball further.
Q: I think this is the first time you and Rory have been paired together in an official event. Can you comment on his play?
TIGER WOODS: We have played a few times but not an official event. I’ve seen him play. Yesterday he struggled a little bit off the tee, and got up-and-down quite a bit. Today he hit the ball a little bit better. Got off to a poor start and had a couple bad holes but overall he grinded his way around the golf course today. With a rules infraction and big putt for bogey there at 11 and then obviously the double there at 9. So overall, he hung in there pretty well.
Q: What did you make of the rules incident? Have you ever seen a pro do that before?
TIGER WOODS: I’ve seen a pro use a towel when a towel was illegal at the time.
Q: Didn’t seem to putt him off at all; he birdied straight after?
TIGER WOODS: He hit a beautiful drive down there and a 5-wood up on the green and 2-putted. Obviously made a mistake at 11 but came right back.
Q: Do you think two shots is fair for that one?
TIGER WOODS: The rules are the rules.
Q: 3-under par for the second round, there was plenty of room for more birdies. How do you feel about the second round?
TIGER WOODS: I thought I played well today. I hit the ball just as well as I did yesterday and made a couple more putts today which is nice. But the golf course is playing difficult. It’s starting to speed up a little bit and the greens were quicker, drier, and it was tough. I mean, look at the scores, no one is going low. Everyone’s pretty bunched and I think we have the majority of the field within nine shots of the lead which is pretty amazing.
Q: How do you feel going into the weekend just two shots behind the leader?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I’m right there but still, right now, I’m in third place and there’s eight guys at third. Which could be more by the end of the day, who knows. So it’s a bunched board but got to go out there and I’ve got to produce over the next two days.