February 22, 2012

Tiger’s WGC-Accenture press conference: Wednesday

MARK STEVENS: Tiger, thanks for joining us here in the interview room. If you could start us off with thoughts on the day. Hard fought victory on the first round. Your thoughts on the day as a whole.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I don’t think neither one of us had our best stuff today, subsequently the match is back and forth. It was the epitome of match play. I was 2 down through 2 and had a putt there at 3 to not go 3-down through 3. And I had a putt at 9 to go 2-up at the turn. And then all of a sudden I had — I made a huge par-putt at 12 to not go 2 down. It was just a match that was just back and forth. And we both made our share of mistakes; there’s no doubt about that. But somehow I was able to move on.

Q: Did you feel that 14, when you got up and down from that — did you feel like on 14 when you got up and down from a position that was not very easy to get up and down from, and he misses the birdie putt and you guys tie that hole then you drive the next green, he doesn’t make birdie. Did the whole match kind of seem to change right there?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we had probably two of those swings today. At 9, I looked like I’m going to go 2-up. And next thing you know, I’m 1-down, possibly going 2 down, if I don’t make a big par-putt on 12. And then at 14, 15, 16, it swings again. For some reason that was the nature of our match today. We had some big swings and as I said, I’m very fortunate to move on.

Q: Could you just talk about the couple of holes in the cactus and then driving it on the par-4 at the end was a big easy birdie, kind of when you needed it, I don’t think you’d had one since the 8th hole?

TIGER WOODS: I just hit a bad tee shot at 10. After all that I still had a putt to halve a hole and I missed it. And then at 11, I was kind of right between clubs. I mean it’s hard to convince myself when I have 272 to the hole and it’s a smooth 3-iron, and I decided to take off 5-wood and try to chip it down there and put it either in the bunker or left, so I have an easy pitch up the hill. And I hit it too far, hit 280.

Q: In the bush.

TIGER WOODS: It was just one of those things.

Q: Speaking of cacti, on No. 2, it looked like before you hit the left handed second shot you were actually contemplating hitting over the bush, like having the bush between you and the ball and making that swing. How much of an option was that?

TIGER WOODS: Not really, because I couldn’t get — I had too much of the bush was going to grab the shaft. And I couldn’t guarantee I was going to make contact with the golf ball. And that’s why I didn’t do it. Left-handed, I’m guaranteed to make contact with the golf ball. And the only thing — then by playing left-handed now there’s a rock that was behind the golf ball on the left-handed path, so now I’ve got to get steep with a left-handed shot, which I don’t normally do. In practice trying to get steeper on a left-handed shot, but I tried to do it and ended up catching the rock so I didn’t go very far.

Q: It seemed like either one of those options would not be something you practiced very often?

TIGER WOODS: Left-handed shot you practice now and then just in a contest with the guys, but not when there’s a rock in the way and you’ve got to hit some kind of steep draw, no.

Q: You missed a couple, but you made a big putt on 18. You made a couple of other putts. After the final round at Pebble, are you more encouraged the way you got the ball there?

TIGER WOODS: You know, today was — I hit a couple of bad putts, I’m not going to deny that. I did hit a couple of bad putts. But I had a hard time reading these greens. You have the slope of the greens, there’s the valley down there, but then the grain on the greens isn’t matching up with the valley. So a lot of times it goes with the slopes on the greens. So how much do you play for each? And I talked myself out of probably two or three putts that, you know, I hit it and if I would have gone with my first instinct I would have made it. I was lucky to have had that putt on 18 where I saw his putt. His putt hung on the edge. The valley didn’t take it. And you would think that my putt should be a left-to-right putt, it was actually right-to-left, which is way different, because when it came down the slope it was a left-to-righter. I was thinking, well, I know what it did coming down the hill, but I just saw his putt and I kept reading it, well, this putt is right-to-left now. This is way different to how it rolled off the bunker, just trust it and see what happens. And I poured it in there.

Q: You mentioned you didn’t play your best today. Obviously you’re not feeling your best, either. What are your concerns having to come back tomorrow morning?

TIGER WOODS: I’ve got to hit the ball a little better than I did. And I’ll certainly do that. I’ve got to get a better feel for my distances out here. Just the numbers that we can hit the golf ball out here is just amazing, with the altitude and with the wind and being warm. There’s a lot of numbers going on, taking off percentages and then, you know, for how long is this ball going to stay in the air versus a short iron and blah, blah, blah. So it’s tough.

Q: What was the most important shot you hit today and the best one?

TIGER WOODS: Probably the putt on 18.

Q: You seem very relieved on 18 to win thisthing. And you seem like it took a lot out of you when you first got in here. How do you feel after all this?

TIGER WOODS: The match, the way it went, it was just — it was up and down for both of us. He’s 2-up, I have a chance to go 2-up, then I’m almost 2 down again. And then I look like I probably should go 2 down after — on 14 green. Then all of a sudden a couple holes later I’m 1-up. I had a putt to close out the match at 17. Emotionally for both of us, we were back and forth. We were both slapping over there on the left on 10, just — he’s taking an unplayable, I’m in bushes and cactus and cacti or whatever you want to call them, everywhere, and then I have a putt to halve the hole after buried ti in the wash there. It was just an emotional match for both of us, up and down the way it went.

Q: Even with everything on the line there at the end you guys shared a laugh on the 18th green. I was just kind of wondering what that was all about and if you could share that with us?

TIGER WOODS: It was just the nature of the match. It was just like, boy, it was tough. It was tough on both of us. It was just back and forth.

Q: How much did your round with Steve yesterday help you on the greens today?

TIGER WOODS: Zero (laughter).

Q: Care to elaborate?

TIGER WOODS: Okay. What’s less than zero? (Laughter).

Q: Can I follow it up. Different subject. Guys like you played today, O’Malley and some of the underdogs in this tournament, how do you approach a match like that? Do you approach it any differently saying they have less pressure on them because they have nothing to lose?

TIGER WOODS: I approach each match the same way. I try to get off to positive starts and try and put pressure on my opponent by not giving them any holes. Obviously that was not the case today in our match. But that’s certainly the mindset. That doesn’t change from the time I played junior golf all the way up to now. That’s the same mindset. I try to put as much pressure as I possibly can on my opponent. And unfortunately I didn’t do a very good job of it today.

Q: Take us through that up and down there on 18, what did you see coming out of the sand there and how do you think you hit it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I had — I was fortunate enough that it stayed on the upslope, it didn’t get down to the bottom, so I was still on the upslope. And I probably — there’s — before it rolled over the crest, I had a little bit of a flat section. It wasn’t very big, it was probably three or four inches, I could probably put the ball in there. And I said, you know what, all I have to do is clear the lip with spin, don’t try and hit it too hard and fly it down there. Just clear the lip with spin on it. I was just really concentrating on trying to put as much spin as I possibly can, but also just barely clear the lip. Because a lot of times I’ve been in that situation where I tried to hit it too hard to try to get too much air. And I’m not going to try to do it this time, I’m going to barely clear the lip and let it roll down there and give myself a putt down there.

Q: The up and down nature of today for you and the other guy, was it more the way you were playing coming in or is it more the golf course and the way it’s set up and the conditions of it?

TIGER WOODS: Well, as I said earlier, I don’t think either one of us played our best today.