MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room. Tiger, you got it to 10-under today. If you want to talk about your round, and we'll have a few questions.
TIGER WOODS: It was a solid round of golf. I felt like I actually hit it better yesterday than I did today. I've made more putts today for sure. I felt great over the putter. My speed was good. I left a couple putts dead short, right in the center of the hole. Actually it really could have been a really low round today. A lot of positives today.
Q: It looks like you got that high approach shot that lands pretty softly nicely back, the shot you hit on 17, for instance. And secondly, playing with the lead, I know you said to us at Chevron, it's like, "I've been here all along." But playing with the lead now, getting back into that, does it take you a bit of time to get used to? Are you going to change anything, or do you just remember how it used to go?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not like -- it hasn't been that long, you know. I had the lead at Abu Dhabi this year. So it really has not been as long as people might think it has been. (Chuckling). I'm comfortable up there and I feel like I'm playing well. You know, we've still got a long way to go. We still have 36 holes to go. Still need to continue doing what I'm doing out there, just kind of plodding my way along.
The hard part about this golf course now is that the greens are a little bit inconsistent with firmness. Some greens are sticking and some greens are repelling, and you don't know which one is which. That's one of the more difficult, tricky parts about it, because you can hit good shots, and one sticks and one kind of hops over the back.
Q: I know yesterday you talked about how the place fits your eye obviously, but can you expand a little bit on what it does to a player who has had success at a place before? Even though there's been mild changes along the way, it's still the same look. What does that do for you when you are at a place like here or Augusta that you've won multiple times?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, fortunately, I've had a few places where I've felt comfortable and I've played well, and this is one of them. Even though, as you said, the routing, the design has changed over the years a few times, but the routing still the same. But for some reason, I just feel comfortable on this golf course.
You know, the greens have I think gone -- since I've played here, three times they have redone these greens. For some reason, I just understand how to play it.
Q: What does that do for you moving forward? Is there a certain comfort level that maybe adds to your confidence level as you move into the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's always been the case that certain golf courses, no matter how I'm playing coming in, I feel comfortable once I get there; that's this one, Doral has been like that, Firestone, Augusta, Torrey Pines. So I've had a few places where I've had a pretty good record at, and fortunately, this is one of them.
Q: What do you know about Jason Dufner? You'll be playing with him tomorrow. Have you ever played with him?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Duf, I've played with him before, and he's fun (smiling). He's fun to play with.
You know, obviously he's playing well. Ever since last year's PGA on, he's really played well. Seems like he's taken his game to another level.
Q: Secondly, very many good shots today, but kind of got a way with a drive at 10 that you made into a par, and it was obvious you didn't like your second at 16 and ended up in a spot where you could convert a birdie. Is that sort of a thing that I guess turns a good round into an exceptional round? Is that the difference is getting away with something occasionally?
TIGER WOODS: The shot at 16 wasn't a very good shot and neither was the one at 10.
Unfortunately I saw Ruby hit his tee shot, when we were on 1, we were teeing off at the same time and Ruby hit it out-of-bounds. I got over there and I'm -- for some reason, I'm thinking, you know, I probably really shouldn't hit this driver; I'll take something off of it, and just hit a little softy out there, and bailed out on it, because I didn't want to hit it right out-of-bounds.
And I chalked that up to just not listening to my instincts of hitting a 3-iron down there or just chipping a 5-wood; or not watch Ruby hit that shot. (Laughter).
Q: You often talk about process, and today you have such a strong result. What do you take away from this round?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I feel that, as I said, I didn't hit it quite as good as I did yesterday. I putted better but I didn't make any bad mistakes. I was positioning my golf ball in the correct spots.
You know, I just felt that even though my stuff wasn't as good as it was yesterday, it wasn't that bad, either. And that's the neat thing about what I'm working on with Sean is that my bad days are not as bad as they used to be; just a little bit tighter.
Q: Just as a follow, and I don't know how easy it is to answer this. Last time you were 17 of 18 GIR was back in 2008 at the Buick; you won. You did that in the third round; you won by 8. So much has changed; how do you compare then to now in terms of just those performances?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's a totally different golf course. It was soft. It was pretty easy to hit those greens.
This is a little bit different. This golf course is only going to get firmer and faster. We came out today on the range and the range was baked out. They didn't put any water on the range. It was like, oohh, this golf course could be a little bit of a test today.
There were some guys that shot some good numbers, but they were all in the morning. Guys were not going low in the morning. They didn't go low yesterday afternoon and they didn't go low this afternoon, because the greens are getting up to speed, and as I said some, greens are a little bit crusty.
Q: What's your attitude going forward carrying the lead outright after 36? I know Abu Dhabi, but what's your attitude?
TIGER WOODS: We have a long way to go. We have 36 holes; two rounds. I'm going to go do some work here with Sean and work on a few things, tighten those things up for tomorrow.
Q: I think you had birdies on all the par 5s today, and since the final round at Honda, or at least at Honda, you've been starting to get your old domination of those holes back. What was the difference in the last couple years when you weren't way up there in that stat where you had dominated for so long?
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't as long. You know, I had lost a bit of my length off the tee, and you know, these par 5s, most of them are 570 yards and longer now. Most of the guys that hit a good solid drive is going to be just over 300, but you've still got 270 to go or so and that's a pretty meaty 3-wood.
Now I'm able to get that ball out over 300 yards, and consequently I'm able to play the par 5s better.
Q: So hitting a shorter shot in -- are your iron shots --
TIGER WOODS: A 3-iron or a 5-wood is a lot easier than trying to just rope a 3-wood in there and hope it bites or you get up into a bunker up on the upslope somewhere. It's a little bit easier to control.
Q: Sorry, I didn't see 13, when you missed the green there, did you chip or putt from just off the green?
TIGER WOODS: I putted.
Q: In your new swing with Sean, I'm curious, do you feel like you have the number of shots that you used to have? You always used to talk about, 'I have more shots at my disposal.' Are you at a point with this new swing where you have the high shot, the low shot, the fade, the draw; where you feel like you have every shot in your bag that you need?
TIGER WOODS: I do, but the thing is that's way different is the ball just doesn't move as much. It's just a tighter ball flight, and you know, that's also one of the reasons why I'm hitting the ball further. It's just not wasting any energy curving. It's going straighter.
That's one of the harder adjustments I've had to make with Joey out there on the golf course is I'm not used to hitting the ball that far. And that's a nice thing to have, but also then again, I have to make that adjustment.
The majority of my misses this year, if you look at them, they have all been long. Just not quite used to hitting the ball as far as I am, but I'm making adjustment and it's getting better.
Q: Also, do you ever feel like you have to win? You have a 36-hole lead and it's been a while since you've won. You obviously want to win but do you feel like you need to win this tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I want to win, yes, absolutely. We've got a long way to go. It's not like it's over right now. We've got 36 holes to go.
Q: Talking about the wedges, have you got to a point, or how close are you to being able to finesse the wedges, clip them a little bit, and talk about the difference between that and the full swing, mastering like a nice, full-bore 8-iron and where you have to go to get to like a soft wedge from 110 or something?
TIGER WOODS: That part's easy. I feel like I've got pretty good control of that, anything from a hundred yards and down I feel pretty good about that.
It's the stuff longer than that that I feel slightly uncomfortable with, just because my wedge is going almost a club further. And that's kind of the hard part about it is I'm flushing it, and it's a nice problem to have; but also then again, I've never had this problem where the ball's gone this far.
So taking something off of it, and trusting it to a certain number is the harder part. Say if I want to take something off a wedge and hit it 130, I make that 130 swing of the old days, what I feel like is 130 is going 138. It's just not quite there, because I'm flushing the ball; the ball doesn't curve. It just goes dead straight. Just got to make that adjustment. I'm starting to make it now, which is good.
Q: Is that 125 to 140 range?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because I can -- you know, most of the guys who are longer hitters on TOUR hit their wedge 145 to 150 and that's just a normal stock wedge.
Well, I'm approaching that now. Before, it was topped out at 128. So changing my swing has allowed me to hit the ball further, straighter and obviously with a lot more power.
Q: Looked like you were rolling it good; were you, and were you happy with that? And could you talk about the putt at 18, which looked like it got knocked off line?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Larry, I feel that today was good. I had really good control of my speed today. As I said yesterday when I was done is that I didn't really concentrate on my speed as much as I should have; hence, I had two 3-putts yesterday, and that wasn't going to be the case today.
I went out there and really focused on my speed, made sure that I had perfect speed every putt, and consequently, I made some putts.
The putt on 18, I had a big -- two spike marks in my line and I was hoping that I could under-side it, but I didn't, and end up rolling right over the top of it, kicked it right. But it was dead center, too. That's what's so frustrating.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you, Tiger. Good luck tomorrow.