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It was another
It was another "thumbs-up" performance by Tiger Woods in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. (Photo: AP)

Final-round interview with the PGA Grand Slam foursome

Champion Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell talk about their experience at Poipu Bay following Wednesday's final round. PGA of America Director of Communications and Media Relations Julius Mason was the moderator.

JULIUS MASON: We're at the 23rd PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Ladies and Gentlemen, won for a sixth time in seven appearances by Tiger Woods. Your results: Tiger Woods, 131, minus 13; Phil Mickelson 138, minus six; Michael Campbell, 143 minus 1; Vijay Singh, 144, even.

With us first is Michael Campbell. Michael, just generically, some thoughts on your round today, please.

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Today was quite a strange time. The first six holes I had to (indiscernible) the ball on three occasions, on the 1st hole and on the 5th and 6th hole. All three balls went straight left on me. It was quite bizarre really. But I managed to somehow scrape a few birdies coming back home. It was nice to finish under par today.

I think Vijay and I were playing for the wooden spoon award. I managed to pip him by one shot.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.

Q.: Michael, this has been a special week for you. Some of your thoughts, again, regarding playing here for the first time? You'll be at Mercedes, right?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yeah. It's my first time in Hawaii. I really enjoyed the people here. Very hospitable. I think it's nice to come here and be very welcomed by the local people.

Obviously, the Polynesian connection between the Maori and the Hawaiians, it's like playing at home really. The support I received the last couple days has been phenomenal. I'm just happy to be here. It makes you want to come back for more. This week has been a wonderful week. I've really enjoyed myself. Tiger played some outstanding golf today and yesterday. Pretty hard to beat today.

Once again, it was a great spectacle. I enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed the golf course. I enjoyed the three other guys I played with.

Q.: Once again, today it looked like you were steady, steady, steady off the tee, then no putt. You made a 15 footer on 10.

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yeah. I mean, the last couple of days, normally I'm quite good at reading grain on the greens. For some reason I couldn't really read these greens. It cost me a lot of shots the last couple of days.

But I can walk away feeling pretty proud of myself after a big year, winning my first major, winning the World Match Play. But the greens today for me were pretty hard for me to read. I was getting pretty frustrated out there on a lot of occasions, but I wanted to make sure I beat Vijay. I managed to get scrape through. That was my main goal today. Well, it was to come second originally, but Tiger was so far ahead, couldn't stop him. He's a great talent, a great player.

Q.: At the 13th hole, the three of you went for the green, Tiger laid it up, did you get on him or anything?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Well, 295 was the front edge, I think. Driver was too much; 3 wood wasn't enough. Two clubs basically was out of the question. The obvious one was to lay up. It was stupid for him to go for it if he wasn't comfortable with the shot. He wasn't comfortable with the shot, so he decided to hit 6 iron down there instead of hitting 3 wood or driver. 3 wood was too short; driver was way too much. I think he wanted to hit driver. Steve decided to talk him out of it. He hit 6 iron off the tee.

Q.: Playing 36 holes with these guys, did you learn anything new about your competitors or their games or anything?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: I've been playing with these guys for a long time now, the last five, six years. I think you always try to compare yourself with the world's best. You know, Vijay was No. 1 last year, No. 2 this year. It's nice to be in the company of these fine players and learn, once again. I'm always learning off these guys.

For example, Vijay actually taught me a shot at Pinehurst. Remember that, Vijay? The bunker shot. I had trouble with my spin rate, semi plugged lie from those bunkers. I asked Vijay a tip. He gave me a tip on Tuesday. I used it a few times. I used it on 17 in the third round and holed that bunker shot. I used it once again on the 15th hole, par 3, when I hit it short left. So I'm always learning off these guys, watching how they do things, their mannerisms, feed off all of them positively.

JULIUS MASON: Michael, I'd like to thank you for joining us. We will excuse you and move right into Mr. Mickelson and Mr. Singh right now.

Phil, 68 today. Second place in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Your thoughts on your round, please?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it was kind of just a fun, friendly round of golf. It wasn't much of a competition going on out there. We just enjoyed the day. We're I guess looking forward to Thanksgiving. A lot of guys have some tournaments coming up. I know that Tiger's event is pretty soon. But I'm looking forward to another five, six weeks off, then really looking forward to the '06 season. I'm excited about that.

JULIUS MASON: Vijay, thoughts on your round today? A little more pleased today?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, a little bit. I played pretty good yesterday and today. I mean, one or two mistakes here and there. I've been working on a few things in my golf swing, so it was a good time to try it out. Very pleased with the way I played. I didn't slack off out there. I tried pretty hard.

But, you know, need some work looking at how Tiger played for the '06 season to catch up. But I'm looking forward to the upcoming season. I've got the Father and Son next week. I got the rest of the season off. Start strong in Mercedes.

JULIUS MASON: Questions for Vijay or Phil.

Q.: Phil, some problems on 10 and 11, it seemed like. You scrambled on 10. For Vijay, I asked Michael earlier, he didn't seem to be putting his greatest, and you didn't seem to be able to get things to fall. Could you talk about those things.

PHIL MICKELSON: I made a poor swing on 11. I made a double after hitting it into the water. But to be honest with you, I'm surprised that there weren't more of those. I felt very rusty those two days. I didn't feel like I was on top of my game, but I was able to kind of keep it in play, with the exception of that shot and a couple others. I got lucky on 10. Hit a horrible drive there. Got lucky to find it and make par.

For the most part I didn't have too many big mistakes, kept it on the course, was able to finish second, but never really had a serious challenge to the lead.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I mean, I had problems on the green. But that's been a problem for a while for me. You know, I take something positive that I know what I need to work on right now. It's getting the short game down. I think I've neglected that a little bit. I know when I go back what I need to work on. Hopefully when I come back, it's okay.

JULIUS MASON: Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us.

Tiger, we talked a little earlier about your dominance in this event, winning for a sixth time in seven appearances. Why? How? What is it about this event that brings out the best in you?

TIGER WOODS: I learned from the first event. I think Ernie just waxed me (laughter).

No, I feel comfortable on this golf course. I've played it in different wind conditions, the Kona, the Trades, I've played in stroke play, I've played in match play. You play enough times, you get very familiar with the golf course. I feel very comfortable here. Most of the holes really suit my eye. For some reason, I've just kind of put it together every time I've come here.

JULIUS MASON: I'll ask our tournament director if we have a position open on staff, if you're interested. You shoot 64 today. We have to go through the card, birdies, bogeys, throw in some eagles as well if you don't mind.

TIGER WOODS: Okay. Yeah, I got off to a pretty good start. I birdied the 2nd hole. It was a nice, positive way to start off the day. From then, made a bogey, a couple birdies, then all of a sudden at 6 I dropped the bomb there. I said on TV, I think it hit a house and crashed in the hole and went in. Definitely one of those Arnold Palmer putts where it popped up six inches and fell in. From then, I really hit the ball well. Except for the drive I hit there on 15, I feel like I hit the ball really solid, I controlled most of my flights. If anything, I just overshaped it, which is fine. I made a few putts, which was nice.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.

Q.: It's pretty known that you've gone through two swing changes, the mechanics and all. Do you ever feel like it's good enough?

TIGER WOODS: Never good enough.

Q.: Never good enough?

TIGER WOODS: Huh uh. You never get there. That's the thing about any sport: any time you think you've arrived, quit. But I don't think you ever get there. You know, you always got to continue to try to get better. That's what's exciting about tomorrow, the fact I can be better tomorrow than I am today.

Q.: Regarding the clubs in your bag, did you bring a 2 iron on this trip? I didn't see it. In China you had a 5 wood. Today you still have a 5 wood.

TIGER WOODS: I used it all week in Japan.

Q.: You did?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q.: Your driver is regularly 20, 30 yards past the competitors this week. I guess you're not going to switch to the new driver any time soon, are you?

TIGER WOODS: I hit the other driver further, but I just don't shape it as well. I just haven't got the right loft and the launch conditions right yet. Especially my spin rate, Sasquatch takes off spin. The reason why I use the golf ball I use is because I need spin. I don't spin the ball a lot with my longer clubs. My swing's pretty shallow. I need spin. When it takes off spin, it tends to fall out of the sky.

I haven't quite got the spin rate yet on the Sasquatch in order to switch yet. When I did try it and tee it up, I do hit it further. I just need to be able to hit shape shots. Actually in the wind like today, I hit different kinds of golf shots. I just haven't found that driver yet, that combination yet.

Q.: Did your stomach, ankle, anything bother you today? Didn't look like it.

TIGER WOODS: My stomach's good. I got a great night's rest. I think it pretty much got out of me yesterday afternoon. After I finished, I still had some issues. Then after that, it's been fine. I haven't eaten a lot. At least the good sign is I'm starting to get hungry, which is good.

Q.: Was there any point earlier this week when you thought you were going to have to pull out or you weren't going to make it?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it didn't look good because I didn't know if The PGA of America could put a bathroom on every hole (laughter).

Q.: Can you give us a status report on the ankle?

TIGER WOODS: It's still a little sore. But, you know, I won't be running any time soon.

Q.: There's been some talk about The PGA of America possibly moving the Grand Slam, and considering your success here, what are your thoughts about the move, if there is any?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think this is a wonderful place. I mean, everyone loves to come to Hawaii. They love to hang out and enjoy the wonderful resort here. The golf is always fun to play. We always seem to shoot some pretty low numbers on this golf course. I think it's exciting for the fans.

I think it would be put it this way: I'd like to keep qualifying for this event. Hopefully I can keep coming back here.

Q.: Did you lose six pounds, as rumored?

TIGER WOODS: Impossible to put back on, too.

Q.: Two eagles in one round second time this year. That's special, too.

TIGER WOODS: It's more luck than anything else. It really is. I mean, the first putt I had was just some kind of up over an elephant's back and down the hill, crashed into the hole. The second one was I hit just probably the best 3 wood I hit all year. Only had about a 15 footer, so that was more reasonable.

Q.: You did say you would like to qualify again and come back. If it wasn't here, would it be a sad thing for you, not necessarily crying sad, but you'd miss it?

TIGER WOODS: If I was in the tournament? I've always enjoyed playing Poipu. I always enjoyed coming here. I don't see any reason why they should move because it is such a wonderful place. Everyone always brings their families. They celebrate Thanksgiving here. It's usually a pretty nice place.

Q.: How is your family?

TIGER WOODS: They're good. They're at home. I'm going to go see them, get in late tonight, actually early tomorrow morning rather. I'll see them tomorrow.

Q.: This has kind of been your tournament. What was it like the past couple years when you didn't make it here?

TIGER WOODS: Understandable, because I didn't perform well enough in the major championships. You have to perform well. I wasn't doing that. I was in the midst of making some changes. This year is the reason why I made those changes. My worst finish was fourth. I think that's pretty good.

Q.: You drove the ball well. Your short game was very good this week. You putt well. Is there any one part of your game that you worked on coming into maybe last week and this week?

TIGER WOODS: I think just in the overall, my ball striking has gotten a little bit better. I've been working on a few things basically late in the fall. Then when I went overseas, I started to put the pieces together there in China, and I really played well in Japan, except for Sunday.

But I just kind of said, you know, let's continue working on what you're working on this week. I hit the ball really well the last couple days. It's pretty exciting to see the pieces come together after some good hard work.

Q.: Do you think in the future on other courses that you'll use a 5 wood more than a 2 iron? You haven't made that many changes. Is it a fundamental way in the way you go after par 5s?

TIGER WOODS: Well, the reason why I needed to find a more lofty club is because of the par 5s. Seems like every golf course we go to, everything is being lengthened. Before they did the lengthening, a good driver for me would leave myself 2, 3, 4, 5 iron into the par 5s. Now it's been 2 iron, 3 wood. Sometimes I get in that zone where it's 245, and I can't hit the 2 iron high enough, so I can't stop it. 3 wood is way too much club and I'm caught. I've been giving up some birdies on those par 5s.

I needed to find a more lofty club. I've been trying all year, 7 woods, 5 woods, hybrids, just trying to find some kind of club that I could work up in the air about the same distance as my 2 iron. This 5 wood has done that. I hit it probably eight to 10 yards further than my 2 iron, but certainly much higher. That obviously bridges the gap. The cool thing about the that I can also choke down on it and also hit it kind of low off the tee if I want to, which is nice.

Q.: (No microphone.)

TIGER WOODS: I don't hit it as low, obviously, because it is going to spin a little bit more. The good thing is I can still hit it flat. I can still take the peak out of the shot. I can still drive it. It's like Vijay has a 9 wood in his bag, but he just shapes it down to the loft of a 5 wood. He can still hit the ball up, but also hit it flat any time he needs to.

Q.: Six is pretty special. Is there any other tournament that you've ever won six times?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, once. Junior World. I was in a different age bracket, so...

JULIUS MASON: On that note, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.

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