The PGA Championship

An Interview With: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods: I played my tail off to shoot 3-over today. I really did. I grinded my butt off just to shoot 3-over.

So I guess from that standpoint, that's a positive. I just haven't made enough birdies. I've only made four birdies in three days, and that's not going to get it done.

Q: Is it distance control, it seems like when you have found fairways, it pops in the rough?

Tiger Woods: I'm just a little off. On a golf course that's this penal, you can't be a little off and expect to be OK. You have to drive it great and hit your irons in the correct spots to have birdie putts. The only thing I'm really doing well is I'm putting pretty good. I'm really putting well. I just haven't had enough looks at birdies. When I have had looks at birdies, I've made them.

Q: You've been making those 10 -, 12-footers for par.

Tiger Woods: Yeah. Unfortunately it's just one after another. I kept hearing as I was going up to a lot of the tee boxes today , "Nice par, great par." Just kind of the way it's been.

Q: Doesn't do much for you?

Tiger Woods: No. I think I had like 23 or 24 putts today.

Q: Are you trusting your swing?

Tiger Woods: Yeah, when you get on a golf course this hard, if you're just a little off, that's all it takes.

Yeah, I have played not my best, but the shots I've hit good still kick in the rough or I put in the wrong spot on the green. I've just been just a touch off, and it's kind of just added up.

Q: Where does this course rank with places you've played in your career?

Tiger Woods: It's the hardest, fairest golf course we've ever played. Carnoustie wasn't fair that year. But this is by far the hardest. I mean, the wind hasn't blown yet, and if -- we've gotten kind of lucky. If it would have blown around this golf course, over par would have won this tournament easily. Still might, you never know.

Q: Are we seeing an increased focus on accuracy in majors, placing even more emphasis on putting the ball in the fairway.

Tiger Woods: I think there's more emphasis on length and accuracy. Every golf course we go to now, it's 480 par 4s, and then we have the rough higher on top of that. So you have to drive it longer and more accurate, which as we all know, the fairway gets even smaller the further you hit it.

Q: Speaking of Carnoustie, when was the last time you had four rounds over par in a tournament?

Tiger Woods: Carnoustie just wasn't set up fairly. It was a great golf course. I played there in the Scottish Open. That is one fantastic golf course but it wasn't set up fairly.

Again, that was a week where I didn't make any birdies, either. I had one birdie on the weekend and I was only three shots back and I was in a playoff. So if I make a few birdies there on the weekend, I'm right there with a chance to win.

This week is the same. I just haven't made enough birdies. To get even some kind of positive momentum going, my positive momentum is just making par putts. That's not going to get it done.

Q: You came in here feeling pretty good about your game after Buick?

Tiger Woods: Yeah, I felt pretty good about my game the entire summer. I've played pretty solid this entire summer. Just one of those weeks where I've been just a little off.

Q: Things getting sideways like this, even after you've made a couple of birdies, do you almost start waiting for the next bad thing to happen, even you?

Tiger Woods: Yeah. For instance, the last hole, I hit a drive out to the right. You figure it's in the bunker. No, it's on the downslope, against the grain. Everything is going with the grain, except for the one little strip I'm in. It's against the grain, so I have no shot.

So I hit it up there short of the green and what am I going to get? I'm in a hole. I can barely see the ball when I'm standing over it. It's just one thing after another.

Like the shot I hit on 15 is a perfect example. It's two feet from being kick-in range. Instead, I'm off the green. It's cutting in there. Not only does it hit and kick left up the hill, it goes through the green. I chipped it, but it's just one little thing after another. It kind of adds up.

It's tough. I tell you what, it wears on your patience, and I've been as patient as possible. I have really grinded. I have fought, every, every inch of the way. If I would have bagged it in, I could have shot a million, but that's not the way I play.

Q: Do you set any kind of a goal for Sunday?

Tiger Woods: Yeah, you go out there, and over par just might win this tournament still, you never know. You can shoot a great round. Johnny Miller did it at Oakmont. If I can get it going, you never know. It's going to take one of those great rounds of golf. I've shot low rounds before.

Q: You said on Thursday that you said a couple of times that you don't trust your swing; at any time today did you say, "I've got it back"?

Tiger Woods: No. I did over a couple of pitch shots. (Laughing).

I'm just a little off. And when you're out of sync just a touch, it's hard to hit the ball as pinpoint as you need to, especially on a golf course like this. It's just not been matched up, and when you're not matching up, whether my arms are too slow or too fast, or my body is too fast or too slow, it's either one or the other. When I have matched up, I've hit some pretty good shots.

Q: You have not faced adversity basically since '98, do you recall a stretch where just everything went wrong?

Tiger Woods: Oh, yeah. I've had lots of weeks where I've had that happen. But then again, you're not playing against a field like this, you're not playing a golf course like this. In Junior golf or Amateur golf, you have no rough. You can drive it all over the map and still somehow shoot even par. When you're on a golf course like this, you can't drive it all over the map and shoot under par. You have to hit precise shots. We definitely were not playing golf courses this long, either.

But, yes, I have struggled like that. And sometimes you can get by with smoke and mirrors. We have all done it. Short game just bails us out. I have just not made enough birdies to get back in it.

Q: Does this seem more off than the others?

Tiger Woods: No, it's just timing. If I match up, I've hit some really good shots, and I hit them in stretches, but then I lose it for a little bit. It's just matching up and being consistent with my arc and my plane.

Q: Is it a good thing that it's just not one thing that's really bad?

Tiger Woods: Yeah, it's great. (Laughter.)

Q: It looked like you were laughing --

Tiger Woods: The reason why we're laughing is because every shot we hit is going to get a bad break, just know it. 14, lose it to the right, you know, I'm stymied behind the trees. You just know it. The way the rounds is going, you know it's right behind the tree. Guess what? It's right behind the tree. Have to play a little hook and play and hook it up there and leave it out to the right and somehow make a putt, which I was able to do somehow.

That's just kind of indicative of how it's been going.

I described the next hole on 15, I was just two feet from being a kick-in and now I'm off the green chipping. On top of that, there are three ball marks there, so I couldn't putt; so now I have to chip. It's just one thing after another, and you start laughing at it. Just, what else can go wrong? And you try to be as positive as possible and you try to be as focused and you're grinding your tail off. And shots you hit well are just not working out, and shots you hit poorly you are not getting any breaks. Consequently, you can't get any momentum going.

Q: The last few days you haven't gone out to the range --

Tiger Woods: Just been so frustrated with it. Just go home and relax, go for a run, work out and feel good the next day.

Q: Yesterday we did not get a chance to ask about on 14, is that something you didn't think was going to happen?

Tiger Woods: I knew I couldn't get there. Beemer hits the ball just about as far as I do and he bounced it short . He barely got into the first cut and he hit it good. He said, "I hit that solid," and he couldn't quite get there. So there was no way I could get there, and I have no idea how it ended up going that far. I apologized for what I did.

Q: The way the course is set up, it's allowing more guys in the field to possibly win the tournament, is that an equalizer in the setup or is the field just that much deeper?

Tiger Woods: Exactly. You hit the nail right on the head. The depth on the Tour is just getting that much deeper. The guys, their techniques are better, they are more consistent, our equipment is better, more forgiving. You add all that in, guys are just more talented. You get that many players with the skill level that we've got -- look at last year, how many first-time winners we had on TOUR.

This year, every major championship winner has been a first-time winner of a major. There's been a lot of depth and pretty good talents pool out here on TOUR.

Q: What was your reaction with back-to-back birdies there?

Tiger Woods: Well, right up to 16 tee, I apologized to Jim for taking the tee. (Laughing). He had it for the first hole and every hole till then. He made birdie on 14 and I topped him there. But I figured, you know, hey, I'm sorry, you'll probably get it back soon.

Q: To those who would maybe make a big deal, if you don't shoot the miraculous round tomorrow, to those who would make a big deal out of a season without a major, what would you say?

Tiger Woods: I've done it before. I did it in '98. It won't be the last time and it certainly has not been the first time. You're going to go years where you just don't win. That's okay, as long as you keep trying to improve.

Q: People seem to overlook your other performances -- inaudible -- is that frustrating for you?

Tiger Woods: You have to focus on the positives. For me, I have to. I get asked that question a lot, and granted, those are the biggest events. Obviously, we want to perform in them. I just haven't quite won one yet. I've come close. Had a chance at the British. I was a couple shots back going into the weekend at the U.S. Open, right where I needed to be. I was second last year at the PGA, so I've come close. Just haven't won.

Yes, it has been fun, but you've got to keep working. Hopefully things will get more positive and you'll see some results.

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