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Tiger Having Fun in Masters
Tiger Woods is enjoying his first tournament back in 144 days. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's in contention in the 2010 Masters, having shot a 2-under 70 and being only four back of leader Lee Westwood heading into Sunday.
The response he's gotten from the crowd has been, for the most part, stellar, despite concerns that he would have a less-than-good reception following revelations of his marital improprieties.
He's not putting as well as he'd like on Augusta National's lightning-fast greens, and he's struggled with his swing at times but, for a player that's been out of competition since last November, Woods is acquitting himself well in a major championship he's won four times.
Here's what Tiger had to say about his experience to reporters after his round Saturday.
Q. You got off to a great start and then you seemed to fight it a little bit for a while.
TIGER WOODS: I was fighting it all day. My warm-up wasn't very good. I was struggling there. I really struggled with the pace of the greens and fighting my swing. It was a tough day.
Q. Five months without any competitive round. What were your concerns coming in, and how have you done with those concerns?
TIGER WOODS: I just wanted to put myself in contention, and I did that. As of right now I'm only four back, so good round tomorrow, you never know.
Q. Does it feel normal to you out there now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, three-putting three times, no, it does not feel normal. I need to putt better than that. But overall I feel pretty good out there. I just need to clean up my round.
Q. How important was the birdie at the last, and what is your strategy tomorrow, anything different?
TIGER WOODS: It was nice. After struggling just to fight back in the ballgame -- the guys were running away from me there; at one point I was seven back, so to kind of claw my way back in there where I'm only four back right now, I'm in good shape.
Q. When you're hearing all those roars, is that disconcerting for you? What's going on? Do you lose your perspective for a little while?
TIGER WOODS: No, I mean, we have a long way to go. This is only Saturday. If it was Sunday, it would have been a different story. But being Saturday, I had the same opportunity on those same holes to make birdies, and I did that. Unfortunately I made a bunch of bogeys out there today, as well.
Q. Interesting day out there today, good finish but an interesting day.
TIGER WOODS: 16 pars, two birdies, hit every fairway, hit every green. (Laughter.)
Q. A little frustrating at times?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was. I didn't have the speed on the greens at all. I was fighting that, I was fighting my swing, fighting the speed. I fought as hard as I possibly could to get myself back in the ballgame. At one point I was seven back, and to fight back there and to get it where I'm only four back right now was a pretty big accomplishment.
Q. There was a lot of roars out there. Do you get caught up in that while you're playing? Can you feed off of that at all?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I have the same opportunity to play the same holes. 13 is a tough eagle, but Phil made one there. 14 you definitely could see one going in there. That's a perfect little feeder. And then I'm surprised more guys didn't make eagle on 15; that's a pretty accessible pin. I think Fred made one there, as well. It's one of those things where you've got two reachable par-5s. They put the tees up, too, on 15, which was nice. Again, the pins were probably a step, step and a half easier than they normally are, and that makes a big difference.
Q. You have a chance to come from behind on the fourth day. Is that something that you need to do, do you think, to show somebody that you can do that in a major? Is that important to you?
TIGER WOODS: It's important if I do it tomorrow, yeah. I have to; I'm not leading the tournament.
Q. Any thoughts on why it was hard work for you today?
TIGER WOODS: I warmed up terrible today. I didn't have control of the ball when I was warming up. I was fighting it then. The speed on the greens was fine when I was warming up. I got on the golf course and made two quick birdies. But after that, I fought it all day.
Q. Do you have an idea of what it is that you need to go fix?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I do, swing-wise. Putting stroke-wise, no, not really. I'll have to do some work. We have plenty of light.
Q. You mentioned that you were going to try to tone down the outbursts. Any regrets about some of the cursing on the front nine?
TIGER WOODS: Did I?
Q. Two separate times.
TIGER WOODS: If I did, then I'm sorry.
Q. How long was that putt? I mean, we're stuck back here and we couldn't see anything.
TIGER WOODS: Today was about three and a half feet.
Q. What did you hit in?
TIGER WOODS: 6-iron.
Q. Making birdies at 1 and 3, did you feel like you were building something there?
TIGER WOODS: I played 1 well. 3, I did not. 3, I hit in the tree, it came out, hit a terrible pitch, and the putt was too hard. But it was a birdie. It's just not exactly the best way to start. I struggled on 2, drove it in the bunker there, wasn't a very good drive, and third shot kind of stuck in the ground. Didn't hit a lot of good shots starting out.
TIGER WOODS: Then I hit a pulled 5-wood. I was trying to miss it left so I had an uphill putt, but I overdid it. And then 5, I toe-popped it up in the air, so it was just a struggle.
Q. Did you feel like you might have a day like today?
TIGER WOODS: Normally you're not going to have four great days. I've played golf long enough where I've never had four great rounds in a row. One day is always going to be your off day, and on your off day if you can keep it under par it's always a good sign, and I did that today.
Q. You said you wanted to give yourself a chance coming in. You're here.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I'm four back, so I've got a good shot.
Q. When you're trying to control your emotions like you say you are, is it more difficult to do that when you're having a day with seven birdies and five bogeys?
TIGER WOODS: And a two-way miss and three-putting every other hole, yeah.
Q. So it was difficult?
TIGER WOODS: It's never easy.
Q. The approach on 15, when you hit it -
TIGER WOODS: I thought it was perfect. It was downwind and then it became really downwind. I had 229 to the hole, and I hit 5-iron over the back. I don't hit a 5-iron that far. I was expecting a 5-iron to run from the front to the flag about midway through, because that's the way I hit it, and it just stayed and floated in the air. It was just -- caught the wrong gust at the wrong time. 17, I hit a terrible tee shot, played a hook in there to give myself an easy pitch, pitched it in there and blocked the putt.
Q. When you're so caught up in your game, do you pay any attention to some of the other names like Freddie and Watson? There's a lot going on.
TIGER WOODS: There is a lot going on. I'm four back, yeah.
Q. How is the mental focus?
TIGER WOODS: It's fine. That's never a problem.
Q. Playing three days in a row isn't getting -
TIGER WOODS: It's not a problem.
Q. How is Choi as a playing partner?
TIGER WOODS: He's great. I've played with him a lot over the years. K.J. is just -- he's a great guy, and on top of that he's learned a lot of English. Our conversations are getting a little bit longer now.
Q. Do the crowds mean more than ever before?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. After what's transpired, to have that support out there is fantastic.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.