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Tiger in Position for Fourth Win of Year
Tiger Woods' second straight 5-under 67 at the Players Championship put him primed for his fourth victory of the year on the PGA Tour.
The game's top-ranked golfer has played 36 holes at TPC Sawgrass and totaled 11 birdies, an eagle and three bogeys to find himself only a stroke behind Sergio Garcia entering the third round.
Woods, at 10-under 134, will be paired with the 33-year-old Spaniard on Saturday. If all goes well this weekend - and there's a long way to go at what is promising to be an increasingly difficult golf course, the 37-year-old Woods could emerge with his fourth win in 2013 and the 78th of his career.
It would also be second Players Championship title; his first came in 2001.
After signing his scorecard, Woods met with reporters and discussed his Friday.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Tiger Woods into the interview room after his second consecutive 5 under par 67. Tiger, just talk a little bit about your round today.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit the ball a little bit better than I did yesterday and felt I managed my game well. All those shots that I've missed were in the correct spots, which is always nice. 've had a couple funky up and downs the last couple days, but I've missed the ball in the correct spot, so I've had some room to get them up and down, and I've handled the par 5s really well the first couple days.
Q. Is there anything about your game right now that you are not happy with in any way?
TIGER WOODS: No, I'm pretty pleased with where it's at right now. Did I answer that? No? Kind of, not really? I'm sorry.
Q. When you come to a course that you haven't really been at your best at for a number of years and you play this well, is that extra good? I mean, it's obviously playing well, but is it extra good that it's on this course that hasn't been very friendly to you?
TIGER WOODS: Even though I haven't played well in the past, I've still won here. And that's something that I've actually, I've won here twice, technically.
TIGER WOODS: So for me, even though over the years I haven't played my best here, but I've always felt that courses, even though it's been a while I've won on them, I've still won on them. I know how to get around this golf course. This course, more than most, really tests every facet of your game. You have to drive the ball well. You have to hit your irons in the correct spots, and if you don't hit your irons in the correct spots, you're going to have some really funky up and downs. It's trying to manage the ball in the correct spots, and I've done that the first two days.
Q. Is that really what's gotten you here in terms of - like the shot on 2 today looked like it might have been sketchy, and you make eagle on that hole. You got a couple breaks I suppose, as well.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it was not a very good shot on 2 on the tee shot. I got past it to try to save it and timed it up perfectly. Hit a little shot that Joey's familiar with, a big ol' slice, a Freddy shot in there and made the putt.
Q. Tiger what, did you hit on 2 for your second?
TIGER WOODS: Little 5 wood.
Q. You've talked in the past about this golf course is a course that you have to play to specific spots like most Pete Dye golf courses. Do you feel like your game's better suited now to do that?
TIGER WOODS: Not necessarily. I've played really well through a stretch there in 2000 2001, I did pretty well through there, and came here playing well. I think that is the key. You just have to come here playing well, and I just thought what I've done so far this year has been pretty good and better than most. I think that I was headed in the right direction coming into this week. I played well at Augusta. My last two weeks of practice have been really solid and I came in here with some confidence.
Q. How much better has your wedge game been this year compared to last year, and secondly, how much confidence has that given you especially in a place like this?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we've made so many big time changes in my game that before I had no angle, and now I have angle, so we've had to make some adjustments. But once we made the big changes that Sean's been trying to get me to do, then I can start dialing it in. I think over the course of the end of last year and most of this year so far it's been really solid. I've taken advantage of the par 5s where I've laid up or the short par 4s where I've driven it down there and have had 140 on down and converted a lot of birdies from there.
Q. Based on what you saw this morning and what you faced yesterday afternoon, can you talk about the disparity of the morning and afternoon, the balls that were releasing yesterday, et cetera?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the ball is starting to move a little bit on the greens, but I think it's a lot to do with the - the scoring has a lot to do with the foot traffic out there. There's not a lot of grass on these greens, and the more feet we've got on them, obviously, they're going to get kicked up a little bit. There are a few putts out there that - I don't know if you guys saw Sneds' putt on the last hole; it jumped about three inches in the air. Those are the things that happen towards the afternoon. I was saying earlier, yesterday, that if they wanted to, if they didn't put any water on this golf course, they could get it to where it looked like the year David won tomorrow afternoon, where it could get some kind of fiery, but we'll see what happens.
Q. You've been pushing the ball on 14; what is the issue?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I wish it was a push, but it's more of a pull cut, slicing it over there to the right. I just haven't hit good tee shots there, but so be it.
Q. How unlikely is it that you could go to any event and improve your 36 hole scoring record by six shots, which is what you've done here over the first two days?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that's good and bad, isn't it? As I said, evidently it wasn't very good when I won here in '01, it wasn't that low. The scores are so bunched. I mean, the cut is at 1 right now, and 78 guys, 79 guys, somewhere around there, all under par? I mean, that's incredible on this golf course. It's so bunched that if you take advantage of this golf course, take advantage of the par 5s, you can shoot some good numbers here. That is the thing. All the par 5s are reachable. 9 normally isn't, but it's blowing downwind. You can get to it. Another three are generally pretty reachable.
Q. Past champions really seem to have put themselves in a good spot here by and large, yourself included, obviously. In your opinion, why do you think that is so far?
TIGER WOODS: I just think it's just one of those years. I think if you look at most of the there aren't a lot of guys who have won this tournament a lot of times. Jack has won it three. I think that's the most. Most tournaments you've got guys who won it a lot more times than that. Bunch of guys have won here twice, but there really aren't a lot of multiple time champions here. I think it's the nature of this golf course. It tends to stack guys up, and I think that so far right now we've seen some guys who have had some success in the past, but it's still stacked up with so many guys with a chance going into the weekend.
Q. Is it surprising that there have been nine straight years of first time winners here?
TIGER WOODS: Not at all, not at all. This golf course is - it's funky. It has its own little quirks to it, and anything can happen around this place. You get some weird bounces here and there, some weird lies. It's a tough track, especially when the wind starts blowing. It starts swirling in these trees and it's really hard to get really hard to find out where it's going. With the greens being this severe, you have to miss the ball in the right spots, and if you can't miss the ball in the right spots, you're looking at bogey or double.
Q. You mentioned earlier it helps to be playing well coming here, which you've obviously been doing this year. Since you last won, there were a few of those years where you were probably doing pretty well, had your game in pretty good shape. Did the place ever frustrate you? Did you ever walk away here wondering how did that happen, or why did I not do better?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, absolutely. I always know why. I mean, you can look at how my rounds played out and figure it out. But I've just never been able to put it all together for this one particular week. As I've said, I've done it twice where I've had to battle with Hal and won it in '01, but the majority of the years I really haven't done it. But so far this year, I'm right there.
Q. Two obviously very consistent rounds scoring. Can you talk a little bit about the confidence level in your putter right now?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I felt very comfortable with what I'm doing. Starting at Torrey Pines this year, I really putted well, and then I had an off week there at Match Play, Stricks gave me a little putting tip to get me back to where I was at Torrey. So my stance and my feelings, all my lines came back again, and I think I've putted pretty good since.
Q. What's been the best part of your game right now? What are you most pleased about?
TIGER WOODS: I'm pleased with every facet of it.
Q. Any one area in particular that stands out?
TIGER WOODS: No, because I feel like I'm driving it well, hitting it well with my irons, my distance control is good, short game is really solid, and I'm making my share of putts.
Q. At Torrey in '11 when you basically redid your short game and you went to a different motion, are you chipping like you were then now?
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. But you're just better at it?
TIGER WOODS: Yep.
Q. So you don't chip like you did ten years ago?
TIGER WOODS: Nope.
Q. You got rid of that?
TIGER WOODS: Gone.
Q. That's quite an achievement.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you.
Q. Wrap it up going way off topic here. Annika's coming up on 10 years since she played Colonial. You played one or two practice rounds with her going into that week. I wonder if you had any recollections I know you weren't there, but any idea it was going to get as big as it did, and did you have any ideas in your mind how she might fare as you practiced with her before she got there?
TIGER WOODS: I played with her quite a bit at home. I just thought there are certain courses I think she would do really well on, that's one of them. Maybe Harbour Town might be another where driving is a premium and it's going to be a little bit faster and she can get it down there. She was playing so well at the time. She was winning everything. Her confidence was high, and I thought what she was doing for the sport of golf and for women was absolutely incredible. It took a lot of courage to do that and to put herself out there on the limb like that and put herself out there in front of the world to critique, criticize, and anything in between. She did it, and she played fantastic.
Q. Did you find yourself curious at all before she teed off Thursday what she'd shoot?
TIGER WOODS: I thought she could get around par. What was she, 1 or 2 over the first day or something like that?
Q. 1 over.
TIGER WOODS: I thought that would be a pretty respectable score. I think it got a little soft and I think it might have rained that week. But I think if it was harder and faster where she could get it down there, she certainly could have done a little bit better.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.