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Furyk Ready for the Weekend
Tiger Woods is in his comfort zone. The 73-time Tour winner and owner of 14 major titles has proven he's got the game, the smarts and the guts in big-time golf championships.
And for the first time since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines - one of his three Open titles, site of his last major victory, Woods has the strategy to perhaps solve a very tough riddle called the Lake Course at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Through the first two rounds, Woods - who's tied for the lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms at 1-under 139 - hit his driver just seven times, relying instead on his famous "stinger," a low-iron, low-trajectory blast that he can move left and right at will and which invariably ends up in the fairway. He'll be paired with Furyk in Saturday's final group.
And finding the short grass is critical at a U.S. Open course as tight, hard-and-fast and penal as Olympic. The next task is to hit its slick, rolling and smallish greens, but that's another matter that separates the winners and also-rans. To have any chance, however, especially at a U.S. Open venue, it's a must to be accurate off the tee.
After his even-par 70 Friday, Woods met with reporters and discussed his performance so far as well as his expectations for the final two rounds of the 112th U.S. Open. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Tiger Woods to the interview room at the 2012 U.S. Open. He followed up his first round 1 under, 69 with an even par 70 today. Currently the clubhousee leader at 1 under. Tiger, can you talk about your round today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that was not easy. That golf course was some kind of quick. It got dried out. The wind was swirling a little bit out there. It was tough. It was really, really tough. Just had to stay as patient as possibly and I did a really good job that have today.
MODERATOR: We'll open it right up to questions.
Q. I don't know if you saw when Beau Hossler, the amateur, briefly took the lead at 2 under. Just what are your thoughts on a 17-year-old taking the lead at a U.S. Open even if it was just for a brief amount of time?
TIGER WOODS: Well, a long way to go. And I kind of experienced that actually myself at Oakland Hills, same deal, first round, made a few mistakes after that. I think he's kind of made a few mistakes as well.
Q. Of all the even-par rounds you've had in your career, was this one of the toughest?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, this golf course is just so tricky out there. It's so fast. You're hitting such different clubs off the tees, that's what's the hard part. Also, they moved up a couple tees and I had to change my game plan a little bit, and then I hit a couple drivers down there, which on a hole, one hole I haven't hit driver all week. But they changed the tee which allowed me to have enough room to maneuver it, so I went with it. It worked out okay. But it was just, it was just a different golf course than what we played yesterday. We had moisture on the greens and fairways. They were fast. But at least we had little bit of some moisture in there. But today there was none. The ball was springy. It was getting crusty enough where the ball was wiggling on the greens if you were coming down the hill, so you try to leave yourself below the hole. But it's really hard to leave yourself below the hole because it's so springy.
Q. Today was a bit of a mixed bag, good breaks and bad breaks. How difficult was it to stay, to not get frustrated like on 17 for instance? And also, talk about the four rounds or now we're into two rounds but the grind of being at the top of the leaderboard in a major and how much it takes out of a player?
TIGER WOODS: Your first part of your question, I think that my two best swings I made all week I end up in just terrible spots. I flagged it there at 6 today. It was a beautiful little soft 4 iron from about 230. Took something off of it and held it up against wind. It was right at it and then hops left, and if it goes in the bunker it's an easy up and down, if not holing it. All of a sudden I got no lie, struggling to make bogey. Then I hit just another beautiful soft 4 iron up in the air on 17. And I thought I threw it up high enough to land it soft enough and evidently it didn't. Then I'm down there in a spot where it's as tough to get it close, and I thought I did a pretty good job of that. But as far as the being in that position, I like it. I know that it takes a bit out of us, but so be it. Much rather be there than missing cuts or just making the cut. So it's a wonderful place to be with a chance to win your nation's Open.
Q. You talked about staying patient, the stretch through 5, 6 and 7, which one of those holes kind of annoyed you the most on which one tested your patience the most?
TIGER WOODS: I think it would probably be 7. I was right there and I knew that pin was dicey. The practice rounds I had run that putt by. I gave it probably an extra half a cup because of that. And I still missed it on the low side and it ran out and I missed the second putt. At 5 I hit a good shot. It just held it probably another yard, if it comes over, if I don't hold it that you know extra yard then it's perfect. It's going to hit off the hill and come back on the green. And as I said, on 6 I hit just a beautiful 4 iron right at it from 230, took a little off it of it, through it up in the air. So it was a tough little stretch. But, hey, we got a lot of holes to go and figured that I would play the first six holes in one over par. That's not too bad. I had some easier holes coming up, some holes I could get down there close to the green and like I did at 10 and 11. And 10's the only one I made birdie on.
Q. It's been four years since your last win at a major. Do you think you have a good chance to win this week?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think I'm in a good spot. Right now I'm I think I'm tied for the lead. I don't know what Toms did, but I'm right there in a good spot. So looking forward to it and going off late tomorrow, so get some good rest.
Q. I know this is only halfway through, but you've been in this position a lot before and you've been a very good front runner over the years in your history. Can you draw on that? Do you draw on that, even though you are a look forward guy and what is the mentality with the lead?
TIGER WOODS: This tournament you just plodding along. This is a different tournament. You have to stay patient, got to stay present, and you're just playing for a lot of pars. This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies. Just got to just hang in there with a bunch of pars.
Q. Looks like you might get Jim in your pairing tomorrow. Wondering what do you admire about the guy and what is it about him and his game that seemingly is so successful at U.S. Opens when he's been in the mix so often, Oakmont and etcetera?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I've always admired how he maneuvered his way around the golf course. That's one of the reasons why we were such great partners together in the Cups is that we think alike. I just hit the ball further. But we maneuver ourselves around the golf course the same way. And I think that's one of the reasons why we gelled so well. Of all the guys who were on that team at U of A for him to have come out and had this career that he's had, it's just a testament to his hard work and his work ethic.
Q. Yesterday you talked about following your game plan and you seemed to be hitting the shots and shaping everything the way you wanted to. Today was it more of a day of just hanging in there and was a 70 today almost as good as the 69 yesterday considering?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. Probably better. Absolutely. Even though I didn't miss a shot in the last three holes I ended up with three pars, but it was just one of those days where you just had to be so patient. If the wind wasn't blowing it wouldn't have been so bad. But the wind was puffing up you enough where it was changing directions on us, swirling a little bit and you don't want to have swirling winds coming into these greens because it's just you leave it short, on some of these holes and it's running back 40, 50 yards. And you hit it long and then you're in the deep rough. So it's tough. Today was one of those days. I think that guys yesterday had the same conditions we had today, so it's not easy.
Q. Did you feel like the course played faster today than yesterday and what do you think it's going to be like on the weekend?
TIGER WOODS: It played absolutely a lot faster. Tomorrow's supposed to be the hottest day, I think almost 80, and depends on whether Mike and his staff put a little water on this golf course whether, how it's going to play. We're also going off a little bit later too tomorrow as well. So it will be interesting to see how they set up the golf course. And because the dots, they don't put any dots out there so we don't know where the pins are. So it will be interesting to see if they make it scoreable or they're going to really test us.
Q. Last year obviously you couldn't even play in this tournament. Could you talk about the strides you made in that year and also from the Masters to now, obviously there was a dip thereafter a lot of big strides in the fall and the spring.
TIGER WOODS: Well last year it was a tough year, battling those injuries. It's hard to get any repetitions and hard to get my momentum when I can't practice. So the end of last year was big for me for Freddie giving me the nod and believing in me and putting me out there. That helped a lot. I played really well down in Oz and carried that over into the world challenge and then this year I've played I think really well in spurts and then I finally put it together at Bay Hill, lost it there for a little bit, and then put it together at Memorial. But I think it's a little bit better than what I had at Bay Hill. I'm able to shape the ball better with better trajectory control than I did at Bay Hill. And that's one of the reasons why I was so excited how I played at Memorial, and how I described it to you guys afterwards.
Q. You talked about patience and being present. What is that process like for you and has your recent success helped you mentally prepare for this tournament coming in?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's being patient is certainly something that we have to do in major championships and I think I've done a pretty good job of that over the years. I won my fair share, and I understand how to do it. Now it's one thing to game plan but you also have to execute the game plan. And I think that's one of the reasons why I was so excited about how I had the ball at Memorial, because that's what I needed to play here. I hit the ball so well there and the different trajectories, that was big for me and to come here and then be able to shape it like this, because I have to, I have to shape it here, I've done a pretty good job of that for the first two days.
Q. Are you trusting your swing more than you have in a while? More comfortable with it?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. Yeah.
Q. Is there a time frame? How long has it been since it's felt this good?
TIGER WOODS: Been a very long time. Because don't forget I went through all of last year hurt. Hadn't been able to practice and then this year I did well in spurts. But now it's becoming more consistent, day in and day out.
Q. The two rounds with Phil and Bubba. How did it feel, was it enjoyable for you and was it enjoyable to be about 20 yards past Bubba on 16 today?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was a rough day for those two guys. A rough two days. This golf course, if you're just a touch off, which they both were, it doesn't take much. Balls that land in the fairway go into the rough and it's a foot in, but have you no lie. That's what they did a few times out there. And they seemed like they just couldn't get any kind of momentum going. I think Phil made a putt on the last hole to make it on the number, and - but the tee shot on 16, it's obviously it's easier for me to hit the ball further because I'm turning it and I'm working it with some kind of top spin, a little draw.
And I hammered it out there, but Bubba's playing a big cut. He teed off in the middle of the tee box. He didn't go to the right and hit a straight ball slice or straight ball/cut. He went to the middle part of the tee box and shaped it more. So he burned a little bit of distance off of that, and just tried to get the ball in play. He did the same shot on the second shot, which is kind of cool to see, to hit a driver that high off the deck. Its not easy to do.
Q. After the three bogeys, how much did that putt at 10 sort of allow you to real estate gain control of the round?
TIGER WOODS: I think it was 8. Coming back right there, right back there and hit a nice beautiful high 5 iron. Take something off of it and land it, fly high and let it go past where I wanted it to be. That was more important than the birdie.
MODERATOR: Thanks very much for coming in.
TIGER WOODS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
The transcript for the above story is courtesy of ASAP Sports.