Q&A WITH THE R3 LEADERS
Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood talk to the press corps ahead of the final round of the 108th US Open at Torrey Pines.
RAND JERRIS: It’s a pleasure to welcome Tiger Woods to the media center. Tiger with a round of 1-under par 70. 3-under par for the championship. Tiger, two remarkable shots on 13 and 17. Which was more surprising for you?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit two perfect tee shots, right? Is that what you’re talking about?
Well, the one on 13 I hit just a terrible drive over to the right and I had a 5-iron from 210 front. I was just trying to put the ball in the back bunker. Just, whatever you do, just put the ball in the back bunker, just can’t leave the ball short to that pin. And it landed on top of the green and I was surprised it even stopped. It somehow landed soft enough where it stopped.
And then Robert’s ball was, his mark was down there off the right-hand side and Stevie and I read it and we were saying, well, if you hit it just above that, if you die it on the high side of that that should be about right. And I said, well, if I just get speed right I should get inside three feet, if I just die it around his mark. And it went in.
The one on 17, that was again another poor tee shot to the right, hit a 7-iron up there on the left tongue of the bunker there, and the pitch I hit it too hard, came out hot. And one hop and went in.
I mean, realistically, I should have probably had about an 8-footer coming back down the hill, but got away with one down there.
RAND JERRIS: Walk us through 18.
TIGER WOODS: 18, I hit a big cut off the tee, got it in the fairway and actually the second shot was perfect because we we’re on the range practicing just a soft little shot for 16, actually. And because when we’re warming up the wind was more out of the west. And I didn’t think I could get a 3-iron there to 16. We were practicing hitting little soft 5-woods and I just so happened to have 227 to the hole, which is about the number we had on 16 that we were practicing this morning, or this afternoon. And I hit the same shot, carried it to the middle part of the green and made the putt.
Q. Is that status for you to be able to do something like that when obviously you have got some limitations and you never know when you’re going to feel that knife jabbing you in the leg to be able to sort of — you’re almost kind of faking it out there at times?
TIGER WOODS: Just trying to get by. I didn’t hit the ball well. I didn’t warm up well today. I didn’t hit the ball well warming up, particularly crisp and clean. I was trying to, even warming up, I had a two-way miss going so I was trying to clean that up where at least he had just a one-way miss, just miss it one way. Whatever that is, miss way left or way right, whatever it is, just miss one way. Went on the golf course and again had a little bit of a two-way miss, but not as bad.
Q. Considering your grimacing, certainly there was one shot in particular, one tee shot where you seemed like it really grabbed you. And your ball striking, are you amazed at how well you’ve managed to score and how that putt goes in on 18 and you chip in, I mean does it ever get old?
TIGER WOODS: Second part of your question? No.
No. No. I just keep telling myself that if it grabs me and if I get that shooting pain, I get it, but it’s always after impact. So go ahead and just make the proper swing if I can.
Again, warming up I didn’t warm up particularly well today. I again had a little bit of a two-way miss and tried to organize that throughout the day, tried to miss it one way, try to go if anything, overshoot shots, hit big hooks or big cuts, one way or the other. So I didn’t have an opportunity to hit a double cross.
Q. The old line about golf is: It ain’t how, it’s how many. When you play a round like this do you care about anything except the scoreboard?
TIGER WOODS: No, it’s all, that’s what it’s all about is getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. And I was just trying to manage my game, stay in there. It’s a U.S. Open. Guys aren’t going to go low. And even though I got off to such a poor start again today I just hung around, just get back to even par. I was just trying to get back to even par, either for the tournament or for the day. The day would be great. But even if I finished at even par for the tournament it wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
And then all of a sudden things started turning.
Q. Could you also give us the length on the chip-in and the putt. The birdie, the eagle putt?
TIGER WOODS: Chip-in was probably — pin was on 11, so I guess probably about 30 feet.
The one on 13?
Q. 13 and 18?
TIGER WOODS: Those, that was a bomb. That’s all. I’m guessing at least 50, 60 feet.
Then 18 it was probably about 40 feet.
Q. How many times today did you consciously manufacture a swing in anticipation of the knee problems and looking forward, how much of a consideration is that going into the final round?
TIGER WOODS: I didn’t really try and manufacture anything today I was just trying to play the proper shot. As I said, the one on 18 tee was just trying to get the ball in play. Because I had hit one left, I hit one right, I was just trying to just somehow squeeze cut one out there in play. And I did that.
But if pain hits, pain hits. So be it. It’s just pain.
Q. Are you having Stevie help you read a few more putts this week? It seems like he’s doing more?
TIGER WOODS: I am, yeah. Good point. Because normally I don’t here. But these greens are at a different speed and they’re breaking a little bit more and these slopes are accentuated just a little bit more and I just wanted to make sure on some of these reads that I’m not off.
Q. Did you do anything mentally just to kind of block out the pain and can you get through 18 more holes with that pain?
TIGER WOODS: I’ll be fine.
Q. You’ve been in the press room on Saturday nights at the Buick with a lead going into Sunday. Does this feel any different now that it’s June and it’s the U.S. Open?
TIGER WOODS: Slightly.
Yeah, it does. It does. This is our national championship. Even though we’re, this is the same venue we play the Buick Invitational, it definitely feels very different. Just like it did at Pebble Beach. That’s where we play the AT&T and then we played The Open there and it’s two totally different feelings, even though it’s the same venue.
Q. Kind of a forward-looking question, given the crazy histrionics that you were just pulling and the fact that they quite likely might put the tee up to 277 on 14, could you talk kind of in broad brush strokes about the potential for craziness down the stretch tomorrow? You had two eagles in the last six holes and a chip in birdie and a drivable par-4, which is not the way the U.S. Opens generally play out.
5 major contenders for the 123rd US Open
Matt Fitzpatrick is bidding to join Brooks Koepka in winning back-to-back titles.
US Open offers on-course respite from golf’s turbulent times
Matt Fitzpatrick will defend his title with many questions still hanging over the game’s future.
Architect of golf’s surprise merger calls for people ‘to come together’
Jimmy Dunne said there is ‘too much divisiveness’ between the rival tours.
Matt Fitzpatrick one off pace in Canadian Open ahead of title defence
England’s Aaron Rai shares the first-round lead in final event before US Open.
Matt Fitzpatrick one off lead at Canadian Open as compatriot Aaron Rai sets pace
Rai was one of three players on five under par midway through the opening round.
Paul McGinley: PGA Tour players will feel like the losers out of golf merger
The former Ryder Cup captain feels PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has put himself in a “very tricky position”.
Rory McIlroy left feeling ‘like a sacrificial lamb’ after golf merger
McIlroy was kept in the dark about the stunning deal which was announced on Tuesday.
Rory McIlroy ‘surprised’ and has ‘mixed emotions’ over peace deal in world golf
The Northern Irishman thinks “ultimately it’s going to be good” for the professional game.
Rory McIlroy involved in angry exchange at PGA Tour players meeting – report
Players are coming to terms with the shock merger with LIV Golf.
Why has Saudi Arabia become big player in world sport and what does future hold?
The country sees sport as vital to diversifying its economy and encouraging activity among its citizens.