Tiger Woods, a winner last week in Charlotte, is the favorite, but plenty of other golfers are looking to take home the title on a course that has seen some renovations recently. This is the first time the tournament has been staged in May.
Q. [TPC Sawgrass] look any different [this year]?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it does. It looks very different. It's faster, it's drier. The fairways are obviously Bermuda now and so are the greens. So it is playing totally different.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I think so. We don't have the balls picking up mud like we used to. These are not the greens you want to have mud on your ball firing into the greens.
Q. Did you hit any out of the rough today?
TIGER WOODS: I hit a couple, yeah.
Q. What was the ball like in there?
TIGER WOODS: Just like we play any other golf course with Bermuda rough, always hard to judge how far it's going to go. The rough is a lot easier out of rye, but Bermudagrass just needs about two inches and you lose all control.
Q. Because they only capped the fairways, is there a chance, depending on weather, if you hit it in the rough you've got mud on your ball and you have no distance control? Could it be a really stark change?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. The shots that I hit in there, they didn't really land softly, they bounced pretty far and I actually got a little bit of roll out of there while in the rough.
Q. It could be mucky out there.
TIGER WOODS: It could be, definitely could be.
Q. With all the work they did here, would you have minded if they threw some dirt in at 17 and kind of filled in that water?
TIGER WOODS: You'd probably lose the allure of the hole. I've always thought that that hole is too gimmicky for the 17th hole of a championship. As far as the 8th hole, I think that would be a fantastic 8th hole, but not as the 71st hole of a tournament or 17th hole of your round.
Q. Of the holes that they added length, is 1 or 11 going to play more differently or tougher when it comes time on Thursday?
TIGER WOODS: Well, with the fairways running, 1 is the same. You've just got to run it out there the same distance. 11 is a little bit longer. Today it was playing downwind so we had a chance to drive it on with an iron, so it wasn't too bad.
Q. They always talk about how this golf course doesn't seem to favor any particular player as evidenced by like Funk and Scott winning back-to-back years, two totally different guys. After the changes, does that still hold true, or is it even more of a wildcard to try to predict --
TIGER WOODS: Anyone can win here. That's the beauty of this golf course is that when you get -- with all the angles, and Pete likes to funnel things down, we're all playing from about the same spot. There really is no advantage to taking out driver and bombing it down there because of obviously the trouble but also how everything pitches in. It just tends to -- over the years, we all hit the ball to the same area and just play from there.
Q. Does it feel any different to you this week in terms of maybe your anticipation of the event, your focus on the event, than it did when it was in March?
TIGER WOODS: No, same. Same, I come here to win.
Q. Is this the event you most want to win after the majors?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. This is probably -- as everyone says, it's the fifth major, so it's certainly up there, yes.
Q. Why do you dislike the 17th so much?
TIGER WOODS: I didn't say that.
Q. Why do you think it's -- you just wish it was like an 8th hole?
TIGER WOODS: Exactly. I just think it's a wonderful hole, but I don't agree with it being the 17th or 71st hole of a championship because I just think that it is a little gimmicky in that sense. I think it's a great 8th hole or another part of the golf course.
Q. Have you had a chance to go out and play the golf course? Start with a couple of thoughts about what you've seen out there.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the course looks terrific. I think everyone agrees. It looks really, really good. It's in great shape. And they've incorporated more chipping and short game areas. It's going to play fabulous. It's going to be tough, but it's really, really good.
Q. Phil, some players in the past talked about coming here and they couldn't help but think about Augusta two weeks after. Could you talk about this tournament being in May and being in its own spotlight?
PHIL MICKELSON:The new date for this tournament has been very beneficial, I think, because it's spread out the five big tournaments and it gives THE PLAYERS Championship, it puts them in the company of the other four majors. And by spreading each one out a month apart, we now have a tournament for the next five months. And it also takes away all the questions and the preparation for The Masters that this tournament has had in the past.
Q. You've had a couple of good results the last couple of weeks. How do you think you're playing, and are you finding anything out about your game?
PHIL MICKELSON:The last couple of weeks have been good; to finish third both weeks, I'm pleased with that. I hadn't had that level of consistency the early part of the year, even though I had a first and a second. The other finishes weren't as high as I'd like. I'm hoping to improve on that this week. I played well the last two weeks.
I had a good session with Butch this morning. I'll see him again tomorrow and we'll -- hopefully I'll be sharp for Thursday's opening round.
Q. Not very much was done above the ground. The fairway bunker on 7, the new green on 12, and some length on some of the holes, but of all those changes, is there one hole that you think has been affected the most by some added distance or some other above-ground change?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't really think there was that much of a difference in one particular hole, but there were a lot of little subtle changes to every hole.
I thought to the right of 15 was a great little chipping area, a spot you could play from, and it gives you an alternative route into that green if you hit a poor tee shot. As opposed to being thick, heavy rough like it's been in the past, now it's a chipping opportunity.
And there is a number of those throughout; on every hole there were added chipping areas. And I thought that incorporating the short game is going to be the biggest change to this golf course that you can see.
Q. The added length on 11, will that change, or will the runout you're getting on firmer fairways negate that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I still think that people will be going for the green fairly frequently, but if there are more layups on 11, I don't think it will be due to the added length, I think it will be more because of the firmness of the greens and how difficult it is to hold that small green.
Q. How long does it take for you to discover new things about your game with a different coach? Does the yardage start showing differences or does it take longer?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure if there's a set time frame, but I think it will take some time for me to feel comfortable and confident with a couple of changes. But I'm starting to see the difference. Statistics don't show much of a difference right now, but I'm starting to see it the way the ball is coming off the face. And I'm pleased with that.
I'll have a lot of work to get to where I want to be, ultimately, and that's going to take time. There's no little, quick fix to years of poor driving.
Q. Along those lines, though, do you find yourself working on one thing with Butch and then having a hard time making yourself do that thing in competition or in practice rounds?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, no. But there's probably three or four things that I'll ultimately need to get to be able to incorporate and we're just taking them one at a time, which is probably why I haven't seen the statistical results yet.
Q. What's your opinion of 17? And not necessarily the merits of the hole, but where it is on the course. Do you think it's a little bit, as one player described, a little too gimmicky to be the 17th hole of the tournament?
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I think it adds for the most exciting finish in golf combined with 16 and 18. I think that 16 provides a great chance for birdies and eagles. 17 provides a great chance for a birdie, but also a double bogey or worse. 18 is one of the toughest pars that we'll ever see. Those final holes make for an exciting finish in golf. And I don't think that anything -- I wouldn't recommend any changes.
Q: Maybe talk a little bit about the state of your game at this point and we'll open it up for questions.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, my game is not in too bad a shape actually. I obviously played well at Houston and I was pretty happy with how I played at Augusta, just a testing week, and I made a couple mistakes and made a couple big numbers, so really, a little disappointing, but I was happy with the way I performed. And last week was a little bit scratchy, but there was enough good stuff in there to make me feel confident about coming into this week.
Q. Can you tell us how the course has changed physically as you move around the course and how that affects what you have to do to win?
ADAM SCOTT: I think just the firmness of the greens it seems is going to be the key this week, obviously. Coming in from the fairway is key because you need some spin on the ball to hold the greens. The way it was playing yesterday, you had to pitch it in the front third of the green to even keep it on the green. You really need to be controlling your shots, so shots out of the rough is going to be -- you know, it's going to be hard to control the flight and spin. It's really flier rough, and coming into firm greens, that can get quite interesting.
I think that's the real difference, whereas we saw it so soft the last few years. And even the rough was really long, but shots could -- the greens could take shots out of the rough, but I don't think they're going to this year.
Q. Tiger earlier today called No. 17 gimmicky, and he said he'd rather see it at another point in the course like the 8th hole and not the 71st hole of the whole tournament. What are your thoughts on that?
ADAM SCOTT: It is gimmicky, I'll agree with that. But I think it's part of this event, and it's one of the reasons why this event has become what it is.
I think the finishing holes here are probably the feature of the golf course, and you can't really get more exciting to watch a finish like this. Playing it is not that much fun (laughter), but to watch it is probably a lot of fun. You know, it's a gimmick to have an island green like that, but it serves a purpose here, I think. I think it's still pretty fair. I mean, it's a big green.
Q. This golf course has never favored a particular style of player. You have like you and Funk winning in consecutive years is probably the best example of that. With firm and fast and dry and all that, does that still hold true, or has it even made it more of a wide-open thing now because short guys get more roll?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think it should be wide open. I think if a course is set up well and it's a well-designed golf course, it shouldn't really favor anyone; it should be playable no matter who you are. But I think what we're going to see this week if conditions stay good for us is the players who are playing best are going to be at the top. There's going to be no faking your way up to the top of this leaderboard.
Q. What tournaments can you fake your way to the top?
ADAM SCOTT: Anytime it's soft you can play bad and score pretty good. The ball won't run out of the fairway. If it's screaming down the right side or something it just plugs in the fairway and then you can plug it on the green. The ball never runs into any trouble.
Q. And if you're putting good --
ADAM SCOTT: And if you putt okay you can get it around. So I think once it comes down to having to strike the ball well to get any spin on it to hold a green, that's when you see the guys who are playing best probably up at the top of the leaderboard.
Q. In the past some players would come here, and while they wanted to win the tournament, a lot of them said they were thinking about Augusta because it was two weeks following. Can you just talk about the fact that this has its own month now and its own chance to kind of showcase itself without Augusta being right around the corner?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think it's a good thing. I think it's going to be -- I think the players are probably a bit more focused since Augusta on getting ready for this tournament than they have been in the past. It's obviously getting ready for this tournament with Augusta in their mind, also, and now it's just this tournament. I think it's got a chance to become even bigger and maybe come into its own a little bit in this date. I think it's a good move.
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May 9, 2007
Coming off his thrilling British Open victory over Sergio Garcia in 2007, Padraig Harrington sat down to discuss his game and his chances at the 2008 U.S. Open. "I have spent my last 10 years trying to adapt my swing to play U.S. Open golf," Harrington said. "I'd say the last two years, that and the Masters have attracted my attention more than anything else."
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