Tiger Woods made a triumphant return to the PGA Tour after his longest self-imposed exile, as well as marked a strong start to his 30s by winning the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.
Woods held off Spain's Jose Maria Olazabel in a playoff to become the first four-time winner of the Buick Invitational and won in his season debut for the fourth time in 10 years. The victory was the 47th of Woods' phenomenal career.
Woods needed a treacherous birdie putt on the 18th hole to enter into a playoff with Olazabal and Australian rookie Nathan Green. Two pars clinched the victory for Woods, and after Olazabel missed a 4-foot putt for par on the second playoff hole, the 30-year-old Woods was again on top of the field.
Here's what Woods and Olazabal had to say in the post-tournament press conference:
Q. Your ninth career playoff victory today, a tough one. There were a lot of people up there at the top of the leaderboard throughout the day.
Tiger Woods: Yeah, it was. It was bunched, and quite frankly I shouldn't have probably even been in the playoff. I figured the guys would probably get to at least 12 or 13, and I wasn't putting very good at all.
And then the greens weren't exactly smooth. But at least I could have had better speed than I did. My speed was terrible today.
I hung in there, hung in there, and then I saw that (Olazabal) posted 10 (under) and Nathan bogeyed 17, so it was looking like 10 was going to get in playoff. So huge up and down on 17, then two good shots at 18, again, not a good putt on the first one, bad speed, but I was able to make that and get into the playoff.
Olazabal) hit just an unbelievable bunker shot there on 16. Wow, that was pretty impressive. Like I said, the greens weren't exactly very smooth. So understandable it was a tough putt.
Q. At any point during the round today since you were struggling so much did you feel like you were out of the tournament?
Tiger Woods: No, because the guys weren't running away. You know, as I said, I figured I had to get to 12 or 13 but that never happened. Obviously the conditions were a little difficult today. But still, I figured somebody would do it. But it never materialized. I was just trying to hang in there, and I got it back to 10 after my birdie at 13, then all of a sudden I three putt 14.
Again, another mistake. But I was very fortunate just to get into a playoff.
Q. Talk about your success here at this tournament, nine appearances, nine Top 10s; out of those, six Top 5s, three top 3s. You tend to really excel here.
Tiger Woods: It's a nice place. As I say, I've played here since I was 12 and really enjoy playing here. I won the Junior World here when I was 15, came close when I was 16.
But it's been a great place. I'll tell you what, as I said, there's not too many golf courses you play where it just fits your eye, but this is one of the golf courses for me. You just kind of I feel very comfortable here.
Q. Was this was similar to your victory in San Francisco when John Daly missed a short putt?
Tiger Woods: The same. (Daly) is a friend of mine and Ollie has been a friend of since I was an amateur. I feel bad. I want to win it with a birdie. I had a chance to make birdie on 18 on the first playoff hole to win it right there, just hit a bad putt. You don't ever want to see anyone miss a short one like that.
Q. But a win is a win.
Tiger Woods: You don't ever take pleasure out of seeing your friends do that. If anything, I would have felt fired up if I made the putt in the playoff for birdie on 18 and ended it right there, but not when a friend of mine misses a short one.
Q: Jose, a tough finish to a good tournament, but what a day for a lot of players out there today. It was quite a tight leaderboard for most of the day.
Jose Maria Olazabal: It was a tight leaderboard. That's what this golf course does. It doesn't give anything away. You really have to play good golf. It's very hard to make birdies, and that's why pretty much every year everything is pretty packed.
Q: You got off to a bad start with a bogey but came back on the front side to really put yourself into contention today. Give us a little run down on your day.
Jose Maria Olazabal: Well, I mean, the tournament was what I was thinking of. I thought I'd birdie the first hole, but I played very solid actually. There was only a couple of holes that I didn't play well like 14 and 15, and I made two great saves. But all day long I hit the ball solid. I believe I played good golf.
I struggled the first day and I struggled yesterday. When I came here I was feeling rusty after ten weeks off. I wasn't really very pleased with the way I was hitting the ball, and it ended up nice. It's nice to finish 2nd after losing in a playoff. It's been a good week. I would have loved to have made that putt and keep on playing the playoff, but I didn't hit it hard enough. It was a tricky putt, and as I said, it's been a good week.
Q. (What happened with the final putt?)
Jose Maria Olazabal: It was a very tricky putt down the hill, very fast, and right to left break. You know, I had to make it, so I decided that I was going to put less break on it and just hit it a little firmer, but I didn't hit it firm enough.
Q. Do you let go of these things pretty quickly?
Jose Maria Olazabal: I think with age you have a tendency to be able to forget these things easier. And I'm getting old (laughter).
Transcripts provided by ASAP Sports.
January 30, 2006
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