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NOTES AND QUOTES – THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP ON NBC, GOLF CHANNEL AND PEACOCK (SECOND & THIRD ROUND)

“If you asked either of us tonight who would win tomorrow, we would be guessing 100%. This thing is so wide open.” – Brandel Chamblee on the contenders

“Yesterday the players were on the ropes…Today, it was about coming off the ropes…The guys came out this afternoon and started firing at flags.” – Paul McGinley

“In terms of global impact, I can’t imagine anything happening on this leaderboard that would be bigger, that could transform the game of golf (more) than a Lahiri win.” – Chamblee on leader Anirban Lahiri (-9)

Monday’s Third and Final Round Coverage Begins at 8 a.m. ET on GOLF Channel and Peacock

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 13, 2022 – NBC Sports continued its comprehensive coverage of the 2022 edition of THE PLAYERS Championship today on NBC, GOLF Channel and Peacock with coverage of the second and third rounds from The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Tomorrow’s coverage, including the conclusion of the third round and the final round, begins at 8 a.m. ET on GOLF Channel and Peacock.

Today’s coverage also included Mike Tirico’s exclusive sit-down interview with Tiger Woods, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this week. Click here to watch the conversation.

Following is tomorrow’s coverage schedule on GOLF Channel and streaming on Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (all times ET):

TIMECOVERAGE
8-11 a.m.Third Round
11 a.m.-1 p.m.Live From THE PLAYERS
1-6:30 p.m.Final Round
6:30-8:30 p.m.Live From THE PLAYERS

THE PLAYERS Championship – Current Leaderboard

PlayerTotal
Anirban Lahiri-9
Tom Hoge-8
Harold Varner III-8
Paul Casey-7
Sam Burns-7
Sebastian Munoz-7

On THE PLAYERS Championship

Tirico: “Remember how much is on the line. One of the most prestigious titles on TOUR – anywhere in the world, for that matter – this new bumped up purse, $20 million, all the FedExCup points. $3.6 million the check for the winner. So some career-changing stuff will happen on Monday. Forget the delays and the cold weather, now it’s about closing the deal. Anirban Lahiri has a lot of names chasing him trying to do the same thing.”

Paul McGinley: “Yesterday the players were on the ropes. The conditions made it incredibly difficult. They were getting punches thrown at them, they were ducking and diving, they were trying to stay in the game…Today, wind went down, it got a little bit warmer, and it was about coming off the ropes…You’ve got to throw punches now…Now you’ve got to start taking this golf course on. We saw a lot of that. The guys came out this afternoon and started firing at flags.”

Brandel Chamblee: “There are some surprises at the top of this leaderboard. But when you look a little closer, some of the players that you would think would be surprises are not necessarily so, like Tom Hoge. He’s having a marvelous year…Paul Casey, not a surprise there. The leaderboard has given us a lot...if you asked either of us tonight who would win tomorrow, we would be guessing 100%. This thing is so wide open because the greens and fairways are just so soft.”

On Anirban Lahiri (9-under, leader)

Chamblee: “In terms of global impact, I can’t imagine anything happening on this leaderboard that would be bigger, that could transform the game of golf (more) than a Lahiri win. Highly unlikely, and this is one of the things I argue about it in regards to the Saudi Golf League, the idea that you could pick 30 players and say, ‘That’s who’s going to play week-in and week-out,’ and that’s your story. The underdog story is so compelling. You think about what we will be doing here tomorrow night if Anirban Lahiri prevails…If he wins tomorrow, this could likely be like...Se Ri Pak winning the U.S. Open may have been the biggest thing to ever happen to golf since Francis Ouimet won the U.S. Open in 1913, and Tiger Woods. You put those three together right there, but this could transform the sport and what a story it would be.”

McGinley: “It’s a huge ask for him now as the pressure mounts overnight going into tomorrow with all of the people around him and the quality of golf that’s around him…This will be a bigger surprise since Si Woo Kim winning, by far, should he go on to win this. It would be great to see.”

On Sam Burns (-7, T-4)

Chamblee: “If you’ve got power and then you’ve got touch on the greens, that’s what managers dream of. They seek these guys out…This guy is just a tremendous putter. He had, in terms of measuring the total footage of putts in round number two, the best round of the year on the PGA TOUR…He’s got what it takes between the ears to be successful on this golf course.”

On Shane Lowry’s ace on 17

Paul Azinger: “That’s one of the best reactions you’re ever going to get.”

Dan Hicks: “This guy knows how to celebrate, right? He celebrated the Claret Jug like no one ever has…Not many par threes better to get an ace than right there.”

David Feherty on Lowry’s reaction: “Look at that face! Any excuse for a pint.”

Hicks on the fan who caught Lowry’s ball after he threw it into the crowd: “You saw Shane Lowry throw the ball into the crowd that he just aced the 17 hole with. They were struggling for it. We’ve got a winner…and this is a crafty guy. Why is he a crafty guy? Because he says, ‘Can you please sign it, Mr. Lowry?’ If I’m going to go out there and catch it and get in a scrum to get it, I’m going to have it signed and I’m going to have Shane Lowry’s ace at 17 forever.”

McGinley on Lowry, who are both Irish: “What a beautiful shot there…Look at the exuberance. This is what this hole creates. It’s not just about the execution of great shots when you come to a golf tournament, you want to see guys having fun. Is Shane having fun there or what? … He’s a real true Irishmen and the real essence of it. He enjoys his life. Let’s not underestimate how good a golfer he is.”

On the 17th hole

Gary Koch on Patton Kizzire’s shank on 17: “This hole does things to players that no other hole in golf will do.”

Following is Mike Tirico’s conversation with Tiger Woods

Mike Tirico: “Hall of Fame – that means you’re officially old, so congratulations on that.”

Tiger Woods: “Yes, that is correct.” (laughing)

Tirico: “You never like to stop and reflect on your accomplishments. But a Hall of Fame forces you to do that. So as you look back, what are you proudest of?’

Woods: “Upon reflection, because I have a lot of time unfortunately due to a lot of my procedures the last few years, looking back on it I think the consistency with which I played is something I was very proud of. I played at a high level for a long period of time. I won my fair share of tournaments, I lost my fair share of tournaments, but I was proud of the work that I put in to keep myself there and to keep trying to get better. To have won the tournaments that I won, at one time I had all four majors and a PLAYERS, so I had five of the biggest events, but also I think something that I’m the most proud of is the cut streak. You’re going to have plenty of bad days and days where you’re on the wrong side of the draw, just not feeling well, things just aren’t going right, things just happen, bad things just happen. But I didn’t miss a cut for over six years and that is something that I am truly very proud of.”

Tirico: “Your daughter (Sam) is introducing you (at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction). You’ve had the moments with Charlie at the (PNC Championship). What does it mean that they are old enough to understand you, what you’ve accomplished, and this moment of going into the Hall of Fame?”

Woods: “The appreciation of what I’ve done in my career. If you look at it, most of their life was spent that golf hurt their dad and it was always a negative thing. When I ended up coming back in the end of ’17, playing all of ’18 and winning the Masters in ’19, that’s when they actually saw the good side of golf and they saw how much golf meant to me – the positive side, not the negative side.”

Tirico: “So many people have been important for you, but two just stick out because of their influence on everything that you’ve become, and that’s your mom and dad. First a word about your mom, because of the nature of your relationship with dad and building your golf career, we go there first, but I know your mom has been a big wind behind you this entire time.”

Woods: “Rock solid. Hard as can be. Disciplined. She was the person that was black or white, there’s absolutely zero grey with her. She saw things as one or the other and that was it. She was the disciplinarian in the family and dad, even though people know he was in the Army, he was Special Forces and a Green Beret, you thought he was the tough guy, but I was never afraid of dad, I was afraid of mom. Mom was the hard one. My dad had a competitive spirit and side but my mom was just as tough and as solid and the support system that I needed, because when dad was working, mom was the one taking me to the junior golf tournaments in southern California…the drive out to San Bernardino and Riverside, an hour and a half to go play nine holes at 7:30 a.m. because we’re first off and off the back nine, and she was the one that did all that. I couldn’t have done it without her and throughout the entire length of my career, obviously my dad has passed, but she’s been there. She’s the one, she’s been there the entire time and she’s seen the highs and lows, the person I could always rely on and turn to, she was the support system that I needed. She was the rock. She was everything.”

Tirico: “Now that you’re a parent, how do you see differently the pride that your dad had in what he was able to see you accomplish?”

Woods: “Very different. I guess you don’t appreciate that until you become a parent. I didn’t really appreciate it until my kids started playing sports and getting involved in sports. I’m the sideline dad that I like to go off to the corner and sit there and just watch and observe them, don’t talk to me, I zone in and I watch my child play and I get in my little world, I’m focused, I’m with them. They both played team sports growing up, they both played soccer and now Charlie’s starting to play golf. I guess one of the hardest things I had to learn how hard those losses were. Especially in golf, we lose infinitely more times than we win, you get on a good soccer team and you may never lose. It’s a different side when you see the loss and how much it hurts. That’s hard.”

Tirico: “You see it as a dad.”

Woods: “I don’t want to see my child in pain and frustrated. But you’ve got to use those moments as learning moments and life-changing moments. ‘Sometimes it might have been your fault, it might have been your teammate’s fault, you’ve got to be prepared, work harder’…having those conversations that I have with my dad when I was growing up, I’m starting to realize that I’m sounding the same way he did and using those life moments, those losses, and even the wins, to shape their future and life for the rest of their lives, because eventually we’re going to be gone and they’re going to have to live life on their own and they’re going to be away from home, they’re going to do their own thing, but the foundation is set now. Those are the things that when Sam says some of the things she says in her speech, that’s directly from dad to me that I’ve passed on to them. It’s crazy because I didn’t think I’d be that way, but I am the same as he was.”

Tirico: “We could do this for an hour, but I need you to take me in a sentence or two through each phase of your career. And I want to start with the amateur years. As you look back at that accomplishment of those six years as an amateur and those runs in the Junior and U.S. Amateur, is that as good of an accomplishment as you have given everything you’ve done in your career?”

Woods: “I would say the U.S. Junior his higher than the U.S. Amateur just because there’s an age limit. The Amateur you can win when you’re 50 years old if you’re still playing and win three-in-a-row, but there’s an age limit and I think at that time it was 17. When I lost in the semifinals to Dennis Hillman from Rye, N.Y., and Matt Todd ended up winning, that started the run. I won the next year at Bay Hill and I’ll never forget because it was my second U.S. Junior, but if you’re a three-time participant, you get a medal. At that time, it was at Bay Hill and Arnold (Palmer) handed out the medal. And I was like, ‘I didn’t get a chance to meet Arnold Palmer.’ I ended up winning the tournament, never got to meet Arnold that week, we shared many times after that, but it was one of the more frustrating moments that I’m sitting in the crowd and watching these three-time participants receive this medal from Arnold Palmer and I was like, ‘Man, I want that to be me.’”

Tirico: “You made up for it with Arnold.” (chuckles)

Woods: “I did. I had some good moments there.”

Tirico: “What was it like to live through ‘Tigermania’ from ’97 through the Tiger Slam, what was it like to be you during that time?”

Woods: “Nuts. Absolutely nuts. Going back to the very beginning, ’96 and ’97 were supposed to be my junior and senior years, so I would have been living at Stanford in relative anonymity on campus and trying to get my degree in econ. But now, I’m on this world stage which I hadn’t prepared for and all of a sudden, I had ascended to No. 1 in the world, I had won the Masters, and the demands on my time…I never expected that. As a kid, you’re preparing to win golf tournaments and that’s it. All of this other stuff, no one ever prepares you for that. No one turned pro at my age, I was an anomaly. Some of the Europeans turned pro because they didn’t come to college, did but the Americans didn’t, they only went through the collegiate system and played all three, four years, and there was no one my age out on tour. So when I came out on tour and had all of the success, all of my friends that I known for all of my junior golf days and collegiate golf days didn’t come on tour until I was 23, 24, 25. Those years were tough because I was taking down the top players in the world but none of my friends are around.”

Tirico: “You’re out there on your own.”

Woods: “I really was. It was different.”

Tirico: “The second great run from ’05 to ’10, you had a lot of experience and you understood a lot more about you and a lot more about success. Did that help you to have that stretch of success?”

Woods: “It did. I was in the middle of a change in my swing, I ended up putting that together. I understood how to win majors, I understood how to prepare for them. I was winning golf tournaments but I understood the whole nature of the business side of it and that was something I didn’t understand when I turned pro. I was so shy and didn’t understand it and that was hard. But the second time, going through that little run there, winning major championships and winning major tournaments around the world, I had a better understand of how to cope with it.”

Tirico: “The comeback – a lot of people doubted you’d ever get back. Did you, at the darkest moment, doubt you’d ever get back to that TOUR Championship moment with everyone behind you, and that Augusta moment?”

Woods: “Absolutely, because I was literally laying there for months. I just couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t walk. Those were the darkest moments. My golfing career was done. I was just looking forward to walking again and hopefully I could live a normal life with my kids, participate in their sports, go to events. I couldn’t even get out of the house, I couldn’t go to watch the kids play soccer, if Charlie wanted to go out in the backyard putt and chip, I couldn’t do any of that. Not being able to participate in their lives drove me nuts. But once we understood the diagnosis, but also what the fix was going to be, it was also a death sentence because no one has ever come back from a fused lower back. (Retief Goosen) was a sounding board because he had the L4 and L5 replaced, but that was going to be at that time maybe a 5-7 year window before that began to break down and eventually you’d have it fused. But mine was so degraded and it was, ‘Okay, you’re going to have to fuse this thing…you’re going to have a quality of life, but there’s a good chance you’ll never be able to play on tour again. You’ll be able to play golf – weekend warrior with the buddies out there and have fun – but not at the tour level.”

Tirico: “You’re going into the Hall of Fame. What’s your legacy?”

Woods: “I’m a kid from southern California that didn’t really have a whole lot. For me to have had the success that I’ve had, I’ve had so many people help me along the way. I could never have done it alone, I’ve had two amazing parents that loved me so much that no matter if I failed or succeeded, I always came home to a home of love and that allowed me to go out there and venture more and more. They made a lot of sacrifices for me to have the opportunities that I had. And from there, I had to earn it and dig it out of the dirt. That’s something I’m very proud of, that I was able to sustain a level of play for a very long period of time.”


--NBC SPORTS--