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August 30, 1999

Tom Watson

DAVE SENKO: Just before we get started, Tom just a couple of comments from you. I was going to ask you a couple of questions; then we will open it up for some questions. Maybe just start off with just some general things, some thoughts about you joining the SENIOR TOUR and rejoining your peers, so to speak.

TOM WATSON: That's really probably the most exciting thing about joining the SENIOR TOUR is the fact that I will be able to reacquaint myself with a lot of the players and friends that I had when I first came out on the Tour. When I came out on the Tour in 1971 there were players out there such as Don January, Miller Barber, Gene Littler, of course Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, a lot of players, Bob Murphy, Lee Trevino, and these are the players that I have a chance to reacquaint myself with and compete against.

DAVE SENKO: I know you have had a chance to talk to a lot of guys that have been playing on the SENIOR TOUR. What have some of the people you talked to told you about the level of competition and just the general state of the SENIOR TOUR?

TOM WATSON: I think the best comment came from Jack Nicklaus. Jack said: Tom, it is not a cake walk out there. There was no remark that really prefaced that. He said the players out on the SENIOR TOUR could "flat play." I said: Jack, I know that, I have been watching the scores out there, players shooting 62s, 63s and 15-under, 17-under for three rounds, that is great golf on any golf course.

Q. I understand there is some news with you that you have just signed a contract with Adams Golf?

TOM WATSON: That I have. I have signed a contract with Adams Golf. I think I have been trying different equipment here for just about seven, eight months I guess right now. Started using the Adams clubs just over a month ago. They are woods. I like them very much. I like the stability of them. But I think more importantly I like ^ Barney Adams. I think Barney is -- he is the Southwest Airlines of golf manufacturers. I think he really is. He has got great people working for him; great committed people working for him; people who love the game of golf. Not to say that other companies don't, but I just got a great feeling when I was with their people yesterday at the annual meeting that this is a special company; people who really believe in the company, believe in Barney, and I am one of those fans. I believe in Barney. I think he has got some good vision as far as new product is concerned - the new irons I have experimented with the new irons and been working with them. I see the company growing and I hope to add to that growth as far as the exposure to Adams Golf.

Q. I know you played one round of clubs probably for 25 years. Is that accurate?

TOM WATSON: That is right. I played one brand of clubs. I don't change very often.

Q. I guess when you go on the SENIOR TOUR you may as well make a wholesale change in everything then?

TOM WATSON: Well, I have been somewhat taking it easy through the summer, but I am getting geared up for the fall here. My real impetus is going to be the beginning of next year in the SENIOR TOUR starting in Florida and down in the southern part next year.

Q. I was wondering about your schedule and if you had talked about playing in the Vantage in October. I know they have offered you an exemption.

TOM WATSON: Right now only two tournaments right on the horizon are the first two tournaments I am eligible for the Comfort Classic in Indianapolis and Bank One down in Dallas. After that, I am going to be playing in the Diners Club and the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge and also the Gillette. As far as the other tournaments are concerned, I am not sure yet. Depends on how I start off. Traditionally I don't play very much in the fall, but this year is going to be a little bit different. I don't plan on playing just straight through like Ray Floyd did.

Q. You have 34 PGA TOUR regular Tour victories and nine international victories as of the most recent Tour guide. Lee Trevino has the most SENIOR TOUR victories, 28. Just because of the kind of player you have always been, are you trying to get 29 or 30 SENIOR TOUR victories?

TOM WATSON: Well, Lee came out and Lee was bar and away I think the best player in the SENIOR TOUR and he dominated the SENIOR TOUR just like Hale Irwin is dominating right now. I expect Hale to surpass Lee's SENIOR TOUR victories, the number of victories. That is a high mark to set. That is something that -- to use the cliche, I am going to take it one step at a time. That is essentially what I am going to be doing.

Q. That is the kind of record you'd like to have on the SENIOR TOUR versus being out there just saying hello to people?

TOM WATSON: Listen, I want to come out and compete and I want to come out and win. As far as winning numbers of tournaments, let us talk about it after I win my first one.

Q. Do you remember what tournament it was and I don't; that is why I am asking you - but I remember watching it on television years ago when you were winning and winning and winning and winning and as you received the first place check, whoever it was that was in second place, took out his wallet and offered to pay you to stay home the next week?

TOM WATSON: I can't remember who that was.

Q. I don't know if it was Murphy or Trevino.

TOM WATSON: You have to give me a little bit --

Q. If you remember that --

TOM WATSON: I am a senior now, I can't remember that far back.

Q. You could have a Senior moment.

TOM WATSON: Yeah, that could be a Senior revelation.

Q. Tom, what would it mean to come to Napa and play Transamerica because you had played here, I guess, in your very first Tour event. Have you given some consideration to playing?

TOM WATSON: I am sorry, I won't be able to play this year. That was my first event on the regular PGA TOUR and the circumstances make it impossible for me to play there this year. As I told the powers at be at Transamerica through another channel, I am going to make every effort to make it next year.

Q. I was wondering, playing such a limited fall schedule what you plan to get out of it for next year?

TOM WATSON: Well, it is not so much a limited fall schedule - the SENIOR TOUR does -- I think there is seven tournaments left, maybe eight tournaments left altogether. As I said, I have always played a limited schedule in the fall and I always get geared up for January. I don't really intend on really changing that routine even though I am starting the SENIOR TOUR. I can start the SENIOR TOUR and will start the SENIOR TOUR in the fall this year.

Q. Have you ruled out the Raley's Gold Rush in Sacramento or is that still open?

TOM WATSON: Good question. It is really still open because again I am going to play the first two and then I am going to see how I feel and it just depends on after the first two what happens.

Q. Rumor has it that you are going to have another life changing event on Wednesday; is that correct?

TOM WATSON: I am going to do a Clinton - I am neither confirming nor denying that report.

Q. Well, it would be something interesting to do since you can't play in the Senior tournament before your birthday.

TOM WATSON: That is right.

Q. So you are neither confirming nor denying?

TOM WATSON: That is correct.

Q. When will we know?

TOM WATSON: Whether I confirm or deny it?

Q. Yes.

TOM WATSON: Probably Wednesday.

Q. In case you guys don't know there was a story floating out there that Tom is going to get remarried on Wednesday. That is part of my question that kind of went unsaid.

Q. It went unanswered.

TOM WATSON: It us unanswered on record, but I think you get the drift.

Q. Did you ever think when you first started playing golf that you'd be playing competitive golf at the age of 50 and beyond?

TOM WATSON: No, I didn't. When I first started playing there was no SENIOR TOUR. There was no talk about a SENIOR TOUR. When you couldn't play anymore on the regular Tour you went back and you got a club job someplace, or you tried to make enough money where you didn't have to go back and try to earn a living in the way our forefathers did out here.

Q. Do you think the durability, I mean, in addition to the SENIOR TOUR coming into existence, but there are some players who have been fortunate in terms of not having a lot of injuries and not having terrible back problems and not having terrible shoulder problems, things like that, do you think you are just lucky in that regard?

TOM WATSON: I have been fortunate with my physical condition. I have been very fortunate. I thank my mom and dad for that and my grandmothers and grandfathers for that. I have been fortunate there. But I think more importantly I think there is -- there is real competition and real competition makes the players work really hard at the game and makes them condition themselves. The older you get the more that you know that you have to maintain the flexibility and your strength and you can do it, but you have to do it on a regular basis. You can't just pick it up once or twice every couple of weeks. You have to do it on a regular basis. You see the best players out there are basically doing that. Hale Irwin, I saw him at PGA, he was lifting weights. He was working out, keeping himself strong and fit. He played well.

Q. Have you got any exercise program going?

TOM WATSON: I do. I have a good exercise program going that it focuses on strength and flexibility four times a week. That is what I am planning on doing for a long period of time. I mean, that is what you have to do.

Q. I know your daughter is at Duke. Would there be any significance in you coming down being close to her while playing at the Vantage or is that something you haven't thought about yet?

TOM WATSON: Certainly that would be one of the reasons I'd like to come down and play to be close to my daughter. Again, I won't make that decision until after the Bank One.

Q. What type of game do you think it will take to win on the SENIOR TOUR?

TOM WATSON: Well, I think I talked to a lot of the players and they say practice your chipping and putting. Just make sure that -- like anything, you look at Hale's record this year, I think he is No. 1 in fairways hit or No. 2 and then I think he is 1 or 2 in putting. That combination will win you a lot of golf tournaments.

Q. You are not giving up the PGA TOUR completely, but kind of two-thirds. Is it tough to give up these tournaments that kind of mean so much and have so tradition and history and -- what are you going to miss about the PGA TOUR?

TOM WATSON: I am going to miss, first of all, the compete in the sense that I still feel that I can compete against the players out there that I -- I have to be totally on to compete with them now compared to back in my heyday when I had everything going, even some of my off days, I could still get the score in that could allow me to still win a golf tournament. My off days, 74, 75, you can't afford 74, 75 or at the British Open, 82 or 83, you can't afford those scores at all. One score like that in a tournament and it will kill you just because the competition is really, really keen. I am going to miss that. I am going to miss the times when I really feel I am playing well and can win. I won at the Colonial, MasterCard Colonial here two years ago; year and a half ago and I felt awfully confident about my game, but then my game really didn't produce any good golf after that. In a sense it was time to pass the baton but it is hard to let go of it when you have to pass it.

Q. What is the state of your game right now?

TOM WATSON: Right now I have been practicing and playing a little bit. I am playing today here in Kansas City in an exhibition with Marcus Allen, George Brett, Larry Ziegler here at the GD Waterhouse Classic, SENIOR TOUR event. Next week I tee it up, I will be at Indianapolis on Tuesday to play my first practice round and get a look at the Pete Dye course up there that I will be playing on for my first SENIOR TOUR tournament.

Q. We are really looking forward to having you here in Indianapolis next week. Indy is a great place for a honeymoon, by the way.

TOM WATSON: Thank you. I like Indianapolis. It is a lot like Kansas City.

Q. How about a few comments playing here at the Brickyard, what Senior players have you spoken to on the SENIOR TOUR and what, if any, any tips have they given you?

TOM WATSON: I have spoken with some SENIOR TOUR officials about it. I have talked to Bob Murphy about it; Andy north about it. I have talked to several other players about it who said it's a typical Pete Dye course; lots of strong elevations; that it is a target golf course. I played enough of Pete's golf courses to know that it requires excellent iron-play.

Q. Do you think that it is going to feel any different when you walk to the first tee in your first Senior event?

TOM WATSON: I don't know how I am going to feel. All I know is I will be in competition and I will be nervous. I know I will be nervous, anxious and nervous. I hope the first tee ball is a good one.

Q. Do you know for sure which regular Tour events you are going to play? Is it a hard and fast list or would you add or subtract from it?

TOM WATSON: Well, only one that I am relatively certain I will be playing is the MasterCard Colonial.

Q. As far as the majors?

TOM WATSON: Certainly will play in The Masters. I will be at the British Open. If I am extended an invitation to PGA or U.S. Open, I will certainly play in them.

Q. What is the state of your putting right now? I know that is going to be a big factor in the next few weeks for you.

TOM WATSON: Well, I putted very well the day before yesterday; I made a lot of putts. The day before that, I missed everything I looked at.

Q. What putter are you using these days?

TOM WATSON: I am actually -- a couple of different putters I am looking at. The old RAM -- there is the Zebra blade that I used to win the Colonial. And got Odyssey putter I have been screwing around with.

Q. Are you using -- along with the previous RAM contract, did you -- oh, no, you were using Maxfli golf balls for a while; were you not?

TOM WATSON: That relationship ended a couple years ago.

Q. So what golf ball will you be using?

TOM WATSON: I have been playing a lot of different ones. I have played Strata. I have played the Titleist, and I have tried the -- most recently I have played with the MC Spin Precepts. That is probably the ball I will be playing with.

Q. Floyd uses that; doesn't he?

TOM WATSON: He does.

Q. You were saying a little bit ago about what you will miss. What will you not miss from the regular Tour?

TOM WATSON: There is not anything I will not miss from the regular Tour. I loved it. I will be looking forward to going back on it to see some of the young kids out there. The regular Tour, since I started playing, it has changed dramatically. Where it has changed is -- the organization, the PGA has gotten so refined and so much better. It is really -- it is very helpful to the players now. The players -- I have always said this: Players are spoiled and I don't think any player out there doesn't understand that he is spoiled by all the benefits of all the committees - the Transportation Committees; the food; free golf balls at the driving range; all these things that we didn't have when I came on the Tour. You had to make due with what you got. The fitness trailer, the Healthsouth fitness trailer, I remember Jim Colbert had a bad back and bad knees, he was instrumental in convincing the Tour to get a fitness trailer so that players who had injuries could get them worked out. That has been a great benefit to the players on the Tour. They don't week-to-week who is helping them out with their injuries, with their problem. That has changed dramatically. Of course, you look at the money. When we played in 1971, $125,000, $150,000 dollar purse was -- I think that was what we sort of averaged back then. Now you look at the average prize, winning prize is going to be over a half million dollars in two years.

Q. I would think knowing your history that even though you are allowed to take a cart you will do a lot of walking yourself?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, I play much better golf walking than I do playing in a cart. You get a rhythm. You get a rhythm going when you are walking that you just can't do with a cart. That is not to say I won't take a cart up some of those long hills. If I had played at Castle Pines here two weeks ago, I would have liked to have had a cart.

Q. I presume Bruce is still going to be on the bag?

TOM WATSON: He is. Bruce is going to be my caddie. He is licking his chops.

Q. Did I understand you correctly, are you going to play all the Florida events?

TOM WATSON: I am going to start and play quite a few of the events in Florida. I hadn't made up my schedule yet, but I intend to start off play quite a few right off the bat.

Q. What is your mindset going to be going through 72 to 54 holes? Does that put a little bit more pressure on you to try to get the first round a low score and such?

TOM WATSON: I don't think it should make any difference right now. I heard players say: Well, you can't afford to shoot an average opening round and still win the tournament. In a sense on the regular Tour with four rounds, you have a little bit more leeway there to make up some ground. I can understand that, but it is still -- I think the biggest change is no cut. I would have to be -- I'd be lying to you that if I didn't say making the cut was kind of my first and foremost thing this last year when I hadn't been playing very well, I wanted to finish four rounds. That was the mindset I had when I first started on the Tour in 1971. If I made the cut, I was in the next week. When you get old like I am making the cut, you just want to finish four rounds and get a check.

Q. Because the golf courses don't play nearly 7,000 yards is that going to perhaps put more of a premium on your iron game than --

TOM WATSON: I think -- one of the things I know I am going to have to do more of when I get on the SENIOR TOUR is get more course conscious. I think because I have played -- the reason is I will be playing new golf courses, and being more aware of the golf course. When I've played the last ten years on the regular PGA TOUR I kept pretty much the same schedule so I have been playing the same courses. At times I accused myself of putting it too much on remote control and not really thinking out the shot. I have hit some dumb shots out there because I just really didn't think about the consequences as I had before. And playing new golf courses, every shot you play you are looking at the consequences of a good shot versus a bad shot - rather than kind of putting it on remote control like I had been doing at times.

Q. When you win an event this fall, would you consider coming to the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii?

TOM WATSON: I would love to.

Q. Should you win one you would be here?

TOM WATSON: I would love to be there.

Q. Is there any truth to the rumor that you are going to be one of the four in the Senior Skins this year in Hawaii?

TOM WATSON: That, I don't know. Honestly I don't they.

Q. I was wondering if you feel like you have reached a milestone and do you feel that part of you isn't ready to let go yet?

TOM WATSON: As far as going to the SENIOR TOUR from the regular Tour?

Q. Yes.

TOM WATSON: I really don't feel that way. I still feel as if I am going to be competing. I am going to miss competing against the best because as I said, I still feel as if when I am on my game, I can still compete. But the truth of the matter is that some of the shots that I used to be able to hit, to be able to compete, I can't hit as well as far as the height of the ball I need to hit - that you need to hit it on the regular Tour now. At the beginning of the year there was some controversy from some of the low-ball hitters that the greens were too hard and too -- and the courses were playing longer. I used to be -- I used to love to hear players complain about that because I could hit the ball very high and very long. Now when I am hitting it a little bit shorter and lower, these courses eat my lunch because I can't compete with the players that hit the ball high as I used to be able to do it. Again, I get back to the point it is I am ready to pass the baton, but I feel like I want to hold on to it a little bit longer, but I know I am going to have to pass it.

Q. It seems like Raymond and Hale when they first got on had a sort of resistant attitude toward the whole concept of the SENIOR TOUR. There were some critical comments made - they just didn't seem like they were fully dedicating themselves to the SENIOR TOUR. You seem a little bit more in the position of acknowledging what stage you are at and what you need to do; what you are willing to do at this point. Were you conscious of what they have said? Have you been careful about making comments about what this whole new approach to the new part of your life now?

TOM WATSON: I think what you are referring to is the length of the golf courses and the pin settings?

Q. Yes.

TOM WATSON: I can understand the criticisms of that. If they wanted to compete and show off their ultimate skills, that -- I'd probably be making that comment too. But you have to understand that I have been enlightened by the conversations with some of the older players that the Tour is set up not only for -- SENIOR TOUR is not set up for the 50 and 60s but also the 60s and 70s and over and they have to set it up so that everybody can play. There are certain pins that you won't put in for the SENIOR TOUR as you would for the players that are playing in The Masters or the U.S. Open. I can understand that criticism. In the context of who is playing on the SENIOR TOUR, you have to take that and weigh that into the formula of how you set up the golf course.

Q. When did you start to seriously think about the SENIOR TOUR; how long ago?

TOM WATSON: Probably in the spring of this year.

Q. Do you mean that you were not thinking about playing on it before then?

TOM WATSON: I was thinking that if I could continue to play and win on the regular Tour that it would be a hard decision to make.

Q. I was wondering now that you are 50, do you feel it at all?

TOM WATSON: No, I really don't. I don't feel I am 50 yet. I feel as if I am still 21 but in a 50 year old body.

Q. What was the length of that contract with Adams?

TOM WATSON: The terms are not disclosed. Won't be disclosed.

Q. Can you give out years?

TOM WATSON: It is over two years.

Q. Was there maybe one golf course that you felt really fit your game; you just loved going to and you couldn't believe you never won a Tour event over the years? Was there a favorite course that you never won on that you think you should have or could have?

TOM WATSON: What would that be? Oakmont. I played well there twice, once in the PGA in 78 and the Open when Larry Nelson won.

Q. It was almost Colonial too?

TOM WATSON: It was almost Colonial.

Q. Have you had any conversations with the USGA about next year's Open?

TOM WATSON: I have not.

Q. As a former cardinal could you comment about Tiger and Notah Begay's wins?

TOM WATSON: Notah was great. He is a good strong player with a tremendous heart and I am glad to see him win. It was about time because he shot some great scores. It takes a while to understand your -- (inaudible) how to deal with the golf tournament when you are uncomfortable, how to make it comfortable and it is just going through what I was going through when I first came out on the TOUR. He is a good talent. Of course, Tiger he is eating them up. Just like everybody knew he would.

Q. Have you ever asked Notah for some tips on switch putting?

TOM WATSON: No, but that is one of the tips that I have received in the mail, putt the right-to-lefts right-handed and left-to-rights lefthanded.

Q. Have you tried it out?

TOM WATSON: No. I am very uncoordinated lefthanded.

Q. Could you briefly talk about the Ryder Cup? I forget what year it was you missed one for the birth, was it of your daughter?


Q. The way that event has gone now do you think you might have done things differently --


Q. -- Like Phil's wife Amy at the Open was on some drugs to prolong that birth for just a couple of days....

TOM WATSON: I still won't -- I would not have missed the birth of my daughter.

Q. On the Ryder Cup, have you been asked for -- I can't imagine you giving it without being asked, advice to Ben Crenshaw on this year's team or the competition or how he might want to manage the players or anything like that?

TOM WATSON: I am going to go out on a limb here. I think our team is going to win. I think there is a lot of reasons for it. But I think first and foremost I think this controversy at the PGA about so-called being paid, which really wasn't the issue. The issue is understanding where the money -- how much money was generated by the Ryder Cup and also where that money was going to go and how it is split up by the PGA and what was it given to by the PGA. Those questions, I think will solidify the teams, and I think that was good. I think that controversy will be healthy for it. Looking at that controversy I think it should have been handled well -- I think it should have been handled between Tim Finchem and the PGA of America well before it rose at this time at the PGA. That is behind and it is easy to say that now. I just hope that they can honestly put it behind them. Jim Autry said that they had at the meeting. I think it will happen that way. Certainly puts a few of the players in a bad light in this day of enormous amounts of money. I don't think any player wanted to be paid personally for the appearance in the Ryder Cup. I don't think that at all. I just think honestly they want some honest answers of where the money was going to be going to and how much the PGA was going to get from it.

Q. Is it possible to pick out maybe a fondest moment from the Ryder Cup and would it have been as a player or as captain?

TOM WATSON: I think the fondest moment was the Thursday at St. Annes when the flags were raised. Dow Finsterwald gave a speech there which made me cry. I really felt -- I felt like I was doing something for my country. I felt very proud that I was in a position to be able to even compete for my country. That was the fondest moment I have ever had in my Ryder Cup.

Q. What was the just of what Dow said, do you recall?

TOM WATSON: The gist -- I wish I could -- I don't know. I really can't put it in words. I just know that he put it in the context of the game of golf, the two countries competing against each other and he gave somewhat of an historical perspective to it, but he put it in the light of the ultimate in competition where professionals played for the love of their country against each other and that is essentially the way it was played the very first Ryder Cup match.

Q. How did your speech stack up when you were captain?

TOM WATSON: Well, I thought I did okay in the speech, but I was speechless really at the interview afterwards when they were asking me questions. I rambled on; didn't make sense at all.

Q. Was that just out of tiredness?

TOM WATSON: No, just -- my brain was short-circuited.

DAVE SENKO: Tom, thank you very much.

TOM WATSON: You are welcome.

End of FastScripts...

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