June 6, 2002
JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen in at 1-under after the first round.
TOM WATSON: This is good. You have a score card. I can remember my scores now.
JULIUS MASON: On that note why don't we go through your card first.
TOM WATSON: All right. Just a general comment, on the front nine, I hit the ball in the edges of the rough where you're not supposed to be, and on the back nine I hit all the fairways. So it was a lot more difficult playing the front nine than it was the back nine. I started off and I hit the ball in the rough on the 1st hole and got the ball up and down from the front of the green, second hole knocked the ball in the rough, third hole knocked the ball in the rough, but I had to pitch out and knocked the ball up on the green and two putt for bogey. So it was driver, pitching wedge, sand wedge, two putt. 5, I hit a 5-iron in about 6 feet from the hole, made that putt for birdie. 7, I three-putted from about 45 feet and missed the second putt by about 6 feet. 10, I made a birdie, I holed it from 15 feet after a 9-iron second shot. 11, I hit a pitching wedge right over the green, well over the green and ended up making bogey there. I pitched back and missed it from about 12 feet. 12, the Par-3, 8-iron to about 15 feet and made the putt. And 13, I hit a 6-iron to about probably 40 feet, and made that putt. 14, I had a good birdie putt. 17 -- actually I didn't really have a very good birdie putt on the last four holes. I drove the ball well on the back nine and the front nine. I was just a little bit off and hit the ball in the rough and that's the key for me. As I said yesterday, the key is to hit the ball into the fairway off the tee. I didn't on the front nine. I didn't on the back, and it was a little bit easier.
Q. What was the difference, Tom, did you make an adjustment.
TOM WATSON: No adjustment. I felt I was swinging well, I was just a little bit off. I guess as I said, these wheels get a little rusty and you go to the practice range and you hit a few balls and you go to the putting green and you get stiff. You get out on the course and you end up maybe not as flexible as you need to be and it takes a while to get back that way. All in all it was a good round. 69 is a good score at Firestone just about any time you play. They played the tees up on several holes today, 17 and 18 in particular. They played the tees up. They made those two holes at least reachable from most of the field. How did Jack Fleck do today?
JULIUS MASON: 77.
TOM WATSON: Wonderful. Isn't that great? He started out with a couple of bogeys, too, didn't he?
Q. He finished with a double.
TOM WATSON: Good for him. He birdied that 17th hole. Good for him. Isn't that great. 80 years old and he shoots his age. How many times has that been done? Probably Sam did it a bunch here.
Q. Better than his age. First time since Jug McSpaden?
TOM WATSON: That's great.
JULIUS MASON: And Freddie Haas.
Q. He shot better than his age.
TOM WATSON: Is Jack the oldest player or Jug?
TOME WATSON: How old was Jug?
TOM WATSON: That's a sad story.
Q. It appears the golf course didn't play any different from the morning to the afternoon. Nobody had an advantage as far as time or anything. The scores were about the same as the morning to the afternoon. Obviously, it's still playing hard in the afternoon.
TOM WATSON: It's wet. I think playing in the rain in the morning was probably -- it made it tougher. A couple of guys -- I talked to some caddies who just finished before I played. They said they played five, six holes in the rain. It didn't rain too hard, I guess, but with all your rain gear on it's tougher to swing with those rusty wheels. It makes those wheels more rusty when it rains.
Q. How much different did it play than practice rounds?
TOM WATSON: Well, the north wind, as I said, the north wind makes the course play tougher than with a south wind. It didn't have that strong of wind, so it didn't play as tough as it normally does. That little wind from the south would make it play easier, with that little from the north, it makes it play a little tougher. Hard wind from the north, it's really a tough golf course.
Q. Your group had a pretty decent day?
TOM WATSON: We did. It was a good day. Jack played well and so did Gary. I know that Jack is disappointed with three-putting the last hole. But Gary was way back there hitting woods and he hit a lot of wonderful shots, woods into the greens. He had his 9-wood, 7-wood and 5-wood and 3-wood. He hit a bunch of balls on the green with fairway woods. He played wonderful golf.
Q. If you had to pick one shoot from your group for ESPN, what would it be? What would it be?
TOM WATSON: Nicklaus's putt on 17.
Q. Not the bunker shot, not your putt.
TOM WATSON: That was pretty good. The bunker shot he had to putt that in, you're right.
Q. Was your putt at 13, was it about the same length as the one he made on 17?
TOM WATSON: No, he made a longer putt on 17. His putt was tougher than mine. My putt was straight. I thought I left it a foot short and it crawled up to the front edge and dropped in there like a drunken sailor.
Q. It looked like you're swinging the club well.
TOM WATSON: I am.
Q. Has that been all year?
TOM WATSON: Yes. I haven't changed much. I would like to swing it perfect, but I'm actually hitting a lot of good solid shots.
Q. What was the club into 18?
TOM WATSON: 6-iron. I was trying to hit an easy 6-iron and I pulled it and that went -- that shot and the pitching wedge at 11, they really fooled me how far they went. I guess I'm pumped up playing with Jack and Gary.
Q. When you are playing well, you're all playing well together, does that give you more rhythm or excitement?
TOM WATSON: It's exciting to play with Jack and Gary, sure it is. We're out there competing. As I said yesterday, it's not a walk -- the ceremonial walk for Jack or Gary, for sure. I'm kind of in the prime of my senior career, but you might consider them a little bit beyond that, 62 and 66, Jack and Gary. But I assure you, and as I said yesterday, they're not. They're competing. And the golf course makes it -- that's part of it, the golf course is a wonderful golf course on which to compete. The three of us are very familiar with the golf course. It doesn't throw any surprises and we feel if we're playing half decent we can shoot a good score.
Q. Do you think for some of the older guys it's set up too long?
TOM WATSON: No.
Q. You were telling us you don't hit it that long, but you were hitting it pretty good today.
TOM WATSON: I'm hitting against a 62-year-old and 66-year-old. Come on. You should outdrive a 62-year-old and 66-year-old.
Q. And you beat Jack Fleck?
TOM WATSON: Yes, and I got Jack by eight. It's a wonderful score Jack Fleck shot today. That ought to be your story. I'm sure it is.
JULIUS MASON: Tom, thanks for coming down.
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