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May 27, 2001
PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY
JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, folks, is your winner at the 62nd Senior PGA Championship. Congratulations, Tom.
TOM WATSON: Thank you.
JULIUS MASON: Let's get some thoughts on your round today. We'll go through the card, birdies, bogeys and then we'll go to Q&A.
TOM WATSON: Okay. I started off on the first hole and I popped up my 3-wood. I just cleared the water, I was in the rough. And not a very good shot out of the rough short of the green. I chipped up about six or eight feet from the hole and got that to go in for a struggling par on an easy birdie hole. Then number 2 I hit three good shots. I hit a 3-wood, 3-wood and a sand wedge to about 15 feet, made that putt for birdie. 3, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and hit it in the right rough. I kind of punched it out to the right fringe of the green, I chipped up short about eight feet, missed the putt, made bogey there. Missed a good birdie putt at 4, good birdie putt at 5. And then 6 I hit a sand wedge -- after a 3-iron off the tee I hit a sand wedge about eight feet from the hole, made that putt. 7 I hit an 8-iron about four feet, made that putt. 8, I hit a 4-iron in about 15 feet and made that putt for birdie. Missed a short birdie putt at 9. I actually hit about 12 feet from the hole with a 4-iron and just missed the putt. I pushed it just a little bit. 10, I hit a 3-wood and 8-iron about three feet from the hole. Made that putt for birdie. Parred 11, 12. 13, hit a 3-wood off the tee, hit a 3-iron for my second shot, sand wedge about 25 feet and -- 20 to 25 feet. And I holed that putt, made a good putt there, left to right putt. 14, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and a 6-iron. I pulled it left and knocked my first putt down there about -- probably about three feet from the hole. And I yanked it left, I guess. The ball didn't go straight, it went -- it really curved. But it went to the hole. I guess maybe I looked up and put some spin on it. But it was a lousy putt. And that was -- that was a put me one up. Almost made it at 15 after a 9-iron. 16 I hit a 3-wood and a 6-iron to about eight feet from the hole. Made the putt after Jim made his putt from 12, 14 feet. 17, hit a 3-wood around the bend, I pulled a 3-iron, I hit the tree and dropped down the rough, 9-iron on the green -- or actually, on the fringe of the green and I got it down in two, made a little giggler there from about two-and-a-half feet for my par after Jim had made his putt from 12 feet to save par. And 18 I hit a 3-wood and 6-iron and 2-putted from about 40 feet, something like that. So all-in-all it was a good round of golf. I struck the ball well. I had -- I didn't make too many mistakes. Mistakes I made could have cost me, -- well, 14 I had a three-shot lead going into 14. Jim hits it close, so I'm thinking he's going to make birdie so I'm going to out there with a two-shot. And I 3-putt there, come out with a one-shot lead. But I still had confidence in my game that I could do it. And I was still was making some good strokes, even though my short strokes are still what you might call suspect. My longer strokes are good. So if I'm outside of about eight feet, I'm pretty good. Inside about six feet, watch out. Anything can happen. But I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. And that was my goal today to do just that and to play like I played all week. I played pretty solid golf this week. I hit 80 percent of the greens in regulations it said and I had 74 percent or 75 percent of the fairways. And I felt I putted pretty well. I made some good putts this week. Jim and I played pretty comparable golf today. Jim played very well. He missed some makeable putts on the front nine that could have kept him right there or put him in the lead. And of course the last hole was the one that he told me that he pulled just a little bit. In the scoring caddie I asked him, I said Jimmy, did you pull it? He said yeah, Tommy, I think I pulled it just a little bit. And I was actually thinking right there -- I wasn't thinking about him making the putt, I just assumed he was going to make. I was just wondering what hole we were going to go out and play in the first playoff. That's what I was thinking when he was stroking his putt. What this means is what -- I guess what it means is that I've won the PGA. It's not the Wanamaker trophy, but it's the Bourn trophy. As I said, all those years I tried to win the PGA -- I still have another shot at it this year, Julius. And there's a kid named Tiger Woods whose kind of an obstacle these days. I don't know how my chances would be. But at least I have another shot at the Wanamaker trophy. But as I said yesterday, I'm grateful for several things. First of all, I'm grateful that we're playing at such a quality golf course as Ridgewood. This is a wonderful golf course. Great test of golf. Great condition. And we were -- I'm grateful for the fact it didn't rain. We were supposed to have rain all week. The course played easy for Ridgewood. I'm sure because of the greens were soft and it lead for some good scoring. I'm sure that we wouldn't have been in double figures if the greens were firm as they were six weeks prior to this week. And I'm so darned happy winning this tournament. This is -- this is -- you know, it's very, very sweet. That trophy, I don't know if you've seen the trophy, it's got names like Jocq Hutchison. In fact, I didn't realize it until today that the first PGA Senior Championship was played at Augusta National in 19'37. Jocq Hutchison won it. I think he won in '37, '38. And names such as Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer won his PGA. It's really one heck of a trophy. And I'm glad to have my name go on it.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks Tom. Questions folks. We'll start right over here.
Q. Tom, two questions. One is you kind of touched on it, but how much does this make up for not winning the PGA? And the second question is does this victory make you want to play more on the Senior Tour?
TOM WATSON: Well, this -- this makes up for it a little bit. That Wanamaker trophy was -- I had it in my sites a couple of times. Not as many as the other major championships, but I had it in my sites a couple of times and let it get away in '78. But I've won tournaments that way as well. As far as playing more on the Senior Tour, I haven't -- like I said yesterday, I play in about 20 events a year, and the older I get, the fewer of the regular tour events -- regular tour events I'll play and the more I'll play in the Senior Tour.
JULIUS MASON: Question in the back row.
Q. Tom, your play on the weekend was about 133. Can you describe your play in terms of historical context in terms of Saturday, Sunday combination play? You seemed to be really sharp with the iron play all the way around the game.
TOM WATSON: Obviously, I felt very good with my iron play this week. I had it under control. I hit a lot of really fine iron shots. And I really had a game plan and how I wanted to play the golf course and I just stuck to it and it paid off. I only hit the driver -- only hit -- pulled the driver out of the bag twice today, at number 5 and number 9. I felt I could play -- I'm sorry, 5, 7 and 9, three times. And I felt like I could play this golf course with the 3-wood. I hit this Titleist 3-wood, it's 13 degree bomber. I mean, this thing, you could hit it so far off the tee. And it's like a brassy, it's like a 2-wood. And I felt in certain instances like at number 3 where it's a really tight driving hole, dog leg left, I could drive it and I could put it -- even if I pushed it a little bit like I did today, I'd have a shot to the green, like I did. Hitting a driver in the same line I'd be out of play. And so I played up short there. But basically it was to put the ball in play because my iron game was very, very good. All I needed to do was get the ball in the fairway to play. And I -- that was my game plan the whole week. Starting on Friday, my putting -- I made an adjustment in my putting stance and my position, my shoulders. I closed my shoulders up a little bit, got my elbows closer to my hips and I relaxed my grip pressure and I started making some putts. And it's happened like that before. And I don't know, I'm so hard headed that I'll probably lose sight of the fact that that's the way I putt best and I'll probably try something else and some day I'll go back to what I did on Friday and start making some putts again.
JULIUS MASON: Got a question in the back row again, please.
Q. Yes, Tom, I'm just wondering if you know what events -- what Senior events that you definitely want to play this year and what you're committed to playing? And also, you've been trying to get the Senior Tour -- encouraging the Senior Tour to play tougher courses. Given what happened out there today, are you hopeful that they'll be encouraged that if you give them some tougher setups, that the quality of the play down the back stretch on Sunday is going to be that much more exciting?
TOM WATSON: Well, I'm going to play -- the next tournament I'm playing is the NFL Classic and then the Senior Open probably after that. After that, I'll be playing -- I'll be playing the Ford. I'm going to the British Open. I'll be playing the British Open, PGA for another shot, the Wanamaker trophy. Several tournaments in between the British Open, PGA and then after the PGA and Senior Tour. As far as the Senior Tour is concerned, the courses started off being pretty tough this year and now they've gotten a little bit softer the last two or three weeks. And it's -- you know, it's a challenge to comprise between the super seniors and the regular seniors. And that's the issue. So you could bring that up with Rick -- not Rick Moongun (ph), Jeff Mondayd (ph) and Tim Finchem.
Q. The putt on 16, couple questions about your mindset there. First, did you get any kind of a read off Jim's putt?
TOM WATSON: Yes, I did. I got a read off his putt. And I was surprised it went as straight as it did. I thought he missed it right and the ball just hung there, hung there and hung there. And so when I played my putt, I still played my putt outside the hole. And it went in the top edge of the hole. I hit a solid put. So it was breaking the last foot and it just goes outside the hole and it was inside the hole.
Q. Knowing the competitor that you are, do you think yourself after he makes it I've got to top this and when you top him, do you think, got you?
TOM WATSON: Well, yes. That's the whole idea in this game. When you're playing this game, you've got to sometimes make a statement. And the best way to make a statement is to make a putt after somebody else's made a putt.
Q. Tom, your wife said that you looked like you were having fun out there. Is this the most fun you've had in a while on the golf course?
TOM WATSON: I had fun because I love the golf course. This golf course was a joy to play. When I teed it up on Wednesday, I only had a chance to play one practice round on the golf course, teed it up on Wednesday and I really loved the golf course. And I understand why I heard so many good things about it. So I had fun. I had fun playing it. It was a fun golf course to play. I'd like to come out here and play you in dollar nassau. That'd be fun. What's your handicap?
TOM WATSON: 5? I used to give guys four extra shots, but since I'm on the Senior Tour I only give one extra shot. I'll give you three aside and we'll play, all right?
Q. Tom, you're in a threesome at the end there that everybody's tied and exchanging the lead for at least the front nine. When Bob fell away, does he play a role at all in what you guys are doing or was it just you and Jim out there, one-on-one?
TOM WATSON: No, Bob was still -- obviously he was still in the tournament. He makes a birdie at 15, par three and he's still there. He misses that putt there and then he makes a beautiful up-and-down on 16. And 17 anything can happen. We were scrambling around the trees and we both made pars, but we both might have made 6s if we -- 6s or higher. And Bob hit it in there close and missed the putt. So he could have been a two-shot swing right there, he could have been tied. So he was a factor, darn right.
JULIUS MASON: We're in the back row.
Q. Tom, when you came out, I think everybody was expecting you to play like this. Is it satisfying, aside from it being the PGA and never having won the PGA on a major tour, just to win a major?
TOM WATSON: It's very satisfying to win, but especially satisfying when you win a major. This tournament is -- as I said, it has a great history to it. And when my name goes on that trophy with the likes of Palmer, Nicklaus, Sarazen and Snead and Watrous and Morty Dutra, the pros who won it all those years, it makes me feel kind of a part of the PGA. Because, as I said out there, the PGA of America they're the golf professionals, they're the people who teach people how to play, run the golf courses. And I grew up wanting to be like them. And I had great father figures, you might say, in people around Kansas City. Duke Gibson, Stan Thurst (ph), Herman Sharlow (ph), Everett Van Zandt (ph). You know, these are the golf professionals who ran the clubs. And on Monday they had the day off and they'd go out and play. I'll never forget being invited to play with the professionals on Monday in the summer. Come on, Tom, come out and play with us. Man, that was -- I'd hit the big time. And I got to know them. I got to know them as, you know, other than golf professionals. And they loved the game just as much as I did or more. And that's what the PGA of America is all about, teaching people how to play and teach people how to love the game.
JULIUS MASON: Terrific answer, Tom, by the way. Dave.
Q. ( Inaudible)?
TOM WATSON: I was a kid, yeah. We used to play skins, we used to have -- Stan used to take me as a partner or Everett used to take me as a partner. And we didn't lose too many times. We had to some great -- we had some great times, just wonderful times playing golf on Mondays.
Q. Tom, given how cool it was, was there ever a time this week your elbow flared up? And also, given how you played, any regrets not trying to go to Southern Hills.
TOM WATSON: Well, my elbow was really sore on Friday. And it was very, very sore. Yesterday and today it wasn't. I think it had something to do with the therapy, aggressive therapy that they did. They did a deep to the bone ultrasound and some pretty good shock, shock treatment. And I think I got sore from that. But do I regret not playing Southern Hills? Always. Yeah, I regret not having the chance to play the U.S. Open. But the reality of it is my time has passed.
Q. Tom, of the close calls and the regular PGA, which one does this most atone for, '78?
TOM WATSON: '78, that's right. Because I had the lead, big lead going in the last nine holes at Oakmont and, you know, back -- when -- you could pinpoint -- I can pinpoint what happened there. It was driving the ball perfectly in the tenth hole right down and I hit it in a divot. And my strategy of playing the tenth hole there was to never leave it short, always hit it long if I'm going to miss it. And I tried to hit it out of the divot, I caught it fat, left it short, made a double bogey and made it from about 40 feet for bogey. I had a three-shot swing. And boy, the momentum just went perplunk. Never really got on track after that. It was actually -- both John and I were lucky to get in the playoff and Jerry Pate missed a short three-footer at the 18th hole.
Q. Tom, you won a 72 hole event with no writing cards. Does the Senior Tour need more events like this?
TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, I'm like Arnold Palmer, I like the idea of not walking. But some of the courses today that we play on the Senior Tour, there's almost a necessity to walk because of the long walks between greens and tees in some of the courses we play. Just really long. Especially early in the season. And uphill, we have courses that you just have to go in a cart. I prefer to walk. I play better when I walk.
Q. How about the extra day, fourth day?
TOM WATSON: Well, four days is -- gives you a better chance to win if you're playing well. You can afford to have one bad day and still get in the tournament. But if you're not playing -- if you have one bad day with three rounds, see you, see you later.
JULIUS MASON: Question right here.
Q. Tom, used to be the most dominant player in the game at one time and now you're over 50, 51 years old. Do you appreciate winning more now that you're older?
TOM WATSON: I always appreciate winning, no matter when I -- what age I won from 1974 when I won my first professional tournament, the Western Open, to winning the U.S. Open in '82 to winning the MasterCard Colonial back in '98 would be my last -- last at this point tournament that I have won on the regular tour. But, you know, there have been -- every one of them has a significance to them. And they -- obviously some mean more than others. The significance of beating Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry means more than winning other tournaments when I wasn't competing against Jack. You always want to beat the best. It's like right now, Tiger Woods, when you're in a tournament with Tiger Woods and you win the tournament, you've beaten the best.
Q. Tom, when Jim takes out that driver on 17 and then yanks it into the trees, what's your thought process then, were you pumped up or did you think maybe this is my chance?
TOM WATSON: My thought process went screwey, I guess. Because I hit a lousy shot after he hit it in the trees. I had a 3-iron and I was trying to cut it and I hit a double cross and pulled it left and hit the tree and fortunately it dropped straight down rather than kicking it straight left where he was. So I was luckier than he was. Of course, he had a worse shot than I did. But still we both hit terrible shots there. So I didn't -- I didn't feed off that fortunate break there. I kind of gave it back to him. Yeah, I was never contemplating hitting anything else but a 3-iron there. I would say 3-iron I hit a pitching wedge into the green. That's all I wanted.
Q. Tom, just to clarify, were you already exempted to this year's PGA or does --
TOM WATSON: Yes, I was already exempted because of my finish last year.
Q. At Valhalla?
TOM WATSON: Yes, at Valhalla.
Q. How does this rank with the eight majors you've won on the regular tour?
TOM WATSON: Well, it ranks as the best major on the Senior Tour, let's put it that way. Not a question.
Q. Yes, Tom, yesterday Jack Nicklaus said that he's probably played the most rounds of golf in his professional career with Gary Player. Who have you played the most rounds of golf in your pro career with?
TOM WATSON: Boy, that's a good question. I don't know if I can answer that. I know the guy that I always love to play with was Trevino. I love playing with him. I always seem to play my best when I play with Lee. Starting in 1972 when I -- at the Quad Cities Open we were paired in the last round together. I finished second and had a chance to win the tournament. And he just cracked me up. I love listening to him.
JULIUS MASON: Question, Dave.
Q. You say the PGA is the best major on the Senior Tour. But is it the best major because you won it or because of the names on the trophy?
TOM WATSON: Yes, because I won it. I won three tournaments on the Senior Tour, and I had to say that this is my favorite win in the three wins.
JULIUS MASON: Got a question, front row.
Q. Tom, Jim Thorpe mentioned a time last year, I think it was, when you played with him and he putted pretty poorly -- or you pretty poorly. Do you happen to remember when that was? And I mean --
TOM WATSON: You could pick a number of them.
Q. Yeah. The other question was you had mentioned that you're still pretty shaky from eight feet in. Do you feel like you're making any strides in that direction? Was this week at least somewhat of an encouraging sign?
TOM WATSON: No, no, I'm just up there struggling with it. And it's -- it could be a mental thing. But my longer strokes are good, my shorter strokes are not.
Q. 14 is obviously an example of that. I mean, were you at all rattled after that or do you figure it was just a bad swing?
TOM WATSON: Let's put it this way, in '96 when I had the lead at the Memorial Tournament, I missed it from about that far on the very first hole to make bogey and it made my resolve stronger. That's what I said, it just made my resolve stronger to hit the ball close to the hole and get it in. I got a little pumped up at the 15th hole, hit a 9-iron to the back of the green, about a hundred-fifty yards in the air. But I hit a good shot. I hit a great shot at 16. And, you know, so did Jim. So my resolve paid off and I stuck with what I was doing.
JULIUS MASON: Folks.
TOM WATSON: And it worked.
JULIUS MASON: Mr. Watson has a full calendar this evening, so a couple more questions, if there are any. Are we okay? Thank you very much time.
TOM WATSON: Thank you very much.
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