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May 26, 2001

Tom Watson


JULIUS MASON: Good late afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Tom Watson tied for first after the third round, 62nd PGA Championships, firing a 66 today. Tom, awfully exciting out there. Some thoughts on your round today and we'll go to Q. and A, please.

TOM WATSON: The thoughts on my round were five in a row. That's the first thought I had. Second of all, I'm very grateful it didn't rain. I had my rain pants on all day waiting for it to come down in buckets. And, as I said, this is a special tournament for me because I never won the PGA, the regular PGA, and it would be nice to put on my -- be nice to have this trophy in lieu of the trophy that I've never won on the regular tour. I played a good round today. I made a couple mistakes, but for the most part kept the ball in play, and I hit the ball, you know, within makeable birdie putts. Quite a few good opportunities, didn't go in. I made up for it on the last five holes by hitting the ball, you know, real close a couple of times. Had a couple good breaks off the trees, one at 13, and one at, I guess, 15. We just saw it on TV. It just ticked the branch coming down at the par three, and it ended up a little close to the hole and probably, overall, couple good breaks off the trees. Great finish. Dinner's going to taste awfully good tonight. Just through the card, I birdied, I pared the first six holes, hit all the greens, missed a few makeable birdie putts there at one and four. And five I had a pretty good birdie putt. Then at six I hit a four wood and a sand wedge about eight feet from the hole. Made that putt for birdie. Nine I drove in the left rough, short of the green about 60 yards, 50 yards, I knocked the ball up about six feet from the hole. Made that putt for par. So that was a nice save right there. And few missed opportunities at ten and 13 for birdies and then the streak. 14 I hit a three wood off a tee, six iron from 167 yards I guess it was. And it ended up hitting, slope in the back of the pin position and it rolled back to about a foot and a half. And the game was on. The next hole hit a good eight iron. Smooth eight iron up the hole. Hit the tree. There's an overhanging limb the left side of the hole. If anybody played here, I was trying to keep right, it caught the limb, dropped down. I had about a five-foot putt there for birdie, which I made. 16, I hit a three wood off the tee. 7 iron to about 20. I say 20 feet. Made that putt for birdie. 17 I hit a drive, hit a three wood off the tee. Hit a drive off my second shot. I hit it high and I caught the limb of the tree there, but it went on through and I had one about 130 yards to the hole. And I hit a full eight iron into the wind. Because yesterday I hit a eight iron there yesterday and came up well short from the same exact yardage, and I learned from my mistake yesterday, hit the ball about three feet from the hole and made a putt for birdie. 18 I hit a drive with the 7 iron. I pulled the 7 iron, the left edge of the green. It was just one of those putts. I had 45 feet, something like that. It was just one of those putts. I looked at the put it, had a lot of humps and bumps to it. I looked at it, said it's going to break this much to the right, going to go up the first hill, over the second hill going to go right, right at the end. Go up the top of the straight and right at the end going to dive right. I hit it right on that line. That's exactly what happened. As soon as it was about halfway there, I said, you know, I made this putt. That's one of the few putts in a long long time, and it's about the only putt in a long long time that I really felt: I'm going to make this putt. It was sweet. It was a sweet way to end the day, obviously.

JULIUS MASON: Question right over there. Microphone please.

Q. Before you birdied the 18, Jack was saying you were going to be the player to beat tomorrow, because you're experienced in these types of courses. Do you feel like you're the player to beat?

TOM WATSON: That's up to you to say. I've got to play like I did today and not make many mistakes. Today the golf course was very forgiving, I thought. Yesterday we had wind. Today no wind, some conditions. Played about as easy as it's going to play today. So, am I the man to beat? No. There are several people right up there that are the people to beat, and I'm one of them. If I do the right things and I think I'll have a pretty good chance, but you never know.

Q. Tom, as one who admittedly struggled with his putting, how does it feel to get on streak like that, making it from everywhere.

TOM WATSON: My long putting has been good. My short putting is more than a little suspect. When I get over the short putt, I'm a little confident. That gave me more confidences as the day went on. That was fun, to feel that way with the putter. I felt that way yesterday with the putter. That was -- so things are starting to work out with the flash stick.


Q. I had a similar question I wanted to ask, if it felt like young Tom Watson holding that putter, making putts like that?

TOM WATSON: In the last hole it felt like young Tom Watson, sure did, making a putt from that far knowing the line, seeing the line, hitting it right on the line. It was -- I'll remember that putt for a long time.

Q. Tom, do you think you and Allen were able to feed off each other on that backside?

TOM WATSON: Allen made four in a row. I said to myself, if he could do it, I could do it. I felt I had been playing the backside pretty well all week. I didn't birdie 10. I didn't birdie 13 and I had, you know -- I didn't have it real close to 11, but I had a good putt at it. I didn't make any of those birdies there. Allen goes birdie birdie, birdie, birdie. I think you could say I kind of fed off that. He was making birdies. When my ball ended a foot from the hole at 14 and hit it close, made the putt at 15, I said, now, I played 16 well over the first two days, hit it close both days, hit it very close yesterday. Hit it about a foot yesterday. So I -- when I made those two birdies in a row, it kind of opened the flood gates.

Q. When was the last time you had five birdies in a row? Can you recall when that might have been, for the facts?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, I don't recall if Bank One at -- I think Bank One was the last time I had five in a row. I think that was a couple of years ago. The last time, the time I really remember doing it was at the Masters. I just finished making an 8 at 13, I'm up in the azaleas, likely never to come out again, covered with tics and all sorts of things, and I one-putted for an eight there and I birdied the last four holes, five holes. I birdied 14 through 18 at Augusta. I don't remember when it was. I do remember doing that.

Q. Take us back on 13. You missed a drive to the left. Was it a conscious decision to go with a three wood on the last couple of shots to get back into play?

TOM WATSON: I've been driving with a three wood a lot on the golf course because it keeps me in play. The driver, I feel like I can control the three wood with the draw a lot better than I can the driver. As you know, these tee balls drive a draw on most of them.

Q. What is the difficulty with 17 in judging you the third shot?

TOM WATSON: Came up short.

Q. Jack came up short significantly.

TOM WATSON: I came up short yesterday it was a bad -- it was a mistake, but it wasn't that bad of adjustment mistake, I came up well short. Today we had a little gust of wind, yesterday, and I said to myself, well I'm going to hit a eight iron this time. I hit a eight iron yesterday from the exact same yardage. The ball ten -- only had the ball ten yards short of the pin. I didn't hit it 120 yards with a eight iron. You're uphill and into the wind. I'm sure Bill back there knows that shot. He hit one more club right there. I really went after the eight iron, took a short swing and really caught it well, and that was 140, that was 142, 145 yard swing, it went 130 yards. But I learned from yesterday's mistake on that. That's why you have to play in that hole in the wind. There must be a wind tunnel through there you don't feel. A lot of wind.

Q. Five holes to go, you're ix shots back, what's your mindset going to 14 about your chances of getting back into the tournament?

TOM WATSON: My mindset is, try to make two or three birdies coming in. I felt all week the back side has been my forte, I've been able to play some good golf on the back side. I missed my opportunities early on the backside. I wasn't frustrated, but I was disappointed. Finishing that way was pretty nice. Finally got the ball on the fairway number 18. First day it was right bogey, yesterday I hooked it. Fortunate to make par yesterday. Today I had a good shot, not a very good second shot.

Q. Tom, there's a lot of leader boards the course, seems like six leader boards on each, where did you know where you stood in the tournament?

TOM WATSON: I knew. I look at the leader boards. I think that's part of assessing how you have to play, and I looked at it all day; but I knew I better get the whip out on that horse. That horse wasn't running very fast.

Q. Tom, the five birdies at Augusta, was that one of the years you won?

TOM WATSON: No, it was not. Would have made a good story though.

Q. Along the same lines, you feel like you need to press a little bit on the back nine because there's some birdies out there; do you change your mindset on Sunday when you're in contention or pretty much Friday to stay with the same routine?

TOM WATSON: I stay with the same routine with the exception of when somebody has done something to make me change that routine. Back nine on Sunday a lot of times, not a lot of times, a few times, if you have to make up ground or protect a lead, you may do something a little differently than you would do ordinarily. Not so much in mental play but in match play a few weeks ago we played at Boone Valley. You could play that way even more if you're playing against the guys if you're playing mano-a-mano. Here it always comes down to look at the leader board. Find out what your position is, what you have to do and go try to do it.

Q. Along the same lines, earlier in your career, did you go about approaching, you know, days when you're in contention differently and did you sort of learn from that at all or pretty much --

TOM WATSON: I had to learn to win on the tour, which I did, over a period of six or seven years when I first started. And I learned by watching other players play under the gun playing with them, I learned you didn't have to, you didn't have to shoot at the pin, you could shoot, you know, you could play certain shots that took all the risk out and sometimes you, if you felt, you know, very nervous out there, you could take the less risky route by understanding what the course gives you. Other times you had to play the shot, that's the shot you practice on the practice range before you teed it up that day knowing where the pin is or knowing what type of shot you have to play. That's what Hogan did. He'd go through his bag and play the shots he had to play on that particular day on that golf course in his mind. So those are some of the preparations I use when I go out and play when I'm in a contention playing the last day.

Q. How important are the senior majors to you? You face a little scrutiny when you didn't play in the tradition.

TOM WATSON: I think that's water under the bridge. This particular tournament, because it's the PGA, that's has the PGA of America, that means a heck of a lot to me. This is played on a great golf course, and it has a great history to it. And I very much like to win this tournament as I would the U.S. Senior Open.

Q. Earlier in the week you said you don't feel that you're one of the golfers people come out to see, you still feel that way after today?

TOM WATSON: I'm not one of the golfers the crowds come out to see as much as the three players named Nicklaus. Palmer the Trevino. That's just the fact. Doesn't bother me in the least. I'm just stating the fact. I certainly had some great support out there today, I appreciate that, but if you looked at Jack's crowd, jack had a lot bigger crowd than I had following me today and that's just the way it is. He's won 18 majors I've won 8, so. Give him his due.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Tom, very much.

End of FastScripts....

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