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July 20, 2005

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: How many of you have played this golf course? Eight? Okay. So you know the difficulty of this golf course.


This is a difficult golf course.

SCOTT CROCKETT: This may be a unique press conference. You can ask them questions.

TOM WATSON: I just wanted to know who my audience is here. If you haven't played this golf course, it's pretty hard to describe it. Because it's tough. It's a pretty tough golf course.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom, it's a pleasure as always to welcome you to the Senior British Open. Especially on the back of last week. Your name is underlined here. Tied 41st in the Open. It must have been a good week for you and a good preparation for you coming in here this week.

TOM WATSON: I played well last week. I didn't putt particularly well, but I played well. That golf last week isn't going to really prepare me much for this golf course.


TOM WATSON: That golf course plays very flat compared to this one. This is a very bumpy, hilly, up and down golf course. It has elevation changes, it has its Saint Andrews is very flat. It's just a few bumps and a few blind shots and it's a little bit more I always thought it was kind of hard to understand when you had a change of wind there. But I tell you it's a lot easier to understand playing a St. Andrews, a course I played there like four or five championships now and you come to this golf course, this is a hard golf course to understand. It's a very tough golf course to understand.

SCOTT CROCKETT: It's been talked about you played here in '96 I think last.


SCOTT CROCKETT: Do you remember it from there or do you remember

TOM WATSON: I don't remember it honestly. I remember a lot of the holes. I remember a lot of the holes. I don't remember the changes from then. The tees, what tees did they move back here from '96 to now?

SCOTT CROCKETT: I think it was the 12th, I think, and the 16th.

TOM WATSON: 12 and 16. Just two tees?

SCOTT CROCKETT: We'll have to check that out.

TOM WATSON: Mainly those two holes? Okay. This golf course is all you want. We played I didn't play it on Tuesday, sorry, didn't play it on Monday in the practice round when the wind was just blowing, it was blowing 25 knots, 20 knots from the south. And my friend Andy North and Hugh, they played and said, coming in, the inward holes, straight into the teeth of the wind, I mean it was really tough to get to some of the par 4s.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Take some questions for Tom.

TOM WATSON: Now you're playing a golf course with, when the wind is coming from the west like it is out here, every hole is cross wind. Only hole you have down wind is 17. Par 3. That's it. Every hole is a cross wind. And that's you go out and now you're trying to hook it into the cross wind and all of a sudden now you got to hold on to the cross wind and all of a sudden you're going like this (Indicating).


TOM WATSON: You better make sure your rhythm stays pretty consistent. Because you start getting off. I know I can. I start hitting the consistent shots coming in like that (Indicating) going like that going out. I mean, you know, it's a great challenge. Honestly, it's a great challenge. Wonderful links golf course to play the Senior British Open championship.

Q. What score is going to be the winning score?

TOM WATSON: Even par? I don't know. I mean that could be 10 shots off. I don't know.

Q. Does the field this week face more of a challenge than the field did last week?

TOM WATSON: Last week?

Q. Is it just a harder course?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, certainly the field here, because the field this week has never played this golf course. I wonder how many people in the field played this golf course. Never in a competition.

Q. There's a few of the Scots?

TOM WATSON: A few of the Scots have played it in competition, but the average person in the field's never played four competitive rounds here where you are playing for keeps. And that, this golf course is hard to understand and you're going to continually learn a lot about the golf course the more you play it in this championship. I welcome the challenge. The challenge is a great challenge. You will not feel comfortable playing this golf course. Unless the wind completely dies, you will not feel comfortable.

Q. Is it comparable do you think with some of the other links courses in Britain?

TOM WATSON: It is. I find it a little bit like St. George's, some of the fairways. I find the greens are in good shape. There are some greens that are perched up, there's a different speed to a couple of greens. A little different consistency. So you have to be careful. The greens are fairly consistent on the outward going nine, but coming in they're inconsistent. Some of the greens are firmer, some of the greens are faster. Then you come to the 18th and it's kind of perched up there and it's very green, very lush looking, but it plays kind of bouncy.

Q. How would you compare the difficulty with some of the other Major venues for the senior Majors?

TOM WATSON: Well, it's hard to say right now. I don't know. Let's put it in perspective after a couple rounds under the belt here. And I hope I'll be back in here talking about a good round. I don't know. But the golf course, again, it's an unknown. Yes, it takes, it's going to take you, your full wits about you to be able to play this golf course. The full wits.

Q. Obviously it was very special at St. Andrews with Jack Nicklaus playing his last open.

TOM WATSON: He's a lot older than I am.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TOM WATSON: It shouldn't have been, but.

Q. I think that's the problem, people were asking you about your own future.

TOM WATSON: Oh, my own future? I don't know my own future. As far as I don't worry about it.

Q. Did it annoy you that the people kept asking you about it?

TOM WATSON: No. No. It's a legitimate question. When am I going to hang it up like Jack? I don't know. I can't tell you. I don't know. I did say one thing, that the way they're lengthening Augusta National, I'm still eligible to play against the kids at Augusta, as I am here in the Open Championship. Because of the eligibility factors. Augusta may be just, you know, the way they're lengthening the golf course, they may just eliminate me. I may not be able to play it.

Q. You had a lot of success in Scotland on the main Majors TOUR, and you won here two years ago at the Senior event. Do you think you can do well again in Scotland?

TOM WATSON: Well, I think so. I got a little Scottish edge, I think. I've had some good success here. It's fun, it's really fun to play a links golf course because it takes as I said, it takes so much of your wits to deal with it. It's so much different than playing American golf. A lot of golfers don't like this type of golf. You got bounces, you got blind shots, you got the wind crossing, you got these bunkers to, you can't see them. You got all kinds of different things.

It's not right there. You have to really have to kind of stay kind of above the fray and then just look down on it and go forward. And try to keep your calm that way. Because if you get involved with just all the things that can go wrong, you're going back, you'll go backwards so fast, it makes your head spin.

Q. When you talk about the toughness of the course here you mean it more as a compliment than a criticism?

TOM WATSON: Of course. It's a difficult golf course. It has again, I don't know what it's going to take to win here. All I know is it's going to take a lots of wits to win. You're going to have to really play good, solid golf and understand the golf course very quickly. I don't think anybody understand the golf course very well at this moment.

Q. Does that add to the chance, because it's a new course for you, you played all the other big links courses?

TOM WATSON: I played them a bunch of times. But this is new.

Q. Does that get your competitive juices flowing?

TOM WATSON: Oh, yeah. See what I can do. It puts an extra challenge. Because I will be continually looking, continuing to learn about this golf course as I play it each round. I don't profess to understand this golf course at all. A little bit about it.

Q. You mentioned Augusta there, are you surprised at what they have done there. It doesn't seem like the changes they have already made have had much of a chance to bed down and certainly here they are making even more changes and making it even longer?

TOM WATSON: The changes to the Old Course last week didn't mean much except at the fourth hole. I think the fourth hole there was no place for the shorter hitters like me to hit it. Although I did, heck, I knocked it out into the fairway once last week. It was, I hit a big drive with a good bounce, I guess. Because the rough because I didn't land it 290. Because I had to land it about 285, and I can't land it 285 into the wind. But Augusta is, they're going to make that golf course so only guys like Tiger can play it.

Q. Is that really what you want at championships?

TOM WATSON: No. Heck no. No, you don't.

Q. You want to include everybody?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, you want to include everybody. I don't buy that. I don't buy what they're doing at Augusta. I don't think that's right.

Q. You mentioned a couple minutes ago the kids. How would a Goosen or an Els do up at Royal Aberdeen?

TOM WATSON: God, I can't tell you. I don't know. I do know one thing, the older you get the less acute your senses become. You lose that acuteness that you have as a kid. I remember playing these golf courses early on and I remembered every little thing about them. I played them and I can remember. Now I go out and, you know, well, I think there's a bunker over there. I don't know.

But I think the main thing for us this week, for me in particular, is to try to keep it as simple as possible. Because there's so many there's so much to think about. I usually play by the limits. I usually have a left limit and a right limit. I try to kick a field goal every time I hit a shot. And the closer I get, the less, the more the limits are confined. And that goal post gets smaller and smaller. When I'm playing well.

When I'm not playing well, that goal post is now like that (Indicating). But that's what I try to do when I play, when I compete on a golf course. And it's hard to do that here. It's very hard. You have a lot of blind shots, you don't know exactly what your limits are going over the hills, coming down the back side, coming in you got some soft areas in the fairways there to deal with. You got some hard areas. I learned a couple lessons today on that. I'm learning some lessons on the greens, but you are not going to learn everything in two days here. You're not going to learn very much in two days. There's a lot out there to be learned.

Q. At the Open you were relatively good tee to green and then had some problems on the greens there. Did you feel like these greens are a little better for you? Do you feel like you made some changes or are you still working through it?

TOM WATSON: I made a little change in my address position to see if it works this week. See if I can stick with with it. And see if I can get some good feedback from it. I hit a few good putts and a couple bad ones. So I'm not getting the constant feedback with it.

Q. Does it matter a lot the fact that these greens are inconsistent?

TOM WATSON: Well, that's part of the you better keep your wits about you. You better understand downwind some of the soft areas of the greens, some of the very hard areas of the greens. You better learn that very quickly. This is a very defensive golf course in a sense. Although, you can't be defensive on some of the shots. You just got to hit a shot. If you don't hit a straight shot, you're dead. You're flat dead. And there's no way to lay up. You lay up in an area like this and then you got eight, 10 foot elevations going up like this (Indicating). I mean, you got to hit some shots. So that's the beauty of this golf course. It forces the issue. Many times on the golf course it forces the issue. You got to hit a pure shot.

Q. Is this as hard a course as you've played?

TOM WATSON: I don't know if it's as hard a course as I've played. But it's a very hard course to understand in only two practice rounds.

Q. How does it compare to some of the others, to most of the courses you have played?

TOM WATSON: As I said, I think that it has some comparison to St. George's. Some of the fairways do. St. George's fairways are very bouncy and rolly. These fairways are like that. And I think it's a beautiful golf course. There's a lot of beautiful shots and views that you have on the golf course. I like that.

Q. In comparison with St. George's, which you just partially answered, but I understand St. George's is not on the top of your list of favorites. Does that mean that you don't like Royal Aberdeen?

TOM WATSON: No, it doesn't. No, I like Royal Aberdeen. There are certain fairways at St. George's which are just rejection fairways, which I don't like. And there are a couple fairways here like that. But the rough area around that where you go and you hit it and it goes this way on both sides. At least if you kind of, the ball will kind of collect over in the sides of the fairways. Royal St. George's it just rolls off in the rough. That's not right.

Q. Most Americans don't get up to Aberdeen that much. This isn't a place that normally we would come. What's it like for you and you've been here before, once before what do you think of this area?

TOM WATSON: Well, the city is wonderful. It's a great little city. I have enjoyed the walkabouts I've had there. I went to the art museum and went to the William Wallace statute area and I like that guy.

(Laughter.) I like that guy.

Q. We like him too, Tom.

TOM WATSON: I'm not a, obviously, there's a movie made of that, but I like what he had to say about his I like his attitude about the way he should live his life.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Well, speaking as a Scot, I think that's a fantastic place to end.

TOM WATSON: All right. I'm out of here.

End of FastScripts.

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