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June 25, 2015

Tom Watson


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome Tom Watson here into the Media Center. A 4 under 66 today. Out in 34, in in 32, and you had a putt on the last hole to shoot your age.

TOM WATSON: Man, did I want to make that putt. I was grinding on that putt more than any putt in a long time. Shoot my age in a U.S. Open Championship, that would have been pretty special.

THE MODERATOR: Gave it a good run nevertheless. An excellent round today. It seemed like you really had it going well with the putter, 26 putts overall and a couple of long putts.

TOM WATSON: I made two long putts. The second hole, I made it run 40 feet. On the 2nd hole, my 11th hole, from about 50 feet. So those were two unexpected pleasures that get your score a little bit lower than you think it should be.

THE MODERATOR: Watching some of the golf today, it seems like you really needed to keep it on the fairway out there to be able to score. Is that the case for you?

TOM WATSON: Always is. The U.S. Open, hit the ball on the fairway. If you don't hit the ball on the fairway, you are penalized. That's the way it should be, especially around the greens. If you miss the ball around the greens, it is very tough to judge the shot, explosion shots you have to hit from around the greens. The grass is really, really gnarly, thick, lush, grows different directions, and it's just a guess. More than half the time, it's just a guess around the greens.

Q. You have not shot your age in a U.S. Open. Was this almost your first?
TOM WATSON: That's right.

Q. On 16 when you hit it in the bank, can you talk about not being able to play your ball down there and what happened?
TOM WATSON: I didn't think I was going to be able to find my ball. When I hit it, I said get up. I didn't hit it real badly, but I hit it badly enough because I knew I had to hit the 4 iron right on the nose and carry the water. That green, if you don't just carry it, it's going to roll right over the green because it's flat. So I'm just trying to carry it over the water. It was a choice between a 4 iron and a 3 iron, and maybe a 3 iron was the better play to hit it over the green. I would have hit it over the green. But that's just one of those things. I didn't play the tough holes very well my first nine. Starting the back nine, 13, 14, 16, I didn't play those holes very well. 18, even though I hit the fairway, I didn't hit a good second shot, rolled it over the green. Did not play those tough holes well. You've got to play those holes well. But I made up for it on the front nine. Made up with the putter, didn't miss any makable putts with the exception of the very first hole I played in, No. 10, hit it six feet from the hole and missed it. But the putter felt good in my hands as it did in the Watson Challenge a couple weeks ago.

Q. Tom, how long was the putt, your last putt? How long was it?
TOM WATSON: The last putt was, I'd say, about 35 feet on No. 9, my 18th hole.

Q. To shoot your age?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. I had it read right, but just didn't start quite enough -- needed to be a little bit more right of the hole. When it went down there, I said, well, it's got the line. It's a little bit left. Just hold the line, hold the -- aah! If I hit it a little bit harder, I think it would have held its line.

Q. Just one followup. I don't know if this was a factor you would agree with or not, but how much of a boost, or how important is it to shoot a good round here today when you're playing in the morning? Tomorrow it will be over 100 degrees or something.
TOM WATSON: Well, in the U.S. Open, any time you shoot a round under 70 or something like that, you are happy. I'm elated to be able to shoot 66 on a U.S. Open quality golf course like this is. It doesn't matter when that round is, it's sure nice to get off to a good start like that, but the key for me is to keep driving the ball on the fairway. I think I missed one fairway. That's pretty good. So that's keeping the ball in play off the tee. My iron play is not real good right now, but I hit a couple good shots, good short irons and good mid-iron, 7 iron on -- what was it, 7, I think it was? And made a birdie there. I was the best striker today, I think. Drove the ball in play, and you've got to do that. You have to do that here.

Q. Tom, you talked about the grass around the greens. Are you a fan of diversity in golf course setup for the U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open?
TOM WATSON: I have to say this grass around the greens is as tough as it's ever been for an Open, U.S. Open or the U.S. Senior Open, and, again, that defines -- to me, that has always defined a USGA championship. Played in the National Amateurs, played in National Opens, and now I'm playing the Senior U.S. Open. That's always been the definition of the Open to me. When you think about the Open, you think about gnarly, heavy rough, and that's what we have here.

Q. Just curious how you think the course is going to play and the conditions are going to play this afternoon versus how they played for you this morning and how that challenge might be for you tomorrow.
TOM WATSON: I was saying over there in the Flash, I said, you've got your yardage book, and now you're putting the shade areas on your yardage book to go find the shade. That's what you're doing.

Q. Tom, you said the putter felt good in your hand in your event in Kansas City and then this week. Is there a point when you get out to the course, when you know that's going to be the case? How does that -- does it surprise you sometimes when it does or doesn't?
TOM WATSON: It really doesn't surprise you. I made an adjustment in my setup just a little bit, and I've been working with that setup now for about a month, and it's been good. It keeps my hands out of the -- having too much hands at impact, going like this, and now I'm trying to just keep the angle of the left elbow consistent through the stroke like this. Somebody wrote a book about getting the ball up and down that said that in about 1980, 1982. It was me. Went back to an old tip that I wrote in the book. Yeah, that works. That works. Why do we forget these things? Why do we get away from these things? I don't know. We forget all the time.

Q. Tom, we talked a little bit on the way in about having some good first rounds in USGA events. Wonder if you have any memories at all, while you're having this day, of '03 at Olympia Fields, where you pulled a couple of long putts that day and the one that fell in on the edge?
TOM WATSON: Having the happy and sad memory of playing Olympia Fields in the first round, shooting 65 with Bruce on my bag. He had a hard time speaking. People couldn't understand him. He had been diagnosed with ALS. It wasn't good. To be able to go out there and play a round of golf like that with him on the bag was extra special. We were both crying. Today I've got a good friend of his on the bag. His name is Neil Oxman. He's caddied for me for several years now on the Senior Tour, the Champions Tour, and we still share memories about Bruce and a lot of other caddies. We look at the caddies, a lot of them have passed on. There's a whole slew of them that I started with in the early '70s, a whole slew of them have passed on. They partied pretty hard. They had a lot of mileage on those bodies. But, boy, did they love what they did.

Q. Tom, at 65, outside of golf, what kind of physical training do you engage in?
TOM WATSON: I have a physical trainer who is golf specific. Janine Young, she's a Titleist performance instructor and very golf specific. She wears me out. She wore me out on Friday this last week. Saturday, I wasn't in very good shape. Worked with her a little bit on Monday. She helps. She helps keep the old body a little bit stronger and a little bit more flexible. Today I went into the trailer, and Doug there said, man, your right hip is really stiff today, isn't it? Yeah. You never know what you're going to have when you wake up. You just don't. Some days you feel a lot better than others. It's a guess. It's a guess. You got to live with it. You got to deal with it. That's what that trailer's out there for. Again, I didn't play that well on the first nine that I played. I struggled on the practice range today. I did not warm up well. It was a very, very bad warmup session, just awful, and I said, all right, let's go out and just keep on trying to do what you were doing yesterday. Harvey Penick said it right. He said, don't worry about it after one day. Start to think about it after two days of not playing well. And if you have three days in a row you're playing poorly, you'd better change something. That's kind of I took Harvey's advice today, just kind of let it flow a little bit, and didn't force trying to change much, if anything, in the golf swing although I'm wont to do that.

Q. Tom, after a round like this, do you typically kind of go back and look at your scorecard and really think about what happened, or are you past that already?
TOM WATSON: No, I always think about what happened, always think about the shots that I didn't hit well, and that's what I -- I won't go out and hit any practice balls like I normally would. But tomorrow in my warmup session, if I can remember today's round, it will be tomorrow in the warmup session. I've got 24 hours to go, you know. It will be hit or miss whether I'm going to remember how I did it. Again, there will be some -- I'll be working on the shots I didn't play well today in the warmup session tomorrow. That's how I operate.

THE MODERATOR: Tom Watson, 14th U.S. Senior Open, off to a good start. 1:37 off the 1st tee tomorrow.
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