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April 8, 2004

Tom Watson


BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Tom Watson with us. Tom, all of us in this building and this fraternity express our sympathy to you and Bruce's family. You had a unique relationship with him for a long, long time. Many of the people in this building wanted to talk with you a little bit about that, and that's why we asked you to come in, and we thank you for doing that. With that, I'll just open the floor for questions.

Q. Bruce had left you for three years; any particular reason for that? Did you decide to take a vacation from each other?

TOM WATSON: Well, I always told him, I said, if you have an opportunity to make some more money, you're a professional caddie and you need to take that opportunity. And when that opportunity arose, I wasn't playing very well, I was struggling with my game. He called me and said, "Greg Norman has offered me a job". And I said, "That's wonderful, good for you." He took the job and he caddied for him for three years, and things didn't particularly work out all that well, but he actually made a heck of a lot of money. He made enough money to buy a house, which was burnt down by his wife. (Laughter.) Not the present wife, Marsha. Let me say something. I think, he's not with us in body anymore, but I can tell you he's with us in spirit. The spirit of Bruce Edwards, if you ever ran across him, you knew what a genuine person he was and what a wonderful way he had with his words. You are in the word profession, but he had a wonderful way with words. He could make you laugh at the worst times and he could -- I've said this many times; he's kicked me in the butt when I've needed to be kicked in the butt. The only time I was ever angry with him, and it's in John's book, was at the Hawaiian Open. I hit the ball, I hit it typically to the right off the tee on the 13th hole, into this hazard, it must be a hundred yards off-line in this hazard. And I'm having a heat attack. I'm in this hazard, and over there they have this red clay, like Georgia red clay here, and I get in that thing, I get my shoes in it, they are all muddy, and I chop this thing out of there. He just takes off with the bag, and here I am with shoes full of mud, I'm hot, and I want a towel. I said, "Where in the hell are you going?" He turns around like this, "What do you mean? I'm going to get the yardage." Of course. So I chopped it out in the rough someplace. That's the only time I've ever been hot at him, but that was my own doing. We've reflected on that for many years. But his spirit is wonderful. He's a genuine guy, a great sports fan, loved all sports. He certainly did his job with aplomb and respect for the game, and that made him, as was mentioned last night at the golf writers' dinner, "the Arnold Palmer of caddies." When a young guy came out, a guy who was a rookie out here, Bruce would not hesitate to tell him the ropes, show him the ropes and say, hey, this is the way you do it. He didn't hesitate to kick them in the butt when they weren't doing the right thing, too. He'd say: Hey, come on, clean up your act. We have an image to uphold out here. I think that he certainly, along with a bunch of the same caddies from Wethersfield, all of the guys that came in last night, they lifted the image of the caddies to a higher image than it's ever been before. He will be missed. He will be missed. I feel for Marsha. I feel for his mom and dad. His dad made a wonderful -- he said some wonderful words about his son last night, not knowing he was going to be gone in about four hours.

Q. Do you remember any of those things that he said? I didn't make notes last night, of Dr. Edwards?

TOM WATSON: Well, it's on tape. It's on tape and pretty soon it will be in Marsha's hands. They made a tape of it and it will be in Marsha's hands, of the event last night. Ask her.

Q. Can you run by what time Marsha called you this morning?

TOM WATSON: On the way to the golf course, when we literally arrived here at the golf course. There was a phone call from Marsha. It broke up, cell phone to cell phone, broke up, and then the second phone call came. I had left Hilary, Hilary was going to go back to the house. I was just doing my normal routine. She came up, I was in the champions' locker room, and a guy at the door said Hilary was at the door, and I knew exactly what it meant.

Q. About what time was it?

TOM WATSON: He passed on at 6:26 this morning, in the Hands of Hospice. What a wonderful organization they are to help out.

Q. Was there any thought of not playing?

TOM WATSON: He was out there on the first tee with Boogie Tom. Boogie Tom was a caddie who tragically lost his life in an accident in Tallahassee, his best friend in Dallas, back in about '75, '76, something like that. I told him last time I saw him, I said, "You're going to be with Boogie real soon." That's where he was, he was on the first tee with Boogie.

Q. Can you talk about the emotions playing out there today and walking around?

TOM WATSON: Well, as I said, you lost the man in body but you didn't lose him in spirit. So I'm relying on his spirit to take care of me.

Q. Does this make the first round last year what happened all the more special now because it was the last hoorah, basically?

TOM WATSON: Well, it would have been nice to have made the cut last year. When I left Bruce last year, he was crying in the parking lot, as he thought that was going to be his last Masters. Of course, it was. Last time he caddied for me was at the UBS Cup at Sea Island. On Sunday, we went to the bar and had a beer together knowing that that might have been the last time, too, which it was. I saw him a couple of times after that. I went and visited in January. He was doing pretty well, but he didn't want to get out of the house. Then we saw him about three weeks ago when I went and played Bay Hill. He was in pretty good shape. He wasn't too bad. He had had a little problem with breathing before that just once, and we had our normal bet on the NCAA basketball and he beat my butt again. A hundred dollars I owe him at the beginning. I'm going to take that hundred dollars and frame that thing right there.

Q. That was the last time you had a conversation with him, that you saw him, was at Bay Hill?

TOM WATSON: At Bay Hill, a face-to-face, yes. Other than that, we talked by e-mail after that.

Q. What was Bruce's outlook at that time when you guys were seeing him face-to-face?

TOM WATSON: Well, we talked about death, talked about the fear of death. He said he was not afraid to die. And I said, you know, I'm not afraid, either. I believe that there are other dimensions beyond the four dimensions in which we live. I think you can take that from a religious standpoint or from a spiritual standpoint, but there is something beyond what we are here, what we feel, we smell, we see. There is something beyond that. And he believed that.

Q. How did you first make connection with Bruce?

TOM WATSON: First time he made connections with me, basically he connected with me. I was a long-haired golfer and coming out of the locker room at a club in St. Louis playing in the tournament there in 1973, and he was a long-haired caddie. We fit the bill right together right there. He asked me if he could caddie for me, and I said, sure, I'll give you a shot. Let's go.

Q. Did you sense that the galleries were aware of what happened?

TOM WATSON: I didn't have any sense of that at all, no, to be honest with you.

Q. You said last year at Olympia Fields you were going to use that occasion to draw awareness of the disease and work harder for a cure. In light of today's events, how do you carry that story forward?

TOM WATSON: First of all, I want to say: Damn this disease! Damn it! They are going to find a cure. We don't have one right now.

Q. I know last year you said at Olympia Fields that the timing was kind of miraculous because it enabled you to open up an entire dialogue to get it out there. Do you think there's anything similar to that in the timing that happened today?

TOM WATSON: Well, Hilary and I, we look at each other, and we say, well, just typical. He wanted to die on the first day of the Masters, his favorite tournament. You know, the disease, it doesn't have a cure, and it just is not something that is easily understood by the medical profession. It's not understood -- I don't know if you saw the New York Times article yesterday about Alzheimer's, about the five different drugs that are out there for Alzheimer's. They don't believe that they really work. The neurological diseases are really difficult. There's not a lot of understanding about them. I put ALS right in that. The doctors with whom I've corresponded with have said that there is -- will be a cure, and they believe that there's going to be a cure, five to ten years. How do we get there? There's a lot of ways to get there. What way it's going to connect, we don't know, but there are people out there that need the research funds to look for, and money translates into success. It does here. That's the type of awareness that we look for. ALSA, the Driving for Life, ALS Hope, there's a lot of research going on. It's not for naught. There is good stuff going. We can go into detail on some of the things, but let's suffice it to say that we don't have one yet, but we'll get there. We're going to get there.

Q. I get the impression that Bruce laughed his way to the end; is that accurate? Can you talk a little bit about that?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, he did. Bruce laughed his way to the end, he did. He certainly -- when somebody came up to put their arm around him and say, Bruce I'm so sorry, he'd say, "Don't be sorry for me, I can deal with it. I can deal with it." And he'd put them off with some sort of joke about the Eagles or how bad the Cowboys were this year or something like that. He hated the Cowboys and loved the Eagles. That was his whole season when he came down to football, whether the Eagles beat the Cowboys or not. He loved it. And he loved UCONN, his beloved UCONN college, winning the NCAA Championship, I'm sure.

Q. How about a story about him telling you when he had ALS and him making jokes and you being kind of broken up about it at the time?

TOM WATSON: Well, I got the phone call when he went to the Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with ALS. I got the phone call and Marsha got on the phone and said that Dr. Sorenson had diagnosed him with ALS. I said, gosh, my fears are realized. When he got on the phone, he said, "Well, I just made a quad." And you guys know, at least you guys know and you gals know what that means. That's how he just kind of brushed it off, I just made a quad. I said, "Yeah, but we're going to get back to even par." That's the way I responded to him.

Q. You said that the Masters was his favorite. If you could tell a little bit why, and your memories, if there is a particular memory from one of your victories or something?

TOM WATSON: Well, there was a particular -- when he could not caddie here, he followed me around in 1977 when I started to make the run at No. 5 in the final round. I hit a 4-iron, and when it was in the air, I heard this, "Yeah," and it was Bruce because he knew it was a good shot. I ended up making birdie, and I birdied 6 and 7 and 8. He came over that night and we celebrated and we had a great celebration. He always wanted to caddie, obviously at Augusta. When it came time, we never really got close, we never got all that close to winning. But he sure loved it here. He sure loved to play, to watch, to be here, to see Stan and see all of the guys who were here. This is where it happens. This is where golf happens once a year here at Augusta. He loved being around it, in it and around it.

Q. What are your favorite memories or moments with Bruce? Are they the famous ones like chipping at Pebble Beach or are they other quieter times that we don't know about?

TOM WATSON: Well, there are a lot. I think the hug at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach was probably the most wonderful memory that we both shared together. That was the only major that he won on my bag. But, you know, that was the major that I wanted to win most and he knew that. It was always a fun -- one of the experiences when I was practicing working on my game that happened every so often, and I'm glad it did happen because it meant that things were looking up. I would be practicing and playing just crappy and crappy and crappy, and he would be over there on the bag, he'd just be looking. He didn't actually offer a lot of advice about the golf swing, but the longer we were together, the more advice he would give. I'd hit balls and hit balls and hit balls, and all of a sudden I'd say to him, "I've got it!" Like that. And he knew exactly what that meant because many times, I said, "I got it" was after a stretch of just playing crappy golf, and all of a sudden, I've got it. And it just goes from terrible to great, like that. You could see that he didn't change his step very much, but you could see how excited he got when I said I've got it. He had that a few times. I'm glad and grateful for the fact he did.

Q. Why did your bond endure for so long?

TOM WATSON: Why? Because he did his job as well as could be expected, and it was a relationship of trust. We knew each other very well. A lot of people fire their caddies because they got hot. I got hot because he ran off with the towel, but that was about it. When he kicked me in the butt I didn't get mad at him for kicking me in the butt; I'd say, "Yeah, you're right, I'm acting like a baby out here." He was the type of guy that you knew when he said something, he meant it. But he also had a great sense of humor. He's a great observer of life. His favorite line was, "See you next year," whenever he left a golf tournament, and he left a lot of broken hearts, I can tell you that. (Laughter.)

Q. I saw Jeff Julian two weeks ago, and when I was visiting him, he was watching golf, and I'm sure he's going to be watching this tournament and getting the news, and I'm just wondering, if you had a chance to talk to Jeff; this has got to be crushing for him, what you might say to him.

TOM WATSON: No. I'd say the same thing as I said, "Damn this disease. Damn it." That's what I would say.

Q. When you were out there today standing over various shots, would you find yourself wondering what Bruce would say to you at this moment?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, I certainly did. I did something I rarely have done in the last 25 years, and that was to carry a yardage book in my hip pocket. Maybe that's the reason I shot 76, out of whack up here somewhere. He was there. He was there. I was looking at this yardage book, and I had his yardage book. He emailed me last week, and he said, "Make sure you take the Masters yardage book." He had a whole satchel full of all his old yardage books that he's kept, the ones that didn't get burned up in the fire. (Laughter.) And he said, "Make sure you get that Masters one because it has the lay-ups on the par 5s, and they won't have those lay-ups on the par 5s that you want." Jeff Burrell, he went down in the back on Tuesday, so I'm using an Augusta caddie, Gray Moore. So I was using his yardage book out there today. Maybe I can play half decent tomorrow and make the cut and get back in this tournament somehow. It would be fun.

Q. From the Open last year and before that, the diagnosis, you and Bruce have had a great positive outlook. Did you think you would get more time than this?

TOM WATSON: I did think we were going to have more time. I certainly did. The type of illness he had is the quick time, Bulbar they call it. It attacks the lungs and it gets you pretty quickly. It's been 15 months since he was diagnosed, but he had obvious symptoms before then, from January of last year. You knew almost a year before that, slurring his words, that there was something wrong. He knew he was in trouble when he went into the bar one time, he had not had a drink, and he ordered a drink, and the guy says, "I'm not serving you, you're drunk." He said, hold on here. That woke him up right there. You laugh about it, but he wants you to laugh about it. He would want you to laugh about some of the tough things that he went through, not feel sorry for him. But always keep aware that maybe there is a cure out there and help him out.

Q. A lot of times when you lose a loved one, you're sad, and as time goes on, you get less sad when you think of that person, and sometimes when you get lucky and think back on that person you can laugh and smile and think good things; I sense that's the relationship you had with Bruce?

TOM WATSON: I had a relationship with my dad when he died, there was about a bout of crying. I write this to everybody who loses a loved one, and I believe it's true. May the memories of the one who has passed on fill the void that they left. There's another great poem called St. Augustine's Poem that I always send to people that says, don't cry for me, but remember the most important things of my life and what I represented in my life, and make that your memory of me, not my death. I think that's important. Keeps us going on. Yes, we have grief and I'm sure I'll cry. I'll cry a lot before it's over, but that's the way I look at it.

Q. Did Bruce ever talk to you about, "When I die, if you're in a tournament, you'd better play"?

TOM WATSON: No, he never said anything like that.

Q. Do you think he would have said you'd better play?

TOM WATSON: Obviously, yeah. "Go win the Masters for me." Like Andy North on the practice tee when he came, when he found out, he said he was sorry and I broke up, and he said, "Look at this guy over here, there was Ben Crenshaw; do what he did."

Q. Obviously the last 15 months have been very emotional. How different was it playing out there today?

TOM WATSON: Honestly, I can say that with his yardage book in my hip pocket, I felt he was with me, I honestly did. I'm not trying to say anything that I didn't feel. I was out there and, all right, what is it, and I could just remember him saying, all right, you've got 158, 10 to carry over the right front of No. 6 there, carry over it, go for it. I could hear him after I hit my 4-iron fat at 15, he said, "Ohhh", I could here him go like that, too. I could hear him do that when I hit a bad shot, "Ohhh". I couldn't get mad at him for that because I was saying the same thing. He was out there today, along with Boogie.

Q. You've done so much for him publically. The money you donated to ALS at Sonoma, did he ever say thank-you to you, or was that unspoken between friends?

TOM WATSON: Sure. He said thank you, sure. He said, "That was a neat thing that you did."

Q. You mentioned a moment ago, was there any one particular thing his father said last night in his speech, it was a moving speech I thought, that sticks with you, that you recall?

TOM WATSON: Just the entirety of it. Just what a wonderfully well-thought-out ode to his son. When he left, when Bruce graduated high school, that night, he was gone to caddie. He was gone. He was out of there. And his parents -- there was also a trip that his parents didn't know about when he went down to Orlando and snuck out, went down there and ended up coming back by bus or something, I forget what it was. He liked to caddie, and boy, there was the gypsy in him, and he made friends everywhere. He had some wonderful friends in Dallas, all around the country.

Q. Ever had any idea why he never cared for college?

TOM WATSON: Because he loved to caddie. (Laughter.) He thought that was the neatest thing in the whole world, to be out there and caddie. He went to North Texas State for a little while. I tried to get him to go to college. I didn't pay him very much, maybe get the hint and go make some money somewhere else, but that didn't work. It was in his blood. He was a gypsy. He traveled around and he loved to travel, and with my success, he was successful with me. It was great.

BILLY MORRIS: Tom, thank you very much for coming down here today. We know this is a very difficult time for you. You certainly have the sympathy of all of us in the golf fraternity. God bless you.

TOM WATSON: Thank you. I know he had a great respect for what you all do in your job. I know whenever you needed a story, sometimes all you'd have to do is just go to Bruce, and he'd give you a story. He'd tell you straight up. Thank you.

End of FastScripts�.

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