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July 17, 2015

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: Well, was that ugly, that finish. I didn't want to go out with a shank. I just didn't want to do that.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to welcome five-time Champion Golfer of the Year Tom Watson. You've given us so many special memories over the years. Can you sum up your feelings playing your final round in The Open Championship?

TOM WATSON: Well, just the start of the round, the fans were so appreciative, and their applause made me feel very humble. I hope that over my career, as I said earlier on in my life here, at the end of my career, if I could entertain the fans with great golf shots, that's what I was out there to do. I think I hit a few of them in my career here, and I think that that -- maybe some of these people here had seen a few of them a long time ago, actually maybe 2009. Walking up the 18th hole, actually on the tee, I told my son, I said, "Michael, there should be no tears, this should be all joy. There have been lots of wonderful memories we've had, we've shared here. You and I have shared some and had so many others that let's go up and go out and enjoy the walk up the last hole." And the thing I've said -- the thing that happened on the 18th hole is that I was walking up, about halfway up, just across the road, and I'm looking all the way up the right side, and then to the back, and the road is all jammed with people, there are people up here like this, all over to the left over here, and I thought of the story about Bobby Jones. When Bobby Jones had won the Grand Slam, Bobby Jones came back and played a friendly here at the Old Course in St. Andrews. I'm not putting myself in the same shoes as Bobby Jones, but walking up that 18th hole, as the legend goes, Bobby Jones was engulfed by thousands of people who had come out and heard that he was on the golf course, and they watched him finish right there at the 18th hole. And when I was going up there just across the road, I think I had an inkling of what Bobby Jones probably felt like when he walked up the 18th hole. Again, there's just so much joy in walking up that hole. I don't know how to put it into any other words. From the standpoint of the memories that I've had to the people I've played with over my years, the people I've associated with, my family and friends who are here and have been here over all the 40 years that I've played here, to Ricky Banks who couldn't be here. He has cancer of the brain. To Bruce, to Alfie, to the people who are no longer with us, George, press officer. To those people, there was just so many things that are right now right in front of me. It's all joy. It's all joy. There's no reason to be sad. I played a game for a living, and I played it pretty well over times, although I go back to it, I think this is the 11th cut I've missed in The Open, but I did pretty well in other times. It's a special place with special people, from day one when I started at Carnoustie right across the waters over here. It was a time of -- it was an unexpected win. It was an unexpected time. I've told the story, I didn't like links golf at that time, but I learned to love it with Sandy Tatum at Royal Dornoch. I've taken a lot of time playing golf over here at Ballybunion to other links golf courses prior to The Open Championship, and had -- all these memories are kind of in the mix right now. I'm babbling on, I know, but these are the thoughts that are going through my mind.

Q. Could you just tell us your thoughts as you were playing the 17th hole today? The sun was starting to set; was there any concern that you might not be able to cross the Swilcan Bridge, that you might have to do it tomorrow morning, or just talk about walking up 17 onto 18-over the bridge.
TOM WATSON: On the tee, Brandt and Ernie and I, we had a discussion, but I told them, I said, gentlemen, you're both in the tournament right here. Whatever you want to do, you do. I'm not in the tournament. You guys, you're in the tournament, do what they want to do. Ernie looked at Brandt, said, you want to finish? He said, yeah, I'd like to get it over with. Ernie says, I do, too, and that's all that was necessary to be spoken, and the official came up to us and said, do you want to finish, and Brandt said, yeah, we'll finish.

Q. Tom, it was too dark to tell, so just for the record, were there any tears at any stage on the 18th?
TOM WATSON: Not a single one. Not a single tear. My son almost cried, I know that. He almost cried on the 18th tee when I said no tears. But no, there weren't. As I say, I didn't know how I was going to feel walking across the bridge, but I do know that I looked up in the sky, and I said, I know there are a lot of other people watching me from not just right here, and I -- a lot of loved ones. It was a special time. Now it's time to get on to the real golf tournament. You've got Dustin Johnson in the lead, right? This is just a blip on the radar this week, what I've done this week, or what I didn't do this week. I have to say to all the people here that over the years I've been in front of you, I've tried to be as honest as I possibly could, and I want to say that I appreciate all the time and the words you've written about me. I know you have a job to do, and I hope that I've given you enough to do your job right. I know that it's -- I've had some good times out on the golf course and good times in The Open Championship, and if I was -- I guess if I were in your shoes, it would be pretty easy to write about the Duel in the Sun, for instance. I want to thank you all for all that you've done. I hope I've been the person that has been able to do it right for you. Again, I'm just babbling on.

Q. Congratulations on a wonderful everything. I'm curious, you're such a traditionalist and historian of this game. Can you get more into the humbling aspect knowing that so few will ever get that opportunity, what you got to do today, from the past to the future? And also, who are you closer to now being, Tom Watson or Old Tom Morris?
TOM WATSON: Well, I hope you don't put me -- Old Tom Morris is a really old guy. I'm only 65. No, we had 28 former Open Champions come here and play in the four-hole event, and that was really special, to be able to see these people -- you've got Peter Thomson and Arnold here, and it was really special to see those, and I hope the young people, the young men who were at that dinner had a chance to talk with Peter or Arnold or listen to them speak about the game of golf the way it was. I had a luxury when I was in the middle '70s when Byron Nelson asked me if he could help me with my golf swing, and I said, of course you can, I would love that to happen, and I had the chance to sit with Byron for hours and hours and stay at his home and spend the night with him and listen to the stories that Byron talked about, about the '30s and the '40s in golf. And I ate that up. It was something special, and I hope these kids have the same want to know about the history of the game, the way it was. You talk about the golf equipment being different now. It is different now, but we still played the same game. We teed that ball up on the tee and we hit it. We tried to make that ball go one way or the other, and we'd make some putts and we'd try to win championships. It's no different. If we're playing professional golf -- I remember talking to Byron about what was the most difficult thing on the Tour back in the '30s and '40s. He said, flat tires. He said they had flats all the time. Now, how would you get that story from anybody else but somebody who's been there? I hope these kids have had the opportunity to listen to some of the stories of these old -- that's what we go to the Masters dinner for. We hear the stories from Arnold and Jack and Gary and Bob Goalby and people like that, and the same thing here. It's special.

Q. So many golfers who have been in this business for many years talk about golf and life, how golf teaches you about life. What life lessons do you feel you can tell us about your experience in golf, that can help not just golfers but people outside the world of golf?
TOM WATSON: Humility. If you think you're really good, you're going to find -- you're going to find humbleness pretty quick, or sometime in your career you're going to find it. You'd better be aware that it's going to happen, because it's -- I went through a period of my career where I couldn't break an egg. I struggled and I played, and I just fought it, didn't like it, I hated the game, but a couple people in the back of my head, Jack was one of them, he said, you know, you'll play better golf the older you get, Tom. And Stan Thirsk said, the worm will turn, when I was out there cussing and I was trying to find it. It's all about being -- understanding that this game is bigger than any person and that it -- it helps define you when you're on the golf course. How do you deal with the adversity on the golf course is a great describer.

Q. When you walked up the steps after the 18th, you were greeted by Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell. How special was that for you, at 10:00 on a Friday night when the championship was still going on, and second, would you return if the Champions' Challenge were repeated at St. Andrews?
TOM WATSON: Of course I would. It was fun, but it was a good thing to do, to be with the people that meant so much to The Open Championship. It was wonderful to have Kuch and Graeme and Tom Lehman wait around and shake my hand as I walked off of there. It was special. As I get back to saying, we're all in this together. We have played this game, and we all understand what it takes to do what we do, to win The Open Championship. We know that. It's like you're inside the curtain, inside the curtain there's a certain knowledge that you have that nobody else has, not anybody in this room has it. You're out there on that golf course, you've gotten it, playing for The Open Championship, and it's special. I get back to the point where it's -- I can't be more grateful for what I've accomplished, but the thing is, it wasn't so much what I accomplished as what I overcame to get there. In the last part of my career, as I said, I was going through nine years of really hating the game, not really hating the game all that time but through that time, it was a struggle, and then the light switch went on. As Bruce said, he said, I was always waiting for you to say, "I've got it." Well, I had it and I got it a bunch of times, but I lost it real quick, as we all do in the game. We lose it. One day it came to me, and it made the game easy for me. I'm here today playing golf when I'm 65 because of it, I can tell you. I was lucky to find it. That was the time in '94 when I made the adjustment in my golf swing, as we all try to do. We all play golf. We all make adjustments. I love it when Feherty said to Jack on his show, he asked him the question, "Have you ever changed a swing in a major championship?" And Jack said, "Yeah, I changed it six times on the back nine one time." Really, it was -- and that's what we do. If you have to make an adjustment, the good thing about it is you practise enough where you can feel it and you can make the adjustment. I guess I've gone through my life making adjustments and sticking with it until it doesn't work and then tried something else. That one time in '94, that adjustment really worked, and I stopped hating the game. I felt free and easy again. Just like Stan said, the worm will turn, you'll get it, and Jack said it, he said, you'll be a better player when you get older. I know I've been rambling a whole hell of a lot. I'm sorry. I guess the emotion has taken a hold of me to a degree, and I apologise for that. But it's been one heck of a run. It's been a really good run. To be in front of you for the last time, I wish I could be a little bit more eloquent in what I'm saying.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Tom, I'm sure I speak for everyone in the room when I say we've got huge appreciation for your great achievements in golf and The Open Championship. We wish you all the very best. Thank you.
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