July 24, 2003
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom Watson, a 66 today. Your general views on an excellent start to the tournament.
TOM WATSON: I was very happy with the start because I didn't drive the ball well. I drove the ball -- I don't think I hit a fairway on the back side. I ended up shooting 1-under par on the back side.
Every time I hit the ball in the rough it seemed like I had a play, with the exception of 18 when I knocked it in the bunker; I hit an 8-iron in there. And the last hole hit in there about eight feet and made the putt for par.
It was not pretty off the tee for me today. I was hitting the ball left and then right and it was pretty ugly. But my iron play was good and I putted very well again and that's the reason I shot 66.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Before we take some questions, let's get the details. You birdied the second?
TOM WATSON: I hit a 3-iron off the tee downwind. Hit a pitching wedge -- sorry. Hit a sand wedge in about 12 feet short and made the putt.
Bogeyed 4. Hit an 8-iron just over the green. Chipped up short -- I left it about six, seven feet short and missed that putt.
7, I hit a wayward tee shot in the right rough, but I hit a very good shot out with an 8-iron and left myself with about a 20-footer for eagle and 2-putted that.
8, I hit my best drive of the day and knocked it up there, with just a pitching wedge to the green, and I knocked that in about 20 feet and made that putt.
9, I hit another very good drive. It was down there with just a sand wedge to the green right in the middle of the fairway. I don't know how the ball got in the middle of the fairway but it did. Now, that fairway is just like most of the fairways were last week. I like what Jack's comment was; made 18 fairways like No. 9 here last week. I did get the ball in the fairway. Not a particularly good sand wedge. Again, I left it about 20 feet short and I holed that putt.
Hit it 2-iron about eight feet from the hole and made that putt for a birdie.
18, hit a 3-wood in the fairway bunker knocked it out, just blasted out and then an 8-iron onto the green about eight feet and made the putt.
Q. Talk about your clubbing today compared to '77?
TOM WATSON: I've been shooting shorter clubs today than in '77.
At 17, I hit an 8-iron and beautiful shot there.
My iron play was good. My driving was not very good.
Q. What did you hit on 15?
TOM WATSON: 15 I hit a 2-iron. It was nearly 200 yards I think. The wind was strong right-to-left, and that's the shot that you'd better just go ahead and play it out over death valley over there and let the wind bring it in over there. And I hit a very good shot.
Q. What about the back nine?
TOM WATSON: I feel like I was very lucky because every time I drove the ball in the rough, I had a play. I had a shot to the green. I was very fortunate. I took it out of some bad lies today and got the ball -- chased it on to the front of the greens on No. 12, I didn't have a very good lie there, but I chased it on to the front of the green and it came back and I 2-putted. Made a beautiful lag putt up there about a foot from about 90, 100 feet. That was a very good putt.
Same thing at 5. I chased it on from a pretty bad lie to right there, and it was just on the front and I hit a long 2-putt and I got that ball up-and-down.
Q. Gallery got bigger and bigger too?
TOM WATSON: It did. Yeah, it wasn't quite as big as it was in '77, or as dusty or as sunny. But it was still -- the people, they just finished breakfast and came out and watched the back nine.
Q. How do you compare this round to the opening rounds at Olympia Fields and Sandwich?
TOM WATSON: Well, the ball-striking wasn't there, but I was lucky. If I hit the ball in the same places tomorrow, I might shoot 76. I shot 66 today. Now why, I got lucky, I got good breaks, lies in the rough. Played some good shots from the rough, judged it well. But again, it wasn't a pretty round of golf.
Q. Do you find it difficult to close the box on the past?
TOM WATSON: No, that's over and done with. I don't live in the past, nor do I live in the future. I live for the present when I go out on the golf course. It was a day of just struggle for me from the tee. It was a good day from the standpoint of understanding what my feelings were and getting the job done and getting a good score under my belt. But the nostalgia, Jack and I talked a little bit and joked a little bit, but it wasn't -- we're not living in the past.
TOM WATSON: Well, that past history, there's nothing we can do about it. What we are out there to do, as Jack said in our press conference yesterday, he said, we go out to play and we're not thinking about the past. We're just going out -- we're in the present. You use the past to help you judge what you're going to be doing on the golf course. You use that. You use that past experience for that, sure. But the feelings of victory and that, that was just one moment in my life.
Q. Can you keep the momentum going?
TOM WATSON: Well, I'm worried about the way I hit the ball, yes. I'm worried about that. I had better change something or I'd better do something a little bit differently with my driver and put the ball in play a lot more tomorrow than the next three days than I did today, because I'm not going to get the breaks I got today and shoot the scores I'm going to shoot today.
Q. What did you and Jack talk of?
TOM WATSON: Well, I don't think some of -- well, I think we talked somewhat of our infirmities. We make light of the fact that he's 63 and I'm 53 and the game is a little different now than what it used to be.
Q. Do you have infirmities?
TOM WATSON: I've been blessed with good health. I don't have too many problems. There's other people that have a lot more problems than I do.
Q. Is your improved concentration a factor?
TOM WATSON: Yes, I think so. I think that's helped a lot. If I'd come in here cold not having played the type of major championships I've played in the last few months, I think it very easily could have gotten away from me.
Q. Are your competitive juices still as long?
TOM WATSON: They do. There's not a question. Whenever I'm on the golf course, I feel just as strongly about hitting that good shot or that great shot every time I hit the ball than I did 25, 30, 40 years ago. I can say that because when I was 13 years old, I was thinking the same thing. Every time I took a swing at it, I was trying to hit the best shot I could possibly hit.
Q. Do you still practice as much?
TOM WATSON: No, I don't.
My body doesn't take a lot of practice anymore.
Q. Can you talk about Jack's play today?
TOM WATSON: Well, he hit the ball about like I did off the tee. We struggled off the tee. But he made some very fine up-and-downs and he hung in there he was struggling as I was off the tee.
Q. And what about Carl Mason?
TOM WATSON: Carl (Mason) played a lot better than Jack or I did. He hit the ball down the middle of the fairway, hit the ball on the green and he played quite a bit better than we did. He played very well and he hit the ball right down the middle of the fairway. And as I said, he played beautifully.
Q. Have you met him before?
TOM WATSON: Yes, I've seen him over here. He's a nice fellow, a nice chap. Like him.
Q.Are you going to practice now?
TOM WATSON: I may go try. The left-to-right wind is a hard wind to practice in right now. I may go down to the other side of the range and try to hit some balls back this way, because it certainly doesn't work.
You know, the last two weeks, the wind has been left-to-right off the range, and you when you get doing that, you start going like this, try to yank the ball on-line. You know how it is going like this (indicating).
That's what I was going off the tee, I was yanking it left, yanking it left, yanking it left. These two weeks of hitting back balls on the range, it gets you off to the wrong start. I felt my game has kind of struggled because of it, but fortunately, you look quizzical, because how does he shoot 66 when he hits the ball like that?
Well, I can tell you, I hit the ball in the rough at No. 1. No. 2 I hit the fairway. No. 3 hit the ball in the left rough, chased it on from a bad lie. No. 5, hit the ball to the right and chased it onto just the front edge. 7, I hit it way off to the right and drew a good lie and knocked an 8-iron onto the green. That's a short par 4 today, really. 8, I hit a good drive. 9, I hit a good drive. 10, I hit a 3-iron just off the tee just in the short cut, so I wasn't in the fairway but just in the short cut. 12, I looked it in not a very good lie and chased it up. 13, I got a lucky break; it went -- I hit a fair drive but the wind got it and just skirted the bunker, the second bunker was up in the short rough. 14, I hooked it in the long rough. 16, I hooked it in the long rough. And 18 I hooked it in the bunker.
So, how is that for a round off the tee? How many fairways is that, three fairways? I feel like Bruce Lietzke in the U.S. Senior Open.
TOM WATSON: It is. I've driven the ball better this year than this. I'm not too worried about it. Harvey Penick said don't worry about it until the third day in a row you do this stuff, and then you'd better worry about it.
That left-to-right wind, by practicing in a hard left-to-right wind, you get that right shoulder higher and higher and higher and -- Harvey Penick. Remember the little red book? That was some good advice. First day you play bad, don't worry about it. Second day, start thinking about it. But third day, change it.
Q. Are you as focused as before?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think so, yeah. It's a good question, and the answer to your question is yes.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom, many thanks. Well done.
End of FastScripts....