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June 26, 2003

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: 5-under; I will take an even par starting off today. This is a tough golf course. This is a golf course that when you put the ball on the wrong side of the hole you are really scrambling to make a bogey sometimes. Of course I didn't do that very much today. I hit the ball pretty well today but my day was punctuated by three longish putts. One particular long putt on 14. And I played it a shot at number 13; I just tried to get the ball close to 13 at par-5 and that's when I knocked it in for a birdie. That started me off. I bladed it off the fringe there, 30, the next hole. I knocked it in from 45 feet. Next hole knocked it in 20, 25 feet, and bang, bang, bang; hat trick at the U.S. Senior Open.

Q. Do you mind going through your bogeys and birdies list?

TOM WATSON: I will go over birdies and bogeys.

I started off on the backside and I had a birdie putt at 10. I parred 10, 11 and 12 without a problem.

13, I hit my driver in the right rough. A 6-iron didn't quite carry me to where the green sits. I got a little aggressive with the shot. The third shot I knocked it just over the green on the right fringe. The ball was sitting up against the heavy rough in the first set. And I putted it and made it.

The following hole I hit a good drive and a 7-iron and I made a putt; the pin was in the back trough. I was in the front, middle and the ball went up and broke left and went right over and into the hole about 45 feet, a no-brainer. A "field goal" as my caddie used to say.

The following hole, what I did was I knocked in a 9-iron or 8-iron into that green. I hit it just right of the hole made a big swinging putt from right-to-left. Again, it was hat trick, a nice way to get started here at the Senior Open.

No problems -- I scored a birdie putt at 16, knocked it near the stick and missed it.

18, I had a good makeable putt at 18 and missed.

And No. 1, I was just trying to get the putt close and the pin was on the precipice to the right-hand-side, my playing partner, Jose Maria Canizares, putted the ball past the hole and it rolled 20 feet past and on the fringe. I looked down. Fuzzy putted next, and then I putted put more break on it and guided it right in the hole for a birdie.

That was about 25 feet.

3, I hit a 7-iron to the back fringe of the green about 15 feet from the hole. I made that putt for birdie. That was 7-iron.

4, I hit -- I drove the fairway but hit a shot with a 4-iron, I hit it right at the green. I pitched it about 15 feet and missed the putt and I bogeyed.

5, I hit a good drive, good second shot, came up a little short, about 35 feet short and I made a big swinging putt from left-to-right after watching Fuzzy putt the same length. The putt probably broke about four feet. Again one of those field goals that you don't expect to make.

6, I hit a poor shot off the tee. I hit a 5-iron to the right-front bunker and hit it out about 15 feet past and missed the putt.

And No. 8, I hit a big drive down there. I put it in the right-front bunker; a tough bunker shot. Knocked that about 15 feet passed and missed the putt. I hit a driver 6-iron.

No. 9, I hit a beautiful drive, a 9-iron three feet from the hole and ended up with a birdie.

So I made three or four holed putts here plus that chip in. I turned a 71 into a 66 with good long putts and chipping; the "Watson roll." I broke a lot of peoples' hearts making a lot of putts out there.

Q. Tom, we believed you when you talked about how beautiful the golf course was, so among the over-50 round, the round you shot two weeks ago, how was this as a scoring round for the Senior Tour?

TOM WATSON: Well, this golf course, over par can win this golf tournament. I got a good jump on it. But this golf course is a treacherous golf course. If we do get some rain, which they are predicting, I guess, this afternoon, that will change the conditions and make it easier. If we don't, and it's firm, it's hard to fit the ball on to the greens at the right place, in the right place. It's hard to fit the ball in the fairways at times. You just have to be a little bit off and you are hitting the ball out of the rough and you make a bogey and doubles. It's a very difficult golf course. It's a tighter driving golf course than Olympia Fields.

Q. I was about to ask you, (Inaudible)

TOM WATSON: It was just fast and long putts. I played well. I mean I hit a lot of good quality shots. I kept the ball in the fairway. I missed about two fairways. I'm not sure what it says here. Does it say anything here?

Q. Two fairways?

TOM WATSON: Two fairways. If I could miss two fairways the next three rounds playing this golf course I will have a chance.

Q. Was it an emotional day today?

TOM WATSON: Yes, we have been through it. Bruce and I have been through it. But, again, playing for a national championship as a senior, it's something special. As I said earlier on this week, this is be one of the top two senior tournaments we play: The PGA and this tournament. I won one and I would like to win the other.

Q. Same putter?

TOM WATSON: Same putter. You don't think I would give up that thing, do you?

Q. No. 1?

TOM WATSON: No. 1, I hit a 9-iron.

Q. The putt you made using the blade pitching wedge; roughly how long?

TOM WATSON: That was probably at 15 feet; not very long, I put it right in the back there.

Q. Was that a putter or chipper?

TOM WATSON: Well, it's not a chip because I didn't get the ball airborne; it was a blade. In other words, one of those goofy shots that help you score. I still haven't learned how to hit the 3-wood. I haven't learned how to do that yet.

Q. Tom, can you talk about the U.S. Open start, and shooting what you did, you could be the leader after today's round, you are certainly up there, what's with the hot starts on two of these major tournaments?

TOM WATSON: I don't know what got into me; today was one of those days that the putter, everything worked well with the putter, I made a lot of long putts. And when you make a lot of long putts, you keep the ball in play, you only miss two fairways, you ought to shoot a pretty good score here at Inverness.

What gets you is when you start missing fairways. You are not going to make the putts I made. This is just a very special day with the putter for me today. Very special.

Q. (Inaudible)

TOM WATSON: Well, yes, I worked with Stan last week. I think I know what I'm doing pretty much with my golf swing, I'm making some pretty decent swings at it. They are not all there, but I made some good swings today.

Q. What happened after the first round at Olympia Fields, more or less an emotional letdown or physically you just didn't have the game?

TOM WATSON: I didn't have the tools. The tool box was shut. I had a few good runs there, but I didn't hit the ball in the fairway nearly enough. I kept missing fairways, especially the third round. I think I only hit eight fairways in the third round, so you can't compete in any golf tournament when you hit eight fairways unless the rough is non-existent.

Q. Is it hard to believe you are playing with Fuzzy? He didn't make some comments as the round started getting better and better?

TOM WATSON: I don't know. He just watched me play. I was watching him play. He hit some good shots out there today. He struggled a little early on but he brought it back. He played well.

Q. Tom, how important was some of the reads you were mentioning in the round that you got a chance to look at Fuzzy's putts?

TOM WATSON: You are observant. They were important. I had two or three putts that I had a good read from my playing partner. Either Jose or Fuzzy. And that definitely was an advantage. It goes to show you if you are hitting inside your playing partners, you get some benefit from it.

Q. Like on No. 9?

TOM WATSON: That's right.

Q. I know you have no control over this but at 5-under and with a few strokes margin to work with, would you like to see it stay as tough as it is, or would you like to see the course back off a little with weather?

TOM WATSON: Well, you know I'm going to take what the course gives me. I'm not hoping for anything right now except for continuing to hit the ball in the fairway like I did yesterday. If I can do that, then I can compete out here. That's the key element here to me.

Q. I know it's Thursday. It's tougher on other people to chase people when the course conditions are harder; is it not?

TOM WATSON: Well, I got the morning break. We had wind all morning. The wind -- it blew right from the start today. Maybe a little stronger now. But still the wind was a factor.

Q. Tom, what did you do between The Open and now, did you go home to Kansas City?

TOM WATSON: Yes, I was back in Kansas City. I worked with my old pro teacher, Stan, a little bit.

Q. Was there a part of the game you worked on in Kansas City?

TOM WATSON: Just swinging the golf ball and putting. Get that left elbow out a little bit when I am putting and the swing, I tried to keep the swing on playing; was getting out playing.

Q. Outside of the wind today, was there any surprise out there at all today on the course?

TOM WATSON: I think the early pin positions were somewhat of a surprise. They were treacherous. Maybe four or five pins out there that were really, really tough. It started at No. 10, 11, 14. Those three pins right there started off and I said, "wait a minute, these are hard." I'm on the wrong side of the hole where you get huge breaks in the hole. We don't normally see that on the Champion's Tour. All right. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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