June 25, 2003
RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome 1982 U.S. Open champion Tom Watson. Tom is playing in his fourth Senior Open this week. You have to your credit a U.S. Open title, two Masters title and five Open championship titles. Can you tell us a little bit about what it means to you to have your senior title on your resume as well.
TOM WATSON: It's premiere Senior event; A champion event as you might call it now. The Senior PGA and the Senior U.S. Open are the two tournaments that I want to win the most; I won one and I hope to win the other.
This golf course is as tough a golf course as we play as a Senior, no question about it, getting right directly to the fact that it is going to take some excellent golf to win here. You have to drive it -- you have to drive it better. The greens are faster. They are very contoured. I doubt if below par is going to be the winning score. If you shoot below par will you win it. It's not going to be very much below par unless we get a lot of rain. It's a tough golf course. It's going to create some high scores out there, I can tell you.
RAND JERRIS: Three weeks ago at Olympia Fields you really thrilled the golfing world with a 65 share for the lead. Can you tell us what that meant to you personally and sort of the exposure it gave to you and Bruce.
TOM WATSON: Well, the 65 it confirmed that I still had a little bit in me. As I said, after I finished the tournament I didn't confirm the 65 with another good score so it was maybe just a shot in the dark. But looking back on it, it was a great -- it was a great opportunity to talk about my caddy Bruce Edwards who has ALS. It gave me the opportunity to make everybody realize some of problems in funding ALS compared to funding other diseases that we have out there and that we need more money and to get a cure faster. The reason is I have got a buddy who is dying of it. And we need a cure. So it gave me the opportunity to say that. I'm saying it again. It's not that -- there is other diseases that don't need the same amount of help but it's certainly near and dear to my heart what's going on to my caddy, Bruce. So I'm being maybe a little selfish in it but I'm just saying that we need the help.
RAND JERRIS: Thanks. Let's take some questions out here, please.
Q. Good morning, Tom. You talked a little bit about the course and it's difficulty. Can you focus on the five-hole stretch starting with No. 3, the par-3 with the pond next to it, that stretch I presume you talked about even par or below par might win the tournament; if you go through there four days at even par is that maybe the key stretch on the course?
TOM WATSON: It certainly is because you first start with the hazard at No. 3. You have a hazard at -- the par-4 around the corner. You obviously have a long par-3 to play. And then the 7th hole it's all you want as far as going up that hill and trying to get the ball to the green in the proper place.
You know, the golf course does not afford the longer hitter to hit driver very much given very little wind. If you have a strong south wind you will be able to hit driver a little bit more. But it's come back to me pretty vividly how I played it before. I played it poorly; I played it fairly well. But you're right, that stretch right there is the most important stretch on the golf course. You can go for big numbers on those holes.
Q. Tom, what's been the response in the two weeks since Olympia Fields to you taking the pulpit as you said with Bruce? I know all of a sudden we see adds in magazines and things like that; what has been the response personally for you in that couple of weeks?
TOM WATSON: I haven't seen the ads in the magazines; what are you talking about there?
Q. Golf Week, Golf World?
TOM WATSON: The response has been overwhelming as far as increase in the communications. There have been a lot of people communicating, wanting to help, having a cure, or wanting to have benefits for raising funds for ALS. There have been, you know, some kind of wild and whacky ones, but this is not unusual. You have people who pray on people who have diseases or fatal diseases from that end of the spectrum to people that have nothing but good intentions to help you out.
The majority of the communications are in that vein. We followed up on a lot of them. There are -- we are trying to sort out what we are trying to do as far as what our own fund-raising efforts are going to be, but the Driving for Life is where we are trying to focus it. We believe that it has the quickest turnaround as far as finding a cure is concerned for ALS from going from experimentation to the patient.
Q. Are you surprised by the response?
TOM WATSON: Am I surprised by responses? I don't think so. There is a lot of goodness in the human hearts, a lot of goodness. We are seeing that. We are seeing a lot of outpouring of support for Bruce. Hell, he is getting a lot more yells and cheers on the golf course, and I played with Jack yesterday. "Come on, Bruce." "Good to see you, Bruce." They didn't say anything about Jack or me out there. It was all about Bruce. That's fine and dandy but we have to do something. We have to -- good intentions don't lead to results. We need to take those good intentions and translate that into effort to, you know, basically to fund these organizations, a couple of organizations to get the cure.
Q. Tom, I heard you say that you really wanted to win one for Bruce. Since you couldn't pull it off at the U.S. Open would doing it here kind of been like your second choice?
TOM WATSON: This would be the ultimate. As I said, the first question was, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Senior PGA are the two top events that we play; they are the ones that you want to win the most. Winning here would be something very special. More special than anything I've ever done with him. Maybe the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open '82 was pretty special.
Q. Tom, you talked about "it comes back to me vividly how the golf course plays." I was wondering how it plays for you now as compared to years past when you played here; are you hitting the same kind of clubs?
TOM WATSON: Yes, it does. I played the practice round yesterday. It really hasn't has changed anything as far as the type of club that I hit into the greens. I came back pretty clearly yesterday the strategy that you need to play this golf course. I'm going to go out today and try to solidify that and make sure that I have a good game plan starting tomorrow.
There are certain greens out there that you cannot be above the hole. If you are going to miss it, miss it in the bunker short or the rough short for fairway short. There are holes where you better get it up on top of the hill and not be short; you better be over the green or left. There are certain shots that you got to be perfect. You have to hit that perfect shot. That's devising a game plan down there. That's what I will be doing.
Q. You are hitting the same kind of clubs now that you hit maybe 10 years ago?
TOM WATSON: I am hitting the same types of clubs that I hit 10 years ago. It hasn't changed.
Q. Good equipment is obviously helping you there.
TOM WATSON: I think so. The ball is a little bit farther.
Q. Tom, most players you talk to they played here before said they really like this golf course but they never play well here. You are the first person I heard say that you played well here at times; what is it about this golf course that players seem to like but yet is so difficult to find a way to play well at?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think the smallness of the greens and where the pins are, where they can put the pins, it will challenge your ego to say "Okay, I'm going to put it right at that pin" where you can't do that. The greens are too small. What you have to do is you have to look at the macro-picture out there when you are hitting the greens. There is just -- you have to look at the larger -- my target is going to be down the center of the green, or the center left of the green or depending on where the pin is you want the ball to -- to have a pretty decent putt. Sometimes you just can't, you just have to hit it to a general area. What happens is, we get to specific. And it's hard to play that well where you are hitting the 10-foot areas. I think we make it too complicated.
Q. Tom, a lot of us don't know much about ALS obviously because we haven't experienced it, you have been around Bruce, you have seen how it has affected him; can you talk a little bit how you draw inspiration from his battle, how you guys met and how you came to know each other?
TOM WATSON: Well, we have been together since 1973. He picked me up in the parking lot in St. Louis. I came here with my bag over my shoulder. He asked me if he could caddy for me. We started a long relationship then. He caddied for Greg Norman from '89 to '92. He came back. Called me up on my birthday. I said, "Are you calling me up to wish me a happy birthday or are you calling me up to ask me if you could caddy for me?" He said, "Both," and that started our relationship back again.
Bruce, as I said, in his marriage, there has not got a mean bone in his body. He has a great sense of humor. If you ever been around him he has a great way of looking at things and making light of situations that need to be made light of. He does his job with a passion, and a professionalism. His job, being a caddy, what is being a caddy? Well, you say I'm just carrying the sack. There is lot more to it than that. Understanding your boss' ups and downs and how to deal with that you have to be part psychologist there.
You have to be physical. You have to understand how -- carry an umbrella the right way, no my mannerisms to toss you the ball. How fast I want the ball back without waiting. Just certain stupid things you don't think about but things that make it, make the team work like a well-oiled machine. With his affliction of ALS, our efforts are concentrated not so much of carrying the golf bag but trying to find a cure.
Q. Rick Rhoden is here this week to compete and I am sure you are familiar with him as an athlete and also know that you are involved with the Kansas City Royals so my question is why is it difficult for athletes from other sports to come into golf and be successful at it?
TOM WATSON: Do you play it?
TOM WATSON: You can answer your own question.
Q. I could but I don't think people care what I think about it?
TOM WATSON: This game is, to take it from the level where you can shoot par or break par every now and then to a level where that's the standard of breaking par, there is a lot to it.
If you look at it the way I looked at it when I was first starting out on the TOUR I gave myself an objective. My objective was to go out and try to make four birdies in a round of golf. If I could make four birdies in a round of golf I could probably shoot around par. I didn't know whether I could do that when I first tried to qualify for the TOUR. Then you put that type of standard on it, how many birdies do you make in a round of golf. Well, four, that's getting close to 25 percent of the time. So one of every four holes, four-and-a-half holes you are making a birdie. When you play the game how many birdies do you make in an 18 hole round?
TOM WATSON: One. We are talking about four and that's an average. Some days you are going to have zero, one, two. The other days you better make up for it and make six or seven. Now you are talking about six or seven birdies, four birdies, one birdie and that's why the game is so difficult for Rick Rhoden or somebody like that to come in and play.
You can do it one round. How are you going to do it for 100 rounds over a course of a year; 25 tournaments.
In case of the Champion's Tour, 33 tournaments. So I think that can answer your question why it is so tough if somebody really looks at it, how many birdies you make.
Q. Par is not enough?
TOM WATSON: Par is not enough, no way. Now this week par is going to be enough. But you better be able to make a few birdies to offset those bogeys and doubles out there. This course is not going to yield, you know, subpar scores like the U.S. Open did at Olympia Fields, I promise you. This course, you are going to -- you are not going to see over the course of 72 holes, this whole field, they are not going to break par very many times.
Q. Mr. Watson, back to Bruce for a second. I know the generalities of ALS. What have you seen from Bruce over the last years as far as symptoms and changes in how the disease has affected him; what have you seen firsthand?
TOM WATSON: Bruce has (ph) Bulbert-type ALS which affects the tongue, it affects the speech and eventually the swallowing. He is not in the place where it affects his swallowing right now but it does affect his speech. He does have some other things that are happening with his muscles in his body which is -- they are starting to manifest themselves greater and greater.
Q. I guess after all we talked about we never got a chance to talk about last year losing in the playoff to Don Pooley; can you talk a little about that after reflecting back on that 365 days ago and is that a motivation for you as well as the other things that you talked about, about trying to capture this year at Inverness?
TOM WATSON: Well, I never looked back as far as what happened the year before. It was -- I look back at it. It was a great contest, an opportunity lost. It was a thrilling event, but I ended up on the short end of the stick. But again, that's past history, I don't look at that -- does the U.S. Senior Open owe me one? No, Don Pooley played better golf than I did and won. So I'm not looking at it in any get-even or revenge-mode this year. I'm looking at this week as I look at any week, I go in and I try to determine what I have to do to play the golf course my best and this week my best strategy that I've employed here, the three major championships that I played prior, this is coming to light and that's what I am trying to work on right here to win this tournament.
What would it mean to win this tournament? I think I answered that before. This is one of the two plums of the senior circuit. That means a great deal to me if I can win this.
Q. Just to follow up, do you think it was beneficial, in your preparation to have played the U.S. Open?
TOM WATSON: Yes, there is not a question. It's always beneficial playing a golf course a number of times when you have to put it -- when they drop that flag you have to play it for real. It's tough for somebody to go two weeks at the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields; you play that golf course only once. Three times, maybe three practice rounds to get thoroughly comfortable with it. If you played it 100 times you would be thoroughly comfortable with the golf course. The more you play a golf course the better chance you have to understanding what you can and can't do under all conditions.
Q. I guess what I meant, playing three weeks ago in Olympia Fields, was that beneficial to you in your preparation for here?
TOM WATSON: For here? I think so from the standpoint of putting the ball in the fairway and hitting the ball out of the rough. I had a lot of practice hitting the ball out of the rough those last three rounds at Olympia Fields; so yes, it is beneficial.
RAND JERRIS: More questions. Go over here.
Q. Tom, you are under the middle of a pretty long stretch of golf with the Senior PGA championship and the U.S. Open and then this; can you talk about whether fatigue will be a factor and if so how much this week?
TOM WATSON: Well, I don't think fatigue will be any factor at all. The golf course has a few hills on it, they are not that bad. Fatigue is if you hit the ball in the rough a bunch of times you get very fatigued very quickly.
Q. Tom, after the '79 Open this course, for whatever reason, fell into disfavor with the USGA; does it belong back in some sort of a rotation for the regular open, Senior Open type events, in your opinion, based on what you seen?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think this golf course is a difficult golf course. It's a complicated golf course. The greens are bumpy and humpy and again you have to -- you have to have a lot of local knowledge to play this golf course well.
And I don't know if it's falling out of disfavor; I think it's difficult. I know how I react to it. It's a difficult golf course. It's somewhat hard to understand, I think. But I think we try -- as I said earlier -- I think we try to micromanage it rather than macromanage this golf course. I think it's really ball -- first of all it's ball in the fairway but when you're approaching the greens you have to have a little bit more general attitude about I'm going to make sure I put the ball here rather than fine-tune it and hitting it five feet or hit it right at the hole because there are a lot of times you can't hit it right at the hole. I think that's what the local knowledge is all about. We are so used to hitting the ball right at the hole any time we play that it throws us off when we play the type of golf course like this golf course.
Q. I'm sure you already answered this, can you talk about your friendship with Bruce and what it means to have him out there with you?
TOM WATSON: Well, I did already talk about it.
Q. Could you handicap your playing partner yesterday?
TOM WATSON: Jack is playing well. Jack is -- you know with Jack all it's going to take is just four good days with his back and his hip because he can hit the ball straight. He can play this golf course very well. He told me -- I think he -- has he been in here before?
RAND JERRIS: He is coming next.
TOM WATSON: He is coming next but he will tell you about his first experience here in 1957 in the Open. He said he birdied the first hole, parred the next two holes on the leader board and made a double bogey and has never been seen again. I said, "How old were you?" He said, "17-years old." He said, "Man, did I hit it hard back then."
I don't know if you ever saw him, or seen films of him when he was a kid how hard he did swing at it but he could just absolutely rip it. I didn't ask him the question I was going to yesterday. You ought to ask him the question, how much swing speed would he have today if he was the kid of yesteryear with the equipment today? I wondered if his reaction would be 130 miles an hour, or 135 mile an hour swing speed. He had enormous legs and strong. It would be interesting for his comment on that. Why don't you ask him the first question. How much swing speed do you think you would have at 17-years old today -- when you were 17-years old -- with today's equipment?
Q. We are afraid to ask that?
TOM WATSON: Tell him it's from Watson.
Q. What do you think yours was at the height of your swing speed?
TOM WATSON: You know, I was one of the longer hitters out there for most of my career. And it was measured when they first came out with the swing analysis it was 115; that was about the maximum I could get it with the Tony Penna 43-and-a-half-inch driver. And I don't know what that would translate into today maybe with an inch longer and lighter driver.
RAND JERRIS: Tom, thanks very much for your time. We wish you luck this week.
TOM WATSON: Thank you.
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