June 13, 2003
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS
TOM WATSON: I didn't get anything going, so the emotion wasn't quite as strong and it was yesterday. When you get something going like I did yesterday the emotion gets stronger. Today it was more of a struggle. Yesterday it was like I was going full tilt and today I was just treading water.
Q. Were you a bit more tentative today?
TOM WATSON: I played that way. I didn't feel that way but I played that way. I felt like I was steering the ball a little bit more today than I did yesterday, and that caused me some problems. I did not put the ball in play off the tee as well today as I did yesterday, and my iron play was not nearly as good as it was yesterday, either, but I still hit -- actually I hit several good iron shots but I hit some really scratchy ones. A fat one at 5 from the middle of the fairway cost me a bogey and a bad tee ball, and kind of a bad bunker shot and a 3-putt at 12 cost me a double bogey.
The greens are soft. The golf course is there for the taking. The golf course was soft, it was not as difficult as you would normally expect a U.S. Open golf course to be because of the softness of the greens. Some of the pins were in more dangerous positions today than they were yesterday, and I expect that they'll be in more precarious positions tomorrow. You see some of the dots for tomorrow's pins and we're going to have some fun ones tomorrow.
Q. After two days instead of one does the mindset change now going into the weekend with a chance to win the U.S. Open?
TOM WATSON: The mindset doesn't change at all. I have to do what I came here to do and that's put the ball in the fairway first and hit it just quality shot after quality shot. I have those quality shots in me, I haven't put them in a long stretch this year at all. Last year I had a couple of stretches where I put two or three tournaments where I hit a lot of quality shots and rarely missed one. I haven't had that happen this year. I hope this is my bad round.
Q. The way you're striking the ball now as to say 21 year ago at Pebble Beach when you won the U.S. Open?
TOM WATSON: I hit the ball straighter now than I did at Pebble Beach. I could turn a little bit easier than I can now.
Q. What's it like with the galleries out there?
TOM WATSON: The galleries were loud and they were genuine. They were pulling for not only me but also Bruce. A lot of comments about Bruce today. Come on, Bruce, we're pulling for you. You can beat this, Bruce.
Q. I remember somebody said we love you, Tom, and I think they said the same to Bruce, and he said we love you, too, but not so loud.
TOM WATSON: It's special having him on the bag as I said yesterday. He's been with me for nearly 30 years, and he's showing a little bit of the effects of his problem.
Q. At 18, you had an eagle, a double, and everybody was pulling for you to make it. I guess you can't do it every day, right?
TOM WATSON: Well, I didn't hit a very good second shot out of the rough. I didn't have that difficult of a lie and I didn't play a very good shot. I was trying to hit my drive like my playing partner. Did you see how far he hit that drive on the last hole? Gosh, it was amazing.
TOM WATSON: The wind was a factor more on the back nine than the front nine. It was almost nonexistent on the front nine. The golf course was there for the taking today. If you put the ball in play you could get the ball pretty close to the hole. They did put the pins on a lot of front of the greens today, and traditionally that's the toughest pin position is on the front of the greens. You're knocking it by, you've got the fast downhill putts. They're trying to protect par but they're having a hard time dealing with the greens so soft.
TOM WATSON: 12 was an ugly hole. I guess I'm even par on that hole. I guess that's the way I look at it. It's a tough hole and I played it even par for two days, so I can't complain too much. Go to the 13th tee, hit 2-iron and hit a pretty good shot in there and have one of those putts that's going downhill like this. I hit a good putt there.
Q. In professional sports, the lifespan of an athlete in an individual professional support stops long before your 40s or 50s. To what do you attribute your success?
TOM WATSON: Good genes. I've kept myself in good health and fortunately I haven't had too many problems with my body, although I'm starting to feel the effects of millions of golf balls. My putting stroke is a little sketchy and my body doesn't turn quite as well as it used to, but I still feel I can do it.
Q. Nick price said it was Viagra.
TOM WATSON: I won't touch that one.
Q. Tom, the fact that Nick is in the hunt, though, and yourself, and Romero, who's going to be 50 shortly, is that also perhaps a product of a course that sets up to reward a diversity of skills and not so much a driver's course?
TOM WATSON: Frankly this golf course does take -- I think it does take the longer clubs out of the longer hitters bags. You don't hit driver a lot if you're a Romero or a Tiger or the longer hitters, Mickelson. It requires you to lay up a little bit more. On the other hand, like at 18 downwind, I had to really just -- I had to bomb it to get over that bunker, and Cabrera just passed the crosswalk. He hit an L-wedge into that hole, driver and L-wedge. That's pretty good.
Q. This course four consecutive days, does the body recover when you play that much and have to walk that much? Do you feel that stamina may come into play?
TOM WATSON: No, I'm in good shape. Yesterday I had a hard time. Yesterday my -- I was stiff. Today I was in good shape. I felt very comfortable today.
Q. You put the ball in the fairway yesterday better than you did today. Can you see yourself winning this thing?
TOM WATSON: Yes, I can. A lot of things have to go right for me to win it, but to beat the kids I have an outside chance.
Q. Any of your friends after yesterday's round, your golfing friends, did you hear from any of them?
TOM WATSON: I heard from a lot of people yesterday, a lot of people, yes. They were suitably impressed.
TOM WATSON: I did. I liked the 12th hole. I watched that. I liked that a lot. I'll actually watch it today and found out what I did wrong.
Q. Did you see yourself hop in the air?
TOM WATSON: On 7, yeah, I did.
Q. To what extent do you think emotion can drive a golfer in addition to the obvious skill? It can also harm a golf every?
TOM WATSON: It sure can, emotion can harm a golfer. I've often said after a great shot is the time to really beware because you've got great feeling about that but you've got to focus on your next shot. A lot of times that eases your concentration, it eases your resolve, it eases -- it shouldn't be easy. When you hit a bad shot that makes it -- you steel your resolve. I think that's been one of my trademarks over the years is I've usually been able to come back from a bad hole with a good hole.
Q. Gary Player used to say nobody wins the open, the open wins you. Do you think there's some truth to that?
TOM WATSON: Well, the Open requires such precise shot-making, just hole after hole after hole, that as I said yesterday, you're going to have a stretch in the 72 holes that you can't let get to you, and that stretch is -- I hope has seen me today and has passed me by, and I'll get the -- I made some good swings coming in, and even though I bogeyed the last hole I made some very good swings coming in and was happy about the position I was getting the club in and the way I was putting. Maybe that stretch has passed me by.
Q. Isn't protecting pars as sternly as they usually do, is that okay or is this U.S. Open different?
TOM WATSON: It's just the firmness of the greens. I said that yesterday and I'll say that today. It's just the firmness of the greens. The greens are soft.
Q. Bruce said that he felt like he was more in control today of his emotions. He said yesterday was bringing back a lot. Did you notice that today?
TOM WATSON: I did, yeah. He wasn't slobbering over me and I wasn't slobbering over him today.
Q. Do you compare the conditions today to any other Opens that you remember where the scores has been like this?
TOM WATSON: No, I can't remember where the scores has been this good in the Open. Can anybody else remember this many numbers under par? I don't recall. There's the oldest guy here. Can you remember? Furman, come on. Medinah? I can't remember.
Q. They got all that rain so the first round was a lot of low scores.
TOM WATSON: Like I said yesterday, soft conditions, they make for good scoring.
Q. You had Hazeltine convinced you can compete and win on the PGA tour. He said you don't want it, though. How do you react to this?
TOM WATSON: Who said this?
TOM WATSON: Phil who?
TOM WATSON: I've been out there. I'll come out and make my cameo appearances now and then, maybe put the scare in him like I'm doing this week. It doesn't bother me.
Q. You said you think you can win. Did you come into the tournament thinking that?
TOM WATSON: I felt that I was swinging well enough after my practice round on Wednesday that I could play this golf course and shoot under par for four rounds, yeah.
Q. At Pebble Beach Gil Morgan was 12 under par.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, but I'm talking about the whole field. I'm talking about the field in general. The cut is going to be, what, three over today, maybe two over? I guess ten shots from the lead, right?
Q. Do you know when your last big run is going to come, your so-called last hurrah?
TOM WATSON: I'd like it to be in the next 36 holes. That's what I'd like for my last big run. Then I might just say see you, boys and girls. Thank you.
End of FastScripts....