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June 12, 2003

Tom Watson


Q. Tom, to get a special exemption and to go out and shoot a round like that must be magical.

TOM WATSON: Of course. Who would have thought. It didn't start off that well with the first two holes, bogeyed in the first hole, struggled for par in the second hole, but things turned around on the third hole and the 12th hole I holed a 6-iron for a 2, and that completely changed my round around. It just opened up the airwaves and everything was free-wheeling from then on.

Q. What does that say about momentum? As you say, is that a turning point?

TOM WATSON: Well, you have quite a few shots within the 72 holes that have the opportunity to change your momentum, and obviously that was one right there that could propel me into doing very well in this tournament obviously.

Q. Is that a generational statement?

TOM WATSON: You look at the leaderboard and you see Quigley and Watson and you think you're on the Senior Tour, Champions Tour.

Q. Compare 53 to 33.

TOM WATSON: Well, the body was a little stiff today, the back was a little sore, but the magic was still there with the putter. When I left my home in Kansas City on Monday morning to come up here, my caddie was with me, Bruce, and he said put that old putter in your bag. I said you want me to start using that old Ping? He said start using that old Ping again. I put it in and the magic started working.

Q. Talk about emotion. Bruce in this situation looked like he had tears in his eyes when he hold that putt on 18.

TOM WATSON: I had tears in my eyes.

Q. A lot of emotion going on?

TOM WATSON: Sure, there's a lot of emotion there. You can only imagine, put yourself in Bruce's situation and my situation, what it means to do well at this late stage in your life playing in the tournaments you want to win the most.

Q. What did Bruce say to you coming down the stretch? Was there a lot of talk?

TOM WATSON: We were taking care of business. He just said good drive at No. 8, and you put it in the fairway, and then we discussed No. 9 what club to hit. I hit the right club, I just hit it the wrong direction.

Q. Did it mean more to him or to you, today's round?

TOM WATSON: It's hard to judge that one. It's very hard to judge that.

Q. Do you not think you have this in you, at this, as you say, late stage in your career? Obviously you did today.

TOM WATSON: It was meant for your thinking, not mine.

Q. Do you think you can keep it going?

TOM WATSON: We'll see. We'll just have to see. I'm hitting the ball well enough, it's just a matter of being able to deal with the pressure of the Open. Whether I can do that or not, I don't know, but I'm prepared to give it enough challenge -- I'm going to give it enough, don't worry about that.

Q. We saw Hale withdraw with the back spasms. He was playing a nice round. It's got to be difficult I would think physically on the body. How much conditioning do you do?

TOM WATSON: Well, when you get our age you've got a lot of worn out parts. My back wasn't feeling too well today, either.

Q. Can you talk about the Caddyshack type moment where after the almost seven-second wait it dropped in?

TOM WATSON: Well, when that ball fell in, that was something very, very special when that thing fell in because it stopped short. People are groaning, I'm walking up to that and I said that is so close, how could that not be in, and I saw Angel go over and he kind of looked like that, so I knew it was hanging on the lip and it was going downhill. Why didn't it go in? All of a sudden hey, it went in.

Q. What do you want people to know about what Bruce is going through? He's gutting it out. What insight can you provide with that?

TOM WATSON: What I'd like for people to know is that the disease needs help in finding a cure. We need to find a cure now. Believe it or not, money can speed up the cure, a lot of money. ALS is an orphan disease. It affects 30,000 people. That doesn't make it a big enough disease for the drug companies to spend millions of dollars to find a cure as AIDS, cancer, heart disease and things like that. So private funding has to do it and some public funding. You find most of the funding coming from the patients and their families themselves to try to find the cure. There are some very, very strong indications that a drug will cure ALS, we just have to find it. Drs. Turnbull and Rothstein both said within five or ten years we'll find a drug, but we need the money. We need the money to test all these infected mice and find that cure. That's the message I want to say. I have the podium to be able to give you that message because that's the message that is really important to me to give.

Q. How emotional was this day for you?

TOM WATSON: Very emotional. I mean, we are out there taking care of business, but he had a few tears in his eyes. It made me cry, and so it was a very special day, very special day.

Q. How much fun was the walk from 18 up to the clubhouse?

TOM WATSON: It was pretty neat, a lot of cheering going on. I saw a lot of my Royals fans out there. We're pretty close to Kansas City.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM WATSON: Well, I listened to my caddie. He said put that old Ping putter in your bag and that's what I did. That's the putter I used or it's the likeness of the putter that I used when I made my run for many, many years back there in the late 70s and early 80s.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM WATSON: I put it in Monday morning. I flew back to Kansas City and then spent the night there. Bruce had to go get his -- he had to catch his limit of fish out in the front yard. He caught his limit of ten.

Q. At 12 did you know this was going to be a special day?

TOM WATSON: No, not necessarily. I think when that putt dropped at 7, I thought that was a pretty special day.

Q. (Inaudible).

TOM WATSON: I would expect so, sure. As I said, there is kind of a belly pulpit here in a sense. ALS is a disease that doesn't have a lot of funding. I'll make it very clear that funding would really help this disease find a cure.

Q. Without trying to get too emotional, what does Bruce mean to you?

TOM WATSON: Bruce has been with me since 1973, and as I said at his wedding in January in Hawaii, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He has a great sense of humor, he makes the best out of a bad situation, he kicks you in the butt when you need it as a player. He's got a positive attitude toward doing his job that is -- I think he stands a cut above most of the caddies out here from the standpoint of his attitude, the way he does his job. He does his job very well. I think he's taught the caddies out here how to do their job better. I think other caddies look up to him.

Q. Did you come here to win?

TOM WATSON: I came here to play my best. I can tell you one thing, I relied on a lot of the memories that I had in 1968, 35 years ago, when I played the Western Open here. I have a lot of memories of how to play the golf course, strategy, and it helped. I can't believe I can think back that far and remember back that far, but I didn't think about it a lot in the practice round, but under the heat and the pressure today, I guess it made me think a lot clearer, and I remember, all right, you've got to keep it to the right at No. 5, got to keep it right up in the side there. You play short of the hole going into No. 8 because the green is so level, shots like that. That helped me.

Q. Despite the renovations, it does feel somewhat like the same course it did in 1968?

TOM WATSON: It does. There's a lot of similar -- it's the same course, it's just quite a bit longer.

Q. Did you use that Ping putter back in 68?

TOM WATSON: No, I did not. I used -- this is a copy of a putter that I used starting 1978. It's a Ping Powell II, and my original one was stolen, but this is my backup. I've used this putter quite a bit.

Q. Would you like to win this for Bruce, as well?


Q. Were there moments out there when you were feeling that it's a tough situation and then you think about Bruce and it maybe puts a little perspective on what's going on out there and life in general?

TOM WATSON: I'm just out there trying to do my job and Bruce is over there kind of crying saying come on now, man, I know what you're going through. I'm feeling the same thing.

Q. So he's an inspiration to you when you're out there playing?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, he's an inspiration, sure.

End of FastScripts....

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