home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 20, 2016

Tom Watson

Carnoustie, Scotland

TOM WATSON: The first description of Carnoustie was it's the toughest course in the rotation, and I think after playing all the courses with the exception of the new Trump Turnberry course, it is the toughest. It makes you play every hole. There is no letup, anywhere, on the golf course. There is no gimmies. There are no gimmies. There are no short par 4s that you can hit an iron and just be care free for your next shot and knock it in the center of the green and make an easy par.

Every hole, every shot, has an issue to it, and you have to deal with those issues when you play this golf course, that was my first warning about Carnoustie, my subsequent impressions of Carnoustie, the same. I think it's the toughest golf course on the rotation.

They have added length and other courses, but again, Carnoustie, it's all teeth.

Q. Do you still get the same thrill, the same competitive juices going?
TOM WATSON: I do. I've had some great memories. I bank on some of those memories when I come over here to give me -- I think it gives me a foundation of being here. Seeing some people and some friends that I've seen over the years here in Scotland wherever we play our tournaments, they always seem to show up. Reconnect and reacquaint.

It's not like coming over in 1975; going over to Monifieth this evening to have the ceremonial first tee shot. Last time I virtually lost the ball hitting it right down the middle of the fairway. It didn't get me off to a great start as far as my liking of links golf, to put it mildly. Anyway, we're going to have a nice ceremony later on tonight.

Q. Would you say Carnoustie is the least-changed on the rota?
TOM WATSON: I suspect it is, yes. Turnberry has been significantly changed for the better. It's an awesome golf course, it really is. Been made world-class, top-class golf course, really, really good. And the other courses, you basically add the length.

Turnberry redirected the 16th hole a few years back, the 16th fairway. The green is still the same. It's still the toughest shot on the golf course, and you can make a double-bogey there very quickly, fearsome shot.

Carnoustie, it's been unchanged. You look at the tees and you think, did we play these back in 1975 or did they add a few yards to these tees? You really can't see. The 18th hole played a little bit longer. The tees have been moved back a little bit but the rest of the courses remain the same here.

Q. So you have seen the changes at Turnberry?

Q. What impressed you the most?
TOM WATSON: The use of the sea, for the first part of it. The reconstruction of all the bunkers, all the greens. The original greens, there are several original greens that remain, but they basically stripped out all the sod, went in and reconstructed the base of the green, so they all drained the same. Put the sod back on. This was done last August, September. There's not a seam that you see from the sod on the greens. It's pure. Martin Ebert did it, and man, two thumbs up to Martin.

Q. Would you be disappointed if they don't go back?
TOM WATSON: I would be very disappointed if they don't go back to Trump Turnberry. One of the things they have done there, that they don't have in any of the rotation courses, they built tees that you won't use, unless the wind is a factor. Do you know the total yardage of the golf course? 7,489. And that's on seaside winds, heavy winds.

So if they catch the 18th for instance, downwind, it's not a hybrid and an 8-iron like I hit in 2009. They could play 510 yards right downwind. And they can put the tees -- they can make the holes really challenging.

Q. How would you rank it?
TOM WATSON: I would elevate it above -- I don't like to rank, but it's right at the top. To me it's right at the top. It's excellent. It's not just good; it's excellent. If you haven't played it, you've got to go play it. It's really good. I played it from the white tees.

The first hole, for instance, the first hole before, they had to put three bunkers right down on the left side with that right-to-left wind to try to shorten -- you know, make it tough.

They moved the tee back, opened up the fairway and moved the green back. Now you have a 400-some-odd par 4 that if you catch into a south wind, it's a very, very challenging hole. They made the green a little bit bigger.

All the bunkers have been re-designed and all the bunkers. I'd have to say, they still have the traditional sod roll bunker, the rivet bunkers, but they also have, the cross-bunkers are all with the fingers and gnarly fescues on top of the bunkers, a beautiful look. I mean, it's really well done.

Q. There are questions about Turnberry at the moment which are maybe answered the end of the year.
TOM WATSON: The political thing is anybody's guess what might happen. I'm just saying the golf course is A1, A1 golf course. It is really, really good. I'm not being paid to promote it for sure but I know one thing, it's a course that everybody ought to go play.

The re-design of the holes along the ocean; the 9th hole, the par 3, now is right up in the bay, absolutely beautiful shot. The 10th hole, you go down, the beautiful cross-bunkers, the par 5. The 11th hole, par 3, again, using the bay, using the ocean there. The tee, the walk at the fifth. You walk up and then you walk right along, parallel to the ocean with an absolute perfect view.

They shortened up the old sixth hole, which makes it easier. They made it a crowned green. If you miss it off to the sides, it rolls way down, like this, which is good strategy, and a good design. Made the 5th hole into a par 5. It's a really good par 5.

They have changed significantly -- changed the routing of it somewhat, changed significantly somewhat, I guess you would say. The thing is, the beauty they added to it, the length they added to it; now it can be played with any wind and it will still be a very challenging golf course for The Open Championship, wherever it goes. It can never be called too short.

One of the knocks on Turnberry, it's too short. In a sense it was. It did play pretty short. Although I remember when Norman won, he shot that 63 in that 45-mile-an-hour wind; I shot 75 and thought I shot 65, and he shoots 63 and 3-putted the last two holes. What a marvellous round of golf that was. His two rounds, that round, and the one in Sandwich, the wind really blew. Just absolutely gargantuan rounds of golf.

What happened last week -- you're going to ask me, how does it compare to Duel in the Sun: It was better. It was better. You just look at the facts, the facts of the matter: Henrik shot 8-under par in the last round of a very tough golf course; Phil shot 5-under, no bogeys. It was a shootout right from the start. Great shot after great shot. Great putt after great putt. It was one for the ages. You all recognised that. It was really something special and we live for that.

The Open Championship, sometimes you come right down to the wire where somebody may make a birdie in the last hole to win. But there are a lot of people that can vie for it. This one, you knew from the start, it was a two-man race. It was a two-man tournament, which made it so unique. You don't have that, you rarely ever have that in championship golf.

Henrik, I say he's overdue to win a major championship. Mickelson, he's not over the hill. He's obviously playing very well. I think he's -- I look back at it, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he comes over early and plays links golf the week before. I always did that.

I think that's a huge advantage to come over here, get your chops, gets your legs underneath you, get your time change settled before you play in The Open Championship. But also while you're doing that, play golf. Play golf on links courses. They are different than American courses. The ball reacts differently on the turf. I always thought that was an advantage that you could program in by just coming over early. I always got over here on Friday, as late as Saturday, and played some links golf before The Open Championship. I thought it served me well.

Q. You've kind of taken us into what I was going to ask you about the Duel in the Sun; when did it sink in for you and Jack that were part of something that will be celebrated in history? How long do you think it will take Henrik to realise --
TOM WATSON: It's really, the aura of this championship won't wear off. It's there. It's always going to be there. People, when they talk about The Open, they will say, yeah, the Stenson, Mickelson at Troon. They will always talk about that in the highest echelon of conversation about The Open Championship.

Jack and I, we had a pretty good contest. But you look at the facts, they were 13-under and Jack and I were 9-under. If you had to rank it, you had to rank that above ours, that's for sure.

Q. I suspect that you almost answered the question yourself; the Duel in the Sun is always very special in your memories of golf. Where does Carnoustie and winning The Open for the first time, where does that rate in your achievements and golfing memories?
TOM WATSON: It was the early part of my career. I really didn't have any understanding of links golf. I was very fortunate to come here and play three days without wind here. It was like today, right now. We hardly had any wind. Then it blew on Saturday, our final round. Saturday was the final round back in those days, rather than Sunday. It blew completely from the other direction in the Sunday playoff round. Then I got a real taste of links golf and I was playing really well.

But I was new at this game and I was new at winning. I practiced harder than anybody, and things fell into place that week with my golf swing and as luck would have it, I had an opportunity to win. Made the putt on the last hole, because I knew I had to make that. I was three shots behind with four holes to go, basically.

But I knew the last four holes here were going to take their toll, which they did. Bobby Cole lost out, Johnny Miller, Jack, they all lost out pretty much on the last four holes. I kind of kept it together, except for the plaque at 16. I bogeyed that hole again. But I played that last part of the round very well after three 3-putts in a row 10, 11, 12.

Go back, in my youth, it was a hugely exciting time to win The Open here. I didn't know the magnanimity of it, the magnitude of it, until maybe a little bit later.

Q. How difficult was it for you to miss out on last week, obviously the first time not to be there, and what would it mean for to you get in contention this week?
TOM WATSON: Strangely enough, I was doing some television for the Golf Channel on Saturday morning with Nick Faldo and Terry Gannon. And I wanted to go out -- I arrived there on Friday night. I wanted to go out and see the golf course, so I asked them to get me in a buggy and go out so I could just kind of ride around the golf course. It was wet, of course.

Yeah, I didn't have any pangs of withdrawal. No, I didn't.

Q. Did you expect it?
TOM WATSON: Not really. Not really. There's a time that comes. It's time. And you have to, you simply have to accept that and carry on, and that's the way it was. It's wonderful to watch it, because I played the golf course. I didn't ever watch the final round. I listened to it on the radio. I listened to it on the radio on Sky Sport radio and listened to it for about two hours, and it was great theatre. I knew the announcers, what they were talking about, what the conditions were, where the flags were, I remember that. So good memories.

But again, I think my position in golf now is firm and solid. I'm here to play -- I'm here to still play and compete. That's what I'm here for. I wouldn't be here unless I could feel like I could compete.

Q. How is your game?
TOM WATSON: I haven't played too much. I had a pretty good tournament, the very first tournament of the year, I played well in Hawai'i, I really did. I played well. The few tournaments I played after that, I haven't played particularly well. The last tournament I played was our Players Championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club. I didn't drive the ball very well there.

I tell you, Carnoustie, you'd better drive the ball well. It's imperative here, imperative. That's what I'm going to do right after I leave you people here, I'm going to go to the practice range and make sure that that driver is the best it can possibly be, because that's the imperative thing, have the trust in it that I can do what I need to do with the driver to put it in play.

Q. Are you surprised that Bernhard Langer is still playing at this level, very high level?
TOM WATSON: Not at all. Bernhard keeps himself in great shape. How old is Bernhard now? 58? He's just a youngster, come on. He's just a youngster. (Laughter).

I didn't start losing my distance until about four years ago. I could sense it about four years ago, the speed. That's part of the deal of aging. Again, hard to accept it but in reality, when you have that 150-yard shot into the wind, it's no longer an 8-iron. May not be a 7-iron; may be a 6-iron. You know what I'm talking about, playing golf. It goes, and you have to accept it, and that's all right.

Bernhard keeps himself in marvelous shape. He works out. He's the odds-on man to win every time he tees it up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297