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June 30, 2002

Tom Watson


CRAIG SMITH: Tom, I know it's a little disappointing, very disappointing, but as someone said up there, you did an awful lot for Senior golf.

TOM WATSON: Don Pooley did an awful lot for Senior golf today. It's disappointing to not win, but I had a few good moments out there that I can look back on and maybe use in the future to help me get through the barrier of second place. I'm finishing second way too many times. I feel like Lighthorse Harry Cooper. I feel like Judd McSpaden at Byron Nelson, I feel like Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods. It's not a lot of fun to finish second.

Q. As you look back on this, would you say you lost the tournament in the second and third round with your putting, then?

TOM WATSON: Well, I could blame that, but you've written and everybody has talked about it, but, yeah, I could have putted a little bit better. But I'm sure that Don Pooley could have putted a little bit better, too. Obviously, he had a great round yesterday with the putter and he made some critical putts today. He missed very few putts today. But that's a strength of his. He's always been a good putter. But, if I look back at my round today, the shot that hurt me the most was the 16th hole, the wedge I had in the regulation play. I hit a -- I didn't have very far to go. I had a pitching wedge, but I was in between clubs, I had to choke it a little bit and had an easy shot. And I just got lazy with it and left the face open. I was trying to go a little right of the hole, and I went too far right of the hole and caught the slope and missed the green with it, terrible shot. It's hard not to shoot at the pin. And I was shooting to the right of the pin, there, and that was a shot that hurt me the most, I think.

Q. Tom --?

TOM WATSON: Plus driving the ball in the rough four out of the five holes, that didn't help in the playoff. That was pretty poor driving.

Q. Tom, compare the pressure of this particular playoff with other major playoffs that you may have been involved with?

TOM WATSON: Well, you're always under a certain amount of pressure. I was pretty calm because I felt pretty much in control of my golf swing. Whenever I'm in control of my golf swing I don't feel a lot of pressure. When I'm not in control of the golf swing, that's when you get a little bit more nervous, like you guys when you're playing five dollar Nassau, you get nervous.

Q. Some of us have seen you for a long time, is it possible for Senior golf to be as great in a different way as a great Masters or a great U.S. Open or is there some inherent limit there, there were lots of people that were awfully impressed with what happened today?

TOM WATSON: It was a wonderful championship. From the standpoint -- I said this to Roger -- actually, I said it right at the podium outside, we're playing in front of new people here. We're playing a new crowd. And it's wonderful to play in front of people who have the enthusiasm that they have. You can feel it. It's genuine. It's fresh. It's raw. And this championship had all of that. The play was -- the two of us played -- I don't like to tell people how I played, but I came from behind and almost did it. Notwithstanding that, the crowd was wonderful. And the championship was a good one.

Q. Is there a sense among great players who have won five British Opens or whatever, that they don't want to overemphasize Senior golf, and yet they want to give it its due. How do we find the balance for what does it mean to have a great Senior event? Is that the same as a great Masters? Where does it fit in golf history?

TOM WATSON: It fits within the framework of your age. I can't compete on -- I couldn't compete the Bethpage with the length of holes there. I couldn't reach No. 10 fairway, like a lot of kids could not reach the 10th fairway on Friday, I couldn't reach there. Other courses I can compete on against the kids. Colonial, for one. But when you put it in perspective, this is a major championship for the Senior golfers and it means a great deal to us. It means as much to us as the major championships did when we were kids.

Q. When you get down to it, the playoff for a lot of us was a little bit anticlimactic, because you had played such a fantastic back 9. Those five birdies on the back 9 today were magnificent?

TOM WATSON: Well, thank you. They weren't good enough, though. The one shot that I -- I hit two really, really good shots, and one was the little sand wedge at 14, I knocked it stiff there.

Actually, I hit a wonderful sand wedge at 10. I knocked it stiff there.

Knocked it stiff at 14.

Had a great 5-iron at 17. I hit a high, soft 5-iron right at it. And I needed that because again Don made a great up-and-down after putting the ball in the rough on 17, he made an up-and-down there. He's looking like he's going to make bogey there. That pin position, he made a sensational up-and-down. He's got great touch, that man. And I knew it playing against him all these years, Don has a wonderful feel around the greens. And of course yesterday shooting 63. You've got to give him credit. He played solid golf and he has a wonderful weapon in that short game of his. I can remember those days. I can resemble that a little bit, 30 years ago, 25 years ago.

Q. Would you talk about the 17, in the playoff, specifically your second shot out of the bunker, club, and yardage, and was that as good as you can play that shot?

TOM WATSON: That was as solid as I can hit it. I hit a 4-iron from the bunker. I was 193 yards. And I had to get all of it. And I hit it just the way I wanted to. I hit a lot of them just the way I wanted to.

Q. I'm wondering if when Don was pulling off some shots to reassess them, did you pick up on any nerves on his part and did him taking the time to do that play on your nerves at all. Because I noticed on 18, you gave a smile on the second 18th hole when he pulled off before he made the birdie?

TOM WATSON: Well, Don's a methodical player, and there was no play on nerves at all. Obviously, we were both nervous to a degree. I'm not sure how nervous he was, I can't look inside him, I don't know how much he was feeling it. I was feeling some. Actually, as I said, I was pretty calm, even with the putting, I just decided when I made the putt at 17, okay, that's the stroke I'm going to use forevermore. And that's the way it works. You work with something and when it works you -- when it stops working you change. And that's kind of the way I've been putting for the last ten years trying to find something that works. But Don, you have to ask Don about his nerves. Didn't look like he was too nervous to me.

Q. You talked at the podium outside about, I think after the putt at 17 you were kind of skating down the fairway, you were feeling pretty good at that point, I'm not sure you had it in control, but felt like you were in pretty good shape. Could you talk about that and the putt at 15 that brought you tied the first time?

TOM WATSON: Well, first of all let's talk about the putt at 15. I had just practiced on the 14th green just a little bit after I made the birdie putt just to get a feel for a little bit different stroke, and I used that stroke at 15. And the darn thing went in. Then, I tried it again at 16 and it didn't work at 16. I did it at 17, and it worked there. And of course two or three times in the playoff. But that putt at 15 was right up my alley. It's a right-to-left putt and I got up over the putt and I was thinking, Bruce said there were a couple of spike marks, you have to play it between those, and I said, "No, that's not enough," so I aimed farther right, 6, 8 inches farther right of that. Once I got it out there I sure liked the look of the putt all the way. And it was -- it was the right speed, coming down that hill, it's a fast putt coming down the hill, and it was as good a putt I could hit under the circumstances, even under -- if it was a practice round, that was as good a putt as I could hit.

And the putt at 17 was similar. I had a little left-to-right break on that, which is not my forte, but I got the ball started on the line, and it went in the right center of the hole. And that shot at 17 I was very proud of. There were quite a few shots I was proud of today, but a couple of ugly ones, too, that prevented me from winning.

Q. I hope I haven't got this mixed up. Did you have two 15 footers that were sudden death, you had to make them on 18 twice?

TOM WATSON: I had about a 15-footer on the first 18th hole that I made. And then, I had a birdie putt that I had to make after he birdied in the second one.

Q. So the question is, have you ever made two clutch, stab the other guy in the heart putts like that and not won a playoff?


Q. That usually kills them?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, it usually does the trick.

CRAIG SMITH: Could you go through your card.

TOM WATSON: I'll go through my card. I started off, missed a short birdie putt at 1.

Made a birdie at 3. I hit the ball in the right rough, hit out with a 7-iron. I hit a -- what did I hit in there -- it's been such a long time ago now -- I think I hit a pitching wedge in there about six feet and made that putt.

I bogeyed the 4th hole, the par-3, I misclubbed. I was playing downwind and I just didn't play a very good shot. I just -- it was a mistake. I hit a full 6-iron and flew over the green, ended up making bogey.

No. 8, I made bogey there. I hit a 4-iron off the tee and caught a little bit on the toe and ended up in the bunker, bad bunker shot out 20 feet and didn't make it.

No. 9, I hit a drive and an 8-iron, about six feet and made the putt.

10, I hit a 2-iron, sand wedge about two feet.

13, I hit a big drive and the second shot I hit a driver going for the green, I peeled it off to right, put it in the bunker, not a particularly good place to be, a long bunker shot. I hit a good shot out about 12 feet and made the putt coming back for birdie.

14, as I said, I hit a 3-iron off the tee. I hit a sand wedge about three feet and made the putt.

15, 2-iron to about 25 feet, made a putt there that broke about three feet.

16, hit a big drive down the fairway and ended up hitting a pitching wedge, pushed it off to the right, ended up missing the green, pitched up short about 15 feet and missed the putt.

17, I hit -- I hit a drive and a 5-iron about 15 feet behind the hole and made the putt.

18, I hit an 8-iron that ended up in the lower level there and putted up about four feet and I made that putt to stay in the tournament. I got it up-and-down out of the right bunker.

In the playoff holes, 16, hit a drive in the right rough, I hit a 9-iron out to the right, pitched up and made it from about -- from about 12 feet there.

17, I hit again a driver, 4-iron on to the green from the bunker, it was a good shot, really good shot and missed the putt.

18, again I hit the ball down in the lower level -- what did I do that first playoff hole? Was that the one I made the long putt.

Q. That was about 14 or 15?

TOM WATSON: Something like that. That's right. I left it about 15 feet short and I made the putt.

Second 18th hole, I hit a driver, 8-iron about 8 feet and made the putt.

And then playoff -- last playoff hole I hit it in the left rough, 6-iron to the back of the green, missed the green, good chip out with a bad lie, and about 12-footer to save par -- 10-footer to save par, but he made birdie, and c'est la vie.

End of FastScripts....

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