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June 27, 2002

Tom Watson


CRAIG SMITH: Tom Watson joining us with a 4-under par round. After you look at the stat sheet, what do you like best?

TOM WATSON: Well, I like the fact that greens in regulations says 14, but I actually putted on the two that I missed there, so I really missed only two greens from the standpoint of putting the ball. And that's the best.

Fairways hit, I hit 12 out of the 14. The other two were in the shortcut. So I had shots, so that was the key to my round. The best part of my round was my driving, keeping the ball in play, and that's what I've been doing in the practice rounds. So, it's been pretty good so far. 4-under par is a good start. The golf course is -- as I said outside, it has about 6 holes there you really have to play well, 15 through 18. 5 and 6 and 11. Which is 7 holes in my count, rather than six. Those are the -- if you play those holes well for the tournament you should do well in the tournament. Those are the tough holes in the golf course.

CRAIG SMITH: Four birdies, and did I hear you say today that you left a couple more out there, you thought?

TOM WATSON: Well, I did. I missed a short birdie putt on 1, I missed a short birdie putt on 11, short birdie putt at 12. Again, there were a lot of birdie putts there and outside of that, from the 15 foot range that I didn't make. But I did chip the ball in and that made up for one of those missed short putts, so I can't complain. I'll go through my round.

I made my first birdie on No. 3. I knocked it on the green with a 4-wood. I hit it on with a 4-wood, 2-putted for birdie there.

I did get the ball up-and-down at No. 6, par-4. I hit a 5-iron in the left bunker, hit a beautiful bunker shot out about 6 or 8 feet and made the putt for par.

No. 10, I hit a 2-iron, a sand wedge to about ten feet and made the putt.

13, I hit a drive, a 3-iron, a sand wedge to about, probably about 12 feet and made that putt.

14, I hit a 2-iron just in the left short rough, the fringe rough, sand wedge short of the green on the upslope, in the heavy rough but I had a perfect lie. It was like it was teed up. And I said, "Well, look here." And I just took a nice, easy swing with a sand wedge and into the hole and on to the next hole.

Those are my four birdies. That was essentially it. I putted from off the fringe on No. 5 and No. 15, those are the two holes I putted from off the fringe. And I got it down in two from off the fringe.

That was the round. I'm happy about it.

Q. Did the conditions affect you out there today and how long was the chip in?

TOM WATSON: The conditions were not as hot as they were the first two days. Of course in the morning, teed off at 8:25 they're not going to be as hot. But we had to wait quite a bit on the back 9, it slowed up pretty good. I think our observer out there said we waited a total of an hour -- well over an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes for the players in front of us to play. But we're a fast group, Thorpe and Fuzzy and I, we could play this golf course in two hours and 17 minutes, get right around this golf course as far as the chip-in is concerned, it was probably 25 or 30 feet is what it was.

Q. All of those fairways and greens it sounds like one of the better ball-striking rounds in a while. Was it and to what do you attribute it?

TOM WATSON: I've been striking the ball very well. I've been driving the ball pretty well and doing everything well except putting. And so, I was very happy about the way I struck the ball today and hope I continue, obviously. I'd like to be able to hit 14 tee balls and only have two of them end up in the shortcut. I'd like to have that happen the next three rounds, every round.

Q. When your fans are watching you over the weekend and these days, should they root for you to be hitting the ball well or should they be rooting for your putter?

TOM WATSON: Root for my putter, will you. I need a little help in that area.

Q. You mentioned those 7 holes, were you inferring that maybe if you could play those 7 at even par the rest are birdie opportunities that -- is that basically you grind those 7 and play for par there?

TOM WATSON: Yes, yes. If you -- have you to play some quality long shots on those 7 holes there. And the golf course is new to all of us, almost all of us. And when you throw in some wind on some of these elevations here, we're going to make mistakes. I made a mistake at No. 15, the par-3, I hit too much club. I was thinking between 3 and 2, and it was really pretty much a 4-iron. And that was a big mistake. And that's simply from not playing the golf course enough and knowing the yardage and knowing what the wind is doing. So, we're going to make those type of mistakes out here. I hope I don't make too many of them. I got away with that mistake, because I ended up making par.

Q. Do you like playing a new course like this for a championship or would you rather see them on the old traditional courses?

TOM WATSON: Listen, this is a good golf course to play this championship. It's going to hold up very well as an Open championship venue. So my answer is, yes, I like to play different golf courses, I like to play new golf courses.

Q. Eaks shot 64 today, and will probably lead the morning group, what do you know about R.W. Eaks?

TOM WATSON: All I know is he can hit the ball right through that plywood, there. He can hit the ball a long, long way. The golf course -- obviously the golf course favors a long hitter. The fairways are pretty generous here as far as the width is concerned. They're not like Bethpage when they're 22, 23 yards wide. We have some pretty wide fairways. They narrow up in certain holes, but they're fairly generous in the fairways they give us here.

Q. R.W. played, I think, 258 times on the BUY.COM Tour. He's really battled to get here. Any thoughts on the guy that works that so many years to do something like 64 in the Senior Open?

TOM WATSON: How did you come up with that number?

Q. It's in the book. 258, second most ever?

TOM WATSON: On the BUY.COM Tour, he played 258 times?

Q. Yes, about 80 times on the main Tour?

TOM WATSON: Well --.

Q. That's a lot of struggling?

TOM WATSON: That is a struggle. I've seen his name a lot. I've seen his name on the board, but, again, it's been occasionally he's been up there. You always remember Eaks, it's an unusual name. But as far as -- what's he -- I don't know him well enough to know about the struggle, I can't tell you.

Q. Kind of a different question from today's round. Arnold yesterday predicted that Tiger would have a 60/40 chance of completing the Grand Slam. What's your thought on that percentage, do you agree or do you think it's going to be tougher than that?

TOM WATSON: I think it's 33 percent. I said that in the -- if you look at his record, he's won 7 out of 11, take that as far as winning the next two tournaments and it's probably going to be about 33 percent, winning the next two.

Q. On the same question, can you talk about what it takes to win at Muirfield, being a shot-maker's course. You've won there. What would he have to do to win at that course?

TOM WATSON: What course, I'm sorry?

Q. Muirfield, the British Open?

TOM WATSON: What course?

Q. The British Open.

TOM WATSON: The course -- they've added length to three tees, and I don't think those tees -- it's not golf course to affect me that much, if they lengthened holes like No. 10, No. 1, holes like that, then I'm going to be in real disadvantage then. It probably is the toughest opening hole in all of Open golf, No. 1. There's not a question about that. And if -- there are certain holes there you have to get by 1, 6, 10 and then you have the opportunities on these other holes at Muirfield. And I'm sure that's what players -- players think about when they play that golf course, including Tiger. But it's awfully nice to be able to hit that ball about 300 yards out there in the air. Old folks like me can hit it like 250, 245. There's one hole there that may pose a problem is No. 11 for me, and back in the old days I could drive the ball a little farther in the air, and that's a long carry into the wind -- they have a hill you must go over. And I'm not sure whether -- I'm pretty sure they'll keep the rough pretty much the same place. But you have to hit it really solid into the wind to get it into the fairway. Much like No. 10 at Bethpage, which was a mistake. I had two different yardages there, one yardage, one of my friends said it was 257 carry, and the other said it was 247 carry to get into that fairway. And 15 players in a row did not carry that ball in the fairway at Bethpage on No. 10 on Friday. You don't do that.

CRAIG SMITH: Thank you very much. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts....

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