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June 25, 2002

Tom Watson


MARTY PARKES: Good morning everyone, my name is Marty Parkes, it's my pleasure to welcome you to the 2002 U.S. senior Open. And it's great to start off the week with one of our best U.S. senior Champions, Tom Watson.

To open up, this is going to be your third Senior U.S. Open that you've played in, and would you talk about what your goals are this week.

TOM WATSON: My goals this week are to win, if I can. Obviously, that's what I'm here for. But I had a look at the golf course yesterday for the first time. I think it's a pretty straight forward golf course with the exception of a few holes where you can't see the -- your second shots going uphill. The golf course is -- has a very long finish, the last four holes, 15, 17 and 18 are very long, and in particular 17. There will be a lot of complaints about how long 17 is.

In fact, my caddy showed it to me yesterday, on the tee it shows -- I think it shows 465 on the tee, but my caddy, on the yardage book, if you look at what the yardage book says, the person who did the yardage, by laser says 480, par-4. And on the tee it says 465 or something like that. And it's straight uphill, so you -- it's going to be a very long hole.

My game is pretty good. I drove the ball very well yesterday. The one thing I need to do well is putt. I was with Dennis this morning, and he said just try to keep the ball below the hole. And these greens have a lot of slopes where the ball falls away from you as you approach into it, so many times being beyond the hole putting back is going to be okay, because you'll be putting uphill.

So, those are some of the thoughts I have after playing the golf course, just one time. I'd seen -- I came out and did an interview with Jim McKay, just after the course was opened two or three years. And I had a chance to see the golf course. They've done some changes to it since then, but it's a beautiful, beautiful golf course. If you haven't been out on the golf course, in particular, some of the holes on the back 9, it's really a strikingly beautiful golf course. And it's a pleasure to play.

MARTY PARKES: With the number of hills and the heat and humidity out there, what kind of stamina test will it be?

TOM WATSON: You've got to be in good shape. Old guys playing out of a cart, if they haven't been walking the last two or three weeks getting in shape, they may have a problem.

Q. Typically the Senior Tour plays a little bit less, can you talk about the length and what it's going to do to some of these players out here this week?

TOM WATSON: The length is a big factor, because -- I don't think you're going to see the scores being too high on the golf course, because I think the fairways are fairly generous, as far as the width is concerned. They're not the 22 and 23 yard fairways that we saw at Bethpage. I didn't play there, but I was watching on television. That's what I was told they were.

So, these fairways are fairly generous. You should be able to put the ball in play off the tee the most time. The problem here is length from a few holes, not all the holes, but on a few holes, and in particular the last four holes you've got to hit -- for instance 15, the par-3, I hit a 4-wood yesterday and that was the proper club to get to the middle of the green. The 17th hole, I hit a 4-wood and hit it just over the edge of the green, but that was the proper club to get to back left of the green. That's with no wind. I can just imagine if we play into a northwest wind, what those holes are going to play like.

The golf course is -- it will play long from, I'd say, three or four holes, other than that it's going to play -- you have to play smart. You have to keep -- try to keep the ball below the hole, because the greens are going to get very quick. I found that out at 18. I practiced a putt at 18 last night at about 8:15, I hit about 20 putts, and I still couldn't keep it short of the hole. I never went and looked at the hole, but the whole green slopes severely from right-to-left. And my old eyes said it broke down there, but it went back uphill. But, no, it went down the other way. So I was fooling myself.

Q. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you're throwing the first pitch tonight at the Orioles, Yankees game?

TOM WATSON: I think a hard slider will be okay, either that or a round house curve, one of the two.

Q. With the course that you're unfamiliar with, what do you hope to get out of the next two days?

TOM WATSON: Basically, you just said it, get familiar with it, try to understand where to hit the ball, what it does when it hits the green. As I said, a lot of these greens have slopes that -- traditionally the old courses basically had greens that sloped from back to front, like this, and they were receptive to shots. These greens have a lot of this in them, the front may be raised a little bit and it goes back down again. And you have to be careful about if the greens get firm, you have to understand how far that ball is going to roll on the greens. Those are the things you think about if trying to get familiar with the golf course. Trying to get familiar with the sand in the bunkers, the speed of the greens, the firmness of the greens.

Those are just general terms, but then the strategy how you play the golf course, I was trying to device some strategy yesterday, how much club to allow for hitting uphill or allow for hitting downhill, because we do have uphill and downhill shots, here. Trying to get a feel of what club gets me just to the front edge, what club gets me just to the back edge. That's what you look at. It's like any -- they were talking about baseball, when you're a defensive outfielder, you go into Wrigley Field or you go into some strange ball parks, you've got to figure out where the wall is, that's what you do in golf. You try to figure out where you can hit it and where you can't.

Q. What do you think about the phenomenon going on the regular PGA TOUR with Tiger, and winning the first two majors? Everyone now is starting to think the Grand Slam is possible. What would you say to that? Your impressions of the phenomenon going on right now with him?

TOM WATSON: I was always asked the question whether the Grand Slam was impossible, I said no, but it's highly improbable. And now we have a situation where that highly improbable has to be redefined. And I think it's not highly probable, because he has to win two tournaments. But given his track record, his record is -- he's won 7 out of the last 12 majors -- 7 out of 11. So, you probably have to give him -- what's the percent of 7, 11 times two tournaments. He's about 36 percent. That's pretty good betting odds, that's one in three. I think that's what you have to do. You have to give him one in three.

Q. As long as you've handicapped that so well, how about handicapping this field, the handful of players or a dozen, six or so, that you'd put on the top of your list?

TOM WATSON: It's tough to say. I always say that whoever is playing well, and they're coming into it, that's the person you've got to find out. I had some guys that liked to bet on golf over at the British Open, and they asked me. And I said, "You want insider information, don't you?" And they said, "Yeah." I said, "Well, I bet on Ray Floyd one time over there, because I knew he was playing better than just about anybody." And he finished in the top three, and I won a little money on him. That's the kind of information you want, right? Who's playing well? You go down the list right here, and you see some players who are playing well, and then you add the players that traditionally play well in the U.S. Open, and then you can draw your list right there. You have to ask each player, how are you playing? And sometimes they'll give you a straight answer, and sometimes they won't.

I haven't played too much since the Senior PGA, but I have played, when I played, the last few days I've played pretty well. My big question is my putting, if I can get my putting, get the speed of the putts down I'll be okay.

Q. If I was picking somebody who was playing well, I'd say Fuzzy is playing well?

TOM WATSON: That's right.

Q. What's your assessment of his game, his chances, here?

TOM WATSON: Fuzzy is hitting the ball -- he's one of the longest hitters on the Senior Tour, and he ought to do very well here. These fairways are fairly generous, so it's going to be an approach -- it's going to focus on who you can approach into the greens best and putt the best. Some of the fairways do narrow up in areas that you have to keep the ball either short or try to go for it, and go longer. For the most part it's fairly generous.

Q. What was your reaction to Jack Nicklaus being scratched?

TOM WATSON: Well, it didn't surprise me at all because he played with me last Tuesday, a week ago in Kansas City for a Children's Mercy Hospital benefit, and he was really suffering. A credit to him, he could play one day, but I don't think Jack could have with stood four days or five or six days with practice rounds, here. I think he understood that, too.

Q. Chi Chi was here, and he is an advocate on using carts on a day like this on a course like this?

TOM WATSON: I'm not in favor of using carts.

Q. Have you played in Baltimore before, do you have memories playing in the past?

TOM WATSON: The closest I've played is Congressional over in Washington, D.C.. I was here about eight years ago, seven or eight years ago, nine years ago right after the course opened, Jim McKay did an interview with me, and we did it here in the clubhouse and I had a chance to ride around the golf course, not play it, but ride around the golf course, the back nine, and I was impressed with how difficult it was from the links standpoint. I wanted to get out to play, but I never had a chance to until yesterday.

Q. We always have qualifiers, some of whom might not have played a lot of golf at this level. For a guy coming into the Senior Open, and maybe he's never played, what are his chances, and what are some of the things that are going to be a surprise for him?

TOM WATSON: I remember when I first -- I can only relate to it, the way I've played my first USGA event, I played it -- first one was the Broadmoor, I guess it was, the U.S. amateur at the Broadmoor. And I just remember the rough -- how long the rough was, but back in those days I was young and strong, and I could get it out of the rough. Today when I get in the rough, I say what should I hit out of here, sand wedge or pitching wedge. Back in those days, I can hit a 4-iron out of that stuff. But I can't do that anymore. But just the newness of it, the things you look at, the speed of the greens, the greens, are they faster than you normally play? These probably are. And the height of the rough. The difficulty of the golf course. And as somebody that comes in here who hasn't played the golf course or a USGA event, it sometimes can be a little overwhelming.

My advice to them is to understand that the golf course is just a little bit tougher than what he normally plays. And if you're not driving the ball well, that's the first thing you've got to do is put the ball in the fairway. And from that point on -- whenever I went to the U.S. Open it was always going to be a question of whether I was driving the ball well enough to win it or not. Most of the times I wasn't.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but last year you were battling some injuries going into the Senior Open. And if I am right, how are you feeling this year, and how do you like your chances?

TOM WATSON: I feel pretty good. We all have our aches and pains there that -- nothing that is real serious. The old body at 52 just doesn't work quite as well as it used to. Advil works really well, very well for me. I tried all of them -- not all of them, but most of them, but Advil is still the best. That's not an advertisement for Advil, that's just telling you the truth.

Q. Do you still get sort of butterflies or get juiced up with the challenge of playing a more difficult golf course for a national championship, even if it's the Senior Open as opposed to your Amateur or U.S. Open?

TOM WATSON: Sure, I enjoy a golf course that provides a high challenge. I always have and this golf course provides that. You have to do things well on the golf course to win here. You can't -- it's not going to be a lot of lucky breaks you get on the golf course in order to win. You can use every cliche in the book, it's right there before you, you have to put the ball in the fairway, you have to putt well, but -- another cliche, the bottom line, is that I enjoy playing a tough golf course, I always have. This is a tough golf course.

Q. Will you please tell us about your play at the longest par-5, how do you play that?

TOM WATSON: I play, on the backside the 585 par-5, I think it's No. 13, I played it well yesterday. I hit it -- I hit a driver, right up by the fairway bunker there, even with it, which is a long drive for me, and then I hit a 3-iron and it was 50 yards from the green. Probably should have hit 3-wood, to see if I could get close to the green, but I laid up. That hole, again, is one of those greens that it's up like this and falls with way from you, as you're approaching it. So, you can't really see where the pin is. Caddies will tell us how far it is, we're spoiled out here. So we can go by exact yardage. It's a difficult hole to judge your second shot, because it's a blind shot, you can't see the pin.

End of FastScripts....

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