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July 12, 2001

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: I didn't hit the ball very well. I struggled off the tee, sprayed the ball the other way. I started off bogey. Came right back and birdied the next hole. Hit a driver, pitching wedge about 15 feet and made that putt for birdie. 7, the par 5, I hit the tree off the tee, the left tree there. Dropped it down. I hit a 9-iron for my second shot. I hit a wonderful shot with a sand wedge and landed about 20 feet short of the putting surface downwind and it just kicked up there left and just -- about 12 feet short of the hole. I made that putt and made a good putt there for birdie. 9, I hit my best drive of the day at nine. I hit a driver and 8-iron to the front pin. Hit it right on the very front edge and made it from about -- I'd say I made it from about 15 feet there for birdie. I bogeyed 11. I pulled my tee ball in the left rough. Came up short of the green, but not in the hazard. I hit a good chip for distance, but not a good chip for direction off the upslope and pulled it about six feet left. I missed the putt and made bogey there. Came back and made a wonderful birdie at the next hole. I hit it just a little -- probably about a five-eighths 7-iron. Real tight pin on the very front left, water left, water short, and I hit it, I'd say, about 20 feet behind the hole and I had made that putt. Made a good read, good putt. Next hole, I hit a wild drive way off to the right and came off the side of the hill and was up on the cart path with the gallery and had a nice conversation walking up there with the gallery and hit a 4-wood from some wiry rough. Was not that bad of a lie just short of the green. Made a wonderful pitch with a knock-down pitching wedge that skipped down through the valley and up on top and made it from eight feet for birdie. 14, I hit a drive and a 4-wood and the 4-wood was too long and left. Left with a very difficult shot. I knocked it -- I actually hit -- actually, I got lucky with the pitch. It kind of hit short in the semi-rough, kicked left and just trickled down about eight feet left of the hole and I made that putt to save par. I made about a 5-foot putt to save par on the next hole after hitting what was one of my better iron shots today right at it. Just one of those goofy mounds and kicked straight on the sideslope over here, but that was a pretty easy chip. 16, I hit a 2-iron off the tee and a pitching wedge. There's a putt I got lucky with. I hit it way too hard, hit dead center went in the hole, from about -- it was probably about 12 feet. Made that. Went right in the middle of the hole. Dropped right in. Nice birdie. Would have been probably about six feet past or eight feet past, 12 feet. (Laughs). The greens are quick. Next hole, I hit in the fairway bunker off the tee, I wedged it out with a pitching wedge over the lip and hit a pitching wedge 35 feet short of the hole back.

Q. Are the greens as fast as you anticipated?

TOM WATSON: Yes, they were faster than they were yesterday, but I was told they were going to speed them up just a little bit from yesterday. They were definitely faster. They are good putting surfaces. Excellent putting surfaces. If you get your stroke going, you can make a lot of putts on these greens. The wind is a factor, though, with the wind coming up this afternoon; it will definitely play a factor because it will be so fast. Fortunately, I played the wind pretty well today on the greens. And also, I hit a lot of good, quality shots today. The only negative was my play off the tee. My play off the tee was not good today.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TOM WATSON: Yeah, they were not like the Pro-Am pins today, I can assure you that. They were right on the edges of the greens. Which one was three from the edge -- I guess No. 16 was three from the edge.

Q. 9?

TOM WATSON: 9, it was on the very front of the green, and if you missed it short and right, it would come right down in bowl right there. Again, I hit a lot of quality iron shots today. Obviously, it put me in position where I can make a few birdies. 67, as I was talking to Jack, who is the designer of the golf course, he said any time he comes off this golf course breaking 70, he feels like he shot a very good round of golf. So I said I turned a 71 into a 67 today with great putting; that's what I did. That's the line you can use.

Q. Can you elaborate on the surprise factor a little bit? I saw some comments in the paper from you this week and you didn't sound like somebody who said thought he was poised to jump out with a 67 right away.

TOM WATSON: The reason I made those comments, very, very simply is I have not been able to practice a lot because I've had a sore elbow. I'm trying to heal this muscle that's been torn in my elbow here. I can play golf, but it is a little bit sore right now. Yesterday was quite sore after I finished yesterday. But I hit a lot of balls on the practice round on Tuesday, which made it sore yesterday, and today it's not quite as sore. So what I've been doing, I haven't been doing anything. I haven't been practicing, and that's the reason I'm surprised -- as I came in here this week, I'm not -- I wouldn't say my golf swing is in real good tune. Of course, it showed off the tee today, but my iron play is good. Now, why is that? Who knows.

Q. As a result of not hitting a lot of balls because of the elbow, have you spent more time putting, perhaps?

TOM WATSON: A little bit more, sure. Not too much time chipping, but putting. I made an adjustment with my putter again, my putting stroke. I noticed that -- I noticed that when I was making my strokes, my hip would fall back as I was going forward, and I'm trying to keep my head more still. That was the tip that -- that's the comment that Jeff Sluman made about his putting stroke when he had a good streak here a couple years ago. He felt his head was going back like that. I have noticed in my putting stroke it does that, and today -- actually, the last two day, I've putted very well. Very, very well.

Q. Do you remember the last time you putted so well? You said it's been a while?

TOM WATSON: No, it's been a long time. Making the putts I did today -- it's like the Watson of old: Hit it sideways off the tee, scramble around and shoot 67.

Q. How little have you practiced?

TOM WATSON: I haven't practiced at all since the first of May. A little putt, a little chipping, and just playing the tournaments I've been playing. The doctor said I should take eight to ten weeks off and not do anything. I told him I'm not going to do that. He said, "Well, it's not going to heal very well if you hit a lot of balls and play a lot of golf." I said, "Well, what if I just play the tournaments and that's about it?" He said, "Well, it's going to take a lot longer to heal." So that's what I'm doing.

Q. Does 67 make your elbow feel better?

TOM WATSON: Makes it feel a heck of a lot better than it did yesterday. I shot 66 yesterday in the Pro-Am, but those were the pins in the middle of the greens.

Q. What is it that's sore?

TOM WATSON: I've got a torn muscle in it. Grade 2 torn muscle. It's not a tendon or a ligament; it's just a torn muscle.

Q. (Inaudible.)

TOM WATSON: Well, I hope -- I hope it's going to get better. It's feeling a little bit better this week than it did two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Open. It felt a little bit better at the U.S. Senior Open than it did at the Senior PGA. So it's doing okay.

Q. Are you going to be cutting back?

TOM WATSON: I'm going to go to Minneapolis and the PGA in Atlanta for sure. The rest of the year is unsure right now, but I'm definitely going to play those two. Going to see what I can do at the PGA. I've got to get my long high-ball. That golf course is going to play long for old folks like me.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TOM WATSON: No, I haven't. Have you? All I remember is when I played the last time, it was -- I could hit the ball a long way then in comparison to the rest of the field, and it played long. It was a long golf course.

Q. It's a different golf course now since he redid it -- just curious about the changes?

TOM WATSON: I'm curious to know how many 490-yard par 4s there are going to be. (Laughs). Probably at least two.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TOM WATSON: Is it really? Over the water?

Q. Pushed the tee back 50 yards. It is now going to play 490 yards over water and I asked Jerry Pate how he would play and he said simple -- inaudible -- he goes, "Yeah, I'd hit 5-iron, lay up and hit a wedge on the green."

TOM WATSON: That's right.

Q. I realize those are just numbers, and they say par is only a number --

TOM WATSON: That would surprise me if they played the last hole a 490-yard par 4 that plays into a prevailing wind, over water. That would surprise me. I would be very surprised. I'll play it a par 5.

Q. Most everybody would.

TOM WATSON: Are you kidding? You've got to put the Pro V right on the seam like that, so it goes for off the tee and hope you don't get it on the seam when you put it in the fairway. You can hit some real big drives -- that's the fun of playing some of these par 5s. 3 and 17, you can let it rip down there, 360, 380 yards down there. You can get it going a long way. The golf course is playing fast. The fairways are fast. The greens are holding. I thought the greens, for their speed, held just the right way. They were not too hard. Now, I like to know what their -- I'd like to see them this afternoon, so I would know what to expect tomorrow afternoon when I play. But maybe I can see it on television.

End of FastScripts….

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