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May 23, 2001

Tom Watson


JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen, with us at the 62nd PGA Championship in beautiful Paramus, New Jersey. Welcome. Can we have your opening thoughts and then we will open it up for questions.

TOM WATSON: Well, you probably want to know my opinion about the golf course, I can't give you any because I haven't played it. I'm going to play it this afternoon. I do remember watching Trevino playing here and winning against Nicklaus in '95 was it?


TOM WATSON: '90. That shows you how long ago it was. And I remember just, you know, seeing the pictures of the golf course on television; it was beautiful. People who have played it, some of the caddies who have caddied here, been up and around here, say it's a very, you know, obviously it's a very tight golf course, that it is very mature and beautiful and wet! Very wet. So, we'll just have to see what happens. I'm looking forward to going out to play it, but I can give you a little bit better opinion of it after I've finished playing it. My health is pretty good. I've been struggling a little bit with my elbow. I've had some pain in the elbow that I've been trying to keep under control, and it's -- it's not much of a problem when I swing a golf club. It's just a little bit of a problem when I do other things. As far as wanting to win the PGA Championship, I'll take any of them. (Laughing.) It doesn't matter whether it's here or the regular Tour, but I am playing the regular PGA this year at the Atlanta Athletic Club, and so I'll be playing both of the Majors in the PGA Championships this year.


Q. As you were approaching 50, you obviously must have had some thoughts about what it's like getting on the Tour. What's been different than what you expected? What has been different?

TOM WATSON: Honestly, nothing been different. There's no radical difference between playing the regular Tour and the Senior Tour with the exception of the crowds. The crowds are smaller in the Senior Tour, in quite a few of the locations. There's still some good crowds in Kansas City, we had some good crowds last week. Tampa we get good crowds; Birmingham we get good crowds. For the most part, the crowds are smaller and a little bit older in scale, older in age. So that's -- but I was informed that that's the way it was going to be. And the golf courses are, this year, were made a little tougher. Now it seems like they've gone back and made it a little bit easier as far as the softness of greens are concerned. They started off keeping the greens firm but you get a lot of criticism by some of the other players saying that they were too hard. Fairly, run fairly. It's a judgment that the PGA Senior Tour has to make as far as the players are concerned. But I think overall it hasn't really been any different than what I expected. The competition is great. It's very, very challenging. And as I said, I said many times, Nicklaus, when he -- when talking about the Senior Tour to me, he said, "These guys can really play, Tom." I said, "I didn't expect anything different."

Q. Did these guys play better today? Do you play better in some ways today than you did 11 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago?

TOM WATSON: I think I hit the ball a little bit -- in comparison to ten years ago -- go back two years. I was hitting the ball as far two years ago as I was ten, you know, twelve years ago. I think that had a lot -- a lot of that had to do with equipment and balls. The ball goes straighter. That's, you know, we look at this constant question of equipment, how has it affected the game, you know, you look at all the factors. The conditioning of the golf courses, the equipment, the strength of the players, the athleticism of the players compared to the old days, so to speak, and you see improvement in every category. So... Now you have rumblings that the Masters -- the Masters' Committee is going to lengthen the golf course, and -- because of the equipment, and all the players, I think they have to look at both players and equipment are stronger and they can swing it faster. I, for one, would not like to see them lengthen it, especially the holes they're considering lengthening. I think the simplest thing they could do is narrow the fairways and try to get the greens really firm. You can't get firm greens when you have rain every day for three or four, five days; you can't do that. But that's Mother Nature. Mother Nature dictates the conditioning or the scores for the week. If Mother Nature decides to stay dry for a week and blow 30 miles an hour, you'll have high scores. If Mother Nature says it will be wet and no wind, you'll have low scores. I don't care where they put the pins. That's just the way it is.

Q. I stepped in a little late. I'm sorry if this was asked. A couple of the players said your participation in Atlanta wasn't maybe the best thing for the Tour. I'm wondering your feeling on that, Senior Tour players playing in regular Tour events particularly when they're opposite Senior Tour Majors.

TOM WATSON: I don't have any control about other people's opinions, but I played not in Atlanta, I played in Hilton Head, the WorldCom, for a variety of reasons and they were good reasons. I'm not going to enter into a debate about whether it's right or wrong. Some people, you know, that's their opinion; I had mine.

Q. Tom, do you, at all, think it's unfair that some of these guys have dubbed you the Senior Tour savior, the guy who was expected to come in and dominate and draw the crowds? Obviously you have some transitions in your life with getting married, things like that. I'm wondering about your feelings on that.

TOM WATSON: Well, I understood the expectations, I think, of people on the Senior Tour, but I think, you know, the reality of it is I don't draw -- I don't draw the fans to a golf course such as -- you know, such as the likes of Trevino or Palmer or Nicklaus or Chi Chi. I mean, the people -- they come there to watch them more than they come to watch me. But my expectations, as far as winning on the Senior Tour really, really haven't -- I think my expectations were to come out here and play and win, but my -- the reality of it is that I haven't done enough of the things you need to do to win.

Q. Tom, Curtis Strange was talking about the opening guys that try not to qualify. He was critical of people who chose not to try to qualify. He thought it was their duty to do so. I'm wondering what led to your decision not to go through the 36 holes?

TOM WATSON: My time has passed.

JULIUS MASON: Questions?

Q. Tom Kite said a couple weeks ago about the expectation thing that he expected himself to walk out here and win more than he has. He blamed it basically on putting. Is that the number one reason you have not succeeded out here as much as maybe people thought you would?

TOM WATSON: I've had my share of problems with my short putting, but, you know, it's just -- these players can play. If you don't putt well, you're not gonna win any tournament, so... When I've putted decently out here, like bank one when I won the second tournament out, and last year at the Senior Tour Championship, it was, you know, the putting was pretty good. I made a lot of putts.

Q. Does it surprise you?

TOM WATSON: It never surprises me that the person who putts the best wins. (Laughing.) Or putts up there at the top wins. You look at the putters like Bob Murphy has always been a great putter, Dave Stockton has been a great putter, and, you know, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't put Hale Irwin in that category when he was on the regular Tour, but I think Hale is a darn good putter. He doesn't make too many mistakes with the putter. I've seen him go through cold spells, but he probably hits the ball better than anybody on the Senior Tour. And so he has a lot more birdie opportunities. He has more on the average than anybody else on the Senior Tour. But the bottom line is putting. You hear that's the old age myth from all the golfers, didn't make the putts or it's not that they hit the ball out of bounds or missed the greens a couple of times and they shouldn't with the 9-iron, they say, "I didn't make the putts."

Q. Are you coming in here thinking you can win this week, or would it be kind of a surprise if you did?

TOM WATSON: Well, I'm coming in here with -- I played well in spurts in Kansas City last week. I played well -- I played pretty well the week before in Boone Valley. It's my putting. I'm giving you my lament. I'm lamenting my putting. But that's -- so the expectations of me is to play well here, as far as tee to green. Getting the ball in the hole is somewhat questionable, although I made an adjustment with my putting the last round in Kansas City this last week and it seemed to work. So maybe I can go with that this week. That's what you do. It's just like any athlete or when you have a technique, when you have a certain technique that's not working, you go and you try to adjust it. It's just like a batter in baseball or Shaq with his freethrows, you find a technique that works.

Q. What was the one he found?

TOM WATSON: I don't know. He's making a lot more freethrows than he was at the beginning of the year.

Q. Tom, could you go into a little more detail about the elbow problem, exactly what it is and what treatment you're getting for it?

TOM WATSON: Yeah. I had an MRI done on it. I have a torn muscle in the flexor pronator group, it's just groups of muscles right here at the base of the elbow here. It's not unlike when a pitcher in baseball tears a muscle. I don't have any ligament damage, but I do have a torn muscle there that requires rest. I'm not resting it. So I'm trying to keep -- I'm trying to keep playing, but unfortunately, I can't hhit as many balls as I'd like. Ice it, ultrasound, electronic therapy, heat at the beginning of the round.

Q. When did it happen?

TOM WATSON: It happened about two months ago. Just before the Masters. I had -- Friday before the Masters I hurt it.

Q. Hitting balls?

TOM WATSON: It's a combination of exercising and hitting a lot of balls, but working out with medicine balls and doing things that 51-year-old people probably shouldn't do.

JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

TOM WATSON: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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