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November 5, 2000

Tom Watson


Q. Tom Watson becomes the first player to win both THE TOUR Championship and IR Senior Tour Championship. Congratulations.

TOM WATSON: It was -- I thought it was going to be easier the last 2 holes than it turned out to be. And after getting a 3 shot lead and getting through 15, 3 shots, and looked like 16 John hit the bad drive, looked like he was going to make a bogey there, and he makes a great par there. And then 17, 17 and 18 were really the -- kind of the crux of the match, if you want to say it, because it came right down to John and myself. And he missed a short birdie putt at 17, and he had a 7-iron and I had I 6-iron and I came up a little bit short and I got my ball up-and-down and made about -- about an 8 foot putt to save par there, after he missed his putt. Because that took a lot of pressure off my putt when he missed his putt. When I made my putt it was three shot lead going into the last hole. I said I'm going to play this nice and safe down there. And after hitting a 3-wood off the tee, and then 7-iron for my second shot I watched J.J. knock his 3-wood in there about 15 feet from the hole and I said come on, J.J., don't do this to me. And he ended up making the putt. I 2-putted for par for a one shot victory. So that -- to me it changed. And those last two holes -- last three holes, there was quite a bit of drama on the last three holes. I'm very grateful to win my one and only tournament this year. It made it a nice fall after winning this tournament. I finished 2nd four times this year, and I had my opportunities to win, as I said early this week. And I didn't do it. But I made it happen this week. And I -- it was a real -- the strength of my tournament this week was yesterday's last 9 holes and the first nine holes today, where I ended up -- I was 10-under par. And I was pretty close to 10-under. I made a bogey at 10, but I was 9 under par, and that obviously turned the tournament around for me. The golf course played with a north wind rather than a south wind. And made some of the club selections new. A new golf course, new club selections. And as a result of that you saw a lot of the scores go up today. You didn't see a lot of low scores today. You saw the scores go up just a little bit today. And I figured that if I could -- after the start of making 4-under par after 8, if I could get through -- make a par at 9, that was a critical hole for me, and I did get it up-and-down from the left side after 3-iron shot, but I figured that that was -- I had pretty much it in control if I didn't make any mistakes. I made very few mistakes this week, and that's the reason I won. I made more putts than anybody. I guess maybe that's the real reason I won. Oh, going over my round, I started off on No. 2, made a birdie at 2. I laid up short of the green after kind of a weak drive, and I hit a sand wedge in about three feet from the hole and made that putt. 5 I hit a 6-iron. I made it from about 20 feet from left of the hole and made a good putt there. 6 I made a birdie there. Again, I laid up, playing into the wind, par-5, I played up short with a 5-iron and I hit a sand wedge in with -- probably about 8 feet from the hole and made that putt. Then 8 I hit driver and a pitching wedge about 20 feet from the hole and made that putt for birdie, made a good putt there. Again, 9, talked about 9, I hit a driver and 3-iron there. I missed the green just to the left. And I chipped past about 8 feet and made that par putt there. And missed a short birdie putt at 11; hit it about 5 feet from the hole with an 8-iron and missed that putt. And then the magic happened at 14. I hit a good drive, 3-iron about 45, 50 feet from the hole and pretty straight putt, broke just a little bit left. My caddy said it was straight and I just felt like it was going to bend a little bit left, but got it out just right of the hole. Just trying to get it up close. And it just broke just beautifully right in there, right at the last, and ended up making an eagle. That put me three shots ahead and had a pretty good cushion there. Then 15 and 16 I kind of stayed away from the short side and made two easy pars. Jacobs made a good par saving putt after a bad drive at 16. And that particular putt kept him in it. Of course he had to make the putt to stay in it. And then 17 I hit what I considered was a pretty good shot with a 6-iron and I didn't catch the surface and it came back, luckily didn't come all the way back in the water. And John hit a -- he hit a good shot in there with a 7-iron and knocked it in about 12 feet from the hole. And I pitched it by about 8 feet. John missed his putt, didn't lit a very good putt and that gave me a free run at my putt, which I made. The 18th hole, as I said, John made it a lot tougher on me than I wanted him to by making the eagle.

Q. How far was your putt there?

TOM WATSON: 18 was about 35 feet.

Q. Pretty easy?

TOM WATSON: Pretty easy. It broke from right-to-left about a couple of feet, about, but it was just over the hill and then back up the hill. The speed was nothing too difficult to judge.

Q. Inaudible.)

A. A little bit commercial. I didn't want to run that thing by and have it -- I wanted to leave it. I was a little bit commercial on 15, I was a little bit commercial there, and on 16 I was a little bit commercial there. But I did what I had to do to get the job done.

Q. Did the winning feel any different than other times in your career?

TOM WATSON: It always feels the same. You've accomplished what you went out -- you've gone out to accomplish, and as I said, beginning the Senior Tour I'm in it for the competition, I enjoy the competition, and I still like to play in the competition in the regular Tour, the major championships, but the competition out here is good. I've only won once, but the competition to me, the way I look at is very, very good and tough out here.

Q. How do you feel about last year and I couple of years before you were eligible for the Tour, in '99 and 2000 they said we're going to have Tom Watson, we're going to have Tom Kite, did you enjoy that?

TOM WATSON: That puts a little pressure on. I still felt that I was going to play the Majors and maybe a few others on the regular Tour to see if I could still compete with the kids. But there was pressure put on, and we really haven't done all that well, compared to what our build up was. And we didn't take the Tour by storm like Peter Thompson or Lee Trevino or Ray Ford or Chi Chi, we haven't done that.

Q. Do you feel maybe a little more able to take the Tour by storm the next couple of years?

TOM WATSON: I enjoy the competition, and it was a good tournament for me this week. Looking at the future I've already talked about the future as far as playing the way I'm going to play it. I don't plan on playing a lot more tournaments. I'll probably play a couple more tournaments. In my playing days in the last few years on the PGA TOUR I played between 15 and 18 events is what I played. I'm going to keep it kind of at that, too. I'll play 20 events of varying sorts.

Q. Why didn't you play that much since July?

TOM WATSON: I love the fall and I take the fall basically pretty much off, although I'll be playing a couple of events coming up, I'll play the Father and Son, with my son Michael. And I'll be playing the Hyundai matches, the old Diner's Club matches, which Jack Nicklaus and I are defending our team victory last year. And we're going to try to do that again this year. I'm going down to Argentina to play an exhibition down there. And so I've got some golf left in the remaining two months. And I'll be looking forward to the beginning of the Tour. The reason I do it is that honestly this time of year is a time to recharge my batteries. I enjoy bird hunting, I enjoy the fall colors, the change of seasons and it's time to think about other things besides golf.

Q. From a little bit different standpoint, a lot of the players out there were just moving tremendously. We know you love the game and you take some time with your family and so on, how much do the fans play in your game, do you know they're out there?

TOM WATSON: I hear they're out there, so I know that. "Come on, Tom." I hear it.

Q. Does that mean anything to you as a player?

TOM WATSON: Sure it does, yes, it does.

Q. Because I will say this, for anyone that would like to know, I interviewed probably 200 fans, the consensus was you were probably one of the friendliest players that associated with the fans and signing autographs and so on. So on behalf of those that were here that had the opportunity to say that, I would like to say thank you.

TOM WATSON: Fans are our bread and butter. We love to see them come out and watch us play. I've always enjoyed playing in front of people. When I was a kid I was shy and the way I could kind of relate to people is to kind of show off with my golf game. As I kid I loved to hit good golf shots in front of older people, my friends. I enjoy entertaining. I like to hit good golf shots. I hit a few of them today.

Q. Tom, when you got here you played one Senior event in September. Did you feel good about coming here, your chances to win?

TOM WATSON: I played in the Wendy's Pre-Tour Challenge last week. And up until that time I was practicing, I wasn't getting anywhere. Once I got there, played in Las Vegas, it got really good, all of a sudden. It just kind of turned from kind of blah to certainly hitting some good golf shots. I hit some really, really good golf shots there. I have to say that I changed my irons and my sand wedge and my driver, and I'm playing with a lot of new clubs right now. And so it's always fun playing with new clubs, -- I don't know about you, but anytime I have a new set of golf clubs, I always went out and played better.

Q. Are you surprised no one besides you and John were there pretty much most of the day?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, I was somewhat surprised, although the golf course changed today. We had a north wind. We obviously didn't have a lot of wind, but it was enough wind to change the clubs. And playing on a new golf course, you're not quite so sure what you have out there. And you can make some errors in judgment, because of the wind. And that -- I think that's probably the reason there was no challenge right there.

Q. John Jacobs said you encouraged him to hit that last putt, was that just good sportsmanship?

TOM WATSON: Just what John and I were -- he was talking to me, and he said, Tom, I'll give it my best shot. You haven't backed up an inch, and I said, already, J.J., make it interesting, make this putt on me, so I have to make my putt. We were going back and forth like that. He's a good guy, a big teddy bear. He loves to gamble and loves the horses. He's a -- he told me about it -- he said he gave it to a lady. You won, not me, but you won.

Q. Was it good to feel that pressure again, on that putt, to have to make it?

TOM WATSON: No, it wasn't good. But I felt like I had it under control.

Q. Was that a two-footer or 18 inches?

TOM WATSON: It was a couple of feet. I can make most of those still.

Q. When you putted as well as you did yesterday and today, you really holed quite a few long putts?

TOM WATSON: I did. I ran the tables, I really did. The last 36 holes I played -- the last 20, 26 holes I really putted well.

Q. Did that make you think back to the old days?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, it does. I've always been a good putter. The pro back home he works on my putting stroke, and I say I can't get it on a straight line all the time. He said you've got the greatest stroke, the greatest touch I've ever seen anybody have I still have some good shot. My pitching and my chipping, chipping around the greens, where I was so good before, it's pretty ugly now. That's what I'm going to work the most on before I come out on the Tour next year, is that part of the game, because my chipping is just terrible.

Q. It was said early on even before the round got going, that it was going to be a two-man race, did you get that sense, too?

TOM WATSON: No, I didn't get it that sense at all, although Leonard got off to a bad start and then it became, yeah, it looks like John is going to be the man I have to beat. Kept on looking at the boards to see if anybody else was making a move, not a very big move, at least. And so it really came down to J.J. and me. And so it was great to play with a guy that you have to beat, it's great to do that, because then it's like match play, you can -- it gives you more information on how to play your shot. It also gives you an indication if they're -- you see maybe some of their mannerisms change or they hit a shot that is uncharacteristic of them, they may get kind of a breather, because you know that person is choking worse than you are.

Q. Did you feel like after yesterday's final 9, did you feel this morning that you'd be able to sustain a little bit?

TOM WATSON: I was hoping take I was going to get off to a good start. I got off to good starts the first two rounds, and the third round I didn't. And I was hoping to get off to a good start today and I did again. I made birdie at 2, downwind par-5, you're supposed to birdie 2. And then the good birdie at the par-3. That really kind of set it. I hit a good shot in there, I made a really good putt. I said things are looking up, because I hit a good solid shot and didn't try to hit it too hard. And I had good distance judgment. And the putter worked. So let's go. And that's that.

Q. How much will what happen today and this whole week change how you reflect on your first year on the Tour?

TOM WATSON: Well, this -- I was going to have dinner without dessert this year. And now I've got a great dessert to finish off the year, and next year I hope to win more than just once.

Q. Did you feel Leonard struggle down there, he missed a couple of putts?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, he did struggle. And he said after about oh, the 9th or 10th green, he said my hands feel like bananas today. And some days it's just like that. You don't have any touch or feel. I've been there, and boy there's nothing you can do, not a darn thing.

Q. I've heard a lot said about the differences between the courses you've played on. Maybe you could do a comparison to this course compared to other courses that you've played, since this is a new course?

TOM WATSON: I'll do that. I've played a lot of TPC courses. This is a very good golf course. It has -- the first thing I liked about it is the fall colors and the leaves. And as I said I take time off in the fall to look at colors. The last five years you haven't had any fall colors, because you had hurricanes. You haven't had any leaves in the trees. This is the first fall you've had down here. But the golf course is -- I think it could have played a little bit longer, let's put it that way. But I enjoyed playing the golf course. Obviously I won, but I enjoyed a lot of the shots that you had to play. In particular the shot at No. 6, par-5. I liked the shot at the 14th hole -- yeah, I liked the shot at the 14th hole. And I think that was -- it's a hard shot to judge in there, but when you compare it to the other courses we play, this is -- you see a lot of -- he did a beautiful job on the bunkers, it's one of the best job on the bunkers, and they're very formal, compared to some of his other bunkers. And I like a formal bunker rather than the rough bunkers that -- they're in vogue today. I like these bunkers. In comparison, 18 under par is not too bad. I wonder what Tiger is shooting today?

Q. He trailed by 1. 12-under.

TOM WATSON: Is he wearing red today? I wore red today. I wore my Tiger Woods colors today, TW colors.

Q. You said the course was tougher because of the rain last night. In a sense do you think it played easier, were the greens holding better than the last few days?

TOM WATSON: It's a give and take. But the rain usually makes the golf course play easier. The greens were pretty firm up until this morning, today. The fairways were softer. We didn't get near the roll on the fairways that we did. But I think the wind did have an effect on the players today, because it made some of the par-5s, like 18 you couldn't get there in 2, unless you were John Jacobs. And 6 although I saw an eagle at 6 by I think Kite made an eagle at 6, and it changed the character of the golf course.

End of FastScripts....

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