June 27, 2000
LES UNGER: How are you today?
TOM WATSON: I am well. First look at the golf course today. First look at Saucon
Valley. It is a golf course that you need to understand the greens. And the greens are
very tricky. To know where they are going to put the pins on some of the greens is very
difficult to understand. So I think there are going to be a few surprises for me in the
rounds that I play here, because there are certain greens that I am not sure whether they
are going to put the pin in the front edge of the green here or back left 50 yards away.
Be that as it may, I am playing pretty well. I played a good last round of golf this last
week at Cadillac NFL; had a -- I struck the ball pretty well. I am putting pretty well.
Obviously, the key in any USGA Championship is to put the ball in the fairway or beat
Tiger Woods, one of the two. Since you can't beat Tiger Woods - even though he won't be
here - puts us all in the same boat. Got to hit the ball straight, keep the ball below the
hole, and not make too many mistakes.
LES UNGER: Are you happy with yourself in this new venture as being a Senior?
TOM WATSON: I am enjoying it. I am having a good time. Playing with some of my friends
out here and playing brand-new golf courses. I have played -- every Senior event I have
played in this year has been a new golf course for me that I have never played before.
That is fun. I knew that was going to be the part that I was going to like a lot. The
other thing is playing with a lot of players I hadn't seen or played with for a long time.
Like Lee Trevino, for instance. Hadn't played with Jack for a while. Arnold Palmer --
these guys I haven't played with for a long time. It is fun to get back and play some golf
with some of the old guys.
LES UNGER: Questions.
Q. Do you find yourself with the same desires you had on the regular Tour for these
types of championships?
TOM WATSON: I do. USGA Championship always gets me pumped. I have always wanted to win
the USGA Championships simply because they are the toughest Championships to win. The
toughest conditions. Good friend, Sandy Tatum said it is trying to identify the best
golfers; not embarrass them. They get many golf courses up there. Sometimes they embarrass
them; kind of goes over the line. It's gone over there a couple of times, but not too many
times. But that is the problem you have when you take a golf course and you get it up to
its most difficult plane. And then you have something strange happen like a
40-mile-an-hour wind that comes in that creates an unfairness to it. All and all, I have
always felt that the U.S. Open was the most important Championship in the world for me to
win. I have won one. I am grateful for that. And I feel the same way about the U.S. Senior
Open. It is the No. 1 Championship as a Senior player to win. So as I said, I am pumped.
Q. Talk about coming on to SENIOR TOUR with the rookie class that you guys are a part
of, it is obviously one of the better ones in a long time....
TOM WATSON: We got some pretty fair players in Wadkins and Kite, and Tom has won a
couple of times already. Lanny has won once I have won once, but we are certainly not
doing what Trevino did when he first came out. He won a whole bunch of times his first
year. Hale Irwin, the same way, Ray Floyd, it is -- these guys can play out here. You see
Lee won last week at 14-under. Tied a record. Not bad for a 60-year-old, it is?
Q. How is your putting come along these days?
TOM WATSON: It is good. It is getting better and better. I am more and more comfortable
over the short putts, which is -- has been my nemesis over the last several years. It is
getting better and better.
Q. Eichelberger's experience in Pebble Beach was admittedly, the conditions will be
different. Does that give you an advantage or mental process that you can take to this
TOM WATSON: I think it helps. There is not a -- because you are playing out of the same
type of grass, the grass around the greens is pretty similar. Although last week, at
Cadillac NFL we played some pretty heavy rough around that golf course. So that is a good
preparation for this tournament. We don't see as heavier a rough as we did last week and
this week on the SENIOR TOUR action as I am told. You don't see that type of rough. So the
conditioning of the golf course, obviously, it makes this course the toughest.
Q. Dave Eichelberger said, even though this is your first Senior U.S. Open, he sees you
as one of the favorites.
TOM WATSON: That is nice to know.
Q. How do you feel about that?
TOM WATSON: I feel good about that. The most important thing is for me is to be
comfortable with my golf swing. And right now my golf swing is a little bit haywire, but
it is not too far off. Bruce, my caddie, said after walking off, he said, "Well, you
didn't play that well today but you are not that far off." I agree with him. I am
pretty close. But what worries me most about playing here is trying to get to know the
golf course. The greens are -- you need to make even more of an effort tomorrow to try to
understand the greens and where to put it and where not to put it. It is a little bit like
Augusta where you have to quadrant the greens. There are certain areas that greens may be
fairly large in size but better only be in one-quarter of the green for a particular pin
position. I am not familiar enough with the golf course yet or the greens to know where
those positions are going to be.
Q. In preparation for United States Open or even a Senior Open, par is a good score.
USGA usually sets up courses that par is a good score. Given the rain and humidity and
everything, the course is a little softer. We have heard predictions of 9-, 10-, 11-under.
How would you approach your week? Does it mean you will be more aggressive, given your
past performances of Open courses?
TOM WATSON: I think the predictions are probably pretty accurate. I think the golf
course is playing softly and looks as if we are going to have the same type of weather
conditions, keeping it soft for quite a few days. Soft conditions are easy scoring
conditions. If it's raining, don't worry about it. We don't mind the rain. We love it when
that ball goes in there and just stops dead. What really causes you the problems is when
the greens are like concrete and you have to just get the ball in the front of the edge of
the green; takes it through a 30-foot hop, and then stops. But they have the pin 15 feet
from the front edge of the green; that is the tough condition. But when the greens are --
greens are soft, the old euphemism, like, it is shooting darts. (making phttt sound) like
that. These greens right now are playing like that. But they had a good rain last night.
And if they keep on having these rains in the afternoons here, the scores ought to be
pretty low. What did Larry Laoretti shoot?
TOM WATSON: I would think that that is probably -- I would think that probably the
scores might be even a little bit lower than 9. The record might be set there. How many
events have been played at Saucon Valley? U.S. Senior Open in'92. U.S. Amateur.
TOM WATSON: Match Play or Medal Play?
Q. Senior Amateur was played here too. You had mentioned what worried you most was
getting to know the course. Given that you will only have two practice rounds, how do you
do that? How do you get to know the course as best as you can, being that you only have
two days to get to know it?
TOM WATSON: Well, I have taken the first walk around. It is like I have been introduced
to her. Now I've got to find out her personality. I kind of know what she looks like on
the outside, but I got to find out what she has on the inside.
Q. A lot of different types of people have had success on the SENIOR TOUR, irrespective
of how well they did on the regular Tour. Talk little bit about what you think maybe is a
difference between someone like yourself, who has had success on the regular Tour, and
coming to the SENIOR TOUR, especially your first Senior Open, especially your mentality
TOM WATSON: You have to look at probably the golf courses that we play out here. There
are horses for courses, or courses for horses. And certain players like I have always -- I
have always felt that I could play any course when I am on my game. I never objected or
refused to go to a golf tournament because I didn't think I could play the golf course. I
may not have liked the golf course, but never was the point where I couldn't play it. I
didn't feel like -- I was going to fail at playing. The Senior courses are set up a little
bit easier. They are a little bit shorter, and you have got, I think, that kind of round
-- it narrows -- not narrows, but expands the possibilities for people to win. For the
most part, three rounds makes it pretty hard for you to make up for a bad round. Four
rounds, you can get away with a 73, 74 maybe in a tournament with four rounds, but three
rounds is hard to. As witnessed last week, I shot 72 the opening round and I was pretty
far behind. I was five, six shots behind, and I had to shoot real, real low the last two
rounds. I'd have to shoot 7-under par each round to win as it turned out. So I was too far
behind, but if I had one more round possibly I might have been able to put a pair of 66s
in there and who knows what would have happened. So that is the difference. SENIOR TOUR is
-- with these players, they -- obviously putting is a big -- if you are a great putter you
are going to win anywhere, but in conditions like we have on the SENIOR TOUR, it is a
little bit easier to win when you are a great putter than it is when you are playing the
regular Tour when you have -- you have to combine some pretty good 3-irons and 2-irons and
good driving out there to win even though you are a good putter.
Q. Take us back to Pebble Beach a couple of weeks ago real quick. What was it like --
TOM WATSON: Where?
Q. The one out in California.
TOM WATSON: Where was that (laughter)?
Q. Walking up the 18th, what was that like for you on Friday?
TOM WATSON: Well, Jack -- I played right behind Jack Friday and I was -- I got kind of
emotional because I saw Jack up there getting a wonderful ovation standing on the green,
saw him hug his son Jack who was caddying for him and the crowd was giving him a standing
"O", and I had to give him a standing "O" too. I have great respect
for Jack what he has done for the game and in a real sense I think you see that that
tournament was a mixed tournament in the sense that you had the greatest champion who has
ever played, retire from playing Open Championship golf and maybe the greatest champion
who is -- maybe a champ who is going to surpass the greatest champion who has ever played
win his first Open there. I think that has been a very monumental Open when history looks
back at it.
Q. Are you normally an emotional guy like that?
TOM WATSON: Normally?
TOM WATSON: When things are important I get emotional, sure. Like going out here and
trying to win this tournament I will get emotional if I win this tournament.
Q. The SENIOR TOUR in recent years has been criticized -- not criticized but people
have said there are so many club pros out here who had no record on the regular Tour. Do
you and Watkins and Kite sense that you are welcomed for the legitimacy and attention you
bring to this Tour, or do you think they look at you over their shoulder and worry that
you are going to take all the money?
TOM WATSON: No, I don't think that that is the case. You just have to go out and prove
yourself, just like they have to go out and prove themselves. There is -- I don't have --
I don't have a sense that there is any jealousy out there. I don't think there is a golfer
who is worth his salt doesn't understand the fact you tee it up with somebody you might be
able to beat that person. I can beat Tiger Woods -- have to be under the right
circumstances, but I can beat Tiger Woods. And that is the attitude you have to have to
play out here.
Q. Because there was so much attention to your coming out, a lot of excitement to have
you on the SENIOR TOUR, was there added pressure for you at all?
TOM WATSON: Sure there was.
Q. To kind of live up to that height?
TOM WATSON: Sure. As I said the first week, there was more pressure there when I played
in the fall the first week at Brickyard Classic, then I didn't play very well. But the
following week, I got it together, had a good run the last day; won the tournament. Even
though I hadn't won this year, I have come pretty close several times to win this year.
Finished second four times. Feel like David Duval did three years ago.
LES UNGER: Thank you.
End of FastScripts