May 31, 1996
WES SEELEY: Tom Watson, 70, 68, 138, 6 under par and one stroke off the lead. Tell us about your day.
TOM WATSON: It was a very good day. I started off, I played a few shots toward the middle of the green and 1, 2 and seemed like 3 and then hit a good shot at 4; went a little bit past, but then a good drive at 5 and 3-iron onto the green. I had eagle putt for about 30 feet. I 2-putted that for birdie. I got it up-and-down on 6. I missed the green to the left there with an 8-iron, got it up-and-down there for par. 7, I made a birdie, hit a good drive 4-iron lay-up, sand wedge to about three feet, made that. 8, I 3-putted from about 25 feet right, and above the hole missed about a 5-footer for my second putt. And number 9, I hit a little bit short coming into the green and flubbed my chip and left it about 20 feet short. I ended up missing that putt for bogey. Made a bogey there. Then made 2 good pars on the next two holes. Number 10, hit a beautiful drive and I pulled hook the 7 iron into the left bunker, not the place to be. Hit a beautiful bunker shot out short of the hole, made it for par. I ended up putting a 4-iron around the tree; hit a sand wedge about 20 feet behind the hole and holed that putt for par. I parred 12 and 13. I hit a 6-iron-- hit on the right edge of the green, rolled up about, oh, five, six feet from the hole, made that putt for birdie. I hit 2-iron pitching wedge in the left bunker at number 14. I blasted a good bunker shot out about five feet, but missed the putt. And 15, hit a drive up the right side. I had to slice it around the trees a little bit. I oversliced it, put it in the right bunker. Pin is in the right front. I didn't relish my position very much there, but I hit a very good bunker shot just short, ran it into the hole for eagle.
Q. How far, overall?
TOM WATSON: Bunker shot was probably about -- probably a 25 foot bunker shot with a nine foot elevation to it or eight foot elevation to it. 16, I hit 4-iron about 15 feet from the hole and holed that putt for birdie. 17, I hit a drive and pitching wedge about four feet from the hole; made that putt for birdie. And 18, I hit a drive, hit the tree right at the corner there, kicked it right up the hill. I couldn't go for the green, so I laid out and I hit a beautiful sand wedge up there, almost spun it back in the hole. Came back about five feet short. I made that putt for par. It was scrambling round. A couple of mistakes here and there, but overall, I played well. I drove the ball well. Hit a number of good iron shots, hit a few good putts, 68, in the golf tournament.
Q. Greens seem a little quick to you?
TOM WATSON: Greens are a little faster today than they were yesterday, yes, they were.
Q. Can they get faster yet?
TOM WATSON: Oh, yes, they can. Jack was saying that they didn't cut them down quite as much this year as in year's past because they have had a hard time. They have had a hard time. The greens have had a hard time recuperating from after the golf tournament, cutting them down so much for the rest of the year. They didn't cut them down quite as much. Said there is more of a crown thatch to the greens this year.
Q. Did they roll them, do you know?
TOM WATSON: I don't know. I don't know.
Q. Is that why the scores -- I mean, the scores haven't been particularly low. I mean, there is not much wind. Is it the greens that are keeping --
TOM WATSON: I think you will see some pretty good scores now today. The wind is -- the wind, when it comes from the direction it came yesterday and early this morning -- actually, yesterday, for the most part, it is a tough wind. You are playing 1 and 2 into the wind; playing 4 into the wind; 5 into the wind, and you have got a tough golf course with that north wind. We are more used to playing this golf course with a south wind, and it played -- I thought it played easier today with -- we had a south wind today for the most part. Yesterday, a north wind.
Q. Tom, do you like the way this course sets up for your game?
TOM WATSON: When I am playing well. When I am playing lousy, it doesn't set up for my game. It is a typical Jack Nicklaus golf course in that you must play good iron shots. Right now I am driving the ball very well. That has been the critical part why I have been successful. I haven't hit a lot of great iron shots or good iron shots, miss-hit a number of iron shots out here. But -- I believe the golf course is more of a second shot golf course, especially with the fairways so soft. The ball stays in the fairways very easy right now. Fairways are so soft.
Q. Tom, if you had a pitching wedge at 17, how far did you hit the driver?
TOM WATSON: A long way. (LAUGHTER) I don't know. I hit 135 yards downwind.
WES SEELEY: Card says 436.
TOM WATSON: I didn't hit the drive 300 yards. Pin was in the front of the green. I may have hit it 290, but I did catch it. I am driving the ball very well. Driving it long for me. I just hope I can outdrive Laura Davies on Tuesday a couple of times. Peter Jacobsen and I are playing Laura Davies and Michelle McGann on Tuesday playing from the same tees and have a little contest. See if the guys can beat the gals.
Q. A couple of weeks before the Open, your thoughts on Oakland Hills?
TOM WATSON: Oh, my thoughts right now are on this golf tournament. Oakland Hills is a golf course which I really never been playing well when I went into the golf tournament there. It is -- the one thing I just recall about Oakland Hills is that it requires iron-play to certain sections of the greens. Greens are large enough, but you have to put it in the right section of the greens or you are going to have some real rollercoaster-type putts; more so than most golf courses we play. That is the difference with Oakland Hills.
Q. What about 15?
TOM WATSON: 15 is pivotal. Today, for my round, I just came off kind of a stupid bogey at 14. I hit the pitching wedge, my second shot, hit it too far. I really should have tried to cut the pitching wedge in rather than hit it straight to take something off it, because I only had 112 yards to the front. I really didn't want to get all the way to the pin, but I said that. I will get it at the pin. Then I hit an indifferent drive in, 4-wood; overcut it. I didn't particularly play a bad shot for my second shot at 15; put myself in the right bunker, and I said, I have holed this shot before out of this bunker when I walked into it. And damned, if I'd didn't do it again. Hit a good bunker shot.
Q. Make a 15-footer next hole?
TOM WATSON: 15-footer, 3-footer, and 5-footer.
Q. Are you feeling pretty good in how you are rolling the ball?
TOM WATSON: I experimented with the stroke out there today, two or three different strokes - suffice to say.
Q. (inaudible) free holes, what your thoughts might be on that?
TOM WATSON: Well, you can give them away just as quickly as you pick them up on this golf course if you are not careful. But finishing like that in this golf course, it is not easy finish. The pins were a little bit easier, I felt, today than the last on 15, 16 and 17, at least than they were yesterday.
Q. Your are playing day-to-day; do you feel better on some days than on others?
TOM WATSON: For the most part, I feel pretty good about the golf swing. I didn't play very well in Texas, the two tournaments there. I kept on playing the ball farther in my stance and I was getting locked in there, in kind of a bad position. I came here not playing very well. I wasn't very happy about the way I played, but over the last 3, 3 and a half years, I have pretty well established my golf swing in my own mind that even if I am not swinging the club particularly well, I can get back into it by adjusting myself just a few different ways; a couple different techniques that to adjust my swing. And it is working.
Q. What about putting, how is to get up and just feel better over the ball?
TOM WATSON: I wish I could find something consistent with my putting to go with, but it is kind of hard to do that.
Q. What is your schedule now between now and --
TOM WATSON: U.S. Open and Western.
Q. Are you going to Ireland?
TOM WATSON: I am going to Ireland and Scotland this year. I will play Cruden Bay for the first time.
Q. How do you live with not shooting all the time quite as well as you did in your younger days? Is it just something that you learned to live with a little bit?
TOM WATSON: My game has kind of flip-flopped. I used to kind of spray the ball and chip and putt the eyes out of the hole. Now it is kind of the opposite. If you look at it, how many times have I won in the last ten years not putting well? When I was putting well, I won a lot. So what is the most important part of the game?
Q. It is a difficult to find the key to that -- you haven't tried long putters and --
TOM WATSON: Oh, yeah, I tried a long putter; hit 3 putts with it about 30 feet. I hit two of them about ten feet (laughter)
Q. Tuesday, what do you have going on?
TOM WATSON: Annual benefit for the Childrens Mercy Hospital. This is their 17th year. We have raised about $7 million for the hospital. And we having a little benefit with Laura Davies and Michelle McGann coming into play Peter Jacobsen and me at Blue Hills Country Club.
Q. 18 hole match?
TOM WATSON: 18 hole best ball match.
Q. Sounds great.
TOM WATSON: From the same tees.
Q. Your tees or their tees?
TOM WATSON: We are going to play about 6,500 yard golf course.
Q. One thing during yesterday's round, on the par 5 you made 7. Was that on 11? What happened?
TOM WATSON: I hit 3-wood in the right bunker; took a 4-iron; came out and hit the lip. Stayed in the bunker. Hit a 7-iron to get out; hit the lip and popped out. Laid up; knocked it on, 2 putts for 7.
Q. With all that you have done and with as well as you were playing back then, how does that round that everyone still talks about here rate to you in the cold and miserable?
TOM WATSON: It was a fine round of golf but more importantly, I won the golf tournament. And obviously that round was big reason I won the golf tournament. Golf course played very tough that day and actually played tough everyday, everyday that week. It was not as cold and the wind died down a little bit on Saturday, as I recall, but on Sunday started blowing. It was blowing pretty hard on Sunday.
WES SEELEY: Okay.
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