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June 18, 1994

Tom Watson


LES UNGER: If you would please general comments on the round and the 9 par holes.

TOM WATSON: All right. Generally it was hot. Other than that, I started off not real strong with the first couple of holes. First hole I drove it in the right rough and I hit a good shot out real deep hay; landed it short. I ended up making a bad chip, left it at about 15 feet short and 2-putted that for bogey. Hit good 2-putt for par. And then number 3, hit the fairway with a 1-iron. Hit a 6-iron. Poor shot left and in the deep rough. I tried to hit a flop shot up; didn't get it up; rolled all the way off to the front of the green to the right. I am lying 3; not a very good start. I hole the putt. From about 45 feet and that certainly changed the momentum of the round because the next hole I got a lucky break; hit a really good drive, hit a 2-iron fat and it rolled up in the middle of the green about 40 feet from the hole and I holed that putt for eagle. So I hit a bad drive at number one; hit a bad second shot at number 3; bad chip at number 3. Bad 2-iron at number 4 and I am even par. So I said well, momentum has changed. I birdied the next hole stiffed with a 7-iron. Made it from about five feet there and then 8, I knocked it just on the right fringe of the green about 35 feet from the hole. Made that putt for -- with a 1-iron, made that putt for 2. And number 9, I hit a driver 5-iron about 30 feet behind the hole and 2-putt for birdie. That completed a real strong last six holes in the front side. Then I just kind of hit some greens after that on number 10, 11. Good 2-putts on both 10 and 11. 12, hit a really good drive. 1-iron just short of the green; putted it from about, oh, 30, 40 feet up on the green about six feet short, made a lousy putt for birdie. Then made it par there. Two bogeys I made at 15, 16. One was a bad drive. I had put in the bunker. I hit a good shot out of the bunker with a 3-iron. I pulled it a little bit. Good shot out of the left bunker about eight feet; misread the putt, bogeyed there. 16, I pushed my 2-iron a little bit and I was in the short fringe and just hit a lousy chip shot. Tried to hit a little stab with a 7-iron and I stabbed it all right. Left it about ten feet short. I missed that putt. Missed a short birdie putt at 17 and 18 I had an 8-iron after a driver in about six feet from the hole and made that putt for birdie. So I made the putts today where I didn't make them yesterday. Actually played better from tee to green yesterday than I did today, but that flat stick makes a big difference.

LES UNGER: We will take your questions.

Q. How did you learn the rhythm method overnight?

TOM WATSON: The rhythm method? Well, ask my wife. I was practicing putting in the living room.

Q. Tom, we saw a great ovation for Arnold Palmer on 18 yesterday; the one you got coming in today was pretty good. Can you talk about maybe why you have become such a crowd favorite?

TOM WATSON: I have a great love for the game of golf. Played well here at Oakmont. Oakmont is a friend of mine. I am sure a lot of these people -- I have seen a lot of these people -- I heard a lot of these people say I was here in '83 and '78; said we watched you then. They have a little -- they have little thinner hair on top and little grayer in the beard, but it is a great venue for golf. This is a tough workingman's golf course. This is a tough golf course. The conditions we have had for the first few days have been ideal for scoring because the humidity has been high and kept the dryness out of the greens because they haven't gotten too fast. Mother nature has dictated that. The golf course is -- you will hit some birdies. That if it were dry and cool, we would see a very different golf course here at Oakmont.

Q. That brings up a very interesting point. You said the other day this place is going to play like hell; be more 90s and 60s. What has changed between Wednesday and whatever today is?

TOM WATSON: I think the USGA just scares the death out of you. They put the pins in the goofy pin positions. My first 9 holes here I 3-putted six times and it gets you off in a bad frame of mind. It intimidates you. But we certainly haven't had the wind we had in the practice rounds and it hasn't been quite as hot and muggy. I mean, it was not hot and muggy in the practice rounds, the air was drier. The course was playing firmer. The greens were playing firmer. So it played a little bit -- the conditions were tougher during the practice rounds than they were, actually, in the tournament.

Q. How important is the putt for birdie on 18 for your frame of mind for tomorrow?

TOM WATSON: Well, it is like any round of golf. You love to finish with a birdie. You hate to finish with a bogey. You like to finish in a good frame of mind. I hit 3 good shots and that just I am ready to go tee it up on number 1 right now. When you make a bogey, I said oh, geez, it is just -- you just -- you hate to finish the day like that, but when you finish with birdie, you love finishing the day. That makes the food go down a little bit better and makes you sleep a little bit easier.

Q. You putted pretty well on Thursday, not as well yesterday, and better today. What is going on with that?

TOM WATSON: You tell me. I don't know. I don't know. It just -- today I made some putts that I didn't make yesterday. Maybe I was just concentrating on the rhythm today. As I said, I was trying to be a Larry Mize out there today, certainly didn't look it, but I was trying. I said yesterday -- off the side yesterday I will play with Larry Mize first few days, see the beautiful rhythm with his putter and sometimes just thinking about that rhythm makes me make a better stroke at it.

Q. Considering the conditions, Tom, how far back would guys still have a chance to win, 4, 5 behind the leader, what do you think, 3, 4?

TOM WATSON: I'd say anybody within, you know, within even par will have a chance to win this golf tournament. Look at old one putt, kiddingly called him one putt with 64. That is a good round of golf. But there is lots of low scores on that front side. If you continue it on the backside, that gives you a round like Loren Roberts had today. So I think anything, even par, even par or better. My predictions are way off base. I said there would be more 90s than there would be '60s.

Q. You obviously wanted to win the tournament for yourself, but the U.S. Open has been won by -- the last 12 men won by Americans, is that something -- just talk a little bit about that.

TOM WATSON: I don't think that -- we make a lot out of the competition between the foreign players and the American players. And the best players right now -- it is just the pendulum is swinging towards -- the foreign players are the best players in the world now. They have proven themselves time and again in The Masters. The U.S. Open has been certainly a difficult tournament for them to win but you look at the leader board right now -- since the USGA relaxed the entrances qualifications into this tournament, now you have a very qualified field of foreign players having a chance to win. You are certainly seeing them right now on the leader board. That doesn't surprise me because of the talent that the international golfers have.

Q. Have you played with Ernie Els or do you know much about his name?

TOM WATSON: I have played with Ernie Els; he is absolutely a raw talent. I don't think -- I think raw maybe the wrong adjective to use. He is certainly blossoming into a great talent and as Yogi Bera said, his future is ahead of him. He is a great player. He has what it is going to take to be a world beater, his rhythm is beautiful.

Q. Tom, would you rather be in a position couple strokes behind leader or would you rather be in the lead going into the fourth round?

TOM WATSON: I always rather be in the lead. I am not like Gary Player. Gary Player always said I would rather come from behind. I'd rather be in the lead because I can afford to make a mistake and still be in the lead or tied for the lead. Psychologically, they have to come and get you. You don't have to go and get them.

Q. Speaking psychologically, we heard earlier that you are comfortable with your driver, you are putting is coming around, and you are comfortable playing at Oakmont. What can we predict your frame of mind going into tomorrow will be?

TOM WATSON: My frame of mind going in tomorrow is to win. Simply to win. No matter what it takes. If I hit it in the rough nine times tomorrow, I hope I can get it out get it somewhere around the green and make pars and maybe have one of those rounds have 22 putts and win. I'd rather hit 18 greens and 14 fairways, 13 fairways and have about 26 putts.

Q. Even the international players will say that the depth on the American tour is greater than anywhere else in the world. Do you have any explanation why the top of the American tour hasn't reflected that same quality comparison to the international field?

TOM WATSON: I really don't have any explanation for that. I just think that we're in an era right now, E.R.A., that the foreign players are dominating the world scene of world golf. It is just that. Greg Norman and Nick Price are the two dominating players on this tour right now. You have Nick Faldo and you look at Ernie Els, Ernie is going to be an up and coming. He is not up and coming, he is there. You are going to see some people really try to dominate it. Maybe it will be Ernie Els; you never know. People have said that there is never going to be somebody that dominates the game again and I disagree with that. Maybe we're in a lull right now, but there is certainly some people right there knocking at the door to take a take control of it. And for a long period of time.

Q. Tom, don't you think what happened to Azinger and Couples and some of the injured players has hurt the American cause in the last six months?

TOM WATSON: Certainly you take basically two top American players off the tour and you try to compare apples and apples, and we don't have our best guns up there. If you want to compete. Really, the competition between -- you know, competition is great in the Ryder Cup where it is us versus them but golf is an international sport, it is wonderful to be that we can play this sport all over the world and play by the same rules everywhere. The game is bigger than the players that play the game. That is why I love it so much. It has -- you look at what is happening to professional sport in this country and you kind of relish the thought that people do go out and play by the rules and they don't start yelling at each other and giving people attitude. I like my sport. I wish some of the other sports would start showing some sportsmanship rather than types of attitudes that they are showing. But the international flavor of the game is great. It is healthy for the game. It gets you people writing all the time about, well, who is this player, who is -- from Frank Nobilo, Ernie Els. I mean, you have some up and coming players that are not Americans, but these players can really play. I think it is healthy.

Q. Tom, do you have any idea why that might be, the sportsmanship that is shown the golf tour? Everybody grows up in the same society where we have this -- we celebrate people for being outrageous and yet on a tour you don't see that.

TOM WATSON: I sure hope we don't celebrate people to being outrageous too much. The question was asked should we have shorts -- should we wear shorts on the tour. I said no. I don't think we should. I mean, it is -- I think that the clone door should be long pants. Decorum. There is a certain element there. I think that golf -- I learned from the players before me. I learned from my father. I learned -- and he learned from his predecessors. I learned from the professionals on the Tour like the Nelsons who learned from the Bobby Joness. Bobby Jones was one of the greatest influence in the game you have ever seen. Walter Hagen. Notwithstanding what Walter did at night, Walter was a great influence in the game of professional golf. But Bobby Jones was a tremendous -- Bobby had a temper too. He let those helicopters fly, but it was -- people could -- you can do that if you do it -- direct that anger toward yourself and not somebody else. Of course this is an individual support, you should direct it to yourself. You don't want to see too many fights out there. I am just happy to be -- again, I am happy to be a part of this game.

LES UNGER: Thank you, Tom.

TOM WATSON: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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