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June 16, 1994

Tom Watson


LES UNGER: Well, by one shot, we have the gentleman with the best round of the day so far. I made some great saves out there today. I hit the ball well. I drove the ball well. Obviously very pleased with the score. I turned a 71 into a 68, basically, with holes number 7, number 10, and number 12. Questions.

Q. When you look at the names at the top three times of the lead board, you see eight Open championships between you guys. What do you think is -- does that show what this tournament is all about?

TOM WATSON: You might say that. You might take that angle. This is a tough golf course. This golf course is, as I said yesterday, greens reject every shot. Every green is a rejection green. A green rejects the ball some way. Doesn't collect the ball. It rejects the ball, makes the ball go off the green, from front to back, to the sides, from the front, off the front of the green. It is a very penal golf course. It makes it -- fairways are narrow; the bunkers are -- if you get the ball in the fairway, bunkers are very penal. Fownes made a very difficult golf course. To shoot the scores you have to shoot to win this golf tournament, you have to be at the top of your game.

Q. Do you think perhaps you are now in the top 5%?

TOM WATSON: I will grant that. I will grant that to you. I have been playing well most of the year. I have been playing well from tee to green. I am concerned about my putting with the speed of these greens and how treacherous these greens are, and kind of lowers your confidence somewhat when you don't feel like you can convert. I did a very good job of it today and I had good touch and good feel today. Maybe all this practice -- I have been practicing on the putting greens paid off.

Q. Tom, for the benefit of those who watched you out there today, excruciating pace of play. Can you explain to everyone what you do physically and mentally to slow yourself down and pace yourself in a run like this; what you went through on a day like today?

TOM WATSON: When I was a kid, when I was a lot younger than I am today, back in the '70s, I would really be upset about the pace of the play as being too slow and -- but I have gotten used to it. I have gotten used to it the older I get. We play Pro Ams every Wednesday on the tour. They are usually five hour Pro Ams. They are not usually five hours and 25 minutes like it was out there today. The first group played four hours and 25, I think the second group played in four hours and about 40 minutes, so it was a big gap just between the first and second group. Slowly, they played. But it is a difficult golf course. You just can't really -- not a whole lot you can do; grin and bear it. There is not a lot that I try and do.

Q. Tom, is there a British quality in terms of playing approach shots to these greens?

TOM WATSON: Yes, there is. No question about it. There is a Links-type of character to these greens that's what Fownes had in his mind when he built this golf course. If you bounce the ball short of number one, and number 10, number 12, and the firmest greens, you have to play for the bounce. But as Peter Houser was saying on television, it is so true, you can land the ball with all the upslopes and sideslopes and downslopes, you can land the ball two feet from the same place and you can get a completely different bounce to the shot. You might get into a face, might hit into a downslope or a sideslope. And that -- in a way, it is a guessing game. This golf course is a guessing game. You just hope -- like the first hole got me off to a very good start because I played a beautiful 6-iron in there about twelve feet short of the hole. That hole, you just want to get on the green somewhere, and get off with your par. I am staring at a birdie right there. That got me off on a good note.

Q. Tom, very slow round today but also the heat conditions were tough. Do you think growing up in Kansas City and playing in conditions real similar to this may have given you an advantage today in the rounds?

TOM WATSON: Not really. I don't think it made a whole lot of difference. Some days I do better with the heat than others. I like -- what I am thinking about now is basically getting back, getting a meal in my stomach, and getting to bed so I something wake up tomorrow for the earlier round tomorrow. That is what I am looking forward to right now. The heat didn't bother me too much as we speak. My legs seemed pretty good although they were a little bit tired walking up 17. I was talking to Larry Mize, I said my dogs are barking a little bit. When -- I think I had quite a bit of adrenaline today - witnessed the last drive I hit so I survived pretty well.

Q. It is a matter of survival for the first 16 holes until you get to 17, that made it a little easier, and you birdied it; Fred Couples drove it and eagled it. When you are coming down the stretch and you have gone through what you have gone through for 16 holes and you run into that one and you finish at 18, are those like makeup holes for you?

TOM WATSON: It can be There are a few birdie holes in this golf course. Just -- you feel as if you have a good opportunity for birdie. Unlike Oakhill where Curtis Strange won last the Open and where we play the Ryder Cup next year, that golf course I felt didn't have a birdie in the whole golf course. Every hole was a par hole. This golf course has makeup holes on it, but has some very, very difficult holes; number 1 and number 10, number 12, were just very, very tough holes.

Q. Tom, after what happened here in '83 and the '78 PGA, do you feel Oakmont owes you one?

TOM WATSON: Not really. I mentioned that the other day, but I think I made too much of it. It doesn't owe me anything. I am very happy about the way I played at Oakmont. I played well. Very difficult golf course; maybe this will be the time that Watson wins at Oakmont. Who knows.

Q. Tom, this morning, apparently, Barbara Nicholas, last thing she did with Jack was wiggled her fingers and gave him the spell and said, "you were 22 again." You didn't have that experience; did you?

TOM WATSON: Linda just said "get out there and shoot a good number today," that is what she did. Kicked me out of the house.

Q. Tom, these scores won't let you be very adventurous if you start feeling your oats, it will kind of put you in your place, won't it?

TOM WATSON: Depends on how good you are striking it. If you are striking it down the middle of the fairway, why not hit a driver on a bunch of the holes? I remember playing with Seve back in the last round of '83. Seve was hitting these 1-irons. He was leaving himself with such long irons into these par fours, it was a complete disadvantage. But the way the golf course is playing now, the fairways are bouncing some, but 1-irons are good, smart play. You know, the fairways narrow down. The farther you hit it-- 18 widens out a little bit the farther you get it past there. But 15, some people they might want to just try keep it in play 15, I just hit a driver there, and I feel that there is some holes you have to be aggressive on. You just have to go in and you have to -- you just have to go right through the middle of the line.

Q. Tom, Bruce said that during the round, he suggested to you that perhaps you had been inspired by Nicholas' 69. What was your response to that?

TOM WATSON: No, he was just pumping me up. I see Jack up there, I said, "no reason why Watson can't do it if Jack can do it".

Q. Tom, in the USPGA last year here, you are again in the hunt in another major. Is it a matter of your experience coming to the floor or just you kind of rise to the occasion in major championships?

TOM WATSON: Well, I think might be a combination of those two, but nothing is a substitute for having the confidence in the way you are swinging. That is basically the reason I think I am playing pretty well. I have been in many situations where I have hated the way I have been playing and just been a struggle trying to hold on; it is like, you know, just holding on to the edge of the building like that. But I feel right now that I am playing well and there is no reason why I can't continue to play well. It is not a fluke. I have been playing well for well over a year now from tee to green, and if I can get the putter working where like it did today, four rounds, I will win a golf tournament. And another thing is that it is -- I think it is a lot easier for Tom Watson to win golf on golf courses where par is the score to shoot rather than 24 under.

LES UNGER: We thank you, another good round tomorrow.

TOM WATSON: Okay, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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