June 16, 1994
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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