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July 29, 2005

Tom Watson


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Tom Watson. Tom with a round of 6 under par 65 today, stands at 9 under par, 133 for the championship.

Tom, 26 putts on your round today. Obviously a better round for you with the putter. Did you like the hole locations and feel more comfortable on the greens today?

TOM WATSON: Well, today it was kind of a hot and cold day. It was very hot, hit the ball within a foot of the hole four times today, two with 4 irons, one with an 8 iron, one with a pitching wedge, all one foot putts for birdies, and that makes it a little bit easier.

But my play off the tee was not very good. I missed six fairways. One was in the fringe. But I hit five balls in the rough today, and that was I can't do that in the last two rounds and expect to win this championship.

The back nine started off with a very awkward drive. I hit it straight right off the tee, and I half topped a 3 iron trying to keep it low under the trees to get to the fairway, still in the rough, hit a 7 iron in the right bunker. I did have one good bunker shot out of there. I hit it about three feet from the hole and just got it in. That was a struggling par.

Then on the 11th hole I hit it a foot with a pitching wedge.

Parred 12 and 13, hit it a foot with a 4 iron.

14, I missed from ten feet for birdie.

And 15 I hit it a foot with a 4 iron.

16, I hit it in the left rough off the tee and I hit a shot with a 5 iron, running shot up short right of the hole. My putt broke about 25 feet, knocked it down there I hit it up the hill and it came back down to about four feet and I made that putt, great two putt there.

17, I had a good birdie putt that I missed.

18, I hit it in the left rough with a driver. I tried to hook a 5 iron and it didn't hook and ended up in the bunker. I hit the bunker shot out about a couple feet for a par save there.

No. 1, I hit it in the right rough and left it short with an 8 iron, and I pitched it up to about three feet from the hole, made that putt for par.

No. 3, I hit an 8 iron to just pin high to the right, probably about 20 feet. I made a real good curling putt up the hill, hard break being right to left putt, made that for birdie.

4th hole was an adventure. They didn't score this right here. They said I had two putts on this green. Well, I didn't. I hit it on the green with a 9 iron, and I ran my first putt off the green, then I holed it from off the green. It says that I had two putts here. Is that a one putt or a two putt?

Q. That's a one putt.

TOM WATSON: One putt. The second putt was about 20 feet.

Q. And did you use a putter when you holed it?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, I did.

I birdied the next two par 5s. I drove it in the fairway both holes. On the 5th hole I hit a 3 wood that just trickled off the green. I had a pretty simple pitch, left it about five feet short, made the putt for birdie.

No. 6, I hit a good drive, did not hit a very good 4 wood. I pulled it and hooked it and it ended up on the left fringe of the green, and there I hit a great I hit a Tiger Woods putt there, lagged it up about three inches from the hole from about 70 or 80 feet, and it probably broke about 12 feet. It was a beautiful putt.

Next hole, I hit an 8 iron in for my second shot a foot. That was a nice shot.

Then I struggled the next two holes, hit a 7 iron, run my first putt by a good six or seven feet on the 8th hole but made the putt coming back.

Then No. 9, I drove it in the rough with a 3 wood, bad lie, came up short of the green, pitched it up to about eight feet past and missed it coming back for a bogey. I didn't keep the ball in play well enough off the tee.

The new driver is not working as well as the old driver, to answer your question, but I hit a lot of quality iron shots today. I'm very proud of those.

Q. What's more surprising, the fact that you could hit that many shots from the rough and shoot 65 or that you put four of them within a foot today?

TOM WATSON: It kind of counter balanced each other. It was an adventurous round, let's put it that way.

Q. One last driver question if you don't mind: Are the specs exactly the same? Did you try to get a duplicate?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, exactly the same, but it goes a little bit to the right.

Q. Do you have more than one?

TOM WATSON: I've got an old driver, but I'm going to stick with this one. It's just a little bit off compared to the other one. I'll get another one, it just won't happen this week.

Q. Do you have a number in mind the next two rounds you think you have to shoot to take this crown?

TOM WATSON: Well, I think it's going to be pretty low, obviously with no wind. It's perfect conditions, the greens are soft, so it's easy to get to the hole. It's easy to get the ball to stay by the hole. A lot different than last week where we had the wind and the greens were bouncing and you always had to play short. These greens are really holding very they're holding a little bit too much probably.

Probably I would say in the middle teens, that's what I would think.

Q. Given the conditions you normally face in a USGA setup, will it be disappointing to the players to have this championship determined on a soft golf course like this, or is it just the same for everybody?

TOM WATSON: Well, Mother Nature threw some rain at us on Wednesday, and the golf course plays pretty soft because of that the first two rounds. These greens are big slopey greens, and I would assume if the kids were playing here, they'd probably have them a little bit faster, make them a little bit more treacherous. But they are treacherous. If you put them on the wrong side of the hole, like I did at No. 4 today, putted it right off the green, I learned my lesson there, and fortunately it didn't hurt me.

But you can get some putts like that on this golf course if you're not hitting the ball with the irons very close to the hole. You're going to have some really difficult putts.

Q. Your 64 on Saturday last week, taking the driving out of the equation, how does that round compare to today's round?

TOM WATSON: Well, they're two different golf courses. I don't think I can compare them very easily.

Q. More like ball striking and putting and things like that?

TOM WATSON: Well, if you take the driver out of the equation, probably pretty equal. I drove the ball very well for that 64.

Q. You've won on such a variety of different courses and setups, different conditions. Obviously you're very adept at adjusting to soft greens or links golf. Is there a trick that you have for that? Is the putter the great equalizer? How have you been able to adjust your game to all these different conditions over the years?

TOM WATSON: Well, as many years of experience as I have, I've been able to see a lot of different conditions and been able to deal with them. Right now my swing feels pretty good, and I'm trusting my swing, and I guess it doesn't matter what type of conditions I'm under. I feel as if I can compete with the swing I have right now.

Q. You know, some guys only can win on certain conditions, certain kinds of courses, and yet you obviously have adjusted

TOM WATSON: I can't win in Florida.

Q. You probably could if you played a few more times.

TOM WATSON: 88 chances, I've never won in Florida. So I'm one of those guys.

Q. Is there ever any adjustment between just flipping the switch and going from the Senior British links golf to here, or can you just flip the switch?

TOM WATSON: No, I don't think there's much adjustment. You play a golf course, a couple practice rounds, you try to get an understanding of the surface, speed of the greens, the texture of the sand. The fairways are obviously a little bit softer but they're still tight. You still have to trap the ball somewhat on these fairways. There's not a lot of difference in that, even though they're a lot softer than the fairways in Scotland.

But the greens are obviously a lot different as far as your approach into the greens, how you have to throw the ball right at the hole and it can stop right there. It's more of a guessing game obviously in links golf. You're always guessing how far that ball is going to go. The object of great golf is to get the right distance, and it's a lot tougher in links golf to get the right distance with your shot, to get it pin high. It's a lot easier on a course like this where the greens are soft.

I've always said if you have some rough and hard, firm greens, there's an element now what happens is it makes the greens smaller, makes the pin positions tighter, and you don't have an advantage. Right now the player has an advantage on this golf course.

Q. Loren said he played nine holes on Tuesday before it rained. He thinks the scoring this week would be about the same, even if it hadn't rained. Would you agree with that?

TOM WATSON: Yes, I would. The conditions are soft, greens are soft.

Q. How fatiguing is it to play four majors in four weeks?

TOM WATSON: It's somewhat fatiguing in the sense that I got a little careless out there today. Mentally I got a little bit careless. Even though I shot a really good round, I look back at it and I made some careless errors out there today. Whenever I played the game back in my early years, it seemed if I was on a streak or on a stretch of golf and I was going to end it and then go back home for a couple weeks like I'm doing here, invariably I got a little bit careless, and I'm trying to keep myself from falling into that trap right now.

Q. Can you remember the last time you won in consecutive weeks?

TOM WATSON: Don't ask an old guy like me that (laughter). I have no idea. I really wouldn't have a clue. I haven't done it on the Champions Tour, Senior Tour. It has to go back to probably 1980. I think I won a couple times, two or three times in a row there, 1980.

Q. Usually playing in a USGA event, patience is at a premium, you have to be patient out there, but the way guys are scoring this week, do you think you have to be as patient?

TOM WATSON: Well, there's certain critical shots on the golf course you've got to play. The 15th hole, the par 3, you have to play a good shot in there. You've got to drive the ball well at 12. You have to drive the ball well at 9 and 18, put the ball in the fairway, and I haven't done my work there. I haven't done a good job there on those holes driving the ball. I made two 2s at 15, which I'm very happy about. I think that's a critical hole there. So I have lapped the field there. That's a tough hole.

There are certain things that I'm doing well, and what's happening right now with the soft conditions, the players are if they're putting the ball in the fairway they're going to have a lot of birdie opportunities because they can get the ball close to the hole. But there's still some critical shots out there where you've got to put the ball in the fairway.

Q. How common is it for you to have four shots to one foot from the hole in one round?

TOM WATSON: (Laughing) I can't remember the last time I did something like that, maybe back I remember one time playing the front nine at Riviera, Los Angeles, I think I had a series of shots there, I hit it a foot, two feet, four feet, five feet. I shot 29 on the front side, just kick ins. That was a real good stretch of golf right there. I hope that continues.

Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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