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July 26, 2006

Tom Watson


STEVEN FRANKLIN: Welcome to the media centre. Tom, thanks for coming in and obviously welcome back to the Westin Turnberry Resort.

TOM WATSON: Thank you.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: Great memories here over the years. Just give us your thoughts coming back here, does it set your pulse racing?

TOM WATSON: Any time you see the big white hotel up on the hillside, it makes the memory banks start to release some of the great memories I've had here. I've had some wonderful times here, and obviously the time in '77 was one of my great memories. I will always remember just about every shot that last day. Jack says he doesn't remember anything about the last day, and I remember every one of his shots and every one of my shots. I remember that.

Of course, three years ago when we played here, with Carl Mason basically having control of the tournament and making the mistake he did on last hole to let me in the back door, that has not quite as you don't like to win golf tournaments when other people do that, but as we all know he had to play 72 holes. So that's the bottom line.

My game is in pretty good shape right now. I've been working quite hard trying to get the feeling back and I've got some of that good feeling back today. And we'll see what happens tomorrow at the start of the round here and see if I can reproduce some of the good shots that I've made when I shot 17 under par on this golf course. The golf course gave up quite a few birdies back three years ago, and without the wind, you can make some birdies on the golf course, but still, you have to worry about the new bunkers.

There's a lot more penalty out on the golf course now than there was three years ago. I understand there's going to be quite a big change this winter on the golf course with holes 10 through 16, the addition of another 19 bunkers or something like that to get ready for the 2009 Open Championship.

They are going to play us back a little farther this year, and we'll have it will be a good test, a very good test.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: So a good few of those bunkers will be in play this week.

TOM WATSON: They make you think. You have to negotiate some of them. You can't afford to lay up short of some of them because you just have to say, I have to hit a good shot here. In particular, the 8th hole is a very difficult driving hole. The addition of the second bunker there seems that it is now a very difficult area in which you have to hit it, very, very tight. And four balls in the fairway there would be quite a remarkable achievement in four rounds here.

Q. Your win '77 is that one of your top memories and was it the best you ever played?

TOM WATSON: That's one of my really good memories. It is pretty close to the top, it is.

That was a stretch of golf right through that time and I played just about the best golf that I played in my career, and just so happened that Turnberry I was right in the middle of it.

Q. Are you looking forward to seeing the changes?

TOM WATSON: I do. And I can't wait to see the change to 10. It's going it be a wonderful, beautiful change. When you walk up to the 9th tee off the 8th green, you walk around the corner there, it reminds me of Cypress Point, the smell, the look, the height, the elevation. It's beautiful there. And then you turn around and you look at the lighthouse there, you play along the line and then you good up the 10th, the same thing. The way they have designed that hole along the water on the 10th, it will be the only I want to say, and you know, how many holes on the Open rotation in The Open Championship rotation are actually are you penalised by going into the sea? (Laughter) I can't think of a single hole.

Yeah, first yeah, you're right, that's one. That's one. Still, it's there, it's there. How about Carnoustie, No. 2 up the hill on the other side of No. 2 in the sea there? Well, Jack Newton almost hit it in the sea there in the playoff. I'm just saying that there's really no hole that really is a direct effect to the ocean, so it will be pretty neat. Newton hit that tee to the other side of the comfort house there, and then it will play right along the ocean and it will move the fairway left. And then it will be right along that ocean and back to the green. It will be a really, really great hole. I'm not sure how much length they will add to it if they do. But they will put some bunkers out where the fairway is right now.

And 16 apparently is going to go left of the cart path they don't have cart paths here; the footpath left of the fairway, 25, 30 yards left, and the fairway is going to be left of that. So it will go back down there and then back like this. That will be a good change, too. That's an awkward tee shot, 16. It's up top of the hill and now you'll be hitting down and the hillside will come down to the right there and you'll be walking around the hill. It will be more pleasing tee shot there.

So I'm looking forward to seeing this golf course in a few years and see what they can do. They have a beautiful piece of property here.

Q. Can you describe the challenge this week compared to the one you faced at Hoylake?

TOM WATSON: Well, I can tell you, I played practice rounds with Vijay Singh, I played with Retief Goosen, Brett Wetterich who is one of the players who is presently on the Ryder Cup Team, Chad Campbell is on the Ryder Cup Team, played with a young lad (Thomas) Aiken from South Africa; they hit the ball so much farther than I do, it's unbelievable. It's just, way, way, way, way, out there.

I had really I haven't seen that. I got a little taste of it at Augusta this year when I played with Tim Herron, Lumpy. I said after watching him hit some drives, he was flying the ball 30 yards past where my ball ended up and that's how you have to play Augusta, you have to hit the ball that far. He said, "You were the longest driver out here, weren't you?" Yeah, when I was out here, I was either 1 or 2 in length on the PGA TOUR and now I'm 52nd and I average 298 or something like that, 297 and I'm 52nd out there.

So the bombers are really taking over out there. That has to do with equipment; that has to do with also your workout regimen, too. And I saw, there's a huge difference we've got some players out here, Eduardo Romero, he's very long. I'll be playing with him. He'll hit it by me 30, 40, 50 yard pretty easy. But on this golf course you don't need that. Again, it's a golf course that you have to play with your smarts, try to keep it out of the fairway bunkers.

Q. Inaudible?

TOM WATSON: Well, this course is you know, with the additional bunkers out here, it's just, the fairways bunkers are penal. They will penalise you. It's just like hitting into the water hazard. It's a one stroke penalty whenever you hit it into a fairway bunker. With more of them out there, there's more of a mind field to try to step around them and try to negotiate.

Q. Thoughts on Tiger's gameplan last week?

TOM WATSON: Baker Finch said that Tiger Woods was really on his game last week. When you're on your game, you can sit back there and hit your 4 iron on these greens. From the same position he's hitting 4 irons, I'm hitting a utility club with no spin on it. My chances to knock it on the green is about 1 in 4 with that, maybe 2 in 4. But he can put the ball up in the air with a 4 iron.

He just played the course took what the course gave him as far as the penalties. Stay away from the penalties was his No. 1 priority, and he had the game to do that.

Now, the other people, it's an ego. You know, I can put it between those bunkers; you know, I can hit it over that bunker and end up in the rough with a good lie and I'll get a shorter shot to the green.

He said, no, I'm going to put this where I'm going to take all of the element of risk out of here because I can play this golf course from back here and go up there and the worst I'm going to make ever is bogey, worst I'm ever going to make is bogey; and I'll play the par 5s 15 under par, play even par and win the golf tournament. And that's what he did.

How many under par was he on the par 5s? He made two eagles on the par 5s, another eagle with a 4 iron shot. On 14, so I just wondered, their game plan there is, you know, I'm just saying that either he's probably between 12 and 14 under par. I think he made a par on 18 one day where he hit it left. That's right, he made a great up and down out of that bunker for his second shot. Twice he made par on 10 and 16 he birdied every day, right? 18, two pars there. He 3 putted the last hole, 72nd hole, and he made par when he hit it left there, chopped it out short 160 yards and knocked it on, didn't he make par then?

So he made maybe four pars on the par 5s and the rest birdies, and 5, did he ever make birdie every day? So he got two eagles, four pars so he played 14 under.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: Is there a game plan for this course the way it's set up?

TOM WATSON: Whenever happens with the wind. The wind right now, that's the beauty of links golf, the wind we had today and yesterday, we had a north wind, last year we had a south wind that blew like the dickens. And two or three years ago, we played with the south wind and it played tough. Into the wind, holes like 16, 15, 16, 17, 18, you couldn't get to 17 a couple of days. We had to hit 3 wood to 16 one day, opening round, it really blew hard and we had to really how would you like to go into that green with a 3 wood this that's a tough shot.

But just depends on the wind. That's always the case in links golf. When you wake up in the morning and see the newspaper right here, page 2 or 3 or page 5, it gives you the weather forecast; always look at where the wind is coming from. Right now we've got a low hanging out there and it's moving in slowly, a big trough right now, which is kind of confusing. There's not a lot of wind right now but the wind has probably picked up and we're supposed to have a little bit of rain and you never know.

Q. You said at Hoylake that your game was not there. Do you think it will turn up this week?

TOM WATSON: Well, we'll find out tomorrow. I made an adjustment today that was a good adjustment. There's nothing I really haven't worked on enough as far as my setup position is concerned and we'll see if that is the proper thing. I think it is. I think it will get me back on track. I did not play very well at Hoylake. I drove it poorly and like I said, it was all done by smoke and mirrors.

Q. Some people say that the old links courses will be made redundant by technology before too long. Is that a view you have sympathy with or do you think it is nonsense?

TOM WATSON: You look at what Tiger did last week, it's almost a criticism that he almost used a driver. I think that was the beauty of his game that he could play the game as well as he did without having to hit a drive.

Now, does that mean the course was not a good golf course? No. I thought the golf course was a very good links golf course and a very good test for The Open Championship. But he used his head. He played the golf course the way you're supposed to. Phil Mickelson came over here for two weeks and played it and couldn't hit it straight. Tiger hit it straight with irons. When you're bombing it out there with 270 yard 2 irons, you still have to hit that 2 iron straight. You have to hit it within the confines. He missed eight fairways all week two fairways a day on a real hard golf course.

This golf course is a little softer. They put some water on these fairways and they are a little bit greener. The R&A wanted those fairways like rock and the greens to be somewhat receptive and that's what they got.

Q. How does your body cope with playing four rounds last week in hot temperatures and then turning up for this event?

TOM WATSON: Well, I have a few aches and pains, but when you're 56 years old you're going to have a few aches and pains and I can't avoid that. And the heat is never a problem. Used to be a problem out here because you never had any water out here. We never had water on the tees. You're always looking for something to drink. Now we're spoiled and we get water on every tee and whatever we want. That's all you really need to keep hydrated and going in the heat. And your heat right here is it's 99 degrees on Tuesday, that was pretty hot. But it was a dry heat. You had 99 degrees and some humidity, that will get you. That will put you through the ringer.

Q. Did you play The Open to perfect your game with this event in mind?

TOM WATSON: I really had just, both of them are separate and I wanted to I looked at The Open Championship, to see how well I can do there and I didn't I didn't do very well. I played the golf course, I got a too lucky breaks, played a lot of poor shots and got away with it. Got some breaks and others that didn't and I made some birdies where you're supposed to make some birdies. Hit some good quality shots at certain times but it wasn't what I'm capable of. Maybe.

This week 17 under here three years ago, I hit a lot of quality shots. I didn't miss too many shots out here. Maybe we'll find out what happens tomorrow. I'll see if the game starts coming around and trajectory goes where it's supposed to go.

Q. Thoughts on your pairing with Sam Torrance this week?

TOM WATSON: I've played a few rounds of golf with Sam over my career. He's a delight to play with. He can really play the game. He's winning the Order of Merit here on the Senior Tour and obviously playing well. I think he's glad to be playing over here and being close to home rather than being overseas in America playing, getting petty lonely and guess you want to have the come forts of home. You get to be our age, what's it really worth to go to America make more money. You play here, you enjoy it, and go home every week. Makes life a little bit easier.

Q. Seven out of the top ten on the US Champions Tour Money List are here this week. Seemingly more than usual. Do you think this trend will continue?

TOM WATSON: Well, I think so because of the venue. We've been playing wonderful golf courses. Royal Aberdeen was a gem. Hope we go back when are we going back there? Not scheduled? I know they don't schedule as far out as the Open Championship.

That would be great to go back to Aberdeen. I enjoyed that venue a lot. I think that's what makes a different. As I said, we're spoiled and we're chastised for not travelling and going overseas to play because we play for all that money in the States. But when you have a venue like this and such an important tournament, you're going to get the players to come and play.

Q. Did you come straight here on Monday after The Open?

TOM WATSON: No. I took a day off. It was my first day off in a month. I played this is my fifth week in a row, so a day off was welcome.

Q. Will you go on to 65 like Jack Nicklaus?

TOM WATSON: I don't know. Question is, when am I going to hang them up, I don't know when I'm going to hang them up. But I can assure you it won't be 65 years old. It will be before that.

STEVEN FRANKLIN: Thanks very much, Tom, and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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