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May 24, 2006

Tom Watson


KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen, the 2001 Senior PGA Champion. Playing this week in his 7th Senior PGA Championship. Tom, some thoughts on returning to Oak Tree, some 18 years after the PGA championship was played here.

TOM WATSON: This place is, this golf course is tough. I saw Doug Tewell out there and Scott Verplank and I said, "You guys play this course every day?" He said, "Yeah, we love coming in here bogeying four out of the last five holes every time we play."


It's a very challenging golf course, obviously, and it's, I played here in '88, I did not play well. Of course there's more rough in '88. Difference in '88 to now is that, as I said, the rough is pretty thin right here this week, but the fairways aren't rolling very much with the overseeded Rye, these fairways are pretty sticky. So we're not getting a lot of role. And it's making the course play a little longer.

It's a tough golf course. Pete Dye was commissioned to build the toughest golf course there ever was, and he built this course with a lot of that high rough, which they have gotten rid of, but it's, it is a very difficult golf course from the standpoint of you have to put the ball in certain parts of the greens. The greens are usually comes, they come in triplicates. You have to hit it there are three different areas on each individual green. And some of those areas are very small. And it's all you want. It's a very good challenge, it's a great championship venue for the PGA. I've played pretty well in the practice rounds, but you never know what's going to happen. You just got to keep the ball, obviously you got to keep the ball on those right levels. If you're not, you're going to be struggling. And there's quite a bit of water on the golf course. There's water just I don't know how many homes, I can't count them up, but probably have water on at least eight or nine holes out there. So you got a lot of penalty shots there you're facing playing this golf course.

KELLY ELBIN: Questions?

Q. Welcome to the area. Tom, it sounds like though with your game that some of the things that this course presents might play to your advantage because of needing to hit the, needing to hit it a long way, with it being sticky; and also with you being familiar with some winds I would think in Kansas City, because that's going to be a factor this week. Do you think that those things will play to your advantage?

TOM WATSON: Well, the wind is always a big factor whenever you play a golf course. I've always said that. And I enjoy playing in the wind. The challenge it presents is the uncertainty and to guess right is always, that's what I like to do out there is guess right. Because we're basically guessing when you're playing a lot of wind.

To get the ball pin high and get the ball or put the ball where you want to in the wind, that's a lot of satisfaction. And I derive a lot of satisfaction from that. So I guess I'm a little bit Scottish, they say in Scotland, "A day without wind is a day nae for golf." And I enjoy that type of challenge.

Q. You obviously played very well this year, what is it that you have been doing so well and how are you going to bring that into this week?

TOM WATSON: Well, what you need to do here is drive the ball well. You have to set it up. With the wind, there's some local knowledge. Playing with the strong wind yesterday, with the strong southeast wind yesterday, I made some mistakes that the golf course shows you one thing, but after you played it, you kind of remember, I remember back to '88, now I know like on number 3, you know, you don't hit it down the left side, you hit it right out there to the right. So I like that. I like that aspect of a golf course where it tells you, it shows you one thing, but you have to learn to play it another way. The golf course is like that a lot.

Again, to get back to the challenge of the wind, I like that.

Q. You said a guessing game, can you elaborate more on that, about particularly at a Major championship where you don't see this course, maybe once every, in this instance 18 years, but it's been a few years, how many rounds does it take to play to get some of that local knowledge?

TOM WATSON: Well, let me ask you a question, and this is kind of a rhetorical question, is who is likely to win here?

Q. Someone with local knowledge?

TOM WATSON: Probably some of the guys that live here. They have played this golf course in all kinds of conditions and the only thing to our advantage people who haven't played here, like the Gil Morgans and the Doug Tewells. And in our case that, if we get the same wind that we have in the practice rounds, and it looks like we probably will for four days, we'll be playing the golf course with the same wind. So we'll get used to that and we'll get adjusted to that. But if the wind changes directions, we're going to have some problems. That's where the local knowledge, course knowledge really plays into the big factor here.

Q. No one over age 48 has ever won a Major on the Regular TOUR. Considering the advances in health and science and technology and guys taking better care of themselves, will we see a day where a guy 50 years old will win a Major on the Regular TOUR?

TOM WATSON: Well, let's put it this way, 25 years ago the average driving distance out here, the longest drives were about 273. What's the how many people average the longest average over a year was about 273. All right. And now what's the average?

Q. 321?

TOM WATSON: 318? 320?

Q. 321?

TOM WATSON: Yeah. Okay. That answers the question. In the truest sense, because things could change. Somebody's going to win it, win a Major championship, older than 48. There's not a question. Whoever thought that somebody would win the U. S. Open by 15 shots in this modern age, or 12 shots. I know that TW did that, you know. So I am not surprised about a lot of things that happen, that has happened. When they say, well will somebody ever win the Grand Slam and I said it's improbable, it's not impossible. And you had Tiger win all four in a row. And you could call it whatever you want, but that's pretty much the Grand Slam to me. So this game, as Gary Player said last night, we're going to get bigger and bigger and larger and stronger players playing this game. Just seeing the types of incomes that you can make playing this game and they may start at an earlier age instead of playing basketball and football, maybe playing golf as a sport, win a million dollars in a week. That's pretty good. We're pretty fortunate.

Q. Staying along those lines, are you going to this year's British Open at Hoy Lake?


Q. Is that the only one you have not played?

TOM WATSON: I have not played Hoy Lake.

Q. Could you pull it off there?

TOM WATSON: As I said, I think that the British Open is more of a place where I could win. The Masters, I'm out of the equation at the Masters. Unless we get a real hard conditions, the Masters is pretty much out of my league. The U. S. Open, the way they're adding length to the U. S. Open, I don't think I can, I couldn't do it at the U. S. Open. But the British Open I might still be able to do it. Last year at St. Andrews, the golf course played like a rock, they couldn't play it back really very far, they had some tees back there, the 4th hole was the biggest question mark we had. And fortunately I played that hole okay. But that's a course that you could do pretty well, I could do pretty well on that golf course.

Given those types of conditions, the conditions would have to be firm, they would have to be like rock hard and they would have to be pretty windy for me to win.

Q. What do the guys look for in a golf course, because this is a course that could be set up, especially if the wind blows, where you guys would shoot some real high numbers.

TOM WATSON: You bet.

Q. But you want to also have fun and be challenged and all of that. What, if you're setting it up, what do you set it up like?

TOM WATSON: Well, you don't set it up like a U. S. Open where the greens are like rock. You don't. When you're here in Oklahoma City, you know, 30 years ago it was the windiest city, was recognized as the windiest city in the country. You have to set it up for windy conditions. And how are you going to go from the greens that 10 o'clock in the morning versus greens at five o'clock in the afternoon, after a full day of 25 mile an hour winds. You can't get those greens rock hard and really fast as they did at Shinnecock in the U. S. Open two years ago. You can't do that.

So you got to bring them down and get some moisture on them so that they will play slower and softer in the morning, but by the time the last groups get around, they got to be fair still. They don't go over the limit. That's how I would set it up. It's all in the moisture content of the greens. If you take the moisture out of the greens and make them rock hard, you're asking for really, really high scores. If you have a little bit of softness to them where you can stop the ball, you will have, you know, for us old guys, you take a little bit of pity on us, please, you know, just, you don't make it so that every shot on this golf course is to its utmost difficulty.

Q. That's more important than the length?

TOM WATSON: That's what I would do.

Q. That's more important than the length in stretching it out?

TOM WATSON: Well, the length is, let's put it this way, if the wind continues to blow from the south, the golf course plays its easiest. If it blows from the north, you're going to see scores way, way, way up there. This golf course, with a north wind, a northwest wind, is, well, you ask Doug Tewell and those boys, what difference, what would be the difference in the scores, but they would be between three and four strokes difference if you had a north wind versus a south wind on this golf course. Just the way the length of the golf course sets up.

Q. Would you kind of guesstimate how many events you may play on the Champions Tour this year and could you also kind of analyze the play this year, you haven't been out of the top 5 all year, you've been playing really well, I mean what, just kind of assess how you played.

TOM WATSON: Well, I'll play in about 15 Champions Tour events this year. And I played the reason I haven't played a whole lot, I'm going to be playing a lot in the summer. Starting with Kansas City I'll play five tournaments in a row and I'll wear this old body out. And the way I've been playing, I've been playing pretty well. I've been driving the ball well and this last tournament at the Boeing Championship, I putted pretty well. And I hope everything comes together for the four rounds this week. This is a golf course that I think I could play pretty well and my driving sets it up. If I don't drive the ball well, I don't have a chance.

Q. Do you think we'll see a roll back in golf club and golf ball technology for the professionals?

TOM WATSON: I don't think so in the near future. I think what they will do, they will address certain unexplained things like moment of inertia, unexplainable things like moment of inertia, and possibly the groove issue. When we went from V grooves to square grooves back, when was it?

Q. 20 years ago?

TOM WATSON: '85? '87? Something like that. When you could start spinning the ball out of the rough, stopping the ball on the greens out of the rough, it made the game easier. When you made, when you went to the metal headed drivers with the longer shafts, you could obviously swing it, swing the club head faster with the same effort and hit the ball farther. Then they added better aerodynamics and lift to the ball and the golf ball, along with the driver, along with spinning the ball out of the rough, has made the game play a lot easier. And we don't want and what's happened is we have made the golf courses longer and longer to compensate for that when we play on our championships.

For the average golfer if you look at how much benefit do they get from the clubs, they get some benefit, but not as much benefit as the pros do. The pros get more benefit from the clubs and ball. Because they swing it faster. So if it were up to me, I would like to see the golf ball and clubs in total be brought back a little bit. I just think the game is actually, I looked at the golf ball at, who was it, Roger Maltby was playing the Nike ball and that Nike ball, this was in when we played in the Mutual, Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. And he hit this shot down wind and it was the first time I had seen a ball do this in a long time, but down wind the ball actually rose in the air like this (Indicating). Went like this. We call it an up shooter. And you can see it into the wind where you hit the ball into the wind and the ball climbs in the air. But down wind, you know, you used to be able to do it with the balls that you could spin with higher spin rates like this (Indicating), and it made it so you could hit a shot down wind and hold the ball on the greens. But with the new golf ball construction, the ball comes out with less spin, you always see the ball go this way down wind and when it does that it hits the greens hard and it's harder to stop.

And I mentioned to him, I said, "Is that the same ball that Tiger is using?" And he said, "Yes, it is." And I said, "What the in the hell are you using it for, man? You need that rock that goes out there."

But the point is, is that the golf balls have changed, obviously the drivers, you can swing them faster, you can spin the ball out of the rough, getting back to that point, you can spin the ball out of the rough. It's not as much a penalty being in the rough, if any penalty being in the short rough any more. It's made the game easier for us to play in competition. And overall, I would like to see the golf ball and everything brought back to a certain degree. What that degree is, I really can't tell you, but I would like to see it brought back. Not remain the same.

Q. Based on what you've seen from the golf course this week so far, would you care to make a prediction on a potential winning score?

TOM WATSON: Well, what's the winning score going to be? Well, given the wind today, my guess is the winning score is going to be between 6 and 10 under par. That's the way I think it's going to be. If we have the same type of wind conditions we do today. And if we have the same wind conditions we had yesterday, you can just go around even par. But don't trust me, I'm the worst predictor of scores in the world.

KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, thank you very much.

TOM WATSON: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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