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May 25, 2006

Tom Watson


KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen, joining us today after a round of 68, 3 under par. In the first round of the 67th Senior PGA Championship. Tom, some comments, please, on what appears to be a roller coaster round and then we'll go through the scorecard.

TOM WATSON: Well, roller coaster is a pretty good description. It was "Tom's Excellent Adventure" out there on a couple of holes. Starting with the very first tee ball. I hit it straight right in the trees and had to try to hit it over the water with a low cut 3 iron. I knocked it in the bunker and then knocked it out to about 20 feet and 3 putted for an easy bogey.

I did birdie the second hole, which was, made a good drive and a pitching wedge to about eight feet and made the putt.

Number 4, I had a 6 iron in my hand and I pulled it into the water. Hit the right distance, but just pulled it left and in the water it went and double bogey later I'm back to two over par.

Basically it started off not very good in the first four holes, but I made three birdies in a row starting at 7. I knocked a 7 iron in about 12 feet at 7. Made the putt.

8, after Scott Simpson knocked it about a foot, I knocked it about four feet behind the hole with a 6 iron and knocked that putt in. Luckily I lipped it in.

Then No. 9 I made the best putt of the day. I hit a driver and a little 8 iron and hit it to, I hit a good putt from about I would say 15 feet and made the putt for birdie.

But then I ended up making a birdie at 14. I hit, after not a very good tee ball, hit a good 7 iron, my best shot from the fairway probably of the day. I hit a 7 iron in about five feet from the hole. And made that putt.

Then the 16th, it was an adventure. I hit it in the right fairway bunker and tried to hit a 7 iron up in the air and I caught the lip coming out and hit it straight right into the trees and it was dark in there. You need lights in there. Pitched a 7 iron underneath a limb, over the green and then chipped it up about six feet and made that putt for bogey. So it was a nice save for a bogey. Sometimes you really like your bogeys, that bogey I really liked. It could have been a lot worse.

16, I hit a real good drive, didn't hit a very good second shot, but I got it on the green and I 2 putted for birdie.

17 then I hit it behind the hole about 25 feet and I made that putt for I hit a real good stroke there and made that putt for birdie.

18, I remember in 1988 I said to myself, why didn't you remember what did you in 1988 here. Because you always hit one more club there. It's always and I didn't. I hit the club for the yardage, rather than one more club than the yardage and came up short. But I made a real good chip up about a foot from the hole to save par.

So, yes, it was a roller coaster round, it was up and down, but I'm very happy about it. Seven birdies on this golf course is, I hope I can maintain that average for the next three rounds.

KELLY ELBIN: Questions.

Q. Coming off that string of three birdies to end the front nine, you had a great par at 10. Can you just talk about the initial putt, obviously that's not the easiest green on the course.

TOM WATSON: Well, 10, I hit a very good drive, but I pulled my second shot. Again, remembering from '88 on number 10 what you do when the pin is on that upper level, you can play to the right edge of the green and that ball's going to kick left. But I went at the hole and caught a little bit of wind and it ended up down the slope. It's just not you got to play it off to the right of the hole there and I didn't do it.

Couple of poor thought processes today there. I have to say at 18 and 10. I had, actually that putt wasn't that difficult. The old putt used to be difficult before the green changed. Because that green it went up and back down over again like this (Indicating). And now they have they have leveled out the top of it so it's level. But you can get a lot of putts like that on this golf course where you're putting up a level or coming down a level like that. Fortunately I putted that in the practice round both times, both practice rounds and got the speed down.

Q. If you putt anywhere close to what you did today, do you feel that comfortable that you'll be there on Sunday?

TOM WATSON: Well, the way I hit the ball today wouldn't give me that feeling. I hit the ball a little scratchy. I hit some good shots, but I didn't drive the ball particularly well. And I made some errors that you can't make on this golf course. But I made up for it with all those birdies. I stayed in it with seven birdies. It very easily could have been not a very good score. But it's nice to have seven birdies in your pocket.

Q. I was just wondering, I wasn't here to have the pleasure of seeing you in '88, but I was wondering which hole perhaps this round is toughest compared to which hole was toughest during '88 for the course?

TOM WATSON: Well, for me it was 15. I made a great bogey at 15 today there. Probably didn't hit the right shot off the tee. I hit a driver. And I think that in '88 it was a 3 wood off the tee, trying to put the ball in play. Because it really narrows down up there. But I let my ego get the best of me and I said, well I can hit it down there in the neck with the driver. And I peeled it off the right in a bunker in not a very good place. But that hole, you can make a double bogey very fast on that hole. Because you hit the ball sideways just a little bit off the tee, you got to just chip out. Then you got your work cut out because that green's a narrow green. It's a Pete Dye, narrow green. And you got to hit it exactly the right distance or you're, you could be off the green very easy.

Q. Would you talk about that putt on nine and exactly what made it the best putt of the day. Difficulty involved.

TOM WATSON: The putt was a pretty simple putt downhill. It broke about two inches to the left. But I, what made it the best putt of the day was the quality of the stroke. The rhythm of the stroke. It had a great pace to it. It had a Crenshaw pace to it. Sometimes when you start putting badly you start thinking about other really good putters and one of my mental images is Ben Crenshaw's pace with his putter, it's just there (Indicating) and like that (Indicating) sometimes I get (Indicating) like most of you guys.

Q. With winds expected to pick up the next couple days, was this the day to make seven birdies or I suppose every day's the day to make seven birdies, but was it more accessible today because of the wind?

TOM WATSON: Yes, it was. Without the wind you can like I said yesterday, the main thing is that when you don't have the wind, you can pretty much hit the ball where you want to. When you add the wind to it, there's a lot of guess work to it. Who guesses the best wins in the wind.

Q. Could you talk about it's getting very hot out there this afternoon. And I'm assuming it was a big advantage playing earlier today. Tomorrow you go off a little bit later. Can you talk about the heat factor and how much that's going to affect you?

TOM WATSON: It was cool enough this morning, plus we had a great pace of play in the first nine holes before we hit the back nine. Great pace of play. I think we played in just over two hours. And it was a great pace of play. And then we hit the back nine where they teed off from 10 tee on and it just slowed up every shot. So we did a lot of waiting on the back nine.

With old bodies out here, when you start to wait, even though it's hot out here, you start to stiffen up a little bit. So that is my problem. And it slows up, it's hot, hot's okay, but you got to keep from getting stiff. At least I do.

Q. There's a chance that Oklahoma City could be good to you because your last Champions Tour victory if you throw out the British was there. Can you comment on that?

TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, I'm sorry to see them move that championship from there. I kind of liked the weather that last round too. We got kind of the opposite weather for this tournament, but it has been good to me here and it's, as I said yesterday, this is a very tough golf course. Pete Dye was commissioned to build the toughest golf course in America. By Ernie Vossler and crew, Landmark Land, back in the '70s, and he did in fact build a very, very difficult golf course.

Now it has softened up in years, because they have changed some of the greens and some of the contours in the greens to make it a little bit more accessible and a little bit more fair, you might say. And they have also taken away the real tall grasses they had off to the sides over there, because if you hit it a little bit sideways you get in the tall grasses and couldn't find it. But we still have the Oklahoma wind to deal with. And the fairways are immaculate, they're like carpets. The greens are holding pretty well. As I said yesterday, one of the problems that we see in the change in texture of the greens from the morning to the afternoons sometimes they can get really crusty and hard and we'll have to see what happens this afternoon on these greens. I imagine they will dry out and get that way. And certainly the golf course changes, but we have dealt with that before and we're old guys, we played a few rounds of golf out here in competition, we know what to do.

KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, thank you very much.

TOM WATSON: Okay. Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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