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July 7, 2006

Tom Watson


RAND JERRIS: Tom Watson, on the 4 under for the day, six birdies, two bogeys today. 4 under for the championship. Tom.

Q. Key to the round was your putter?

TOM WATSON: It was. Yeah, I had I actually kept score on my card today. I had on the back nine I had six one putts. My first nine. For a 3 under par there.

The front nine I haven't figured it out yet. But I think let's see, I was a one putt at one. One putt at I 3 putted four, unfortunately. One putted five, six and seven. I one putted nine, too. So what's that? Yeah. Five more one putts. I had 11 one putts today.

So when you do that, you're going to score pretty well. I didn't hit the ball quite as well today as I did yesterday, but I certainly putted quite a bit better. And that was the key to my round today.

I hit the ball in some awkward places today. I escaped with some pars and that's what you have to do to win this championship. You're going to hit the ball in the rough a few times here and I hope I can straighten out the driver a little bit. I didn't drive the ball in the fairway enough times today.

And I need to straighten that out. I hit some quality iron shots and yet I hit some iron shots that weren't were pretty ugly too. So it was an adventurous round today. Very satisfying round in the way I scored. And that's what I'm out here to do is score. I had the Watson of old kind of feel today. Hit it sideways a little bit here and there and hit some really good shots and hit some bad shots and let the putter do the work. So it was a good fun day out there today.

Q. Did the way the crowds supported you, did that go with the Watson of old, as well?

TOM WATSON: Well, this certainly is a homer crowd right here. It's been great. I saw quite a few people here I hadn't seen for awhile. And that all came they all came to Prairie Dunes to see me play. It's fun to play in front of your home crowd.

Q. What did you hit on number nine?

TOM WATSON: Number nine I hit a 7 iron.

Q. And the putt was what? About four feet?

TOM WATSON: Four feet.

Q. Okay.

TOM WATSON: I hit if I go over my round today, I got it up and down from about 15 feet at 10. I just knocked it just off the fringe there.

11, I hit it in about 8 feet. With a what was that? I think it was about an 8 iron. And knocked that putt in.

13, I hit the ball in the rough off the tee and I got it out and I pitched it up a foot from the hole for an easy par.

14 and 15, no problem.

16, I hit a 7 iron from the left shortcut. I didn't hit it in the fairway but didn't hit it in the heavy rough. I hit in the right bunker. Not a very good shot out and I made it from about 10 feet to save par there.

Then 17 and 18, birdied both those holes. I hit a pitching wedge in about six feet at 17. And at 18 I hit a 9 iron in about 12 feet.

Then 1, I got the ball up and down from the left of the green. Made a good little chip shot up there.

4, I 3 putted, I hit the wrong club off the tee. I hit a 7 iron. Probably should have been an 8 iron. Hit to the back of the green and knocked it down there and hit a lousy second putt. I yanked it. Yanked it left.

5 was the best hole of the day for me in the sense that I hit a really good drive and I hit a 4 iron. I hit it under the wind and hit it about eight feet from the hole. Made that putt for birdie.

Walked off the green and the David Eger said that's the skin for the day. That's a tough hole today, playing into the wind up that hill. That's a great hole.

Then 6, I hit a lousy tee ball left. I was in the bunker, but I had some high grass behind the ball. I didn't know what the heck the ball was going to do. I just tried to hit a hard sand wedge and try to catch the ball and I kind of hit it kind of a dribbler. But it came out low, hit in the sand, and then came out in the fairway. And then I hit it in about three feet from the hole and made that putt for par with a pitching wedge.

7, I got it up and down out of the front bunker after a drive in the rough. 6 iron in the front left bunker, and I hit it I hit a sand wedge out about six, eight feet and made that putt.

Number 8, I hit a lousy second shot. I hit a 7 iron. I pulled it. Trying to keep it up against the crosswind. And I put myself in an awkward place there. I pitched it by about 20 feet and made a good putt at it but missed it.

Then 9 hit a real good drive. Hit a 7 iron, very good, boring 7 iron up into the wind and hit it about four feet from the hole and made the putt for birdie. That was my round today. It was a very satisfying round.

As I said, it was satisfying from a scoring standpoint. From a ball striking standpoint, it was a little sketchy, but I am obviously very, very satisfied with the score of 66 on this golf course. That's a wonderful score.

Q. Is this course playing the way that you hoped that it would for a U.S. Open?

TOM WATSON: Yes, it is. There's not a question. It's not a particularly long golf course, but the ryegrass rough, if you knock it in that, more than likely you're going to just have to hit a pitching wedge out.

Of course, we got the real high stuff too. If you hit it sideways just a little bit you can get in that stuff and lose your ball. So it's a great golf course from that standpoint, and it's playing just the way you think that it should be playing.

The greens, they're not making the greens too bouncy for us. They were a little bouncy yesterday afternoon. This morning they were pretty soft. But that's I think that's the right way to do it.

Q. You've been in this position before where you've led after the first, second, and third round. How much of a grind is it to play the four rounds and obviously win this thing, because you've come close?

TOM WATSON: Well, you just basically it's a trust in your ability to do the job. Right now my trust in my golf swing is a little bit lacking, that's why I'm going to go out to the practice tee and work on it. Trust in the putting was yesterday it was not a particularly good day, and today I made the putts I had to make. I pitched the ball close to the hole, got the ball close to the hole, made some real scrambling pars, which you have to do and when you hit the ball in the rough; here you have to do that.

And so I wish I could say I'm hitting on all cylinders, but I'm not exactly doing that right now. I'm like one of those engines, the old four, six eight, you never know what cylinder you're going to be hitting on.

Q. When you shoot a 66 and are not hitting all cylinders, that's got to make you feel pretty good?

TOM WATSON: The way I scored, if you looked at it, I didn't hit the ball on the greens very much, you know, as many times as yesterday, but in the fairways as many times as I did yesterday. So I look at it from that standpoint.

You certainly take a lot of pressure off yourself when you put the ball in the fairway and on the greens, obviously. And today it wasn't there, but I made enough really good golf shots to make birdies and then I, when I hit the bad shots, I scrambled and made par.

Q. Does it help you when you have a player that's also playing well in your group? Does that help you from a mental standpoint with the way that Mark was playing today?

TOM WATSON: I think so. There's not a question. You feed off a player who's hitting good shots, you look at the shots and you are watching how that ball is reacting in the air, especially in wind.

If you're not watching, then you're losing a bit of information that you can use. That's what I do and when a player is playing well. That's good, because you're seeing good shots go in there and say, well this is the way I have to do it. It kind of sets a pattern for you.

Q. You make a lot of adjustments that you talk about with your putting. Was there anything today that you you talked a little bit about doing that yesterday, was there anything that was just clicking today?

TOM WATSON: Not too much. It was kind of the same as yesterday. They just went in today. Made a couple of different strokes out there today that gave me some hope. But I still struggle with the short putts and the stroke not going straight back and straight through, but that's you've heard that a lot.

Q. Those last three bogeys of this tournament you follow it up immediately with birdies, that's got to be just as important as anything else to follow up a bogey with a birdie, right?

TOM WATSON: Well, it's always nice to they have that category in the TOUR now it's called bounce back. I think I've always for some reason it's like getting you getting slugged in a boxing match, you know, you counter. And that I've always had that ability to do that.

Q. Considering your position, do you still have to think about the end of the rainbow here? Do you allow yourself to think about the end of the championship here, that you might win it here in your hometown area?

TOM WATSON: No, no. I'm just you know, it's great playing in front of my home crowd. It's wonderful playing a golf course that I really like. But I have a great respect for this golf course. This golf course can eat your lunch if you're not playing very well. And so I'm not, I don't look at hole 72 until hole 72 is right there and I too he it up on hole 72.

End of FastScripts.

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