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July 8, 2006

Tom Watson


RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Tom Watson, with a 4 under par round of 66 this afternoon. At 8 under par, Tom is the leader of the championship.

Tom, some general thoughts from you on being the leader in the championship after 54 holes.

TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, there was some good rounds shot today. I think that there's not a question that the golf course is getting more the players are getting more familiar with the golf course and, you know, kind of where to put the ball with this type of wind. So it's not a new golf course like it was on Thursday for most people.

And today I made seven birdies and three bogeys, and I made I hit the ball in the fairway for the most part today. I kept the ball in play.

I had a couple of hiccups out there, but other than that, I played a good solid round of golf. I started off with a birdie at 2. Knocked a pitching wedge in about a foot. Nice start there.

Then 4, I hit an 8 iron in about six feet.

5, off the tee I tweaked a muscle here in my right hip, which caused me some pain. That pain is somewhat there it's it didn't affect my swing too much, but I ended up making bogey on the 6th hole.

But then I bounced back and made a birdie on the 6th hole with a good drive and a sand wedge in there about eight feet.

7 was a 2 putt birdie. I hit a real good drive down there that left me only an 8 iron. I felt like Tiger Woods, 340 yards down there. He probably hits 2 iron 340 yards, but...

Then 8 and 9, 9 I got a good break. I hit it in the left rough, and the ball was sitting on the up slope in the high grass, just sitting up in the grass like that (Indicating) 180 yards from the green.

I hit a 3 iron on to the green. And if it was in a normal lie there I would have had to have come out. I would have to hit well short of the green and scrambling just to try to make par there. Ended up making actually a pretty easy par, so that was good break there.

10, I hit a pretty good shot off the tee with a 9 iron. It wasn't it might have been the right club if I hit it a little bit straighter at the hole. Hit it just a little bit right and ended up in the very short grass in the shortcut like that and I stubbed it. I just didn't hit the ball squarely, and I quit on it and I ended up with about a 15 footer for par, which I missed.

Next hole I hit the best iron I hit all day. I hit an 8 iron from about 160, almost 170 yards. I hit it about 12 feet from the hole. To a really, really tight pin on the back right, No. 11 there.

And I made that putt for birdie.

So that's always a nice hole to birdie, No. 11 here.

13, I hit to a back edge of the green with a 7 iron, and there's a little shelf that goes up there and falls off real sharply past the hole. I left my putt about six feet short and missed it.

But I bounced back and again. I made a birdie at 14. I hit it. I made about a 20 foot putt there. After a sand wedge, tried to hit a knock down sand wedge to skip up on to the ridge and I didn't hit it quite far enough. But anyway, it didn't back up. It just left me with a pretty easy putt, straight putt.

15, I got it up and down. I made it, made about an 8 footer for my second putt, after knocking my chip by.

Then 16, I hit another real good 8 iron. Hit it about four feet from the hole and made birdie there.

And the last, missed a short birdie putt at 17.

18, I hit it in the left rough with a 4 iron and I drew kind of a marginal lie. But I at least I could get to the ball, somewhat to the ball with the club, and I hit the best shot. I hit out of the rough all week and hit a 9 iron that landed short and ran it up. I had actually a pretty makeable birdie putt from about 20 feet, so that was the round. I played a good solid round.

And we'll see what happens tomorrow. We're going to obviously going off early tomorrow. Start at 8 o'clock. I guess I tee off at 9:29 or 9:39. For weather related predictions tomorrow. And so I'm let's see, here in about let's see here. See you here in about 12 hours, I guess.

RAND JERRIS: Some questions, please.

Q. When did you notice maybe some of these scores and how low they were going and kind of get a feel for what was happening out here today?

TOM WATSON: Well, I saw as I teed off. That players were 2, 3, 3 under par. And the first four or five holes there. And Loren, I saw he was 4 under after 6, I think.

But the golf course if you put the ball in play, you're going to have some shorter clubs into these greens and if your iron game is on, you're going to have some birdie putts. The key here is to put the ball in play off the tee. You got to do that at all costs.

Q. You used the term or phrase "Watson of old" yesterday, describing how you felt on the course. The Watson of old was known for being able to close, for closing out situations like you're in right now. Can you talk about your ability to do that and how you feel about that now?

TOM WATSON: Well, we'll just have to see tomorrow. Whether I can close the deal or not. I, my golf swing has been a little bit sketchy, I haven't been, I don't have a great amount of a hundred percent confidence in the swing, but I'm making enough good swings that it's there. It's just a matter of whether I can do it consistently.

Byron Nelson ones said that he never played his best or scored his best when he felt he was playing great. When he felt like he was just a little tentative about his golf swing it made him concentrate better on his golf swing, but more importantly, on what he wants to do with the golf ball. And that's this golf course requires that. It requires you to try to understand what you're trying to do with this golf ball, where you're trying to put it.

These greens play very small. And that's the first thing you got to do, as I said, is put it in the fairway. And the second part is you got to hit to that small area on those greens. So that's what I'm trying to do tomorrow. And if I can successfully do that, I'm, I'll have a good chance of winning this golf tournament.

Q. You said that you tweaked a muscle in your hip.


Q. During a swing?

TOM WATSON: Yes. Right at number five.

Q. Is this something new?

TOM WATSON: This is new.

Q. It's what?

TOM WATSON: This is new. This isn't old. This is a new one.

Q. Is this something like you put heat on it tonight or what?

TOM WATSON: It's basically just a little, it's just a heat thing, yeah. I tried to jump up here and that stung it pretty good, so I'm not going to be jumping up and down a lot tonight. It's not that bad, it's just a little muscle pull. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I could play with it today, I should be able to play with it tomorrow.

Q. You're paired with Allen Doyle and Loren Roberts tomorrow, can you just handicap that a little bit. You have a few guys behind you but, talk about playing with them.

TOM WATSON: Allen has been playing very well and Loren has had a great year so far. Both players look what Allen did last year in this tournament. It was a great final round. And when he gets on a roll, he doesn't miss very many fairways and makes a lot of putts. He hits the ball close to the hole. This is the type of golf course he can play well. He plays, and Loren Roberts, same thing. He's a consummate player, he played very well coming over the TOUR on to the Champions Tour and he's a TOUR quality player we're playing against.

Q. Also, the fact that you want to win this tournament so badly, a Senior Open, you're playing in your home state, you got the lead, any extra weight on your shoulders do you feel like with maybe 98 percent of the people out there wanting you to win tomorrow?

TOM WATSON: Well, there is some weight on my shoulders, obviously, but I have been able to carry it before. I should be able to carry it again. It's wonderful playing, as I said, great playing in front of my family and a lot of my friends from the state of Kansas. People that I haven't seen for since the hunting season last season or seasons ago or hunting around this area, I quail hunt, pheasant hunt, it's terrific. And I hope I can do it for them.

Q. Once again after Thursday's round, you said the more you play this course the more you like it. I'm guessing after a pair of 66s that holds true, even more so. What's the best thing about this place in your mind?

TOM WATSON: Well, the best thing is the type of land we're playing on. It's just beautiful. It's beautiful the way it's the way a golf course should be set up.

You could, it has a variety of directions that the holes go. I said yesterday the tees are usually looking down and going back up, you got 15 elevated greens here I counted this morning. So you're always playing up to a green. That's kind of unusual for us to play golf courses like this. I don't think there's another course I've ever played that has this many elevated greens. But they play they play, in the right proportion, the right scale on these greens. You have to be careful on some of the downwind shots uphill because that ball, because it's coming in a lower trajectory will scoot right on through the green. So and then you have to change your approach into how to play these holes. You have to play a bump, you have to try to bounce it in and hit it up these slopes like that. And that's what happens, that's what I like about the golf course. You play you have to play a variety of shots on this golf course. You have to cut the ball, you have to hook the ball, you have to hit the ball low, you have to hit high cut shots, high draws. It's a very, very consummate golf course. And that's what I like about it. It's fun to play. It will eat your lunch when you're not playing well too.

Q. Once again today you answered each of your bogeys with a birdie but it seemed like today that you had some big birdies after Mark James made some birdies so you kind of had the guy playing well pushing you right along with you again today, so it just seemed like once again that you made big shots when you needed to at times.

TOM WATSON: Well, again, today I answered my bogeys with birdies today. And that makes you feel good. You get right back on that right track. And you make a bogey, come back with a birdie. And fortunately I made, what did I make? I made seven birdies and three bogeys today. So obviously I would take seven birdies tomorrow. That would be very nice. But we'll just see what happens.

Q. You talked tomorrow about the going off early. And it seems like throughout the week it's been cooler and some of the scores have been better in the morning rounds. Is that something you're looking forward to tomorrow going off a little earlier?

TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, I would rather play at 9:30 than 2:30. What do you do from 6 o'clock in the morning when I wake up until 2:30? There's not a lot to do.

But tomorrow will just, you wake up and you're ready to go and hopefully we can get it in. So the morning rounds have been typically the better rounds because the lack of wind.

Today you saw the wind die down a little bit in the afternoon and again, I have to stress that the players have played this golf course now three days in a row with the same wind. And they're getting used to it. And they're knowing what clubs to hit off the tees and how to put the ball in play and they're getting used to this golf course. So you're seeing lower scores because of it. And so and it's a golf course that can yield some birdies. You saw it today with Loren Roberts. I made seven birdie. And Bob Gilder made nine birdies yesterday. So you can make some birdies on this golf course.

Q. Is your experience playing in the top of the leaderboard in the Senior Open and the U.S. Open, did does that assist you in your mindset, in your preparation for tomorrow and how so if it does?

TOM WATSON: Well, any time I go into a championship of this caliber leading, I look at it kind of philosophically. I look at it that you have to play it by the for the moment. You can't project ahead. One of the things that is very easy for the human mind to do is to create or think of negative thoughts. I stress in trying to I stress the positives, low key and positives. And let's see what happens. But I'm playing, I'm not playing tomorrow's round in my mind right now as I used to. And it's, I'm going to go and have some, go down to the Carriage House, maybe have some good pie for desert, have a nice dinner down in Yoder and go to bed and have a nice sleep, wake up about 6 o'clock tomorrow morning and let's go.

Q. People talk about inspired golf at times, with the combination of your wanting to win this championship and the location of this course and the quality of the course, is that the case for you this week?

TOM WATSON: It is the case for me. I, as I said, I got family and friends, acquaintances from all over the state here and it would be great, it would be wonderful to win.

Yes, that puts a little bit more of a burden on me, a little more weight on my shoulders, but I, again, I can't do anything about it, I've got to, I put myself in position to win the tournament, and if I play well enough tomorrow, I can.

As I said, it's just I wish, I hope you can ask me the question tomorrow. How does it feel to win in your whom state. Unlike in Florida.

Q. One question about the way the course was set up today, some of the guys earlier said the pin placements were in good positions to get birdies. Did you see it set up any easier today than the first two days or not?

TOM WATSON: I thought it was easier today. I thought the pins were more favorable positions today. You start at No. 2, that's probably the easiest pin on the green, right in the very front.

And 4 was on the front there. You had a chance to get to the pin there without worrying about it going too far.

The pins were, I thought, a little bit easier today. There were some tough pins though, 11 was really tough, and I made birdie there.

It's not an easy pin at 17.

16's up on a little shelf there and you miss the green left you might have a problem there.

There were tough, well, overall the pins were maybe just a skosh easier. To use a Japanese term.

Q. How do you spell skosh?

TOM WATSON: Skoshy. A little bit easier.

Q. Do you think the rain this morning might have softened the greens up a little bit for you?

TOM WATSON: I wasn't out here, I don't know how much rain we had. Did we have a lot?

Q. Not a whole lot.

TOM WATSON: We didn't have a whole lot. Well, that still keeps them just a little bit easier, more approachable. Just enough moisture there to keep them that way through the end of the day. And that helps that always helps scoring.

RAND JERRIS: Well, Tom, thank you for your time and we wish you luck tomorrow.

TOM WATSON: Well thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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