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February 15, 2007

Tom Watson


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Tom, thought I would have you in back in Tampa for the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. You had a nice week at the AT&T Pebble Beach last week, contended through most of the tournament and finished second with your son in the amateur portion. I know you have some good memories of that.
TOM WATSON: A good tournament for me. Coming home on the plane with my son, he had a grin on that just wouldn't stop the whole time.
And a couple things he said this last week which just makes a dad awfully happy: "Dad, I never played a really good round in front of you before." He shot a 72 in the last round, newspaper 72 as we call it with a six handicap, only 11 shots.
The other thing that was on the last hole, he had with a 4-footer to make for a par, net birdie, and said, "Okay, son, I've seen this putt before, I know exactly what is. You hit it inside the right edge, hit it firm and knock it in there."
And he knocked it in there and said afterwards, "Dad, I was really nervous over that putt."
I said, "Well, welcome to the big leagues, Son."
As I said many times last week, we had some history back there, the Watson family. My dad won the Pro-Am division of it with Leonard Dobson in 1941. That's when the Crosby was played at Rancho Santa Fe. So it's pretty nice to kind of season that tradition. We almost won it. Second place wasn't too bad.
Actually, we saw in the tent they had there, they had a Waterford crystal, they had produced the prizes for six teams for the amateurs, and the top row was first place, and second row, third row. After we won second place, I said, "You know, Son, I like the second place stuff better than the first place stuff." He said, "Dad, I did too."
Plus he won the Jack Lemmon Award for the most valuable amateur. He helped me 29 shots. I said, "Well, you know, you're going to be called a sandbagger." He said, I don't care, you know it and I know it. He's a legitimate six handicap. We had a great time. I played half decently. Hit the ball pretty well, it was a good week, very happy about it.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: We were watching you in Boca in contention throughout. Your game in pretty good shape?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I played all right. I wish I was putting just a little bit more consistently making more putts. That's the golfer's lament, you always hear that, if you plaster that up on the tents when you come in here, "If I was putting better; if I didn't miss those three-foot putts."
But I'm playing fine and looking forward to the week here. It's going to be a cold week but I played in some cold weather before it not as cold as where I live right now; 14.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Any advantage to having played in a Pro-Am format the week before playing in another one this week?
TOM WATSON: I think so in a way because it took us a long time to play last week, it took us six-hour rounds, 6:20, a lot of time on the golf course.
But it went real fast. It's not going to take that long here. Just the slowness of the round might be a little bit of a change from the regular way we way, foursomes rather than threesomes or twosomes.

Q. Is there a secret gene for playing Pro-Ams, is there a different approach to it?
TOM WATSON: No, pretty simple. I try to help my amateur partners out, reading some putts if they have problems, helping them with yardages and giving them club selection. I'm playing my own game.
But we play Pro-Ams every week. I'm always going out there to shoot a score. I shot a couple under today. I always know what I'm trying to shoot. So I can play and compete when I'm playing with amateurs without any problem at all. There's no secret.

Q. Looking at the start of a new season, can you talk a little bit about goals and does it change year-to-year?
TOM WATSON: Obvious goal is to win this year, I didn't win last year, that's the obvious goal and I hope that I win more than once. That's why I'm out here, to compete and beat everybody. 42 victories, that's a lot of victories to try to catch up. I don't know, how many have I won out here, eight, something like, seven or eight, nine, I don't know, something like that. But I like to win. It's fun to compete and beat everybody. That's why I'm out here.

Q. What other concerns with the cold weather? It's going to be unseasonably cold.
TOM WATSON: For you it is. For me, I brought plenty of clothes to where I know how to keep warm. It's not a big deal.

Q. Last year the final round, the winds were really gusting, is it more of a concern with the wind than the cold?
TOM WATSON: The wind is a big factor. If you have major winds, it throws a big element of doubt. And your club selection, your putting, every shot in the bag, the wind is going to affect some way or another. We played in enough wind, but when it's really strong, it can throw some curves at you.
The thing is like the break on the green, when you play a crosswind, you have a slope in a green like this, ball breaks this way, it's coming right-to-left, it's like a break; you have to play a break through the air; and how much guesswork. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you play a good round in wind, when you play a lot of quality shots, like Corey Pavin did at Pebble Beach. Strong wind on Saturday, he played a real good round of golf. You come off the golf course and you use all of your wits about you to play a round of golf and that's a lot -- gives you a lot more satisfaction on a windless day when you shoot a good score on a windless day. You're supposed to do that, on a hard-blowing day, when you shoot a good score on that day, then we've done something.

Q. You mentioned to Corey Pavin, I'm just curious, his body size and type, is he the last of the breed on the regular tour now, is distance and the athleticism of players, can there ever be another Corey Pavin?
TOM WATSON: Well, you have to be that much better if you don't hit the ball that far. The bottom line is the length to which you hit it. The guys out there, it's a power game and 80 percent or 90 percent of them, they hit the ball, you know, maximum distance. You know, that's the way the game is played now. But there will still be room for finesse players like Corey Pavin, and Tom Watson now. (Laughing).

Q. Mark O'Meara was in earlier and he said one of the highlights of his first Tour victory was playing with you all weekend in Milwaukee when he won in '84, curious if you remember anything of that. And secondly, when you get the guys coming out here, Nick Price and Mark and Faldo around the corner, does this tour feel a lift when some names get out here?
TOM WATSON: Oh, sure. That's the best element about the Champions Tour is the new players coming to play it. You're out there writing about it. You're asking questions about it. It's not, where's Tiger. It's, hey, we've got Nick, we've got Mark O'Meara, we've got Scott Hoch, we've got some really good players come out every year. And will they beat Hale Irwin. Look at the Boss last year, starts off three tournaments in a row, boom, boom, boom, like that.
That gives this tour an element of surprise and newness every year, and that's why -- that's the fundamental reason why this tour is successful.

Q. And any memories of 1984 -- inaudible?
TOM WATSON: You're asking me to go back way too far. I wish I could, I don't know. I can't think of any, sorry.

Q. You talked about this course and conditions being a little tougher this weekend, do you like your chances better on a tough course in these conditions?
TOM WATSON: I do. When you have to shoot real low and the putter is not the premiere club in the bag, it's still the premiere, but it's not as important as when you have a hard golf course with hard conditions. I like those types of contests a little bit better.
Now back in my old days when I was one of the best putters, dang, any conditions, it doesn't matter. But a little bit suspect with the putter right now.

Q. You were talking about the influx of new players and the interest that that generates; is this tournament distinguished among the players by being on network television on the weekend?
TOM WATSON: Sure, it's different.

Q. Are players aware of that?
TOM WATSON: Of course we are, yeah, there's not a question. It gives it an element of -- it's a difference. To go on network television for a Champions Tour event is very important for us, we understand that.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thank you very much. Good luck this week.

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