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March 29, 2007
PALM COAST, FLORIDA
MODERATOR: Tom, thanks for joining us this afternoon here at the inaugural Ginn Championship. The last time you were in this state, you broke a victory drive of 0 for 93, and this week you'll have a chance to go for back-to-back wins.
TOM WATSON: That's right. I'm on a streak right now in the state of Florida.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Thoughts about playing this week in the tournament here.
TOM WATSON: Well, Bobby Ginn has been -- I'm very grateful to Bobby for actually four reasons I've done three golf courses for Bobby. One is the Reunion over in Orlando. One is the conservatory west of here. Another finishing in Florida. He's hired me three times to do golf courses for him. And now he's put up the third largest purse that we play for out here in the championship tour. Done everything he's done in the last two months to get this golf course ready. I understand it was really in pretty poor shape here a couple months ago. He's put a lot of effort put making this golf course what it is today. So there are four things I'm very grateful for.
I've been around Bobby for a lot of years. In fact this golf course is was done by Jack Nicklaus. Prior to Jack doing it, Bobby asked me to look at this piece of property. He actually let me -- had me preliminary route plan for this property here which was significantly changed. But there were different parameters involved. But so I have a relationship with this property here.
I like what Jack did a lot. I think the golf course is an excellent golf course. One of the best courses we play. It -- I just like the shots it requires you to play. There's quite a bit of challenge, challenges at the water, the 9th and 18th holes are great finishing holes on both sides. In fact 16, 17, and 18 are really good holes. You just come there with a one-shot lead, you better play some good golf to finish it off.
Q. I wanted to ask you what I asked Mark about the course and I think you are better qualified to answer it than even Mark is. The win at the ocean (indiscernible) factors and we had to club up or club down. And I asked him if he thought this course would be the toughest course on the championship tour. How do you feel about that? Is that true?
TOM WATSON: I don't think it would be the toughest course but it would be up there because we play a lot of long shots on this golf course. This is not a short golf course. Wind factor there. These fairways, although fairly generous right now, they'll tighten up a little bit with the wind. So anytime you add wind it, obviously there's difficulty.
But this golf course is above average difficulty but not the toughest course we play.
Q. Wouldn't consider this (indiscernible)?
TOM WATSON: No, it's not.
Q. Does the ocean influence you a lot? All that water?
TOM WATSON: Well, if you hit it in the ocean, you've hit a pretty bad shot.
Q. Tom, what's your understanding about going back to the conservatory next year? Is that going to happen? Everything going to be ready there?
TOM WATSON: I assume it's going to be ready. This golf course is -- I think the pros, including myself, are going to love this golf course. They're going to say why are we moving to another golf course? Such a good golf course. Conservatory is a little bit more challenging golf course I think in the sense of narrowness of fairways and the contours or greens. And it can be made a little longer if you want to make it longer. It's pushing 7800 yards if you want to go back there for the old folks. But it's really up to the tour and what they want to do, but I assume that they want to go back to the Conservatory next year and play there. That was there initial reasoning for playing with -- here in the Ginn Championship.
Q. And the other one I had for you is you won this year so we can safely assume that you're more than competitive. What gets you excited about golf anymore?
TOM WATSON: Just what you said right there, the competition.
Q. And are you -- do you feel you got the longevity of (indiscernible) win in you right now?
TOM WATSON: I don't know. You know, at this stage, we -- when you turn 50, anybody who turns 50 you got something wrong with you. You got some part that's hurting. And right now my left hip is not in very good shape. My left knee. I've been playing tennis with my stepson Ross. My left knee is hurting me a little bit. What doesn't hurt more than you wake up is you're very grateful for.
And you flexibility obviously -- it's different for different people. Some lose flexibility at a younger age than older age. Sneed didn't lose his flexibility until he was about 74, 75. He kept that wonderful flexible until about that age.
Q. How long have you known Bobby Ginn for personally?
TOM WATSON: I've known him since -- let's see. I want to say -- I want to say when he asked me to take a look at the property, I believe it was in '96 or '97. When was this course finished and built? 2000? Yeah, I think I looked at it in '96 or 97. And decided on Jack to do the golf course. Could have been '98. That's how long I've known Bobby.
Q. In the early days of your relationship, did he ever convey an interest in one day organizing an event like this?
TOM WATSON: He sure did. He sure did. One thing about Bobby, he's got great forevision. And the vision can be called dreams, just wouldn't it be great if we did this and that and this with our project. And that's been Bobby's moniker, I think. He's wanted new things that most people don't think they can do. And he's been pretty successful at doing them.
Q. Seems like next step would be an event on the PGA tour, a while down the road. Would you agree with that?
TOM WATSON: You'd have to ask Bobby that. I can't speak for him.
Q. I got a two-part question, Tom. (Indiscernible) you didn't get a chance to do this course? And secondly, are you disappointed that you didn't play this year in the Conservatory or is it more relief because it may not have been quite up to the standard you might have wanted?
TOM WATSON: Well, to answer both of you, honest answer is it was somewhat of a disappointment not being able to do this golf course, but that's the way the business goes. And there's little bit more name recognition in Jack Nicklaus than Tom Watson in trying to build that reputation. Only golf courses I had basically done were in Japan. If I'm picking somebody who is going to create a stir amongst the people who he wanted to impress, it wouldn't be Tom Watson. It would be Jack Nicklaus. So it was a pretty simple choice. Experience of doing the golf course is pretty simple too.
But moving the golf course this year was a no-brainer. People say -- they called me and they say, oh, we have to call you and tell you we have to make the decision. If the course -- if you don't have the infrastructure ready for it, don't force the issue. Don't try to force a square peg into a round hole, for economic reasons or whatever reason, doesn't matter to me at all. And whether -- the course would have been ready. It would have been ready. It's in wonderful shape. It -- and it will handle the golf tournament. We've got some wonderful shot values on that golf course. As this golf course does. I'd like to see them rotate between this golf course and the Conservatory every year. That would be wonderful. This golf course is a really good golf course.
Q. Good to see you, Tom. My question was basically this is what you said. If the Conservatory -- Bobby has got these two great courses and going to have others in the future, similar to a Bob Hope format where you play different courses and end up on one at the end. Would you like that format?
TOM WATSON: Not really. I like playing one course for three rounds. You play five rounds at the Hope, that's a lot. Three different courses, AT&T, that's about maximum. But I can see them going back and forth between these courses every second year. That would be great. Just depends on the economics of it, the infrastructure, how easy it is to go between the two. This is a wonderful place to play from the standpoint. If you want to stay right here, walk right to -- you don't even need a car. Like the old days. Those rental cars are expensive. We walked or we had the courtesy car pick us up. We didn't have a car waiting for us in a private airport someplace when you come in on a private plane. We drove in our own cars or stayed in our trailers. Little different now.
Q. Tom, you talked about all the changes that were made to bring this course along. Was there something you saw when you first got here was, hey, I didn't expect to see that?
TOM WATSON: One thing was how green it was. How bright green it was. That was the big thing. And how manicured it was. Right there. Right from the beginning. And I talked to John Sumers early or late last week. And I said, John, give me the straight skinny on the golf course because I knew of the problems that they had when they decided to change. That was part and parcel when they called me to apologize they couldn't have it at the Conservatory. Said we had problems with the greens. Greens are in bad shape. We've got two months to do something with it. John said I can't be any happier. I said, John, does that mean the greens surpassed your expectations of what you thought they were going to do? He said yes. Bottom line, they got this golf course ready better than expectations of the pros.
Q. Talk a little bit about the steepness of the rollbacks off the greens.
TOM WATSON: That's great. I love it. One thing about Florida is it's flat. What I really like about the design of this golf course is just that. It's subtle but it's there. You see the elevations from your shots. The created the elevations and with the roll offs the way they like this, that is the Pinehurst -- has a lot of Pinehurst to it and that makes this golf course -- you play this golf course in a 25 mile an hour wind you're not going to be hitting these greens. Mostly perched. You miss hitting in the wind, that ball is now way off. Long way off. Long way from the pin. You got problems. I like that.
Q. You always root for the wind to blow?
TOM WATSON: Sure.
Q. And you want tough conditions.
TOM WATSON: Why not?
Q. So that's something you --
TOM WATSON: I have a little Scottish in me. You know what they say. Day without wind is a day ne'er for golf.
MODERATOR: Anybody else?
Q. Before you came in (indiscernible) and what do you think it's going to take to win this week?
TOM WATSON: I'm the worst. I am absolutely the worse prognosticator when it come to scores. I think the golf course -- saw scores today, eight under par, seven under par. Wow, that's pretty good.
Q. Part of (indiscernible) when you guys started playing?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. I don't think it's that easy of a golf course. If you're pressing me for an answer. I think it's going to be ten or 11 under par. That's what I think.
Q. (Indiscernible). Okay. Might be 14 under, 15 under. (Indiscernible).
TOM WATSON: Well, as I said, I thought Kansas had a (indiscernible) beating UCLA so watched UCLA lose to Washington the last game of the year. They looked awful. Watched Kansas steal the ball times and they get two points or four points out that. Come on.
Q. Sounds like you're bragging.
TOM WATSON: I don't brag. I pull for three teams, Stanford, Duke, and Kansas. I got a lot of money tied up in Duke and Stanford. So I better pull for those teams.
Q. That time you're saying that you're getting on with the years and getting aches and pains --
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I'm stiff right now.
Q. Are you getting into a physical fitness program?
TOM WATSON: I am in one. I've been in one for a long time.
Q. Every day?
TOM WATSON: Not every day. No. It's usually three times a week.
Q. What kind of exercises do you do?
TOM WATSON: I do an hour of aerobics where I ride the bike and power walk. I do an hour of weights, bands, lunges, you name it. I do a lot of different types of exercise.
TOM WATSON: No, huh-uh.
Q. That wouldn't help the hip?
TOM WATSON: Not my hip or knees.
Q. Earlier in the week amateur set that they like number ten. Ten it was the best hole for them. Can you comment a little bit about that hole?
TOM WATSON: Ten is a down wind from an elevated tee and it's a short par five. No wonder they liked it. Come on. Ask them how they liked No. 17, the par three into the wind. Or six -- or 15.
Q. That going to be the catch-up hole this week then?
TOM WATSON: Ten you'll see some eagles there for sure, yeah. Not a question. The golf course is -- I really like the elevation of the golf course. Jack's done a really good job in creating from a flat surface some elevations here that makes it pleasant to play. You have some elevations to work with. I like that. My favorite hole in the golf course is 15. I think that's the best hole on the course. Just love it. Love the green. Reminds me of some of the holes I've seen over Scotland and Ireland. Type of elevated part of the green is -- the green is -- the right side of green is farther than the left. If you miss it, it comes all I the way back down. I like that. I think that's wonderful shot value. Could have been simple just lay the green down, put a bunker in the right, been blah. But raised it up get this slope to work that way. You're playing into the teeth of the Pavilion wind. What a hole. What a wonderful hole that is.
Q. Tom, thanks very much.
TOM WATSON: Sure. My pleasure.
End of FastScripts