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July 6, 2007

Tom Watson


RAND JERRIS: We're now join by Tom Watson. Tom with a 6-under par, 66 today, 8-under for the Championship. Tom, a round with 8 birdies and two bogeys, just start off with some general comments about what it was like out there today.
TOM WATSON: It was better than yesterday. Obviously, the wind was different today and it blew from the northeast and then the east, whatever wind we had, but it really was not a big factor, it's starting to become a factor now.
But the golf course was there for the taking if you knew how to play it. As I said, I'm unsure about this golf course. I've played five rounds on it and I still have questions of what club to hit off the tee, where to aim it off the tee.
They've put a couple of tees in different places today so you go, "Wait a minute, where do you hit it here?" And it makes me a little bit unsure of my swing.
My swing is -- I felt for the most part it was pretty darn good, but I made some awkward swings out there today to hit some awkward shots and got away with them for the most part and ended up with 8 birdies and 2 bogeys.
RAND JERRIS: Can you go through those?
TOM WATSON: Sure. I'll start on the backside, that's where I started the round. I'll hit the birdies and bogeys. Let's see if I got it up and down.
12, I hit it on there.
13 I hit it -- 14, the short par four I hit a sand wedge in about 12 feet, 10 feet, made the putt. I was just in the light rough with that one.
16, the longer par four I hit a 3-wood and a 5-iron. Hit the 5-iron in about 8 feet, made that putt for birdie. My best long shot of the day.
17, I hit an 8-iron in about 3 feet, made that putt.
I'm sorry, I missed 16. 16, I hit a really good drive, 3-wood. I hit it just off the fringe of the green, just off the green in the short fringe and I two-putted for birdie from about 25 feet. Hit a twister of a putt, had to make a 4--footer for my second putt.
And then 17, I hit a putt in for about 3 feet.
18 I hit a driver in the middle of fairway, but I hit a 7-iron for my second shot. Hit it a little bit thin, came up short, awkward lie, good pitch, but a lousy putt from 6 feet, missed it, made bogey.
Then 1, I hit it right down the fairway, had a pitching wedge, missed the green from 118 yards. Hit it short and right and sucked it back down the hill. I pitched it to about 6 feet and made the putt for par.
2, par 5, I hit a real good drive, hit a 3-wood in the light rough just short of the green. I pitched it with a sand wedge behind the hole about, I would say, maybe about 20 feet behind the hole, made the putt. Made a good putt.
3, I hit -- I'm sorry, 17 I hit a 7-iron.
And 3, I hit an 8-iron in about 8 feet, made the putt for birdie.
4, again, I had 118 yards and missed the green, left it short, but putted it, made a good 2-putt there, short of the green.
5, I hit a 5-iron, pitching wedge to about 12 feet, made the putt.
And number 6, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and hit a pitching wedge in about 6 or 7 feet, made that putt for birdie.
8, a 3-wood off the tee, hit it in the right junk in the bunker, had to pitch out sideways, hit a 7-iron on the green, 2-putted for bogey.
And 9, I hit it 30 feet behind the hole and 2-putted for par.

Q. Tom, you had a big gallery today and I was wondering if that at all helped get you going with all the cheers and stuff like that?
TOM WATSON: It's nice to have big crowds. We don't play in front of as big a crowds as this on our Champions Tour very often. Of course, you can see the people here, they're up there, looking down on you (pointing up).
You have to be half mountain goat to get around, my wife says, but it's fun to play in front of a lot of people. Always it's fun to see the stands filled.

Q. Tom, despite your unfamiliarity with the course and some of the uncertainty over club selection, how much confidence after a round like you had today, how much more confidence do you have now than you had before the round?
TOM WATSON: Well, I still feel a little unsure about my golf swing. I wish I could feel like the golf swing is hitting on all cylinders, I feel like it's a little bit off.
Like Byron Nelson said, one of the great strikers of the ball he said whenever he got too complacent about the way he was playing he started making mistakes.
But if he felt unsure about the way he was swinging it seemed like he scored his best.
So maybe that's the state I'm in right now, is that I feel a little unsure about it, but it's working -- it worked well today. For the most part.

Q. Any comment about the wind today? And do you look forward to a windy weekend?
TOM WATSON: Well, the wind, they predicted the wind to come from the northwest, but it actually came from the east and switched around to the southeast as we finished. So the wind is doing his magic work here at Whistling Straits, you never know where it's coming from. It's playing different than it did in the last two practice rounds and the first round. We've seen basically the winds coming from every direction now, all four quadrants. At least we've seen the golfers -- unlike last year at Hutchinson we saw the wind coming from the north for the three practice rounds and what happened Thursday? It came from the south. A brand new golf course. At least we've seen it now from all four quadrants.

Q. Would you like to see it move this weekend?
TOM WATSON: I would like to see that, yeah, make it testy.

Q. Your buddy Andy North touted you before the tournament because you're so good in the wind and your ability on links courses, does this course play like a links course, and how would you compare it to the links of Britain and Ireland?
TOM WATSON: It looks like a links course, but it plays like a target course. It's hard to land the ball, if you land it short of the green there is too many cut-offs, you have to land it exactly right to roll the ball down on the greens if there is a strong wind. It's more of a target golf course, but it has the look of my favorite course, Ballybunion. These dunes are gorgeous, beautiful, beautiful.

Q. If you're unsure about your game a little bit, unsure about the course, was the difference for you today the idea of the winds, though they shifted, were calm, it seemed like for most of the morning?
TOM WATSON: I think it made me more acute with my judgment and I tried to get from point A to point B. It wasn't easy out there today for me. Being unsure you feel -- your swing sometimes reacts to that uncertainty and you don't swing very well, couple swings like I had today, but the wind being as calm as it was this morning, I felt if I could get -- you had to get some birdies with the wind being -- laying down, as it did. I made that run on the backside with four in a row and that obviously was what I needed.

Q. You made a remark outside about feeling like your legs were on concrete, speaking to the difficulty of walking the course or did you have a problem today?
TOM WATSON: No, it speaks to the age of 57 years, basically. I'm just not very fluid. I look at a lot of swings out here, not too many fluid swings out here. There is a little chop here and a chop there. The bodies, they don't react very well much anymore, the fluidity of the past, of the youth is pretty much gone.

Q. There are still a lot of golfers out on the course and a lot of golf to be played today. How do you feel where you'll be at the end of the day?
TOM WATSON: I like it. Eduardo might shoot 8-under himself today. You never know. He's a great player. The golf course with the rain we had yesterday it's soft enough where you can stop the ball on the greens and you can get the ball close. I thought some of the pin positions were pretty favorable. If you hit the right shot at 17 and 3, the par 3s, your ball is going to be right by the hole. It wasn't like that yesterday.

Q. Do you think there is anything to seeing a golf course for the first time, having it be as visually attractive as this golf course is and just getting your attention?
TOM WATSON: Well, it gets your attention. You don't want to hit it where the butte is.

Q. I understand that part, but I mean --
TOM WATSON: You want to hit it down there where that short green stuff is.

Q. You've seen so many courses over the years and I'm sure it's like seeing the --
TOM WATSON: The way I would answer your question is, yeah, it's a pleasant walk. You're walking up these paths that make you -- reminds you of the links courses, the sandy paths about this wide and fescue up through there. It really has that feel to it.
But the golf course plays a little green, a little soft, and maybe I haven't played it enough where it does play firmly, because we've had a couple of issues of rain here so far this week which have kept it soft. But the beauty is very pleasant.
Like I said, I don't know if you've been to Ballybunion but the dunes there, they have some that go up, and there is a flat-top, and it drops off dramatically like that. He just got in his dozer, Pete, and had a marvelous time with this piece of land. Made it beautiful, did a beautiful job with the surrounds.

Q. You talk about how things in your game have changed at the age of 57, but could you talk about your competitive drive and how it is compared to maybe the heyday and what it's like to go into the weekend in the mix again at the U.S. Senior Open?
TOM WATSON: I don't practice nearly as much as I used to, I used to practice all the time. I practice very rarely now. I get ready for the tour by working out, getting my body in shape, getting strong and trying to get the flexibility to remain where it is.
My competitive nature is -- when I'm out here, it's the same as it was 40 years ago when I started this game out here, pretty close to -- 36 years ago. I love to compete, and it's fun to be in the hunt, and to see if you can hit the right shots when the chips are down. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction when you can do that, and that's -- when I lose that, I won't be out here.
Hitting that right shot when the chips are down. It's like Trevino said, he didn't care when he hit a bad shot, that's not the point. If I lose the feeling of hitting that good shot when I have to, well, okay, rather than to get that real charge out of it, then I'll hang it up.

Q. You and Andy North teamed up again to win the team title down south. Why do you guys make such a good team, and do you recall when you first met and became friends?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. We first met, I believe, at Rockford, Illinois. It was the Western Amateur is where we met. He was playing in it and I was playing in it. I played against him in a match there mand I can't remember how the match stood at this particular hole, but this hole turned the whole match around.
I hit the typical Watson, straight, right, out-of-bounds; he hits it right down the middle. I hit another drive; I get in the fairway somehow. He hits it over the green, and he chunks it in the bunker. I knock it on the green, and I make 5, he makes 6. Complete turn-around after hitting the ball out of bounds, and he never let me forget that. That's the way we started.
We played against each other in the Western Amateur, and I believe it was at Rockford, Illinois, Rockford Country Club. We've played a lot of golf together, and I remember when he won his U.S. Open in '85, and also at Cherry Hills going back to the course from the hotel to congratulate him. I said, "What in the heck are you doing dumping that ball in the bunker from the left side over there?"
But he got the ball up and down, backed off the putt when it was windy and made that 6-footer, hit a beautiful bunker shot, showed the type of courage he has.

Q. Why do you guys think you make such a good team?
TOM WATSON: Well, we make more birdies than everybody else. I don't know. We made a lot of birdies. Andy was 6-under for a five-hole stretch there, and I started off with four in a row in the first four holes, the last round. That got their attention.

Q. You seem to be enjoying yourself thoroughly, and that's really nice to see, but at this point with several seconds under your belt are you more than ready to get the monkey off your back?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, it would be nice to not finish second again and come back with that beautiful trophy; it sure would. I have had my opportunities here in this Championship. As I've said, as a USGA, it means a great deal. They play on the best golf courses, they play under tough conditions, and it means something when you win a tournament. The USGA sets it up, it tests your patience, tests what you have. I'm sure in the last two rounds it will test us. First two rounds did.
RAND JERRIS: Tom, thanks for your time and congratulations on your fine play.

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