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April 17, 2008

Tom Watson


DAVE SENKO: Thank you for joining us, you had a chance to see the course, you come in as defending champion, maybe just your thoughts on the layout, different time of year.
TOM WATSON: The course is playing differently. The fairways seem like they are rolling a little bit faster. The greens are a little bit softer. We played probably, I don't know, not the easiest wind today but a couple of holes made pretty short downwind. Made a lot of birdies today, so that's a good omen. I hope it's playing easier -- or I hope it's playing tougher than I think it's playing right now, because I made seven or eight birdies out there today in the Pro-Am. So that's a good omen for tomorrow.
They didn't overseed the golf course this year, and I think that's one of the reasons it's probably not playing quite as tough. The overseed slows the ball up a little bit off the fairways -- in the fairways, but the condition is good, and condition of my game is pretty good. I'm pretty happy with it.
Struggled a little bit yesterday at the practice see and right at the end of the session, must have been the Adams commercial, I did an Adams commercial for about an hour and came back and started hitting it well. Kind of changed my attack and made quite a few good shots today. So I was pretty happy about the status of my game.

Q. When you played at Augusta last week, are you able to get a gauge on your game playing there at this point in your career? Did the golf course conditions, the length and everything, can you walk out of there feeling good about yourself?
TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, I could have felt better about myself if I played better. As I said last week, I have to play more than perfect to really have a chance there, more than perfect. There's so many shots there that you have to be pretty close to perfect anyway, but when you're coming from as far back as I am hitting it into those it greens, you have to be more than perfect.
Obviously I made -- does anybody have any good suggestions for brain food that improves your memory, because I definitely need something like that. I hit the wrong ball last year at the Tradition and I forget to put my ball marker back last week. I need a memory transplant, is what I need.
But as far as the type of shots I have to hit into those greens, they are not the type of shots I have to play too many times on this golf course, let's put it that way. Just hitting a lot of long shots into the greens. I hit some good, quality shots last week, but with a two-stroke penalty for not moving my ball back, hitting the ball in the water on 13, that kind of squelches my chances of making the cut. Played well enough to make the cut but a few stupid mistakes there; an unforced error, and an error.

Q. If you could talk about the confidence that comes with having won here a year ago and having snapped your Florida drought in doing so.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, any time you win on a golf course, you kind of remember the shot. You do remember the shots that you played. And that definitely helps. It gives you a good -- it gives you a good fixture. When you play a golf course you don't play worth a darn, you never get a very good picture of it. But when you do win -- I've always said that once you win on a golf course, it's easier to win there the next time. It should be, because you know what it takes to win.

Q. Just your observations of the depth and talent pool out here now, every year for the last half dozen or so, does it seem to be getting stronger and stronger?
TOM WATSON: It's remained strong, let's put it that way. The depth has been very good and it's been that way ever since I've been out here. It's good.
You know, the one thing about the Champions Tour that's wonderful is that every year, you have new names coming on there, new names that are not new; they are old names that people remember. It's different than on the regular tour. You have the new names come on there, and they are new, and you say, who is that. The new names out here: Hey, got a new guy coming out here. Who is it? Bernhard Langer? Bernhard? He's not new; he's new to the Champions Tour.
And that's the beauty of this Tour, because every year you've got the guys coming on and you're wondering whether they are going to -- because of their age, 50 years old, they can still hit it a long way, and they can dominate the Champions Tour. That's always the question, what's going to happen. You've had Jay Haas and he's been awfully good the last couple years that he's joined out here. I suspect Bernhard Langer is going to have a really good year this year.

Q. There's been two significant stretches, Trevino's and Irwin's stretch over long periods of time out here became dominant players, can that happen again?
TOM WATSON: Oh, sure. That can happen again. That definitely can happen again.

Q. Any suggestions who?
TOM WATSON: Who? There will be somebody. There will be somebody. If Freddie Couples plays, he hits the ball so far that he can take these courses apart; if his back holds up, that's the bottom line.

Q. I believe this is your fourth tournament in five straight weeks right now on your schedule. What keeps you coming out here? What keeps you motivated to come out and play?
TOM WATSON: The competition. I like to compete. I still like to beat everybody. I like to hit quality shots when it means something, make that shot when the chips are down. I still get a satisfaction out of doing that.

Q. Do you ever foresee a time where you don't want to do this anymore?
TOM WATSON: You bet. Sure, there will be that time. I'll tell you. Not now.

Q. And you mentioned -- I don't know off the cuff, that this is not your wind of weather. Did you like it better in February?
TOM WATSON: I like it 45 and blowing about 20, come on. Come on, Weatherman, give me some help this year. I don't think he's going to help too much.

Q. A number of players have come out here on this tour who were not the major winners and stars of the PGA TOUR; a lot of guys have come out that were good players but have done fantastically well on this tour. Is there a rhyme or reason for why that happens?
TOM WATSON: There really isn't. Fundamentally if they prepare themselves and keep themselves in really good shape, they can compete out here. You don't lose your ability to play and score until later on. Later on, getting to be my age, 60, you start losing it, losing your mind is what you first lose. I'm finding that out right now.
The flexibility, the speed, you start losing that, and if you don't play within your capabilities and try to force it, then you're going to fail. You have to learn how to play within your capabilities when you can't hit the ball as far, when you get to a certain age. But to answer your questions --

Q. How tough is it for those guys that get to say 45-year-old age, 45, 50, Sindelar and Sluman have talked about it; do you get to a point to where you're kind of riding it out on the PGA TOUR, trying to stay eligible to play and wait for your chance out here? How tough are those last four or five years on the main tour?
TOM WATSON: Well for me I won a couple tournaments in the last four or five years. Still could compete. Still had my caddie, Bruce, saying, "Come on, let's go out and play a bunch of tournaments on the regular tour. We can still compete with these guys." And then I basically made the decision to stay on the Champions Tour. I competed very well against the kids.
The last four or five years, again, you have to keep yourself in good shape if you're going to compete. You know, certain people have better talent than others. They are stronger than others, and they can get by with that. The main thing is keep yourself in good shape.

Q. I'm sure you saw the other day that Tiger had surgery right after the Masters, a little bit of a shock to everyone because he didn't really let on. Curious if from your perspective if we take him for granted a little bit? Injuries are a part of sports, and we expect him to keep on going and winning and winning, but these are things that could derail him -- maybe not this.
TOM WATSON: Sure, there's not a question. You know, he had eye surgery, and there's a risk involved there. I think he had hair transplant surgery, too, didn't he? (Laughter) I'm pretty sure he had that, too. Didn't affect his golf game I don't think too much.
And the knee, doesn't he have it scoped once before? He was having issues. It didn't look like he was swinging very well. He was standing straight up at impact. He got tall at impact too many times and he couldn't get around on that knee.
You know, one of the things about Augusta, it's just mentioned kind of off-the-cuff just a few times during the telecast, which is not emphasized enough in my opinion, are the uneven lies that you get at Augusta National. You get more uneven lies there than any other course we play; more, promise you.
And you just go right around the golf course: No. 1, for me it's uphill; 2 is downhill; 3 is uphill; 5 is level; 7 is downhill below my feet; 8 is uphill; 9 is really sharp downhill; 10 is downhill; 11 is fine; 13 is sidehill; 14 is uphill below my feet; 15 is level; 17 is uphill and 18 is uphill.
You know, when we play golf courses in Florida, it's flat where you don't have to deal with that. But at Augusta, you have to deal with those shots all the time, every hole it seems like, almost every hole, so 75 percent of the time you have an uneven lie at Augusta. It not mentioned nearly enough.
You know it takes some talent, and when you have a bad knee, you've got a problem.

Q. So you noticed maybe a swing flaw or maybe that he wasn't swinging at it?
TOM WATSON: At impact he was standing up awfully straight. He was very straight up. His body was up, upright. He wasn't down over the ball at impact enough.

Q. I don't know if anything occurred to you when you saw that, but then when you hear the news later, does it ring a bell?
TOM WATSON: It sure does, because you can't transfer and swivel on your knee if it's hurting, especially if it's on the outside of your knee. I don't know where it is; I can't speculate where it is. If you can't get to your left side, you're going to straighten up. You're going to hang back on your right side. And he missed the ball to the right a lot, didn't he. You hang back, you miss it to the right when you're a strong player.

Q. How different are the senior major tournaments compared to the big tour? Oak Hill is hosting the Senior PGA. How different are those events compared to the regular tour majors?
TOM WATSON: They don't have -- let's face it, they don't have as much excitement overall for it. But still, the tournaments that we play in, our majors are majors to all of us. So if you compared the two, you don't certainly have the magnitude of everything that goes into it.
So it's a little bit more low-key in that respect. We don't play in front of as many people in the crowds in our majors as you do on the regular TOUR, and that's the biggest difference I think.
You know, last week at the Masters, there's just wall-to-wall people. They did a very nice thing last week letting in the kids between 8 and 16, the Patrons, that was a good idea.
I think you're seeing right now that they are making a drive to have golf in the Olympics and I disagree with that. The bottom line, what they are trying to do is get more people playing golf, more people understanding that golf is a sport they should play. I still don't think that's a good idea; there are a variety of reasons for it. But we have our Olympics; we have our major championships, and to add another layer in the Olympics, I think is the wrong thing to do.
We need to concentrate on getting more affordable golf for people to play. I think that's the bottom line. The USGA, that's one of their challenges and one of their purported goals is to make it more affordable for people to play. You know, Tim said the goal is to expose golf to more people in the world sense, and I just think you have to go where the golf is and make it so that people can afford to play it.

Q. (Regarding amateurs versus professionals playing in the Olympics).
TOM WATSON: How about making the whole Olympics for amateurs only like it used to be -- it's ridiculous. Pro basketball players playing the Olympics, come on.

Q. If it was amateurs only --
TOM WATSON: Yes, I would. It should be. Should be in the Olympics.

Q. Last week's Masters, Brandt Snedeker compares his game to you and idolizes you, how does that make you feel --

Q. What do you think of his performance last week up to Sunday?
TOM WATSON: I didn't know anything about him talking about me like he did until after the first round I guess. And after playing with him in competition the first round, this guy, he plays like I did -- or I do. He plays fast, he has a nice short, firm, putting stroke. He has great chipping action. Hits the ball high. I mean, that's everything I did. And he hits the ball a lot straighter than I did. And I just like his attitude.
But I also like his imagination. He hit a chip shot at No. 6 last week, and I applauded for a minute. He was on the green, right-hand side, upper level. I think they played it maybe once, and I told Andy north, who was working for ESPN, I said, "This is the shot of the tournament." I said, "He should win the tournament. If this shot isn't replayed a hundred times, you're making a big mistake," because you don't realize the difficulty of the shot that he did.
But the 6th green, you have a high right where that little shelf is and then it slopes way down left and the bottom left goes up to the top there and it slopes down like this. The back of the green slopes back like this, and he hits it up here. He can't put the ball where the back pin position is and get it anywhere on the green hardly. It's either going to come down here or roll down here 40 feet below the hole here, or you hit it too hard, it's going to roll off the fringe over here.
So instead of trying to play the break, he takes a sand wedge, hits it through the air, goes down there, checks up, holds is it. I just (clapping). I said, this kid, he's got some imagination and some talent. That's old me. One shot never sells me, but that one shot did pretty well sell me.
I like the way he handled himself. I didn't see his interview with ESPN but you like to see that type of passion. You don't hurt -- you don't hurt right afterwards -- everybody is going to hurt, but how he handles that is the key. You learn from your mistakes how you played in the last round, you learn when you play a practice round the next time, you practice the shots that you failed in the last round, you have them fresh in your mind. I'm not going to hit in that right creek at 13 next time. I'm not going to hit driver off the tee and bury it in the left bunker. Take the bunkers out of play. He played a smart shot at 4. Hits a beautiful shot at 5. He hit some shots that I now understands that he can't play those shots and afford to take that risk again when he's going to win the tournament.
I suspect he will one tournament one day.

Q. You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about competing and that's why you're still here and I think that's what a lot of people saw in him when he broke down in the press room because he was competing and he did feel like he left some shots out there and left himself short but I'm sure he was right back I believe to the Heritage the next week practicing away like you said on those shots. So we can see the comparisons very strongly with you.
TOM WATSON: Bobby Jones said it perfectly about competition. He said he never learned anything in victory. He said he only learned something in defeat. He learned through his failure, what he had to improve upon. You don't learn what you have to improve upon through your success; you learn through your failure.
DAVE SENKO: Thank you, Tom.

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