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April 20, 2008

Tom Watson


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Very unusual ending to the tournament, but you come out on top successfully defending your Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am title, first player ever to do that and win for the 11th time on the Champions Tour. Congratulations.
TOM WATSON: Thank you. It was unexpected; put it that way. Although, I did make the bogey on the last hole, and at that time, I said, "Well, that may be good enough for at least a tie."
Going down the 15th hole, I'm thinking, "Well, I've got to make at least a couple birdies to have a chance to win the golf tournament."
And as I'm walking over to the 17th, my caddie, Todd Newcomb, said, "Do you want to know what's going on out there?"
And I said, "Sure I always want to know what's going on there."
And he said, "Wiebe made 7."
I said, "Well, that's good. Now I know what I have to do." And a clear understanding of what I have to do, and I didn't do a very good job with the 7-iron on the 18th hole, put it that way.
Again, I've said it a number of times in that shot right there, you can't feel the wind coming crosswind very much, but you know it's there. I knew it's there and I just hit a lousy shot. I had my aiming point pretty far left of the hole and started the ball right of my aiming point, about 30 feet, and that almost cost me the tournament, put it that way. In fact, I thought it was going to cost me the tournament if I couldn't get the ball up-and-down.
And I hit a pretty good chip, left it a little short but I hit the best putt of the day on the last hole. Didn't putt very well in the last two rounds. I putted great the first rounds, and it was a matter of trying to keep the putter head low and hit it solid, and the ball went in the hole with that 5-footer, the last putt for par, or bogey.
That was my par. Five was my par after hitting the ball in the water. That's what I did.

Q. You've come from behind to win a lot of tournaments. Does this one feel like you went out and won it, or was it one that --
TOM WATSON: No, I backed in the back door of this tournament for sure. I didn't go out and win it, but you never know what's going to happen out there. My friend Jack, he said one time when I said I got lucky to win a tournament he said, "Hey, the game of golf is not over until the last guy holes the putt." They don't give you a freebie. They don't give you gimmies out there, and anything can happen.
You look at KU, nine points down with 2:09 left, and they are not supposed to win that and kind of backed into it. They did what they had to do to make it. I had to do what I had to do to at least keep in it, and that was at least make bogey on the last hole, make it up-and-down.

Q. Where were you when Scott missed his little par putt?
TOM WATSON: I was in the scorer's trailer. There's no TV in there. Really doesn't need a TV because you can always hear when somebody makes a putt, you always cheer a hear. And I heard the groan and Mike Sullivan, one of the Tour Officials with a look like this in his eyes and said, "Tom, congratulations, you're the champion," like that.
And I said, "I heard it." I heard the groan of the crowd. It's not necessary to see it. In fact, don't want to see things like that.

Q. Sort of a characteristic of golf, we know stuff like this happens, but for as much as it happened, it was kind of like a demolition derby at the end. How do you survive all this?
TOM WATSON: I think a little inexperience on Mark's part; 15, this finish here, you've got to be awfully careful. And 15 is one of those holes that you've got to be really careful on 15. That's the hole that one tournament for me. I birdied it today. I birdied it the first day. 17 almost lost me the tournament where I made double-bogey yesterday and bogey the first day.
These, 15, 17, 18, they can eat your lunch, and ate some people's lunches today.

Q. Did you have a number in mind today that you felt like you had to shoot to be in it?
TOM WATSON: I felt that I had to get into double digits, I really did. And of course when Mark went to 12-under, I'm at 9-under par, I'm saying, I've got to make a couple birdies.
When I didn't get the ball just over the ridge on 16 and it spun back, and I hit it right of the hole with a gap wedge, saying, well, there goes one chance there. And I hit a 4-iron on 17 trying to make birdie there, ran it by, and I did have the lead there, but it would have been nice to make that birdie right there to get a little cush.

Q. When the ball on 18 went in the hazard, you said at that point, "I thought I may have lost it." Could you just sort of take us through that series there and what you did to settle yourself and the mathematics that you were doing?
TOM WATSON: Well, I'm looking at the leaderboard, and I'm 10-under par and I make bogey, I'm now 9-under par, pretty simple. If I get the ball up-and-down, my ball didn't bounce into the hazard by the green there and I had a pretty simply chip. I've got to get this ball up-and-down.
Didn't hit the best of chips. I hit it solid. I didn't hit it hard enough and I hit below the hole. And it's one of those putts I've had trouble with the last 15 years, and I made it. I felt pretty good over the putt. I felt that -- I had a sense of calm over it that I had not had for a while on the golf course, and I said: Well, it's just do-or-die; I've got to make it. If I don't make it, I lose.

Q. You went low on Friday, and then kind of leveled out Saturday and Sunday. What was the difference the last two days versus Friday?
TOM WATSON: My putting. Bottom line was my putting. I made two balls in the water, one on 17 and one on 18 in the last two days. But I really struck the ball well. With the exception of the bad drive at 14, I drove the ball pretty darn well, and I hit a lot of good, quality iron shots.
I putted for -- I actually putted for 17 birdies today, and one was off the green on the 11th hole and so I putted for 17 birdies today and I putted for 16 birdies yesterday. But I had the game going pretty well. That's what you have to do on this golf course.
This golf course is a mind field. You've got hazards all along this golf course. You've got hazards at 4, you've got hazards at 7, you've got hazards at 8, you've got hazards at 9, 10, hazard at 11, hazard at 12, you get a little break at 13, hazards at 14, hazards at 15, you've got a hazard at 16 if you hit it right and hazard at 17 and hazard at 18. We don't play a golf course that has this many shots affected by water hazards, we just don't. This is the No. 1 course. Take one off right there.

Q. How did you find the grass surface? Wiebe said he had trouble playing on bermudagrass, he was --
TOM WATSON: Those Colorado boys, they like the bentgrasses. I play off -- actually this is No. 2 in Florida for me, by the way. I'm on a streak. I'm on a streak. Got to buy a home down here now.
No, there is some grain on the greens but not too much. It did play -- when you play bermudagreens, you're always going to have some amount of grain that you have to deal with.
It's a different golf course than it was last year when you had the overseed. The overseed of the golf course with the ryegrass, which gives it a little bit more even surface, but the greens were harder last year. They have been firmer like this, a little bit tougher to hold the ball.
Like 17 today. 17 is kind of typical with the way the greens have been in the past; that green is as hard as a rock.

Q. In terms of putting, for all the talk about mechanics and everything, aren't there times when the secret is making putts?
TOM WATSON: You've just got to will it in, that's right, and what's that I did on last hole is I willed it in.

Q. Is there an intangible when you are making putts, you keep making them, and when you are not making putts, you work, but you just can't force it?
TOM WATSON: Like I said yesterday, it's like a thermos; how does it know?
I told my caddie as I was picking the putter up on the backswing yesterday, but I wasn't doing that with the putter on the first day and I started doing it again today. That's kind of my Achilles heel, I start picking the putter up.
So I just tried to keep it along the ground on the backswing and see what happened, and things worked out. Made a good putt at 15 and a good putt at 18.
Actually made a good putt at 16, too, up and over the hill. Knocked it down about like this.

Q. This is sort of a silly question --
TOM WATSON: I did have two 3-putts today. I 3-putted 3 and I 3-putted 9.

Q. Is there any -- because it wasn't earned with a great charge down the stretch, is there anything less rewarding about a victory like this?
TOM WATSON: Well, in a sense there is, and it's one of those things where you just don't go out and win it, or I didn't go out and shoot 65 or 64 like Jay Haas did today, and really put them out of -- do a Tiger and just run away with the tournament or do a Lorena Ochoa. It's always satisfying to win, let's put it that way, but there's more satisfaction when you go out there and you take it.

Q. Nonetheless, you leave with it.
TOM WATSON: I do leave with it, that's to are sure and I get back to what Jack said, "Hey, everybody's got to finish the tournament. They have to finish every hole. There's no gimmies up there." He said that to me after I said I got lucky to beat Mason in the British Open when he drove the ball in the bunker at Turnberry and made 6 on the last hole to get in the playoff. And I got lucky to win there.
He said, "You didn't get lucky. He had the tournament in his hands but he hit a bad shot as we all do." You've got to finish all 72 holes, or 54 holes, in this case.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you run through the round real quick, the birdies and the bogeys?
TOM WATSON: Sure can. Birdied the first hole. Hit a driver and a 9-iron to about -- hit it about ten feet, made the putt.
No. 3, I hit driver, 9-iron to -- I'm sorry, driver, 8-iron and hit it about 45 feet and I left my first putt ten feet short and missed it. One of those putts you kind of pick up.
No. 7 I birdied. I hit a good drive, hit a 2-hybrid, hit it over the green and pitched it back, made about a 12-footer for birdie.
No. 9, I hit a 6-iron short of the ridge and rolled it by about five feet and I missed it coming back, made bogey there.
Probably the best iron shot -- two best iron shots I hit all week or on 14 and 15. I made a par on 14 but the way I did it was pretty cool. I hit a bad drive, had to pitch out short of the fairway bunkers. I have 217 to the hole, and I just flushed a 4-iron right at it and ended up about -- I think I had about a 15-footer. Hit a great iron shot in there.
The very next hole, I hit a driver to the right a little bit in the rough on the downslope, and now I've got to play a shot. I'm going to miss the green if I don't hit a perfect shot, and I hit a perfect shot and rolled up about five feet from the hole and made the putt for birdie, with a 7-iron.
18, I hit a 7-iron for my second shot in the water. I chipped it with a sand wedge and made the putt for bogey.

Q. What's next for you?
TOM WATSON: I play next week with my good friend, Andy north, in the liberty mutual. We're going to try to keep our record intact. We've won the last three years in the Raphael Division, and now that everybody gets to play in the team championship this year, we are looking forward to that.

Q. Am I correct that one of the perks for the champion here is an Outback card?
TOM WATSON: That's right.

Q. Just curious how did it work out last year?
TOM WATSON: Well, we used the limit. We used up to the limit. There is a limit. My last check was two cents. But the tip was about 50 bucks.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Congratulations again.

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