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July 30, 2008

Tom Watson


RAND JERRIS: It is a pleasure to welcome Tom Watson to the interview room this afternoon. Tom is a past USGA National Champion having won the U.S. Open in 1982 at Pebble Beach.
TOM WATSON: A long time.
RAND JERRIS: You've obviously played in a lot of USGA Championships the last couple years. In the last year or two, there have been some changes the USGA has been making in the setup philosophy.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, the intermediate rough is a good change, I thought. I thought the 14th hole at Torrey Pines this year was fun to watch, give you the opportunity to see in the U.S. Open, so many driver greens. I liked that.
RAND JERRIS: Have you seen anything out here on the golf course this week that you think reflects those changes?
TOM WATSON: They have an intermediate rough cut here on both sides, and that's welcome, for old guys that can't hit the ball out of the rough anymore it's nice every now and then to go in the rough and just miss the fairway and not be in hey about like that. But actually in grounds like that, you can advance the ball.
So yeah, I like that. Wish it was like that 30 years ago.
RAND JERRIS: Now that you've had a chance to play some practice rounds, just some general comments about the golf course. What do you think are the real keys to success here this week?
TOM WATSON: Well, the real key to success is hitting the ball the right distance. It's very difficult to do when you've played a lot of sea-level golf like I have in the last two weeks. You come to Colorado, and you're playing up in the altitude, basically you're playing in altitude to uphill and downhill shots, unfamiliar golf course, with varying winds. And it's going to take a lot of smarts to play this course well, keep the ball under the hole with the right weight, with the right distance.
I pride myself in trying to keep the ball pin-high, get the ball, you know, even with the flagstick, left to right or right on it. And it's tough to do here in Colorado, especially when the greens are so sloping, and the greens play very small. Some of the greens play very small. Even though they're large, you have shelves, and if it misses the shelf, it'll hit the side slope and there it goes down the mountain and you're 70 or 80 feet away; and you hit a shot that's basically a foot away from being ten feet from the hole, and now you're 80 feet away and you have to know how to play that shot on this golf course.
I studied the golf course pretty well today to try to keep it pretty simple, the areas that I want to hit the ball to. But I think I may be a little confused on some of the holes still. I'm still a little bit confused on the distance I'm hitting the ball here. It's not very consistent. We take 10 percent, you know, at 6,000 feet we take 10 percent as far as how far we hit the ball, with a short iron, longer clubs, we hit it farther. But it hasn't worked out like that.
RAND JERRIS: Let's go ahead and take some questions from the floor, please.

Q. This is one for a laugh. What's your favorite fashion that is no longer? What's your favorite outfit that you look back and you wish you could wear it again but it may stand out these days.
TOM WATSON: Oh, the orange pants with the white three-inch white belt. Yeah, that was it. Polyester pants. That's it. Oh, the Europeans are wearing those, aren't they? It's back in style.

Q. You've come close to winning this tournament several times over the past few years. What would it mean for you to get a win this week here, to win this tournament in particular?
TOM WATSON: This is really one of the two major tournaments we have on the Champions Tour. It really means a great deal to me. A USGA event has always been -- the U.S. Open has always been the most important event for me to play in in professional golf, or amateur golf, when I played as an amateur. I played in the natural Amateur; it was the most important event.
I still feel the same way about the U.S. Senior Open here, and that says it all.

Q. Tom, how tough is this schedule, this run of majors flip-flopping over the ocean?
TOM WATSON: (Falling forward into microphone, eyes closed, snoring).

Q. (Laughter). And when you wake up, the other thing I wanted to ask you is three days out here not enough time to try to get a gauge on your distance like you're talking about?
TOM WATSON: First of all, it's probably not enough time to get yourself acclimated to the time change.
Two, the answer to your question, is three days enough, I didn't play the course yesterday, so it probably is not enough just to play two practice rounds.

Q. So you're still concerned?
TOM WATSON: I'm still concerned about the strategy and the club selection I'll be playing with tomorrow, but I've been there before at times and I've made the right decisions. I've played the game long enough to kind of understand, when you're unsure, you play a little bit safer.
The main things to know, they talk about the monument, Will Rogers monument up there, and keeping the ball on the other side of the flagstick from the monument. And that's pretty simple logic. It's right-on logic really.
But how do you get there? And what club do you use to get there? That's the key.
If I get a little run going tomorrow, I'll still probably play pretty safe golf because I'm a little bit unsure about the golf course. It's a very good test, this golf course. It tests every club in your bag. You have to hit a lot of quality shots, and you really do have to work the ball a lot of different ways. It favors somebody who draws the ball from right-to-left, I think, but it favors somebody who hits the ball left-to-right with the irons, right to left off the tee and left to right with the irons.

Q. Tom, before you came into the press conference, one of our local golfers who qualified for the open, Dave Delich went over and introduced himself to you. Right before that he told us the one thing he wanted to do before this week was over was meet you. What did you guys talk about?
TOM WATSON: We talked about the golf course and how he's played it so many times, and it was a pleasant conversation.
Yeah, I've played with three players today that you've never heard of, but they're out here just doing the same thing I am. They've qualified and they're playing in the U.S. Senior Open, which is -- I mean, it's a cool deal, playing this tournament. It's a great tournament to play. It was fun playing with them, and I hope they had fun playing with me.
Dave's the same way. He's at the show. He's in the show.

Q. Tom, everybody that's ever played The Broadmoor has always talked about the greens and the shrine and the break and the hills. Have you had one of those putts yet when you kind of went, whoa, how did that happen? Have you seen one of those yet?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. Yeah, I have. And as I said, I may not have played enough practice rounds to not get fooled in the regular tournament. That's what concerns me.

Q. One of the good putters on the tour -- and I won't tell you who he is, because I think you're a better putter who he is said you don't go straight from Point A to Point B here. You may have to go to Point C first.
TOM WATSON: This golf course is kind of like NASCAR. You've got to go around loops. This is a road track, some of these putts, but it's fun. It's fun to try to figure them out, and the speed's important. To try to get the speed right, because it doesn't look -- the putt just doesn't give you a good indication on the speed when you're looking at it.

Q. Tom, what's the biggest difference in your game from now to, say, 15 or 20 years ago? Has that adjustment been bigger physically or mentally?
TOM WATSON: The difference in my game is not a lot, with the exception of my body is breaking down a little bit. I have a bad hip but it hasn't caused me too much problem yet. My speed is not there. I have a much harder time getting the ball out of the rough. And that's probably the biggest difference.
The short game is not as sharp, but that comes from not practicing as much as I used to 15, 20 years ago.

Q. How do you adjust to that mentally?
TOM WATSON: How do I adjust to it? I don't. I just go out and play. This is a game. You just go out and -- you know, every shot's a mini-game in itself. It's an 18-hole game in itself, and that's the way you play it. And you have minor successes, and you have minor defeats. You have major successes and major defeats. You hope you don't have too many major defeats when you're playing 18 holes of golf, or shanks.

Q. You said Monday you've mentioned a couple times here you're looking for local lore, local knowledge. Other than the shrine, is there any other tip or anything you picked up that you're taking into the weekend?
TOM WATSON: A lot of people that have played the golf course, I've been listening to them and taking it in. That's what you have to do.
You know, there are certain greens out there that you have to play a certain area. There are certain greens out there that play like Augusta National greens where they play small. They're big greens, but they play very small, and you have to figure out what greens those are.
And I've been listening to some of the players who have played here a thousand times. Those guys are pretty smart. I've been taking some of their wisdom to heart. Now if I can just remember it tomorrow.

Q. You bucked the trend a little bit in terms of winning out here, but can you talk about some of the young guns on this tour?
TOM WATSON: The young gun old guys?

Q. Yes.
TOM WATSON: We don't call them young guns. They're rusty six-shooters.
Well, you've got Greg Norman. Obviously he's the story this week. He played very well, obviously. As I said when I was doing the announcing for ABC, this would have gotten him even if he had won the British Open at Birkdale; all the tournaments that were taken from him and he gave away in major championships.
So he's the story this week. It's going to be interesting to see. He's a great driver of the golf ball. He should be driving the ball in most every fairway long. He hits the ball very high, so he does have a big advantage doing that. The higher you hit the ball in altitude here, the better, because that ball just keeps on carrying and carrying and carrying.
So he's the story. You know, you have people like Fred Funk who's played both the senior tour and regular tour. You got Jay Haas, Loren Roberts. You know, you've got some players that -- Bernhard Langer, who's leading the money list who was just in here before. You got some players that all have names and all can win this golf tournament. But the story this week is probably about Greg.

Q. Do you see a difference in him? Talk about his performance.
TOM WATSON: I don't see much difference in him, no. He played some great golf over on the links courses. You know, he still has the game to play. He just chooses not to play.
And one of the things that I have found and the way I play; now, I don't play very much, but when I play, I play in stretches. I play five weeks in a row and by the end of five weeks, I was pretty good. And Greg, this is his third week in a row, and he's got that competition now under his fingernails. He's got it right there.
And so he's fine tuning it, and I think that gives him somewhat of an advantage.
RAND JERRIS: Tom, thank you very much for your time today.
TOM WATSON: You're welcome.
RAND JERRIS: We wish you lots of luck this week.

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