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July 18, 2009

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: 6, left bunker with a 3-wood, left it about 15 feet and missed it.
7, knocked it on with a hybrid 2, two-putted for birdie. I hit it 230 yards. The putt was about 50 feet.
9, three-putted from about 80 feet from the back of the green. Missed it by about seven feet.
12, I three-putted from the front left of the green, up over the hill and ran it by about eight feet and missed it.
13, 14, I got it up-and-down. But at 13 it was left, hit it to about five feet and made it.
14, I left it short of the green with a hybrid 2. I putted it from way off the green but putted it about 20 feet past but then I holed it for par.
15, I bogeyed. I hit it just in the back bunker, looked like it caught -- I think it caught on the downslope, there. But then I got a good kick at 17.
16 I hit a 3-wood off the tee and an 8-iron and made it from about 40 feet.
17, I hit a hybrid 2 for my second shot, got the good kick and made up for it, and two-putted from about 25 feet.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Nice save putt on 18.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, putted it stone dead, as they say here.
MALCOLM BOOTH: We're joined by five-time Open champion Tom Watson, shot 71, 1-over par today to lead The Open Championship by one shot, 206, 4-under par.
Tom, just an extraordinary few days, and they keep on carrying on. How do you feel after a very successful day out on the course again?
TOM WATSON: I feel very good, but you guys have got to be tired of me.
It was an unusual day out there today. I said in an interview over here, I made a game plan, and normally I haven't ever made a game plan playing. I said, the last 36 holes this is what I want to do. And I'm actually kind of on course with that game plan, with the number of birdies, number of bogeys that I feel like I can make.
It was kind of like when I was qualifying for the Tour as a rabbit a long time ago. My game plan was never make more than one double bogey, and that worked. I only failed to qualify twice in two years. So maybe Jack had it right, making a game plan helps.
The other thing that helped me was I think that for some reason today I just didn't feel real nervous out there. I was just -- I felt, I guess, serene, I guess again is the right word for it. And it was a day that even though I messed up a couple of times, I didn't let that bother me; it's just part of the game, and I made up for it coming in again.
I made a great putt at 14 to save par from about 20 feet, and I made a great putt at 16 for birdie and got a good break at 17 with my hybrid making a left turn on the bounce, knocked it up there about 20, 25 feet for an eagle putt. Could have made that. And so it ended it on a real good note again, similar to yesterday.

Q. Let me throw a couple of quick ones at you. Are you able to enjoy the magnitude of what's going on out there while you're doing it, or are you so locked into the shot and the execution that you can't really absorb the immensity of it? My second question would be, since you're a text message guy, who have you been hearing from while all this magic has been going on?
TOM WATSON: Well, actually it is kind of emotional out there. Looked at Ox (Neil Oxman), my caddie, after I hit my shot on the green at 18, handed him the club and said, "Bruce is with us today." He said, "Don't make me cry." So he started crying and I started crying.
I'm not really -- I'm not thinking of that. That's your business to think about that.
The first day here, yeah, let the old geezer have his day in the sun, you know, 65. The second day you said, well, that's okay, that's okay. And then now today you kind of perk up your ears and say, this old geezer might have a chance to win the tournament. It's kind of like Greg Norman last year.
I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know one thing, I feel good about what I did today. I feel good about my game plan. And who knows, it might happen.

Q. Who did you hear from?
TOM WATSON: Who did I hear from? Everybody. Just everybody.

Q. What do you think Sandy Tatum is making of all this?
TOM WATSON: It's giving him a heart attack.

Q. What do you think Jack is making of it?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think he's he's watching. And I think he's -- you know, you'll have to ask Jack. But I know my friend is watching, and it would be something special if I did what I intend to do tomorrow.

Q. Has there been another text from Barbara?

Q. Yeah.
TOM WATSON: No. Well, I haven't seen my phone. I left my phone in the room.

Q. It's probably blown up with the number of people.
TOM WATSON: Isn't it amazing, in 1975 there were about 15 press people after I won in the playoff. And, you know, it was raining and wet and all this and all that. And then here we are we're talking about text messages in 2009, you know. Who would have thunk it, right?

Q. And hybrids.
TOM WATSON: And hybrids, that's right.

Q. Seve Ballesteros said today you've proved an inspiration to him, and he wants to come back and play in The Open next year, as well. What would you make of that?
TOM WATSON: I wish him well, I do. I know he's gone through a really tough time with his operation, and actually I asked Sergio, I said, Have you seen him? He said, No, I haven't seen him personally, but I saw him on TV and he looked really well. I wish him well. Tell him hello from me, will you?

Q. Do you see yourself as the George Foreman of golf? Do you like hamburgers?
TOM WATSON: No, I don't name all my kids George. My kids have different names. (Laughter.)

Q. When was the last time you had so much magic with the putter? Do you find it ironic that you're riding the one thing that gave you so many problems back in the '80s?
TOM WATSON: It's not ironic. Every now and then it works, you know. It's just every now and then. And boy, is it working at the right time right now.

Q. I think yesterday on your round you bogeyed all of the holes into the wind up until the 8th. Today I think you had one bogey. There was a different wind today. Can you maybe comment on that?
TOM WATSON: Well, the outgoing nine is very, very tough. The 5th, I made a great up-and-down at 5. I made a great up-and-down at 3. Those are two things I didn't tell you, I made it up-and-down at 3; I hit it in the fairway bunker, blasted out, hit a 7-iron to about eight or ten feet and made the putt for par.
And then 5, I did a dumb thing, because I remember that shot going into 5, how much it goes right. You just can't feel the wind. And I let it get away from me to the right and got it in the bunker and had it on the downslope, hit just a wonderful bunker shot out, hit it to about 15 or 20 feet and then I holed it for par.
So I missed three out of the first six greens and I was 1-over par. A little bit different than yesterday.
7, I knocked it on the green to get back to even par.
And then 9, I three-putted from the back. Again, I didn't play the shot that -- I knew I had to lay off the wedge, I just couldn't lay off of it enough to get the right weight to it. I knew that ball was just going to bound, just really get onto the green. I saw it on TV this morning.
That's the great benefit of teeing off at 3:00, you can see a lot of golf, see what people are doing. They ought to make it illegal. (Laughter.)

Q. When you lost, I can't remember, '74, maybe, you lost The Open and you talked about being nervous and you wondered about how you were going to conquer nerves. And I think if I remember, you said something about you talked to Ben Hogan and --

Q. It wasn't Ben Hogan?

Q. Okay. But in terms of nerves, do you still feel -- do you anticipate that you'll feel nerves tomorrow as you might have in the '70s or '90s when people --
TOM WATSON: No, I don't. I feel like my nerves are too well fried to feel them. (Laughter.) Yeah, I mean, come on. Let's just kind of go with what I've got. I'm not thinking about that.

Q. Related to how you'll feel tomorrow, what detail can you tell us about tomorrow's part of the game plan, and why did you construct this?
TOM WATSON: My game plan is basically the number of birdies and bogeys that I think I have to make to win -- I can afford to make a certain number of bogeys, and I have to make up for them with a certain number of birdies, and that's been my game plan. I'm pretty close to it right now.

Q. Any details?
TOM WATSON: No, that's about it. It's pretty simple, but so far it's going well.

Q. How does the wind affect the modern ball versus what you were playing back in '77?
TOM WATSON: Well, the wind doesn't affect it nearly as much. The modern ball goes straighter; it doesn't curve as much. It's a harder ball to play downwind, I think. The old ball was a better ball to play downwind. But into the wind and crosswind, the modern ball is much better. It doesn't curve as much and it bores through the wind better.

Q. Talk about the downwind tee shot on 10.
TOM WATSON: I hit a 2 hybrid off the tee there. I just felt, hit that big old expanse of fairway, let me have a breather, you know, just one breather out here, and you've got a big old expanse of fairway. I can hit it and keep it short of the bunker there and still keep it short of the green, and it gives you a break.

Q. As you and the other guys at the top of the board deal with what you deal with tomorrow, can you talk a little bit about the dynamic of not having Tiger up at the top there? Obviously he's such a presence generally.
TOM WATSON: I never play against Tiger, so I don't give a damn about Tiger. (Laughter.) I played against him at the Masters, but I can't play there at the Masters. That course is too big for old guys like me.

Q. If you are going to win tomorrow, would you call it your biggest comeback in your career, and will you talk with the R&A about defending your title next year, although there is no chance, obviously?
TOM WATSON: Well, first of all, I'm not going to have any luxury of thinking that way, first of all. And second of all, I've laid the gauntlet down to you people to ask Peter Dawson to maybe change his mind about the 60-year-old exemption. I will play next year, may the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Q. You said that we were thinking, give you your day in the sun the first day and then it was okay, and now you're thinking maybe this guy is going to win. Dropping the old geezer part, did you feel that way about yourself at all these last few days?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. Frankly, when I finished the practise round on Wednesday, I really felt good about my chances to do well in the tournament. And so far so good. I've played well. I've kept the ball in play off the tee. I was driving the ball in the fairway and, you know, the most important thing is to drive the ball in the fairway. Tiger is gone because he couldn't drive the ball in the fairway; he couldn't get it there. But for some of us it's been a good week that way.

Q. Has your confidence increased in your giving yourself a chance to win over the last few days?
TOM WATSON: Well, my confidence is -- yeah, it's a little better. I haven't played a competitive round since the Watson Challenge in Kansas City here about a month ago. And prior to that was the Senior PGA.
I'm building on it. It's one of those things where you build on it during the week. The first day it was great to start off that way. And the second day I struggled but then came back. So that was a confirmation. Today I made some good putts. I made some great pars today, which you have to do on a windy day here at Turnberry. Tomorrow maybe I can go out there and complete the game plan and do what I think I have to do to win the tournament.

Q. How do you keep your -- what do you do fitness-wise to keep your swing looking like it did 30 years ago? And how is that swing playing golf with a new hip as opposed to before the new hip?
TOM WATSON: I've always had a long swing. When I was a kid, my dad said, shorten the swing, shorten the swing. Well, you shorten the swing, it's hard to go longer once you shorten the swing. And my old pro, Stan Thirsk said, he said to me, don't listen to your dad. When you get to be an old guy, that long swing will really do you well, because you'll have that rhythm, like this. I look at Padraig Harrington right now, he shortened his swing and I think he's having troubles because of it. I liked the length of the swing last year, and now he's shortened the swing and he's having a hard time with it. You lose your rhythm when you shorten the swing.

Q. How about the hip?
TOM WATSON: The hip is good. The hip is good. I had a complete hip replacement October 2nd last year, and it took me two and a half months before I hit a golf ball. And when I hit the ball, I hit 200 drivers as hard as I could, and I said, yeah, it feels good.

Q. Just to clarify something, there's a suite across the street with your name on it. You're in that room; is that correct?
TOM WATSON: That's correct. No, Vijay is in the big part of the suite. I'm in the small room.

Q. Was it named after '77? Have you stayed in it subsequently?
TOM WATSON: I can't remember whether I stayed in it subsequently or not. I honestly don't know. I stayed in the Watson Room at the Marina Hotel over at Troon, I remember that.

Q. You talked about obviously Sergio's support when you had your little dip slightly yesterday on the first nine. I was wondering today, when you had a slight dip again today, was it the Turnberry crowd, what was it, when you kind of came roaring back towards the end in terms of your emotions and the support you had?
TOM WATSON: Well, what I did today, you know, I scrambled really well today. And when you have that feel around the greens and just have that feel, that keeps you going. You know, you don't -- you're not thinking any negative thoughts. If I hit it in a bad place I'll get it up-and-down.

Q. And the crowd, I guess, built off that?
TOM WATSON: And the crowd was wonderful. I mean just every tee, every green, just, you know -- and the feeling is mutual, though, I have to say. The feeling is mutual; it goes back to them.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Tom, thanks very much for joining us.

End of FastScripts

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