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July 23, 2009

Tom Watson


STEVE TODD: Tom, a good start. Nice to be back out on the course and to start so well.
TOM WATSON: Well, it was a good start. I played well. I made some good early putts and missed some makeable putts in the middle of the round, and then had my opportunities in the last four holes to make some birdies I didn't make.
But I played a good round of golf, kept the ball in play off the tee. That's what I did last week. I kept the ball in play off the tee, which is critical here.
You can get in some bad lies here just like you could at Turnberry. You have the heather, and you have the bunkers; these are beautiful bunkers here. And I'm happy, obviously happy with 67 starting out. It was a good score.
STEVE TODD: With everything that's been going on, did coming down on Monday and just getting straight out on the course, did that help you?
TOM WATSON: Sure. I came down Monday. You can just imagine a lot of thoughts were going through my head. I wanted to go out and replay that putt from the back of the green and said, the heck with it. That's history. That's over and done with.
I said, well, I'm going to be too tired to play a practise round and then said, don't wuss out. Just go out and play. You need to get to know the golf course. And so I went out and played it. Played a nice round of golf with Bob Gilder who beat me out of ten pound on the back nine. Didn't like that.
But I played in the Pro-Am on Tuesday. Yesterday I took kind of took a day off. I did some things for MasterCard yesterday, a sponsor of mine, but I took the afternoon off trying to figure out my e-mail, which I did. My e-mail Outlook Express is completely shot. But I can get back through my e-mail and the PGA TOUR link, so that's good.
It's been really great to be able to communicate with various people around the world. Although it was kind of a sad day. I got a text this morning, a friend of mine died of brain cancer, just a couple of years older than I am, a friend from back home. It puts it back into the right light. So it was a good day, but kind of a sad day.

Q. And was Outlook Express shot because there was so many messages for you; is that what you mean?

Q. Couldn't cope with it?
TOM WATSON: The IT experts there at the Tour who helped me, they said, you can only have a certain amount of gigs of information in your inbox, and it was -- I mean, there's nothing in there now. I had quite a few old e-mails in there, but there's nothing in there now.

Q. Can't your kids help you with that stuff?
TOM WATSON: Well, I don't have my kids with me. I don't have the kids with me.

Q. Can you remember a time when you felt this popular, if you know what I mean, on being this much in demand? Have people been thinking of you as much? Have you ever experienced anything like that before?
TOM WATSON: Frankly, no. It was quite a -- just the out pouring of people communicating with me, I've never had that happen before.

Q. Can you give us a flavour, was there a couple that really touched you perhaps?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think as I said yesterday, the day before yesterday, the most touching thing was Jack Nicklaus calling me and saying, "Tom, I've never watched 18 holes in my life. I watched No. 1 to 18. 18, you hit two perfect shots. The ball should have stayed up," he said. I didn't know. Nobody told me that the ball was just barely just trickling over the green. And he said, "You know, you hit the right club for your third. It was the putter." And Jack doesn't patronise you, and he doesn't patronise me. That soothed the wound just a little bit.

Q. You talked about having two hours sleep on Sunday night. Have you felt tired at all?
TOM WATSON: No, actually not. I had a wonderful sleep on Monday night and got back to good stead. I'm not tired.

Q. Would you say 67 was about the worst you could have scored out there today, the way you played?
TOM WATSON: Well, as I said, I made some early putts that I probably shouldn't have made. I'm happy with the score. It could have been a little bit lower. You always like to be a little greedy.
The last putt on the last hole, that lipped out. I hit a good putt there and was coming in there, it was hit just a little bit too hard, lipped it out. You know, 67, it puts me right there.

Q. The one you missed on 13, when you hit that, what club did you hit off the tee by the way?
TOM WATSON: That was an 8-iron. That was an 8-iron.

Q. A shame you missed that one.
TOM WATSON: That was about eight feet. I'm not very good on 8-footers right now. (Laughing).

Q. Did Jack say you had inspired him to make a comeback?
TOM WATSON: I said, "Jack, we got to go bonefishing. You've been promising me to go bonefishing." We had a trip lined up earlier this year, and a good friend of his died and we had to cancel that. But he's been travelling. I talked to him before I came over to the British Open and he said he was gone 31 out of 33 days from home. He's just going around the world.

Q. Your pal who has unfortunately passed away from brain cancer, what was his name, and has that, again --
TOM WATSON: Well, I don't need to give you his name. It was just a good friend and we had a good time. We had a good time.

Q. Did you know he was ill?

Q. Could you compare and contrast the golf you've had to play today with the golf that you were playing at Turnberry, the type of golf?
TOM WATSON: Today, it's a different golf course. This doesn't have nearly the links characteristics as Turnberry, the bounciness. We had a little bit of rain that just softened the golf course up. The greens, you know, the greens to me, here, they seem like they get a little moisture on them, they slow up immediately. They really just slow up quite a bit.
On Monday when I played the practise round, maybe it was just coming from Turnberry's greens which were very slow compared to these greens, these greens were quick. They were fast. And then Tuesday, we had the rain in the morning, I left everything short thinking the greens were going to be faster.
No, it's two different golf courses, two different conditions. I played here back in '88 , I think it was, either '87 or '88, and played it when it was firm. It was bouncing. That's a nice way to play this golf course when it's like that. It's not like that now.

Q. Might be like that on the weekend, though.
TOM WATSON: I think, aren't we supposed to have some pretty good showers tomorrow?

Q. The weekend is supposed to be nice. Greg just said after what he did last year at the Open, he had 51 weeks of people coming up to him and congratulating him. Are you prepared for the next year of that?
TOM WATSON: Well, I guess I'm going to have to be, aren't I. As I said, the outpouring of people contacting me and giving me their best wishes, and condolences, you know, again, put things in perspective. It's been a great go. It's been a great go for me.

Q. Given it all, how difficult was it just to concentrate on your job, daytime job as a professional golfer today and get on with it?
TOM WATSON: Honestly, it wasn't difficult at all.

Q. You were still able to switch off and do the job?
TOM WATSON: That's what I've done all my life, no matter -- whether it's the biggest story you've ever written, and all of a sudden you have to write another story. Same thing with me. That was a big story last week for me. But here it's a different story this week. I've got to write it. Let's get on with it.

Q. Can you write mine, as well?
TOM WATSON: (Laughter).

Q. When you came into the media centre on Sunday at Turnberry, it was the death of us for what would have been the greatest story we had ever written; so we were as much disappointed in our way as you were in yours.
TOM WATSON: I understand.

Q. Can you feel a little sorry for Stewart Cink?
TOM WATSON: Of course I do. I don't know if you know David Letterman, but David Letterman has a show and Stewart was on and they have the Top Ten List there, and I don't know exactly the gist of the list but the gist was something like, Top Ten things that was great about the British Open for Stewart Cink, and he goes all up and down through all of these different things. And the No. 1 reason why it was really great to be at the British Open is that, "Even I wanted Tom Watson to win." (Laughter) It was just hilarious.
But yes, you have to feel for Stewart. But Stewart's a good man. He's got a great family. As I said, he won the championship. He won The Open Championship.
I remember playing at Turnberry when Carl Mason made a double-bogey on the last hole. I ended up winning in a playoff. I know that -- I said to Jack Nicklaus right after that, that evening, I said, "I was really lucky." He said, "No, you've got to play all 72 holes. You've got to do it."

Q. Of course Gary Player would say you didn't lose The Open, you won The Open, you lost the playoff --
TOM WATSON: No, I lost The Open.

Q. Looking back at that 18th at Turnberry in regulation, was there any sense in which the emotion and drama of the situation knocked you out of the magnificent groove that you had been in all week?
TOM WATSON: On the contrary, I hit two perfect shots on the last hole; on the absolute contrary. I couldn't hit the 8-iron any better than I hit it. I could have hit my putts better than I hit them, the two shots right there. When the ball was in the air after the 8-iron, I said, that's exactly the way I wanted to strike the shot.

Q. Have you watched many replays of that putt for The Open?
TOM WATSON: I don't want to. That was the ugliest stroke in the world. I don't want to relive that thing. (Laughter).

Q. Never seen it on TV then?

Q. Did your two playing partners today, did they feel like talking about next week or did they not brochure the subject?
TOM WATSON: Greg called me prior, and today he just shook me hand, said "Well done."
I said, "Well, you know more than anybody what it feels like."

Q. He now thinks he can win next year at St. Andrews.
TOM WATSON: I said, well, you've got me by five years now. You ought to be able to win at St. Andrews."

Q. He said yesterday that he really sincerely believes that someone 50 or more will win a major in the not-too-distant future.
TOM WATSON: It can happen. Wait till Tiger turns 50. (Laughter).

Q. Do you believe, Tom, you'll have another chance to win a major?
TOM WATSON: I can't win the Masters. The Masters would have to be really running fast, and they don't ever do that at the Masters anymore. They want that course to play as long as possible: Mud on the ball, all the fairways are mowed into the grain so the ball sticks in it, you get mud on the ball. You've got to hit it nine miles in the air to carry it up on the 17th and 14th. I can't do that anymore. I can't play that golf course because of the conditions.
But, on the contrary, I can play links golf. St. Andrews, as I said, the 4th hole there, that could be my Waterloo, that hole, because I don't think I can carry the ball with my driver over the rough area. I don't think I can get it over.

Q. Aren't they doing some modifications to that hole?
TOM WATSON: Have you heard? I hope they have. They really should on that hole.

Q. They are. Peter has also said he wants you to drive further down the right-hand side.
TOM WATSON: The right-hand side down by the whins. That was like about a ten-yard area. I mean, that's your choice, either hit in the rough over here or hit in a ten area between the whins here and the whins here. No, I don't want to go over there. I'll hit it in the rough over here.
STEVE TODD: Thanks a lot, Tom. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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