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October 28, 2009

Tom Watson


DAVE SENKO: Well, Tom, welcome. Maybe first off, you know, you're a three-time winner and won the Charles Schwab Cup a couple times. Maybe just talk about coming back. You missed last year with your surgery. Maybe just share your thoughts on coming back.
TOM WATSON: If there's was any year to miss, it was last year with the weather. The weather was rather wet last year. But this year we're supposed to have good weather.
I played this course pretty well over the years. There's certain critical holes you gotta play well, you have to play well. If you do that, you're gonna win.
Last year, Andy Bean looked like he ran away with it. Just no contest. Lapped the field. But the golf course is a good test of golf. A lot of variety to it.
With this type of wind, it's got a lot of long shots you have to play into the greens. The greens are quick, but perfect. So if we don't have much wind, even with the rough growing as it is, we're gonna see some low scores. We're gonna see some really low red numbers, I think, on the golf course.
DAVE SENKO: How have you been playing coming in? I know you didn't play last week.
TOM WATSON: I played pretty well at Houston. I had a few good rounds there. I played well at the Constellation, at the Baltimore Country Club.
I'm on the crux right now of putting well, so that's what I'm looking forward to in the next four rounds, see how the putter works. It's almost there. I shouldn't really say that. I should just wait for it to happen. I shouldn't say that it's almost there. That's the kiss of death.
But it felt awfully good today. Even though I didn't make anything, it felt really good today. See what happens in four rounds. Be nice to see a lot of putts go into the hole.

Q. Working on the putter?
TOM WATSON: I made a change on the putting green this morning. The consistency wasn't there until I made the change, and then consistency all of a sudden is there. Not all of a sudden, it's just because I made the change. The ball is starting off on the line I'm trying to hit it.

Q. Is there something that you know about these greens that is an advantage to you?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, they all slope to Indio. They do. (Laughter.) Indio is south. Right down there. They all slope to Indio. That's the joke we say when we're in Palm Springs: all putts break towards Indio.

Q. You've always played this golf course well. What kind of feelings do you have about this golf course?
TOM WATSON: Well, the positive feelings is that I feel like I can make some birdies. I can get on a run and make a lot of birdies here.
Negative right now is my short iron game is I consider lacking right now. When I played here well, my short iron game has been right on. You need to drive it well, and I have been driving it well. And that's not a given, but it makes life a lot easier when you're hitting the ball out of the fairway all the time.
So that's -- my short iron game could be a little bit sharper. I think I may have figured a little bit of that out today, too, so...

Q. You said critical holes. Are there just a couple critical holes out here?
TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, I think 8 -- sorry, 7, the par-3 is a -- you know, 7 and 8 and 9 and 10. That stretch of holes, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Right there. You play those holes well, you'll do well on this golf course. You can make some birdies on those holes.
But you have to do a lot of things right there on those holes to get yourself in position for birdies. That's the stretch of holes that I feel are critical holes.

Q. What kind of emotions did you take away with you from this year's British Open that are with you today? You played so well for four days.
TOM WATSON: Well, the emotions really are just -- I wouldn't call it emotions so much as the warmth that I took away from it, from how people responded to it. They responded from e-mail to a pat on the back to letters to all sorts of different ways of communicating that really humbled me. The enormity [sic] of the response was unforeseen.
As I said outside, I was just trying to win a golf tournament when I was doing it. A lot of people were there pulling for me, and I knew that. I'm kind of an honorary Scot.
But afterwards, it was -- you know, the response from the people in America and around the world, it was very special.

Q. Did you have any idea or did you really feel it when you got back to the States?
TOM WATSON: I really felt it when I got back to the States. My e-mail broke down. I had so many e-mails coming in, outlook Express broke right down.

Q. Didn't you say you were going to answer everybody?

Q. How are you doing on that?
TOM WATSON: I've been answering the letters. I've still got a big box of letters that I still haven't answered. They e-mails will be answered, too. They're all in a special folder right now. I'll answer those.

Q. That's gotta be fun. An arduous task, but a fun task.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, it is. Just, you know, didn't realize I was creating such a stir. I really didn't.

Q. On the radio coming over this morning, and somebody was talking about the Schwab Cup, and said had you won the British Open, it would've been the single greatest moment in golf history.
TOM WATSON: (Laughter.)

Q. That's just speculation, but, you know, it's pretty significant.
TOM WATSON: Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Q. How does an e-mail account break down?
TOM WATSON: You know, I don't know. There was just so many. There were thousands. Just couldn't handle it.

Q. Were you able to retrieve every single one of them?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. It just said, Nope, I'm not doing this anymore. You know how computers are.

Q. You wanted just to take like a week or two and just sit down and personally respond to each one when you had the time?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. Yeah. I just hadn't had the time. The last half of this year, it was scheduled to be really busy. I'm just doing a lot of different things: Producing an instructional videotape, for instance, a set of DVDs that have been planned for a long time. I'm going to Iraq with a group called Troops First here in the next month. You know, got a couple of golf courses. They've been working on new projects there.
You know, that, playing golf, and learning how to ride cutting horses has been a full time.

Q. Cutting horses? When did this start?
TOM WATSON: Two weeks ago. First time on a cutting horse and now I'm hooked.

Q. Really?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, we have had cutting horses in our family for six, seven years. I've never ridden one because my hip wouldn't let me. Now I've got a bionic hip and I can spread my legs and get on a horse. I did fall off last week, but didn't hurt me. He went one way and I went the other and it was, See ya.

Q. Was it a total hip replacement?
TOM WATSON: I did, yeah. Total joint. Yeah, they did both of acetabulum and the femur component.

Q. I had that done myself. You have a prosthesis?

Q. Who did the surgery?
TOM WATSON: Joel Matta. He's at St. Johns Hospital down in Santa Monica. That was last year. Second or third of October last year.

Q. How do you feel, Tom?
TOM WATSON: Great. It's been terrific. I think it took me -- I want to say it took me about six months to feel like it just never happened before.

Q. Was it aseptic necrosis?
TOM WATSON: No, wasn't aseptic necrosis, it was severe arthritis. Severe. Just bone. The femur was just locked in the cup in there and just didn't want to move. The only time I really had any pain was at night sleeping. Laid straight on the back, straight, hip, leg. Had to raise the leg level like that. It was a pain -- it was a pain in the leg.

Q. Did they say how long it would last?
TOM WATSON: Who knows. Who knows. Hope it stays with me until I die.

Q. Not to add any projects to your list, but seems like in all the e-mails and letters there could almost be a book in there.
TOM WATSON: Well, there's been some people interested in doing a book. That, too. You know, there's a...

Q. Seems like a lot of content would be in there.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, there is. There's some real contacts in there. Again, a time element.

Q. Golf First project?
TOM WATSON: Got one in Kansas City that will be finished up next summer. Just the new nine holes. Renovation. Then a small project down in the Ozarks down for Johnny Morse at the Top of the Rock.
Then there may be one in North Carolina. Like to think there's -- there's interest in two golf courses in China, but we're trying to determine the best way to do that right now.

Q. Asia seems to be, as near as I can tell, obviously it slowed down in the States.

Q. And Europe seems to have slowed down, too.
TOM WATSON: Eastern Europe is not. They slowed done because the economy slowed down. Very simply stated, with China, when golf was instituted in the Olympics in 2016, it's gonna make a big difference in China. They want to compete in that. The phone is ringing. Yeah, a lot of different people.
There are certain ways to do this in China, to start golf and do it the right way and make it affordable and get people interested in the game. You know, produce pretty good golfers.

Q. What's gonna be your role next year Green Briar with the taking their event there?
TOM WATSON: You know what, the U.S. Senior Open is the same week. It's my understanding that the U.S. Senior Open's the dates will change the following year, 2011. So I'll probably play in 2011, but I can't play next year. Told Jim Justice that. You know, I said, I'm sorry, man. He said, Well, you gotta play the U.S. Senior Open. I said, Yeah, I do. It's at Sahalee this next summer, so we'll -- like to be there at the Green Briar. Got a more important tournament to play, one that I haven't won yet. I'm close.

Q. 2011 you're looking forward to that?
TOM WATSON: 2011. You been there?

Q. I have not, but it's on the list.
TOM WATSON: It's a great place. Green Briar is a great resort.

Q. How long you been filiated with that now?
TOM WATSON: This will be five years I've been -- they asked me to be the pro emeritus five, six years ago. They reupped my contract for another five years.
I been going there since 1979 to the Ryder Cup, and every year since then.

Q. That's the course they played the Ryder Cup on?
TOM WATSON: They played that on the Nicklaus course, the Green Briar course. This course is the old course, which is an old course that they came in and renovated and got the greens really tricky.

Q. How do you think that'll hold up?
TOM WATSON: I think they'll shoot some really low scores and have some fun playing it. The last hole will be a lot of fun, because it's got that horseshoe in the middle of the -- it's a short par-3, but it's got a four-foot kind of horseshoe that goes through the green like this. You're hitting it this way. It goes through the horseshoe like that. If the dune is long and you're short, you gotta go up and over.
They got all kinds of little pin positions that --there's will be holes in one on that hole. It'll be a great finishing hole for them. Be a good tournament. They'll have a great time staying there, too. So many things to do there. So many things to do. Good family place.

End of FastScripts

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