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April 8, 2010

Tom Watson


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, we are delighted to have Tom Watson. As you know, this is Tom's 37th Masters. He won in 1977 and 1981, five British Opens, a 67 today, 5-under par. Would you briefly go over your round before we invite questions.
TOM WATSON: Okay. I started off on the first hole and hit a perfect drive and a good 7-iron to the back left of the green, and I'm just trying to 2-putt, the ball goes in the hole for birdie, about 30 feet. Nice way to start.
2, I missed a short birdie putt, left it short.
3, I made birdie. I hit hybrid off the tee and a 9-iron in about eight feet and made the putt.
4,5,6, long two putts. 7, another long 2-putt.
8, I missed a pretty good birdie putt from about 12 feet.
9, I putted from just on the fringe for par.
Then, I missed five greens in a row. And I got the ball up-and-down on every green from 10 through 14. They weren't real close. (Laughter) 10, I hooked my drive too much. I got a good break. It ended up in the left rough, rather than the bushes over there. I was on the downslope trying to draw the ball around that new tree they planted over there and ended up short of the green, good place to be, and I pitched it up there and made about a 4-footer for par.
11 is playing right into the teeth of the wind. I hit a real good drive. I hit a hybrid that I thought was a good shot. The wind fooled me there and blew it to the right rather than to the left. I had a touchy little chip from just right of the green and I knocked that up stiff. I knocked that up a foot.
12, I pulled a Fred Couples. Hit a 7-iron, hit just -- missed the center bunker just to the right, stayed up. Didn't come back in. Chipped it up, a pretty easy chip and chipped it up for a gimme par.
13, hit a driver just through the fairway, perfect lie, fanned a 3-iron into the right into the creek, dropped it out, pitched it up about six feet and made it for par.
14, I hit a big drive, tried to hit a 1990s Watson 7-iron, and hit it thin. Hit the top of the slope and came all the way back. The flagstick was all the way back left, and I pitched it with a sand wedge to about six feet and made that putt for par.
Then I hit -- well, I actually didn't hit the last four greens. I missed 17, but I putted on 17, anyway.
But 15, I hit a big drive, hybrid second shot over the green. Didn't want to chip it back in the water, so I left it a little short. I hit the putt too hard from about 30 feet and went right in the middle of the hole; birdie. (Laughter) Well, I'm just telling you the truth. It was going a little hard.
16, I hit a real good shot to the right of the flag. It's the most receptive flag position on the green. Probably be a hole-in-one there today, or two. It came back just short, and I used my past experience on that putt to know that it didn't break left. It actually broke a little bit right, and I made it dead center.

Q. What was the club?
TOM WATSON: I hit 7-iron, made it from about 12 feet.
17, I hit a big drive. I hit 6-iron just over the green, hit a good shot into the green but just went over, putted it up for gimme.
18, hit another good drive, 7-iron, playing it downwind. Hit a 7-iron that hit just in the right fringe, into the bunker and the green and trickled by the hole about five feet and I made that putt for birdie.

Q. Your son on the bag, and the circumstances of Sunday, it's already been kind of a big week for you?
TOM WATSON: It has been.

Q. Wonder if you can put the ribbon over that whole package for us?
TOM WATSON: It's been a wonderful week. My son proposed marriage when we played the practice round. We played on Sunday on Augusta National, the 13th hole, and his bride-to-be didn't know anything about it. Everybody was in on the scam, including Mr. Payne, from the top down, everybody knew. Got some great pictures of it, so we had a nice celebratory dinner at La Maison downtown, with my brother, and that started the week off very nicely.
I think a big part of my success today was having my son on the bag. He said, "Dad, show me. Show me you can still play this golf course." You know what, I wanted to show him I can still play the golf course.

Q. Jack was in here this morning after hitting the first tee ball, and he said you would say this course is too long for you to compete anymore; what do you say to that?
TOM WATSON: Well, I have said that in the past, and there are certain holes that give me a lot of trouble, let's put it that way.

Q. But he doubted himself after he said it.
TOM WATSON: (Laughing). There are certain holes that just don't -- I can't hit the right shots into it the greens. But today, everything was pretty good today as far as the winds were concerned. They had the tees up on several holes, except for 18. They put it back about one yard from the back of 18.
You know, as they did last year; they wanted some scores shot in the first round, there's not a question, and the golf course is receptive today. I took advantage of that.

Q. Are you trying to redefine what's possible out here in these things?
TOM WATSON: Well, as I say, I had a good run at Turnberry, and I had a good start to the year this year. I've been making some putts, so that's been good. Short putts still don't feel worth a darn. It's always an adventure when I have a 4-footer.
You know, playing Augusta National, there's a lot of experience you have to use to play this golf course. And you know that you have to put the ball in certain positions or you're going to make bogey. The shot that I hit today, for instance, No. 5, I played a shot there that I wouldn't have tried several years ago. I would have tried a different shot. I hit a low, running 5-iron into 5 that landed short of the green, ran up about 20 feet from the hole and almost made the putt for birdie.
It gets me back to maybe thinking that that's the way the course was originally designed to be played. Byron Nelson, a great story about Byron, I played with him in a practice round, Andy North and I played a practice round with him, oh, 15 years ago and got up on the 14th hole. And you know 14th hole, it goes up and falls over, real narrow there and Byron hit a drive out there and said, "Tom, this is the way we used to play this hole." He took a 3-wood and drilled a low, running 3-wood up there and knocked it a foot from the hole. Knocked it 40 yards short of the green and ran it up there and said, "That's how we used to play it." Well, that's how I'm having to play it. (Laughter).

Q. Have you watched the Honorary Starters before and what did you think of today?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I've watched it before. It's an important part of this tournament, and my friends are there, Arnie and Jack are there, to be the Honorary Starters, and I wanted to see them hit off. It was a special moment.

Q. After the round, your son was asked about your goals for the week, and he said his perception was, "I think he's out here to win, not just make the cut." He said that was not something you said but his feeling coming from you; what were your goals?
TOM WATSON: My goals were to play better than I've played in the last five or six years, and I achieved that, for the first round; for the first round, right.
I'm playing pretty well. I've said I have to play better than 90 percent to be successful on this golf course. My driving has been very good. That's been much better than 90 percent. My iron game is just a little questionable. My putting is, I would have to say, above 90 percent, so I'm above that 90 percent threshold.
So I give myself a decent chance from that perspective.

Q. What did your sons say to you before you went out? Was there some sort of inspirational words today?
TOM WATSON: As simple as, "Come on, Dad, let's go out and play a good round of golf." He didn't say for a change. (Laughter) But I knew what he was thinking.

Q. Going back to the Honorary Starter this morning, did I hear you turn around and say, "Let's go shoot 67"?
TOM WATSON: I don't recall. That's too long ago to recall that. Maybe I did. I don't know.

Q. Can we say now that Lee Westwood is your new rival? Is that how it's working out these days?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, he was one of my picks this week; Lee, and Freddie. I picked Freddie.

Q. Do you think these guys get surprised here looking up and seeing your name on the scoreboard more so than they would at Turnberry?
TOM WATSON: I don't know, you'd have to ask them. It doesn't matter what it is right now. It matters on Sunday. That's all that matters. Every player in that field knows that.
The beautiful thing about this golf course is that there's a tragedy awaiting you just about on every hole. It's always there. And you always know it. And that's what can happen here. It's never over. I remember Arnold Palmer hitting the ball in the bunker with a 6-iron at the 18th hole, and -- is it '63?

Q. '61.
TOM WATSON: In '61 he buries it in the bunker and makes double-bogey. There's a tragedy right there.
It's been that way there. But there have been great finishes on the last hole, birdies to win. How many birdies have been made on the 18th hole, recently? Phil, O'Meara, Vijay. There have been several birdies on 18 to win this golf tournament. It's been a great finish.

Q. How often has Michael caddied for you, and does -- is this still coming down -- not coming down, but going up off of Turnberry? How much can you point to that as the way you're playing, the bounce in your step, just everything else going forward?
TOM WATSON: Michael has caddied for me once before, and that was in the Watson Challenge a couple years ago when I won. That's the tournament that I started in Kansas City that just the local people could play in, local pros and amateurs. He caddied for me there.
So I'm one-for-one with him. That was 2008.

Q. And what about Turnberry?
TOM WATSON: Turnberry, well, at Turnberry over the time after Turnberry, I would have to say that there's been a certain glow about the whole situation, even though I finished second. And the glow comes from the people who watched it and who have come up to me and have commented to me about what they thought of it.
You know, there's been a couple of them that -- actually, more than a couple, but a lot of them have said, you know, I'm not too old now. You've just proven to me that I'm just not too old.
I say, well, I'm playing on this Champions Tour. I'm playing against the old guys. Some of you here say, well, get rid of that tour, it doesn't mean anything. But it does mean something when you play competition. If you continue to play competition and the chips are down, as you're trying to make as Freddie Couples a 4-footer on the Champions Tour, and a 4-footer at Augusta, you're still competitive.
Before the Senior Tour, what happened to the old guys? They had no place to play really, no place to stay competitive, and we do now. I give credit to going to Turnberry and that -- getting back to your point, after Turnberry, that glow is still around. And it comes from people who is said, "I just have to say something to you."

Q. Given whether it's you this week or Freddie, is it almost inevitable now that we will say a player over 50 win a major championship? And if you were handicapping the four majors, where is that most likely to occur and where is that least likely to occur?
TOM WATSON: Wow. It's a longshot for somebody, still, honestly, of our age to do it. But still, they can do it. There's not a -- I've said The Open Championship are on courses that are bouncy and they are firm and they don't play as long as Augusta National plays.
So in my perspective, I felt better with a links course in my hands than Augusta National. Ask Freddie. Freddie's right there. He can carry the ball 300 yards still in the air. That's a long way, for a 50-year-old.

Q. Bearing in mind this is the low score you've achieved at Augusta in 20 years --

Q. No, in 20 years. Where would you place this in the best rounds you've played?
TOM WATSON: Well, tied for first. (Laughter) It's all about the score.
Actually the 67 I shot in 1977 to win, that was awfully special.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tom and good luck for the rest of the weekend.

End of FastScripts

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