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April 15, 2010

Tom Watson


DAVE SENKO: Tom, welcome. Maybe you can get us started. Probably had to be pretty pleased with your effort last week.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, it is a wonderful week last week playing Augusta, finally making the cut after I don't know how many years with my son on the bag, Michael, who proposed marriage to his girlfriend the Sunday before the Masters.
It was a great family week. I was telling -- I remember Jack and Jackie in '86 when Jackie was carrying the bag for Jack when he won the Masters at age 46. What a feeling that must have been for his son and the dad to be together when that happened.
Even though I didn't win, I think we still had some of those feelings, and that's what really made the week for me. Yeah, I shot 67, which first round I shot under 70 for I don't know how many years there, and then I shot my normal 74s and 73s and finished the tournament that way.
But it was really kind of a family week. That was the beautiful thing about the week.
DAVE SENKO: Questions.

Q. Just address going back to Pebble Beach and getting the exemption and what that means to you.
TOM WATSON: Well, I knew it was in the making. I knew that it was a pretty good chance I was gonna get an exemption. It was my first U.S. Open championship 1972 I played in. Never played as an amateur prior that that. Played national amateurs prior to that, but never the U.S. Open.
I have vivid memories of that week playing Pebble Beach. Greens were dead on Tuesday or Wednesday. They were blue, black, and just hard as a rock. Just like that. (Knocking on table.) Just like hitting the concrete, as in, Whoa.
Then the winds came up. Just to get on the ball on any green there was just a chore. I don't remember what I shot the first three rounds, but I do remember what I shot the last round. I shot 76. I passed 30 people shooting 76 on the last round.
You know, after I finished, ended up watching Jack win the tournament hitting the one iron -- hit the flag stick at 17. He wins by 4, I think. But the shot he hit at 12, I remember watching him hit that shot. He hit the typical Nicklausian shot straight up in the air. It lands basically on the front edge of the green and two hops. Second hop was over the green on the downslope. It hit that hard.
And that was into the wind. That's how hard this green was. Then he leaves it short and then he gets it up-and-down for bogey. Hell of a bogey. I forget what he did from then on in until 17, and then he wins by 4.
I have some pretty vivid memories of Pebble Beach. I think I played it about a dozen times in my four years in college. Some wonderful memories there. Never broke 75 when I played there as an amateur, ever. First round I broke par there was the Bing Crosby in '72. First round I made 17 pars and birdied the 18 hole. Perfect day.
So my love affair with that golf course has been in the making for a lot years. To go back there again is -- I'm very grateful to have another chance at it. Great bookends in my career playing my first and most likely my last, unless I play awfully well.

Q. Everybody remembers chipping in on 17, but you made a lot of amazing putts.
TOM WATSON: I did. You're exactly right.

Q. Talk about the other shots that you remember.
TOM WATSON: Winning the U.S. Open? You know, I remember hitting a good putt and missing it at No. 7 from about that far. What happened? I don't know. I just missed the putt. Those greens are not exactly smooth sometimes.
We played enough Bing Crosbys there when we had heel prints in the wet green about that deep. It was a minefield. You didn't know which way the ball was gonna go. They just chalk it up and said, Well...
Then I made a really good 6-footer for par on the next hole. Then I made a 25-footer for par at No. 10 ten after I hit it down in the cuculia grass to the right there trying to hit a cut 7-iron pushing t off over there.
And then 11 I made a 25-foot curler. I bogeyed 12, as I always do. And then 14 I hit it to the back edge of the green out of the divot from the fairway. Cut the ball actually. The ball stopped on the back of the green. Bruce and I, we made a good read and putt there. Great putt.
And then the two-putt I had at 16 after hitting the ball into the fairway bunker there to the right. Got sideways and hitting sand wedge to the back edge of the green and having to play a putt with ten feet of break coming down there. I rolled up up there about like that. That long putt right there, I mean, my touch was so on that day. My feel was so on that day. You know, I'm glad I -- obviously I'm glad it happened.
And then chipping in at 17 and then putting the ball in at 18. You're right. I made well more than my share of putts. I had to do that to beat the great player.

Q. Do you remember every shot of that final round?
TOM WATSON: No, I don't, but I remember those putts. I remember those putts. I think I birdied 6, but I don't know how I did it. I don't know. I think I birdied 2, but I don't know how I did it. I can't remember.

Q. Going back to the '72 Open, did you have to qualify to get in there?
TOM WATSON: I did. I did.

Q. And do you recall thinking at all that week, did you have any idea what was in store? Did you envision the great career that you would have or even contending in U.S. Opens down the road?
TOM WATSON: No. I was just happy to be in my first U.S. Open, to get to play in the tournament. You know, the U.S. Amateur was the one I wanted to play in the most when I was an an amateur. I think I tried to qualify for the Open once and missed it at Silverado when I was in college by a shot.
But, you know, now I'm a pro and this is the No. 1 tournament as a pro. My dad had a history with the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open. He could remember every U.S. Open champion there was from 1895 on. We would always play a little game. All right, who won the '34 Open? Who won the '43 Open? Ah, it wasn't played. We played little games. But he could remember them all.
Sam Snead was his idol, and Sam never won the U.S. Open. That was the one thing about Sam's career that he said, God, if I had won that first one -- I forget where it was, St. Louis, I would have won for or five. I put too much pressure to myself, Sam told me.
U.S. Open is our national Open and our national championship, and it's the one I wanted to win the most. Still do.

Q. When you were at Stanford and used to go to play Pebble, what's the most interesting thing, whether it's packing six guys in a little car and getting up at 5:00 a.m.? Is there was a story?
TOM WATSON: It was the doughnuts. Monterey had a little doughnut shop. They were little glazed doughnuts. I would get a dozen of and a quart of milk and that was my breakfast. I eat those before I got to Pebble Beach. I go in there and I had made friends with Ray Parker, who was the starter there, and he used to let me on for free.
As I recall, my first year I played there it was ten bucks. That was the greens fee. Ten or fifteen, something like that. That was a lot of money. Saving ten bucks was a bunch. Ray took a liking to me. That's how I did it.
I went down there Saturday mornings. I would leave at 5:00, get down there about 6:30, stopping for a dozen doughnuts -- the little ones.
Maybe that's the reason I never shot better than 75 looking back on it. No, and I say this honestly. I never played very well, but when I got to the 15th tee, I said, All right, let's see if I can finish with four pars to win the U.S. Open.
You play act. You know, every golfer play acts, pretends. I did it every time I played there. Let's see if I can finish -- I played like crud the first 14 holes. Let's see if I can finish with four pars. Never did it. Never did it.
Like I said, I never shot better than 75.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: I played solo. I would get off first and then I would be finished at 18 by the time they got to 10, the next group.

Q. You had a great duel with Freddy to win in Hawaii, and then he's done what he's done since then. How important do you think star power is on this tour? Seems to have an effect this year already with the buzz this tour is getting.
TOM WATSON: Well, this tour, like the junior tour, is based on star power. Not a question about it. This tour frankly has better star power than the other one does because of the names.
I think if you went down the list of the Pro-Am today and looked at the list of names there, you would definitely see names that you would recognize, people would recognize.
The over-40 generation. With Freddy playing out there, he has attraction to both tours, for sure. I wish he would get his butt and stay on the junior tour.
But he -- when you've got people like Tom Lehman out here; Corey Pavin is playing; we'll have Kenny Perry out here; Paul Azinger. We've got some names.

Q. Mark Calcavecchia?
TOM WATSON: Calc is coming out. The beautiful thing about our tour, and I've said it a hundred time, is that every year you got a new story to write. It's a new old story. Can the new kid on the block dominate the tour? Freddy is that story right now.
He's the Hale Irwin. He's the Lee Trevino who's dominating the tour as they did.

Q. Do you have any thoughts on how Tiger did last week given all that he had put himself through and playing his first tournament of the year?
TOM WATSON: Tiger is a great player. That's what he is: He's a great player. But Phil's victory was special and emotional and real feel-good.
It certainly was a counterbalance to the rest of the week with all the Tiger mania that was going on.

Q. Did you get a little overfill with Tiger mania last week?
TOM WATSON: Yeah. Yeah. It's a shame to see Woods out on the putting green with I don't know how many security people around him, 30, 40, 50 security people around the green. That's not golf. That's not the way we should project ourselves.

Q. I wanted to go back to the U.S. Open and the chip-in on 17. I seriously doubt you rank your career shots, but your most memorable?
TOM WATSON: That's pretty good. I say it's a pretty lucky shot, but I was taking dead aim at that thing. I was taking dead aim because it was a shot that went this way. It went down and to the right. If I could hit it as softly as possible off the downslope like this, I could get it within -- I felt like could get it within three or four feet.
I said, I've got try to hole this. I've got to try to hit the flag stick. It was absolute dead aim, left of the hole, and it came out as softly as possible. It's a shot that I practiced a lots during the practice rounds.
Frankly, when I went into that tournament I was hitting the ball everywhere. I couldn't find it. Could not find it. I hit it sideways first two rounds. I was hitting it so sideways that was where the gallery was. I had some decent lies and approaches.
Was 3-over par going into the 14th hole one day and the 15th hole the other day. The first two days. I don't know which ones, but I finished 3-under par the last five holes and four holes the first two days to get back to even par for the tournament.
Just hitting the ball sideways. Went to the practice tee Friday trying to make something that worked, and I made a switch in my golf swing and the light switch went on.

Q. Do you ever get tired of talking about that shot or having people bring it up? Ever?
TOM WATSON: If you ask me about it, I'll talk about it. That light switch went on on Friday afternoon on the practice range, and I just striped it after that.

Q. I would like to ask you about St. Andrews. Have you seen what they've done at the 17th hole?

Q. What's your thoughts on that?
TOM WATSON: I think it's a good deal. I think it's a good thing to do.

Q. Some people say that it's destroyed the character of the hole because they've taken the tee off the golf course.

Q. Yeah.
TOM WATSON: They haven't changed the line of the tee, have they?

Q. The angle as well. That's what Nick Price was saying also.
TOM WATSON: I didn't realize they changed it. You never knew the angle anyway because you were hitting over the wall and it didn't matter. They needed to add some length there honestly. They did.
Pros are always hitting layup clubs on that hole, except for Daly and that didn't count.

Q. You mentioned pressure. After your performance last year in the Open followed by your performance last week, there will be a lot of expectations on you when you go to St. Andrews. How much pressure will that heap on you?
TOM WATSON: My nerves are fried anyway. It doesn't matter anymore. It's an adventure out there. If I'm hitting the ball okay, I can play St. Andrews. I know what I have to do there as far as my putting is concerned. My long putting is pretty good. My short putting is sketchy, iffy.
But I could make enough short putts to be there and possibly contend.

Q. I'm guessing that '67 would have been your first time at St. Andrews. You had never been there before?
TOM WATSON: No. I didn't like it.

Q. I was your gonna ask you what you thought of it and how long it took you to come to appreciate it.
TOM WATSON: Well, in '79 I finally made the mental change. I said, / fighting this thing. That was after the U.S. Open. I remember the shot that really said to me -- I laughed. It was on the 7th hole, the par-5.
First day, Thursday, I hit a driver, 3-wood, 5-iron all solid. Knocked it on the green.
Second day, wind changed from the back. Hit a driver down there and I had 210 to the flag. I asked, What club is it? He said, 8-iron. I said, Nah, I think it's a 9. So I hit a 9-iron 210 yards pin high. I said, Bingo.
You know, it doesn't matter what the yardage is. It's the feel and how you play the bounce. Forget all the stuff that -- yesterday it was driver, 3-wood -- this is actually kind of fun to play.
You can tell stories about this. You hear lots of people that play links golf tell the same stories. I played it and it was -- every time somebody says I played Ballybunion, they say, I played it in 50-mile-an-hour wind and rain going sideways. The caddies didn't want to go out.
Everybody played Ballybunion that way. Battling the elements is what you think about link golf. Kind of like when you went to the old Bing Crosby. What do you talk about? The weather. What kind of weather are we gonna have? It was gonna blow, rain, do this.
Learning to love links golf was helped along in 1981 when I went over and played some golf with Sandy Tatum. We first went to Ballybunion and then we went to Troon and Prestwick and then Royal Dornoch and played those four courses prior to the Championship down at Royal St. George's.
I think that kind of solidified my appreciation and love for the game to watch my good friend Sandy and be with him and share his love for the game as we played those courses. It rubbed off on me.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: Three times. Well, twice in '79, uh-huh.

Q. Where were you and what were you doing when you heard about the special exemption?
TOM WATSON: Well, I knew about it prior to them giving it out on Monday. They came to me and said, you know, Mr. Heiler called me and said, I have good news. I said, Well, I'm very grateful and I'm looking forward to it.
He said, We're gonna make the announcement on Monday.

Q. If you hadn't received that phone call, would you have considered qualifying since Pebble Beach is such a special spot?
TOM WATSON: I don't know. I don't know. I was toying with the idea maybe, maybe not. I wasn't definitely going to, I can tell you that. But I wasn't definitely not going to, either.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: It's changed with the top 50 in the world now being the centerpiece of the major championship. Doesn't bother me, no.

Q. Do you think it's hard for the average guy to appreciate St. Andrews --
TOM WATSON: Oh, yeah.

Q. -- if a pro like yourself took a while?
TOM WATSON: It's very difficult to understand St. Andrews. You just can't get familiar with it. There are certain shots -- but then -- I mean, how do you play the 12th hole? Downwind, left or right? How do you play it into the wind? How do you play it with no wind?
I've had my difficulties at 12. Still can't figure out how to play that hole. I can't. Do I layup short? I don't want to do that. I've got to go in between -- that's too narrow. Do I go over to the right over here? You can't go to the left. There's a course over here.
I mean, you get pretty confused. You get pretty confused. Maybe I'll figure it out now. I don't know. I just took the driver in my hand and hit driver. Got in trouble hitting driver, so...

Q. All these years later, how do you now look back at '84 there? Does it ever enter your mind, bug you or...
TOM WATSON: No, No. You know, it bugs you at the time, yeah. It hurts. Like I said last summer at Turnberry, it tears your guts out. But it doesn't stay with you.
When all is said and done it's over. Can't do a darn thing about it. Why spend anymore time fretting over it? With the exception of what did I learn from my failure? What did I learn?
Kind of sounds like a Tiger Woods commercial, doesn't it? Let's don't go there.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: Yeah, what I learned there was -- just a second there. There's my caddie and he needs his belt. What was I saying? What did I learn?

Q. Yes.
TOM WATSON: The putting there was just horrible. I found I put so much pressure on trying to make putts that it caused me to miss putts. You know how much you want something sometimes and just can't let yourself get in that mentality. You have to let to happen.
In my older age I just kind of let it happen. Back when you're young and impetuous like I was, make it happen. The harder you try the worse it got. Kind of like in '94 in Turnberry. The harder I tried to make the putts the worse it got. We're all guilty of that on and off the golf course sometimes.
Definitely that's what I learned from that.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: Yeah, it's a learning experience. You know, you make decisions that you -- it's all about making the right decisions. I think I was prepared for it, which is the No. 1 thing have to do.
But make the right decisions. I don't question my decision on the last hole to hit an 8-iron. 9-iron I probably could have knocked it on the green, but if I mishit it at all, I mean, I'm short of the green and I can't get it there.
Maybe the only thing I should have done is when I get up to hit the shot, there was a stronger Augusta wind at my back. I had some wind at my back, but as I got -- all of a sudden it was -- there was a definite increase in the wind.
Maybe I should have backed off and done a Jack, but I don't play that way.
DAVE SENKO: Okay. Thank you, Tom. Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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