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April 16, 2010

Tom Watson


THE MODERATOR: Tom Watson, 32, 35, 67. Nice start to the first round of the 2010 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.
Few general thoughts about how you played, and then some highlights today.
TOM WATSON: Sure, Phil. Playing this golf course is like going through a minefield. There are a lot of shots out here that you're faced with water. Just about every hole you've got some water on it. I think I counted up one time. My short memory remembers 15 holes with water on it, something like that. So you're faced with water a lot.
To keep it out with the water, which I did with the exemption of one drive today, is kind of the game plan, and I did pretty well today.
Started off -- played some pretty good shots on the back nine, which coming in -- starting at 15, 15, 16, 17, and 18, you've got to play some really good golf.
I got fortunate. I got -- I made the birdie at 12, which you're supposed to make with a driver and a 5-iron. Really good drive with the 5-iron, and 2-putted from the front fringe.
Parred around to 15. I left my approach shot just short and chipped up for a gimme. Par.
And then 16, I knocked it over the green with a 7-iron. Hit a pretty good shot, but I just misjudged it and went over the green. Hit a poor chip, left it short, and I had an about a 15-footer to save par.
I asked my caddie Todd, I said, what do you think it does, and he says, I think it breaks a little left and some right. I thought it broke a little bit more right than left.
I pulled the putt about four inches and, heck, it broke more than I thought and went into the hole. One of those putts that you missed but it went in. That was good omen.
Then 18 -- I parred 17, and then 18 I missed it just to the right of the green. Fortunately didn't go in the water. Not a very good chip, but made about a 6-footer to save par there.
Then I went on a nice little run at 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3 I birdied. Hit it close on both 1 and 2 with four feet at 1 and about six feet at 2. 1 was with a 9-iron and 2 was with a 6-iron. 3 I hit a gap wedge about 25 feet and made that putt for birdie.
Then 4, water all the way along the right. I pushed my tee ball and ended up in the water. I had to retee it. Made a good drive. Good 8-iron in to about 15. Made double bogey.
Missed a short putt at 5.
Got it up-and-down putting off the fringe at 6 for par.
And then 7 I knocked on the green in two with a 3-wood and 2-putted from about 70 feet. Made a good 2-putt there.
Then 8 I made it from about -- heck, I made it from about 50 feet at 8. Made a long putt at 8 after a 6-iron.
Then 9 I had about 60-footer and left an inch dead in the heart on the last hole. My long putting -- I was getting my touch out there. I was doing well with the putter.
So didn't hit the ball real close to the hole today, but I, you know, I kept it out of water all but one hole.
THE MODERATOR: Questions? Please wait for the mic.

Q. I'm sure in the course of your career there were certain courses this the fit your eye better than others. Is this one of the those courses where you know that something in the 60s is there?
TOM WATSON: No. This course has eaten my lunch before. I have a great respect for this golf course. This course is a tough golf course. It can come up and bite you any time.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I play well, because I play it maybe a little safer than I would another course. But I've always had a great respect for this course. First time I saw it, I said, This is all you want, this golf course.

Q. When you started opening round with good putting like you did today, what does that do for your confidence the rest of the way to start that way?
TOM WATSON: Well, obviously there's a lot of confidence there. If you can make the putts, you're gonna win. If you're not putting well, you're not gonna win.
Somebody's got to slow Couples down of him making all the putts. Maybe I can make a few of those putts that he's making.

Q. When you had the hip surgery is I guess late '08, was there any fear that my golf game might not ever come back, or did you do it because you knew your game would be better for it?
TOM WATSON: Neither. Actually, it was a sleep factor. I had a hard time sleeping. The pain kept me awake and woke me up at night. Still a little sore right now when I'm walking. At Augusta it got a little sore from walking, and it's a little sore right now. But doesn't bother me when I swing. Bothers me when I walk.
It's not that bad. Before I was just stiff. But laying on my back, there was quite a bit of pain. I said, Heck, this is a lifestyle change. I had to do something about it finally. Didn't matter whether I could play golf again or not, honestly. I had played enough golf.
But this is pretty nice.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: It did free up my -- it did. It gave me a little bit more rotation in the hip. Just a little bit. So I'm grateful for that. I don't think it really changed my swing all that much. It's just coincidence, I think, more than anything else.

Q. You said you putted fairly well today. Talk about the greens. Are they real difficult or...
TOM WATSON: They're beautiful. They're great putting surfaces. I was told that they resurfaced them from last year; is that correct? They're beautiful. They did a wonderful job. Contours are all there.
They didn't change the contours, it seems to me. I haven't found anything really different. But they're very smooth. They're excellent putting surfaces.

Q. With your background as such a great champion and competitor, with the start Freddy Couples has, do you look that at that frustration or as I love it, it's a challenge?
TOM WATSON: I think he ought to go back and play the regular tour. (Laughter.) He's just loving it out here. Seriously, it's great for him to be out here on our tour. It really is. It brings people out to watch and gets our tour more notoriety when Freddy plays.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: Sure. Yeah. Darn right. I'm sure he wants to get back at me, too, after Hualalai.

Q. Couples said yesterday that ten years ago he didn't think he would be playing golf at age 50. When you were in your 40s, did you envision when you were 60 you would still be competing?
TOM WATSON: No, not at all. No. Didn't even cross my mind. Back before the senior tour it was very simple: You played your string out on the regular tour and that was it. You found something else to do after you couldn't make it out on the regular tour in I more.
As I said - I've said it a number of times - the Champions Tour is the only reason I'm out here and still competitive. Because I am still competitive on courses like this. This is a tough golf course. If the kids play this golf course they would have a hard time on this golf course. This is all you want.
It keeps me competitive. If I didn't have the competition of the Champions Tour, then I would have been history a long time ago in terms of the Masters and British Open. Wouldn't have a chance to beat.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Anything else? We'll let you go.
TOM WATSON: Thank you, Phil.


PHIL STAMBAUGH: /PHA*RBG, even your first nine and then you turn it on the second nine with 29 and 65. Right now your our /#4R50ED err at nine /PHUS 6. Good playing.
TOM WATSON: Fill, thank you. Obviously I'm pleased with my Brian score. Any time you make 6 birdies in nine holes you can't be too disappointed. On the backside I started off with a couple of birdies on, you know, certainly on 11 and 13. But I hit it in the water a couple times too on 12. 6-iron to the green and made par. [CheckAudio]. So you know, on the back side it was a little bit of a struggle. Made some good par saving putts that kept the round going. Greens are new and in really good condition but they're firmer. That makes it /TOUFR to be overly aggressive. You got to a /HROEU for the ball it release a bit more. Then good birdies at [CheckAudio] 6-iron to about two feet. That was really nice.
So just kicked off a nice start of the tournament.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Let's go /TPWHRAOU the round.
TOM WATSON: First birdie at 11. 8 /AOEUFRPB to about maybe 15 sure 14 feet.
Next birdie on 13 was a sand wedge to about 14 feet.
Bogey, I pulled my drive in the water so obviously had to drop up there and made bogey on the par-5.
The next hole I hit a good drive. 6-iron to the green and hit not a bad shot, but made bogey there. [CheckAudio] then I made a couple good par saves on 16 and 17.
16, just you know nice -- I made about a 12-footer for par. Made about a 6 and a half-footer for par on 17.
Then just tried it regroup on the front side. My caddie has work with my about four and a half five years, he said listen. [CheckAudio], submitted. I had a birdie chance on one that I missed.
Two I hit a 6-iron to about three and a half, four feet. Made that for birdie.
Three, I /TKR*EF it in the left bunker and hit a 9-iron out the bunker to about 12 feet and made that for birdie.
5 I hit a 9-iron to about ten feet; made that for birdie.
The next hole the par-3 I hit an 8 /AO*EURPB just off the front /TPR*EUFRPBG the green and made that from about 18 feet.
Par-5 I hit a wedge to about 12 feet. Made that for birdie. /PHRAEF then the last hole, like I said was 6-iron to about two feet. I certainly made my fair share of putts which was nice. Nice to get off to a good start.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Questions? Wait for the mic.

Q. Everyone's been talking about the greens being redone. Talk your putting today.
TOM WATSON: I think the key was -- and like I -- I got a little bit of you know of a less only if Tiger last week at Augusta. Trying get the footer swing off and release a little bit more than coming over it. I was rack Yeon my putts so he wanted me it swing two degrees more out to the right or something. I doesn't putt that great at Augusta but today I did a lot better. So that was nice. [CheckAudio]. The golf course is in really good shape out there. The fairways are great and the greens are in good shape, but they're firm. The scoring is not gonna be quite as low I think because of that.

Q. Do you find it anymore difficult to work at it as hard these days as you did back in the day?
TOM WATSON: You know, I would say that this is my 30th year the playing /TPEG /TPHAL golf /O it's been a long time. /#EU8D say that within the list couple years /AO*EUFR been more dedicated and focused. For me, I would say I've been more enthusiasmed about my practice sessions. I've always hit the ball very well when I've been practicing. I haven't brought it to the course /KWRELT this year. But I will tell that you while I practice I hit ball as good or better than I have for. . Years. It's just a matter of the [CheckAudio] with that just trusting what I need to do and doing it. Today, you know, I hit a few better shots when I needed to. I wouldn't say I was right on by any means were but yesterday on the /TPROFRPBT side I hit some more quality shots. If I can keep that up -- confidence, you just don't find it out there at street corner. Takes a while it build it. I like what I'm /ORBG working on and I hope I can take it it to the course. If I do, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to play well enough and condition at the end.

Q. Of that the best nine holes you've had in a while? Was it just a matter of forgetting about the other nine and regrouping?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, just a little bit of regrouping and certainly I hit some better drives and kept the ball in play on that nine and made some nice putts. No matter who you are, whether you're at regular tour /O or this tour you got to putt well and did I today. Which was good.

Q. You talked about great practices and --
TOM WATSON: Yeah, because it gets frustrating. Even after Augusta I hit it good there in the practice rounds and not that good Thursday and Friday. Missed the cut by two shots. Look, I don't necessarily expect to win but I know I can play better than did I. So that's frustrating. I went home to mouse on and I hit some [CheckAudio] I mean, you know, why I don't do that out there, that's the frustrating part.
So a little of it is getting a little bit more into maybe into the shot and believing I can do it. I know that it's in there.
Whenever /*E whenever there's a little bit of doubt, we all experience it myself concluded, makes the [CheckAudio] free myself up a little bit will help a lot.

Q. A little of topic here. Do you /TPHO*EPB know when the first time was you played St. Andrews?
TOM WATSON: Wow, maybe in the early ''80s.

Q. Would you have played the '84 /PWREUFP British?
TOM WATSON: I I think I did.

Q. Had you ever been before before that?
TOM WATSON: No. I played a lot of done hill cups there too back in the old /TKAEUDZ.

Q. Curious what you thought of it at first and if it took a while it grow on you /-FRPBL if D the first team you play you can't really see where you're going out here you get done and think, what was that all about. Now that I've braid this close to 1 ooh /ORB two hundred rounds at St. Andrews, I would tell that you it's one of the finest courses you can play. Only because every day it plays different because the wind. Bunker you look at and you're like, what's that over there for. Next day. [CheckAudio] now I know why it's there. I've seen it in all conditions. One year in the done hill Cup I was 9-under through 12 holes. I had a chance of the.
But I shot 8 /URPBDZ with do you believe on 17, but I would say that I've also seen it where I did driver 3-iron on No. 1. I've seen all the different conditions that can happen there. That's what makes the golf course so special.

Q. Do you think what you just described-0-described makes it hard for the average guy to appreciate it?
TOM WATSON: Absolutely.

Q. Hear all that great stuff and show up and maybe play once or twice. If you only play once it's hard it appreciate what St. San degrees did all about. But because I have such a great admiration for links golf, I played a lot in Europe and a lot of the Open Championship and I have a great passion for that keep type of golf because I think create actively comes into play a lot more. You're in the required to hit one type of shot. You can hit a 6-iron in 85, 90 yards? A 9-iron from 96 /O, 70. Yards. So there's such a wide array the shots you can play. That makes it special?

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I would say /PWURBG daily is my favorite because I won in '98. I had a chance to win in 91. I won a European vent at /PWEURBG day. [CheckAudio] it's pretty visual. Not a lot of blind shots there. Pretty straightforward.
In saying that, to me it doesn't matter. Any lynches course I love.

Q. Just real quick, the putting lesson you got from Tiger, when was that?
TOM WATSON: He had his camera and phone and they made a big deal about that. He just told me to swing a little bit more down the line or off to the right and /TKPAOEL the toe release instead of coming over it.

Q. Were the putts falling at the Masters?
TOM WATSON: Not really.

Q. Was there ever a thought of --
TOM WATSON: No, no. I agree with what he told me. That's what you do. He just kind of reminded me.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: /PHA*RBG, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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