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May 26, 2010

Tom Watson


KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, rejoins us. 2001 Senior PGA Championship Tom Watson.
TOM WATSON: That was a long time ago, Kelly.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom, this will be your 11th Senior PGA Championship. You were fourth last year at Canterbury. Comments, please on this golf course. We have heard some interesting comments from players today on a --
(Wind howling.)
TOM WATSON: What did you say?
KELLY ELBIN: And this new venue.
TOM WATSON: (Making wind noise.) What did you say? It's howling out there again. I played -- I actually played in the morning and it was really pretty calm in the morning for the first about six holes. And then somebody turned the fans on.
It will be interesting to see how they set up the golf course. They're going to have to use some good judgment setting up the golf course, if they know the winds are going to be coming and blowing this way.
So it's a wonderful golf course. I really enjoy it. There's a lot of variety to it, which I like in a golf course. You've got uphill shots and downhill shots, I like that. I like the variety of greens that Ben's built in here. He's built some real small greens and real big greens. I like his bunkering. The routing of the golf course I think is very good.
So I would like to see it just not blow this hard. Just so we could have a chance to play the golf course and get to know it. Because I don't think very many people have gotten to know this golf course yet.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom you're off at 8:40 tomorrow morning with Ben and Michael Allen.
TOM WATSON: Well I can't ask Ben for much information, that's a two shot penalty.
(Laughter.) But, no, we're out early tomorrow at 8:40. I don't know if the weather is supposed to be like this tomorrow. I think it's supposed to maybe calm down a little bit. Maybe a little warmer. And yeah, it depends on the wind. If we get a good shot at the golf course without any wind we'll start to get to know it a little better.
KELLY ELBIN: Let's open it up for questions.

Q. The wind, it's not all together unusual, this is a little stronger than we see day-to-day, but I can't help but think that you're licking your chops a little bit at that. You've won some tournaments in some wind. What kind of adjustments do you make when the wind kicks up over breeze status?
TOM WATSON: Over breeze status? What happens is that you throw the yardage somewhat out the window and you play by feel. And then you add the element of the elevation in here, and now you got a lot of complications going on. Wind, elevation, and elevation, uphill and downhill shots.
(Wind is blowing) All right. I hope this tent survives.

Q. It's been here four years?
TOM WATSON: It's been here four years, all right. Well but, so it gets complicated, the formula gets complicated. And to get the ball to come out right is a real challenge. I've always felt that challenge is the biggest part of the game. To be able to hit -- with no wind, it's no challenge. If you add wind, elevation, and elevations like this and you get the ball to go the proper distance, that's where you win, that's where you pick up strokes. That's what you have to do to beat the wind.

Q. You spoke a little while ago about four years from now maybe being out here competing at age 64. Obviously you're doing pretty well these days at 60. How do you account for all the success you're having now? Is it the ability to do things like play by feel?
TOM WATSON: Well, that's part of it. Playing by feel comes from a lot of experience. And when you're 60 years old you've had just a little a little bit of experience. And it helps to be able to hit the ball pretty solidly and I'm still capable of doing that some of the time.
I still enjoy the competition. The people ask me why am I out here. I'm out here to compete and beat everybody. Just like I was when I was 7 years old and I wanted to beat my 10 year old older brother. And I still like to compete and win. I still feel like I have the capability of doing that. But when I don't have that capability, that's when I'm gone.

Q. With sort of the Trifecta of high wind, elevation changes, and the thin air, are we likely to see some squirrely shots?
TOM WATSON: Well, you might see some shots that are misjudged, let's put it that way, a lot of misjudgment out there. I've always had a difficult time in the mountains. I've always felt that the distance control is hard. It's hard for me up here. And I've always prided myself in hitting the ball the right distance with every club in the bag. And you add the elevation to it, and it's just a different ball game.
The other thing that doesn't happen as much is the wind doesn't affect the ball as much, quite as much. I don't get that. If I'm in a strong cross wind, right-to-left, I'll hang it out there in the rough and the ball doesn't move enough. It doesn't move enough. But it's hard to not play that wind when you're used to playing that wind at sea level. So that's another complication to the thought process out here.
You would think going downwind the ball's going to go forever. But in light air, I find my ball drops going downwind. And it may roll when it hits, but I can't carry the ball downwind especially like I used to when I hit the ball a little higher.
But again what I'm saying there's a lot of complications going on here. You can make it as complicated as possible, but I'm just going to try to make it as simple as possible to kind of go by the yardage and say, all right, 10 percent, I'm going to kind of play it 10 percent, seven to 10 percent is what I'm going to play and hope I get the right distance.
That's what I've used in the past and it's been pretty successful, although my distance control is not nearly as good here as it is in lower elevations.

Q. Assuming the wind calms down, what advantages and disadvantages are there playing at altitude?
TOM WATSON: Well the disadvantage is judging how far, just what I said, just judging how far you hit it. When you come from sea level or those climates you have a certain distance in mind for a certain club. Now when you get up in the higher altitudes the ball's going to go farther. It's going to go flatter trajectory, it's going to go farther, probably going to roll a little bit more against the green. So that's the complication.
The easy part is hitting the ball a little bit farther. You can hit it, hit the ball farther. I hit my pitching wedge 145 yards, rather than 130 yards. And that, that's the difference. And, but sometimes the pitching wedge will go 153 rather than 145. Other times it will go 149 rather than 145. And there's 10 yards right there. And I'm a lot more accurate at sea level than I am up here as far as my distance is concerned.

Q. You are one of the few people that has beat Fred Couples, that has won a tournament this season. Are you surprised at the success that he's had, because it's not automatic that you come out here and win like that.
TOM WATSON: Oh, yeah I sure did see the success. There's not a question. When Freddie was playing last year I said, oh, no, he's playing pretty good against the kids. And the way he, how far he hits the ball -- I played with him at -- I played with him in California at a sea level golf course. I was hitting 5-irons into par-4s and he was hitting pitching wedge. There's just a little bit of an advantage there.
He hits the ball very high, and the one thing about elevation is height is the very big positive. If you get that ball up in the air and launch it high, you can hit the ball a lot farther. Like 17, or 16, the par-5, I mean he drove it right up there by that fairway bunker, 350 yards out there. Okay. What did he have to the green? Oh, wedge. I don't know. I mean that's pretty good. Wedge into a par-5. Maybe it was an 8-iron, I don't know. We're back there trying to hit a 4-iron in there, with the downslope.
I like this golf course, getting back to the golf course, there are holes on this golf course that really make you think that you need to play short of the green, play certain shots into the greens, and into the fairways, and it makes you think. And I give Ben a lot of credit for the wonderful golf course he's done here.

Q. I got some questions for you about your memories of the links. It's completely off the subject, but we're doing a show for kids, kids golf. And I just wondered what your thoughts were on the tournaments that you had fondest memories of and just wonder after, at the links --
TOM WATSON: Links golf are you talking about?

Q. Yes, at Pebble Beach.
TOM WATSON: Oh at Pebble Beach?

Q. Yes.
TOM WATSON: Oh, my fondest memories there? Well, I don't know, was 17, I don't know.
KELLY ELBIN: Let's do that one.
TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, that may have been my fondest memory there. But, gosh, I remember playing there when I was going to school at Stanford. I played there about a dozen times. I had a deal with the starter there, his name was Ray Parkin. He was a member of the 40 Thieves. He loved the game and he was starter at Pebble Beach. When I first went there it cost 10 bucks to play and then it was 15, 30. And he let me on for free.
And I would go down there Saturday mornings and I would tee off first, play by myself, and walk the golf course. Play in about three hours. And play Pebble Beach without having to wait for anything.
Never broke 75. But my fondest memories were always trying to play the last four holes in even par. And put the pressure, no matter how many over par I was, I said at the end of 15, I said I got to play these holes in even par. But that chip in, getting back to your fondest memories, that was one. Winning both Crosby's there in '77 and '78, that was some wonderful memories there.

Q. What was your impression of the golf course?
TOM WATSON: My impression of the golf course?

Q. Yeah, your impression of it and maybe the future, what you think the future holds for that course?
TOM WATSON: For Pebble Beach? Well, my impression is just about like everybody else's impression in this room. When you think of American golf, what golf course do you think about? That's the first golf course you think about. Well, I bet half of you would say Pebble Beach. That's the number one course that you would think about in your mind.
The future of the game there is, they have added some length to the tees for the Major, for the long hitters. And that, I don't think they can probably make it much longer than that. So you're probably going to see as long a Pebble Beach as you're ever going to see.

Q. We got some honorees that, kids that won some awards for that. Do you have any encouraging words for kids in terms of playing golf, the ideas that you have that are behind that perhaps --
TOM WATSON: I don't quite understand the gist of your question.

Q. Just we're trying to support kids playing golf. And if you got --
TOM WATSON: And where are you doing this?

Q. Actually in Pebble Beach.
TOM WATSON: At Pebble Beach.

Q. Yes.
TOM WATSON: Well the main thing for a kid to have is a mentor. Somebody older than they are that can help them learn the game and also be a mentor. Make them look up to them. And I think that you combine the two, that gets kids on the golf course. And it keeps them there.

Q. Do you see any advantage in having an early tee time in the first round here, particularly?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, if it's going to blow. If it blows in the afternoon like it does here, yes, darn right there's an advantage. It's a big advantage.
But who knows, it may be blowing 50 tomorrow morning and die in the afternoon. There was a great story about Weiskopf, '73, British Open, Troon. He gets a 3:45 tee off time. Tom just won the Canadian Open, and I mean he had been playing well, he really rededicated himself because his father passed away. And he gets all upset because he had such a late tee off time. "Why did they put me off so late?"
Well, Thursday morning, blowing about 40, raining sideways, at 3:44, p.m. the skies open and the winds died and he shot 66 or I think to start the round and he won the tournament.
(Laughter.) They can go both ways.
Seve. Seve used to complain big time. He would say, "Oh, why do we have to have such big tee off times variances like this. And people in the morning get the good breaks and the afternoon get the bad and vice versa."
You know, how many years I've been out here? Out here 39 years? 39 years. It's kind of evened out. It doesn't really affect, if you get the bad luck of the draw, I mean you just get the bad luck of the draw. You just deal with it. At 8:40 tomorrow morning I hope the winds are not blowing like this, to be frank with you.
KELLY ELBIN: You have a win on the Champions Tour, you have two Top-10s this year. How are you playing this year compared to say the four days you had at the Open Championship last year?
TOM WATSON: Well, I'm not playing quite as well right now as I was then. I'm not driving the ball quite as well as I did earlier in the year. I have some questions right there. But it may sort itself out, you never know.
Hit the ball very well on the practice range this morning, but then on the golf course it was somewhat sketchy. Yesterday I played well on the golf course in the pro-am. So it's somewhere there.
I haven't played for a long time so I got to get my legs again. And I got to get the competitive, got to get the competitive thing going. It doesn't usually leave very much, the competitive part of it. But just getting my legs and getting in tune with the scoring. That's what I have to do.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom Watson, thank you very much.
TOM WATSON: Thank you, Kelly.

End of FastScripts

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