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May 29, 2011

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: This is the heaviest trophy in professional golf right here.
KELLY ELBIN: Congratulations.
TOM WATSON: Thank you.
KELLY ELBIN: Ladies and gentlemen, the 72nd Senior PGA Champion, Tom Watson. This is Tom's second PGA Championship title and with the title today Tom becomes the second oldest winner of this prestigious championship.
TOM WATSON: Who is the oldest?
KELLY ELBIN: The oldest was Jock Hutchison in 1947.
KELLY ELBIN: He was 62.
TOM WATSON: Wow. Okay.
KELLY ELBIN: Tom congratulations and certainly open it up for comments on another victory today.
TOM WATSON: Thank you. Thank you. Well today was, it was -- there wasn't a stroke that separated us the whole day, it was just everybody was right there the whole day.
The race was tied I don't know how many times today and it was one of those things that you just didn't know who was going to win this tournament.
And I was, I hit the ball better today than I did yesterday with my irons. I drove the ball well again today. I think that was -- again, I've been driving the ball well.
But I made some key putts today. I made some key putts that got me going in the tournament. The putt at 10 for birdie.
The putt at, let's see, I saved par at 13. I made it from about, oh, 10 feet on 13 for par. I'm sorry, I made it about five feet for par at 13 and then 10 feet on 10 for par and then I made the long putt on 15 from 22, 23 feet, something like that.
KELLY ELBIN: From the fringe.
TOM WATSON: From the fringe. And the pin was on the, the flag was right on very back of the green and that, and I had good opportunities at 16 and 17.
17 was a little bit long.
And then 18 I made a stroke the way I normally make strokes anymore, it went inside and I pushed it and I said, oh, geez. Now what do I do.
But at least 18 gave me a little bit of understanding about how not to play the hole in the playoff. Don't go over. Being in the bunker was the right place to be. And my second shot in the playoff hole, frankly, I was just trying to hit the ball as high as I could and if it got lucky and hit the front edge of the green and stayed on, fine. But if it went in the bunker, it is just where I wanted to be.
And it ended up in the bunker in a perfect lie, an uphill, slightly uphill bunker shot, and hard sand, and made a good bunker shot out there and didn't take very much time on the putt just one practice stroke and said, let's get this over with. And I made a pretty decent stroke and the ball went in and that was the tournament.
So all in all the week, I played some really, really good long irons this week. The first two rounds today as well. This course required a lot of long irons to be played with the length of it, the wetness of it.
And again coming into the tournament I didn't -- I really didn't give myself any chance coming into the tournament. The way I was practicing before the tournament last week in Kansas City. And the light switch went on, I went back to a move in the back swing that I had not been doing or been using and actually Max over at Adams said, you're picking the club up, picking the club up. Just using my hands taking it away.
And I thought about just dragging the club back as low as I could keeping everything together on the back swing. And lo and behold the swing started working again. And it felt very good for most shots. I hit some clunky shots with the short irons, but the long irons were very good for the most part and, God, winning again, that's at 61, I don't think it's an age thing, but, God, I've been out here a long time.
Obviously it never ceases to be enjoyable, winning a golf tournament. And I'll go back and think about this golf tournament as, it is a Major Championship for us out here, but I'll be thinking of this tournament as a, as I said out there, if this is the last tournament I ever win, it's not a bad one to win.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions.
TOM WATSON: I'm living on borrowed time right now at 61. You know. These young kids coming out here hitting the ball so much farther than I do and, you know, their nerves are pretty much still intact. And they don't have the aches and pains and I've been lucky with that, but I'm starting to get few aches and pains and I feel very fortunate to have won. Very, very fortunate.
KELLY ELBIN: Questions for two time Senior PGA Champion Tom Watson.

Q. On that shot from the fairway there David said you kind of looked over at his ball. Did you change your thought process when you saw when he was in the rough and might not have been able to get there or would you always have tried for the bunker on that one?
TOM WATSON: No, I was always going to try for the front edge of the green as high as I could hit it or in the bunker. That was the play. Not where I hit it in the regulation. Going over that green is not where you want to be with that flag in the back.

Q. Why is it that you think you have been successful through all the years? What about your makeup, your personality, talent, what was it that set you apart that allows you to win for so many years and so many big tournaments?
TOM WATSON: Well, I learned to swing the golf club properly at age 46 and it's been a great ride ever since. As I said, coming into this tournament, I wasn't swinging very well, but one tip that just a light bulb went off and I said, that was one of the keys when I found my golf swing, the right way to do it, 1994 at Harbour Town, I found my golf swing, and I went right back to that same feeling and which I wasn't doing.
And it's worked that way ever since. Ever since that time in 1994. It's been 15 or 17 years now. The game remains fun. It's fun when you hit the ball where you're looking. Not fun when you miss short putts, but it's fun, it's fun to hit the ball where you're looking and hit the quality shots when you have to when the chips are down.
That's what I'm out here to do is compete and I enjoy the pressure and putting myself under that pressure to hit those shots that I have to hit. And if I am successful, that's what, that's my makeup. That's what I want to do.

Q. What were you getting by on before '94?
TOM WATSON: Smoke and mirrors and not very good either. I struggled before '94. I had a good stretch there -- two times in my career where the light bulb really went on. One was in Japan in 1976 off a side hill lie in a pro-am in a tournament that I ended up winning. I made an adjustment in my swing and that one thing really propelled me and made my swing very consistent at that time.
And then in 1994. I made an adjustment there that has continued to keep my swing pretty consistent.

Q. You've won some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world on some of the greatest courses in the world. Can you compare the emotion of winning this tournament to some of those, the Opens and Masters and things like that.
TOM WATSON: Well, when you're walking up the 18th hole and you have a chance to win a tournament like this, you're nervous. You're nervous. But you've been there before. And I said, okay, I know that level of feeling in my gut and now let's go take care of business.
I took care of business on the pitch shot in regulation. I didn't take care of business on the putt.
One really good shot and then one terrible shot.
But that's, when you're coming into a Major Championship, that's, you know, it's just a series of shots and if you hit enough good ones and not too many bad ones you're going to be right there. That's sort of what I did this week with the exception of number 10. I kind of messed up number 10.
But I got even with it just a little bit today. I double bogeyed it the first I guess -- I bogeyed it the first round, 3-putted from the back of the green and I made 7 on the second round, struggled to make par yesterday. And today I made birdie.
So I was looking at that hole saying you know if I don't win this golf tournament, that hole right there, one hole, would have cost me winning this golf tournament. But fortunately that didn't happen.

Q. You were sagging a little in the 2009 playoff at Turnberry. Here on that bunker shot you literally ran up the face of that trap. I don't know how you do that. But what was the difference about how you felt with your titanium hip both times, what's the difference in your feeling in the playoff, the two playoffs?
TOM WATSON: Well, I was in control of this one, I guess, a little bit -- I had the advantage in this one. When David pulled his drive where he put it and his second shot where he was, he had to hit -- he hit a really good third shot. But I still had the advantage because my ball in the bunker was -- I'm going to get that close. I'm not going to mess that up. I'm going to get it within, should get it within six feet. And I hit it closer than that.
But the same -- you know in the playoff with Stewart, and I hit a good drive off the bat and I didn't hit another shot. Except the putt I made for par in the second extra hole.
And, I don't know, you can't tell. I don't know how much longer I could have gone today. The heat did affect me front nine a little bit today. I was, I slowed down a little bit. I didn't walk very fast. I was pacing myself today. And drinking this stuff here (Indicating) this Gatorade stuff. And that helped a heck of a lot.

Q. Were you aware that you ran up the face of that trap?
TOM WATSON: Wouldn't you in that situation? I wanted to -- well you know what I wanted to do was make sure that if I, if, you know, if it kicked right and/or how close was it going to be, I could see some sort of line then.
I know -- I knew it was left of the hole, but if it was going to kick right, it broke, it broke right, that I was trying to play a little bit left of the hole because it broke right. And I was thinking that, you know, let's see how close it's going to be and if it goes by, let's see the line as it goes by.

Q. Putting from the fringe is always difficult because it adds another variable to it. On 15 could you talk about the lie you had and how the grass was lying and did it --
TOM WATSON: 15 wasn't going -- yeah, it wasn't anything at 15. It was just, I had a piece of poa annua, I had a clump of poa annua right in front of the ball and but it was smooth enough. It wasn't too bad.
I tell you where I had an awkward situation. On 12 today, my ball, I hit a good shot into the green and it ended up in an old cup. And I marked my ball, moved, I moved the mark a putter head length and then I tried to pry that thing up because it was sunken. And I guess I didn't pry it up high enough because as soon as I hit the putt the ball went just popped right straight up in the air. And I thought I had it up there high enough, but I didn't get it.
But where I really messed up today was 9. I didn't hit a very good drive, I hit a pretty good second shot, but I left myself with a left of the green and tried to putt up the grainy slope there and then going down like that. And I misread the speed completely there. Just barely got it on the green.
That's where you misread -- at Augusta, for instance, when you're putting off the green at Augusta you have to really really hit it hard. And if you get it skimming on top of it now it goes too far. But it's dense grass that we use now, this, these types of grasses we use now, when you have some height to it, it's slow.

Q. Two things, how long would you say the bunker shot was in the playoff?
TOM WATSON: Oh, it was probably the flag was on 13 or 10. About 10. And I was, it was probably about 45 feet.

Q. Talking about finding a swing secret and losing it and finding it again, can you just talk about that being one of the mysteries and maddening things about the game?
TOM WATSON: Well, it is the game. It is the definition of the game. I don't know how many times I've been close enough to feel like I could touch it, I could smell it, but just actually touch it and grab on to it like this, and then when you get that close you feel like you've got it, and then all of a sudden the wheels fall off. You say, where did it go? Where did it go? And your confidence goes down with that.
That's the beauty of this game. Bobby Jones said it's played between the five inches here (pointing to head) and that game is -- it's not -- all the cliches are accurate about this game. It's not a game of perfect.
You try to be perfect -- as Ben Hogan was once asked, he was asked, what's the perfect round of golf and he said 18 birdies. He has anybody ever made 18 birdies? No. They haven't. 15. But not 18.

Q. There was a lot going on in front of you, behind you, did you try to keep up with it?
TOM WATSON: Yes, I did.

Q. And how well did you do? There was a lot going on out there?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I knew my position the whole day. When both Murota and Irwin bogeyed 6, now the game's on. And I, it was a -- again, it was a horse race where everybody was nose to nose. And I saw David playing well and he played well here, David I'm sure he probably talked to you about it, but his playing privileges were pretty, it was pretty sketchy if he didn't play well at the Legends and win the Legends and do well like that, you know, he's going to have to do some things like qualify. Which is pretty hard to do out here.
So I knew that he was serious about this thing and you can't control what anybody else does. You just can't do it. All you can do is control what you do. And that's all I've ever done out there. But I want to know my position, I want to know what I have to do.
On the 18th hole I wanted to know what David had done, I asked the cameraman behind, I said, what did David do, and he said he made par. So I said, man, you're all right now. Let's see if I can make birdie here. Almost.

Q. You played here in '96 the first time they brought a Major here. Can you talk about Valhalla 15 years later, your thoughts on the course and how it held up this week.
TOM WATSON: Well it's changed from the standpoint of the design of the greens. The greens are more difficult, I think. Not a question they're more difficult.
The 6th hole is the hole that everybody talks about, they say well, God, how could they build a green that difficult for that length of hole. But I can't complain about that, I played that hole 1-under par. I could have made -- and I had a 15-footer today and I had a 15-footer on the first day.
I made a birdie on the second day.
So that, I played that hole well. But this golf course is, the greens when they're dry and you can hide the flags on this golf course. It's a real challenge. It just sets up well for me. Contrary to what most people think, I like to hit a fade. A fade's an easy shot for me to hit. And I think it takes a lot of fade off -- it sets up for a fade on this golf course.
I don't know, it's just, it's just one of those courses that I feel comfortable on. There's other courses where I don't feel comfortable on. And I just hope they keep coming back here.
KELLY ELBIN: As a reminder, Tom tied for fourth here at Valhalla in 2004.

Q. You said winning these types of things never gets old, do you appreciate different things about winning now than did you 20, 30 years ago? Are there different aspect?
TOM WATSON: Well I'm thinking to myself I'm saying, how do I do this? And I guess that I just -- every day I say about my mom and dad, thank you, mom and dad, for giving me the genes to be able to play injury free. And the talent that you put into me.
My dad put a lot of passion into me as far as the game and work ethic. And my mom, she could give you that look. And I just, I look at this, it makes you want to go out and play more.
I'm headed to Dick's Sporting Goods, I haven't played that golf course for years, but I remember enjoying playing that golf course a long time ago. And to the British Open, the British Senior Open. I'll be playing in the 3M up where my daughter lives up in Minneapolis. I haven't played there for a few years. And I'm going to have a busy summer. Plus I've got Watson Challenge coming up in Kansas City here in couple weeks.

Q. Any thoughts about U.S. Open qualifying?

Q. When you won your first Senior PGA you got pretty emotional talking about what your dad would have said and I believe your answer was, "Well, son, you finally did it."
TOM WATSON: You finally did it, you won that PGA Championship. Right. That's right.

Q. What would he say having won it again at 61?
TOM WATSON: "It was about time."
(Laughter.) My dad was a man of few words.

Q. Does this ease the pain at all of not having won the PGA Championship?
TOM WATSON: Well, I would have liked to have won the real PGA Championship, but this is a great substitute for it, sure. I had it in my grasp to win the PGA a couple times, one time in particular at Oakmont.

Q. You and Jack had your battles, is there something about Nicklaus designed courses that you like? Is there something consistent about them?
TOM WATSON: Well, there's certain courses I play well that Jack builds and others I don't play well. Last time I played a Jack Nicklaus course, let's see, is the Bear's Club down in Palm Beach down there. I shot 85. I said, Jack, you make these courses too tough.
I drove it in every fairway but one, I shot 85. The wind was blowing. But I kept on going for the par-5s in two and there's just, just the outside my reach, it's a 3-wood to the front edge or the 3-wood to the middle and I was making 7s and 8s and, but there's certain -- Jack can make a tough golf course.
KELLY ELBIN: 10 years removed from his first Senior PGA Championship, Tom Watson is a Senior PGA champion again. Congratulations.
TOM WATSON: Thank you.

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