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July 15, 2011

Tom Watson


Q. You've had a string of British Open memorable moments. Where does this one fall?
TOM WATSON: Well, that's another one. It was ironic, this morning I was watching Pádraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie on the show discussing The Open venues, and what do they show? They show Gene Sarazen on the postage stamp making his hole-in-one with a 5-iron. He hit a heck of a shot in there, beautiful swing right there, dropped it under, hit that 5-iron, a little draw in there, and maybe that's what inspired me today; I don't know. That's the second one I've had in a major championship. I had one at the U.S. Open in 1980 at Baltusrol on the 4th hole in the first round. Maybe it was bookends.

Q. How many did you have in your career?

Q. This was No. 15?
TOM WATSON: 15, yeah. Most of them have been in competitive rounds of some sort. Probably one of my most favourite was at Oakmont in 1969, I was playing in the U.S. Amateur, and I got off to a very bad start, 4-over par for the first seven holes, and the 8th hole was a 230-yard par-3. You know how long that thing is, and I hit a 3-iron in the hole. Then I birdied the next hole to get back to 1-over par and ended up shooting 75 the first round, and that's a really tough golf course, and that kind of got me back into the tournament. And I ended up qualifying for the Masters by finishing fifth. So that kind of propelled me onto that.

Q. Just for a moment there it looked like you had a surprised expression on your face.
TOM WATSON: I didn't see it. You can't see it go in. I just saw it on the replay in there. It was a slam dunk. If it missed the flag it would've been 30 feet by. But it was lucky. They're all lucky when they go in. But that's what I was aiming at.

Q. What did you hit?
TOM WATSON: I hit a 4-iron. It was into the wind about 160 yards. Old guys hit 4-irons 160 yards into the wind. The kids are hitting 6-irons.

Q. Not too many guys are 61 and playing in the British Open. How special is it for you to be here? And why is it that every year you're here you seem to -- you're not here as a ceremonial player?
TOM WATSON: Well, I guess I refuse to be a ceremonial player, and until that time comes, then I'll hang them up. But I still am disappointed about the three three-putts I had today. I three-putted -- they were long three-putted, but my distance control was not very good, and I missed six-to-eight-foot putts, and that's disappointing because that puts me at 1-under par for the tournament rather than 2-over par for the tournament.
The winner of this golf tournament is going to be around par somewhere, I think. They're not going to be screaming under par with the weather forecast the next two days. It's going to be a difficult -- it is a difficult golf course, but the conditions are going to make it super difficult the next two days.

Q. Despite the fact that you're hitting 4s when they're hitting 6s, how does your experience factor in?
TOM WATSON: If my putting was a little bit better, I'd give myself at least an outside chance, let's put it that way.

Q. What were your thoughts on your young playing partner?
TOM WATSON: Tom Lewis was -- he played a wonderful game yesterday. As I said, he hardly missed a shot yesterday. Today he missed a few shots. Got the ball going off line a little bit a few times today. But with the wind going and different wind today than it was the last four days or three days, it's a new golf course. A couple holes, like No. 4, he hits the ball in the bunker. Hit a beautiful tee ball there but it ended up in the bunker. It's one of those things, God, was that bunker really there? That's what happens in links golf. You think you've hit a good shot, and all of a sudden -- you know what it is; you're dead. And then sometimes you hit a bad shot over a hill, and you're like, where did that go? In the hole.

Q. Have you been particularly impressed with the way he's managed his way the last two days? You must have seen plenty of great young 20-year-olds.
TOM WATSON: He's a good -- he's a fine player, he really is. He's got strength, he's got a wonderful putting touch, pitching touch. He flights the ball very well. He has a very good complement of shots in his bag already as a 20-year-old, and that's what you look for.

Q. Talk about the 18th, hitting that wooden post.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I know, I got lucky.

Q. If you could give him one piece of advice, what would it be?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think the most important advice is, don't get too complicated in your life. You can get it very complicated by adding a lot of people and a lot of things in your mind. Keeping it pretty simple is -- keeping the mind free of clutter is the most important thing. That's not to mean that you don't prepare properly, and you understand everything that's going on on the golf course when you're playing it. But the clutter is what we -- you don't need the clutter.

Q. Is links golf too much of a crap shoot?
TOM WATSON: No, that's what makes links golf links golf. That's what people don't understand. There are about 230 true links golf courses in the world. Most of them right here in the UK. You play these golf courses, and my very first links golf shot was right down the middle of the fairway, and I almost lost the ball, and I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all. It took me four years to start liking it, liking the way the game is played on a links golf course. Some people never start and they never enjoy it, they never like it, like you say. But the course is there. That's what we have to do. We have to play the course, and you have to play the luck of the bounce. Sometimes the imagination comes into play big time in links golf. That's the beauty of it.
I heard one of the players I played with in a practice round today say, "links golf, I love it. All we do all year is just play yardage, ball, air, flag, yardage." Here you get the yardage but then you start thinking, what do you do, how am I going to get there, where do I get this ball where I want it to go? Sometimes you just can't get it there. You just can't. We played the par-3s in the practice round downwind, 6 and 16, couldn't get on the green downwind.

Q. What did you do with the golf ball?
TOM WATSON: I gave it to my wife.

Q. What did you do with the other ones? Do you have the other 14?
TOM WATSON: No. I've got the first one, and that's a good story. The first one is a good story. When I was a lad of 11 or 12, I was playing by myself, Kansas City Country Club, and the second hole was a little short par-3, and I made a hole-in-one. So I played the 9th hole up because I had to go tell somebody. I went into the pro shop, and the only guy there was John Cosnotti, who was the assistant pro. "I made a hole-in-one." I had read in Golf Digest, there was an advertisement there, if you made a hole-in-one with a Dunlop ball, you sent it in and you got it connected to a plaque, a No. 1 wooden plaque, and they sent it back to you. So I said, "John, I made a hole-in-one, I want to get this plaque." So we go look at the advertisement, and John looked at it, and he said, "Tom, we've got a problem. You have to have a witness. You have to have somebody that had been there for the whole round." My elation went from here to, oh, man. He walked over to the window looking down 400 yards to the 2nd hole and said, "You know, Tom, I saw that go in." (Laughter.) Put his signature on the scorecard. I still have that No. 1 ball and I still have that No. 1 plaque with the Dunlop No. 4 ball on it.

Q. Do you know his name?
TOM WATSON: C-o-s-n-o-t-t-i. He lives in Pittsburgh.

Q. Anybody on the tee today make a good comment?
TOM WATSON: No, just pumped, fist pumped.

Q. Davis was in here earlier and he said -- I was asking him the same thing I just asked you, why is Watson doing what he does at the Open, and he said, "when it gets windy and raining, he gets excited." Is that true? This weekend might be brutal.
TOM WATSON: It's one of those things, how do you deal with the weather and the elements on a links golf course and where do you hit it? If the wind is coming out of the southwest at 30 miles an hour, I don't know if I can get to the fairway on No. 4. Now where do I hit it? You have to start really thinking about these things.

Q. Do you still enjoy that?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I like that. I like having successes. All golf is is just a series of victories and defeats; that's all it is. There's many victories, there's many defeats, there's major victories and major defeats each time you play a round of golf. It's all about that. And links golf, man, you can hit -- what I love about the crowds over here is they're sitting around these greens here, and they may not have seen a ball hit within 40 feet of the hole all day on some of these holes, and when it gets 50 feet from the hole, they clap. They clap for a 50-footer, you know?

Q. If the Tour was played on a steady diet of links courses, how different would the roster of winners be, do you think?
TOM WATSON: Well, it would make -- everybody would be bald because they'd be pulling their hair out. They would. Links golf is fun to play, but you need a break. You need a break. As I said, this championship is played on links golf courses, and that's its moniker. That's its badge. That's what it is. People don't understand what links golf is. They see golf courses all around the world called "the links." Well, they're not links. They don't play firm and hard and fast and fiery like this. They don't play like that.
Until you play a golf course like that in strong conditions, in strong wind conditions, you don't quite understand where you are, you just don't.

Q. Would you say it's actually sometimes harder downwind than into the wind?
TOM WATSON: It is. It is harder sometimes, especially with the new golf ball. The new golf ball doesn't spin enough. When it's hard you need a spin, any golf ball. We're playing this bouncing ball. Before you could flight it a little bit down, and now that new ball is awfully hard to spin down.

Q. Overall assess your game, please.
TOM WATSON: Overall the three three-putts were the things that bothered me the most today. I had long-approach putts that I knocked up -- knocked six, eight feet from the hole rather than three to five feet from the hole, and I missed those putts. That's the disappointing part.
The good part is I drove it well and I made some birdies where you're supposed to make birdies, and you throw a hole-in-one in there and it's a good day.

Q. You weren't real happy with how your game was on Wednesday, did something click?
TOM WATSON: Nothing clicked yet. Just still toying with the golf swing a little bit. It's not quite there yet. The iron game is a little better today I'd have to say. I hit some good iron shots.
I drove the ball pretty well today and I hit some good iron shots today. Overall played better from tee to green today than yesterday, although I drove it really well yesterday.

Q. Do you feel that you can keep doing this -- for how long do you want to keep doing this?
TOM WATSON: I don't know.

Q. Until 65?
TOM WATSON: Until this whole body says no más. Until I can't compete. If I'm out there not able to compete and shooting 80 or 78 or 76 all the time. I'm not going to stay around very much if I do that.

Q. Was winning at Valhalla nice a few weeks ago?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, that was nice. I wasn't playing worth a damn at Valhalla, and things kind of worked themselves out on Tuesday. I just kind of flew under the radar there at Valhalla for the whole tournament until the last round, and all of a sudden there I was. Sometimes that's how you win golf tournaments.

Q. How old do you feel if you were going to --
TOM WATSON: How old do I feel? I feel in pretty good shape. I'm not too bad. But when you see these kids and the speed with which they hit the golf ball with their driver -- it's just a different sound. Their sound is a whoosh and mine is a thud. There's a difference. But the thud works every time.

Q. Do you work out at all? Run?
TOM WATSON: A little bit, yes, I do. A little bit.

Q. What would you do every week in terms of training?
TOM WATSON: Well, what I do, I'll work out three or four times a week when I am working out, and it's usually a two-hour session. There's about 45, 50 minutes of aerobics and then just a variety of all kinds of different exercises that I do with weights and bands and machines.

Q. Do you have like a trainer or something or do you do it yourself?
TOM WATSON: I do it myself.

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