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July 16, 2011

Tom Watson


Q. How good is 2-over in the conditions?
TOM WATSON: Well, it was very good for me. I'm very grateful for that. I managed to get around with my putter today. My putter was spot-on today. I made some good early putts for pars at No. 1 and No. 4, then I birdied 7 after knocking it on in two, and it was a great day on the greens for me. I just had that feel for some odd reason. I hope it continues tomorrow.

Q. Did the conditions bother you at all?
TOM WATSON: Well, conditions are bothersome, but you just try to do the best you can to keep your grips dry and your wits about you and go about your business to try to make pars out there. Par is a great score out there obviously. But it's a struggle.

Q. Is this as bad as Muirfield in '02?
TOM WATSON: No, Muirfield in '02, the conditions were much worse than this. The worst I've ever played in the Open Championship was at Muirfield in '80 the first round. Trevino and I shot 68 the first round and led the field by 8 or something like that. We both played lights-out that first round and got us both off to a good start.

Q. Do you go out tomorrow with a sense that you can contend still in this tournament?
TOM WATSON: Well, we'll see where the leaders are. 4-over par right now is eight shots behind the lead, so we'll just have to see what happens today and how the leaders fare on this golf course. If the winds and the rains continue for the leaders' rounds, they'll have the same difficulties that I had out there. But if it lightens up at all, I don't know what the forecast is, they may get a benefit from it.

Q. Talk about the ovation and reception you've seen out there.
TOM WATSON: Pretty muffled out there. People had their hands on their umbrellas and gloves and --

Q. But that said, you still were given a wonderful ovation.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, they've been very kind to me and very respectful, and I show them the same respect.

Q. Do you actually enjoy playing here?
TOM WATSON: I do. The challenge of dealing with conditions on a course like this is -- you know, it's fun. This is a game, and it's fun to be able to hit a few shots that really are good. I didn't drive the ball very well today, but fortunately I didn't put myself in too many bad positions. That was probably the negative of the day. But I hit quite a few good low shots.
Again, my putter saved me. Now I know why I won all the British Opens before. That putter was always pretty good.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TOM WATSON: That's right, I used a driver off the fairway at 4, I used a driver off the fairway on 14, as well, for my second shot.

Q. Yesterday, for instance, the conditions were much better on the tee, you drove and then what?
TOM WATSON: At No. 4? What did I hit? I hit a 3-wood.

Q. What sort of distance were you getting?
TOM WATSON: With the driver?

Q. Off the fairway.
TOM WATSON: Off the fairway? I was hoping I'd get 210, something like that. It went about 180.

Q. A lot of people are referencing your experience.
TOM WATSON: Well, one of the things that you learn is there's an old saying, "swing with ease into the breeze." Well, a lot of times you can see these young kids out there trying to hit it really hard into the wind. That doesn't flight the ball very well. You know, hitting low stingers, things like that, you don't have to hit it that hard. You can just flight it by swinging it a little bit easier, and that will take the height off the ball. In my case I can't hit it hard. I mean, I'm 61 years old; I can't swing hard, so the ball is flighted naturally. So it's good in conditions like this.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TOM WATSON: Well, I've been uncomfortable on days like today, too. I've shot high scores on days like today. But today is one of those days -- I'll remember this day. It was a very good day out there, especially with that putter.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TOM WATSON: Well, I can play lower shots easier now than I used to be able to. I used to hit the ball too high. But that in itself was an advantage sometimes, too. Hitting the ball high and being able to spin it. I hit the ball a little bit lower with less spin today, so my game is different than it was when I was a kid. I hit it straighter than I did when I was a kid for the most part.

Q. (Inaudible.)
TOM WATSON: Well, I kind of liked that forecast yesterday, a couple days ago, when the weather forecast said it was going to get nasty out there, dastardly as Peter Alliss would call it, and it worked out well for me today.
Again, without the putter in my hands doing what it did today, it could have been four or five shots higher, easily. It could have been a 77 really easily if my putter didn't act well or act like it did today.

Q. Was there a point out there today where you started thinking, hey, I'm in contention in this thing?
TOM WATSON: No, not really. I was just trying to shoot the lowest possible score and keep it as close to real par as possible, and that's what I did. 72, I'm extremely happy with that. But if I look at it realistically, I didn't drive the ball particularly well, and I need to drive the ball better to play the golf course tomorrow.

Q. Does it feel like you've played three different golf courses in the last three days out there with the wind switching?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, it did. The first day it calmed down. We played the last nine holes in very calm conditions the first day; yesterday it switched -- it actually started switching the first day. We just got a little breath of it the first day. And then yesterday, right from here, and now today a little bit stronger and the rain.
So yes, three different golf courses.

Q. Is that part of the challenge of links golf is that --
TOM WATSON: Sure, it is. The wind is the huge challenge any time you play any golf course but particularly a links golf course, because of the bounce. The bounce of the ball here is so important to be able to judge. How do you judge a 240-yard shot downwind, about a 30-mile-an-hour downwind? What club do you hit? I hit a 4-iron today, and that was the right club. Yesterday Henrik Stenson had 234. He hit an 8-iron, and that was the right club for him. That's what we pros -- that's the beauty of this type of golf, and it's also the unknown factor. You have to study it and get good at it, and that is hit the ball the right distance. How do you hit the ball the right distance?

Q. What can playing in these kinds of conditions do to you mentally?
TOM WATSON: It can tear you up. It can tear you up and spit you out. It's done it to me.

Q. What was your pre-tournament routine?
TOM WATSON: I went Normandy to see the D-Day beaches, Omaha Beach, Point du Hoc, the cemetery there at Ranville. It was very emotional, very emotional. I went through the Chunnel and down there. It takes about five hours from here to get right to Omaha Beach. We did that, and we left on Saturday and got back late Sunday.
Then three practice rounds under very -- the first practice round was with this type of wind in our face from the south, and then it turned, and I couldn't get to three fairways on Tuesday's practice round. I shot about 84 or 85 on Tuesday's practice round to give you a measure of what this course did to me on Tuesday. I'll tell you, your mental condition after that is not very good. That doesn't help your mental condition.
But I've been around enough times to say, okay, go -- you've got to deal with it. I went out and played a little bit better on Wednesday with the same wind and then knew that the winds were going to slow down, change a little bit, try to make the best of it, and here we are today.

Q. Bo Van Pelt said a couple minutes ago he figured you probably looked out the window this morning and maybe not externally but internally smiled a little bit.
TOM WATSON: I'll never tell. Thank you all.

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