Q&A: TOM WATSON ON HIS 1ST FLORIDA WIN
Tom Watson spoke to the press after winning the Champions Tour’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Sunday. Here’s the Q&A
Tom Watson spoke to the press after winning the Champions Tour’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Sunday where he finally secured his first ever win in more than 90 career tournaments in Florida.
Here, in this Q&A, is what the five-time Open Champion had to say:
WATSON: At 17, I pulled a 5-iron 90 feet left of the hole but got the ball up-and-down from about 100 feet, a nice pitch shot. That was were kind of the Watson of old, where I got the ball up-and-down where I really had to. That’s been kind of the weakness of my game, I think, as I look back in the last five or six years. My short game has deteriorated. I’ve hit a lot more greens out here on the Champions Tour, probably because of the (shorter course) lengths. But my short game has not been very good. But today, it shined when it had to. And that’s – that was kind of it in a nutshell.
My birdies on the back nine? I birdied 12 and 13 after birdying the 10th hole. The 12th hole, I hit a 3-wood for my second shot just short and left of the green. I hit a good pitch up about eight feet and made the putt. And that was the best putt I made all day.
The next hole, I hit a drive and a little knock-down pitching wedge to about 15 feet and made that putt. That was breaking a little more than I thought but it went in.
And then it just happened. I just didn’t hit a very good drive at 16. I didn’t hit a good second shot at 15, but when it counted, I had to make it — I had to make a couple of good swings at 18 and I made a good drive there, hit a real good drive at 18. Hit my 5-iron a little bit left of the centre of the green. I was trying to hit it to the centre of the green. Of course, the wind was blowing left-to-right, and I was trying to make sure it didn’t go to the right, and I got it the right distance which was – that was the key thing on 18 for me to get the second shot to the right distance.
QUESTION: You knew Jay was posted at 3-under?
TOM WATSON: I did.
Q. Some of the other guys talked about how this is a day made for you almost. They talked about you excelling in tough conditions and being such a good ball-striker. I just wondered starting out if you had that sort of feeling, especially after you got within one this morning.
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I really felt….I was really under control the first seven holes. The first seven holes, I didn’t have any problems at all. I drove the ball right down the middle of the fairway. I hit some real quality iron shots in for – really good, makable birdie putts on holes with a lot of wind. That was fun.
Then at 8, not a very good second shot out of the bunker. And at 9, I misjudged the second shot. And three sloppy shots on the back side when I again had to rely on the short game, and the short game came through today. But there were two parts to my round of golf. First seven holes, it was really good ball-striking with no putts. And the last 11 holes, it was pretty sketchy ball-striking with some good putts. Even though they didn’t feel very good, I made two of them that I knew I was going to make and then a couple of them that, yeah, I didn’t know if I was going to make them or not.
Q. You were one of three groups that were unable to finish on Saturday, so you had to come back very early today?.
TOM WATSON: It’s been a long day. That 4:45 a.m. wake-up call came early, and I was a little tired after, actually before I started the final round today, a little bit tired. But it was so darned cold out here, I woke up.
Q. There are a lot of guys out here who can win golf tournaments, but not as many who can win in 35-mile-an-hour gusts. What does the wind potentially do to a guy’s swing and game? What does wind do?
TOM WATSON: Wind adds another series of factors. Wind is break on the green. You have break on the green, you have the slope on the green, the ball breaks. And sometimes you’ve got a big slope on the green, and it really breaks. It’s the same thing with wind. You’ve got to play the break with wind. You’ve got to understand how hard to hit it. That’s the difficult thing in the wind is the proper distance control. With no wind, players of our caliber can hit the ball plus or minus two or three yards with every iron in the bag.
But when you add a 20 or 30-mile-an-hour winds, you get a little mis-hit in here, or a little misdirection there, and now it’s 60 feet off-line or 90 feet off-line. That’s the fun of playing in the wind. It’s to be able to out think it, or actually not out think it, but to come up with a formula and make that formula work.
Q. Was this comparable to any of your British Opens — weather-wise (laughter) the conditions?
TOM WATSON: Actually, I have never been this cold at the British Open. I’ve been this cold at — the coldest I’ve ever been on a golf course was in Florida back when Dave Eichelberger won the Bay Hill Classic in 1979. That was the coldest I’ve ever been on a golf course. It was blowing about 35 miles an hour, and for some reason, I wasn’t dressed for it. I just froze.
Usually I’m pretty good at that. Playing golf, growing up in Kansas City playing a lot of golf with all of those crazy guys that like to get out in the cold weather, you prepare for it.
But that one day in Florida, I’ve never been as cold on a golf course as there.
Q. How would you assess where you are now in your golf career? You still play some with the kids; do you think you’ve still got a run on the PGA TOUR left in you? Do you think you want to do this more now? How many times are you going to hold that putter up on 18 in victory, do you think?
TOM WATSON: Well, question came last week, the same thing. But I know my place, basically, as far as the kids are concerned. I can play with them. I can play with them on certain courses. I know I can’t play with them on courses such as Augusta National. I can’t compete on that golf course. I don’t know how long I’m going to compete on that golf course.
But I still can hit some quality shots. My putting is not nearly as good as it used to be. And my short game, as I mentioned before, is not as good as it used to be. But my ball-striking is better than it used to be. My driving, my iron play, I’m pretty good at that right now. And so I would have to pick my places out there, but I don’t have much intention of doing that.
Q. How much carryover was there from playing so well last week with Michael?
TOM WATSON: That’s the best question, because there’s a lot of carryover, a lot of carryover from last week. The thrill I had playing with my son last week and doing so well carried over to this week. And it was a big reason that I played so well this week. No question.
Q. A lot of great, great players from the PGA TOUR have come over to the Champions Tour and maybe struggled to find some motivation. I just wonder, having accomplished so much, what more is there? I just wonder how you fit in with that. Has that been an issue for you at all? Or when you get between the ropes, is it still
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