Greenbrier Classic interview: Tom Watson

July 04, 2013

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TOM WATSON: Hello all, what would you like me to lie about?

Q. How do you assess your game today, Tom?

TOM WATSON: My game today was good. I drove the ball well, kept the ball in play off the tee and hit some quality iron shots, and I had a lot of opportunities with the putter that I didn't convert so I left some strokes out there. So I felt like it could have been a better round. It wasn't one of those rounds where I got the best out of it, I think I left some strokes out there, but that's good because one of these days maybe I'll get them all, get all those strokes out there. The course was there for the taking today with the ball in your hand, soft conditions, the greens are soft. We hadn't seen the greens this soft since they've been changed, that's the reason we'll see alot of low scores. Still, the course held up well. Again, the 4-under pars are right there, that's 4-under par and there's some very tough golf holes out there that you have to be careful with. I played them pretty well today with the exception of 13.

Q. Did the lift clean and place, typically during your career it's helped you, I'm sure?

TOM WATSON: Oh, sure, it always helps you can put it in the perfect lie out there. When you hit the ball in the fairway, that's a bonus, clean the ball, clean the mud off the ball and then put it in a perfect lie. That's what we call playing winter rules. Do you play winter rules?

Q. All the time.

TOM WATSON: Well, good. You ought to. We used to play winter rules when the conditions were real bad and then in the fairways in the spring and summer got a little bit better, we played the ball -- we played summer rules, played the ball down. The game is supposed to be fun. That's the way my dad taught me how to play. Of course, now we play summer rules most of the time.

Q. Well, Jack affectionately termed it lift clean and cheat.

TOM WATSON: Sometimes you just have to do it for the benefit of the -- if you get a lot of mud on the ball, you can't control it. That ball goes -- it will go 30 or 40 yards off line with a good shot with an iron if you get a clump of mud on there, and that's the reason they do it. I can't fault that.

Q. What will you need to make the cut here at the Greenbrier?

TOM WATSON: Well, how about winning the tournament?

Q. There's that, too. (Inaudible)

TOM WATSON: Well, if I could get the putter working a little bit better. I had some very good opportunities that I missed today with the putter close and I turned a 66 into a 68 today with the putter. Maybe overnight the fried chicken I'm going to have tonight on Fourth of July as I always do may help my putting stroke, you never know.

Q. (Inaudible)

TOM WATSON: Well, actually, yes, I did, I had some optimism. Ihad a good last round, played a good solid last round up in Pittsburgh on Sunday. I birdied the last hole and I played -- there's one hole there that's maybe the best par 4 in America, the 8th hole at Fox Chapel, and I hit two quality shots there. You bank on the way you play and it gives you that edge, that confidence and I've got some of that confidence right now.

Q. Tom, I know this tournament is special to you. Do you expect to play a little more the next year and a half just to be out here and gauge the games of some of the other players?

TOM WATSON: Yes, I intend to. I'll be playing the PGA this year, so I'll be playing against the kids there. I play against the kids at the British Open, so I'll see both our team and their team playing over there. I'm scouting, I'm in the scouting mode right now as the Ryder Cup captain in watching these players play, not only the youngsters but also the veterans who have been on the team before. That's part of me getting to know their capabilities better. And I'm watching on TV more, I'm watching the PGA TOUR on TV and watching these players perform coming down the stretch, which I think is a critical thing in my selections of players because you want somebody who can close the deal.

Q. Who's impressed you recently that you may not have known that much about before?

TOM WATSON: Billy Horschel. With the exception of those pants he wore at the U.S. Open, he's impressive. He's had seven Top 10 finishes and a winner. He's strong kid, looks like he has very good fundamentals. Again, he hasn't been on the Ryder Cup team, but who knows what's going to happen in the next 16 months.

Q. What was the reaction you got after the round here from some of the other players after yesterday's announcements?

TOM WATSON: Actually I haven't had any reaction. Some smiles and some caddies said "good choice." I fully expect some of the players here know Andy. Andy's been out with the leaders announcing on ESPN for 12 years and he's watching firsthand close-up watching these players play. So I think not only is he a good friend, but I think what he brings to the table as far as helping me out is extraordinary.

Q. Tom we're doing a story on Jim Justice and (inaudible,) talk about how he's raised the standard of (inaudible). In your observations, what have you seen from him as far as what it means to the state of West Virginia and building this area?

TOM WATSON: Well, what Jim brings here is the passion he has and the love for the state and for West Virginia, that's what he brings here first and foremost. He puts his money where his mouth is. That's Jim. He coaches girls' 8th grade basketball and he spends millions of dollars upgrading the Greenbrier and he wants it to be a five star resort that brings people in from all over the country and get it back to its glory years that it had years before.

Q. How important is it for you to have an impact on what you call these kids? Ryan Palmer mentioned it's such a thrill to play with you. How do you feel about that? That's quite a responsibility.

TOM WATSON: I remember when I was a kid playing with the old veterans. I remember

I was playing with Gene Littler and Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber and Jerry Barber even. Jerry, he was in his 70s still playing out there on the TOUR, I remember again, you go out there and you want to impress them, you want them to look at you and say, you've got it, kid, you've got it, you've got a future or you've got it. You rarely are ever told that by players, but you go out and you perform and they see it, they understand what you have and what you don't have. That's what age brings to the whole thing, you get to see these kids over a period of time and a long time, and you played golf for a long time and you know what it takes to hit certain shots out on this TOUR. It's kind of like that movie Top Gun with the instructors telling Maverick to c'mon, kid, get back in the saddle, show me what you've got, show me what you've got. When I'm out there, I'm watching.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Tom.