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Watson Continues to Shine at Pebble
Tom Watson carded a 1-under 70 in the third round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, going one shot lower than his round on Friday and eight better than the opening round Thursday.
After 54 holes, the 60-year-old is in a tie for 16th at 6-over 219, 12 strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson. Watson, who received a special exemption into the 110th Open at Pebble Beach, will also be playing in next month's British Open at St. Andrews.
But he's got one final round in the U.S. Open to savor at a place he enjoys considerable experience over his fellow competitors. "I can draw on a lot of experience here. There are a lot of experiences - a lot of shots here that - I still make the mistake of not hitting the right club on a few shots here, honestly, I really do, because the ego gets in the way.
"But playing in the U.S. Open many times, you're playing to the front edge of the greens. Short is not bad at a U.S. Open, it's just not bad. It's when you get - you go left and right and over that's when things get a little touchy."
Here's what else Watson, a graduate of Stanford University in nearby Palo Alto, had to say during his post-round interview Saturday.
Q. Several players who have come in already said that the conditions for putting were a lot more conducive this morning, did you find that true, also?
TOM WATSON: That's always the case on these greens. These greens are like putting over a herd of turtles.
Q. Having your son caddie for you, is there something extra special about that?
TOM WATSON: Well, it's very special. He caddied for me at Augusta this year. But one of my favorite memories of golf and experiences in golf was to play with him in the AT&T here. We played here about four or five years ago and finished second. And he shot a 71 on the last day on his own ball. And he birdied 2, eagled 6, birdied 9. And he gets a stroke at both 6 and 9 with a 6 handicap. So we finished second to Phil Mickelson and his partner. But after about an hour of just kind of basic go and finishing second over here, he said, dad, that was the first time I ever played well in front of you and when it counted. And that was a special moment.
Q. Did you teach your son the secret move that's in your $49.99 DVD?
TOM WATSON: I've been trying to. He's got a little head movement in his golf swing, so we're working on that.
Q. When you joined the Senior Tour, did you envision all this stuff happening that's happened in the last two years, the British, the Masters and now this; did you envision all of that?
TOM WATSON: I envisioned certain courses that I could still play. Kind of Augusta, I left it out there, because it's such a long golf course for me. I played a good first round there. But it's a difficult course because of the length. But there's other courses I can still play in the British Open venue, in the rotation. And Turnberry, I knew Turnberry was one of them. And it worked out. Obviously, right now I can't hit the ball nearly as long or as far as necessary to win on a lot of golf courses out with the kids. But there are just a few that I can still get around with them.
TOM WATSON: I am. I am going to St. Andrews.
Q. You were 3-under going to 14. Was your mindset anywhere near if I get a birdie here, and get one at 18?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, I almost made the putt at 14, and didn't make a very good putt at 15. And kind of -- and 16, I put it where I'm supposed to at 16, even though I missed the green. I put it short and left of the hole. And 17, I flubbed the chip. I had a chip that was in the loose fescue grass around there, it's unpredictable, and I tried to hit it and expose a shot and it went about a foot. Oh, come on, and I missed the short putt at 18. It was kind of a disappointing finish because I bogeyed 17 and missed the birdie at 18. But all in all, I'm very happy with shooting 70 here at Pebble Beach.
Q. How much are you drawing on experiences for playing in U.S. Opens before?
TOM WATSON: I can draw on a lot of experience here. There are a lot of experiences -- a lot of shots here that -- I still make the mistake of not hitting the right club on a few shots here, honestly, I really do, because the ego gets in the way. But playing in the U.S. Open many times, you're playing to the front edge of the greens. Short is not bad at a U.S. Open, it's just not bad. It's when you get -- you go left and right and over that's when things get a little touchy.
Q. Even if you qualify, do you think you might even play next year, the year after, or are you looking at this as possibly your final U.S. Open?
TOM WATSON: If I were to win the U.S. Senior Open, and that's my goal, I've never won that, that would be -- I would play the following year in the U.S. Open, regardless.
Q. You've had a special relationship with your father, and then you're going to be playing tomorrow with your son on the bag, Father's Day, does that sort of complete the circle for you?
TOM WATSON: You know, it does complete the circle. That's a good way of putting it. Winning here in '82 and calling my dad on Father's Day, and then having my son caddie for me here when I'm 60 years old. That's pretty special. It's a special, special one.
Q. Given the fact that you're looking at winning the Senior Open, what is your playing schedule going to be between now and then?
TOM WATSON: Well, this is the second of six majors in a row (laughter) Senior PGA, U.S. Open, British Open, British Senior Open, U.S. Senior Open and the Tradition. That's my schedule up through the middle of August.
TOM WATSON: I've had some pretty good luck there, but I find it certainly keys on putting there, keys on putting, because you're left with lots of 60 and 70 footers there. And you better have your touch down. St. Andrews is that way. Anybody that's won there has had great touch and great putting touch, because they're going to hit the ball -- you're going to be a hundred feet from the hole, four or five times in the tournament, and you've got to get the ball up and down.
TOM WATSON: Well, I don't know. I don't know how my putting is going to be when I get there. Right now it's in pretty good shape.
Q. How old were you when your dad took you here, in that Imogene Coca round?
TOM WATSON: I was 17 years old. Yeah, I was 17.
Q. Do you think the golfers later this afternoon are going to have a tougher time on the greens?
TOM WATSON: The greens are going to be tougher. The backs of those turtles get higher and higher. And the winds will come up and it will dry out the lower parts of these greens, and the higher parts will rise up and you'll have -- it will get more bumpy. It's always been the case here.
Q. How does Sahalee work for you for the Senior Open?
TOM WATSON: Well, it's a little long. The golf course plays pretty long, as I recall. I thought I played it pretty good the last time I played. I don't remember what I shot there, but I played it okay, I think, in the PGA. But it certainly helps to be Vijay Singh long when you play that golf course.
Q. When you hear standing ovations and the love, what does that mean?
TOM WATSON: Well, it warms -- it warms me. Simply said, it warms me. I have a lot of history in this area. There are a lot of people from California that I've known over the years and I went to school out here. It's a special place to me. I know a lot of people are not from California and are watching The Open here, but there are certainly a lot of people who are. I have a lot of great memories, a whole lot of great memories here.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.