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Golf Talk Live - Tom Watson Transcript Segment 1

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GOLF TALK LIVE
JAN. 29, 2001 - TOM WATSON

TEASE
TOM WATSON PLAYED HIS BEST GOLF AT A TIME WHEN NICKLAUS, TREVINO, MILLER AND BALLESTEROS WERE PLAYING THEIR BEST GOLF AND FROM 1975 THROUGH TO 1983 NO ONE PLAYED BETTER OR MORE INSPIRATIONAL GOLF THAN TOM WATSON. MEET HIM NOW ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

(MUSIC)

TOM WATSON HAD TO PROVE HIS GREATNESS AT A TIME WHEN OTHER GREAT PLAYERS WERE PROVING THEIRS. JACK NICKLAUS, LEE TREVINO, SEVE BALLESTEROS, RAY FLOYD, JOHNNY MILLER, HALE IRWIN, TOM WEISKOPF.

HIS LOVE FOR THE GAME RADIATED IN HIS WALK, IN HIS SMILE, IN HIS DETERMINATION, IN HIS PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT SWING. HE WAS THE ONLY PLAYER OTHER THAN LEE TREVINO WHO COULD BEAT NICKLAUS IN THE MAJORS WHEN THE STAKES WERE HIGHEST AND THE PRESSURE MOST INTENSE.

THE INCREDIBLE 72ND HOLE BIRDIE AND ENSUING PLAY OFF WIN OVER JACK BEATEN FOR THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP IN KARNOUSTIE IN 1975, BEGAN THE MAJOR COLLECTION OF GOLF'S GREATEST PRIZES, BEATING JACK AT AUGUSTA IN THE SPRING OF 1977. BEATING JACK AT TURNBURY FOR HIS SECOND OPEN IN THE SUMMER OF 1977. THE OPEN AT MUIRFIELD IN '80.

THE MASTERS OVER JACK, AGAIN, IN 1981. THE U.S. OPEN AT PEBBLE AT JACK'S EXPENSE IN 1982. THE FORTH AND FIFTH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 1982 AND '83. HIS SWING IS PERHAPS BETTER THAN EVER.

DETERMINATION TO WIN IS EVIDENCED STILL AND THE JOY OF PLAYING IS AS OBVIOUS TODAY AS IT WAS 30 YEARS AGO, WHEN WE WONDERED WHO HE WAS, AND WHO HE MIGHT TURN OUT TO BE. THINGS WE DON'T WONDER ABOUT ANYMORE.

PETER KESSLER
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO OUR GUEST, THE BEST PLAYER OF HIS GENERATION, ONE OF THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME, TOM WATSON. GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE.

TOM WATSON
THANKS PETER. ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

PETER KESSLER
THANK YOU, SIR. WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING DO YOU SUPPOSE YOU EVER DISCOVERED ABOUT THE GOLF SWING?

TOM WATSON
MMM... LET'S SEE I'VE UH, LET'S SEE, TODAY I WAS WORKING WITH DAVID LEADBETTER. I GUESS MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WAS NOT TO CROSS THE LINE AT THE TOP (LAUGHS) LIKE I'VE BEEN DOING, BUT NO THERE'S, I THINK, I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS HAVING A CERTAIN RHYTHM, A CERTAIN, UH A CERTAIN RHYTHM

YOU CAN GO BY. WHEN YOU HAVE, WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN, WHEN YOU, WHEN YOU'RE IN COMPETITION YOU HAVE TO, YOU KNOW, YOU, SOMETIMES THE SWING'S NOT FEELING THAT, THAT WELL, AND YOU HAVE TO GO TO SOME, SOMETHING TO SAY, ALRIGHT, CALM DOWN, AND USUALLY IT'S JUST THE RHYTHM, JUST THE, JUST THE MOVE RIGHT OFF THE BALL AND SOMETIMES IT GETS REAL QUICK WITH ME AND IT, I JUST

HAVE TO, IN MY PARTICULAR CASE, I JUST HAVE TO MAKE SURE IT'S DELIBERATE. JUST, JUST, JUST, JUST A HEART BEAT SLOWER.

PETER KESSLER
IF YOU GET IT STARTED RIGHT DOES THE REST SORT OF TAKE CARE OF ITSELF IF YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON YOUR GAME?

TOM WATSON
YEAH. IT, IT UH, THAT'S WHAT I'VE NORMALLY WORKED ON IS JUST THE, JUST THAT TAKE AWAY AND JUST TO SET THE CLUB AT A PARTICULAR POSITION, BUT USUALLY IT'S JUST THE TAKE AWAY.

PETER KESSLER
DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE SUCCESSFULLY SHAPING SHOTS IS THE ESSENCE OF THE GAME?

TOM WATSON
OH I DO, I, I'VE ALWAYS FELT, THAT'S THE WAY I WAS TAUGHT. I MEAN, THE, WHEN YOU, WHEN UH, WHEN I WAS UH, WHEN I WAS JUST A KID, I MEAN AT 6 YEARS OLD MY DAD SAID, ALRIGHT, HERE'S HOW TO GRIP THE CLUB AND HERE'S HOW TO STAND UP TO IT. WHEN YOU WANT TO DRAW THE BALL, YOU PULL

YOUR RIGHT FOOT BACK, IF YOU WANT TO FADE, IF YOU WANT TO SLICE THE BALL YOU PUT THE RIGHT FOOT RIGHT HERE AND YOU TAKE IT OUTSIDE, AND THAT WAS, THOSE, AND HE, HE, HE JUST, HE LOVED TO SEE ME GO AHEAD AND, AND SHAPE THE SHOT WHEN I WAS A 6 YEARS OLD, 6 YEAR OLD KID. COULDN'T HIT IT VERY FAR BUT I MEAN I

COULD AT LEAST MAKE THE BALL MOVE AND I ALWAYS UH, I, YOU KNOW, ALWAYS FELT THAT THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT. A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, AND HE PASSED AWAY THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO, HERMAN SHERLOW. HE'S A GOLF PRO AT OAKWOOD IN

KANSAS CITY. HE, HE SAYS THERE'S ONLY 4 THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH A GOLF BALL. YOU CAN HIT IT HIGH, YOU CAN HIT IT LOW, YOU COULD HIT A SLICE, YOU COULD HIT A HOOK AND THE COMBINATIONS OF ALL OF THOSE, BUT IF YOU KNOW HOW TO HIT THOSE

FOUR, THOSE FOUR ELEMENTS OF THE, OF THE GOLF BALL, MAKE THE BALL FLY THAT WAY, YOU GOT IT LICKED.

PETER KESSLER
AND THAT WAS THE TEST YOUR DAD GAVE YOU TOO, RIGHT? HE'D SAY, HIT A HIGH ONE IN THERE FOR ME, HIT A LOW DRAW. HE WANTED TO SEE YOU MIX IT UP AND HIT THE RIGHT SHOT AT THE RIGHT MOMENT.

TOM WATSON
THAT'S RIGHT. I NEVER COULD HIT THE BALL VERY LOW. I, I, I TRY TO GET MY GOLF SWING, AND IT, YOU KNOW, ARNOLD PALMER WAS MY HERO GROWING UP AND THEN JACK NICKLAUS AND THE WAY JACK SWUNG THE

GOLF CLUB VERY UPRIGHT AND WITH A HIGH FADE, I, I SAID IF JACK DOES IT THIS WAY, I'M GOING TO, I'M GOING TO TRY TO EMULATE JACK AND, AND I'VE HIT THE BALL VERY HIGH. I HAVE A VERY HARD TIME HITTING THE BALL LOW. ONLY LATER IN MY CAREER COULD I GET THE BALL DOWN AND, AND, AND PLAY SOME GOOD LOW SHOTS, BUT

I GUESS ONE THING ABOUT THE WAY I SWUNG THE GOLF CLUB, I USUALLY HIT THE BALL PRETTY SOLID AND WHEN YOU HIT THE BALL SOLID IT GOES THROUGH THE AIR AND IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER IT'S LOW OR HIGH, YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH JUDGE WHAT

IT'S GOING TO DO WHEN YOU HIT THE BALL SOLID, IN THE WIND. SO I THINK THAT, THAT, THAT WAS, THAT WAS MY STRENGTH, BUT, I, I LOVED TO WATCH, I LOVE TO WATCH SHOT MAKERS, ESPECIALLY LIKE LEE TREVINO. TREVINO TO ME, IS THE ULTIMATE SHOT MAKER. TO BE ABLE TO DO THINGS WITH THE

GOLF BALL THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN'T DO. HE CAN, HE CAN SNAP HOOK A SAND WEDGE. HE CAN HIT A, HE CAN HIT ABOUT A 40 YARD HOOK WITH A SAND WEDGE WHICH I'VE TRIED ALL MY LIFE, I CAN'T DO THAT, BUT, YOU KNOW, WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO USE THAT? BUT STILL, HE HAS THE MASTERY OF, OF DOING THINGS LIKE THAT. CHI CHI

RODRIGUEZ, AGAIN, WAS, WAS A GREAT SHOT MAKER. HE PROBABLY CONCENTRATED TOO MUCH ON SHOT MAKING IN, IN THE SENSE THAT HE, HE WAS TRYING TO HIT MAYBE TOO

CUTE A SHOT IN THERE, RATHER THAN GOING WITH A SHOT THAT CALLED FOR THE SAFETY PLAY OR THE, OR, TOOK THE TROUBLE OUT OF PLAY AND DIDN'T WIN MAYBE AS MUCH ON THE REGULAR, REGULAR TOUR AS HE SHOULD HAVE BUT I'VE ALWAYS ENJOYED WATCHING THE PEOPLE, AND, AND I THINK ALL THE GREAT PLAYERS HAVE BEEN ABLE

TO HIT THE SHOTS THAT THEY HAD TO MANEUVER THE BALL ONE WAY OR THE OTHER AND MAKE IT WORK THAT, MAKE IT WORK FOR THEM, AND THAT'S, TO ME THAT'S, THAT'S THE BEAUTY, THAT'S THE GRACE OF THE GAME.

PETER KESSLER
HOW MANY YEARS DID IT TAKE YOU, AFTER YOU TURNED PRO, WHICH WAS 30 YEARS AGO, TO TAKE

TOM WATSON
THAT LONG AGO, HUH?

PETER KESSLER
AND STILL LOOK THE SAME

TOM WATSON
IT IS...YEAH IT IS.

PETER KESSLER
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE BEFORE YOU FINALLY FIGURED OUT THAT YOUR GAME DIDN'T HAVE TO BE IN PERFECT WORKING ORDER FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TO WIN?

TOM WATSON
OH I, I THINK WATCHING, YOU KNOW WATCHING JACK NICKLAUS WAS A CASE IN POINT OF HOW YOU DON'T HAVE TO PLAY YOUR BEST, BUT YOU HAVE TO, YOU HAVE

TO PLAY TO YOUR, YOUR STRENGTHS AND TRY TO ELIMINATE YOUR WEAKNESSES. A PARTICULAR DAY IN MIND WAS WHEN I PLAYED WITH HIM IN THE FINAL ROUND OF

THE HAWAIIAN OPEN BACK IN THE MID 70'S. HE HAD A 2 OR 3 SHOT LEAD GOING IN THE LAST ROUND. I WAS 4 OR 5 SHOTS BEHIND. I DIDN'T MAKE MUCH OF A MOVE,

BUT I WATCHED HIM PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF. HE DIDN'T PLAY VERY WELL. I MEAN HE HIT THE BALL IN THE ROUGH, HE MISSED SOME GREENS, AND HE CAME TO THE 17TH HOLE, AND I MENTION THIS STORY A LOT, THE 17TH HOLE IS A PAR 3, THE PIN'S BACK LEFT, THERE'S A BIG BUNKER HERE. OVER THE

GREEN'S DEAD. LEFT IS WATER, BUT THE, BUT THERE'S A BIG KIND OF A, A BANANA SHAPE GREEN LIKE THIS, AND THE SHOT WAS A 5 IRON AND I, I COULD SEE HIM TAKE A 6 IRON OUT OF HIS BAG. A 6 IRON. YOU KNOW

HE CAN'T GET TO THE PIN WITH A 6 IRON. HE PLAYS TO THE RIGHT OF THE PIN. HE PLAYS TO THIS PART OF THE GREEN, HE LEAVES HIMSELF ABOUT A 50 FOOT PUTT, JUST THE WAY HE WANTED TO, AND HE, HE ALMOST MAKES THE PUTT. HE TWO PUTTS FROM ABOUT 50 FEET. MAKES A SAFE PAR. NO WORSE THAN A BOGIE. HE HAD A TWO

SHOT LEAD, AND IT GOES IN AND WINS THE, WINS THE GOLF TOURNAMENT SHOOTING ONE UNDER PAR THAT ROUND, AND, YOU KNOW THAT, THAT SAID SOMETHING ABOUT HIM. I ALSO FOLLOWED HIM AT HARBOR TOWN ONE TIME WHEN HE PLAYED IN THE FINAL ROUND. HE WON THE TOURNAMENT AND I FOLLOWED

HIM ALL 18 HOLES. I WAS PLAYING THE SEA PINES OPEN, A TOURNAMENT PLAYED AT THE SAME TIME. FINISHED MY ROUND, WENT OUT TO WATCH HIM PLAY AND JUST WATCHED HIM PLAY THAT GOLF COURSE, WHICH IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE GOLF COURSES IN THE

WORLD, HARBOR TOWN GOLF LINKS AND WATCHED HIM PLAY AN EXCELLENT ROUND OF GOLF, WINNING A GOLF TOURNAMENT THERE, BUT, I WANTED TO WATCH HOW HE PLAYED A GOLF COURSE. SHAPED HIS SHOTS, PLAYED, PLAYED TO THE GREENS AND IT,

OBVIOUSLY WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING YOUR BEST YOU CAN TAKE MORE RISK, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING YOUR BEST YOU CAN ALSO TOTALLY ELIMINATE THE TROUBLE AND THAT, THAT'S WHAT JACK'S STRENGTH HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND I LEARNED A GREAT DEAL FROM THAT AND,

AS A RESULT I LEARNED HOW TO PLAY TO, AND JUST TAKE ALL THE TROUBLE OUT OF A SHOT. ALL THE RISK OUT OF THE SHOT AND PLAY TO, TO THE RIGHT OF THE HOLE RATHER THAN AT THE PIN UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU, YOU JUST CAN'T PLAY AT THE PIN

A NUMBER OF TIMES, AND THAT'S, THAT WAS THE LEARNING PROCESS FOR, FOR ME IN THE, IN THE, IN THE EARLY MIDDLE 70'S I WAS, I WAS TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO WIN, BUT I WAS WATCHING THE BEST AND I THINK I, I THINK I LEARNED A LOT FROM HIM.

PETER KESSLER
WE'LL TAKE A SHORT BREAK. WE'LL BE BACK WITH TOM WATSON.

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