Date: December 05, 2012
Author: Golf Australia

Tom Watson interview, Tuesday 4 December 2012

Tom Watson interview, Tuesday 4 December 2012 Forgive me. I have a cold. I can&apost speak as loudly as usual. Your first tournament in Australia was the Champion of Champions title at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne in 1976. That was the first time I ever whiffed a golf ball. I hit it in the bushes on the back nine on the Sunday and tried to chip it out. I got stuck in a branch and hit fresh air right over the top of it. That&aposs one. I chipped it out and I think I made a bogey. That was the first time I played here. I played at 1984 at Royal Melbourne in the Australian Open Championship. I have always been a big fan of the Australian Open in particular because Gary Player won it so many times and Jack Nicklaus won it so many times. It is great to be back and be able to play in the tournament again. I played last week in South Africa but I did not play very well. On the last day I hit the ball like I knew how, although I did not score very well. I&aposm coming in here feeling pretty good about my golf game. The problem is my 63-year-old body has a cold and little jet lag. I&aposve seen the whole golf course on the virtual tour on the web site. I can&apost wait to get out there. I hope to play well. I can&apost say I expect to play well but I hope to play well. Inaudible question. …You&aposve got to make room for all these old guys like Norman and Watson who keep on playing well in their 50s and into their 60s. Inaudible question. I dreamt about playing Augusta at 13 years old. I think it is wonderful what Augusta has done with this Asian Amateur. I told Billy Payne they had done a really good thing for the world of golf. It opens up the game to every golfer in Asia. I can still remember wanting to be a professional golfer at 13. I used to look up to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Billy Caspar, Don January, Miller Barber. Sam Snead was still playing. This Asian Amateur gives people these dreams. Inaudible question. Tiger was there for so long and he created a vacuum where no one else could get in. The seal is now broken and other people are starting to get in….I think the new qualifying for the US Tour is wrong. It does not give the foreign players a chance to go qualify for the American Tour. If they don&apost qualify, they can go back to their tours and support their tours. Now they have to play a year on the Web.Com Tour. I&aposd go back to the beginning. When I qualified for the Tour, I had two tournaments to qualify. There was a regional qualifier and then the national qualifier. There were five spots in the national and 25 spots in the regional. This year we had three qualifyings. I does not allow the player to achieve the dream of getting into the show right away…I still think they should have that opportunity… What I&aposm saying is that to qualify for the American Tour next year, there is no qualifying tournament. You have to go and play on that Web.Com but you have to qualify for that first. You don&apost have that one window of a couple of months where you can qualify. Inaudible question. I can&apost speak for those guys. I travelled to Japan each year. I had some endorsements in Japan and I travelled there this time of the year. After a full year of play I did not like to travel a lot…I think that our Tour is not being serviced enough by the top players. We have six or seven tournaments at the end of the year. They were designated to be there and they are putting up $5 or $6 million but they are a secondary tournament. How does that make you feel? You don&apost get the top players, or very few of them. Add the World Golf Championships to the mix, the four majors, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and all of a sudden you have 20 tournament that the top players have to play every year. You play 20 tournaments and you have 10 other tournaments to choose. But there are 30 other tournaments to choose from so 20 tournaments don&apost get the top players. That&aposs my stupid logic. What I&aposm saying is they make too many tournaments important and other tournaments are not getting a representative field. You can&apost play all the tournaments. The top players can&apost play all the tournaments, unless you&aposre Trevino or Arnold Palmer. Jack – Chi Chi Rodriguez said Jack (Nicklaus) was a legend in his spare time played just a few. He played about 18 events a year out of the 40 tournaments. That&aposs happening more and more because you have the World Golf Championships and the Ryder Cup and the four majors. A guy who amazes me is Ernie Els. How many tournaments has that guy played? He plays the European Tour, American Tour, 30 tournaments a year for years and years. That would wear you out. Question about Greg Chalmers. We were at the Greenbrier together. What did he ask you? You are asking a 63-year-old guy to remember that, right? You&aposre asking, you&aposre asking. I honestly can&apost remember. He said you made golf look simple. I think I might have talked about not complicating it. When I was a kid I tried to complicate the golf swing and tear it apart. Every little thing had to be perfect and if it wasn&apost perfect, you were chasing your tail. Harvey Penick&aposs book has a passage that is really true. I did not live by that when I was growing up on the Tour. The passage was, if you played badly today, don&apost worry about it; if you play badly tomorrow, starting thinking about it; if you play badly on the third day, you&aposve gotta change something. Pros say if something is not perfect, they have to change something. The game goes in cycles. You can get yourself in the best physical condition. But like Trevino said one time when he had a five-shot lead at Houston. It was history. Lee Trevino with a five-shot lead is going to win but he shoots 77 in the last round and loses by four or something like that. I saw him the next week and asked him what the hell happened. He said: Tom, I woke up on the Sunday morning and my hands were shaking. I knew I was toast. You can be in perfect physical condition and your nerves all of a sudden go haywire on you. Other times, it does not bother you that much. Keep it simple. Golf is a game of feel. Mechanics was what I practised when I was a kid but it is really a game of feel. You&aposve got to know where that clubhead is. I guess that is what I was saying to Greg, if I remember correctly. Question about banning anchored putting stroke. I agree. I say that with mixed emotions. This (demonstrates) is not a stroke of golf but it makes it easier to play. My son Michael with a conventional putting stroke could not make it from two feet half the time. He went to a belly putter and he makes everything. The game is fun to him. There lies the danger. To take away the ability of people to have fun because it is not a stroke of golf? I firmly believe it is not. Do we go to two sets of rules, so people can use it in certain competitions and the PGA Tour can&apost? I don&apost know. There is a dilemma. I thought Ernie Els said it perfectly when he won last year&aposs Open Championship. He was asked why he went to the long putter and he said he was cheating like the rest of them…My son e-mailed me at the subject line was Oh, no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I have mixed emotions about it. Should it be banned before 2016? They won&apost make a decision until February. I think they will make the decision and do what they said they were going to do. They are also returning golf to the Olympics in 2016. What are your thoughts on this? I don&apost want to pour cold water on it but I don&apost think it should be in the Olympic Games. We have our most important championships. Maybe every four years is not that much more I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you…I probably had a pie in the sky way of looking at the Olympics as being clean and pure. This year the East German ladies record in in the medley relay was broken which stood since 1985. Why? Lance Armstrong. What a great disappointment. It makes you doubt. I don&apost like to doubt. I like to trust people and trust they are doing things for the right reasons. When the professionals go to the Olympics, they go for the wrong reasons…I&aposm probably talking like a dinosaur. Tennis seems to have found a way I the Olympics. I don&apost know. Think about the National Basketball Association. Those guys play over 100 games (per year). They wear themselves and then they have to practise for the Olympics. It is only once every four years. It still has to be played. When I came out it as just the four majors. The Ryder Cup was nothing until the Europeans became involved. Now you&aposve got the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup has increased its importance exponentially. You have the World Golf Championships. You have golf in the Olympics. You have diluted the importance, in a sense, of the four major championships. Is that good? It is good for the players. It gives them a chance to play for a lot more money in a lot more important tournaments but it does not help the smaller tournaments. I get back to that. The smaller players are not serviced by the players like they used to be. Do you expect to win every tournament? Frankly, no. There have only been a handful in my career four or five times when I expected to win. I won four out of those five. All the other tournaments I have played, are like a horse race. Let&aposs see if I can get there by the end of Sunday. If have only had a handful of tournaments where I thought this was mine to lose. Question about 14-year-old Guan Tianlang being too young to win. There is a danger but I don&apost think so in this case. This young man has been cultured into golf. I&aposve read some of his history. Golf is his life. We have seen a lot of golf prodigies, many of whom did not make it. Is there a danger of that? Yes, there is. But if I had that chance at 14, I&aposd jump at it. I&aposd be at Augusta quicker than you could spit.