Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Neill on Golf: Five Questions with Tom Watson

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Neill on Golf: Five Questions with Tom Watson

Article excerpt

Tom Watson has won eight major championships, including five British Opens. He nearly won a sixth British Open in 2008, at age 59, losing in a playoff. More recently, at age 65, he had a share of the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Senior Open.

This week at St. Andrews Golf Club, Watson will make his final appearance in the British Open. We caught up with the Kansas City native recently in Sacramento, Calif., and asked him five questions:

P-D * You gave the galleries in Sacramento a thrill by suggesting you might win your first U.S. Senior Open at the age of 65. Do you still get as big a thrill when you're in contention as everyone else does?

TW * "I do. To hit a shot under pressure that's really a good golf shot is why I'm out here. That's what I like to do. And when I get to the point where I, you know, I can't do it or I can't do it often enough to really satisfy myself, then I won't be out here."

P-D * You have 71 professional wins, 39 on the PGA Tour, 14 on the Senior PGA Tour. You have been on leaderboards and dealt with the pressure of that over and over again in your career. Do you still have to battle nerves, or are you past that?

TW * "If you don't have nerves, you're lying. The guys out here, if you're playing in this competition, there's an element of pressure that affects you. The thing is, I played under this type of pressure all my life, learned how to deal with it early on in my career and finally kind of solved the problems of not being able to deal with the pressure. But pressure can affect you, make you go a little faster, walk a little faster, breathe a little shallower. Take a deep breath, walk a pace just a step slower. That's what I advise some of the kids today when they say, how do you play?"

P-D * You played in 31 U.S. Opens, won in 1982 and had 11 top-10 finishes. This year, the USGA went to the Pacific Northwest in June and played the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, a links-style course that caused quite a lot of controversy. I know you didn't play, but what did you think of that championship.

TW * "A U.S. Open to me means heavy rough right off the fairway, around the greens, putting the premium on your accuracy, putting the ball on the fairway, hitting the greens. …

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