Thursday, February 22, 2007

How satisfying is it to know that you are the guy who beat Jack Nicklaus head-to-head in the majors more dramatically than anyone else?

And how is that you were also the guy who didn't buy into that old line that "he knew that you knew that he knew he was going to beat you"?

Where did that steely confidence come from?

What do you mean by "learning how to win"? How do you learn victory?

For a while you didn't feel like you belonged, but your victory at Turnberry made you feel like you finally did?

How did you become such a fearless putter?

Didn't Jim Colbert once tell you to take more time over those short comebackers, and you responded, "Why?"

Do today's obscene first-place paychecks take some competition out of finishing high on the money list?

One of the things you find is that it's awfully easy to make a fortune out here. Not only from what you make on the Tour, but also your pension plan. And the players see that this is a great way to make a huge fortune, and you don't necessarily have to win to do it. In the old days you had to do really well [to earn a decent living]. Today, you have $1 million first prizes, and half a million dollar second prizes, and that's unfortunate. And what does that do to your competitive spirit? It corrupts it.

So would you cut those first-place prizes down if you were commissioner?

You didn't have dazzling amateur credentials. To what do you attribute your spectacular success as a pro?

Do you think you worked harder than anybody out there at the time?

Do the Senior Tour wins stand in the same ZIP code of personal achievement as your regular PGA Tour victories?

No. They don't. The Senior Tour is a competitive tour, and I do enjoy the competition, but I still like to compete against the kids twice a year. I play the Masters and the British Open, and strangely enough, Nicklaus asked me just last week when we were playing an exhibition together on Prince Edward Island, he asked me, "What are you going to the British Open for?" And I said, "Well, I'm gonna go play in the British Open." And he said, "What are you going to the British Open for?" [Laughs.] And I said, "To win it, smarty!" But he got his point across.

Do you think he has a point?

What was the most memorable thing that Nicklaus said to you during your two rounds [Jack's last at a major] at the 2005 British Open?

What's your fondest memory of Bruce Edwards [Watson's longtime caddie who died of ALS in 2004]?

How much money has Driving 4 Life raised for ALS?

You hung around at the 2003 U.S. Open. Does much of you think you could still win on the PGA Tour?

Herbert Warren Wind likened you to a gap-toothed huckleberry, the sort of Midwesterner one would picture "sucking on a stem of grass as he heads for the fishing hole with a pole over his shoulder." What traits do you share with a Midwestern simple man?

A tabloid in England, where you were a hero until you declined to autograph a dinner menu for opponent Sam Torrance at a 1993 Ryder Cup banquet, ran the screaming banner, YOU'RE A DISGRACE, WATSON. That had to sting, yes?

[Laughs.] Yeah, sure it did, sure it stung, but in the aftermath of that now, the autographs really just made your dinner hell, where you couldn't eat, you couldn't talk to your neighbor because you had 800 people wanting you to sign autographs, and I figured that wasn't what my team needed at that stage in time. We weren't there to sign 800 autographs at dinner; we were there to be presented, which we were, and I said, "We'll sign the autographs later, which is fine." But Sam didn't care for that.

Gary McCord lost his Masters TV gig after you, offended by on-air quips during the 1994 Masters about "bikini wax" and "body bags," sent a demand to CBS to "get rid of him, now." What's your relationship with McCord like today?

You've said Stanford was disappointing during your college years. Why?

Your better college memories include predawn drives down the coast to Pebble Beach, where the starter let you play for free as a dew sweeper. What was that like?

What did your father teach you about competition?

I learned from watching him and watching how his friends played, because my dad was a competitive man. I also had the opportunity to play golf with friends of my father's, the Bob Willises, and Stan Thursk, the pro here [at Kansas City CC], plus all the other friends who were mostly golf pros from around Kansas City. On the Mondays when the courses were closed, I had the chance to play with these guys, and they let me play some betting games, and it was just the way I grew up. I never went out with nothing on the line.

You once said, "I stopped drinking because I did some things that I didn't like." What kind of things?

You publicly criticized comedian Bill Murray for what you considered inappropriate antics during the 1993 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, including Murray's waltzing of an elderly woman into a bunker. What angered you most about his actions?

You've said you'll play till you can't anymore. Do you still feel that way?


Age: Residence:
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PGA Tour wins: Major wins:
Champions Tour wins:
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Official World Golf Ranking:
Home course:
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Ryder Cup record:

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