Tom Watson talks about air-swings, losing and AFL

Tom Watson fronted the media this morning ahead of his appearance at the Australian Open and was his usual charming, thoughtful self.

Tom Watson is now 63-years-old. He is suffering from jetlag from his flight from South Africa has a cold and of course, eight majors under his belt. You could be forgiven for thinking he may not have wanted to front the media for too long ahead of this week’s Australian Open, but Watson was his charming, absorbing and entertaining best.

Watson spent a good half hour with a few journalists before fronting the media room apologising for his cold and with little prompting told everyone about his first ever air-swing at the Champion of Champions event at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne in 1976.

“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 on my back swing and hit a fresh air right over the top of it. ‘That’s one!’. I chipped it out and I think I made a bogey. That was the first time I played here.”

Watson suffered a blow early in his career. At the age of 25 and playing in his first major championship he blew a 54-hole lead at the 1974 US Open eventually won by Hale Irwin.

The loss hurt Watson and with Adam Scott’s equally heartbreaking loss at The Open Championship last year, Aussie Golfer enquired about how important the loss was to his subsequent success. In response Watson became steely-eyed, almost recalling the emotion of both his own and Scott’s losses.

“You have to hate losing. I hated it.” Watson said about his loss in 1974. “I was angry and I was hurt for several days after what happened at the Open Championship last year.”

Tom Watson has 70 professional golf tournament victories to his name including eight majors and the 1984 Australian Open. He won the PGA money list five times and ranked the world’s best player from 1978 to 1982. And yet amazingly he very rarely went into a golf tournament expecting to win.

“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’s see if I can get there by the end of Sunday and have a chance to win. I’ve only had a handful of tournaments where I thought this was mine to lose.”

Watson asked at one point if he was talking like a dinosaur with respect to his views on long putters, modern golfers and Olympic golf but he still has a golf game that is far from extinct.

After a long stint with the media and Watson looking increasingly tired under the weight of the cold and jetlag, proceedings came to a close. But Watson wasn’t done with yet.

“Ok, before we finish. I was watching Aussie Rules football on TV last night and want to know the rules” Watson exclaimed.

We did our best to clear up a few things but it’s nice to know this living legend still has a few things to learn.

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