((Above Tom Watson (left) and defending Greenbrier Classic Champion Stuart Appleby (right) take over the media center information desk for their over the phone interviews.))
Tom Watson talks as though he’s a lot older than he really is.
One of the country’s most successful golfers is only 61; not old by any standard, but admittedly more elder statesman than golf tour winner these days.
During his press conference at the Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour Tournament Tuesday, Watson frequently referred to himself as the "old guy."
Yes, Watson is the most senior golfer in this tournament by a lot of years, but his game remains sharp. Last week, Watson shot 67 in the final round and finished third in the Senior British Open.
And, as the pro emeritus at the Greenbrier, the Old White can be considered his home course.
But the course has changed dramatically from the last time Watson played here; it’s longer and more challenging.
"It’s going to be tough. There’s not going to be any 59’s shot this year," Watson said, referring to the final round score by last year’s winner, Stuart Appleby.
Even if Watson is downplaying his chances to be in the hunt on Sunday, he’s still Tom Watson, winner of eight majors and 39 career Tour events.
That means the crowds will be following him when he tees off Thursday in the threesome with Phil Mickelson.
Watson is skipping the U.S. Senior Open to be at the Greenbrier, and he says there was never any doubt about coming.
"I felt bad about not playing here last year… I felt cruddy," said Watson, who has become personal friends with Greenbrier owner Jim Justice. So there was no question when Justice invited him that he would participate, despite the conflict with the Open.
Watson believes the Greenbrier Tournament will quickly become a popular stop on the Tour.
"The word’s out from the standpoint of a great place to come and bring your families," Watson said of the resort and the tournament. "That’s a big deal."