I was 11 by the time Tom Watson won his final of eight major championships, so it makes sense that I’ve written little about him.
In fact, I’ve only met him once — last year at a charity tournament at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont. where Bernard Langer and Watson played a nine-hole match and then hung around for the remainder of the afternoon. Interestingly, Watson was largely awful in the match. On the 10th hole at Magna, a big bending par-5 that goes up a hill, Watson hit a strong drive and then pretty much topped a hybrid into the big bunker in front of the green. He looked uncomfortable playing — and would have hip replacement surgery later in the year. You can find my blog post here.
The most intriguing thing about Watson was when he spent some time with our group on the 10th tee. Langer played a hole with us — or more specifically, hit a shot or two — while Watson has something else in mind — a chipping lesson. He dropped a couple of ProV1s and started showing us a variety of options — from low bumps, to higher lofted shots, to ways to dig a ball out of thick blue grass rough. It was fun and Watson was friendly.
Will he win the British Open today at the age of 59? My heart says yes, and my head says it will be one of the greatest golf stories I’ll ever witness. My head says he’ll have a lot of challengers — Furyk, Westwood, etc. They are all expecting the old man to stumble — that he can’t possibly hold it together for another 18 holes. I would have thought that yesterday, when things looked to be coming a bit off the rails mid-round, but then Watson righted the ship.
One thing I’ll say — Turnberry is beautiful, but I think it is strangely penal. That’s exactly what I was talking about in the Fadoo.ca blog I did earlier in the week. I don’t recall this many ball searches at Carnoustie two years ago. Turnberry is very green, and the fescue is ridiculously thick in places. I’d rather the golfers had a chance at recovery — but that often isn’t the case.