Watson Turns Back Muirfield Clock

The names were big enough for a Major tournament. Tom Watson, Mark O’Meara and Nick Faldo were among the star elements who took on Muirfield in the Senior Open Championship.

Faldo, at 50, was making his debut and was the co-leader after the first round. In the end, it was American links ace Watson who triumphed, capturing his 13 Major in regular and senior tours and his third Senior Open title.

Watson, who was battling O’Meara and Stewart Ginn over the final round, emerged victorious by one stroke after closing with a 73. That gave him a four-round total of level par 284.

Only one from the top three managed to break 70 all week, and that was Ginn, who scored 69 in the third round.

The Australian finished tied for second with O’Meara, who shot 72 on Sunday. Faldo, who scored 68 in his opening round, finished tied for 14th with Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota at eight over par.

Watson, who raised the trophy in front of a record crowd for a Senior British Open, admitted in an article on the European Tour website that he drew inspiration from his Muirfield victory in 1980. He said:

“A lot of the same thoughts came back. The tee shot at 12, the tee shot at 18. I birdied the 11th in 1980 and again today. That gave me a lot of breathing room. In ’80 it gave me a five or four shot lead, and today it gave me a three shot lead. It was a big deal.”

As a journalist, the one and only time I came across Watson was at the 1997 Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki, Japan.

He won the tournament and then gave a horde of local and international journalists a rollicking time in his press conference. Watson came across as courteous, erudite and confident.

He had that certain look in his eye … the look of someone who has earned respect rather than demanded it. And indeed, the respect he has earned has come not only from his golfing prowess but his personality.

One young golfer fast earning respect is Argentina’s 26-year-old Andres Romero, who triumphed at The Players’ Championship of Europe at Gut Kaden for his maiden title on the European Tour.

Romero, who came close to winning the Open Championship at Carnoustie, has rocketed to 29th on the world rankings from 114 in only two weeks.

Romero, whose compatriot Angel Cabrera won the US Open last month, won by an impressive three strokes, scoring 19 under for the tournament. Denmark’s Soren Hansen and England’s Oliver Wilson were tied for second.

In Markham, Ontario, American Jim Furyk won his first PGA Tour title of the season when he successfully defended his Canadian Open title.

Furyk struck seven-under-par 64 in his final round to edge Vijay Singh by a single stroke, having trailed the Fijian by three shots after the third day’s play.

His final round included a hole-in-one at the 13th hole, the third ace of his career after earlier birdieing two of the first three holes.

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