59 Year-Old Watson Leads At Turnberry

If for some some reason you have missed the first two days coverage of the British Open and are only now tuning in you could be forgiven for thinking the tournament is in a rain delay and the networks are showing coverage of the 1977 Open at Turnberry.

As it stands, after two rounds the co-leader of the tournament is Thomas Sturges Watson. That’s right, 59 year-old, five-time British Open Champion Tom Watson. The man who last won a PGA Tour event in 1998 and last won a major in 1983. For the record, his playing partner the first two days, British Amateur Champion Matteao Manassero was born ten years after Watson’s last major vistory. First Greg Norman at Royal Birkdale and now this?!

Many, including myself, believed his remarkable 65 in the opening round was nothing more than a charming piece of nostalgia, and I was not alone in believing that the eight-time major champion simply could not continue to contend into the weekend. For the first nine holes in the second round, the naysayers appeared to be right. After birding the opening hole for the second straight day Watson then reeled off five bogeys in the next six holes to drop back to -1 for the tournament. But Watson, known for his swashbuckling style of play in his heyday, fought back gallantly, birding four holes against no bogeys the rest of the way and signing for an even par 70. The round was capped off by a monster putt of no less than 50 feet on the final hole that vaulted Watson back to the top of the leader board. At -5 for the tournament he currently holds the lead with Steve Marino.

“I expected the course to really be tough going out on the first nine holes and it was.” Watson said after the round. “I didn’t play enough quality shots. But I did turn it around at number nine and made a good putt from about 20 feet there. That stemmed the tide. I made a good birdie at 11 and then made two no-brainers on 16 and 18 to finish the day and got right back in the tournament.”

This story, like the one that brewed and bubbled last year with Norman, may turn out to be one of the more remarkable sports stories of the year. Surely, Waston can’t continue the fairytale run into the weekend? It’s also worth noting at while Watson is playing in the last group on Saturday at the Open Tiger Woods won’t be around to see it.

But should we really be that surprised at this run by the evergreen Watson? After all, the man is practically the mayor of Turnberry. Not only does Watson have the memories of the “duel in the sun” in 1977 to draw on, he also won the Senior British Open there in 2003. He is the crowd’s darling in Scotland, and the support he has seen in the first couple of rounds has been nothing short of adoring. But does Watson himself believe he can win?

“This is the 6th championship I have played here at Turnberry and I’ve had some good success here.” Watson said in what may be described as a massive understatement. “It’s as if the spirits are on my side. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win. I hope the spirits stay on my side.”

For the record, Watson is attempting to shatter the record for oldest major champion, eclipsing Julius Boris who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. Watson won his first PGA Tour event just 6 years later.




One Response to “59 Year-Old Watson Leads At Turnberry”

  1. Hi Andy,

    I’m reading your July 17th E-Mail after watching the 3rd round,and there He is,still on top. GO TOM….He has just become the worlds favorite among seniors…..I’m looking for more wind for tomorrow. I believe He can handle it best.

    Keep the Emails coming,


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