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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Golfing legend Tom Watson recalls his classic Open at St Andrews

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Laughing and joking, the team’s eagerness to play a legendary arena that went down in Open Championship history was not lost on their audience. He is Tom Watson, and few people and places are more synonymous with the Open than the 72-year-old and St Andrews.

One of golf’s most iconic names, Watson is a five-time major champion, while the Old Course in St Andrews has hosted the Open more times than any other venue and will host the tournament. 150th time later this month.

Still, amazingly – and not for the sake of trying – Watson had never lifted the Claret Jug at the history associate course.

With eight major wins and 39 PGA Tour wins, the American is widely regarded as one of the game’s greatest players ever. His year of extended success from 1975 to 1983, he was second only to Harry Vardon (six) in all-time wins at the event, cementing his reputation as an outstanding golfer.

If it weren’t for the painful runner-up twice, Watson would have eclipsed Vardon’s lead, but even on his first near miss in 1984 at St Andrews, he insists that the record This record is not in your mind.

“I didn’t think about it,” Watson told CNN Sport. “My job is to play every shot until I finish it here at 18 and hopefully that will be the lowest score of the week.”

“Now I have to become a hero”

Just one hole away from closing in 1984, Watson’s job was almost done when he reached the famous 17th street hole tied for the lead with Seve Ballesteros.

His opening drive is off to the right, almost out of bounds, and is on a steep mound. Thirty-eight years after he’s rehearsed his steps on the court, Watson can still find the hump that’s causing him to attempt a second shot all or nothing.

“Now I had to be a hero. I was going to take a risk and hit that perfect shot to win the Open,” he recalls. “The rest is history, but the lie decided the shot I tried to take there. I decided to take an aggressive play.”

Indeed, history was captured in one of the great photos of the golf course – Watson then found himself forced to play the oddest thing of lying just inches from the wall and staring at the fans. Despite minimal space for the latter, Watson made an impressive effort across the lane and onto the green.

Tom Watson hits his third shot at hole 17 in the final round of the 1984 Open at St Andrews.

However, as he lined up an unpredictable long-range hit, his Spaniard, a hole-in-the-head, was taking part in an iconic photo session of his own. .

“I heard the cheers of the crowd,” recalls Watson, as Ballesteros marked his beautiful, winding birdie for the 18th time with his legendary celebration.

Watson defeated before leveling the final score to seal the fourth big win for Ballesteros, who would win again at the 1988 Open.

Seve Ballesteros celebrates after he made it past the last 18th green hole to win the 1984 Open championship.Seve Ballesteros celebrates after he made it past the last 18th green hole to win the 1984 Open championship.

“I know I have a very good chance of winning.”

Watson will never again come this close at St Andrews – 31st place in 1995 after his best result – but came close to an unbelievable Open win elsewhere in 2009 .

At 59, he stunned the world at Turnberry, Scotland, by shooting 65, 70 and 71 to take the lead with a hit in the bottom four to win the championship on Sunday. It put him in the 18-hole round after breaking the oldest winner record, set by 48-year-old Julius Boros at the 1968 PGA Championship (and surpassed by 50-year-old Phil Mickelson in 2021).

Thirteen years later, Watson says he is “not interested” in the feat, but he feels pressured to compete at the event.

“I feel nervous because I know I have a very good chance of winning,” he admitted.

Tom Watson on the 7th tee during day four of the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry Golf Club.Tom Watson on the 7th tee during day four of the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry Golf Club.

Coming back great from two bogeys on the opening three holes, Watson made it past the penultimate hole to get to an 18th par-four, needing to get past fellow countryman Stewart Cink and win.

After an ideal tee shot that landed him in the center of the fairway, Watson believes to this day he has hit the “perfect” approach. Just like in 1984, however, the elements were not on his side, as the ball landed comfortably on the green only to pass the flag and settle on the long downhill lawn.

“There’s a lot of wind behind me and there’s even more wind when I hit, and I think a lot of the balls going over the pitch are just the wind stronger than that,” he said.

Watson got the chip on the green, but his inability to convert the next 10-foot putt forced a four-hole playoff. Cink went home with a pair of pars and birdies, with Watson finishing four points on par.

What does it take to win the Open?  Golf psychologist 'Dr.  Mo' has coached two championsWhat does it take to win the Open?  Golf psychologist 'Dr.  Mo' has coached two champions

“This isn’t a funeral, you know?” Watson quipped at the opening of his press conference, though added that the loss had “torn” his guts. In the end, though, the painful miss didn’t diminish his love for the game.

“I’m a golfer, I play a game for a living. Such an easy life?” he say.

“I want to be the best golfer I can be for myself. If that’s good enough to beat everyone else, so be it.”

Watching the camaraderie of the group of enthusiasts on the first hole only reinforces Watson’s thinking, but it also stirs up another feeling – missing out on the thrill of competition.

“I like being around people that I’ve met over the years at the competition venues,” he said. “But while the competition is on, I’d rather be on the golf course than hanging out under the tree in Augusta or on the course here.

“I want to be out there – you never lose sight of that.”

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I am passionate about journalism and using new technology to spread news. I am also interested in politics and economics, and I am always looking for ways to make a difference in the world. I am the CEO of Janaseva News, and I am 24 years old.

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