From the pages of “most undercovered stories of the week,” probably none sit higher than the following: Tom Watson is concluding his Open Championship career after 38 events and 5 Claret Jugs.
Highlighting the accolades of the present– the Spieth Slam quest, Tiger Woods’ 15th major chances, the home of golf & St. Andrews, the week’s Hall of Fame inductees– is a much more noble cause, but remembering the achievements of history is integral to the game’s character.
Watson is the most celebrated champion in Open Championship history. And he’s calling it an Open career.
Now I’m not saying there should be media vehicles tracking him throughout the premises, nor should photographers be snapping pictures of he and his wife, nor tweets about his post-round dinners, but this is the closing of a significant chapter in the book of golf. It should be documented.
His interview from St. Andrews when he met with the media, with a refreshing way to look at the career of Tom Watson:
Perhaps they will throw a parade for Mr. Watson Sunday afternoon (as we all know he will be making the cut, come on) as he strolls up the 18th. But in all reality, in classic British style, he will probably receive a kind, knowledgable greeting followed by a warm, appropriate departure.
Maybe joined by a few tears.
In his press conference, he left the door open of playing again, focusing on his odds at securing a top-10 finish, which would give him more years of exemptions. But he knows the chances are slim. He hopes to regain the form even though “he’s a few tools short.” I hope to see it, but know deep down a T65 is more likely.
In 2009, in his words, Tom Watson “scared a few of the young guys,” in an Open Championship for the ages. It really became the defining moment in the latter years of his career, if not accentuating his acheivements. I remember watching–in disbelief–on the tail end of my teenage years, as this man almost 60 was taking Turnberry by storm.
He was primarily a legend to me, a man of clout, but a man of the past. To see him compete and wear the steely grimace by dad watched in the 1970s and 80s, was a treat. It was a memory I’ll always hold, even if I want to forget the putt on the 72nd hole…
Tom has given so much to the game–especially the Open Championship– it will be hard to say goodbye and see him go.
And in other news, Watson also took the time to announce that next spring’s 2016 Masters will be his last. In lieu of Ben Crenshaw’s 2015 Masters departure, Watson will be leaving Augusta, as well, despite the life-time exemption.
So travel with me, down memory lane. I’ve compiled an array of Tom Watson videos from our dear friends at YouTube. Before we watch him wave goodbye from the bridge on 18, let’s remember the Open career of Tom Watson.
The epic 1977 British Open against Jack Nicklaus called “The Duel in the Sun.”
Watson closes out the 1980 Open Championship, his 3rd:
Enjoy Jim Nantz’ thoughts before the 2009 finale at Turnberry, Watson’s last run at the Claret Jug (apologies for the final second glitches, they aren’t my fault I promise):
And the most marvelous memory we have from Tom Watson’s career, a tournament he didn’t even win:
“It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn’t it? It would have been a hell of a story.”
Mr. Watson, even without the win, you provided golf fans worldwide one hell of a story in 2009. And thank you, even from us who couldn’t watch you in your hayday, for what you’ve given the game.
It’s no funeral, but it’s fitting to take the time, and respect.