Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tom Watson

I've been a fan of golfer Tom Watson ever since he came out on the PGA tour in 1971. I had a good friend in the Army named Tom Watson, and though they was no connection between the two I still always was a Tom-Watson-the-golfer fan. When TWTG came to the 1993 GGO my friend Wade Peoples got the above autograph for me.

About the only resemblance between my golf game and Tom's was that we generally carried the same number of clubs in our bags. I did, however, once make a stroke that Tom would have given a lot of money for. In 1984 I took a golfing trip to Ireland and Scotland with my buddy Roy Johnston. We played one round at Carnoustie in Scotland and it was very memorable.

We had two old guys, John and Charlie, for caddies. Both were life-long Carnoustie residents. John was 67 and retired and had been caddying since his retirement. John was 76 and had been caddying all his life. Both had followed Ben Hogan when he came to Scotland for the 1953 (British) Open tournament at Carnoustie and had several stories about Ben's exploits. After hitting our tee shots on the first hole, I asked Charlie if they played "mulligans" in Scotland. His reply: "Aye, lad, we do. We call them 'three'.".

Roy, John, Preston, and Charlie

Tom Watson won his first Open Championship in 1975 at Carnoustie. He needed five rounds to win that year since he and Jack Newton were tied after 72 holes. In all five rounds, Tom boggied the 16th hole, a 235-yd par three he has described as the toughest par 3 in golf. For Tom, maybe, but not for me. Against Charlie's advice (he thought it was too much club) I rifled a 3-wood shot to about 5 feet from the hole. Of course, I missed the birdie putt, but I know Tom Watson would have loved to have that 3 in any of his five tries in 1975. I even have photo evidence of the shot.:

Does Tom have a chance to win the Open Tournament tomorrow? I don't think so. The USA Olympic Hockey team had no chance against the Russians in 1980, The Jets had no chance against the Colts and the Mets couldn't win the World Series in 1969. NC State stood no chance against Phi Slama Jamma in 1983.

On second thought, maybe Tom can win.

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