Herald Sun

Wat­son: My golf tools are rusty now, like me

- JONATHAN MCEVOY

NEVER mind watch­ing his golf, they could fill the­atres on both sides of the At­lantic just to hear Tom Wat­son speak.

The in­evitable truth, and one that no­body was shy­ing away from on the eve of the 144th Open Cham­pi­onship, is that what comes out of his mouth is likely to be more com­pelling than what comes off his club head this week.

Wat­son is a 1000-1 shot for a sixth ti­tle. That mat­ters lit­tle. No­body has come here to see the Amer­i­can lift the Claret Jug at 65, but to see him wave good­bye 40 years af­ter his first Open vic­tory at Carnoustie.

“The tool­box is kind of half empty of the tools I used to be able to play good golf with,” Wat­son said.

“Those tools are miss­ing right now or pretty rusty — rusty like me.

“I re­ally don’t know how I’m go­ing to feel, although I can start with some of the emo­tions. With my friends and fam­ily, we’ve got a few house­fuls of peo­ple com­ing over.

“We’ll have a big party on Fri­day night. I hope that’s just in the mid­dle of the four rounds that I play.

“I still want to com­pete. I still want to hit that shot that re­ally means some­thing un­der pres­sure. I may have a few left in me, but prob­a­bly not enough to re­ally make it right.”

Wat­son com­mit­ted him­self to play in Bri­tain again at the Se­nior Open, but an­nounced that next year’s US Mas­ters would be his last.

“I will be el­i­gi­ble to play on, but I won’t,” he said. “The golf course is too big for me, with my de­clin­ing skills and length.

“When you shoot 81, it’s time to say good­bye.”

Nos­tal­gia is part of the fab­ric at St An­drews. So it is the per­fect set­ting to ask Wat­son for his out­stand­ing mem­ory of Scot­land from a kaleidosco­pe of them. “Prob­a­bly the very be­gin­ning — that Sun­day morn­ing of the play­off against Jack New­ton (in 1975),” Wat­son re­called.

“I was leav­ing the house, and it’s rain­ing, it’s cold, and here comes a lit­tle Scot­tish girl to the front door and says, ‘ Mr Wat­son, please take this for good luck’.

“I could barely un­der­stand her, but I fi­nally fig­ured it out. She gave me tin­foil, and in it was some white heather. I kept it in my bag for years, and it brought me good luck ... That’s what golf is in Scot­land, right there.”

He de­lighted in 2009 at Turn­berry when, aged nearly 60, he came within one putt of win­ning his first ma­jor for 26 years. He went to the 72nd hole with a one-stroke lead, only to make bo­gey and lose to Stewart Cink in a play­off

If the old Wat­son fin­ishes in the top 10 he will qual­ify for another five years.

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