Watson: My golf tools are rusty now, like me
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.