Aim­ing for The Open

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - SPORTS DAILY - By TOD PALMER

MFresh off ty­ing for 29th at the U.S. Open two week­ends ago in Peb­ble Beach, Calif., Tom Wat­son’s next two tour­na­ments are sched­uled to be ma­jor cham­pi­onships as well.

He took last week­end off from com­pe­ti­tion and isn’t play­ing this week­end, ei­ther.

In­stead, he’s fo­cused on pol­ish­ing his game for the Bri­tish Open, also known as The Open Cham­pi­onship, which be­gins July 15 on the Old Course at St. An­drews Links in Scot­land.

“I’m play­ing pretty well right now, hit­ting the ball well, work­ing hard on my putting, es­pe­cially my long putting,” Wat­son said. “Get­ting the right dis­tance con­trol is crit­i­cal. That’s go­ing to be very im­por­tant headore than a hun­dred mourn­ers ing over there gath­ered Tues­day at Washington (at St. AnNa­tional Cathe­dral for a fu­neral drews).” ser­vice hon­or­ing Manute Bol, the 7-foot-7 Wat­son, a for­mer NBA player and hu­man­i­tar­ian who

Kansas City died June 19 at 47. Bol, who lay in an

na­tive, is a 8-foot-long, spe­cially built cof­fin, will be

five-time Bri­tish Open cham­buried in Su­dan near the grave of his

pion, which is tied for the most grand­fa­ther.

by any golfer since World War The mourn­ers in­cluded po­lit­i­cal I, but he’s sel­dom had luck at dig­ni­taries, NBA of­fi­cials and Bol’s fam­ily,

St. An­drews, the birthplace of many from Olathe, where Bol has lived the

golf. last few years. Here are some of their

Wat­son tied for sec­ond there re­flec­tions on Bol, who be­came ill with a

in 1984 but doesn’t own any skin dis­ease and kid­ney trou­bles in Su­dan,

other top-10 fin­ishes on the where he was help­ing to build schools and

Old Course at St. An­drews de­layed his re­turn so he could as­sist with

among the six Bri­tish Opens he elec­tions in south­ern Su­dan.

has played there. “I can’t think of a per­son that I know of in

Still, Wat­son is hope­ful. the world who used their celebrity sta­tus

For starters, he cap­ti­vated for a greater good than what Manute Bol did. He used it for his peo­ple. He gave his

the golf­ing world last year with life for his peo­ple.” a run­ner-up fin­ish at Turn

berry, a show­ing that ought to | Sen. Sam Brown­back of Kansas have Wat­son en­er­gized for this year’s event.

But he also cap­tured some ma­jor mo­men­tum at this year’s U.S. Open, where he barely made the cut be­fore mak­ing a week­end charge up the leader­board.

“I was lucky to make the cut,” Wat­son said of the U.S. Open. “The 10-shot rule came into play, which is the only rea­son I made the cut, be­cause I wasn’t “Some peo­ple were em­bar­rassed by that. … But when you think about it, that’s heroic. He was will­ing to hum­ble him­self be­cause it was a way to get a lit­tle more help for his peo­ple.” | Tom Prichard, di­rec­tor of Su­dan Sun­rise in Lenexa, on how Bol boxed for­mer NFL star Wil­liam Perry, be­came the world’s tallest li­censed jockey and signed with a mi­nor-league hockey team though he couldn’t skate, all to raise money for his na­tive Su­dan.


Af­ter nearly mak­ing his­tory in 2009, Wat­son is pre­par­ing for an­other run at St. An­drews.

in the top 60. But I played a pretty good third round, shot 1un­der par, and at least got into smelling range.”

In other words, the feel­ing of be­ing in the chase for a ma­jor cham­pi­onship will be fresh in Wat­son’s mind.

So will the sour taste of let­ting a promis­ing round slip away.

“I knew if I was go­ing to have a chance that I needed to get off to a good start in Sun­day’s round and I did,” Wat­son said. “But I 3-putted 10 and made a mis­take at 11. You can’t do that at Peb­ble Beach and get away with it.”

Wat­son hopes to re­cap­ture his Bri­tish Open magic dur­ing the next few weeks.

He’ll head to London early next week to pro­mote his new video, “Lessons of a Life­time,” and hopes to get in a few friendly rounds at St. An­drews, which will help him get fa­mil­iar with the course again.

The fol­low­ing week, his prac­tice reg­i­men will get even more se­ri­ous as he pre­pares for the open­ing round.

Wat­son will re­main over­seas for the Se­nior Bri­tish Open, his third ma­jor cham­pi­onship tour­ney in a row, the fol­low­ing week at Carnoustie in Scot­land. To reach Tod Palmer, sports re­porter for The Star, call 816234-7732 or send e-mail to tpalmer@kc­


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