Aiming for The Open
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 firstname.lastname@example.org