The sports world was on the brink of a “do you remember where you were when…” moment as 59-year old five-time British Open champion Tom Watson led going into the fourth and final round of play at the 2009 British Open. Watson continued to lead until the final hole, when he botched his one-point lead with a pitiful put. This tied Watson with Stewart Cink and took the pair into the playoffs, where Watson took a number of bad swings and Cink sealed the deal with cool play after play. Despite the dismal performance during the playoff, Watson gave an incredible run during the 2009 British Open. (The British Open, also referred to as The Open Championship, is one of four “Major” golf tournaments on the PGA tour.)
In case you’re not a golf person or otherwise don’t understand what the big deal is, here is a list of reasons why should have tuned in Sunday morning:
The current oldest player to win a golf major is Julius Boros, who won the 1968 PGA Championship at the ripe young age of 48. That would be an eleven-year gap.
Tiger Woods, the modern day torchbearer for golfing and sports greatness, was unable to make the cut after shooting a 3-over 74 on Friday. He will be joining the rest of us as we watch the final round from home. I am Tiger Woods!
I tried to find betting odds for Tom Watson prior to the opening round but no one even had him listed. Needless to say, if you found a bookie to take the bet you would be in for a BIG payday!
There simply isn’t anything comparable in modern major sports. A 40+ year old winning the NBA scoring title? A 59-year old winning the heavyweight boxing crown? A 40+ year old winning a Tennis major? John Elway is the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He was 38. Try imagining a 49-year old quarterback winning a Super Bowl!
The last time Tom Watson won a PGA tour event was the MasterCard Colonial on May 24, 1998. Oddly, the second-place finisher in that tournament was Jim Furyk, who is currently three strokes behind Watson and tied for sixth place at one under par.
Last year Greg Norman was 54 when he had the lead going into the fourth round of the British Open, but he fell off and eventually was not a factor. Avoiding the obvious Viagra reference, will Tom Watson be able to keep it up one more day?
Watson is attempting to accomplish this feat at Turnberry, where he won the legendary “Duel in the Sun” vs. Jack Nicholson 32 years ago. Thirty-two years ago! For those young golf fans out there who don’t understand how long ago that was, check out the quality of youtube videos they had:
His sixth British Open championship would tie him with some chap named Harry Vardon (Vardon’s 6th victory came back in 1914, that is back when baseball players threw twenty consecutive shut outs in a season after fighting in a World War).
Tom Watson’s playing partner in the final pairing is some guy named Mathew Goggan, a 35-year old ranked 78th in the world. I tried to find Tom Watson’s ranking, but he wasn’t on any list I could find and some of them went as high (low?) as 300!
Tom Watson is staying in the Tom Watson Suite at the hotel across the street from the course. “There’s a little plaque over the door” he stated.
Quite simply, this would be the greatest win in professional golf history.
Coverage of the final round begins on TNT at 6 a.m. EST and 8 a.m. EST on ABC with Tom Watson scheduled to tee off with Mathew Goggin at 9:20 a.m. EST.