Tom Watson’s last Open Championship came at St. Andrews in 2015. Sam Adams takes a long look back on one of the game’s greats.
As the start of the 2015 Open approaches and the start of what will be Tom Watson’s last Open also approaches it brings mixed emotions.
I am as excited as anyone to be watching Jordan Spieth and all the other great competitors tee it up at St. Andrews this week, but the fact that Tom Watson will be standing on Swilcan Bridge for the final time in competition is hard for me to deal with. It’s a reminder of how long I have been in love with this wonderful game.
It was tough ten years ago when another of my heroes waved his good bye to all the adoring fans and finished in style with a birdie on the last hole. It seems fitting that Jack Nicklaus was paired with Tom Watson that day. Always the class act, Nicklaus took time to remind Watson that he had some more golf to play if he made par and made the cut.
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I came along when Arnie was in his prime and watched when he stood on Swilcan Bridge and wave farewell, but now that Watson is do the same thing, I realize how many years and great memories it has been.
I will be forever grateful to the R&A for showing its respect for his accomplishments and creating a special exemption that is allowing Watson to say his farewell this year at St. Andrews.
Initially I was not a Watson fan. In his early years he had a tendency to choke and I was busy watching my idol, Jack Nicklaus, building his legacy. Once Watson finally figured out how to bring home on Sunday he became one of the best ever and won my respect. I did, however, still get upset with him every time he stopped Nicklaus from winning another major.
The fact that he has been able to play competitively for as long as he has is a statement to him and his golf swing. At the age of 59 he almost won another Open, but it got away from him and he lost in a play-off.
“The only regret I have is that it’s the end. It really is. It’s the end. I regret I don’t have the tools in the toolbox to continue on”.
Having watched him play all these years, I know one thing for a fact and that is Tom Watson wants to make that final wave and walk on Sunday and not Friday. I honestly believe he can pull it off and I know that he does also. I, for one, will be pulling for him.
The perfect weekend for me would be seeing Watson waving to the crowd on Sunday and Jordan Spieth holding the Claret Jug the same day. If both of those were to happen I’m not sure when I would sober up again.
I have been fortunate enough to see Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, and Tiger at the peak of their careers. With any luck I’ll get to see Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, and crew, reach the peak of theirs.
Golf has reached a point where, in all its history, it has never had anything close to the wealth of talent that it enjoys today. It’s going to be fun.