Sunday, July 19, 2009

A fairytale in process

It is now Sunday morning and The Open Championship is about to write the final chapter of the 2009 version at Turnberry. Now The Open isn`t just any tournament. It is the oldest major championship in golf (the 2nd oldest being our own South African Open!). It isn`t known as the BRITISH Open but just as The Open. It is a very, very special thing.

Legends of the game have won The Open and held aloft the famous Claret Jug. Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Lee Trevino, Bobby Locke (South African with 4 Open Chamionships to his name) and the list goes on.

On this list you`ll find the name of a certain Mr Tom Watson 5 times. His first win was in 1975. He followed that up with wins in 1977, 1983,1980, 1982 and 1983.

He is 2nd on the list of all time Open winners behind Harry Vardon. Although it must be argued that Harry played in a time when there were much less, shall we say, competition. He also won 2 Masters and 1 US Open title to take his tally to 8 majors.

Tom Watson played in an era dominated by Jack Nicklaus and to a lesser extent Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. Keep in mind that these 3 are reckoned to be some of the best of all time and it becomes clear that 8 major titles is no small feat.

Now, coming back to The Open Championship and Turnberry. A certain Mr Tom Watson was the leader after the 1st round. We all got nostalgic but it was never gonna last. I mean the pros these days are super fit, with mechanically perfect swings, the best equipment, coaches, mind coaches, fitness coaches, media managers etc etc. You get the point.

But, after round 2 Mr Watson was still leading. To put that into perspective, the world best player, Tiger Woods failed to make the cut. Now, a 59 year old who recently had a hip replacement was leading. Once again, I thought 'nice story' but it could not possibly last.

Round 3 came and went and guess who was still leading? You guessed right, Mr Tom Watson.

So here we are, on the last day of the biggest major in the world. A 59 year old still the leader after 3 rounds. The oldest man to ever win a major was 48 years of age. Could it be?

I will be on the edge of my seat today, willing Tom on to the claret jug. These stories are so rare these days. A wily old campaigner who drives the ball about a 100 yards shorter than his younger counterparts but who has a silky putting stroke and wonderful short game. This is a fairytale in the making but instead of they all lived happily after the announcer will proclaim:

"and the Champion Golfer of the year, Mr Tom Watson"

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