Tom Watson speaks ahead of his final Open outing

Powered by National Club Golfer

Tom Sturges Watson has never won at St Andrews – or at least hasn’t yet – but few would begrudge him the chance to bring down the curtain here, even though he had to make a special request.

“I asked Peter Dawson last year if it would be possible for me to play one more Open Championship, because last year it was the end of my exemption, to be able to play St Andrews in my last Open but he said “I’ll get back to you”. And very shortly afterwards he said: “You’re on”.

It can be taken as read that Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive, did not have to think for too long before making what is, it should be remembered, an extraordinary exception.

“Tom is the most successful Open champion still playing and has made a huge contribution to the Championship over the last 40 years,” said Dawson.

“His performances in winning the Open on five occasions were truly outstanding and to come so close to winning a sixth in 2009 demonstrates his longevity. I’m sure fans everywhere will look forward to seeing him play again at St Andrews.”

For his part, the 65-year-old makes a typically lyrical case about why the end should come on the Old Course.

“I love links golf and this is the father of links golf,” said Watson. “This golf course, the history, almost every great player has played here.

“And I say to people who have never played here: ‘When you play there, you’re going to play on the grounds that every great golfer in the history of the game has walked. You’ll be walking down the history of the game, from its nascent beginnings.”

It is less well known that Watson’s love affair with the traditional form of the game was not immediate, even if his first attempt to win the Open was a successful one.

If asked by a Spieth or a Fowler to explain what it takes to become a great Open player you might be surprised by the answer.

“Don’t do what I did,” he insists. “Embrace links golf earlier than I did. Even though I won early I had a love-hate for the golf courses themselves.

“Don’t get frustrated by the bad bounces. Don’t get frustrated by the conditions. Dance with the one what brought you – a Southern term in our country. Go with the flow here, and take what it gives you and learn what you can do.

“The other thing is that it took me a while to really enjoy the game played on links golf, but you have to get the right distance. I always fought trying to get the right distance. At first I tried to carry the ball on the greens and stop it. I couldn’t do that – and that frustrated me.

“A lot of golfers, especially in poor conditions, are going to miss greens and that was my forte – when I missed a green I was able to get the ball up and down. That’s what you have to do here.”

The knowing golf fan will only have eyes for one man at St Andrews.

A 65-year-old with a slight stoop and a warm smile. Here for one last time. Don’t miss it.

Keep up to date with all the latest news & videos
Latest News
  • american golf News: Harold Varner III takes down Steph Curry in a swoop

    Steph Curry has some serious basketball skills, and the 28-year-old’s golf game isn’t bad either...
    Read more

  • american golf News: Westwood opens up on Hazeltine and reveals captaincy ambitions

    The weeks after the Ryder Cup are always fascinating as the first nuggets begin to emerge as to what the players really made of the week...
    Read more

  • american golf News: Noren trebles up to seal Augusta debut

    Alex Noren was 471st in the world rankings in January 2015, now after his third win in just eight starts he is up to 18th. He is also guaranteed a place at next year’s Masters...
    Read more

More news
 View More Button
Latest Videos
  • Video: Golphin For Kids | Beginner to Winner - Pitching Pt. 1

    Now you have mastered Chipping, it is time to move on to Pitching, where the distances to the green start to get that little bit further. Calum is back to talk you through the basics of this important part of your game.
    Read more

  • Video: Golphin For Kids | Beginner to Winner - Pitching Pt. 2

    Now you have mastered Chipping, it is time to move on to Pitching, where the distances to the green start to get that little bit further. Calum talks you through the alphabet drill to help you practice those tricky pitch shots.
    Read more

  • Video: Callaway Golf Fusion Driver

    Their Most Forgiving Driver Ever. The Big Bertha Fusion Driver is a material change in forgiveness and distance, led by our revolutionary titanium Exo-Cage and ultralight triaxial carbon crown, with a new and innovative shape, and industry-leading aerodynamics.
    Read more

More news
View More Button