Jul
18
2009
Tom Watson Is Your Leader After 54 Holes At Turnberry
By Stephanie Wei under General

Maybe you’ve heard of this Tom Watson guy. Well, he is leading the 138th edition of the British Open through 54 holes at 4-under-par. And he’s 59. (Yes, fifty-friggin-nine!) Believe it or not, he may very well take home the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Playing in the final group today, he captivated us even more than a Tiger Woods-come-from-behind-run-on-Sunday. He was three-over for the day through 15 holes. But he battled back and birdied two of the final three holes – one of which resulted from draining a 20 footer. Not surprising considering we’ve seen him drop those throughout the tournament. He finished with a one-over-par 71.

Look at the other names in contention. Mathew Goggin. Ross Fisher. Lee Westwood. Bryce Molder. Other than Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk, the rest have never won a major. I mean, who the heck is Thongchai Jaidee? Furyk is the only one I can see creeping up and perhaps winning.

Sure Watson is old(er). He might lose steam. But in golf, mental resilience is more crucial. I don’t see him pulling a choke a la Kenny Perry at the Masters earlier this year. Watson knows what it feels like to be leading going into the final round of a major. And he knows how to battle Turnberry if the wind starts to gust. On a Sunday at a British Open, experience goes a long way. He’s been in this position many times in his career.

After he shot 65 on Thursday, I posed the question whether Watson could muster up a performance more impressive than that of Jack Nicklaus at the ‘86 Masters or Hale Irwin at the ‘90 British Open.

Maybe I’ve been drinking too much kool-aid. But I thought he could and 36 holes later — against the odds — I still think he can.

[Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe]