Jul
27
2011
Watson Skips Major to Fulfill Promise to an Old Friend
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Watson's true blue to Greenbrier

Tom Watson is a man of his word. At first, it seemed peculiar that the 61-year-old Watson was entered to play in The Greenbrier rather than the US Senior Open.

Watson, the pro emeritus at Greenbrier, couldn’t play in the inaugural PGA Tour event at the West Virginia resort because he was already committed to competing at the Senior Open. But he promised Greenbrier owner Jim Justice that he would play this year.

Via the AP:

“To his credit, after I won the Senior PGA, Jim called me and said, ‘I don’t want to put any pressure on you to play. If you want to play in the U.S. Senior Open, I know how much it means to you to play in that,’” Watson said Tuesday. “Very simply I said, ‘Jim, I made a commitment to you and I’m sticking to it.’ So here I am.”

He was part of the 1979 Ryder Cup team at the Greenbrier, and his ex-wife went into labor at home in Kansas City, Mo. Justice’s father used a company plane to fly him home for the birth of his daughter, Meg.

Watson saw enough of the place to fall in love with it. He started bringing his sponsors to the Greenbrier and has done that for the past 30 years. Then, he was asked to replace Sam Snead as the pro emeritus.

Justice said it “means volumes” for Watson to be playing, especially considering what he is giving up this week.

“Tom Watson told us he would be here and that was the end of that,” Justice said.

Pretty classy move by Watson. It’s a long-shot for him to win at Greenbrier (or perhaps even make the cut), while on the other hand, he very well could win another major. Well, it’s just a senior event, after all — we all know it’s the four main majors that really count.

(AP Photo/Sang Tan)