What a Year for Watson

By December 27, 2003, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of articles highlighting the top stories of 2003. Check back through the end of the year to see the rest of the list.
 
2003 Stories of the YearDuring a spectacular career that saw him win 39 PGA Tour titles, eight major championships, numerous player of the year awards and money titles, and the applause of millions worldwide, it would seem impossible for Tom Watson, now at 54 years of age, to have a year that could top any of those from his prime.
 
But somehow he did. Make that, they did.
 
Tom and his good friend and trusted caddie Bruce Edwards had a year to remember.
 
Though perhaps best known for his dramatic chip in at the 17th hole in the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to beat Jack Nicklaus, Watson might soon become known more for his chip in to fight the deadly ALS disease that is slowly taking the life of his longtime caddie Edwards.
 
Edwards, who first worked with Watson some thirty years ago was asked this year to name his best ever moment as a caddie. It wasnt, of course, a certain shot or victory, but something much simpler.
 
The day I walked up to Tom and said, Hi, I'm going to be out here, can I caddie for you? And he said, Well, I'll let you caddie for me this week, and we'll take it from there, and here we are 30 years later, recalled Edwards. Meeting him, working for him, that's been the best thing in my life, without a doubt, without a doubt.'
 
'He is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I told somebody on Thursday that if someone said to me we can do this all over again, you're going to get ALS down the road, would you do it? I'd say you bet, every time. I've been really lucky.
 
Watson, who has often spoken about the special bond between the two, is becoming, understandably, saddened by the effects the disease is having on his pal.
 
Trust in all things, said Tom on their relationship. As I said at his wedding, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body.
 
'He loves the Tour, loves his family out here. It's sad. It's sad to see him withdraw because he can't talk, and that's what's happening.
 
And fittingly, in the year that the Senior Tour officially changed its name to The Champions Tour, it was a vintage Watson who garnered the tours player of the year award. A champion, indeed.
 
On statistics alone the award would have been his, but his association with Edwards and their sudden and unfortunte involvement with ALS made the choice sentimentally speaking, an easy and wise one.
 
On the stats side, Tom Terrific captured two Champions Tour majors ' the Senior British Open and Jeld-Wen Tradition ' had the lowest scoring average on tour, finished atop the money list and won the season-long Charles Schwab points race.
 
He also had strong showings playing alongside the younger set, first at the U.S. Open where he finished tied for 28th and then at the Open Championship in Scotland where he tied for 18th.
 
At one point during this glorious season, Waston teed it up in seven straight majors between the Champions Tour and the PGA Tour and in nine overall.
 
But it was upon receiving the $1 million bonus for winning the Charles Schwab Cup, that Watson scored best ' he immediately donated the entire prize to charity, much of it going to fight the disease that Edwards had been diagnosed with earlier in the year.
 
'As great as Tom's achievements were on the golf course, he outdid himself off it, displaying dedication and compassion for a very good friend who happens to be his caddie,' said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. 'He is a shining example of what is truly good about our sport. The entire PGA Tour family is proud to be associated with Tom Watson.'
 
Watson was also named by the PGA the recipient of the 2003 Payne Stewart Award, which is presented annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.
 
For golf fans, though, nothing could beat what transpired on a sunny Thursday afternoon at the above-mentioned U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. An opening round 5-under 65 left the crowd, the announcers, and even Tom and Bruce a little emotional.
 
His round included a holed 6-iron approach at the par-4 12th for eagle, and a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 7th that hung on the lip before falling into the cup, causing Watson to leap into the air, part surprise and part Im having the time of my life.
 
''You can only imagine,'' Watson said after the round. ''Put yourself in Bruce's situation and my situation, what it means to do well at this late stage in your life, playing in the tournament you want to win the most.
 
There are a lot of memories about the Open. I think first and foremost are the feelings and emotions that we had on the first day when I shot 65, we meaning Bruce and I, the magical moments of leading the U.S. Open, which caused really an outpouring of emotion from not only each other but from people around us, the players, the galleries, people from TV, you people. It's been heartwarming. I hope it translates into some action. That's what I hope it does.
 
Edwards, too, felt the love.
 
They were wonderful, they really were. All week long they were yelling my name, made me feel really good. It showed that people are really deep down nice and genuine and caring, and you can't ask for more than that in my opinion.
 
That day left two old friends, and a golfing nation, a little misty-eyed and showed the world that they still, if only for a day, were the best golfing combo in the world.

Editors Note: To learn more about ALS or to find out how to donate, visit www.driving4life.org
 
Related Links:
  • No. 1: Sorenstam's Season Transcends Wins
  • No. 2: Tiger Goes Majorless in 2003
  • No. 3: What a Year for Watson
  • No. 4: Player of Year Down to the Wire
  • No. 5: Elders Knock Kids Off Tour Perch
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."