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
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x