He did it again this weekend. He stayed around, constantly wearing that wisp of a grin on his mug, until the last guy was just about exhausted. Ol Tom took Carl Mason to a playoff when he had no business doing such things. Then he gently lifted the trophy off the mans shoulders and ' voila! ' there you have your Senior British Open champion.
Watson has been doing this sort of thing all year. Usually it gets into the last day and someone has enough left in the tank to dust him off. Hes finished second four times this year, and at age 53 has made the cut in two of the regular-tour majors. Now hes qualified for the PGA Championship ' the real one ' by winning at the Senior British. Heaven help us should he get the idea that he can do the same thing at the PGA.
Tom is such a master at being polite to the vanquished. Sunday it was Brit Mason. Watson gently hung around until Mason double-bogeyed the 72nd hole. Then Watson parred the second playoff hole while the meticulous Mason was making another wee mistake. Oops ' there goes the championship!
Watson spoke about how he didnt deserve it. Gosh, Mason played so well the whole tournament, he said. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Nothing but dumb luck, you know.
Well, this luck thing is beginning to wear pretty thin on a lot of players. Because Watson has been doing this same act for decades now.
Watson drives it about 280 yards per whack. But the real difference has been his putting. His putting woes have been legendary for about 15 years now. But this year he stands sixth in putting, and that has been good enough to boost him into contention week after week after week.
As I said out there on the 18th hole, it was -- I got lucky to win, he said in that aw-shucks manner.
I've said this all week - my putter has been magical all week this week. I must have made 10 putts over 20 feet this week. I holed a sand wedge at 10 for eagle.
The leader of the tournament made a double bogey on the last hole to let me have a chance, and it's almost destiny that that happened, I don't know. I know I was trying my darnedest down there to hit every shot, but it certainly wasn't as pretty as Carl was playing. He played very, very well the first two rounds. I'm sure he played well today again and made very few mistakes except for the last hole.
As a result, I got in the playoff, with kind of the 'Watson of old' where I made just a lot of long putts, kind of scrambled around, kind of stayed in the tournament and relied on my short game and my putting to see me through - which it did.
Well, darn, another opponent got flim-flammed. Tom graciously said his platitudes at the victory ceremony and the other guy kept wondering where his wallet was. Turns out Tom had it ' along with the trophy.
Watson, of course, wouldnt have said it was destiny, even though it was on the exact same grounds where he beat Jack Nicklaus in perhaps the greatest match ever played in 1977.
Well, this week, no, he said. I didn't feel like I was striking the ball well enough to win, but I felt like I was putting the ball well enough to win. If I could keep from making too many mistakes with my long game, I was going to hang in there.
I just kept on believing I was going to make every putt I looked at, and that's exactly what happened. I hope this feeling lasts for a long time, but I know it won't.
Of course, he said he was expecting yet another second-place finish.
I certainly was, yes, he said. After bogeying the last hole, I expected second place. In fact, I said it to American TV, I said, This is getting tiresome finishing second. I didn't expect Carl to make the mistake he did or the couple mistakes he did on the last hole.
Now comes another one of the young fellows majors. He startled the gents by shooting 65 in the opening round at the U.S. Open, all the time wearing that little half-smile. He made some noise in the British Open where he finished well up in the final standings ' 18th, as a matter of fact, with a 69 on the final day.
I played well I played well enough in one round this year, a couple rounds this year at the British Open and another round at the U.S. Open. That was three rounds out of eight, and I had five other rounds that weren't so good.
So in one round, yes. Two rounds, yes. Three or four rounds, probably not. But I still can hope, can't I? I still can dream it.
So goes ol Tom, just dreaming while he collects fat paycheck after fat paycheck. This man is plenty good enough to win on either tour. If youre his opponent, just be advised to keep your eyes on him at all times. That Watson magic may not be magic at all ' it may just be everyone else leaving the party at a more sensible time while Watson hangs around to collect the spoils..