Watson Ready for More Senior Moments

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
Tom Watson stepped out of his weight class and more than held his own in the U.S. Open. Now he has returned to his regular division, and he's ready to win the tours most prized title.
 
Last years runner-up hopes take that one final step forward and claim top honors in the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio.
 
A year ago, the 53-year-old lost to tour rookie Don Pooley in what was the most exciting final round of the season. Pooley became the first qualifier to win the prestigious event when he birdied the 77th hole to knock off Watson at Caves Valley.
 
Unlike the regular Open, there is no 18-hole playoff in the senior version. There is a three-hole aggregate playoff followed by sudden death.
 
This year, however, has been a dismal one for the Open champion. Shoulder surgery in January has limited him to just three tournaments, including a missed cut in the U.S. Open.
 
Of course, Watson was a huge factor at Olympia Fields. He shared the lead after a first-round 65, and eventually tied for 28th. His headlines were enlarged enough to share room for his caddie, Bruce Edwards, who is suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease.
 
Watson and Edwards received a standing ovation walking up the 72nd hole. Edwards told his boss that they would be back in 2004. Watson replied, Im going to have to win the Senior Open. Well be back next year at Shinnecock.
 
The winner of the Senior Open gets an exemption into the U.S. Open. He will also earn $475,000 this year.
 
This is the 24th playing of the tournament. Two-time champion Hale Irwin (1998, 2000) was hoping to make a comeback after withdrawing from the U.S. Open when back spasms forced him to be carried off the course in a cart, but the problems have persisted and he has withdrawn from this event as well. Irwin won the 1979 U.S. Open at Inverness.
 
Craig Stadler has also had a little Inverness success. The 50-year-old, who made his tour debut by finishing tied for 15th in the Senior PGA Championship, won the 1973 U.S. Amateur Championship on this Donald Ross layout. But he missed the cut in the 79 U.S. Open; tied for 30th in the 1986 PGA Championship, and again missed the cut in the 93 PGA.
 
Six players, including Pooley, have won this event in their first appearance.
 
There have been only two repeat winners in this event. Miller Barber did so in 1984 and 85, while Gary Player won in 87 and 88. Irwin and Nicklaus (1991, 93) are the only other multiple winners. Barber is the lone three-time champion, having claimed his first Senior Open title in 1982.
 
This is the middle of three major championships played in a five-week span. The Senior PGA was two weeks ago, while the Ford Senior Players Championship is in two weeks.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Senior Open
  • More Champions Tour Event Preview Information
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.