Watson defies age with Greenbrier performance

By Jason SobelJuly 7, 2014, 6:30 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – Tom Watson emerged from a small room after signing his scorecard, a contrite smile on his weather-worn face after posting the second of three consecutive under-par rounds in a PGA Tour event this past weekend. It was just another day in the life for the 64-year-old, no big deal for a man who has gotten accustomed to age-defying performances.

He fiddled with a valuables pouch that held his watch and some lip balm, finding the drawstring a bit too finicky.

“This bag is getting old,” he said aloud to himself. “Just like me. I’m an old bag.”

Age is a relative term, but in comparison with his fellow competitors at The Greenbrier Classic, he was right. He’s old.

Not that it matters, but he’s 14 years older than anyone else who made the cut; he’s 29 years older than Jimmy Walker, one of his Ryder Cup players who missed it; and he’s 36 years older than Webb Simpson, a major champion who played with him over the first two rounds – and got beat.

“The thing that struck me most was that nothing really fazed him,” Simpson observed. “He hit it over the green a couple of times and he never said a word. He’d just go to his ball and hit it.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe he’s been bathing in the Fountain of Youth.

That might be the only way to rationalize just how impressive it is that Watson can still hang with the flatbellies, but let’s try a few other ways of putting it into perspective.

He’s so old that his first career PGA Tour start – the 1971 Kaiser International Open – was won by Billy Casper, who hasn’t won anything in almost 40 years.

He’s so old that on the day of his first career top-10 finish, Johnny Unitas led the Colts to a win and Joe Namath threw for 301 yards in a Jets' loss.

He’s so old that if he wins another event, he'll be the oldest winner ever – on the Champions Tour.

He’s so old that he’s reached an age which The Beatles once chose as the line of demarcation to symbolize when life starts coming to a withering finale.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I’m sixty-four?


Tom Watson

Photos: Tom Watson through the years


Five years ago next week, Watson nearly won the Open Championship.

We all remember the story: A nervy putt from behind the final green in regulation led to an even nervier second putt. By the time he reached the first hole of a playoff against Stewart Cink, the outcome was a veritable inevitability. We'd officially been robbed of witnessing one of the greatest athletic achievements in – dare I say it? – sports history.

At the time, it was assumed Watson would contemplatively walk off into the Ailsa Craig sunset – figuratively, at least, if not also literally – and live his remaining days as simply a legend of the game. In the past tense, not the present.

He might not, like a bad wine-and-cheese analogy, be getting better with age, but he’s certainly not getting any worse.

This past week, Watson finished in a share of 35th place. It follows a made cut here last year and another the year before.

When asked to contemplate his own timelessness this past weekend, he dismissed these successes as the result of being the head pro emeritus at the resort. He waved it off as just knowing the course really well. He even chalked it up to a little luck.

Never once, though, did he allow himself to ponder how he’s able to compete against players two and three times younger than him.

Others were more than happy to reflect on their own career longevity, though – or lack thereof.

“I can’t see myself doing it in 20 years,” David Toms, 47, said with a laugh. “I’m hoping I’ll be in a boat on a lake in 20 years, but he’s out here grinding. It says a lot about how much he loves the game.”

“It would be fun to still be playing 15 years from now,” explained Jeff Maggert, 50. “He knows he can still play well. His health is good, he still has the length and obviously he still enjoys the game.”

Watson left his fellow players and the rest of us to marvel at him once again this past weekend. He never, at least not publicly, marveled at his own productivity. He never outwardly looked surprised at what he’d accomplished.

The most he allowed was just minutes after fiddling with that finicky valuables pouch and calling himself an old bag. He was asked if he could let himself think about how remarkable it really is that he can compete at the age of 64.

“Well,” he said with that same contrite smile, “I don't know how remarkable it is.”

That’s too bad. He might be the only one who doesn’t.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


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Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

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Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

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Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm