Can You Believe It

By Randall MellApril 9, 2010, 12:07 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tom Watson can’t believe it, either.

Watson is carving shots through space and time again, but this time he’s as surprised as the galleries who are witness to it.

With every swing Thursday in the first round of the Masters, Watson appeared to grow younger once more. He hit the shots he used to hit when he was dangerous here. His 5-under-par 67 equaled his lowest score in his 36 years at the Masters, in 118 previous rounds here. It was his lowest score in his last 20 Masters.

Watson made the patrons at Augusta National believe he can pull a miracle here just like he made all those fans at Turnberry believe he could win the British Open last summer.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson finished his day with a birdie at 18. (Getty Images)
At 60, Watson isn’t surprised he’s contending in a major. He’s surprised he’s contending in this one.

When he holed a 5-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to become the early leader in the clubhouse, he ignited a roar from yesteryear.

Watson credited his son, Michael, for inspiring the round because even the elder Watson didn’t seem confident this kind of day was still out there for him. Michael, 27, is a businessman caddying for just the second time in competition for his father.

As they prepared for this Masters, Watson wondered if the course was too long and too big for him.

“That’s what he keeps telling me, and I keep reminding him he can hit all the shots in front of him,” Michael said.

Watson hugged his son after that final birdie fell.

“I think a big part of my success today was having my son on the bag,” Watson said. “He said `Show me, show me you can still play this golf course.’”

Boy, did papa oblige.

Watson rolled in a 25-foot birdie at the first hole and a 5-footer for birdie at the last. He rolled in a 30-foot birdie at the 15th. He putted like a man possessed, not the fellow who has waged constant battles with his putter the last two decades. Watson got up and down with impressive par saves for five consecutive holes beginning at the 10th.

“His putting has been his strong suit,” Michael said.

Watson relished performing for his son, who didn’t come to be a cheerleader on papa’s bag. Michael sounded more like a coach than a caddie. He’s pushing his father because he believes his dad can finish what he started at Turnberry.

The oldest winner of the Masters is Jack Nicklaus. He was 46 when he won in 1986. The oldest winner of a major is Julius Boros. He was 48 when he won the PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968.

Before Thursday’s round, Michael gave Tom a pep talk.

“It was as simple as, 'Hey, dad, let’s go out and play a good round of golf.’ He didn’t add, 'for a change.’ But I know that’s what he was thinking,” Tom said.

Watson, an eight-time major championship winner, has missed the cut the last seven times he’s played the Masters. He hadn’t broken par the last 17 times he teed it up in the event.

Acknowledging it’s just the first round, Watson isn’t getting ahead of himself. “It doesn’t matter what it is now,” he said. “It matters Sunday.”

Steve Marino, playing with Watson, marveled afterward. They were also paired together in the third round of the British Open. Marino watched Watson seize a one-stroke lead going to the final round at Turnberry with a 71 in difficult conditions while Marino shot 76. Watson, of course, would just miss becoming the oldest winner of a major, losing a playoff to Stewart Cink.

“Both times I’ve played with him, he’s been unbelievable,” Marino said.

Asked how old Watson looked out there, Marino shrugged his shoulders.

“He’s playing like the best player in the world,” he said. “It’s pretty unbelievable, the guy hits it so solid and so straight.”

Watson said his near victory at Turnberry still yields benefits.

“There has been a certain glow about the whole situation, even though I finished second,” Watson said.  “And the glow comes from the people who watched it and who have come up to me and have commented to me. A lot of people have said, `You know, I'm not too old now.  You've just proven to me that I'm just not too old.’'

Jack Nicklaus huddled with Watson at the Masters Champions Dinner Tuesday night. When he asked Watson how he viewed his chances, Watson told him he believed the course was too long for him. Of course, Watson knows his putter and nerves will be tested here more than anyplace else.

“He’s here to win,” Michael said.

Augusta National patrons are believers. You could here it as Watson made his way around this place. Now if only they can get Watson to believe ...


Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

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.

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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.