The Sun Hasnt Set

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' A country that clings to antiques is 18 holes away from having a relic claim the games oldest keepsake. Seems about right.
 
With his arms folded behind his back, looking more like a pondering professor than the years champion golfer, Tom Watson gave no ground on the type of day that drove sheep into furrows that would become sand traps so many eons ago.
 
On an artificial hip and genuine gumption, and on a golf course one announcer dubbed as hard as a dogs head, the five-time Open champion rolled in putts from Ayr to Maybole on his way to a third-round 71 and one-stroke lead over Mathew Goggin and Ross Fisher.
 
Tom Watson
Tom Watson reacts to his birdie putt on the 16th hole Saturday. (Getty Images)
Welcome to the 2009 Open Championship, the Duel in the Setting Sun.
 
In historical context, a Watson victory on Sunday, some 32 years after he etched his name into the games all-time highlight reels against Jack Nicklaus on these same windswept dunes, would fall into exclusive company alongside Nicklaus win at the 1986 Masters, Ben Hogans 1950 U.S. Open triumph and Tiger Woods one-legged masterpiece last year at Torrey Pines.
 
Not that Watson would ever allow himself to get that far ahead of reality, but as he inches closer to his fate he had to concede the obvious.
 
It would be special if I go out there and do what I intend to do, Watson allowed. Its impossible to overstate how improbable a road the 59-year-old now finds himself barreling down. Watson has not made a cut in an under-50 major since 2006. By comparison, Tiger Woods hadnt missed the weekend on the Grand Stage since 06.
 
Watsons last competitive round was more than a month ago and the standard for aged-perfection at a major is Julius Boros victory at the 1968 PGA Championship at a cubbish, at least by Watson standards, 48.
 
And yet despite conventional wisdom and clarity of thought, there he was on Saturday, charging his way around an Ailsa Course that was getting harder with each gust.
 
He wasnt perfect, but then he didnt expect to be. He rolled in par-saving putts of 8 feet (No. 3), 10 feet (No. 5), 6 feet (No. 13) and 25 feet (No. 14); all the while charging his attempts at the hole like the Watson of old. Before he developed what he calls hammer mitts for hands.
 
In between he posted three birdies, four bogeys and a bulletproof exterior that looked like a man on a Saturday stroll.
 
Things could have gone sideways, like they did for playing companion Steve Marino. Like on the 12th when Watson missed a 5-footer for par to drop into a tie for the lead. But he rebounded on the next hole with a steely 6-footer for par, and then rolled in cross-country birdies at the 16th and 17th. He wandered into the scorers hut with a sly smile and the look of a man with the answer to a question no one else has thought of. A man at peace.
 
On the fourth tee Watson paused to gaze out into the frothy Firth of Clyde, his pale blue eyes locked on Ailsa Craig shrouded in the distance, but ostensibly a sixth Claret Jug.
 
For some reason today I didnt feel nervous, Watson said. I guess serenity is the right word for it.
 
Surreal would be a more apt depiction.
 
But then no one who braved the cold wind on Saturday seemed to be expecting anything else. The Scots engage Watson as one of their own, an admiration he says that goes both ways: Coom on Tooom, they would yell.
 
I joked with him, You could probably be king of Scotland these people love you so much, said Marino, who played alongside Watson on Saturday. Makes sense, the man plays golf like a Scot ' fast and from the center of the clubface.
 
For the skeptics, who liked this show when it went by Greg Norman last year at Royal Birkdale, this is different. There has a for-the-ages-quality to it that even Watson is slowly warming toward.
 
The first day here, yeah let the old geezer have his day in the sun, Watson said, flashing that toothy smile. The second day you said, Well thats OK. And then now you kind of perk up your ears and say, This old geezer might have a chance to win the tournament.
 
But the question remains, how does an occasional senior win another Open Championship?
 
Ball-striking and putting are the formulaic answers. For the week Watson is among the weeks leaders in greens in regulation (70 percent) and fairways hit (73 percent) and looking with each round more like the younger Watson who feared no 4-footer than the aged version whose magical swing has been done in by a jumpy putting stroke.
 
Its hard for me to imagine him hitting too many bad shots in a round after what I saw today, Marino said.
 
Essentially, Watson has turned back the clock with experience. Each night when he heads up the hill to the Watson Suite in the resorts grand hotel he has created a game plan born from six major championships (four British Opens and two Senior British Opens) on the Ailsa Course.
 
Whether it all adds up to a historic finish, Watson declined to indulge. But the gravity of his plight was impossible to escape.
 
Who would have thought it, he smiled.
 
Indeed, who?
 
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    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

    Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

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    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.