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Watsons Major Emphasis is on Caddies Plight

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TOLEDO, Ohio -- Tom Watson is playing for something much, much bigger than a paycheck and a trophy in the U.S. Senior Open.
 
Every day that Watson remains in contention and in the headlines increases the chances of bringing in more money in the fight against the disease that is slowly killing his caddie.
 
Bruce Edwards, who first caddied for Watson in 1973, was diagnosed in January with Lou Gehrig's disease -- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- and his speech has already been affected.
 
'With his affliction of ALS, our efforts are concentrated not so much on carrying the golf bag but trying to find a cure,' Watson said Wednesday.
 
Watson used his opening-round 65 in the U.S. Open two weeks ago as a way to bring attention to the disease. The response so far has been overwhelming.
 
'There's a lot of goodness in human hearts,' Watson said softly.
 
Watson and Jack Nicklaus played a practice round a day earlier at Inverness Club. Edwards got more cheers and shouts of encouragement than the men who have a combined 26 major championship victories.
 
'It was 'Come on, Bruce!' and 'Good to see you, Bruce!'' Watson said. 'They didn't say anything about Jack and me out there. It was all about Bruce.'
 
That's fine with the 53-year-old Watson, who shared the lead after the first round of the Open but ended up 12 shots back of winner Jim Furyk. Now he hopes to play well in the season's second major for the over-50 crowd for many reasons, not the least of which is to keep Edwards' plight in the nation's consciousness.
 
'Like the rest of America, I enjoyed watching Tom's first round at Olympia,' Nicklaus said with tears welling in his eyes. `n in 1991 and again in 1993, said he's feeling healthy for a change. He has extensive knowledge of the course since playing it for the first time in 1957 as a 17-year-old amateur.
 
But he hasn't found a way to make putts on the lumpy, humpy greens.
 
'I'm hitting the ball pretty well,' Nicklaus said. 'I just don't know whether I can figure out a way to get it in the hole.'
 
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    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.