HOYLAKE, England – Tom Watson is the only person not surprised that he made the cut at his beloved Open Championship. After all, it was his goal this week and he was determined to achieve it.
The five time Open winner strolled up the 18th hole Friday at Royal Liverpool only needing par to advance to the weekend. He nearly made birdie, but easily tapped in for par. This is the fourth time that Watson made the cut at the Open in the last six years. That includes his epic performance in 2009 at Turnberry where he nearly won a sixth claret jug, but lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.
“I came over here with a purpose to play my best golf and play on the weekend,” Watson said after shooting a second consecutive 73 that extended his record of being the oldest man to make the cut in the game's oldest championship. “Let’s see what happens on the weekend. See if the old guy can maybe get it rolling a little bit.”
Although it is a surprise, it shouldn’t be. Just two short weeks ago Watson made the cut at the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic and ultimately tied for 35th place.
Watson was 2 over after 10 holes on Friday and he became a bit of an afterthought during a time when leader Rory McIlroy was blitzing the rest of the field. But Watson made birdie on the 14th hole and jumped inside the cut line by a shot. He made par on the last four holes to make the cut on the number and shot the exact same 36-hole score as Tiger Woods, a man Watson says needs to play well to earn a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“Brilliant,” said Darren Clarke, Watson’s playing partner. “I don’t know where I’m going to be when I’m 64. If I was playing golf like the quality of golf that Tom Watson is playing, then I’d be very, very pleased.
“He’s just a gentleman on the golf course, and he played quite beautifully.”
A man who will likely be on Watson’s Ryder Cup team is Jim Furyk, who is currently No. 6 in U.S. points, and played alongside Watson for the first two days.
“It was pretty special playing with Tom, and the reception he got,” Furyk said. “To watch him grind it out and make a birdie on the way in and make the cut was pretty cool. I was pulling for him pretty hard on 18. And he hit a lot of good shots down the stretch.”