He shot an opening-round 65 at the U.S. Open and a 66 two weeks later in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open. He quickly fell out of contention at Olympia Fields, and lost by two strokes at the Inverness Club.
He hopes to be more consistent in this week's Senior Players Championship, the third of the five majors on the Champions Tour.
First, Watson will have to deal with the TPC of Michigan, where he finished eighth in 2001 and 18th in 2000. He didn't play last year.
'I haven't been consistent in my good play,' Watson said after a 7-under 65 during Wednesday's pro-am. 'I've had spurts of good play, but I haven't put it together for 54 or 72 holes.'
Watson's 66 at Inverness last month put him three strokes ahead of Bruce Lietzke. But after rounds of 72, 70 and 71, Watson found himself two strokes behind Lietzke, who won the Senior Open.
It was Lietzke's first major victory in 53 tries, and seventh win since joining the senior circuit in 2001. He had 13 wins on the PGA Tour.
In 52 previous starts in majors -- five as a senior and the rest on the PGA Tour -- Lietzke's best finish was a second to John Daly at the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick.
He spent the week between the Senior Open and the Senior Players in Oklahoma City with family, including his 90-year-old mother.
'I love golf, but it's not my passion,' said Lietzke, who will miss the upcoming Senior British Open because of a planned vacation.
'Nothing better than winning and having a week off,' he said. 'Golf has a way of beating you down.'
The recharged Lietzke, one of the longest drivers on the Champions Tour, is ready to tackle the Jack Nicklaus-designed TPC of Michigan.
'This course puts driver in your hands most of the time,' he said.
Lietzke averages 284.1 yards off the tee, good for seventh on tour.
Another player hoping to make a triumphant return in Dearborn is Hale Irwin, who will be playing his first tournament since dropping out of the U.S. Open with a back injury.
'The back is OK. I can't say it's completely well,' said Irwin, the all-time money leader on the Champions Tour and tops this year in scoring average. 'It'll need some continued rest, but I can't do that at this time.'
Before this past Friday, the 58-year-old hadn't hit a golf ball since the 12th hole at Olympia Fields. He played a full 18 holes for the first time in Wednesday's pro-am.
'My preparation has been nil,' he said. 'Hopefully, I can draw upon my experience here.'
Irwin, who won the Senior Players in 1999, said he would make up his mind after this weekend whether to play at the Senior British Open in Turnberry, Scotland, in two weeks.
The Senior Players winner, who last year was Stewart Ginn, will get $375,000 of the $2.5 million purse.
Notes: Champions Tour player and television analyst Gary McCord withdrew this week due to his father's death in California. Terry Mauney replaces McCord in the field. ... Ginn and NASCAR legend Ned Jarrett spent time together Wednesday. Jarrett gave Ginn a driving lesson on a closed course at tournament sponsor Ford Motor Co.'s Dearborn Proving Ground. They then moved to the TPC, where Ginn gave Jarrett a golf lesson. ... McDonald's Corp. on Wednesday made a $50,000 donation to Driving 4 Life, a Cambridge, Mass.-based fund-raising organization campaign started by Watson and his caddie Bruce Edwards, who is dying from Lou Gehrig's disease.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.