Injured Watson Defends at Portrush

By Associated PressJuly 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 Senior British OpenPORTRUSH, Northern Ireland -- When Tom Watson won the Senior British Open for the first time a year ago, he was the favorite going to Turnberry. He justified that position with a 64 in the final round.
 
When he begins his title defense Thursday, he'll be thankful to break 80.
 
An injury to his right shoulder and neck forced him to pull out of the Senior Players and last week's British Open at Troon. Watson almost withdrew from this tournament as well.

'Last Tuesday I was pretty sure I wasn't going to play,' he said Wednesday on the eve of the $1.6 million championship at Royal Portrush. 'Right now, it's up in the air what I'll do tomorrow. I may go out and shoot 85. I don't know. It may work out, it may not.'
 
Watson partners Scotland's Sam Torrance and Ireland's Des Smyth in the first two rounds at the par-72 Dunluce Links, which hosted the 1951 British Open.
 
Like most of the field, he has never played the course. But, with a wealth of experience of links golf, including five victories in the British Open, he knows he has the game to master Portrush.
 
'This is a wonderful test of golf. There's not a bad hole on the golf course,' he said. 'We played in some strong winds and I was able to break 80. That was my goal yesterday because I had not played very much.'
 
Watson said the injury -- a pinched nerve that weakened his right arm -- had taken about 20 yards off his drives.
 
'I've got most of the strength back. But right now I'm a true senior golfer -- I don't hit it very far.'
 
With the next Champions Tour major, the U.S. Senior Open, next week at Bellerive in St. Louis, this event is missing a few leading players, notably Senior PGA champion Hale Irwin. He and another absentee, Craig Stadler, have won two titles each this season.
 
Because of scheduling problems, the Tour has been forced to squeeze four of its five majors into a six-week period and several players, citing injuries, decided against flying twice across the Atlantic between tournaments.
 
The beauty of this major is that few in the field have played the comparatively short links course on the northern tip of Ireland. Gary Player and Bob Charles have won the title at this course, but even established such European names as former Ryder Cup players and captains Mark James and Sam Torrance have never played the course before.
 
'I played it yesterday for the first time,' Torrance said. 'It was magnificent.'
 
James, who comes off winning another major, the Senior Players Championship at Dearborn, Mich., added: 'It's obviously a tough course, not particularly long but plays long and very tight in places.'
 
James said his victory 10 days ago even surprised him.
 
'I wasn't particularly expecting to win at all,' he said. 'I've been playing fairly solidly all year without huge reward. And then the trip before the last one I was fourth in the Senior PGA and third two weeks after that.'
 
Tom Kite has six victories since he joined the seniors four years ago but hasn't won for 21 months. He collected four runners-up checks last season and also tied for second at the Bank of America Championship at Concord, Mass., a month ago.
 
He said Watson, if able to overcome the shoulder problem, would still be the man to beat.
 
'The guy that's on the poster (Watson), the one who won last year, he's obviously going to be there,' he said.
 
Related Links:
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.