Tom Watson shoots 64 leads Senior Players by four

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2009, 12:17 am
Champions Tour

TIMONIUM, Md. – Tom Watson is feeling good and likes his golf game these days.

The 60-year-old Watson celebrated his one-year anniversary from successful left hip surgery by shooting a 6-under 64 and building a four-stroke lead Saturday at the Senior Players Championship.

Watson, bidding to become the oldest major winner on the Champions Tour, attacked the Baltimore Country Club course and put together a bogey-free round – he’s made only one during the tournament – with six birdies to finish at 12-under 198 and four shots clear of Loren Roberts (65), John Cook (65) and Mark Wiebe (66).

Watson nearly won the British Open back in July, but a balky putter on the 72nd hole cost him the Claret Jug. Now, Watson said he’s more confident on the greens and, three months removed from his dramatic performance at Turnberry, happy about his play.

He’s also healthier. Last season, Watson walked with a limp and had trouble sleeping because of pain in his hip. After the surgery, Watson said he immediately saw results.

“I heard a lot of good things about hip replacement, people getting great results and having more flexibility, more range of motion,” he said. “I can get up on a horse, over a fence, all kinds of things now. It is something, to think you’ve got this metal, ceramic piece of merchandise in there. It works so well, I hope it lasts a long time.”

Watson started the round with a two-shot lead over Wiebe and Jay Haas (7-under 203) and birdied three holes on the front nine to get to 9 under. Three more birdies and a key par save on the par-3 11th hole put Watson into the lead. It also drew praise from his competitors.

“Tom’s played three great rounds,” said Cook, who carded six birdies and one bogey to stay close. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, no doubt.”

Cook’s lone blemish came on No. 18, one of the most difficult holes on the course.

“I didn’t lose a lot to the field by making bogey there, although you don’t want to give Tom Watson four shots,” he said. “That’s a pretty tall order.”

Cook, Wiebe and Roberts are in contention thanks to good putting days, too. Wiebe made five birdies and a par on 18 to give him a chance in the final round. As for Roberts, the 2007 Senior Players champion, he credited a solid third round to the notion of playing in the final group once again.

Two years ago Roberts, paired with Watson and Fred Funk, crafted a 5-under 30 on the front nine and pulled away from the field to win his third career Champions Tour major title.

“We’re going to have to really go hard the first six holes tomorrow. It’s going to be the pedal to the metal on that one,” said Roberts, who birdied 10, 11 and 12 to finish with six on the day. “Tom will be really hard to catch. He’s got a healthy hip now and obviously he’s playing really good.”

Watson seemed relaxed Saturday, chatting off and on with playing partner Wiebe about non-golf related topics such as college football and his hometown pro team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Afterward, Wiebe told a television reporter that Watson had just played one of the best rounds he’d ever seen. If Watson puts together another quality performance Sunday, it could add up to his sixth major title on the Champions Tour.

“If I drive the ball in the fairway, I should do OK,” Watson said. “I’m pretty happy with the way I’m putting, and that’s the first time I can say that in a long time. That’s what I’ve been looking for.”

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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.


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“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.