SANDWICH, England – Just when you think Tom Watson couldn’t add to his legend, he does.
Playing in nasty, wet, windy conditions the five-time British Open champion was 1 under after 10 holes of the third round, while most of the rest of the field struggled. He made bogeys on 11, 12 and 15, but rebounded with birdie on No. 16 and ultimately shot 72, four shots better than the scoring average at the time he finished.
“The challenge of dealing with conditions on a course like this is fun,” Watson said. “Just keep your grips dry and your wits about you.”
Watson, 61, has dazzled the galleries around Royal St. George’s all week. Thursday he was front and center because he played alongside amateur Tom Lewis, the 20-year-old first-round co-leader who was named after Watson. During Round 2 Watson again made headlines when he aced the par-3, 178-yard sixth hole with a 4-iron. The tee shot bounced once on the green then slammed into the hole. He shot even-par 70.
After such a difficult day Saturday, you’d think Watson would be eager to get dry and warm. But he only wanted to talk about how well he putted, making him recall how well he used the flatstick to win eight major championships in the past. He said, had he not putted so well during Round 3, that 77 was easily in the cards.
It’s not likely that Watson can win this championship, but weather this afternoon certainly will bring him closer to the top of the leaderboard. No matter the case, he’s thrilled with the opportunity that faces him Sunday.
“Would be nice to have some wind tomorrow,” he said. “Let’s do it without the rain.”