Watson Brings an Era to an End
Late last night Tom Watson waved goodbye to The Open for what will probably be the very last time.
The 65 year-old five-time champion has said he might return if he wins next week’s Senior British Open but in all likelihood this was his swansong and what an occasion it was.
It is sometimes said that it is difficult to part late night revellers from their drinks but in this instance they left the local hostelries in their droves as Watson putted out for the very last time in front of the iconic R&A clubhouse.
In the end the American’s score was irrelevant because the galleries were there to celebrate the end of an era. And what an era it was. Five victories and an emotional near miss at Turnberry back in 2009 tell but half the story because over the last 40 years Watson has epitomised everything that is great in game of golf and that is why his fans hung around late at night to laud him for one last time.
“It has been wonderful,” he said as he was given the unusual honour of being applauded into a packed media centre. “I was walking up the 18TH and I could see the road was jammed with people and remembered the story of Bobby Jones coming back for a friendly game after he had won the Grand Slam.
“I’m not putting myself in the same shoes as Bobby Jones but I think I’ve had an inkling of what he felt like walking up the 18TH hole. There was just so much joy. It’s all joy. There’s no reason to be sad.”
Watson went on to recall the friends he had made during his journey and was asked what he’s learned from four decades at the very top of the game.
“humility,” he said. “If you think you’re really good you’re going to find humbleness pretty quick and you’d better be aware it’s going to happen.
“I went through a period in my career when I couldn’t break an egg.
“I struggled. I fought. I hated the game but golf is a great leveller and it teaches you how to deal with adversity.
“I guess the emotion has taken hold of me to a degree,” he added as his last Open media conference drew to a close. “I apologise for that but it has been a heck of a run.”