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On & Off the Course

July 25, 2009

On and Off the Course: One for the ages … well, almost!

I wonder how long people will be referring to last week’s British Open, as “one for the ages.” They could also refer to it as “one for the aged!” Tom Watson’s near miss of a 9th Open Championship (as the Brits prefer to call it, and as it rightly should be by virtue of its longevity) was a rallying cry to all those golfers who have toiled for so many years at their game, but had given up hope as for ever getting it back to where they had it twenty years ago. Watson proved that on the right course, with the right strategy, low scores were still possible. He didn’t have the longest drives of anyone there, but they were long enough, thanks in part to the hard-packed terrain of the Scottish coastline. He did a better job than most on knowing where to land his tee shots so that the ball would take the bounces and rolls and end up in a decent lie, sometimes being on the opposite side of the fairway of where he had landed. That was something that could be attributed to experience, which was Watson’s most valuable asset those four days at Turnberry.

For most of those four days, Watson’s putter was working about as well as it ever did, belying the days when short putts were his nemesis. It was only on Sunday that the smooth-flowing swing wasn’t there, accounting for missed birdie putts that would have made that 8-footer for par on the 18th hole a moot point. Yet if he had made that par-putt on the 18th, the 138th Open Championship really would have been one for the ages, and we wouldn’t have to talk about what might have been.

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