Tom Watson Steals Show at British Open
Fifty-nine, 52 and 49. Nope, those aren't scores shot on the front nine Thursday by different golfers struggling with the wind; those are the ages of Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara and Mark Calcavecchia, respectively, three past Open Champion winners who are all in contention in 2009 after opening rounds that would make you think it's 1998 again.
Watson was the story of the day early, shooting a first-round 65 to take the early lead at the Open on a course he made famous in 1977 when he out-dueled Jack Nicklaus for his second of five Claret Jugs. O'Meara, who made it two majors in the same year back in '98 with an arm-raised win at Royal Birkdale, opened with a 3-under 67 that included seven birdies at Turnberry. Calc, who hasn't been a factor on the PGA Tour since 2007, when he won the PODS Championship, tied O'Meara at 3-under par, and is currently just two shots back of Watson.
Rightfully so, the talk heading into the British this week was about two things -- Tiger Woods' mandatory win this week, or risk being crucified by sportswriters young and old, and Watson revisiting the Duel in the Sun, which ended 32 years ago with the same score he shot on Thursday.
Watson has always cherished the British Open, and the Scots have in turn concluded that he is their long lost son of the west. Watson is planning on making St. Andrews in 2010 his last Open at the ripe age of 60, waving goodbye with one foot lifted on the Swilcan Bridge. Right now, Watson looks like he has another thing on his mind ... complete what Nicklaus couldn't at the 1998 Masters -- at the eerily similar age of 58. Pull off one last win at the event that made him famous. Jack closed with a 68 that year to finish sixth. Watson did him one shot better to par on Thursday.
No surprise there. At Turnberry, it always seemed Watson was a shot ahead of the Golden Bear.
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