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Tom Watson
2008 Open Championship - Tom Watson.jpg
Tom Watson during 2008 Open Championship
Personal information
Full name Thomas Sturges Watson
Born September 4, 1949 (1949-09-04) (age 60)
Kansas City, Missouri
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Nationality  United States
Residence Stilwell, Kansas
Career
College Stanford University
Turned professional 1971
Current tour(s) PGA Tour (joined 1972)
Champions Tour (joined 1999)
Professional wins 66
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 39
Japan Golf Tour 4
Champions Tour 12
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 8)
The Masters Won: 1977, 1981
U.S. Open Won: 1982
Open Championship Won: 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983
PGA Championship 2nd: 1978
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 1988 (member page)
PGA Tour
leading money winner
1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984
PGA Player of the Year 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984
Vardon Trophy 1977, 1978, 1979
Bob Jones Award 1987
Old Tom Morris Award 1992
Payne Stewart Award 2003

Thomas Sturges "Tom" Watson (born September 4, 1949) is an American PGA Tour golfer and now mostly Champions Tour golfer.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Watson was one of the leading players in the world, winning eight major championships and heading the PGA Tour money list five times. He was the number one player in the world according to McCormack's World Golf Rankings from 1978 through 1982; in both 1983 and 1984 he was ranked second behind Seve Ballesteros. He also spent 32 weeks in the top 10 of the successor Sony Rankings in their debut in 1986.[1]

Watson is now also notable for defying age - at nearly 60 years - to mostly lead and tie the 2009 Open Championship to enter a 4 hole play-off; 26 years after his last major - and last Open - victory. His second shot to the par-4 72nd hole skirted past the hole to lie on the fringe, yet he took three putts to get down from there, putting him in a playoff with Stewart Cink, which he lost.

Of Watson's eight major championships five were Open Championships, two Masters titles and one U.S. Open title. The only "major" that eluded him is the PGA Championship, which would have put him in an elite group of golfing "grand slam" winners that includes Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, and Tiger Woods. In all, Watson ranks 6th on the list of total major championship victories, and he is one of only fourteen players to have won at least three of the four golfing major titles.

Several of Watson's major victories came at the expense of Jack Nicklaus, the man he replaced as number one, most notably the 1977 Open Championship and the 1982 U.S. Open. Though his rivalry with Nicklaus was intense their friendly competitiveness served to increase golf's popularity during the time.

Watson is generally regarded as one of the greatest links players of all time, a claim backed up by his five Open Championship victories; and his competitiveness in the 2009 Open Championship, as well as his three Senior Open Championship titles in his mid-50s (2003, 2005, and 2007).

Contents

Career outline

Watson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and introduced to the game by his father Ray. His early coach was Stan Thirsk at the Kansas City Country Club. He first gained local renown while on his high school team at The Pembroke-Country Day School in Kansas City. Watson won four straight Missouri State Amateur championships, from 1968–1971.[2] He attended Stanford University, playing on the golf team and graduating with a degree in psychology in 1971.

Watson joined the PGA Tour in 1971 after a very good amateur career, and gradually improved. He contended for in a major championship for the first time in the 1974 U.S. Open at the Winged Foot Golf Club, but he faded badly in the final round after leading the first three. Following this disappointment, Watson was approached by legendary player Byron Nelson, who offered assistance. With Nelson's guidance on swing mechanics and course management, Watson's game advanced quickly and he shortly won his first title at the 1974 Western Open.

Watson's 1977 Open Championship victory, at Turnberry in Scotland, was especially memorable, and is considered by many to be the finest tournament played in the last half of the 20th century. After two rounds, he and Jack Nicklaus were one shot out of the lead and paired for the third round. Both shot 65, ending the third round three shots clear of the field. Watson and Nicklaus were again paired for the final round. On the last day, the two were tied after 16 holes. Nicklaus missed a makeable birdie putt on 17, losing his share of the lead to Watson, who birdied 17. On the 18th, Nicklaus drove into the rough, while Watson drove the fairway. Watson's approach landed two feet from the flag, while Nicklaus, after a drive into deep rough and near a gorse plant, managed to get his approach 40 feet away. Nicklaus sank his birdie putt to finish with a 66, but Watson followed suit with his own birdie, finishing with a second straight 65 and his second Open, with a record score of 268 (12 under par). The two players finished well ahead of the other challengers (Hubert Green in third place was ten strokes behind Nicklaus, at 279), and shot the same score every round except for the final day, which was then played on Saturday.

Watson's U.S. Open win, in 1982 at Pebble Beach, was equally memorable. Playing two groups ahead of Watson in the final round, Nicklaus charged into a share of the lead with five consecutive birdies. When Watson reached the par-3 17th hole the two were still tied, but with Nicklaus safely in the clubhouse at 4 under par 284. Watson hit his tee shot on 17 into the rough just off the green, leaving an extremely difficult chip shot downhill on a very fast green that sloped toward the Pacific Ocean. While being interviewed on national television and fully aware of Watson's terrible predicament, Nicklaus appeared confident he was on his way to an unprecedented fifth U.S. Open championship. Watson's chip shot, amazingly, hit the flag stick and fell into the cup, giving him a miraculous birdie and setting the stage for yet another win over Nicklaus. Watson went on to birdie the 18th as well, for a final margin of two shots. His 17th hole chip-in is regarded as one of the greatest shots in golf history. The U.S. Open was the major he most wanted to win, and thus victory in the 1982 U.S. Open allowed Watson to realize his dream, though it would be the only U.S. Open title of his career.

Watson's stellar play on the PGA Tour faded in the late 1980s when he began to have problems putting even though his tee-to-green game seemed to improve. In 1994 when The Open Championship returned to Turnberry, the site of his 1977 victory, Watson commented, "Sometimes you lose your desire through the years. Any golfer goes through that. When you play golf for a living, like anything in your life, you are never going to be constant, at the top".[3] He finished tied for 11th at the Open Championship that year, but he had a revival in the late 1990s and the last of his 39 wins on the PGA Tour came at the 1998 MasterCard Colonial when he was 48 years old. He also demonstrated remarkable consistency by making at least one PGA Tour cut per year from 1971–2007, a streak of 37 years.

In the 2003 U.S. Open, at age 53, he took the opening-round lead by shooting a 65 with his long-time caddy Bruce Edwards carrying his clubs. Edwards had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease earlier in the year, and Watson contributed significant time and money that year to raise money for motor neuron disease. Edwards died on April 8, 2004.

Later in 2003, Watson revisited his 1977 Open Championship win at Turnberry with another win there in the 2003 Senior British Open. He also won the Senior British Open tournament in 2005 and 2007.

Watson missed the cut for the 2007 Masters by one stroke, seemingly not knowing he would do so when he missed a short putt on the 18th green.

In the first round of the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Watson shot a first-round 5-under 65, one stroke behind the leader Miguel Ángel Jiménez.[4] In the second round, he tied for the lead after making a huge putt on the 18th green. His score for the round was 70, 38 out and 32 back. This made Watson - at 59 years of age - the oldest man to have the lead after any round of a major. In addition, with a relatively low-scoring third round, one-over par 71, he kept the lead outright by one shot, so also became the oldest player to lead a major going into the last round. He acknowledged after that 3rd round he was thinking of Bruce Edwards as he walked the 18th fairway.[5]

Watson finished regulation 72-hole play in the Open tied for the lead with Stewart Cink, with a cumulative score of -2. He needed a par on the 72nd hole to capture a sixth career Open Championship title, but his second shot on the 72nd hole went over the green. Then, from several yards behind the 18th green, Watson first putted up the slope and past the hole, then missed a second 8-foot putt by about 6 inches to the right of the cup. His bogey led to a four-hole playoff with Cink, running through the 5th, 6th, 17th, and 18th holes. With several errant shots not typical of the previous 72 holes, he lost the playoff by six strokes.[6]

Champions Tour

Watson joined the Champions Tour in 1999, the same year he earned an honorary membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland. He has 12 wins on the Champions Tour, including five senior majors, while playing a limited schedule of events. Watson shares with Gary Player three victories each in the Senior British Open.

Watson was one of two players to play with Jack Nicklaus in the final two rounds of golf in Nicklaus' career, which ended at the 2005 Open Championship on the Old Course at St Andrews. Englishman Luke Donald was the third member of the group.

After residing for many years in Mission Hills, Kansas, Watson now lives in Stilwell, Kansas with his wife, two children, and three stepchildren. He designed the National Golf Club of Kansas City golf course.

Playing style

Watson has been one of the most complete players ever to play golf, as evidenced by his competitiveness in the 2009 Open Championship at the age of 59. Standing 5 ft 9 in and weighing 160 pounds during his PGA Tour years, he achieved abundant length with accuracy, played aggressively, developed a superlative short game, and in his prime was a very skilled and confident putter. Watson is renowned as an exceptional bad-weather golfer, having displayed this gritty talent best in the difficult and sundry conditions of The Open Championship.

Distinctions and honors

  • Named PGA Player of the Year 6 times, 1977-1980, 1982 and 1984, and trails only Tiger Woods, who has been named Player of the Year 9 times.
  • Won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average three straight years: 1977, 1978, and 1979.
  • Played on four Ryder Cup teams: 1977, 1981, 1983, and 1989 and captained the victorious 1993 team.
  • Voted the Bob Jones Award in 1987, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988.
  • Inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame
  • Won 1992 GCSAA Old Tom Morris Award
  • Resigned from the Kansas City Country Club in 1991 in protest to its exclusion of people of Jewish ethnicity. He subsequently rejoined after the club's acceptance of Jewish and minority members.[7]
  • Became involved with golf course design in the early 1990s.
  • Author or co-authored several books, including Tom Watson's Strategic Golf.
  • Has written a golf instruction column in Golf Digest magazine since the mid-1970s.
  • Was ranked at the 10th greatest golfer of all time in the 2000 Golf Digest magazine list.[8]
  • Is after Sam Snead, only the second Golf Professional Emeritus at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Is the oldest player to hold the lead after 54 holes at a major championship (2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Scotland)
  • Is the oldest player to lead after any completed round at a major championship (2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Scotland)

Professional wins (66)

PGA Tour wins (39)

No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of
Victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Jun 30, 1974 Western Open +3 (72-71-75-69=287) 2 strokes United States J. C. Snead, United States Tom Weiskopf
2 May 12, 1975 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -19 (72-63-69-65=269) 2 strokes United States Bob E. Smith
3 Jul 12, 1975 Open Championship -9 (71-67-69-72-72=279) Playoff Australia Jack Newton
4 Jan 23, 1977 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am -15 (66-69-67-71=273) 1 stroke England Tony Jacklin
5 Jan 30, 1977 Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational -19 (66-67-67-69=269) 5 strokes United States Larry Nelson, United States John Schroeder
6 Apr 10, 1977 The Masters -12 (70-69-70-67=276) 2 strokes United States Jack Nicklaus
7 Jun 26, 1977 Western Open -5 (70-69-75-69=283) 1 stroke United States Wally Armstrong, United States Johnny Miller
8 Jul 9, 1977 Open Championship -15 (68-70-65-65=268) 1 stroke United States Jack Nicklaus
9 Jan 8, 1978 Joe Garagiola-Tucson Open -18 (63-68-73-72=274) 3 strokes United States Bobby Wadkins
10 Jan 23, 1978 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Even (74-68-67-75=284) Playoff United States Ben Crenshaw
11 May 7, 1978 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -8 (69-67-70-66=272) 1 stroke United States Lee Trevino
12 Aug 27, 1978 Colgate Hall of Fame Classic -7 (72-67-67-71=277) 1 stroke United States Hale Irwin, United States Tom Kite,
United States Howard Twitty
13 Sep 24, 1978 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic -18 (68-69-66-67=270) 3 strokes United States Ed Sneed
14 Apr 1, 1979 Sea Pines Heritage Classic -14 (65-65-69-71=270) 5 strokes United States Ed Sneed
15 Apr 22, 1979 MONY Tournament of Champions -13 (69-66-70-70=275) 6 strokes United States Bruce Lietzke, United States Jerry Pate
16 May 13, 1979 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -5 (64-72-69-70=275) Playoff United States Bill Rogers
17 May 27, 1979 Memorial Tournament -14 (72-67-68-67=274) 3 strokes United States Miller Barber
18 Aug 26, 1979 Colgate Hall of Fame Classic -12 (70-68-65-69=272) Playoff United States Johnny Miller
19 Jan 27, 1980 Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational -13 (68-69-68-70=275) Playoff United States D. A. Weibring
20 Feb 24, 1980 Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open -8 (69-66-70-71=276) 1 stroke United States Bob Gilder, United States Don January
21 Apr 20, 1980 MONY Tournament of Champions -12 (65-66-72-73=276) 3 strokes United States Jim Colbert
22 Apr 28, 1980 Greater New Orleans Open -15 (66-68-66-73=273) 2 strokes United States Lee Trevino
23 May 11, 1980 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -6 (64-70-69-71=274) 1 stroke United States Bill Rogers
24 Jul 20, 1980 Open Championship -13 (68-70-64-69=271) 4 strokes United States Lee Trevino
25 Aug 24 1980 World Series of Golf -10 (65-75-65-65=270) 2 strokes United States Raymond Floyd
26 Apr 12, 1981 The Masters -8 (71-68-70-71=280) 2 strokes United States Johnny Miller, United States Jack Nicklaus
27 Apr 26, 1981 USF&G New Orleans Open -18 (69-69-64-68=270) 2 strokes United States Bruce Fleisher
28 Jun 7, 1981 Atlanta Classic -11 (68-70-68-71=277) Playoff United States Tommy Valentine
29 Feb 21, 1982 Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open -13 (69-67-68-67=271) Playoff United States Johnny Miller
30 Mar 28, 1982 Sea Pines Heritage -4 (69-68-72-71=280) Playoff United States Frank Conner
31 Jun 20, 1982 U.S. Open -6 (72-72-68-70=282) 2 strokes United States Jack Nicklaus
32 Jul 18, 1982 Open Championship -4 (69-71-74-70=284) 1 stroke England Peter Oosterhuis, Zimbabwe Nick Price
33 Jul 17, 1983 Open Championship -9 (67-68-70-70=275) 1 stroke United States Andy Bean, United States Hale Irwin
34 Jan 8, 1984 Seiko-Tucson Match Play Championship 2&1 1 stroke United States Gil Morgan
35 May 6, 1984 MONY Tournament of Champions -14 (69-71-67-67=274) 5 strokes United States Bruce Lietzke
36 Jul 8, 1984 Western Open -8 (71-69-70-70=280) Playoff Australia Greg Norman
37 Nov 1, 1987 Nabisco Championship -12 (65-66-69-68=268) 2 strokes United States Chip Beck
38 Jun 2, 1996 Memorial Tournament -14 (70-68-66-70=274) 2 strokes United States David Duval
39 May 24, 1998 MasterCard Colonial -15 (68-66-65-66=265) 2 strokes United States Jim Furyk

Japan Golf Tour wins (4)

Other wins (3)

Champions Tour wins (12)

Legend
Champions Tour Major Championships (5)
Other Champions Tour (7)
No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of
Victory
Runner(s)-up
1 Sep 19, 1999 Bank One Championship -20 (67-67-62=196) 5 strokes United States Bruce Summerhays
2 Nov 5, 2000 IR Senior Tour Championship -18 (70-67-67-66=270) 1 stroke United States John Jacobs
3 May 27, 2001 Senior PGA Championship -14 (72-69-66-67=274) 1 stroke United States Jim Thorpe
4 Oct 22, 2002 Senior Tour Championship at Gaillardia -14 (74-67-66-67=274) 1 stroke United States Gil Morgan
5 Jul 27, 2003 Senior British Open -17 (66-67-66-64=263) Playoff England Carl Mason
6 Aug 31, 2003 JELD-WEN Tradition -15 (68-62-73-70=273) 1 stroke United States Jim Ahern, United States Tom Kite
7 Jul 24, 2005 Senior British Open -4 (75-71-64-70=280) Playoff Republic of Ireland Des Smyth
8 Oct 30, 2005 Charles Schwab Cup Championship -16 (69-70-69-64=272) 3 strokes United States Jay Haas
9 Feb 18, 2007 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am -4 (70-69-70=209) 1 stroke United States Andy Bean, United States Jay Haas
10 Jul 29, 2007 Senior British Open E (70-71-70-73=284) 1 stroke Australia Stewart Ginn, United States Mark O'Meara
11 Apr 20, 2008 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am -9 (63-71-70=204) 1 stroke United States Jay Haas, United States Scott Hoch
12 Apr 27, 2008 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (with Andy North) -31 (59-62-64=185) 1 stroke United States Craig Stadler and United States Jeff Sluman

Other senior wins (8)

Major championships

Wins (8)

Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1975 The Open Championship 3 shot deficit -9 (71-67-69-72=279) Playoff 1 Australia Jack Newton
1977 The Masters Tied for lead -12 (70-69-70-67=276) 2 strokes United States Jack Nicklaus
1977 The Open Championship (2) Tied for lead -12 (68-70-65-65=268) 1 stroke United States Jack Nicklaus
1980 The Open Championship (3) 4 shot lead -13 (68-70-64-69=271) 4 strokes United States Lee Trevino
1981 The Masters (2) 1 shot lead -8 (71-68-70-71=280) 2 strokes United States Johnny Miller, United States Jack Nicklaus
1982 U.S. Open Tied for lead -6 (72-72-68-70=282) 2 strokes United States Jack Nicklaus
1982 The Open Championship (4) 3 shot deficit -4 (69-71-74-70=284) 1 stroke England Peter Oosterhuis, Zimbabwe Nick Price
1983 The Open Championship (5) 1 shot lead -9 (67-68-70-70=275) 1 stroke United States Andy Bean, United States Hale Irwin

1 Defeated Jack Newton in 18-hole playoff - Watson (71), Newton (72)

Results timeline

Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
The Masters CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP T8 T33 1 T2 T2
U.S. Open DNP DNP T29 CUT T5 T9 7 T7 T6 CUT
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 1 CUT 1 T14 T26
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP T12 T11 9 T15 T6 2 T12
Tournament 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
The Masters T12 1 T5 T4 2 T10 T6 T7 T9 T14
U.S. Open T3 T23 1 2 T11 CUT T24 2 T36 T46
The Open Championship 1 T23 1 1 T2 T47 T35 7 T28 4
PGA Championship T10 CUT T9 T47 T39 T6 T16 T14 T31 T9
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
The Masters T7 T3 T48 T45 13 T14 CUT 4 CUT CUT
U.S. Open CUT T16 CUT T5 T6 T56 T13 64 CUT T57
The Open Championship CUT T26 CUT CUT T11 T31 DNP T10 CUT CUT
PGA Championship T19 CUT T62 5 T9 T58 T17 CUT CUT CUT
Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
The Masters CUT CUT T40 CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT
U.S. Open T27 DNP DNP T28 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship T55 CUT CUT T18 DNP T41 T48 DNP CUT 2
PGA Championship T9 T66 T48 CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

DNP = did not play
CUT = missed the half way cut
"T" indicates a tied for a place.
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Summary of major championship performances

  • Starts - 129
  • Wins - 8
  • 2nd place finishes - 8
  • Top 5 finishes - 25 = 19.4%
  • Top 10 finishes - 46 = 35.7%
  • Longest streak of Top 10s in majors - 7 (1982 Masters to 1983 Open Championship)

Champions Tour major championships

Wins (5)

Year Championship Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
2001 Senior PGA Championship -14 (72-69-66-67=274) 1 stroke United States Jim Thorpe
2003 Senior British Open Championship -17 (66-67-66-64=263) Playoff 1 England Carl Mason
2003 The Tradition -15 (68-62-73-70=273) 1 stroke United States Jim Ahern, United States Tom Kite, United States Gil Morgan
2005 Senior British Open Championship (2) -4 (75-71-64-70=280) Playoff 2 Republic of Ireland Des Smyth
2007 Senior British Open Championship (3) E (70-71-70-73=284) 1 stroke United States Stewart Ginn, United States Mark O'Meara

1 Defeated Carl Mason in a playoff with par at the second extra hole.
2 Defeated Des Smyth in a playoff with par at the third extra hole.

Results timeline

Results not in chronological order before 2008

Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Senior PGA Championship T17 1 T18 T17 T4 T27 T23 T52 T16 4
Senior British Open Championship -1 -1 -1 1 T22 1 T23 1 T5 T8
U.S. Senior Open T10 T16 2 2 T25 T5 2 4 T23 T43
The Tradition 2 DNP 5 1 T55 T9 T14 T6 T3 T5
Senior Players Championship T18 T8 DNP T2 DNP T3 T17 2 DNP 2

1 The Senior British Open was not a Champions Tour major until 2003

DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the halfway cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Golf courses designed

Tom Watson Parkway at the National Golf Club in Parkville

Watson has designed golf courses through his Tom Watson Design company in Kansas.[9]

See also

References

External links








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