by G. Rennie
When the best men in the sporting world tee it up for the Open Championship at The Old Course many of us can fall victim to the mythology of golf, with no place more steeped in legend, tale and rumor than St. Andrews and we feel that, truly, the game is immortal, having been played for all of time. Howling winds off the Firth Of Tay from the North Sea that test the mettle of each golfer seem a taunt from the gods, who, on occasion, like to mock those impertinent enough to claim mastery of their precious maiden. The Old Links lay defenseless on Thursday and many took advantage. But on Friday the Old Broad had her way with most, if not all the many players (see Louis Oosthuizen).
Caught in the torrent was one who has, in his own time, raised himself to the status of legend. Tom Watson walked these links for his last competitive round and bid the home of golf adieu. He stood on Swilcan Bridge for a brief moment, let the photo press take their fill, and took his last long looks of the course and the Scots who lined the road and filled the bleachers. And then he nearly worked one last piece of Open wizardry by nearly holing his pitch from the left of the Valley of Sin for an eagle 2. Birdie 3 for his last hole at St. Andrews, like his great friend Jack scored in 2005, seemed only just.
Five times Champion Golfer of the Year, Tom Watson’s accomplishments on the Open Rota courses are only exceeded by his personal comportment. His burning desire to win surely helped him achieve rare feats in the game of golf and assure him a place with the great enduring champions of all time. But his competitive fire never overtook his sense of fair play and his belief that the game was bigger than any individual. The esteem all the golf world has for him is his reward for doing his business with humility, respectfulness, great flair and talent and unbridled joy in the playing of the game. As the Scots would say, “We won’t see his like again”.