The story is nothing short of fantastic. In fact, WCWP favorite Ian O'Connor came out and said it on The Seth Everett Show on 1050 ESPN radio on Friday night. If Tom Watson wins the British Open, it is the greatest story in golf history. Forget Jack at the '86 Masters. Forget Tiger coming out of nowhere to win his first Masters in 1997, beating out the established Tom Kite by 12 strokes. Throw all of that in the garbage. A 59 year old all time great winning a Major championship would be a story incomparable to any other golf has ever seen. I, for one, don't think the debate would be all that close either.
Yesterday, we mused if Watson would be able to compete in tougher weather conditions. For a while, it looked as if the answer was no. After a birdie at 1 that put a smile of everyones face, Watson preceded to bogey five out of his next six holes. He was showing the kind of game that everyone assumed would come on day one.
But then the magic returned, almost as if it had never left. Watson's bogey on 7 would be his final of the day. He birdied nine and away he went. A birdie on two of his final three holes, including a phenomenal putt on 18, put him on top.
Color me impressed. I have sent in my Tom Watson believer papers. His play after a rough front nine wasn't just remarkable, it was inspiring. Watson could have accepted his fate. He could have laid down and succumbed to the low expectations that inevitably follow senior plays around. But he didn't do it. He didn't fold. Watson knew that Thursday wasn't a one-and-done deal and that he could compete in this tournament. He believed in his game and in the process made a believer out of the golf world.
It is a fact that Watson was benefited by the fact that no one had a particularly good round. But I don't buy that he was paying any attention to the leader board. This was not the reason his play picked up in the back nine. If the course was left defenseless on Thursday, it found that defense yesterday. All you had do was look at the pantlegs to see how the wind was whipping. Although the early part of the day was sunny, rain made an appearance in the mid afternoon. And as the weather got worse, Watson got better. He was presented with his first challenge and strangled it.
With Tiger Woods gone and Phil Mickleson at home, Watson now becomes the peoples champ. Find me a person who isn't rooting for Tom Watson and I'll show you a person who doesn't like golf too much. Rooting for Watson may be the easiest thing to do in sports right now. He is single handedly making what could have been a dud of a tournament into a potentially legendary one.
What's truly ironic about this is that ABC needed Watson this weekend. After a presumed missed cut, Watson was supposed to help out with the ABC TV coverage. Now ABC needs Watson for a different reason. They need him to play as well in the next two days as he has in the previous. With Tiger Woods on his way back to his Orlando home after missing a cut, the only story that appeals to the mass audience is the Watson revival. If Watson gives it up today, it may be a bad Sunday in the ratings department.
I mean, does Steve Marino excite you? Does Mark Calcavecchia? How about Ross Fischer or Miquel "Bert Lahr" Angel Jimenez? I love golf and I cringe at the thought of waking up on Sunday to watch Calcavecchia vs Marino.
This tournament needs Tom Watson. It's the difference between forgettable and legendary.
Sidenote: If you want a player to watch out for besides Tom Watson, keep an eye on Vijay Singh. Singh sits in fourth place, two shots off the pace.