Thursday, July 16, 2009

Watson Turns Back the Clock

At age 59, and some 32 years after his victory at the Turnberry course, Tom Watson shot a five under par 65 to set the pace today at the Open Championships.  With a number of players still on the course, it is possible that there will be a lower total posted for the day, but probably not a more memorable round.  Watson played nearly flawlessly in his opening round, with five birdies, thirteen pars and no bogies.  Watson hit twelve of fourteen fairways,  fifteen of eighteen greens in regulation and putted well, requiring just one putt on eight greens and two putts on ten greens.  In fact, Watson compared favorably with the field to this point (3:30 PM British Summer Time) in nearly every category:

this player                                                                                field average

driving distance (yards)
299                                                                                                  287.92

fairways hit
12 /14                                                                                            8.68 / 14

greens in regulation (gir)
15                                                                                                       1.65

putts per round
28                                                                                                      30.86

sand saves
0 / 1                                                                                              0.52 / 1.02

I do enjoy it when older players in any sport shake off the effects of age and even for a while return to the form they held in younger days: 

  • Nolan Ryan throwing his seventh no-hitter - and striking out sixteen batters - on fan appreciation night at age 44 (just one year after throwing his sixth no-hitter)
  • Jimmy Connors run to the US Open semifinals at the age of 39. On his birthday, he defeated 24-year-old Aaron Krickstein, coming back from a 2–5 deficit in the final set before finally bowing in a semifinal to the reigning French Open champion, Jim Courier.
  • Jack Nicklaus’s sixth win at the Masters (at age 46) came with a great late charge and is symbolized by an amazing shot at the par three sixteenth.  After hitting the ball, Nicklaus quickly bent over to pick up his tee, and never did watch the ball in flight.  His son, caddying for Nicklaus, uttered an encouragement for the ball to “be good” – to which his father replied, “It is.”
  • Hale Irwin wining the US Open at 45.
  • John Elway finally getting that Super Bowl win at age 38
  • Jamie Moyer helping the Phillies in their run to the playoffs and World Series at age 45

There are many more, and I do love it when the athletes who are past their physical prime manage to set aside the effects of age for a time and give us a memorable round, or run, or even sometimes that big win or no-hitter.  There’s something affirming in these feats that seems to say that we all might have our best within us yet, no matter our age.  And who doesn’t want to be reminder of that, now and then?

To follow the Open Championship Leaderboard go here:  2009 Open Championship Turnberry Leaderboard


Michael Burt said...

Paul Casey is making a nice run at -4 through nearing 4:30 (British Summer Time). Several other players are still on the course, lurking at -3.

Michael Burt said...

A bit more older player fun with Mark O'Meara now at -3 (along with Calcaveccia and Vijay). Ben Curtis has moved to -5 through 17. Eight players are at -4.

Michael Burt said...

John Daly has a wee -2 working through 11...

Michael Burt said...

Ugh..Anthony Kim had a blow-up 9 at the second but has been -1 over the next three holes. He has been fiddling with his neck and asked a rules official if he could call for his physical therapist...

Michael Burt said...

Jimenez has joined Watson and Ben Curtis at -5, with the eighteenth to play. There are eight at -4, and eight more at -3. Daly remains at -2 after 14. It looks like the rain will come by 9 or 10 PM and will let up in the morning, so players who went off this morning and will not go off until the afternoon tomorrow will have an advantage.

Michael Burt said...

Miguel Angel Jimenez has moved to -6 and sole posession of first after one round of the Open Championship, with Watson, Ben Curtis and Kenichi Kuboya one stroke back at -5. Five players are at -4, and eleven players are at -3 including Mark O'Meara and Mark Calcavecchia. A good showing by the older guys in day one. It will be interesting to see if any of them are able to maintain this level of play for another round or even into the weekend. I also like having Daly around for a bit...

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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