Tom Watson Leads the 138th British Open after Three Rounds
Tom Watson is defying the odds with every stroke he takes this week at Turnberry.
The 59-year-old Hall of Famer, who won on this very same course in this very same tournament against arguably the greatest legend in golf history, Jack Nicklaus, in 1977 in the famous "Duel In The Sun", leads by one stroke entering the final round in the 2009 British Open.
That's right. 2009. 32 years later, Tom Watson is leading the entire field and going places no other professional athlete has gone before.
Greg Norman was in this situation last year. He led after the third round of this tournament. He was 53 at the time and could not hold on in the final round.
That was a mind-boggling story within itself.
Tom Watson's story surpasses that by drastic proportions.
To begin, he has six years seniority over "The Shark". To top that off, Watson hasn't won on the PGA tour since 1998. He was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in 1988. He was a legend before the turn of the millennium and had nothing left to prove.
He started becoming a regular on the Senior Circuit in 1999 and went on to win the British Open three times, as recently as 2007. There is just something about England and Tom Watson that go together.
The "Duel In The Sun" occurred in 1977, at the very same golf course that Watson now has a chance to make history at. It was a showdown between Watson and Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus. Stroke for stroke and hole for hole they tried to match each other.
In the final two rounds Nicklaus shot a 66 and a 66. However, Watson was one stroke better that weekend, and shot a 66 and a 65.
Watson again topped Nicklaus in 1982 at Pebble Beach at the U.S. Open on his famous chip-in on the 17th hole. In four of Watson's eight major wins, Nicklaus was runner up.
Watson has won the British Open five times, the Masters twice, and the U.S. Open once.
He led the PGA tour in wins six years; led in money won five years; led in scoring average three times; and was the PGA Tour Player Of The Year six times.
That's an outstanding resume. The remarkable thing about it is that we are two decades past all of that. In 2009 we are talking about Tom Watson again.
Words can't describe how remarkable of a feat it would be if he won. This would top Michael Jordan's comeback with the Wizards. It would top Magic Johnson's comeback with the Lakers. It's better than Brett Favre attempting to come back again.
It's bigger than Nolan Ryan throwing a no-hitter at 40 and a better feat than Mark Martin winning in NASCAR at 50.
This is a statement to all of mankind that age is just a number. Golf is a sport that gives everyone a fair chance as long as everything goes right on a given four days.
I must admit that I have become biased as I watch this week and write this article. I'm 25 years old with lots of life ahead of me. I have defied odds myself by making it to this point of my life.
It would be real easy for some of us to throw in the towel when times get tough. It'd be easy to stop trying when we are told we can not accomplish the impossible.
This week, Watson reminds us that the impossible does not exist. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I will be watching with great anticipation tomorrow in hopes of seeing the most historic sporting accomplish I may ever see in my lifetime.
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