Tom Watson—59 years of age, and nearing his 60th birthday.
He is an eight-time major championship winner, five of these victories coming at The Open.
The rivalry between two of the greatest players of all time, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, was legendary—and a number of Watson's triumphs at the majors actually came at the expense of his friend.
Watson's love for the game of golf is evident to this day. He wears a smile on his face for the majority of his rounds—a feature many others could take note of. Good-natured and charming, he is a favourite with the fans, his ovations louder than many others.
More importantly? The guy has class, a quality which has largely gone astray in today's sporting world.
In 1991, Watson took issue with the Kansas City Country Club's exclusion of people of Jewish ethnicity, and resigned; upon the club's acceptance of Jewish and minority members, he rejoined.
Another example: Earlier today, on the 18th green, his putt came within two feet of the hole, a distance at which—usually—it would be acceptable to simply tap the ball into the hole, regardless of the position of one's opponent.
On this day, Watson's opponent was Steve Marino. Marino had played a rough few holes—but he was ready to putt for a birdie, to bring his score back to one over par for the tournament, when Watson's putt came so close to the hole.
Aware that once he put the ball in the hole to finish his round, the cheering and ovations would severely damage Marino's ability to concentrate at such a crucial time, Watson marked his ball. No fuss. He just marked it, as though every other player would have done the same thing in his position.
Except—call me cynical—I don't believe they would have. I believe that level of graciousness, that level of class, has—for the most part—been lost with the younger generations coming through.
Tomorrow, the final day of the 2009 Open Championships, has all the makings for an unprecedented victory on Watson's part.
Currently, he is the oldest player ever to lead the scoreboard going into the final day of play. He aims to equal Harry Vardon's six Open Championship titles, and become the oldest ever player to win the tournament.
If he does, it will be a monumentous victory.
Tom—go out there tomorrow, and kill the giants. For all our sakes.
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