Old Man Watson's Defeat: Only One Person To Blame

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Old Man Watson's Defeat: Only One Person To Blame
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

I'm sorry, Tom. I truly am. You were all set to win your record-equalling sixth Open Championship, and I screwed it up.

I'm truly, truly sorry.

At the same time, I'm still waiting for my thanks from Stewart Cink.

Had it not been for me, had I not abandoned my well-conceived final-round strategy of not looking at any Tom Watson putt of more than six feet, Watson would have easily sunk that par chance on the 72nd hole. Easily.

How do you think he drained all those 70-footers the two days before?

By that measure, he also would have made birdies at 3, 5, 8, and 13 and eagles at 7 and 17. I'm sure I'm missing others.

But curiosity bit the cat and Watson missed that birdie putt on the 57th green, and the 59th, the eagle on the 61st, and so many others. Most importantly, he missed the par putt on the 72nd hole that cost him the championship.

I messed it up.

Now, you can say nerves got the better of Old Man Watson, but let's be realistic for just one second.

Watson has won 39 PGA Tour events, including a remarkable eight major championships, the latter being more than anyone not named Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Walter Hagen, Gary Player, and Ben Hogan.

Depending on whether you count pre-World War II Amateurs as majors, you can also add John Ball and Bobby Jones to that list.

That's a who's who of a century of golf.

Are you telling me someone with that experience would buckle under the pressure and so miss-hit an eight-foot putt to win the Claret Jug? Miss-hit it like he's an average Joe playing an average round of drunken mini-golf?

Of course not. Watson did not choke.

I did.

Yes, I screwed it up, just like I did all weekend.

Remember that 45-foot putt he made on the 16th green on Saturday? I looked away for that. Remember that 25-foot putt he missed on the 18th green on Saturday? You know I was watching.

Every time Watson missed the fairway, it was because I was on some forbidden website, and so you know, forbidden means anything but www.sporcle.com. Watson was only at his best when I was sporcling.

If I stood up while Watson was on screen, he'd shank his next shot, or at the very least get an unlucky hop. Happened twice, once on the ninth hole, and again on the 18th fairway. I should have known better.

Cink, I need some thanks for your birdie putt on 18.

I accidentally went to ESPN.com before I went to CBSSports.com, ruining any chance you had of missing that putt.

All those bogeys by Lee Westwood and Mathew Goggin? Visiting CBSSports.com before ESPN.com. A quick look to see if they changed the headlines, and then a peek to watch history unfold.

I messed up, inverted the order, and suddenly Cink was in the clubhouse with a two-under, 278.

I commit a few mistakes in the playoff, and the Claret Jug belonged to the sprightly man from Alabama.

Of course, this isn't the first time I screwed up. Heck, this isn't the first time I screwed up in a major golf championship alone.

Like, for instance, last year when Greg Norman was seven holes from the Open Championship, had the audacity to board an airplane.

By the time we landed, Norman had imploded, and Paddy Harrington had repeated.

You and I both know that if I miss that flight, Norman would have won his third Claret Jug.

Or, for instance, this year's Masters tournament. Had I not decided to rush to Two Rows to get some wings during the final round, there is no way Kenny Perry would have collapsed, but I missed a stroke on the way and Perry's game suffered one.

Before you knew it, Angel Cabrera was chipping it out of the trees like he was Tiger Woods at Southern Hills.

The Green Jacket belongs to South America.

Then there is this year's U.S. Open. David Duval, who may or may not have rented out my family's house for the tournament, was making the traditional Monday charge.

Two fortnights shy of eight years since his last triumph on the PGA Tour, the former top-ranked golfer clawed back on the final nine that morning to within a shot of the lead.

Then he tied for the lead.

Then I stood up and made a photo copy.

Then Duval bogeyed.

Now that I remember it, I'm still waiting for my thanks from Lucas Glover.

And finally, we can look at the Open Championship.

Sure, I already told you about the final round, but let's take a look at the 2nd round.

I updated my Facebook status after Watson's first round to express shock. Watson goes out and bogeys five of the first seven holes on Friday.

I change my status, and he claws back to -5 for the tournament.

Had I not idiotically updated my Facebook status on Thursday, Old Man Watson would have run away with the title, destroyed the field by a half-dozen shots.

Instead, I cost him five valuable shots.

And I continued to cost him well into the weekend, all the way through his bogey on the final hole of the playoff.

My bad, Tom. I'm truly sorry. I wanted you to equal the record of six Claret Jugs set by Harry Vardon as much as the next bloke.

I'm truly, truly sorry.

Stewart, I think you owe me a gratitude or two, and a photo with the Claret Jug.

Sign it and express your thanks for my part in your conquest. It's the right thing to do.

There's no way you'd be the Open Champion without my help.

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