(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
I'm a big Tiger Woods fan. The reason being I was too young to appreciate when Jack Nicklaus was dominating the sport, so Tiger is my Jack. Sure it's fun to watch Tiger dominate the sport as much as one man can dominate a difficult course and 100+ other man trying to win at the same time, but something unique and sad happen yesterday.
There is no other sport in the world that would allow one of it's legends to compete at the same level 32 years after winning that same event. You won't see John McEnroe competing at Wimbledon or Dr. J in the Slam Dunk contest at the All Star game. This wasn't George Foreman boxing in this 40's this was a man competing with the best in the world 20 years older. Tom Watson, at the age of 59, almost did the impossible yesterday afternoon at the British Open and I'm sad he wasn't able to do it.
For those that missed it, Watson had pretty much lead the entire event, one in which Woods missed the cut (which never happens). We were all pretty much waiting for Watson to shoot 80 one day and put himself out of it, but he never did. It even seemed the "golf gods" were in Watson's favor when Lee Westwood hit an iron off the tee on 18 into a fairway bunker, basically ending his hope for a birdie and a share of the lead.
After making a birdie at 17, Watson stood on the 18th hole tee box and leading the British Open by one shot with one hole to play. If he could make a par on this hole, this would be one of the most historic days in sports history. Forget about golf—in any sport!
Watson hit his iron off the tee in the middle of the fairway. The wind was blowing hard at his back and he took an 8 iron to the green. He hit it perfectly, maybe too perfect, and the wind and hard green took the ball all the way through to the back edge of the rough. Tom, used a putter and hit the ball past the hole eight feet. Eight feet for history, eight feet for one of the most special things I have ever seen.
Watson's stroke is one we all know too well that play this game. (We all have had a short putt for the club championship or to win a lousy $20 bet. A friend of mine played professional baseball in the minors for many years. He was a closer. A few years ago we had a stupid bet between the other two-som we were playing.
He stepped up to a six-footer and made it. On the way back to the cart, he said he was never more nervous in his life then he was standing over that short putt. He was a closer and made his living saving games and was worried about a short putt for a few dollars.) Watson's stroke was short and choppy and one we all have done under pressure. Unfortunately, the "golf gods" can't control our mind or our memory of many short putts missed. Even if your a legend like Watson.
Watson never had a chance in the four-hole playoff. He was tired and heart broken from the miss on 18. I feel terrible for Watson and terrible for golf fans across the World today. It's very rare we get to see something as special as Watson's run at the British Open this weekend. He will be remembered as a Great British Open Champion but this weekend he/we let a historic event slip away from our grasp. Congratulations Stuart Cink, you deserved to win a major, I just wish it wasn't this one.