July 19, 2009

THE LAST GOLFER:

Tom Watson's historic run at the 2009 British Open is one for the ages (Mike Lupica, July 19th 2009, NY Daily News)

When Watson was young, he putted the way kids do before they know putting is supposed to be hard. He didn't care how far past the cup he rammed the birdie putts he didn't make, because whether it was six feet or eight feet or even 10 feet coming back, he seemed to make them all.

He made all the putts the rest of us miss.

Until he stopped making them. He stopped making short putts. Watson had the yips, and after a while it was as terrible watching him stand over a 3-footer as it had been once with Ben Hogan. Watson stopped making putts and he stopped winning, even though he could hit the ball like a dream, the way he has so far at Turnberry. He was driving it better than ever and hitting irons as well as he ever had, and he couldn't win.

And Watson stayed in there. He didn't quit, he didn't go to a long putter or a belly putter or a cross-handed grip or the grip known as the "claw." He was still the tough kid from Kansas City who used to beat balls in the winter when no one else was around because he wanted to be great. He would figure this out.

A friend once asked why he didn't go to the belly putter or the long putter that other shaky golfers used, and got the look that Watson used to stare down even Jack Nicklaus with.

"It's not golf," Watson said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 19, 2009 7:49 AM
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