Saturday, July 18, 2009

Just Like Old Times

I wouldn't exactly call myself a professional golf enthusiast, but it's safe to say I pay some attention when one of the four major championships is being played. And while it's always fun to follow the highs of Tiger Woods, the lows of John Daly, and the near misses of Phil Mickelson, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see veteran Tom Watson atop the leader board after the first two rounds of this year's British Open. At-59 years-old he's already the oldest player to ever hold the lead in a major. The odds are heavily stacked against him retaining the lead for two more days, but then they were already knocking his chances when he took the lead after day one.

When I was a child, Tom Watson was my favorite golfer by far. I don't know why I chose to follow him at the time, but it might have had something to do with him being a fairly unassuming fellow with a pleasant countenance and a cool visor. Being the best player in the world from 1978-1982 didn't hurt either. One of the things I would do when I was about 10 or 11 was to crumple up pieces of notebook paper into "golf balls." I would then create my own golf course around the house and pretend to be Tom Watson...swinging a wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bat as my one and only club. Watson needed a rival, however, so I would also play the dual role of Seve Ballesteros---alternating shots with equal intensity and fairness. I did this for years. Hundreds of holes were played and, thanks to my baseball bat, several holes were made, too.

It's damn near impossible to win a major golf championship from wire to wire, but if Tom Watson can manage to do just that, it'll be the greatest golf story since the dominant rise of Tiger Woods. For'll be even better.

Good luck, Tom!


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