Watson Turns Back Clock to Shoot Opening-Round 65


Jul 16, 2009

Watson Turns Back Clock to Shoot Opening-Round 65 Thirty-two years ago at golf’s British Open, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus
engaged in the “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry — a famous, essentially
match-play battle over the final 18 holes from which Watson eventually
emerged victorious.

And in Thursday’s first round of this year’s Open Championship —
also at Turnberry — it seemed that Watson was able to channel the same
ability that made him the British Open winner over three decades ago.

Watson carded a 5-under 65 on the tournament’s first day of action, giving him the tournament lead until Spain’s Miguel Jimenez
topped it with a 64. But the story of the day was still Watson, who at
59 years old would be the oldest British Open champion  if he’s able
continue his strong play over the coming days (the record is currently
held by Tom Morris, who won at age 46).

“I think there was some spirituality out there today,” Watson told ESPN.com. “Just the serenity of it was pretty neat.

“I don’t live in the past,” Watson continued, talking about
legendary bout with the Golden Bear at Turnberry. “But certainly that
has been at the forefront of a lot of conversations for me this week. A
lot of people have been congratulating me for ‘77, and they remember
it, too. It’s also amazing there’s a lot of kids in the tournament who
were not even born in 1977.”

Watson was joined in the 5-under ranks by Kenichi Kuboya and Ben Curtis,
who made a name for himself by winning the tournament in 2003. Though
Curtis has not won a major championship since his victory six years
ago, he believes he has a good shot this time around.

“You don’t win it once and not be able to do it again,” Crutis told
ESPN.com. “The last couple of years have been good for me, and this
week I got off to a good start.”

Plenty of other golfers found themselves below par at the end of
their opening rounds, as Turnberry proved to be much less grueling than
the Royal Birkdale Golf Club last year — when Padraig Harrington won with a final score of plus-3. Vijay Singh, Boo Weekley, Retief Goosen, Mike Weir and Jim Furyk all managed 3-under 67s, while John Daly shot his best round since 1995 to finish at two under par. Former champions Ernie Els (2002) and Harrington (2007, 2008) ended the day at one below.

Surprisingly, one of the only big-name golfers to have trouble on Thursday was Tiger Woods, who shot a 71 to finish one over par.

“I certainly made a few mistakes out there,” Woods told ESPN.com.
“Realistically, I probably should have shot about 1- or 2-under par.”

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