When Tom Watson Ruled The Open

July 18, 2018

Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Tom Watson, Carnoustie Golf Links, July 13, 1975. He’s just off the course, having won the first of his five Open Championships, this one by a stroke over Jack Newton in an 18-hole playoff. The unruly hair, wing-collar shirt and tweed driving cap convey a golf-first purity. In his face, there’s pride and satisfaction. The golf he’d played was a coming-out party for the Watson imprimaturs he became known for. It included a 20-footer for birdie, struck frightfully firm, to tie on the final hole of regulation. In the playoff, he chipped in for eagle on the 14th to take the lead by a stroke. At 25, Watson already had a game that was powerful, creative and adaptable to any condition. Other Watson signatures took hold that week. He played briskly, chased after bad bounces, grinned throughout a cold Sunday downpour and insisted that Newton join him in clutching the claret jug. Golf never had a better sportsman, and only a few played it better.