GULLANE, Scotland -- Tom Watson's three-shot lead in the
Senior British Open was in peril and memories of his back-nine
collapse at the U.S. Senior Open three weeks ago came flooding
But that was in 90-degree heat at Whistling Straits. Sunday he
was at cold and blustry Muirfield, where the five-time British Open
winner and master of Scottish links courses is at home.
Watson fired his tee shot into a fairway bunker at the last hole
and took two to get out of the sand, but he survived a double bogey
to win his third Senior British Open in five years.
"This has been a very serene week for me," he said. "The
weather was right up my alley, good blowy conditions, a little rain
here and there. The beauty of the place, I feel very comfortable."
Standing in the sand after his wayward tee shot, Watson took a
moment to compose himself.
"I thought 'What am I doing in here? Let's get the job done,"'
Watson eventually made it out of the sand, but then missed the
green with his fourth shot. With playing partners Mark O'Meara and
Stewart Ginn back in contention, Watson got his fifth, a putt from
off the green, to within three feet of the flag and made that putt
for a 73, a one stroke victory and yet another title on Scottish
"It's important to get it done when you have to," Watson said.
"It didn't look like it at 18, but I did put it in the wrong place
[off the tee]. It was a stupid shot.
"I didn't have too much opportunity with the first [bunker]
shot. I didn't get it up far enough and it rolled back in the
bunker. But it rolled back in far enough where I had a shot out
sideways. I got it up around the green somewhere, two-putted and
that was it."
Watson, who also won two Masters titles and one U.S. Open,
captured his fifth senior major with an even par total of 284 to
earn $324,531 for the victory. He finished one ahead of O'Meara
(72) and Ginn (75).
Watson, who won this tournament at Turnberry in 2003 and Royal
Aberdeen two years ago, made it five American victories in a row
after triumphs by Peter Oakley in 2004 and Loren Roberts last year.
Seven of Watson's eight triumphs in Britain have been on Scottish
links courses and next year's Senior British Open is at another,
Troon, where he won the Open in 1982.
Ginn, who won the Senior Players Championship on the Champions
Tour five years ago for his only major, went into the final round
leading by one at 3 under, but Watson wiped that out with a short
birdie putt at the third. Both players birdied the fifth to move at
least four ahead of the rest of the field and the final round
appeared to be a race between the two as O'Meara failed to make up
ground at 1 over.
While Watson's game stayed firm, Ginn's fell apart with five
bogeys in a row from the turn as he slumped from 3 under to 1 over.
Ginn was wayward off the tee and, while he failed to make any
birdie chances during that stretch, Watson made a 20-foot putt at
11 and two more pars to put daylight between himself and the
The victory made up for Watson's collapse at the U.S. Senior
Open, where he blew a three-shot lead after 10 holes of the final
round, shooting a 43 on the closing nine to finish fourth behind
"It was really disappointing, the Senior Open," Watson said.
"But, as is the custom in my career, when I've had some bad
tournaments, I've come back very quickly.
"I guess that's part of my personality. I hate failure. And I
just want to get back to even. Winning this tournament was getting
back to even."
Defending champion Roberts finished in a tie for fourth after an
even par 71 gave him a 4-over 288.
Playing his debut tournament as a senior, Nick Faldo finished
with a share of 14th at Muirfield having tied for the lead after
the opening round. A final-round 75 gave him an 8-over total of 292
although he almost finished birdie-birdie.
"I've struggled with my putter all week so I've got to go away
and work on that before I venture out competitively again," said
Faldo, a six-time major winner who now spends most of his time as a
golf analyst for CBS. "Muirfield's a great walk and I can leave
with a smile on my face."