Tom Watson walked into the venue of the Press Conference after having ended up second at the British Open Golf Championship at Turnberry, at the ripe old age of 59, and immediately sensing the mood, stated loud and clear, “Ok, this ain’t a funeral you know”.
According to onlookers, one look at the eyes of all those present would have confirmed that Watson was way off the mark. Not one of those eyes was dry!
In fact he was earlier just a few inches off the mark with his final putt, but in being so, he squandered a chance of winning a 9th Major Golf Championship , 32 years after he had won his first! Having led the field with a resolute, gritty, remarkable and truly astonishing performance for three days, Tom Watson had finally succumbed, at the very last post.
An epoch-making, record-shattering, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping feat was thus nipped in the bud.
But Watson had already achieved the impossible by coming so very close to lifting the Claret Jug, the traditional Open trophy, at his age.
Superhuman as his feat was, Watson showed no emotion in defeat and stoically faced the barrage of questions from the world media.
One correspondent wrote later that the whole planet had wanted Watson to win, except Stewart Cink, his caddie and his close relatives!
Why, even Cink said afterwards that he had mixed feelings even though he had played clinically to win the 4 hole play off! Cink, himself a fan of the great man, knew that it was he who stood between Watson and history, for no man older than 46 had ever won a major Golf Championship.
Jack Nicklaus who was that age when he last won the Masters, must have felt like a spring chicken at that time in comparison to the creaky boned Watson of 2009 who would be too old to be eligible to compete in the Pro category by next year!
The fierce desire to win and the never-say-die-spirit that all true champions possess were obviously still stored in sizeable quantity somewhere inside Watson’s heart. To that heady mix, he added a certain amount of strength, stamina and skill at the Open.
He said to reporters later that he wanted his peers to talk about him as “one hell of a golfer!”
Tom Watson need not worry on that account.
The 2009 British Open held at Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland, shall not be remembered for Stewart Cink’s maiden victory in a Major. It shall be remembered for Tom Watson’s conquest of sports lovers’ hearts, across the world. Take a bow, Mr Watson!