Thank you Mr. Watson! Tom Watson has played The Open Championship for the last time. The 8-time Major Champion, 5 of those at The Open, missed the cut and crossed the Swilcan Bridge, as professional golfer, for the last time. Tom Watson thrilled golfing fans for 44 years by challenging the greats like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer always believed that had the game to win!
With 71 professional wins, Watson is a proven champion. Tied for 11th overall with 39 PGA Tour wins, Watson has won with class every step of the way. Through all his success, he demonstrated that winning on the links can be transferred to winning in life. The four charities he supports, one for over 25 years, has benefitted from his tremendous leadership and I am confident he will continue after he leaves professional golf.
Normally, former champions are exempt to play in The Open Championship until they are 60, however, the R&A created a new exemption after Watson was runner-up at Turnberry in 2009 when he was 59 and lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink. Past champions who finish in the top 10 are exempt for five years. Tom Watson demonstrated it is possible to play golf well into the latter stages of our lives! How inspiring is that!
Today was an emotional day for Mr. Watson. He knew after the front-nine that his time was short, but he walked tall for the closing holes and demonstrated how true champions conduct themselves through all situations. When it was all said and done, all he did was tip his hat and say thank you!
The Open Championship will a little less grandiose next year because Mr. Watson will not grace the links at Royal Troon. However, I am sure that Tom Watson will be the first to tell you that professional golf is bigger than one man, but it is the special players that make golf great!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!