Sunday, 19 July 2009

Watson a better bet to make history than old Greg was....

So here we are again, for the second year running we enter the final day of the Open and we're looking at an old stager leading the way. In 2008 it was the great White shark doing the seemingly impossible and somehow you had the feeling he was laways going to be caught by someone and so it proved. The steady play of the first three days became that little bit more shaky and defending champ Padraig Harrington went into overdrive on the final few holes to grab his second claret jug and leave the old Aussie coming in a creditable third. It had a certain amount of inevitability about it. You just knew at some point the wheels were going to come off somewhere. Norman seemed nervous and almost as though he realised he was not supposed to be leading the Open at his age.

This year our elder statesman is the venerable Tom Watson, at an even more advanced age than the 53 year old Norman. Just one year from the big Six-O, Watson has defied expectations and perceptions to mount a challenge that amazingly looks even likelier to bear fruit than the relatively youthful Greg. Why? Its the complete lack of nerves we've seen from Watson. He encountered a huge setback on his Friday front nine as he leaked five shots in six holes and you'd have been forgiven for thinking that was that. But Watson stayed calm, never altered his approach and pulled out some of the most extraordinary putts you could imagine. He's shown that should the rough times come he still has the game and the cool head to keep it together and make birdies.

And that has been his motto this week, not to worry about the bogeys, accept they will come and realise the birdies are out there and he has the putting game to make them. That is what has made the difference for Tom, he has on several occasions on each of the three days had to make some outrageous putts for par and made them, and when there's been a sniff of a birdie on the closing holes he's made them. And that is the other quite extraordinary thing, he is certainly not struggling for stamina. After three rounds he has played the final three holes in five under. SHould it be coming down the stretch and he's still there, he knows he can pick up shots.

And crucially, Norman had a notoriously flaky nature at Majors, under pressure he was likely to crack. The heat of battle only ever seemed to make Watson strnger and thats why I'd say Watson is a hell of a better bet to come through this time - fingers crossed he does.

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