Watson still a master, mentor

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Tom Watson has reached some incredible highs on the golf course, winning 39 PGA events, eight majors and a handful of Ryder Cups, but he still lists the Kansas City men's match play championship as one of the most significant championships of his career.

It was that win, as a 14-year-old boy, that put him on the path to glory.

"That inspired my passion for the game," he said after the morning clinic on the Blackhawk driving range yesterday. "That was pretty cool, beating all the men when I was 14. I probably got a pretty big head, but that really solidified my golfing passion."

Today he's an all-time great, a legend revered by fans and colleagues alike.

"In my first British Open, Tom was winning the tournament and I was so inspired by him I actually went out and watched him play the last three holes coming in," said Peter Jacobsen. "I'll never forget 18, which was playing tough. He had a one-stroke lead and about 220 yards to the hole. He very nonchalantly pulled out a two-iron.

"No problem.

"He hits this two-iron straight and true, right up to the green, and two-putted for four and the victory.

"I thought, this guy is winning a major championship and he's as calm as if he's deciding between a chicken sandwich and a cheeseburger at a restaurant."

Watson, with two Masters wins, has a lifetime exemption, but figures he'll stop playing Augusta National shortly rather than put up big numbers.

"I still like to play against the kids a couple of times a year," said the 56-year-old. "But the Masters is getting beyond the scope of my ability to compete. I'll probably drop out pretty soon. The British (which he's won five times), I'll probably continue to play for a few more years because I still have the ability to compete on those types of courses.

"It just depends how the body holds up. The body is starting to wear out, but I still love to compete - that's No. 1."

RYDER PRIDE: With the 2006 Ryder Cup fast approaching, Watson, a former player and captain, has some advice for the Americans: Lighten up.

"You have to keep it light," he said. "The difference in the last Ryder Cup was very apparent in the two locker-rooms. They had set up a bar in each locker-room. Vodka, Scotch, beer ... The Americans drank, for the week, two beers. The Europeans, they had to bring in more stuff. And the Europeans beat the Americans by how many points?

"Two beers? Maybe we need to balance that out a little bit."

Cheers.


Videos

Photos