By Richard Animam
It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn’t it?”
Tom Watson summed things up perfectly in the immediate aftermath of his ultimately failed bid to provide us with the greatest script in the history of golf.
In deed and then in word, the 59-year-old master dictated the story line in this never-to-be-forgotten week at Turnberry.
As the corporate types dragged their trolleys down the first fairway on a cool and windswept morning after the week before, you knew they would be talking about one man – and it wasn’t the champion.
With all due respect to Stewart Cink, and he deserves plenty, Turnberry 2009 will always been known as the “Watson Open”, even though the five-time champion couldn’t quite claim his record-equalling sixth Claret Jug.And those high handicappers entitled to take on the South Ayrshire links on the Monday morning after the Open will surely have begun their rounds believing anything was possible.
Watson’s unlikely attempt to beat the golfing world proved that on a links course at least, the sport isn’t just the power game preserve of gym monkeys.
This is also a game of strategy, guile, craft and nerve. Watson had the first three in abundance and only on the 72nd hole did the nerve bit desert him.
It is hard to describe the deflating, sinking (no pun intended) feeling that was brought about by Watson’s missed eight-footer for the Championship. The high would have been so high – the like of which we have never seen before. Had Watson won at 59, the achievement would have surpassed Jack Nicklaus’s 1986 Masters victory at the age of 46 as the most romantic major win in golf.
That was surely the last time the game had anything that could come close to what Watson was doing at Turnberry.
And so there must be some sympathy for Stewart Cink. Has there ever been a less popular major winner? Nothing against the champion, it is just that everyone bar the American’s family wanted so badly to see Watson walk away with the spoils.