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The Open 2010: Veteran Watson relishes Open tilt

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website, with updates on BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 5 live Full coverage details

Tom Watson
Watson could make St Andrews his last Open

By Thomas McGuigan
BBC Sport Scotland at St Andrews

Former Open champion Tom Watson loves a challenge and they don't come much tougher than St Andrews this week.

The wind and rain are battering the town on the eve of the 150th anniversary Open, but the ferocious weather conditions failed to knock the 60-year-old off his stride.

Watson, who agonisingly lost out to Stewart Cink in last year's Open at Turnberry, was calmness personified as the storm outside threatened to throw the media tent into the sea.

Revealing that his seventh Open at the famous Old Course could be his last, Watson said his form was not as good as Turnberry in 2009.

With a steely gaze, the affable American told journalists he was relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against the course and fellow competitors.

"I'm really looking forward to putting myself to the test of St Andrews once again," he said ahead of playing with Padraig Harrington and Ryo Ishikawa.

"This is the seventh time I've played and it might be my last at St Andrews," he added.

What happened against Cink last year was the "nature of the beast" and the veteran, who has five Claret Jugs to his name, clearly doesn't let on-course disappointment play on his mind.

"I'm putting pretty well but my game isn't quite up to where it was last year," he said.

"So, I'll just have to see how the week progresses. I feel that things will sort themselves out and I'll hit the ball pretty well.

"I want to get to hitting nine out of ten shots the way I want to, rather than the 60% I feel I've been in the past few days. Your game plan depends on the wind."

Watson believes the current Open champion Stewart Cink may fly under the radar this week, although he maintains that Tiger Woods remains the man to beat.

The veteran knows the value of playing patient golf into the eye of a fierce wind, and that aiming for the pin is a recipe for doubly bogeys.

Watson said winning a major was all about dealing with pressure in the closing holes and he likened the closing holes of the recent US Open at Pebble Beach - won by Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell - to a crash in a Nascar race.

"It had a wreck in the final lap," he said. "Everything just smoke, oil, it was a mess. And suddenly the car comes through, Graeme, and he's the winner.

"That's pressure."

Tom Watson won't have son Michael, who caddied for him at Augusta this year with him at St Andrews, and Neil Oxman will bag for the veteran.

Three practice rounds to the good, Watson is ready to do battle with the Old Course and its attendant challenges.

"I've got an artificial hip, I'm a little stiff and not hitting the ball as far as I used to, but I've got experience under my belt," he added with a mischevious smile.

If Watson is in contention on Sunday afternoon, then that experience may prove crucial as a packed St Andrews cheer his ball into the hole.

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see also
Open Championship R4 tee times
17 Jul 10 |  Golf
Poor weather hits Champions event
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Caddie criticises Woods's putting
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose partners Woods at St Andrews
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Cink revels in 'surreal' Open win
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Wednesday Open practice pictures
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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