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Page last updated at 21:55 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 22:55 UK

Calm Watson plots Turnberry success

The 138th Open, Turnberry
Date: 16-19 July
Coverage: Live TV coverage on BBC Two, Online and the Red Button, live on Radio 5 Live and text commentary online on all four days


Watson happy at 'magical' Turnberry

By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at Turnberry

Tom Watson has called this week at Turnberry "spiritual", while Ross Fisher described it as a "Cinderella Story".

Thirty two years after winning his famous Duel in the Sun battle with Jack Nicklaus to clinch the Open at Turnberry, Watson will tee off in the final pair with a one-shot lead and a chance to claim a sixth Open title - and ninth major - 26 years after his last.

The veteran American has refused to fade away graciously after carding a 65 on Thursday, and has been playing to a gameplan that the likes of world number one Tiger Woods would have done well to borrow.

He says it's based on the number of birdies and bogeys he thinks he can afford, but it seems simpler.

Hit it straight up the middle, clench hands behind back, smile generously at everyone, stroll up fairway. Repeat. Hole some long putts, lead the Open going into the final round, aged 59.

Watson described his state of mind as "serene" on Saturday as he plotted his way around a breezy Turnberry and lapped up the adoration of the crowd.

The reception as he walked onto the 18th green well past 1900 BST on the third evening suggested he had already won the tournament.

Tom Watson

Highlights - Watson tames 16th again

"It's mutual," said the long-time favourite of the British crowds.

When his final putt dropped and the cheers subsided, the strains of a piper, pacing outside the Turnberry hotel, wafted over the course.

Too good to be true? Well, nothing this week has been quite real.

"The first day here, you let the old geezer have his day in the sun," said Watson, who led for most of the opening day and has been on top for the last two rounds.

"Now you perk up your ears and say, 'this old geezer might have a chance to win the tournament'."

Fisher said: "It's a bit of a Cinderella story. To be playing as well as he is at age 59 is incredible."

Watson tees off at 1420 alongside 35-year-old Australian Mathew Goggin in the final group.

Whether it will materialise into Duel in the Sunshine and Showers, we'll have to wait and see.

But with 13 players separated by five shots, and given the capricious nature of a windy links course, Sunday's duel will be more of an all-in scrap.

Fisher is on the same mark as Goggin, but the Australian deprived us of the real fairytale stuff, of seeing Watson and Fisher paired together, by posting his three under first.


The Englishman's tale has been the other thread to this week, with his wife Jo set to give birth to their first child at any moment.

The 28-year-old is one shot off the lead but insists that he will leave Turnberry to be at her side the moment she goes into labour.

But on Saturday evening, and with a chance to win a maiden major and become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992 to claim the Claret Jug, he hinted his resolve may be wavering.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said uncertainly.

"Hopefully she can hang on for one more day. To win and then to get back home and to see the birth of our first child would be a dream come true."

Fisher, fifth in the US Open in June, will play alongside fellow Englishman Lee Westwood, who will have his own dreams of clinching his first major on Sunday evening.

Westwood plans to be patient

Westwood, 36, fell one shot short of a play-off in last year's US Open for his best major finish, but is back with an extra layer of experience to take into the hunt on Sunday.

The chasing pack are formidable, though, with two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, 2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk and US Ryder Cup stalwart Stewart Cink all within three of the lead.

If they come up short and Watson does win, he would become the oldest ever Open champion, beating Old Tom Morris who was 46 years 99 days when he won at Prestwick in 1867. He would also become the oldest ever major winner, beating Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 USPGA.

But there is another feat that might please Watson even more. He would better his close friend and old adversary Nicklaus, who won the Masters at the age of 46 in 1986.

"I know my friend is watching and it would be something special if I did what I intend to do on Sunday," he said.

In his heyday in the 1970s and 80s, the term "Watson par" was coined for his tendency to hit wild shots off the tee, hack it out, find some part of the green and hole a long putt.

This week, the bombs are still dropping for birdies, but the pars are coming the easy way.

Hit it straight up the middle, clench hands behind back, smile generously at everyone, stroll up fairway…

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