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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:18 UK

Watson earns ranking consolation

Tom Watson
Watson had five previous Open wins to his name - the last of them in 1983

Tom Watson may have agonisingly missed out on winning the Open but the American's efforts have improved his ranking by 1269 places.

Watson, 59, moved up from 1374th to 105th in the rankings after finishing second to Stewart Cink, who won their four-hole play-off to clinch the title.

Cink moved up to ninth from 33rd as a result of his victory.

A Watson win would have catapulted him up to 45th and seen him become the oldest major winner in the sport.

Watson was ranked at 1374 along with 4000 other players as - under the two-year system used in golf - he had played in counting events but finished outside the points.

Under rules brought in two years ago, the age limit for past Open champions to automatically qualify for the tournament was brought down from 65 to 60.

Therefore, five-time Open winner Watson's appearance at the tournament at St Andrews next July will be his last as a past champion.

Hole number four gets me. I can't hit it far enough to get it over the junk

Tom Watson on playing at St Andrews

After that, he would have to finish in the top 10 the previous year, win the 2010 British Senior Open or qualify to book an Open place.

However, Watson believes an alteration of his least favoured hole - the 480-yard, par four, "Ginger Beer" at the fourth - would help him compete on the Old Course next year, depending on weather conditions.

"I still have some of the shots to be able to play that golf course," said Watson, who would make his 33rd and last Open appearance.

"But it depends on the wind. If the wind comes from the west I have a hard time - hole number four gets me. I can't hit it far enough to get it over the junk.

"And it depends on how deep the rough is. I'm driving into it all the time, so we'll just have to see."

However, Watson's exploits could now result in organisers contemplating a change to the age rule.

"One of the people we consulted about it (the rule change) was Tom Watson who totally supported the move," Royal and Ancient club chief executive Peter Dawson told BBC 5 Live.

"He thought it was entirely appropriate for older golfers aged over 60 to give more places to younger players perhaps in their prime.

"We did not contemplate a 59-year-old leading the championship at the latter stages."

He added: "Every year we review our exemptions. We'll be having a look at the whole list and not just this one in the autumn to see what we decide to do for next year.


"I wouldn't want to say Tom's performance will (prompt a rethink) because what we have seen is a one-off event, although Greg Norman did extremely well last year, but it will be one of the factors we consider."

Dowson is also confident Watson's exploits at Turnberry will improve golf's prospects of becoming a full Olympic sport.

"We will know next month if golf has got onto the short list of two that the IOC executive board is going to be recommending for voting on in October," said Dawson.

"We've been able to put golf's case with one voice across the game very strongly for both men and women and I think we have a good chance.

"As far as how would the IOC view an older person winning a golf championship, if that was your question, I could only think that with their policies in the IOC of inclusiveness and sport for all, I think that would have been welcomed.

"I don't see that as anything other than strengthening our case."

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see also
Cink dashes Watson's Open dreams
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Age no barrier for Watson
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Open day four as it happened
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Watson retains lead at Turnberry
18 Jul 09 |  Golf
Woods misses cut as Watson shines
17 Jul 09 |  Golf
Legend Watson shines at Turnberry
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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