Watson win at Colonial good for any age Winner, 48, becomes oldest to take tourney

May 25, 1998|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Tom Watson has won eight major championships. He is the 11th-winningest player in PGA Tour history. He played in four Ryder Cups and was winning captain in 1993.

But there was Watson yesterday, shedding tears on the 18th green after winning the 52nd Colonial.

It wasn't just the victory for Watson. It was the place in which he did it. It was the way he did it. It was the point in his life, and career, at which he did it.

Watson, at the age of 48 years, eight months, 20 days, supplanted Colonial's most legendary figure, Ben Hogan, as the tournament's oldest winner. And he did it by shooting a bogey-free, 4-under 66 yesterday, beating 28-year-old Jim Furyk by two shots.

"Winning at my age is a rarity," Watson said. "I didn't know whether I was going to win another tournament on the tour again or not."

PGA Tour victory No. 34 (in addition to five British Opens), indeed, was a long time coming for Watson, whose most recent victory was the 1996 Memorial Tournament. And, until yesterday, Watson had earned only two wins since 1984, the year, as he put it, "it basically shut off."

But that wasn't an old Watson playing Colonial this week. It was the Watson of old. He had no back-nine bogeys all week. And he was particularly solid yesterday, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Watson led, or co-led, from the third hole yesterday. The 391-yard, par-4 ninth proved to be the final round's pivotal hole.

Watson and Furyk came to No. 9 co-leading at 13-under. Furyk hit his drive to the middle of the fairway. Watson pulled his drive into the left-hand fairway bunker.

But Furyk, as he did much of the day, appeared indecisive about the approach shot. He backed away once, twice, then drew a gasp from the gallery when he backed away a third time. When he finally hit, his ball missed the green to the right.

Watson, hitting second, had a far bigger predicament. In order to hit the shot, he had to stand in the grass above the bunker, with the ball more than a foot below his feet. Of course, with all of Furyk's fidgeting, Watson had plenty of time to consider his options.

"My caddie, Bruce Edwards, said, 'It's a hard 8-iron,' " Watson said. "I was thinking an easy 8. I told myself, 'I think he's right, it's a good, firm 8.' "

Watson stooped over the shot, swung and, as he put it, "hit it flush." With the pin on the right, Watson said he aimed toward the middle of the green. But because of the angle of his swing, the ball naturally curved left-to-right. It cleared the water by 10 yards and stopped 10 feet below the hole.

Watson raised his 8-iron triumphantly as the gallery reacted. Minutes later, he made the birdie putt, giving him a one-shot lead after Furyk parred. Watson led the rest of the way.

"That was the shot," Watson said. "That was the shot of the tournament for me."

LPGA Corning Classic: One year after losing this upstate New York event in a playoff, Tammie Green smashed the tournament record by four strokes.

She closed with a 7-under 65 for a 72-hole total of 20-under 268, eclipsing the record set by Patty Sheehan in 1983 and equaled in 1985 by Patti Rizzo.

Green played the final two rounds in 13-under to defeat Emilee Klein and second-round leader Brandie Burton by seven strokes.

LPGA Skins Game: Laura Davies won for the second time, getting three skins worth $120,000 to give her $270,000 in the two-day competition in Frisco, Texas.

She made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th for $40,000 and clinched on the par-4 15th with a 12-foot birdie putt for $80,000.

Pub Date: 5/25/98

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