'Across the Pond'
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August 2003 -Turnberry Scotland:
The Senior British Open Championship was played for the first time last week at the Turnberry Golf Club in Scotland home to Tom Watson's victory over Jack Nicklaus in their great duel there in 1977 in which Tom Watson won one of his five British Open Championships. The Senior British Open has been an 'official' event now for the Champions Tour for the past two years and was previously played at Royal County Down in Newcastle Ireland. Tom Watson defeated former European Tour journeyman Carl Mason in a playoff in what was Mason's third senior appearance since turning 50 years of age. Both Watson and Mason's 72 hole total of 263 beat by six shots the previous 72 hole record for the Senior British Open and was five shots lower than Watson's winning total there in 1977. Tom Watson becomes the second player to triumph in the British Senior Open on the same course where he won the British Open in his regular tour career -the other being Bob Charles at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. Tom Watson dedicated this victory to his regular tour caddy Bruce Edwards who is ill with ALS back in the U.S
Though Bruce is now gone his tragic legacy lives on via http://www.driving4life.org/ where you may still contribute to the Driving For Life Foundation to find a cure for the insidious disease of ALS which took his life on April 8, 2004.
'Across the Pond'-Watson dedicates Senior British Open win to Bruce Edwards-
Tom Watson's win Sunday at Turnberry in the Senior British Open Championship was a victory by a man on a mission. Tom Terrific has felt the heavy burden of circumstance beset upon him and his loyal friend and caddy Bruce Edwards since Edward's diagnosis of ALS in early March.
I'm writing this story from Scotland the home of golf. The Scots early on figured that golf being played in such a large and vast playing field a sort of assistant or 'caddy' was a necessity -mostly to carry the clubs and find the golf balls at first I'm sure. But then that role evolved more into a first assistant as performance and the more competitive aspects of the game came into play.
The early caddies often chose a player with a similar body type so that they could 'inherit' hand me downs such as clothing that would fit them. (They didn't have money nor a department store on every corner like today). In the early days of golf there were instances where caddies partnered with royalty in golf matches -a game where both caddies and kings could stand side by side.
Caddying today can be just as self serving. And in today's modern game caddies achieve their success, money, and notoriety, directly via their player's performance. It's how good you can caddy and the other part of the equation -who you've got. So longevity for a caddy in that relationship is most often intimately tied to having a consistent level of success together.
Player's have a certain type of relationship with their wives, immediate family members, and children over their lifetime. The player caddy relationship is in itself unique in the world of professional sports -where in team sports and other individual sports -there is nothing quite like it. In what other sport can one have shared all the 'battlefield' ups and downs of the playing competitor throughout the crux of his entire career -where you've had a partner right there on the playing field experiencing it all with you?
So you see how the bond can be so strong between Tom and Bruce. It's almost like a part of Tom Watson had been given the diagnosis of ALS. We could all see how badly he wanted to win for Bruce at the U.S. Open in June and then the U.S. Senior Open two weeks later and then again two weeks ago in the Ford Senior's Championship in Dearborn Michigan (another Senior Tour Major Championship.) In all three, Watson was in the hunt. In all three they had a chance to win. In all three there was the national media exposure that I'm sure was all draining for them both.
In those week's and especially last week at the Senior British Open we saw a Tom Watson we hadn't seen for years. A man with a purpose in his step and a desire to win like the old 'Huck Fin' himself of an earlier era. All for his friend and compatriot and loyal caddy Bruce Edwards. All of this though exacted a certain toll from Tom emotionally. And it was probably a good break for him this week at Turnberry (where he won in 1977 defeating Jack Nicklaus in one of his more notable British Open victories) -in having (former regular tour caddy) Neil Oxman on the bag.
I was caddying on the 11th tee and heard Watson's second shot approach slam into the bottom of the flag and the hole for an eagle two at the tenth green behind and to the right of me there. Looking back that way I could see the accompanying cheers from his gallery and Watson in his canary yellow sweater arms raised in celebration back in the fairway. It was a great start to a back nine in a final round where Tom would record a six under par 64. And then later on the 17th Watson got it up and down on the par five 17th from a second shot in the muff in front of the 18th tee to 30 feet and holed that one for a birdie and tie. But then Tom bogied the last and thought that once again victory had eluded his grasp.
As fate would have it though Carl Mason double bogied the 18th with a 'safe' play 2 iron off the tee to a bad lie in a fairway bunker that 'back-doored' Tom Watson into a playoff where he finally got that elusive victory for Bruce. The five time British Open champion was again 'golfing in the kingdom' performing that great magic of yesteryear. Tom said he made 10 putts this week of over 20 feet -something he'd not done in a long time.
Afterwards Watson said, "I felt Bruce was with me
because all those putts and that shot at the 10th went in. You don't pull
for a guy to make a mistake, but he probably also had something to do with
Carl's demise at the 18th." (Watson told Bruce before leaving the
U.S. that he would win it at Turnberry for him.)
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