Tom Watson, the legendary 64-year-old golfer who will captain the U.S. Ryder Cup team, needs to finish in the top 10 of the British Open this year or next to keep his exemption for golf's grandest tournament.
Since the five-time British Open champion barely made the cut after shooting a second consecutive one-over-par 73 on Friday at Royal Liverpool, it's very likely that the 2015 Open at St. Andrew's will be his last.
“I am enjoying it,” Watson told reporters Friday of his experience this week. “Today on the practice range, my swing turned around. I really started hitting the ball well. … It was the best warmup session I've had all year. I felt very good going out to the golf course.”
American golfer Jim Furyk, a Ryder Cup veteran, was playing alongside Watson and appreciated the fanfare given to his partner.
“It was pretty special playing with Tom, and the reception he got,” said Furyk, who is tied for ninth at five-under 139 after shooting a second-round 71. “And to watch him grind it out and make a birdie on the way in and make the cut was pretty cool. I was pulling for him pretty hard on No. 18.”
Watson had a runner-up finish in the British Open in 2009, by far his best effort in a major since tying for ninth in the 2000 PGA Championship. Can he muster what it takes for a top-10 finish to keep his British Open exemption?
"Let's see what happens on the weekend,” said Watson, whose last Open victory came in 1983. “See if the old guy can maybe get it rolling a little bit.”