Watson’s Victory Is His First in Nine Years
It had been nine years since Tom Watson last won a tournament on U.S. soil. It seemed like a lifetime.
“It’s like winning all over again for the first time,” Tom Watson said after he held off a wave of younger challengers and rolled in a clinching putt on the final green Sunday to win his second Memorial Tournament by two shots.
“God, it feels good. It feels so good to win again. Nine years. Half of that, I wasn’t playing good and the last half I was. But it feels good to be the last person off the golf course, the guy who knocked the last putt in.”
Watson followed rounds of 70, 68 and 66 with a 70 to finish at 14-under 274 and collect $324,000.
It was the 46-year-old’s first victory in the U.S. since the 1987 Nabisco Championships. That was also the last time he led a tournament through three rounds. He hadn’t won against a full field in nearly 12 years, since the 1984 Western Open.
“I was thinking back to ’84 and how good it felt and how I won it,” said Watson, who dedicated the victory to his ailing father. “I won that with determination and good play on the last day. I did the same today. I just haven’t been able to do that the last few years.”
He made a one-stroke lead at the start of the day stand up as David Duval’s late charge fell short.
Watson came in ranked among the top-10 tour players in scoring in the first, second and third rounds, but was 52nd in the fourth round.
He had finished second five times since his last victory. Two years ago, he was within striking distance going into the final round of the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open, but ballooned to a 74 each time.
“The most disappointed I was was at the Turnberry British Open,” Watson said. “I was playing pretty well and putting pretty well, but the last day the putter felt like an anvil in my hands.”
Unlike Saturday, when he holed a sand wedge from the bunker fronting the 17th hole to take a one-stroke lead, Watson never needed a miracle shot.
He bogeyed the first hole--missing a two-foot putt for par. He missed a four-foot putt for par at the 15th, but he made almost every other putt he needed.
Watson two-putted at the par-five fifth hole, including a tricky four-foot putt for birdie. He made difficult comeback putts for par on the next four holes, then holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-four 10th to get to 13-under for a three-stroke lead. He dispensed with the short-putt drama at 14, rolling in a long birdie to push his lead to four.
Duval, six strokes behind Watson as he stepped to the 14th tee, went birdie, eagle, birdie, par and birdie to make things interesting.