Tom Watson obviously has a love affair going with golf in the UK. He has won The Open Championship five times and the Senior British Open three times and there is no question that he loves St. Andrews. He and golfers around the world applauded the R&A for extending him an invitation to play and bid farewell last year.
According to the Chief Executive of The European Tour, Kieth Pelley, the main reason the championship will be held at St. Andrews is a suggestion from Watson. Apparently his voice is listened to by the R & A because of his record in the Open.
“Over the years, many of the competitors who will be competing in 2018 will have graced these fairways and performed and enjoyed themselves in many ways,” said Martin Slumbers, the Chief Executive of The R&A. “For me, and I think for many others, it will be a real pleasure to watch them tackle the course again and bring back many memories, as well as new experiences.”
I am also sure that Tom Watson will relish the opportunity to play the Old Course again.
“I still feel as if just yesterday I played in my first Open Championship at Carnoustie,” Watson insisted. “I remember the trip over; the times with Keith Mackenzie; the subsequent years of success and failure. But I remember them very, very well. And its part of who I am, and I’m very grateful for having had the opportunity to play in it, and obviously do so well.”
“My final walk across the Swilcan Bridge was really something that obviously I’ll always remember, especially having the vision of what Bobby Jones must have felt like when he played his friendly match there so many years after he retired from competitive golf walking up the 18th hole with the whole town of St Andrews literally coming out to see him,” Watson said, adding that he doesn’t put himself in the same category as Jones. “I just had a vision, a flash, a vision of what it was like walking up the 18th hole with so many people around it.”
It was reported that on the final hole he told his son Michael, no tears, just joy.
“That’s when I looked up at the crowd at the 18th and thought of Bobby Jones coming up that last hole,” Watson continued. “He had started out with very few people, and it ended with a multitude of people from the sound of St. Andrews to watch him finish his round of golf. That was just a wonderful experience and it will always be a mark in my memory of my career, big mark in my memory.”
Having had the pleasure of watching him throughout his entire career, I for one will be looking forward to seeing him at St. Andrews one more time.