Watson, 61, is coming off a week at the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s where he finished T22 and while he didn’t display the same magic as he did in almost winning the Open two years ago at Turnberry, Watson still shows his game is intact.
“I putted well, Watson said of why he was successful at Sandwich. “That’s kind of a luxury for me to say that. I putted well, because I had not been able to say that in a long time. That’s what gives me some excitement about coming here this week is the putter.”
Tom Watson played 72 holes at the Open Championship with bogey his worst score, but it only took eight holes in the first round at The Senior Open Championship for Watson to record a double bogey on his way to a 3-over 75, his worst score since arriving this summer in the British Isles and mostly due to the same club he loved last week..
“I kind of flubbed it around at No. 8,” Watson said of an over-enthusiastic 8-iron that missed the green on the 442-yard par 4. “Made double bogey there just from the middle of the fairway.”
With only one birdie on the card in Thursday’s first round, the eight-time major winner pointed to the putter as the culprit for his poor play.
“I didn’t putt very well,” Watson said. “Three-putted a couple of times and I missed a 2 1/2-foot putt for birdie on 10. And I had some really good, makeable opportunities I didn’t make.”
On Friday, Watson had 18 looks at birdie, only the first hole was just off the green and his putter came back to him and has brought the eight-time major winner back into the championship.
“I was playing for 18 birdies today,” Watson said after his round. “That sums it up. I didn’t make any mistakes off the tee and I just went around the golf course and made four birdies and no bogeys, it was a fun round to play.”
Next up, Watson needs to make up the distance between himself and Mark Calcavecchia at 7-under.
“Gotta shoot low,” Watson said, of his mindset going into the weekend. “Unless we get a lot of wind, this golf course is soft enough where you can make some birdies out there. But again, the key to this golf course is driving the ball in the fairway, out of the heather, out of the bunkers.”
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.