Final Hole Letdown: Tom Watson loses lead on 72nd hole after missing 8 foot par putt; Stewart Cink wins playoff

mulligan, 19 July 2009, Comments Off on Final Hole Letdown: Tom Watson loses lead on 72nd hole after missing 8 foot par putt; Stewart Cink wins playoff
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For four magical days, 59 year old Tom Watson turned back time. And, today, for over four hours, Tom Watson battled his way to an outright tournament lead on the 17th hole with a tap in birdie. But Sunday was not the same as the previous three days. Watson had not made any putts all day (except 1). On the short ones, Watson’s nemesis over the years, Watson’s stroke reverted back to some of his old bad habits. Deceleration and sometimes closed. Yet, after 71 holes, Watson battled his way to the outright lead.

And then letdown. What happened on 18, the 72nd hole, was so tantalizing close. Watson striped his drive down the fairway. His 8 iron was struck pure, too pure, as the ball bounced hard on the green and rolled off by a half foot or less into the rough. Watson hit a great shot, and quite frankly did not get rewarded for it. Maybe he should have hit a 9-iron, but Lee Westwood’s 3-putt from the front of the green provided a warning not to come up short.

Watson chose to putt from the rough as he had on 17 successfully getting up and down. But this time, Watson powered the putt through the rough, fringe, and swale, 8 feet past the hole. The 8 footer was the kind of putt that Watson has had trouble with for many years past his prime. And, with all the pressure riding on the putt, Watson hit the worst putt he hit for the entire tournament. Old habits/flaws are hard to suppress forever. And, in the pressure of the moment and perhaps showing his age, Watson did not even give the 8 footer a chance.

In the 4 hole playoff, Tom Watson, visibly fatigued and letdown, played like a 59 year old man who had no more mojo left. He was spent. It was shocking how poorly Watson played — like a 59 year old — only because for 72 holes he managed to play so consistently. Stewart Cink, 36 years old and rested by an hour or so, cruised to victory.


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