Thomas Sturges Watson, invariably known as Tom, had the distinction of being, officially, the best golfer in the world between 1978 and 1982. Indeed, in 1980, won seven tournaments, including the Open Championship at Muirfield Golf Links, become the first golfer to earn $500,000 in a single season.
All told, Watson won the Open Championship five times, in 1975, 1977, 1982 and 1983. Indeed, he went agonisingly close to winning for a sixth time, at the age of 59, at Turnberry in 2009; he failed to make the par he needed on the seventy-second hole to win and ultimately lost a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink. The Open Championship aside, Watson also won the Masters twice, in 1977 and 1981, and the US Open once, in 1982. His career total of eight victories in major championship golf places him sixth in the all-time list.
Watson recorded the first of jhis 39 victories on the PGA Tour, the Western Open, now the BMW Championship, in 1974. Although a longer than average hitter, he once said, ‘By learning how to get the ball up and down, you will have mastered the art of scoring your best.’ Indeed, he became renowned for his short game, not least his apparently fearless putting stroke, which enabled him to ‘scramble’ so-called ‘Watson pars’ and manufacture good scores even though not, necessarily, playing at his very best. Ironically, for a player who produced most of his best performances by the seaside, Watson recalled, ‘I didn’t like links golf. I didn’t like St. Andrews at all when I played in ’78 for the first time.’