No goodbyes: Tom Watson is coming to Sydney to win
Tom Watson is coming to the Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes to win.
Not for any ceremonial goodbyes.
While he admits this may well be his last visit to antipodean shores, the 62-year-old American winner of eight major championships, says he is returning to form after recovering from injury and tinkering with his swing.
He will tee it up at The Lakes after playing in the senior division of the Sun City challenge in South Africa the week before.
“I think it’s worth a few dollars on me,’’ Watson said today. “What are my odds now?’’
Watson, who won the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne in 1984, has not been to Australia in more than a decade.
But it is an Australian who he has been mimicking recently. “It’s one of the things my dad told me when I was just a kid: ‘Son, you’ve got to shorten your golf swing!’ I’ve taken it to heart right now, probably because my body can’t turn as well. I have visions of the way Peter Thomson swung the golf club, that nice compact swing, short of parallel.’’
Watson will join the likes of Briton Justin Rose and Australia’s Adam Scott among the marquee players at the Open from 6-9 December.
He intends playing a practice round with Scott on the Tuesday of that week, admitting he “felt sick for several days’’ after watching the Queenslander implode on the final four holes to forfeit his chance of his first major win at the British Open championship in July.
But he backed Scott’s ability to bounce back. “I think it fortifies him. I’ve always thought that and I’ve made the comment that in the early part of my career I choked away a bunch of tournaments. They asked me about it later in my career and I said ‘I’ve learned to win by losing. I learned to win by failing and correcting my errors’. I don’t think there were many players practised more than I did, but one of the things I did was always practise after a round of competition. I went out to practise, try to correct the errors I made at the golf course that particular day.
“I did what I could to banish the shot that I didn’t perform well. As a result I think over time that built a certain level of confidence in my ability to perform under pressure. (World No.1) Rory McIlroy said it great this year. He won in America and they asked him ‘what’s different now than it was last year?’ He said: ‘Well, I’m more comfortable under pressure’. The more you put yourself in that position and win or lose, the better you’re going to be the next time. That’s the way I’ve always thought.’’
Watson has studied The Lakes on the club website, and noted that it was not monstrous in length, so that it may suit his game. He says he remains competitive with the younger players, but only on the right course.
“My caddie Neil Oxman has been trying to prod me to play a lot of different events other than Senior events. Try before I can’t play a lick any more, go ahead and play against the kids. This opportunity arose and I jumped at it. I wanted to come to Australia again and play possibly my final tournament there. I wanted to continue to do that again until I can’t play a lick anymore against the kids. Who knows when that’s going to be. It’ll be there, but I certainly don’t think it’s there now.’’