Thursday, August 19 – First Championship Round
I’ve always admired Tom Watson as a professional golfer, but even more so as an individual. Today, at the first round of the JELD-WEN Tradition, I was once again able to appreciate why so many call Watson the perfect ambassador for the game of golf.
Wanting to see Watson in person once again, I made sure to get to the first hole in plenty of time. I would then be able to see Watson and his fellow competitors, Bernhard Langer and Tom Kite, hit their first shots of the day.
As Watson approached the first tee, he signed a few autographs and introduced himself to the volunteers and tournament coordinators by shaking each of their hands. After waiting for a few minutes for the group ahead to be out of reach, Watson, Langer and Kite all hit their tee shots. Watson hit his ball smack down the middle of the fairway, out-driving Langer and Kite by at least 15 yards.
The first time I ever saw Watson up close was at this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. I watched him for a few holes on Saturday, after he made the cut, the oldest player in the tournament to do so.
Watson actually won his first and only U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 1982, holding off, at that time, the number one golfer in the world, Jack Nicklaus. He finished his PGA TOUR career having won 39 tournaments, eight of them being majors.
Tom Watson should not only be admired by the way he plays such high-caliber golf week in and week out, but how he carries himself on the course and especially in life.