Tom Watson knows how to play in bad weather. Five British Open titles prove that, and now so too does the Senior Tour Championship.
The over-50 circuit’s season finale was hampered by rain, wind and cold all week. Thursday’s first round was suspended by rain, and it stayed overcast with temperatures mostly in the 40s after that. Sunday’s round was delayed two hours because of rain.
“A lot of these guys think it’s kind of cold, but this is just my type of weather,” said Watson, who shot 5-under 67 Oct. 27 for a two-shot victory over Gil Morgan at the Gaillardia Golf & Country Club. Watson, who won his second Tour Championship in three years (he also won in 2000), finished at 14-under 274 and earned $440,000.
Bob Gilder was third at 279 and Hale Irwin topped $3 million in season earnings with his fourth-place finish.
“The weather, maybe to some of the players, is hostile. But to me it certainly wasn’t,” said Watson, who won for the first time in 2002. “I was very comfortable playing golf today. It was not a difficult day at all to play golf. The main thing is keeping your hands warm. And that’s what I keep on saying, ‘Keep your hands from getting cold and you’ll be OK.’ ”
Watson warmed up from his opening 74 that was completed Friday. Watson was 3 over after the first 20 holes and played the last 52 holes in a bogey-free 17 under par.
“The first round actually was not a bad round of golf,” he said. “I had a lot of opportunities for birdies that round which I didn’t make.
“Even though I shot 74, I was hitting the ball well. I figured if I could just start making a few of the putts, I would get back in the golf tournament.”
Watson shot 67-66-67 the final three rounds, including a holed 9-iron shot from 132 yards for an eagle at the 435-yard par-4 seventh hole in the third round (he double bogeyed the hole in the first round).
“It drew back a little bit, hit the flag but stayed up,” Watson said Oct. 26. “Even with my bad eyes, I still thought I saw the ball on the green there.”
Morgan, an Edmond, Okla., resident, started the final round tied with Watson at 9 under. The pair was tied at 12 under through nine holes Sunday. On the back nine, Watson birdied Nos. 13 and 17, while Morgan bogeyed No. 16 and birdied No. 18.
“The bogey at 16 really hurt,” said Morgan, who won this event in 1997 and was runner-up in 1998. “I just didn’t feel like I played as well as he did coming down the stretch and that was the biggest difference.”