Nostalgia ruled the week in St. Andrews, where the old guys took on the Old Course for the first time in the history of the Senior British Open.
The Home of Golf was visually mesmerizing as always, five-time British Open champion Tom Watson shot his age in Round 2, and when it was all said and done, Miguel Angel Jimenez held on for his second major victory of the season.
The 54-year-old Spaniard birdied No. 12 to take a three-shot advantage in the final round, but the lead was down to one by the time he got to No. 17. He managed to make par while facing a tough up-and-down at the Road Hole, rolling in a 12-footer.
“It was very important to come here with a one-shot lead going into the last hole,” Jimenez said.
Another par followed at 18 and Jimenez sparked a victory stogey soon after. He shot 12-under 276 for the week, one better than runner-up Bernhard Langer. Scott McCarron, Stephen Ames and Kirk Triplett finished T-3 at 10 under.
The British Open always means a little more at St. Andrews and that’s especially true for the seniors, with so many memories made around the storied links. Watson won four of his five titles in Scotland but never at the Old Course, though he made a new memory Friday with a 4-under 68 to shoot his age and get into the mix.
Watson led outright at one point in Round 3 before fading to a T-21 finish.
“There is just the feeling that I get when I play here,” Watson said. “The crowds are wonderful to me and I respect them. It has been a good career. I am not calling it off right now, but I’m just saying, I am towards the end of my career and it is always great to play championship golf, especially at St. Andrews.”
Piggybacking off Francesco Molinari’s British Open victory at nearby Carnoustie the week prior, the buzz for an Open at St. Andrews far exceeded that of past senior major tournaments. It was too good to miss for some, including Golf Channel analyst and former Tour pro Brandel Chamblee. He returned after more than a decade away from competitive golf and took co-medalist honors for Monday qualifying at Scotscraig ahead of a 77-75 missed cut at St. Andrews.
Those who stuck around for the weekend put on a good show, with Langer shooting 4-under 68 in the final round to nearly force a playoff. The 2017 Senior British Open champion won three majors a year ago but has just one victory all together this season, at the Insperity Invitational in May.
“Miguel played an awesome four days of golf, and he’s a very well-deserved winner,” Langer said. “I was pretty happy overall. It wasn’t easy in some of the conditions we had.”
Jimenez has a way of making it look easy, especially the whole life thing. When drinking and smoking are counted as fun, charming attributes, you’ve done something right. And when you’re the last man standing as twilight approaches St. Andrews, consciousness begins to set in.
“This is the place where everyone wants to win, and the place where Seve won his second British Open,” Jimenez said. “It has always been my ambition to win here. It feels like I am part of history.” Gwk