Tom Watson will be aiming to become the oldest winner of the Open Championship at Turnberry on Sunday as he carries a one-shot lead going into the final round.
The 59-year-old American, a winner of eight Majors and five Open Championships from 1975-1983, showed genuine emotion on the 18th green of the Ailsa Course on Saturday after completing his third round, admitting the occasion perhaps got the better of him at the scene of his second Open win 32 years ago.
“It was kind of emotional out there, I looked at Ox [Neil Oxman], my caddie, after I hit my shot into the green on 18, I handed him the club and said: ‘Bruce [Bruce Edwards, Watson’s former caddie who passed away in 2004] is with us today.’ He said: ‘Don’t make me cry.’ He started crying, and I started crying.”
Watson, whose opening round of 65 propelled him to the top of the leaderboard on Thursday, has remained in contention following a second-round level-par 70 and Saturday’s 71. His game has been characterised by a series of stunning long-range putts, as well as his ability to hit the narrow Ailsa fairways with staggering consistency.
“I made some great pars today, which you have to do on a windy day at Turnberry. Tomorrow maybe I can go out there and complete the game plan and do what I think I have to do to win the tournament.
“The first day here, you let the old geezer have his day in the sun, the second day, you say ‘well that’s okay’ and then after today, you kind of perk up your ears and say ‘well this old geezer may have a chance to win the tournament’.
Throughout the week, Watson has made mention of the ‘spiritual’ influence that Turnberry could have on his game, claiming the memories of his Open win in 1977 here and his record on links courses will always be with him.
“Links golf is a fabric of my life,” he said.
If he wins, Watson will surpass Old Tom Morris as the competition’s oldest winner, who won at nearby Prestwick in 1867 at the age of 46.