T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Captain Watson closes Open with 68
Tom Watson, the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, never ceases to amaze.
In 2009, at the age of 59, he very nearly won the Open Championship for a sixth time, coming up just short in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
Fast forward five years to today and the final round of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Did the 64-year-old Watson contend? No. But his 4-under 68 -- his best round of the week by five shots -- was impressive.
Watson bogeyed his opening hole on Sunday. That was the only blemish on his card. He went on to collect birdies on Nos. 2, 5, 7, 16 and 18. For good measure, the birdie at 18 was from short range after Watson teased the crowds with an eagle putt.
Watson is a lot of things: an eight-time major champion, a gentleman, a fiery competitor, but -- above all -- he's an inspiration.
Let's get this straight -- 64 is not old. Not these days. Even still, a person over the age of 60 shouldn't be doing the things Watson continues to do.
Just a couple of months back at the Senior PGA Championship, Watson shot a 65 in the final round. You'd think he'd be delighted after such a fine round. Instead, he was irked by a hole where he missed a putt that ruined the chance to have his score match his age and talked about how much better the round could have been had his putter been working.
The assembled media laughed. Watson was serious.
Few men have accomplished more in the game than Watson. Only five players -- Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (14), Walter Hagen (11), Ben Hogan (9) and Gary Player (9) -- have been more successful in majors.
At an age where he should be able to relax and look back proudly on an amazing career, Watson instead continues to grind on the range to find that one little swing thought or move that will make him better.
Watson should be cherished.
He's going to finish this Open as low Watson (the two-time Masters champ, Bubba Watson, missed the cut), low "TW" (Tiger Woods will finish well behind Watson) and several shots ahead of Martin Kaymer, runaway winner of the U.S. Open just a few weeks ago.
Impressive stuff when you consider the man won his first Open Championship in 1975 -- before an overwhelming majority of this year's Open field were even born.