Ace keeps Tom Watson around for weekend

July, 15, 2011

SANDWICH, England -- Watching a television show about Open Championship venues Friday morning, Tom Watson came to see the ace made by legendary Gene Sarazen at age 71 during the 1973 tournament at Royal Troon.

At the famed "Postage Stamp" eighth hole, Sarazen knocked a 5-iron shot into the cup for a hole-in-one.

"Maybe that's what inspired me today," Watson said of the ace he made at the par-3 sixth hole during the second round of the Open Championship at Royal St. George's.

Watson said it was the 15th hole-in-one he has made. The PGA Tour said it was his fifth in tour events but first at the Open Championship.

"Probably one of my most favorite was at Oakmont in 1969, I was playing in the U.S. Amateur, and I got off to a very bad start, 4 over par for the first seven holes, and the eighth hole was a 230-yard par-3," he said.

"You know how long that thing is, and I hit a 3-iron in the hole. Then I birdied the next hole to get back to 1 over par and ended up shooting 75 in the first round, and that's really a tough golf course. And that kind of got me back in the tournament. And I ended up qualifying for the Masters by finishing fifth."

Watson used a 4-iron Friday on a hole that was playing just longer than 160 yards.

"Old guys hit 4-irons 160 yards into the wind," said Watson, 61, who shot 70 to complete 36 holes at 142, 2 over par.

That put him on the fringe of contention despite his age.

"I guess I refuse to be a ceremonial player, and until that time comes, then I'll hang them up," said Watson, who has won the Open five times and famously came close two years ago at Turnberry, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink. "If I was putting a little bit better, I'd give myself at least an outside chance, let's put it that way."

Bob Harig covers golf for He can be reached at

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer




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