He’s a year older than I am and he damned near won the British Open. I was so stunned, I could hardly watch it. I had taped it and somehow hadn’t heard the results, so I found myself on the couch after teaching a writing workshop watching and cheering and moaning and then, as he was ahead by one shot going into the last hole, sitting in stunned disbelief.
Now understand, I used to play professional golf mostly back in the 1970s, and I even had a dream about trying for the Seniors Tour back a decade ago that ended with me putting far, far worse than that last putt of Tom’s on the 18th green on the 72nd hole. Back then I took lessons from a touring pro, I practiced every day, but the more I practiced, the worse I got and the more frustrated I got, and the worse my putting got until one day it all ended for me with a hard slap of reality. I quit golf, basically, at the age of 49. Sure, I’ve played a bunch since then, and actually really, really enjoy the game. Frustration is gone and I figured out how to solve my putting problems. With a new driver I hit the ball farther and straighter than I ever did in my youth, now pumping them just around the 300 yard distance. Not bad for an old guy at 58, almost 59. And I still have my share of birdies, a ton of pars and far less really ugly holes than I used to have. I have my putting fixed, now putting with my back and shoulders instead of those nasty dead nerves in my hands, and that, honestly, makes things a lot more fun.
But even with all that fixed and the fact that I’m back enjoying the game, I would have never thought that someone a year older than I am could stand up under the stress and pressure of a British Open. As one announcer said, all of the players Tom’s age have already retired from the SENIORS Tour.
But I can tell you that now the idea of running a marathon seems a lot more realistic. In four days Tom Watson walked farther than marathon length, over rolling hills, under intense pressure, making good shot after good shot, and beat everyone in the world but one, and that one he tied in regulation play.
Thank you, Tom, for making it clear to a whole bunch of us old farts out here that sports and physical activity can still be possible, maybe not at the quality and ability you showed, but at our own levels and for our own reasons.
And while Tom was playing that fantastic golf in Scotland, a man in Portland climbed into a Nascar race and got 13th out of 26. He was 81 years old.
Can I run a marathon at the age of 60? Sure. I now have no doubts. Thanks, Tom.
Down three pounds since my last post and doing fine. Buying new pants will be required shortly.