Senior Open: Tom Watson returns to scene of one of his greatest triumphs
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 25/07/13 1:40pm
Tom Watson will play in the Senior Open at Royal Birkdale 30 years after he won The Open there.
Tom Watson is relishing a return to Royal Birkdale and the scene of one of his greatest triumphs, for what he says will be a true major test in the Senior Open Championship.
Watson claimed the Claret Jug at Birkdale in 1983, and is this week looking to claim the Senior's version at the same track for the same time - having already won the Open and Senior Open at both Turnberry and Muirfield.
63-year-old Watson is thrilled to be back at Birkdale, for what he says will prove to be every bit as much of a test as a regular Open.
"The great thing about the Senior Open Championship is where we play - we play on the great links golf courses," Watson told Sky Sports News. "If you don't want to play golf there you don't want to play golf.
"The test we're going to face this week at Birkdale is going to be a real test - a major test.
"The difficult think about playing links golf is the uncertainty, you never know where the ball is going to end up or what bounce you're going to get, because you have to play the bounces - that's the beauty of this game the way it's played on these courses.
"You always get a great thrill out of hitting a shot the right distance - if you hit it pin high you've done something."
Watson is one of a growing number of senior players playing on both tours and pushing the youngster all the way in major championships - especially in the Open
Phil Mickelson's win at Muirfield made it three straight winners of the Claret Jug to be in their 40s, and Watson says that experience is key - although older players will find it hard to last four rounds of a major.
"It takes a while to learn golf courses and what it takes to win a major championship. I was very impressed with Phil last week. The way he played the last eight holes there was marvellous, he hit every shot right, hit the putts and said ok this is mine.
"We old guys, look at last week Mark O'Meara shot 66, Tom Lehman shot 67 right off the bat. I equate that to horse racing, we're great quarter horses, but in the long haul the thoroughbred has to run, we probably don't have that but the short haul we can still do it."
Just being back at Birkdale conjures up the memories of his Open triumph, and Watson would love to recreate his famous Open victory of 1983.
"It'd be a wonderful feeling if that would happen when I was walking up this hole as I did 30 years ago with the chance to win another championship here," he added.
"This is a special place and one of the places when people ask me about my greatest shots - this was one of them right here in 1983 when I hit a two iron the best I could hit a two iron in those conditions.
"I had to hit a good shot and I hit a great shot."