Sunday, July 19, 2009


Tom Watson was the story in sports this weekend. And, as he's been throughout his career, Tom was and is “ours.”

To Kansas Citians, Watson has long been our third professional franchise—and, to many, he’s been the #1 franchise versus the up-and-down feelings of the locals for the Chiefs and the Royals. Watson was raised in Kansas City, learned the game here from his father and local teaching pro Stan Thirsk and, after becoming a PGA Tour pro, stayed in Kansas City when his contemporaries migrated to warm-weather climes to hone their games.

Watson has unabashedly been a fan of the Royals and the Chiefs, has worked hard to get a Champions Tour event located in Kansas City, has designed two notable golf courses in this area and, perhaps most importantly to Kansas Citians, stood up to a local country club when they denied membership to a prominent Jewish businessman.

Today, around this city, activities stopped to take in the spectacle of Watson--he of age close to 60 and the newly replaced hip--striding around the links of Turnberry doing battle with men half his age and younger. Watson, written off early when he bogeyed two of the first three holes, hung tough, showed the mental fortitude that he was known for in his prime, and held the lead alone heading into the 18th hole. And, while those watching will say it was the putt for the win that betrayed him, it was actually his shot #275 of the tournament which did him in. Watson chose to hit an 8-iron and absolutely smoked a gorgeous shot which hit in front of the green and headed towards the flagstick. What Watson hadn't calculated was the firmness of the ground around the green as it kept going and going--past the hole, past the fringe and settling ever-so-slightly into the rough. That bit of bad luck, as if the Gods of Turnberry were saying "not this year, Toom" in their Scottish accent, caused Watson to putt from the fringe, beginning a pair of poorly struck putts which cost him the tournament.

Hearts sank across this town--it was hard to watch our hero fail after flirting with one, final improbable major title. Yet, in the sadness came the realization that Watson had provided us with the local sports story of the summer...that once again, he was "our" story which was being shared internationally given the magnitude of the Open Championship.

"Our" Tom Watson...epitomized by this personal story from several years ago. I was attending a PGA Tour event and encountered another Kansas Citian who immediately asked “How’s our boy doing?” I knew right away who he met—he was talking about Watson...“our” Tom Watson.

Thanks, Tom, for reviving so many great memories this weekend…and for being “ours.”

No comments:

Post a Comment