Ten years ago, at Turnberry, a miracle almost happened. Almost because on the 18th hole, on Sunday, Tom Watson could not make the pair that would have made him, at 59, the oldest winner in a major in the history of golf. The American failed in all his blows and ended up in a playoff to four holes that won the Open to Stewart Cink. Watson stayed at the door of a unique feat. The previous mark of longevity, still in force, is the 48 years with which Julius Boros achieved the PGA of 1968. The American would have destroyed it with 59, 26 seasons after his last victory in the Grand Slam, in 1983, his fifth Open , his big eighth.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez led that Open after Thursday's session with -6, one ahead of Watson, Ben Curtis and the Japanese Kuboya. Watson shared first place after Friday with -5 with Steve Marino, and ended Saturday with an advantage (-4) over Ross Fisher and Matthew Goggin. On Sunday he had the victory in hand until that hole 18 in which he lost the street, went green and ended up failing a putt two meters. Cink did birdie. Watson, bogey. When the tiebreaker arrived, the veteran was already defeated. The old, as Sergio García affectionately called him, he had to encourage even the winner, in a way guilty of having ruined a very great story. That afternoon, Seve Ballesteros and Chema Olazabal saw the day together at the home of the Spaniard in Pedreña.
"I remember the great affection of the people," says Watson, who turns 70 in September and in those days after his defeat received thousands of letters and emails telling him that his example was an inspiration to many. The following week he returned to the senior circuit. It was one of those times when the loser is more remembered than the winner.
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