With tip of the cap and ball toss into the ocean Tom Watson plays likely final US Open round

By Tim Booth, AP
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Watson says farewell to Open at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Tom Watson got backed up on the 17th tee, giving his fans time to offer all sorts of advice about the hole he famously birdied in 1982.

“The play is to the left of the green Tommy,” one fan said.

“I would just like the hit the green once,” Watson answered.

The 60-year-old former Open champ at Pebble Beach likely played his final U.S. Open round on Sunday. Watson couldn’t replicate the magic of a year ago at Turnberry, his sterling first-round at Augusta earlier this year or Friday’s second round when an even-par 71 gave Watson two more rounds on the course he loves.

Watson shot a 5-over 76 on Sunday to finish 11 over for the tournament. For a brief time on the front nine, Watson hovered around the top 15, but Watson made too many mistakes on his final nine. His most likely route to any Opens in the future would be by winning the U.S. Senior Open.

“There is a lot of sadness today,” Watson said. “It’s based on a lot of great memories I’ve had here. It may very well be my last time playing Pebble in a championship of this caliber. Probably so.”

Greeted by standing ovations everywhere he went, Watson overcame his own emotions on the 18th green. Following a perfect bunker shot to just a few feet, Watson let a short birdie putt slip past. He twirled home the par attempt before giving the ball back to Stillwater Cove one last time with a heave.

“I thought it was very fitting, kind of the end of a career at the Open,” said his son Michael, who carried his bag this week. “It was kind of a thank you.”

Watson received a special exemption from the USGA to get one more time around the course where he won his only U.S. Open 28 years ago. For much of the first three days, Watson’s goal was remaining competitive.

On Sunday, he took a moment to savior the experience and support of his fans.

“It was overwhelming today coming up the 18th hole. Just after I hit my 3-wood into the bunker it started to hit me,” Watson said. “It’s Father’s Day, with your son on the bag, that’s when it started hitting me. And the memories started to hit me again, and it’s just a wonderful feeling to be here at Pebble Beach.”

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