Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Duel in the Sun, Watson Puts Young Guns in the Shade; the Veteran, Who Won His Open Clash with Nicklaus in 1977, Was Back to His Best Today. David Smith and Ben Hunt Report from Turnberry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After Duel in the Sun, Watson Puts Young Guns in the Shade; the Veteran, Who Won His Open Clash with Nicklaus in 1977, Was Back to His Best Today. David Smith and Ben Hunt Report from Turnberry

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith and Ben Hunt report

TOM WATSON revealed how a timely reminder of his victory in one of the greatest-ever major golf championships inspired him to a sensational five-under-par 65 for the clubhouse lead in The Open here today. In 1977 Watson outgunned Jack Nicklaus to win by one shot on the last green at Turnberry in an Open that went down in history as the Duel in the Sun.

Before teeing off in perfect conditions today, Watson (left) received a text message from Nicklaus's wife Barbara and that lifted the five-time Open champion.

The 59-year-old said: "There was something slightly spiritual about today. I received a text from Barbara Nicklaus. She said she had seen a picture of me practising over here and that I looked very good. She also wished me good luck.

"I texted her back and said we really missed her and it was not the same without Jack playing in the tournament. After that, I think there was some spirituality out there."

Watson's five under par gave him a one-shot clubhouse lead over compa-triots Steve Stricker and Stewart Cink, Australia's John Senden and Mathew Goggin, and Colombian Camilo Villegas. And he believes he can continue to tame the links course and possibly see his name engraved once again upon the Claret Jug.

"I feel inspired playing here," said Watson. "A lot of it has to do with just being in the presence of Turnberry again. I feel I'm playing well enough to win. It doesn't feel a whole lot out of the ordinary from 32 years ago, except that I don't have the confidence in my putting as I had back then. But then, a few of them might go in."

Watson admitted that the benign conditions on the Ailsa course helped him. He said: "She was defenceless. She played with no wind and it was an easy test, if you can have an easy test in a major championship."

For all that, the enormity of Watson's achievement was underlined by the fact his 16-year-old playing partner, Matteo Manassero, was born 15 years after the Duel.

The Italian qualified as the youngest player to win the Amateur Champion-shiin the 124-year history of that tournament, and he impressed Watson with his one over par round of 71.

"I really liked the way he played his game," said the eight-time major champion. "He has a fine swing, and I wish I had his putting stroke."

In front of packed galleries, Watson was cheered every step of the way and his performance completely overshadowed that of Tiger Woods who lost his cool in his search for a 15th major.

The world No1 hurled his club down after one poor shot and headed straight back to the driving range following his desperate opening round of one over that included four bogeys. …

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