Duel in the Sun: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the Battle of Turnberry

By Michael Corcoran | Go to book overview

FIVE

ARNOLD PALMER CROSSED THE ATLANTIC IN 1960 IN search of glory at St. Andrews. In 1962, Jack Nicklaus went to Troon to fulfill his own dream and the dreams of others. When Tom Watson made his first trip to the Open Championship, he was a man in search of a tee time. Upon arriving at Carnoustie in 1975, Watson decided he would play his first practice round on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday start of the championship. His play on the American tour had earned Watson an exemption into the championship proper, so he had three days to become familiar with the course, or so he thought. When he arrived at the starter’s hut by the first tee on Sunday, he was informed he could not play the course. It was reserved that day for players who had made it through local qualifying. The man who informed Watson of the situation was none other than Keith Mackenzie.

It’s a bit ironic that Mackenzie had spent countless hours over the years trying to persuade young American golfers to play in the Open, and here he had one standing directly in front of him and was forced to tell him he could not accommodate him for the moment. On Watson’s part, there was more than just irony involved; he was a bona fide contender for the Open Championship title. Earlier in the year he won the Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, and his play at Augusta National and the U.S. Open at Medinah, where he held the thirty-six-hole lead, were clear markers that he could play well enough to win one of the game’s big championships. Despite his increasingly solid play, however, Watson’s chances were mitigated by the fact that he had never played a single hole of links golf before arriving at Carnoustie. His countless rounds on Pebble Beach’s seaside layout may have been scenic, but they amounted to little more than extremely beautiful target golf. (During an interview for this book, Watson was emphatic when he said, “Pebble Beach is not a links course.” It did, however, play firm and fast when Watson played it during his college days, before excessive irrigation of golf courses became the norm.)

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Duel in the Sun: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the Battle of Turnberry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Prologue 1
  • One 3
  • Two 25
  • Three 49
  • Four 66
  • Five 83
  • Six 109
  • Seven 130
  • Eight 149
  • Nine 158
  • Ten 175
  • Afterword 201
  • Acknowledgments 214
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