Open farewell tears almost elementary for Watson in 2015

Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:30pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - If the great Jack Nicklaus's British Open farewell at St Andrews nine years ago is anything to go by, expect an ocean of tears to be cried when Tom Watson bows out at the Home of Golf in 12 months' time.

The 64-year-old Watson has been given a special exemption by the R&A (Royal & Ancient) organizers to play at St Andrews in 2015 to mark the 40th anniversary of his maiden appearance in the event and the first of his five wins in golf's oldest major.

"When (chief executive) Peter Dawson said he would try to help out with a final exemption I had visions of playing when Arnold Palmer finished his career there," the United States Ryder Cup captain told reporters on Monday.

"I had real strong feelings about Jack Nicklaus in his final round in the Open at St Andrews," said a clearly emotional Watson.

"St Andrews is a very special place. People say it may not be the end but let's face it, it is probably going to be the end of my Open career.

"It means a great deal. I just hope I can hold back enough of the tears to look presentable."

Watson, who won the British Open in 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983, explained how deeply he was affected by the Scottish farewell of 18-times major champion Nicklaus.

"I was crying like a baby from the tee to the green on 18," he said. "Jack's the greatest player in the game, he means a great deal to me, he was the man I wanted to beat.   Continued...

U.S. golfer Tom Watson walks up the second fairway during the first round of the 2014 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young