TOM WATSON was talking up his chances at the 2012 Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney in December during a teleconference with local media this week.
While speculating his Open visit may be his last to Australian shores, the 62 year old eight-time Major champion said he was returning to form after recovering from injury and working on his swing.
“I think it’s worth a few dollars on me,’’ Watson said. “What are my odds now?’’
Watson won the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne in 1984 but hasn’t visited Australia in more than a decade.
“I’ve always held that win in the highest of esteem. It was the fifth major at that time,” Watson told Australian golf writers.
He also revealed he has looking to mimic an Australian golfing great of late.
[quote]“…my body can’t turn as well [as it used to]. I have visions of the way Peter Thomson swung the golf club, that nice compact swing…”[/quote]
“It’s one of the things my dad told me when I was just a kid: ‘Son, you’ve got to shorten your golf swing!’ I’ve taken it to heart right now, probably because my body can’t turn as well. I have visions of the way Peter Thomson swung the golf club, that nice compact swing, short of parallel.’’
Watson will join marquee players including Justin Rose and Adam Scott at the Open from December 6 to 9.
He intends playing a practice round with Scott on the Tuesday of that week, admitting he “felt sick for several days’’ after watching the Queenslander implode on the final four holes to forfeit his chance of his first major win at the British Open championship in July.
But he backed Scott’s ability to bounce back. “I think it fortifies him. I’ve always thought that and I’ve made the comment that in the early part of my career I choked away a bunch of tournaments. They asked me about it later in my career and I said ‘I’ve learned to win by losing. I learned to win by failing and correcting my errors’. I don’t think there were many players practised more than I did, but one of the things I did was always practise after a round of competition. I went out to practise, try to correct the errors I made at the golf course that particular day.
“I did what I could to banish the shot that I didn’t perform well. As a result I think over time that built a certain level of confidence in my ability to perform under pressure. Rory McIlroy said it great this year. He won in America and they asked him ‘what’s different now than it was last year?’ He said: ‘Well, I’m more comfortable under pressure’. The more you put yourself in that position and win or lose, the better you’re going to be the next time. That’s the way I’ve always thought.’’
Watson said he had studied The Lakes layout and noted that it was not monstrous in length and should suit his game. He says he remains competitive with the younger players, but only on the right course.
“My caddie Neil Oxman has been trying to prod me to play a lot of different events other than Senior events. Try before I can’t play a lick any more, go ahead and play against the kids. This opportunity arose and I jumped at it. I wanted to come to Australia again and play possibly my final tournament there. I wanted to continue to do that again until I can’t play a lick anymore against the kids. Who knows when that’s going to be. It’ll be there, but I certainly don’t think it’s there now.’’
Watson backs moves to ban long putter
Watson also weighed in on controversial moves to ban long putters, saying he agrees with the proposed action
“I think what they’re going to do, and it is kind of common knowledge, is that the USGA and R & A are going to ban the anchoring of the putter on any part of the body,” he said.
“To me I have never felt the broomstick putter was a stroke of golf. I may be in the minority but one of the things you see in teaching golf here in America, is a lot of kids are being taught to use the long putter.
“I think it probably gives you an advantage. I have tried it once. I hit three putts with it from about 40 feet. I left the first one 20 feet short, hit it fat. I knocked my next putt about 15 feet by finally the third putt I hit kind of the right distance. That’s the extent of my practice with the broomstick.”
Watson said the long putter provided a clear advantage to its users because it helped keep the club still through the stroke.
“There are definite advantages with it because you take it back and basically the pendulum and weight of the putter will take it through the impact area,” he said. “There is really no chance to jerk it too much if you keep it pretty still.”