There are moments in life when a person’s past meets their present, giving others pause to appreciate one’s extraordinary accomplishments all while realizing their mortality.
For golfer Tom Watson that moment came on a Friday in mid-July, standing alone atop the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews.
This was his farewell to a tournament – the British Open – that he had dominated like no other for nearly a decade, starting in 1975. That is when he lifted his first claret jug at Carnoustie at a time when such an accomplishment for the five-year pro was considered improbable. But Watson won, prompting SI’s Dan Jenkins to proclaim that, “Another authentic American hero was born.”
Two years later, Watson took part in the storied Duel in the Sun, besting the great Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry to claim his second Open title. “That was the most significant victory of my career because that was when I finally believed I could play with the big boys,” Watson said. “I played against the best, with the best, and I beat the best.”
Watson would win the Open three more times in 1980 (Muirfield), 1982 (Royal Troon) and 1983 (Royal Birkdale), nearly winning another in 1984 in a heartbreaking loss to Seve Ballesteros. A win would have tied him with Harry Vardon’s six Open victories.
By 1984, Watson’s name would forever be etched in golf lore. His streak included a Master’s championship, a U.S. Open victory along with 28 other tournament wins.
Fast forward to last month and the scene of 65-year-old Watson walking his final 18, amid standing ovations at every hole, made fans everywhere think of that younger Watson, the one who was synonymous with golf greatness.
And as he stood on Swilcan Bridge, waiving his cap, it was a reminder that excellence does not last forever. Time is fleeting. But from 1975 to 1983, there was none better than Tom Watson.
In honor of Tom Watson and those who strive to be like him, we are offering a 20% discount on all our golf sunglasses through the end of summer (September 23). Just use the code TW2015 when checking out. So what are you waiting for? Hit the course. #BeYourOwnIcon.
Words of an Icon: “I guess I have never been much of a complainer. You just take what is given you, and don’t complain about what you can’t affect.” – Tom Watson