PGA TOUR Major Victories
PGA TOUR Victories
Champions Tour Victories
Professional Career Wins
About Tom Watson
There are all sorts of numbers that explain why Tom Watson is one of golf’s iconic figures.
There are the eight major championships—including five British Open victories, two wins at the Masters and, arguably the most dramatic U.S. Open victory in history. There are also 39 PGA Tour wins, 14 additional wins world wide and 14 wins on the Champions Tour, six of them majors.
Wait, there’s more: At the age of 59, he came within inches of winning a sixth British Open—a victory that would have made him the oldest man by ELEVEN years to win a major title.
He was the PGA Tour player-of-the-year SIX times; the leading money winner FIVE times; won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on tour THREE times; won the season-long Schwab Cup race on the Champions Tour twice and is the only man in history to shoot at least one round of 67 or better in all four majors in FOUR decades. He also made at least one cut on tour—even after cutting back to a very limited schedule in 1999—for 37 straight years (1971-2007).
The numbers go on and on. And on.
But Watson’s place in the golf pantheon can’t be described just by citing numbers—no matter how impressive they might be.
Tom Watson’s true greatness is about intangibles, things you can’t quantify. He has a style and a grace that has to be seen and witnessed to be understood. Some of it is his will; his ability to do the impossible in the crucible of moments when history is being made: the chip-in at Pebble Beach in 1972, which many believe to be the most dramatic shot in golf history. The duel in the sun with Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977 when Nicklaus began the weekend tied with Watson, shot 65-66 and LOST by one shot to Watson’s 65-65. There was also the crucial birdie at 17 at Augusta earlier in 1977 that gave him the first of his two Masters victories.
But being truly great is never just about winning. Even the best of the best lose and it is how they deal with, as Kipling might put it, with that other ‘imposter,’ is what makes them truly special. Anyone can be gracious in victory. The athletes we remember forever are the ones who deal with defeat with equal grace.
Consider Watson’s opening comment to the media after his near-miss at Turnberry in 2009. “Nobody died fellas, it’s still just a golf tournament.”
Fifteen years earlier, after suffering a hugely disappointing loss on the final holes to Johnny Miller at the AT+T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Watson waited for Miller behind the 18th green. By then, Miller was a part-time player and a most-of-the-time TV commentator.
“Great playing,” Watson told Miller with a smile as they shook hands. “Now get back up in the booth where you belong!”
Fans loved to watch Watson because he plays fast and he never gives up—on a hole, a round or on a tournament. He became famous for ‘Watson pars,’ remarkable saves from places where bogey, double-bogey or worse seemed inevitable.
He is always courteous and honest with the media—treats everyone he comes in contact with respect and earns their respect and affection in return.
And, when his best friend and caddy for life Bruce Edwards, was struck down by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) Watson began working tirelessly to raise money for research to find a cure for, as he has always called it, ‘this damn disease.’ His efforts have raised millions and millions of dollars for research.
Even now, playing a limited schedule at the age of 66, he continues to amaze his peers. In 2015, he became the oldest man to break par in a round at the Masters (71) and shot 65-67 the last two rounds of the First Tee Challenge at Pebble Beach in September AVERAGING shooting his age for 36 holes.
He lives on a 400-acre farm outside of Kansas City with his wife Hilary and has two children (Meg and Michael) three step-children (Kyle, Kelly and Ross) and four grandchildren.
Watson’s name is in the first paragraph of any reckoning of golf’s greatest players. His extraordinary numbers put him there. But so do all those things that one must see—and hear—to understand. In the end, the number that best defines Tom Watson is one: he is, truly, one-of-a-kind.”
Born: September 4, 1949
Residence: Stillwell, Kansas
Wife: Hilary Watson
Education: Stanford University
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)