Nicklaus firmly on friend’s side
TURNBERRY, Scotland - Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus starred in the famous “Duel in the Sun,’’ one of the most compelling final rounds in major championship history.
Thirty-two years later, one of them has a chance to win another British Open at Turnberry at age 59.
Watson, already the oldest man to lead any round of any major, will try to join Harry Vardon with a record six British Open titles and become the oldest player to win a major championship.
A victory would come 26 years after Watson last won a major, the longest gap in golf history.
“Whether or not Tom plays well tomorrow, whether or not he wins, it doesn’t make a difference,’’ Nicklaus said. “Of course, we would all love to see Tom win, but what he has accomplished already is a phenomenal achievement.’’
Nicklaus was 46 when he won the Masters in 1986, shooting a 30 on the back nine. He was 58 when he made a Sunday charge at Augusta National before he tied for sixth.
“The thing Tom will realize is that this golf course is not very easy,’’ he said. “No matter what everybody else does [today], they will make mistakes. He will, too. And he knows that. The key for him is to just not let the mistakes multiply or manifest themselves into a bad hole. If Tom plays smart golf [today], he is the favorite. And I do not anticipate him playing anything but smart golf.’’
Nicklaus said he and his wife, Barbara, will be rooting for Watson to win. The Golden Bear also said he sent Watson a text message, although he needed some help.
“Barbara sent to Tom my very first text, ever,’’ Nicklaus said. “Barbara has been texting him all week, but that was my first.’’
As for the message?
“That is just something between the two of us,’’ Nicklaus said. “He’ll have to tell you.’’