I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed in my media brethren than Sunday when watching Tom Watson’s post-British Open news conference in Turnberry, Scotland.
For some reason, not all golf writers and broadcasters — people trained the last several years to worship the ground Tiger Woods walks on — considered 59-year-old Watson’s remarkable runner-up finish extraordinary.
One incredibly stupid reporter asked Watson if in retrospect — considering “Tom Terrific” missed an eight-foot putt on No. 18 for the victory, only to implode in a four-hole playoff — he actually wished he hadn’t played so well all weekend.
What the reporter meant to say was, “Grandpa, considering the way you choked it away, don’t you wish you’d led after a round, blown up in Round Two, failed to make the cut, then headed back to Kansas City and the Senior Tour where you belong?”
Watson — who is one of the most gracious legends in sports (that one questioner might check out Tom’s Wikipedia entry someday) — answered the question splendidly.
Watson said that despite his bitter disappointment, he was thrilled to have been in the hunt all weekend, the favorite to win after 71 holes. No, he didn’t wish he’d flopped early, just because he appeared to choke on the eight-footer, then ran out of gas during a playoff with the gracious Stewart Cink.
Watson said he was invigorated by the experience, the feeling of being in contention on the big-boys’ tour again.
Some media speculated Watson winning somehow would have cheapened the sport of golf, that no 59-year-old has any business beating the young guns.
Watson’s story over the weekend was the best thing to happen to golf since the start of Tigermania.
A long forgotten golf legend came out of nowhere to give all the younguns of the sport a real run.
To ask Watson if he wished he had never put himself in position to win, just because he ultimately lost, goes against everything we should all love about sports.
You try as hard as you can and let the chips — I mean putts — fall where they may.
Watson competed as hard as he could. He blew it on No. 72.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t happy to be in position to win on No. 72.
That classless, stupid reporter has not heard the old saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
Watson played it magnificently over the weekend. That he didn’t win was crushing. That he was in position to win was uplifting, overpowering, overwhelming.