(Reuters) – Tom Watson will make his final Senior British Open appearance on Sunday, he announced after the third round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on Saturday.
Watson, whose five Open championship victories put him just one shy of Harry Vardon’s record, also said he had played his last U.S. Senior Open.
“I’ve thought quite long and hard about the decision I’ve made. It has to do with really a pretty sensible assessment of how I play the game now,” the 69-year-old American told reporters at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
“I just don’t have enough tools in the toolbox to really compete successfully.
“So, therefore, I’m basically declaring now that this is my last Senior British Open Championship. And along those lines, I’m also going to hang up the spikes in the U.S. Senior Open.”
Watson said he no longer hit the ball far enough to compete with the 50-and-over senior players, let alone those on the regular tour.
Watson first competed in the British Open in 1975, and immediately captured the Claret Jug when he beat Australian Jack Newton in an 18-hole playoff at Carnoustie.
He also won the 1977 Open after the famous “duel in the sun” with Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry, and added further titles in 1980 (Muirfield), 1982 (Royal Troon) and 1983 (Royal Birkdale).
In 2009, at age 59, Watson had a golden chance to become by far the oldest ever major champion, only to bogey the final hole at Turnberry which pushed him into a playoff with Stewart Cink that he went on to lose.
Yet Watson does not rate 2009 as his biggest Open disappointment. Rather it was in 1994, also at Turnberry, where he started the final round one stroke from the lead but carded 74.
“Of course 2009 was a big disappointment but ’94 really hurt,” he said.
“That was probably the one that hurt the most at Turnberry.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Chadband)