Tom Watson (born September 4, 1949) is an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour Champions, formerly on the PGA Tour….who in the 1970’s and 1980’s was one of the leading players in the world…. while winning eight major championships…..and winning the PGA leading money list five times…..as he was the # 1 player in the world according to McCormack’s World Golf Rankings from 1978 until 1982….whereas in both 1983 and 1984, he was ranked 2nd behind Seve Ballesteros.
Watson is also notable for his longevity….when at nearly 60 years of age….and 26 years after his last major championship victory….that is when he led after the 2nd and 3rd rounds of The Open Championship in 2009….but lost in a four-hole playoff…..where with a chance to win the tournament with par on the 72nd hole, he missed an 8-foot (2.4 m) putt and then lost to Stewart Cink in the playoff.
Several of Watson’s major victories came at the expense of Jack Nicklaus….who was the man he replaced as # 1…..with most notably the 1977 Masters, 1977 Open Championship and the 1982 U.S. Open…..and though his rivalry with Nicklaus was intense, their friendly competitiveness served to increase golf’s popularity during the time.
In Watson’s illustrious career, his eight major championships include five Open Championships, two Masters titles and one U.S. Open title….as the only major that has eluded him is the PGA Championship….which would put him in an elite group of golfing “career grand slam” winners that includes Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. In all, Watson’s eight majors ranks sixth on the list of total major championship victories, behind only Nicklaus, Woods, Walter Hagen, Hogan, and Player.