For the 13th time in his career -- 13th! -- Tom Watson shot his age or better, opening the 2019 US Senior Open with a 1-under 69.
“It's always a hoot shooting your age, especially in the U.S. Senior Open,” said Watson. “That's pretty cool. You know, I was very happy about that.”
Watson said he made a tweak on the eve of the championship that seemed to click on Thursday at Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
“Yeah, I figured something out yesterday,” said Watson, who trails the co-leaders by seven shots. “Who knows whether it'll work for me tomorrow. I worked on my putting, and I changed something on my approach to my putting, and that seemed to work pretty well today. I made some good putts today. They were good, solid putts, and that's what I liked about it.”
Watson did it playing alongside Tom Kite, who is also 69, and Retief Goosen, who, at 50, is bombing is well past both players.
For his part, Goosen was impressed.
“Tom played really well. He's very consistent. It's amazing,” Goosen said. “Hopefully when I'm his age, I'll be shooting that kind of score.”
Since Watson has done this now 13 times in his career, and Watson turns 70 in September, it averages out to a little more than once per year for the last decade that Watson has bested his age. In fact, the last time Watson did this was January, when Watson matched or beat his age in two of three rounds at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii. This being Watson's sixth event of the year, Watson has beat his age in three of 16 rounds played in 2019.
Among the five senior majors, Watson last shot his age or better last year, when he shot 68 in the second round of the Senior Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Watson first beat his age on PGA Tour Champions in 2014, shooting a 63 in the second round of the Toshiba Classic. He did it again in 2015. He did it three times, including twice in the Shaw Charity Classic, in 2016. He tacked on another such round in 2017, and then he did it three more times in 2018 in 20 total rounds played.
The seven-time major winner's longevity is a marvel. However, he is well shy of being the golfer to most prolifically shoot their age of better on PGA Tour Champions. Hale Irwin, who holds the record for the most PGA Tour Champions wins, has shot his age of better 42 times on the 50-plus circuit.