For a brief moment this afternoon, I saw pigs starting to fly outside of my window. I could swear that one of them was cruising along at about four to five feet off of the ground at one point, and almost looked like it was going to really move. But then, like Icarus, it came crashing to the ground in flames.
That’s a fancy way of saying that I just watched 59-year-old Tom Watson do the almost unthinkable and lead the British Open as he was walking up 18, only to then see him leave his par putt to win the championship woefully short and then fall apart in the four-hole playoff. Congratulations to Stewart Cink, your 2009 British Open champion. You jerk.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this - Watson was supposed to find a way to make his par and complete the most incredible 72 holes in golf history. But instead, it turned into an amazing 71 holes and a very painful to watch five holes. The moment that Watson drew his putter back for his eight-foot par putt, it seemed like he remembered that he’s 59, and suddenly the putter became as heavy as a ton of bricks, and there was no way he could get the putt close to the hole. It was dead short all the way.
From there, it was pretty much the inevitable happening: I think we’ve learned throughout the last few days (and decades) that Watson has an incredible reserve of mental toughness, but I don’t think anyone could recover from the disappointment of seeing the Claret Jug slip through your fingers like sand through the hourglass.
OK, I’ll stop with the flowery prose now: once he missed the putt on 18, he was done. Which handed the championship to Stewart Cink, who you probably didn’t even know was in the tournament until he made a birdie on 18 to take the clubhouse lead at two under just before Watson’s teed off. In fact, here’s all I know about Cink based on ABC’s coverage:
- He missed an two-foot putt that would have won the U.S. Open
- He has more than 500,000 Twitter followers
- He’s tall (6′4″ to be exact)
Not that I can blame ABC: even in defeat, Watson was the story of the tournament. What he did for four days was truly mind-boggling, and a reminder that while he’s not Tiger and he wasn’t part of the Big Three, he deserves recognition as one of the game’s true greats.
And I hope Stewart Cink feels great, knowing he beat a 59-year-old with an artificial hip. Jerk.