It was supposed to be Tom Watson’s moment at the media centre on Wednesday as he appeared for what is his final Open pre-event press conference, but it did not take much time for the Phil Mickelson question to be asked.
The left-handed American had torn apart Watson’s captaincy during last year’s Ryder Cup 16.5-11.5 loss at Gleneagles. He had praised the captaincy of Paul Azinger in 2008, and alluded that Watson was not all-inclusive in his decision making.
The 65-year-old Watson, who is making his last Open appearance, said: “That was a disappointment to me. Phil was very disappointed about not being able to play.
“It was kind of sour grapes. That’s understandable, and we just got waxed, the whole team, and the disappointment was just there. We let our hearts talk for us.
“I did everything I possibly could in my own mind, with the help of my vice-captains and the PGA, to do everything possible to have us win, but the other team were better.”
Watson, who came close to adding a sixth Claret Jug to his collection in 2009 at Turnberry before making a bogey on the final hole and finishing second to Stewart Cink, is geared up for an emotional farewell to the tournament, but said with steely determination: “This is not a ceremony at all. I’m trying to compete against these players out here.
“People have asked me this week how I am going to feel and I really don’t know how I’m going to feel. We have a few housefuls of friends and family coming over for my last Open and we are planning a big party on Friday night.
“I hope that will be just halfway through my four rounds that I am going to play and that we will have a good last get-together at the Open Championship.”
Watson is also going to announce that next year’s Masters would be his last trip to Augusta National as a competitor.
“The tool box is kind of half empty with the tools I used to use to play good golf. Some of those tools are missing right now and some are a little rusty, rusty like me. That’s kind of where I am,” said the man who won his first Open in 1975 in Carnoustie.
“I am also going to announce that next year will be my last Masters. I’m not going to play there any more after, even though I would be eligible to play. The golf course is too big for me with my declining skills and length.”
Meanwhile, Arnold Palmer returned for only his second shot of the year but that was enough to motivate his team to victory at the Champions Golfers’ Challenge.
Palmer only hit the tee shot on the first of the four-hole challenge, and said: “I’m going to hit this and it will be my second shot this year.”
His teammates, Darren Clarke, Bill Rogers and Paul Lawrie, finished on three-under par, but claimed the £100,000 prize for charity as they had the highest average age.
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