Golf doesn’t grant eternal life, but players can sometimes turn back the clock in their 50s and even their 60s – as Tom Watson is showing. Watson made the cut in the British Open on Friday at the age of 61, posting a 2-over-par score of 142 at Royal St. George’s. This, I’ll remind you, is after he finished T-18 in the Masters and T-29 in the U.S. Open last year at 60. (And the year before that, of course, he almost won the British at 59, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.)
Watson still has a ways to go, though, to become the greatest sixtysomething golfer of all time. Virginia’s own Sam Snead, after all, made the cut in eight majors after turning 60 – and placed in the top 10 in three of them. Here are the details:
● 1972 PGA (age: 60): T-4 with a score of 284 (4 over). Also shot the low final round, a 69. Finished three back of winner Gary Player.
● 1973 Masters (60): T-29 with a score of 296 (8 over). Finished 13 back of winner Tommy Aaron.
● 1973 U.S. Open (61): T-29 with a score of 295 (11 over). Finished 16 back of winner Johnny Miller.
● 1973 PGA (61): T-9 with a score of 284 (even par). Finished seven back of winner Jack Nicklaus.
● 1974 Masters (61): T-20 with a score of 286 (2 under). Finished eight back of the winner – Player again.
● 1974 PGA (62): T-3 with a score of 279 (1 under). Finished three back of winner Lee Trevino.
● 1977 PGA (65): T-54 with a score of 301 (13 over). Finished 19 back of winner Lanny Wadkins.
● 1979 PGA (67): T-42 with a score of 288 (8 over). Finished 16 back of winner David Graham.
That’s right, Slammin’ Sammy was still making cuts in majors when he was past retirement age. Let’s see Watson do that.
By the way, Nicklaus made only one cut in a major after his 60th birthday (tying for 54th in the 2000 Masters at 60). The same goes for Player (a 46th-place finish in the 1998 Masters at 62). The last cut Arnold Palmer made in a major, meanwhile, came at the age of 59 (in the 1989 PGA, where he tied for 63rd).
Who among today’s players has the best chance to make a cut in a major in his 60s?
My picks: Vijay Singh (who has won more PGA Tour events in his 40s – 22 – than any golfer ever) and Freddie Couples (who could make the cut at Augusta in his sleep).
Who would you choose?