Actually, "outlast" may not isn't the right word. Stewart Cink absolutely crushed Tom Watson in a four-hole playoff in the 2009 British Open, winning by six strokes.
But is "crushed" appropriate either? If you win by six in baseball, it's a rout. Same with golf, but Cink simply made great shots, while Watson kept hacking the ball out of that ridiculously tall grass. Perhaps "crushed," in this context, is the hearts of anyone rooting for him, which was everyone.
But on the final round, Tom Watson was leading and Tiger Woods wasn't even playing. It literally was 1983 in Scotland. I was also six months old at the time, and my blog posts were much more indecipherable back then.
The first 63 holes of this golf tournament escaped my attention. I had been hearing all along that Watson was leading the pack, and it was definitely a cool story, but it's also one I thought I heard last year, when Greg Norman found himself ahead of everybody going into Sunday. We all know how that turned out.
But Norman is known for epic final round collapses. Watson is, through and through, a champion on his last legs. He's an eight-time PGA major champion, including five Open victories. And while his last top ten in a major was ninth in the 2000 PGA Championship, it was age — not nerves — that kept him off the leaderboard. So at 59 years old, Watson took advantage of every opportunity and cherished memory (this tournament was at Turnberry, where he won in '77) and was leading after 54 holes. And, more importantly, after 71.
The Greg Norman story last year was cut short quickly on the final round. But Watson's potential victory in the Open was much more visible. If he makes this mid-range putt, he wins. You could see the victory, right there. So it wasn't until that final hole did I really get caught up in Watsonmania.
And that's what I get for believin' in sports. The sports storyline everyone was willing to happen just didn't materialize. Such is the cruelty of competition; it doesn't always turn into a Hollywood ending. Sometimes it's just butt ugly, such as losing by six in a four-hole playoff.
(Photo credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)