Tom Watson bounced back from his Open heartache with an opening-round 67 at the Senior Open Championship here yesterday. The 59-year-old American, who came agonisingly close to becoming the oldest major winner in history before missing out to Stewart Cink in a play-off, insisted it was not difficult to put that disappointment behind him after his three-under-par round.
"That was a big story last week for me," said Watson, who is looking to win this title for the fourth time. "But here it's a different story this week. I've got to write it – let's get on with it."
Watson showed no sign over the opening holes yesterday of the putting nerves that appeared to get the better of him on the final hole at Turnberry, draining birdie putts on the first, fourth and fifth holes.
At the par-three 13th Watson missed a birdie effort from eight feet, the same distance as his missed putt at the last in Scotland which would have given him a sixth Open title. "I'm not very good at eight-footers right now," he joked. On the 18th his birdie effort lipped out to leave Watson three shots behind compatriot Fred Funk, who posted the lowest opening round in a Senior Open Championship with a 64. "It was a good start," said Watson. "I played well, I made some good early putts and missed some makeable putts in the middle of the round."
Funk's round gave him a two-shot cushion over compatriots Jay Haas and Loren Roberts – the winner of this event in 2006 on the same course where Watson almost made history on Sunday – Ireland's Des Smyth and South African Chris Williams.
Scotland's Sam Torrance, who lives close to Sunningdale and regularly plays the course, is alongside Watson on three under, three shots better than Sir Nick Faldo. Watson's playing partners also enjoyed good days; Greg Norman carded a 67, while Sandy Lyle had a 68.