Tenacity and tech savvy helped Watson compete at British Open

Here?s some aged news to go with your 1992 Screaming Eagle and Kaltback Emmentaler.

At age 59, Tom Watson came within an eyelash of becoming the oldest player ever to win a major. Instead, Stewart Cink forced and won a playoff.

I?ve heard age and treachery trump youth and skill, but there comes a point when guile and experience can?t cover up the physical breakdowns that come with long life. And I don?t know of any old proverbs for what I think put Watson ahead of the field so late on July 19.

Mike Stachura?s article for Golf World hinges on a point that doesn?t exactly leap off the first page of Google results: ?While Watson did nearly everything right at the British Open last week, it was his use of modern technology that may have been just as significant in his near victory.?

Watson?s success was never about his age. It was and is never only a product of his youth and skill and guile. His success wasn’t just a product of his artificial hip, either. Rather, Tom Watson’s successfulness springs from two wells: It arises from his work ethic?a measure of his willingness to put in the repetitions golf requires?and it arises from his willingness to change along with the times.

Stachura examined the contents of the bag Watson carried in 1987 and compared it to the bag he carried that Sunday. Stachura found 22 years worth of difference in golf technology: Longer, lighter shafts, larger clubheads, far-flying balls…and quantifiable results.

?Watson’s driving distance average in 2009 is 17.5 yards greater than it was in 1987,? Stachura wrote. ?That’s right: Two months shy of his 60th birthday, Tom Watson is averaging 287.1 yards off the tee.?

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Stewart Cink did not mug Bruce Wayne?s parents in an alley outside the Gothem City opera house. But ESPN.com?s Bob Harig began his postmortem of the British Open with the words ?One of golf’s truly great guys turned out to be the bad guy.?

I don?t know if Harig bowls, but that line was a first-frame gutter ball. The rest of his piece reads like an awkward obituary, as if Cink had committed felony career-slaughter against his long-toothed competitor.

If Harig intended to suggest that this was Watson?s last hurrah, he might be right. I don?t know. I don?t follow golf that closely. But if Harig meant that this will be the last time an old athlete reaches the pinnacle of his or her sport, then I think he?s wrong. In the hands of tenacious people, technology will make the old more competitive against the young. Sooner or later, a 70-year-old will win a major.

Don?t believe me or just plain enjoy birth certificate controversies? Google ?Buster Martin.?

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In case you were bothered by the ?his or her? I used above, I think some changes are for the best: ?Two strictly feminine teen-agers from towns and backgrounds widely separated are proving that running for distance is not so un-American after all.?

The source? Sports Illustrated, May 10, 1965.

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I may come across like a broken record with all my harping on social media, but s much as my peers cringe when they discover their parents are signing up for Facebook, I think it is important for people to be informed. We can see that social media is powerful, as much in the Iranian rebellion as in the Chinese government?s response to turmoil in Xinjiang. While such events may lead to Twitter getting a chapter in the next edition of The Anarchist Cookbook, social media tools are more often used for non-political purposes.

If a Nebraska Cornhuskers football fan wanted to find out when Bo Pellini was going to take the stage at the Big 12 Conference media day, following @big12conference would have done the job as fast as visiting big12sports.com would.

But in the same five minutes it takes to check up on the Big 12 website, anyone with a Twitter account can simultaneously tune into the latest from @catchitkansas, @kwch12, @kdotHQ, @nasa, @SenSamBrownback,
@ KSFarmBureau, or a million others. One of my favorites is @kshof?Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Before 11:01 a.m. Monday, I had never heard of Janell Carson?a distance runner who was on the cover of that 1965 issue of Sports Illustrated.

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