Article

Notorious Carnoustie holds fond memories for legendary Watson

18 July 2018 10:30

Many a top golfer has been haunted by the demons of Carnoustie but Tom Watson can still vividly remember seeing marquees being brought down as he lived the dream on the Angus coast.

One of the most notoriously tough courses in the world has earned the nickname 'Carnasty' after providing a truly major test for the best players in the world over the years.

It is 43 years since Watson rocked up in Scotland for his first Open, by his own admission naive about the challenge he was about to face.

While the majority had tried and failed to master a venue with such little margin for error, Watson ended his Open debut with the Claret Jug in his hands.

The legendary American had never played a links course before, but got the better of Jack Newton in an 18-hole play-off to brighten up a rainy day in Scotland.

Watson went on to become one of the greats, winning five Open titles and eight majors in a stellar career.

The 68-year-old was by no means instantly enamoured with links golf, but his exploits back in 1975 are fresh in the mind ahead of the 147th Open at the prestigious course where he became a maiden major winner.

He told Omnisport: "I was still very wet behind the ears. I had heard all about how tough it was going to be, but actually the conditions were pretty good most of the time in 1975. 

"It was really dry, there was very little wind during the first round and no rough, which is not what I was expecting. 

"Playing links golf was such a big change from what I was used to. Carnoustie was nothing like somewhere like St Andrews. I really didn't like playing links golf for a while, it was so harsh and hard to get used to. 

"I had never played a links course before and Carnoustie's reputation preceded it, but I managed to get my swing going and carried the ball nicely through the air.

"I always remember the rain during the play-off and they were already taking down the marquees while we were still playing, it was really chilly as well but it didn't bother me.

"It was extremely special to be presented with the Claret Jug. You are so aware of the history of the Open, seeing [Arnold] Palmer and Jack [Nicklaus] win in the 60s, you remember that and you get to know the history and the prestige."

Watson will be at Carnoustie to watch golf's elite attempt to follow in his footsteps and stay out of troubled waters with the ominous hazard of the Barry Burn looming large.

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