Thomas Sturges Watson ( born 4 September 1949 )

Few players have done more to promote Ireland as a golfing Mecca than the legendary Tom Watson who regularly used Ireland as a launch pad for his assault on the Open Championship. This five-time winner nearly completed the feat again in 2009 at Turnberry but "what's for you won't go by you" and it wasn't to be.

Watson probably visited and continues to visit Ireland regularly but the more notable milestones of his trips to the Emerald Isle are:

1975 - Carroll's Irish Open Championship - Woodbrook Golf Club 28-31 August 1975 where Watson finished in joint thirteenth place. Watson had won his first major the previous month at Carnoustie and the demands on his time were enormous and it is very much to his credit to he kept his commitment as his team led by Mark McCormack tried to manoeuvre between the demands of the USPGA, the sponsors of the BC Open and Tom honouring a commitment made before his win in the Open Championship. In the end a promise to play in the BC Open in one of the following two years and a release for Hubert Green to play in the BC Open rather than travelling to the Irish Open while his wife was expecting resulted in all parties being accommodated and a big boost to the Irish Open Championship which was returning to the circuit after an absence of twenty-two years [1953]. For Watson it meant a fourteen-hour journey from Fort Worth in Texas, where he was playing in the TPC, to Ireland via Dallas, Chicago and London.

1981 - Watson's first visit to Ballybunion Golf Club on 8th July, 1981 began a long association with the club that saw him make regular pilgrimages to the Old Course and the club reciprocated in kind by bestowing the captaincy of the club upon him in the millennium year. In return he almost single-handedly introduced the course to a worldwide audience. A tired Watson shot a level-par 71 around the Old Course on his first visit and concluded, "After playing Ballybunion for the first time, a man would think the game was invented there".

1989 - Watson played, together with the legendary Byron Nelson (Lord Byron), Rosses Point on Thursday, 13 July a week before the British Open at Royal Troon where he finished in fourth place. They both also played Ballybunion around the time Jack Nicklaus flew in to play the course with his son Gary.

1995 - Watson helped renovate the Old Course at Ballybunion.

1997 - Mount Juliet - Shell Wonderful World of Golf Series Tom Watson vs. Fred Couples. Click here for more information.

2000 - Watson visited the Connemara Golf Links at Ballyconeely almost without being recognised but by the time he reached to turn a crowd had started to gather.

2002 - British Open Seniors Championship, Royal County Down Golf Club (Place 14th)

2004 - British Open Seniors Championship, Royal Portrush Golf Club (Place T22nd)

 

 

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