NOT SINCE SAM SNEAD HAS A TOUR golfer played so well for so long. I'm talking about 65-year-old Tom Watson. At the RBC Heritage last week, Watson made his 501st cut on the PGA Tour after shooting a 69 in the second round.
A five-time British Open champion and winner of eight majors, Watson will make his final appearance in the Open this summer at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. He nearly won the Open in 2009 at the ancient golf age of 59. The affable Stewart Cink was improbably cast as the villain. I'll never forget watching that tournament.
The R&A rewarded Watson with a special exemption to play in the British Open through 2015, which is the 40th anniversary of his first Open victory at Carnoustie. So the time has come to retire from majors, even for Watson, who has hinted that the 2016 Masters may be his last.
"The distance is ebbing away in this old body," Watson said recently. "That's something I have to deal with and understand there's going to be a time when I have to hang it up."
He added, "The handwriting is on the wall as far as me competing out here against the kids."
Nick Faldo, who will turn 58 during this year's British Open, will also hang it up at St. Andrews. Sir Nick owns three Open titles -- 1987 (Muirfield), 1990 (St. Andrews) and 1992 (Muirfield).
In another touch of symmetry, this year will be the 25th anniversary of Faldo's win at the Old Course.
"The Open and St Andrews will forever hold a significant place in my heart .... It all means a huge amount to me," Faldo said in The Guardian. "I look forward to celebrating all that golf has given me as I cross that storied bridge and the wonderful memories I share with many people."
Wouldn't it be great if Watson ... no, that would be too much to ask, downright delusional.
Maybe the best hope is that this modern-day Old Tom can make the cut one more time and prolong what will be a difficult goodbye.