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Shane Bacon

Watson, Couples make Champions debut unforgettable

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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While Jack Nicklaus was busy celebrating his 70th birthday, Tom Watson was off in Hawaii, participating in what could only be described as the Duel by the Surf.

Not many times can you say the Champions Tour brings drama that trumps anything going on with the younger tour, but that was the case Sunday at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, when Watson outlasted Fred Couples in his first start on the Champions Tour, winning by a shot after a Sunday 65.

Couples wasn't too shabby himself. Still as cool as ever, Freddie who was sporting some very hip Ecco Street Premiere Golf Shoes, closed his debut with a 8-under 64, but a slick little birdie putt on the 18th hole needed just a dash more speed to find the bottom of the cup, and as the Couples story goes, the putter couldn't make it happen.

None of that really matters though. The story coming out of Hawaii is simply this -- with names like Couples, Mark O'Meara, Jay Haas and the rest of the clan making a big impact on the Champions Tour, this could be one of the more exciting years ever for the over-50 bunch.

The Champions has needed a superstar to graduate up, and Couples has always been able to bring the masses. His ability to boom-boom the ball off the tee sure helps, but his whole demeanor is one that most men, no matter the age, are jealous of.

While he might not have won on Sunday, he showed everyone that he will be winning, and fast.

But above all this might be the fact that Watson, now a ripe 60-years-old, is winning again, something that may have seemed incredibly improbable considering how he finished the 2009 British Open. At the time, that British, at Turnberry, when a par on the final hole would have allowed Tom to carry the Claret Jug once more, would have been one of the greatest stories ever in our sport. It was so incredible that this morning, while waking up and dealing with the many thoughts running through my brain, I weighed just how insane it would have been for Watson to win at Turnberry in '09, bein the same guy that was last man standing in 1977.

Sometimes, however, champions continue to be champions. Tom is 60, but as one of my good friends once told me when caddying for a buddy in a practice round at the Masters, Watson hits the ball better than anyone, even Mr. Woods, and who is to say that a little age hasn't helped him calm those putting nerves. He rolled in the winning putt on the 18th this Sunday very calmly.

At 60, any golf accomplishment is impressive. Now, all he has to do to keep it going is what a lot of grandparents strive for … go out and shoot your age. Watson, by all accounts, might be one of the few on the planet able to notch that on his belt.

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