Date: July 19, 2009
Author: PA Sport and Sportal

Watson goes forth

Tom Watson&aposs remarkable attempt to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship remained on track at Turnberry on Saturday but the American veteran is coming under increasing pressure from Australian Matthew Goggin Fifty-nine-year-old Watson kept his position atop the leaderboard for another day and is leading the field at four-over par, despite signing off an a third round one-over 71. That score has leaves him vulnerable to Goggin on the final day, the Australian posting a one-under-par 69 on Saturday, courtesy of two birdies on his back nine after he turned for home at one-over. Goggin is level on three-under overall with England&aposs Ross Fisher (70), while Lee Westwood (70) and Retief Goosen (71) are one stroke further back heading into what promises to be a dramatic Sunday afternoon. A third-round 76 has left defending champion Padraig Harrington nine over par, 13 shots behind Watson with too much to overcome even for a man who wiped out a six-shot deficit going into the final round at Carnoustie in 2007. At the start of the week a victory for Watson looked equally unlikely but the five-time champion remained firmly in contention in his bid to become comfortably the oldest major champion, surpassing Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 USPGA Championship. Watson won his second Claret Jug at Turnberry in 1977 and also led at the halfway stage the last time the Open was staged here in 1994. On that occasion he was still only one shot off the lead with 18 holes to play but stumbled to a closing 74 to drop into a tie for 11th, calling it the &aposmost disappointing tournament I&aposve ever had&apos. “I was playing so well from tee to green and I just absolutely struggled on the greens,” Watson recalled. “I really, really felt that I could win that tournament from day one (but) the putter totally let me down.” So far during the week nothing has let Watson down, least of all the putter, with which he holed massive birdie putts on the 16th and 18th on Friday to help rescue his round after being four over through seven holes. And all departments of his game were working well once more in the third round as he opened with five straight pars, saving par on the third and fifth after finding sand. Turnberry&aposs deep bunkers finally cost Watson a bogey on the sixth but he promptly made a straightforward birdie on the next, showing no signs of feeling the pressure or even the after-effects of hip replacement surgery in October last year. For once he was upstaged by playing partner Steve Marino, however, who had dropped five shots in four holes before smashing a fairway wood to within three feet of the flag on the 538-yard par-five seventh to set up an eagle three. A three-putt bogey at the ninth dropped Watson back to four under par, and when another followed at the 12th it looked as though his challenge might finally be fading. However, another lengthy putt saved par on the 14th and kept him three under par, tied for the lead with Goggin, who had completed a round of 69. Robert Allenby, meanwhile, posted a third round 73 to be well out of contention at seven over overall, two strokes ahead of compatriot Stuart Appleby (76) and five better than Daniel Gaunt (79).