Indiana Daily Student

Age ain't nothing but a number

MEMPHIS – Sports are for the young.

But on Sunday, 59-year-old Tom Watson proved that even the soon-to-be-eligible-for-Social Security crowd can compete for championships.

Watson had the chance to become the oldest Major winner but lost to Stewart Cink in a four-round playoff at the Open Championship at Turnberry. Watson missed his chance with a bogey on 18. He finished six shots behind Cink.  

The win would have been Watson’s sixth Open Championship and ninth Major. It also would have tied him for seventh in all-time Majors.

Despite the loss, Watson showed how golf is unique from other sports, where age ultimately forces players to retire. He proved – despite his playoff collapse – that no player, especially a former great like Watson, can be written off. His second-place finish is an inspiration to other baby boomers about to retire.  

Last year Watson missed the cut at Royal Birkdale. In 2006 – he skipped the 2007 tournament – he tied for 48th. His last Open win was 26 years ago, when Cink was 10 years old.

One storyline that dominated Watson’s four-day travel back in time was his 1977 win at Turnberry, where he defeated Jack Nicklaus. Cink was only four years old. But the familiar location brought a different result for Watson.  

College basketball is dominated by underage recruits. The average NFL player only competes for three seasons. Thirty-somethings are old farts.

Especially in college, we’re constantly surrounded by our peers. Anyone older is usually a professor, administrator or graduate student. Age is noticeable.  

Sports are the same. They are more about drafts, breakout stars and prospects. They are about upside, potential and future goals.  That’s why it’s so impressive and captivating when older athletes are successful in a young man’s world.

Watson won’t be alone as he continues his golf career. He has other famous, successful and older athletes to admire.

John Elway was 38 years old when his Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl 10 years ago. Dara Torres was 41 during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which she won three silver medals. Jamie Moyer, 45, is the starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, last year’s World Series winners.

While fans are always looking for the next young star, it’s nice to see the older generation hanging on for another chance.

My mother always says to me, “Life begins at 40.” This would make Watson barely 20 years old. Of course, it would also make Cink -4.  

Not bad for his first Major.

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