Sixty-year-old takes shot at British Seniors

Each July the golf world renews its love affair with links-style courses of the British Isles. It begins with the Open Championship and continues with major tournaments on the Champions and LPGA tours.

Rarely do the venues provide a more appropriate showcase for links golf than this year's trio -- St. Andrews, Carnoustie, and Royal Birkdale. All are in the British Open rotation, all are seaside and all are full of the distinctive elements -- the gnarly gorse and the cavernous pot bunkers -- that make links golf appealing to watch and frightening to play.

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One who is not afraid is Tom Watson. The 60-year-old has won British Opens on each of the aforementioned courses. In all, he has five Open Championships and three British Senior titles.

Last week, in missing the cut at St. Andrews, Watson bid a sentimental adieu to the Old Course. This week for the British Senior Open, Watson travels 11 miles up the Scottish coast to tackle brutal Carnoustie, site of his first British title (1975).

Few speak of fondness for the course, nicknamed "Carnasty." Watson is an exception.

"I've always enjoyed a difficult golf course, and testing -- driving the ball between bunkers -- I like that test a lot," Watson told reporters. "There's so much variety in this golf course as far as where they can put the flags on certain greens."

Of the seven Open Championships contested at Carnoustie, the aggregate score for the winners is 1-under par. When he tees off in the opening round Thursday, Watson expects it to be just as difficult.

"I was really kind of surprised how long they have it set up as far as the maximum length they will go back on the tees," Watson said. "Maybe I'm just complaining a little bit, but I think it's a little bit long for the old folks."

Watson was feeling his age last week, shooting 73 and 75 at St. Andrews. It was a week of celebration, however, as he was bestowed a Doctorate of Law (along with Arnold Palmer) at St. Andrews University.

This week, however, is all about competition. Watson believes he has a genuine shot at victory.

"I still play for competition. I like to compete and beat people," Watson said. "That's what I like to do. It just so happens that I do it with sticks and balls, and I hope I can do it again this week here in Carnoustie."