One topic caused Tom Watson’s face to light up Wednesday in a news conference at The Country Club of Loch Lloyd to announce details for this spring’s Watson Challenge golf tournament.
Watson was thrilled that he was able to shoot a round lower that his age March 15 in the second round of the Toshiba Classic, a Champions Tour event at Newport Beach Country Club in California.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Watson admitted that he was a bit surprised that he could shoot a round of 63 at age 64.
“I was pretty pumped about it,” Watson said. “I was stoked. It’s a milestone that you talk to older people about, but it was neat to do it at 64.”
Watson said they key was making six putts longer than 20 feet.
“That’s the way I putted when I was 18,” Watson said. “I don’t do that very often at 64, but I had it going that day.”
Watson said it might be difficult to shoot lower than his age again for a few years.
“I am getting shorter off the tee,” he said, “so it might be easier in my early 70s.”
Watson finished in a tie for 20th at Newport Beach, his best finish in three Champions Tour events this year, and he missed the cut in two PGA Tour events, the Masters and RTC Heritage.
“I wasn’t playing very well at Heritage,” Watson said. “I have made an adjustment. I have four keys that I concentrate on, and I am hitting the ball better now.”
Watson hopes that continues in this year’s Watson Challenge at Loch Lloyd, a course he designed.
“I’m happy with the condition of the golf course,” Watson said. “I kind of like this playing a course that I designed. I’ve got some inside knowledge.”
The Watson Challenge was started in 2007, and Watson won his fifth Challenge title last year at The National Golf Club of Kansas City, but Sean Dougherty of Milburn Country Club hopes something might get in the way of a sixth title.
“Hopefully you’ll focus more on the Ryder Cup this year,” Dougherty told Watson.
Watson will be captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team this fall in Scotland, but he’ll try to keep his focus on the Challenge, an event that raises money for the First Tee of Greater Kansas City youth program.
“This event has inspired a lot of players in Kansas City to play more golf,” Watson said. “The funds that we have raised for First Tee have been great. The tournament is a success and the benefit to the community has been great.”
Watson failed to win the event twice in seven previous years — Blake Graham won in 2007 and Joseph Ida won in 2012 — but he doesn’t intend for that to happen this year.
“I enjoy the competition,” he said. “We have some fine players. They just can’t take me.”