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July 15 2010

10:07 AM

Watson and the young guns

Five-time Open champ Tom Watson is off and walking through the drizzle here at St. Andrews. Can he turn back the years, catch lightning like he did last year at Turnberry and challenge for a sixth Claret Jug? He’s never won at St. Andrews and isn’t that keen on his game coming in. But you never know. What he does know is he has become an unofficial mentor of sorts for youngsters like Ryo Ishikawa, Rory McIlroy, who he played the first two rounds with at the U.S. Open. “My assessment is both have a very strong future,’’ he said. “ I can't predict who might dominate, but they certainly have the tools to do it. Now it's just a matter of going out and doing it. How do you predict? “I like both swings. I think I like Ryo's putting stroke better than about any putting stroke I've seen out here. He reminds me of me when I was his age, straight back, straight through, and every putt solid. He paused. “How do you do that?’’ he said, drawing a laugh. “How does one do that? I've forgotten. I've forgotten, and I can't do it again.’’ The key? Watson said Roberto de Vicenzo nailed it at the Champions Dinner Tuesday night. “We were talking about players, and who are the best average teen players and who are the best young players, and he said, "it's all here." (Indicating fingers.) It's all here, it's all touch. You've got to have mechanics, but you've got to have the feel. You can't teach it. Either you've got it or you don't. That's the answer to your question, who's got the feel for the distance here,’’ Watson said. “And when Woods played here in 2005, he was magnificent on his long putts. He was leaving them like this (indicating eight inches). As he would have said, "stone dead," stone dead out here. When you have that type of touch, you can knock it on the green stone dead, make your par and go on to the next hole.’’ -- Melanie Hauser
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