Hard work, good genes keep Watson in top shape
July 24, 2014
By Phil Stambaugh, PGATOUR.COM
- July 24, 2014
- Tom Watson, 64, shot a final-round 68 at The Open Championship at Hoylake. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
At this year’s The Open Championship, World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson once again raised eyebrows and proved why he’s an ageless wonder, finishing a respectable T51 at age 64, thanks to a final–round 68. Outside of having left hip-replacement surgery in October 2008, Watson has been relatively pain-free throughout his career and he credits his good genes and hard work on the practice tee, rather than a strenuous fitness program, for staying injury free during his professional career. Champions Tour media official Phil Stambaugh caught up with Watson at this year’s Senior Open Championship to ask him about his secret to staying healthy over the years.
You’ve had amazing longevity in your career with only your left hip replacement being your only setback, did you have a fitness routine early in your career?
WATSON: I really had no fitness regiment at all early in my career. My fitness schedule was basically dictated by how many golf balls I hit. I practiced quite a bit when I was younger. Between that and walking six miles a day over 30 tournaments a year, I felt that gave me plenty of exercise.
How about when you reached 50 and transitioned to the Champions Tour? Did your concentrate more on a fitness routine change as you got older?
WATSON: Yes. I really started to particularly work on my flexibility and stretching. Everyone is going to have aches and pains and mine came when I had had my left him replaced in 2008. I now work out with a trainer before I get ready to play a tournament and I don’t play that many any longer. I still don’t work out three times a week, every week of the year. I’ve got plenty of work around my farm to keep me active.
How about in the off-season? What is your fitness schedule when there is no tournament golf?
WATSON: That’s actually when I tend to work out more. Usually I start training for the beginning of the following year in early December. I try to get my body in shape while not enjoying the Christmas cheer too much. When I get to the first tournament of the year in Hawaii, I’m usually in really good shape.
At this year’s Open Championship at Hoylake, you became the oldest to make the cut in the history of the event at age 64 and then you shot 68 in the final round. When you look back on your career, will that have any sort of meaning to you and do you view that as any sort of an accomplishment?
WATSON: Not really. I’m still trying to compete. I felt like I could compete at Royal Liverpool if I didn’t hit three or four land mines like I did that cost me six to eight shots. Making the cut was great and that’s probably the number one goal when I play against the kids. But if I’m on, I still feel like I can play better than just making the cut, still at age 64. I am losing some distance now and I’ll soon hang them up against the kids. It’s been a good run. I still give credit to my mom and dad for good genes.
How about your swing over the years? It doesn’t appear to have changed much in 40 years.
WATSON: I have a flexible body and still have a fairly long golf swing. I remember my dad needling my first teacher, Stan Thirsk, telling him that I needed to shorten my golf swing. Stan told me not to worry, forget about what your dad says. As you get older, your swing will shorten. Jack Nicklaus has a very short swing now at age 74. Sam Snead had amazing flexibility and had a long golf swing. When he was 75 years old, he could still almost get the club to parallel and then he started losing flexibility. Long golf swings aren’t too bad.