Watson wins 3rd senior Open in 5 years

GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — Tom Watson's three-shot lead in the Senior British Open was in peril and memories of his back-nine collapse at the U.S. Senior Open three weeks ago came flooding back.

But that was in 90-degree heat at Whistling Straits. Sunday he was at cold and blustry Muirfield, where the five-time British Open winner and master of Scottish links courses is at home.

Watson fired his tee shot into a fairway bunker at the last hole and took two to get out of the sand, but he survived a double bogey to win his third Senior British Open in five years.

"This has been a very serene week for me," he said. "The weather was right up my alley, good blowy conditions, a little rain here and there. The beauty of the place, I feel very comfortable."

Standing in the sand after his wayward tee shot, Watson took a moment to compose himself.

"I thought 'What am I doing in here? Let's get the job done,"' he said.

Watson eventually made it out of the sand, but then missed the green with his fourth shot. With playing partners Mark O'Meara and Stewart Ginn back in contention, Watson got his fifth, a putt from off the green, to within three feet of the flag and made that putt for a 73, a one stroke victory and yet another title on Scottish links courses.

"It's important to get it done when you have to," Watson said. "It didn't look like it at 18, but I did put it in the wrong place (off the tee). It was a stupid shot.

"I didn't have too much opportunity with the first (bunker) shot. I didn't get it up far enough and it rolled back in the bunker. But it rolled back in far enough where I had a shot out sideways. I got it up around the green somewhere, two-putted and that was it."

Watson, who also won two Masters titles and one U.S. Open, captured his fifth senior major with an even par total of 284 to earn $324,531 for the victory. He finished one ahead of O'Meara (72) and Ginn (75).

Watson, who won this tournament at Turnberry in 2003 and Royal Aberdeen two years ago, made it five American victories in a row after triumphs by Peter Oakley in 2004 and Loren Roberts last year. Seven of Watson's eight triumphs in Britain have been on Scottish links courses and next year's Senior British Open is at another, Troon, where he won the Open in 1982.

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