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Watson surprises with top-3 moments list

TURNBERRY, SCOTLAND -- Courtroom lawyers have a rule: Never ask a question you don’t know the answer to. Newspaper reporters have a different rule: Keep asking your question until you get the answer you want.Tom-watson-british-turnberr The latter rule applied today at Tom Watson’s pre-tournament press conference, where a British reporter needed just one strong quote to complete a story that was half-formed in his mind. “It’s been 32 years since your duel with Jack,” the reporter said from his chair, referring to the fabled “Duel in the Sun” between Watson and Nicklaus in the final round of the ’77 Open. “There’s not an Open goes by where it’s not mentioned, and there’s probably not a day that goes by that’s it’s not mentioned somewhere in the world. Do you think it was the greatest afternoon in golf and maybe one of the greatest --”A smiling Watson cut him off. “No, it’s not for me to [say]. I was fortunate to be able to play some of my best golf against the best player in the world and ended up winning a few times.” “But when anybody looks back on golf” -- the journalist wasn’t letting go of his premise -- “that afternoon is held up probably in the top three moments in sport. Do you recognize you were part of an amazing afternoon in the history of sport?”The five-time British Open champ kept smiling, but he wasn’t willing to go the hyperbolic extra mile. “Well, it was pretty good. It was pretty good theater, let’s put it that way.” And just so no one would think he didn’t treasure his Turnberry triumph, Watson conceded that it was one of the top three moments of his career. The other two? “The chip-in at Pebble Beach” -- where Watson topped Nicklaus again for his only U.S. Open title -- “and winning the Kansas City Men’s Match Play when I was 14.”That last one pretty much blew up the reporter’s quest for the “I-knew-I-was-making-history” quote. (Imagined headline: WATSON COMPARES DUEL IN THE SUN TO SCHOOLBOY TRIUMPH!) But Watson wasn’t trying to be a wise guy. He was making the point that a sportsman’s greatest thrill often comes early in life, when he is only beginning to appreciate his potential. In Watson’s memory, a hot afternoon at the hilly, tree-lined Blue Hills Country Club is right up there with his two Masters titles.“That was the tournament,” Watson said, “that gave me the boost to say, ‘I can play this game.’”For the record, the 14-year-old Watson beat Bob Devine, 4&3, in the final. It was (for the winner, anyway) the greatest afternoon in the history of sport.(Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

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by Kevin Cunningham