Tour Confidential: How has Tom Watson maintained his game? Plus, Tiger vs. Federer and the ultimate golf links trip

Tom Watson
Getty Images
Tom Watson shot a 1-under 69 in the final round of the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.

Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. At age 64, Tom Watson made the cut at the Greenbrier and finished T35. In this age of super-athletic golfers, what is it about Watson's game that has allowed him to compete at this high level for so long?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated:  As Sandy Tatum says of him, he has a swing that will not quit. Like Fred Couples, he hits it flush. He can control distance and direction. He makes the game simple, in practice and in play. It's awesome. I watched him at Hilton Head this year and he was hitting good shot after good shot, then struggling with the little shots. He can play. He loved how Snead played good golf through his 70s. He's going to try to do the same, on an artificial hip. Amazing.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? I'd credit a combination of good genes and desire. Ol' Tom loves to compete and, like Tiger, really hated losing. He's found a repeatable swing that is money, and outside of a hip replacement, has avoided the kind of back problems that knocked Tiger and many other pros out of the game. 

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, Golf.com (@eamonlynch): It's easy to point to his still fluid swing and impeccable ball-striking as the reasons why Watson continues to perform at the highest level, but I think it's more simple: his undiluted love of the game. Long after the putts stopped dropping and the trophies stopped coming, he's still out there because he enjoys golf, whatever triumphs and miseries it may inflict on him. We should all be so lucky to feel that way at 64.

Joe Passov, senior editor, Golf Magazine (@joepassov): Pair indomitable competitive spirit and a long swing with quick tempo and you have the physical and mental makeup needed. He's survived some putter yippiness, retains a superb short game and boasts formidable course-management skills. Giving up the booze, a hip transplant that's now five years old and keeping fit and flexible add up to success at 64. 

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): He has the kind of swing that ages well -- long, fluid, beautifully rhythmic. What's more, he appears to have gotten technically better over time. It doesn't hurt that he knows the Greenbrier about as well as any course, and that its Golden Age design -- not super-sized but long on subtlety -- presents the sort of challenges that he eats up.

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Group (@Jeff_Ritter): Watson's incredibly fit for 64, and he might be the best course strategist in golf history, as evidenced by his links record. A golfer's mind can be the ultimate leveler of a playing field, and not many guys are mentally stronger than Watson. Also, the Old White TPC played less than 7,300 yards -- short by today's standards -- which negated the big-hitters' advantage.

2. Angel Cabrera won the Greenbrier Classic for his first non-major PGA Tour win. He also has two European Tour wins to go along with the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters titles. Is Cabrera an underachiever or an overachiever?

PASSOV: Can you be both? When he's on, "El Pato" has few equals. He's just not consistently "on" enough. He's like the old Japanese stars in that he just seems to be happier competing at home in Argentina, rather than maxing out his time on English-speaking tours. I remember in 2013 when he finished runner-up in the Masters, then went home to compete in some small-time Argentine event, when he could have headed to Harbour Town or to Europe. His another-trip-through-the-buffet-line physique, his thunder-filled driving (still my lasting memory of the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont) and his manner and style are really appealing.     

SENS: Let's see. His father was a handyman. His mother was a maid. He grew up dirt-poor in a country that is far from a golf power and built a homemade swing while working as a caddie. Went on to win the Masters and the U.S. Open. You'd be hard-pressed to say this guy has underachieved.

RITTER: Hard to peg Angel as either one, so let's just say he has a knack for great timing.

LYNCH: He was born in poverty in Argentina, learned to play while caddying as a kid, and now owns two majors (and would have three if Steve Williams hadn't pipped him in a playoff at the 2013 Masters). By no definition is Cabrera an underachiever.

VAN SICKLE: Cabrera is an achiever. He has wins in other countries, he just hasn't won much in the U.S. outside of the majors, and that may be more related to not wanting to travel as much as some jet-setters. He's a big talent. I remember watching him play his first Masters in the early 2000s and he pounded a drive at No. 1 that ended up maybe 50 yards short of the green. It was unbelievable, and I've been intrigued to watch his power game ever since.

BAMBERGER: I don't know, but he'll be in the Hall of Fame before he's through. He'll play well for a long, long time. His swing puts no pressure on anything and his personality is perfect for golf's ups and downs.

Forecast
PGA Tour News
Trips
Travel & Courses
Lessons
Tips & Videos
The Shop
Equipment News & Reviews