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Tom Watson

Eight feet. That’s the distance between Tom Watson and an astonishing British Open win. By now, you know the result. Watson beefed the par putt on 18 and completely fell apart in the “overtime period,” including a double bogey on the second extra hole. This allowed public enemy of the week, Stewart Cink, to snatch victory from the jaws of Watson’s defeat. Well, that and a timely, timely 15-foot birdie on the 18th hole. While Watson’s near-miss was the talk of the sports world this past weekend, his work resonated even more in his native Kansas City — home of some of the best sports writers in the business, and Intentional Foul.

Correlation? I’ll let you decide.

Anyway, two of the bigger names in the business, Whitlock and Posnanski, both had eulogy-like essays detailing Watson’s close-but-yet-so-far British Open.

Posnanski

As time goes on, and the disappointment fades, I’m sure we will look back on the 2009 British Open as one of the most remarkable triumphs ever — a 59-year-old man coming so close to winning the oldest championship in golf. But for now, you can only say that Tom Watson almost — well, just that. He almost.

And there’s just no good way to sum up “almost.”

Whitlock

Golf is a lonely and transparent game. There’s no place to hide, and no one to blame. Coaches don’t call the wrong plays. The refs don’t make a series of bad calls. Teammates don’t screw up.

When Watson strolled to the 18th tee in regulation with a 1-stroke lead, there was only one person standing between him and a last bit of glory. It all went terribly wrong. The golfing love of his life, the Claret Jug, likely slipped from his grasp never to be seen again.

Or, to put it in blogger/sound bite terms, watching that really sucked. No offense to Stewart Cink. Someone had to win, and it might as well have been him. His birdie on 18 was as big of a make as Watson’s missed par putt on the same hole. Granted, a par putt from Watson wins the thing, but without Cink’s birdie, Watson three-putts his way to historical greatness, and the content of those articles I quoted is much, much different.

In fact, had Watson made par on 18, I have no doubt there would’ve been a champions parade in downtown Kansas City. As it stands, the only thing we can do is wonder what might have been.