Their best times together have been their simplest times, when they could revel in one another's company and in their shared love of the game. In 1989, at the height of Watson's slump, Watson and Tatum were partners in the AT&T, as they traditionally are. Playing at Pebble Beach in the third round, Watson made a horrendous double bogey on the 17th hole, causing him to miss the cut. It was a moment of significant despair for Watson. Later that day, in the fading light of a dark afternoon, with the fog in and the wind up and the temperature down, Watson insisted that he and Tatum play nine holes at Cypress Point. The two men had their picture taken on the 16th tee. The Pacific, behind them, is a churning mess. Tatum looks sturdy, pleased. Watson is carrying borrowed clubs and wearing borrowed rain gear. His grin in the picture is not the forced one you see often on TV. He looks almost maniacal with glee. The picture hangs in Tatum's office, near another of the two that Watson has signed: FOR MY KEEPER.
Tatum says, "Golf to me is a way of relating to nature and relating to yourself and dealing with an endless challenge that is totally engaging. When you find somebody else who feels that way about golf, it's like discovering a soul mate, and that's exactly what I have in Tom."
Watson says, "The game is important because it teaches you that there are rules that you have to live by. I know that Sandy feels that way, too. Golf shaped Sandy's personality tremendously as a child, as it did mine. We share that. He leads a golfing life."
Earlier this year, Watson and Tatum collaborated on a coffee-table book called The 25 Greatest Achievements in Golf. Two of the achievements, all of which were selected by a panel of golf writers, belong to Watson: his victories at the 1977 British Open at Turnberry and at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. There's no place in the book for friendship as an achievement. There are no blank pages in the book, either, to record what might happen next.