Winning the oldest
senior major on the toughest course the Champions tour has ever seen is an
impressive feat for a man who has played in only 30 tournaments over the last
14 years and has had eight or nine (Watson has lost count) operations.
When Watson began
his latest comeback last year, after shoulder surgery, his longtime friend and
coach, David Leadbetter, told him his swing was "DOA." A lesser man
would've given up, and Watson says he was temporarily despondent last Friday
when he finished the first nine of the second round by going double
bogey--double bogey. Then, as he was riding to the 10th tee, he caught sight of
a man with impaired vision and a bum leg tapping his way back to the cart path.
"That got me," said Watson. "I thought, Geez, you have no right to
be unhappy. You get to play golf. That guy will never play golf. So that was a
sign from God--have a good attitude because you're pretty lucky."
Lucky? Watson was
told that he'd never play golf again after his first wrist surgery. On another
occasion, doctors transposed an ulnar nerve because Watson's two fingers and
thumb were barely working. Then there was the time he had neck surgery in Los
Angeles. Watson woke up in a body brace, complete with head halo, instead of a
back brace because doctors found that the damage was worse than expected. Last
year his right shoulder froze up, and after Watson rehabbed for three months
and began to play again, his left shoulder gave out. That required surgery and
another 5 1/2 months of rehab.
Along the way
Watson divorced (his ex went on to marry another pro golfer named Watson: Tom)
and remarried. Denis and Susan Loggans, an attorney in Chicago, have five
children--including two sets of twins--ranging in ages from four to six.
What makes Watson's
comeback special is how long he has waited for it and how hard he has worked
for it. His career had just begun to blossom when he was struck down. He had
three wins on Tour in 1984, including the World Series of Golf, which carried a
10-year exemption. Twenty-three years later his career is once again showing
signs of growth. "It's wonderful to be playing golf again," he says.
"I feel lucky."
So does everyone
else. The Ocean course isn't on next year's schedule.
? Follow this
week's Memorial Tournament at GOLF.com.