Originally created 07/25/02

Watson refuses to panic after bad British Open



NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland -- Tom Watson refuses to panic despite shooting rounds of 77-78 at last week's British Open and missing the cut by 13 strokes.

Instead, the five-time British Open champion is viewing the Muirfield experience as preparation for this week's Senior British Open at Royal County Down.

"I made too many mistakes but I am not panicking. It is too soon to panic," he said Wednesday on the eve of the tournament.

Watson went to Muirfield just a few weeks after his stirring battle against Don Pooley for the U.S. Senior Open title, which Pooley won on the fifth playoff hole.

"I didn't play very well last week. But I hit a lot of quality shots today and I am prepared from a swing point of view," he said.

Watson was more concerned about learning the Royal County Down.

"I don't know the course as well as I need to get to know it. This course takes a while to understand," he said.

Watson is viewed as the favorite but he refuses to see it that way.

"There are a lot of other players who can win, though I have had a lot of success on these courses," he said.

"I never go in thinking I am the man to beat. I start off and, to use the old cliche, I play one hole at a time and try to put myself in position where I can win the tournament."

The defending British Seniors champion is Ian Stanley of Australia who, like Watson, played the British Open and also missed the cut.

Stanley said Wednesday his year as Senior British Open champion has been "the best part of my golfing career."

"To go home last year was fantastic and to walk into my club and everybody stood up and clapped, that's nice."

Stanley said Watson's presence in the field compensated for the absence this time of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and the injured Gary Player.

He said Nicklaus was the only one of the three to put any pressure on last time and he expected Watson to do the same.