The American landed the first of his five Claret Jugs over the links course and having already added three Senior Open titles, the 60 year old hopes for a ninth Major on British soil this week.
"I have some great memories here," said Watson. "It's funny how the memories, they are a little bit clearer 35 years ago than they are last week or yesterday or 20 minutes ago.
"Playing the Championship [in 1975] was pretty much like yesterday, and the first three rounds were windless, didn't have any wind at all and the last round turned windy. I saw Byron Nelson and Chris Schenkel both doing ABC television, and I stopped by because I had some time to kill.
"I was, I don't know, three or four shots behind. I asked Byron, ‘Byron, do you have any advice for me?' Just flat out asked him for advice.
"He said, ‘Tom, if you shoot even par today, you'll be right there. That will win the tournament today.' He had a number in mind, because the wind had started blowing and was blowing due south. Made the 18th hole play downwind, just straight downwind, and he was right.
"I still didn't par 16 - I bogeyed that every day in five rounds. But I did finish with a birdie at 18, knowing that if I got to that score I think I was nine under par, something like that, for the tournament, that might be good enough to tie. And it was.
"I ended up with a playoff with Jack Newton, and the wind changed 180 degrees the next day. It was raining and not too many people are out there following, but it was a special day.
"I was Open Champion, kind of unexpected, but I was playing pretty well and I had kind of found it practising the week before the tournament started, I started hitting the ball pretty straight and there was no rough in the golf course and the key here was just to keep it out of the bunkers.
"My game plan was to keep it out of the bunkers and still is the game plan. It's a good fader's golf course I think, overall."
Watson missed the cut at St Andrews last week, but feels his game is in reasonable shape despite that.
"I feel like I'm driving the ball well," he added. "My iron game is not right there, and I'm trying something a little bit different with my putting, and I hope that works.
"If you can do four rounds and get in very few bunkers, you'll do well here.
"There's so much variety in this golf course as far as where they can put the flags on certain greens."
Watson has been paired with Bernhard Langer for the first two rounds, and the German is another expecting his game to be tested to the limit.
“I think this is probably the hardest course I know that I've ever played,” said the former Ryder Cup Captain. “I played in one Open Championship in '99, so this is my second time around here, and the more I play the more I seem to respect it - how tough it is.”
While Langer and Watson both have a wealth of experience playing in the senior ranks, America’s current Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin will be making his Senior Major debut.
“It's nice, my first major championship of my senior career, and it's a good place to start it,” said Pavin.
“I think this is a wonderful golf course. It's a very fair, hard golf course, I just hope the weather cooperates a little bit - we'll see.”
|T3||BLAKE, Jay Don||USA||18||-1|