KANSAS CITY, Missouri - He’s one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game, and he’s from right here in the metro. Tom Watson is proud to call Kansas City home.
“I’ve chosen to live in Kansas City for one reason,” Watson said. “Why would you want to move away from where your family and friends are? I mean that’s what life is all about.”
Watson, who was born in 1949 in Kansas City, Missouri, now lives in Bucyrus, Kansas on a farm. He graduated from Pembroke Hill High School in 1967.
The 60-year-old golf pro learned the game from his father, Ray. A long time scratch player, Ray introduced him to golf at age six. Former Kansas City Country Club head golf pro Stan Thirsk also taught and mentored Watson, who won the Missouri State Amateur when he was 17 years old.
Watson played in college at Stanford before turning pro in 1971. He won his first PGA Tour event in 1974 at the Western Open.
Watson continues to thrill golf fans around the world, even at age 60. He made the cut at The Masters this past spring. He was the third oldest player to ever accomplish that feat. He shot an opening round 67 and trailed the leader by one stroke.
Nearing his 60th birthday, Watson nearly won the British Open in the summer of 2009. He led the tournament for most of the time, before falling in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
Watson has captured eight major championships. That includes five British Open victories, two Masters titles and one U.S. Open championship.
The Kansas City golf legend won 39 times on the PGA Tour. He was named PGA Player of the Year six times. He also was the leading money winner five times. On the Champions Tour, Watson has won 13 times. He’s captured five senior major titles.
One of Watson’s most famous major titles came at the 1977 British Open, known as the “Duel in the Sun” at Turnberry. Watson shot back-to-back 65’s in the final two rounds to beat Jack Nicklaus. It’s been called the Tournament of the Century.
Watson also made one of the most memorable shots in the history of golf. He chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach to beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1982 U.S. Open.
The Ryder Cup is one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of golf, pitting the U.S. against Europe in a team competition. Watson was the captain of the U.S. team in 1993 that beat the Europeans. He competed for the U.S. in 1977, 1981, 1983 and 1989. This year’s U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Corey Pavin, said that he is considering Watson for the team in 2010.
Watson was elected into the PGA World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988. He won the U.S. Golf Association’s prestigious Bob Jones Award for distinguished sportsmanship in 1987.
The Kansas City golf legend has also given back to his hometown.
Watson hosted the Children’s Mercy Golf Classic for 25 years. The benefit golf tournament featured PGA Tour players Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Phil Mickelson. The tournament raised more than $12 million dollars for the hospital.
Here is a list of Tom Watson’s all-time victories:
Kansas City Match Play Championship: 1964 Missouri State Amateur Champion: 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971
PGA TOUR Victories (39 wins)
1974 Western Open
1975 Byron Nelson Golf Classic, British Open Championship
1977 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Andy Williams-San Diego Open
Invitational, Masters Tournament, Western Open, British Open Championship
1978 Joe Garagiola-Tucson Open, Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Byron Nelson Golf Classic, Colgate Hall of Fame Classic, Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic
1979 Sea Pines Heritage Classic, MONY Tournament of Champions, Byron Nelson Golf Classic, Memorial Tournament, Colgate Hall of Fame Classic
1980 Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational, Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open, MONY Tournament of Champions, Greater New Orleans Open, Byron Nelson Golf Classic, British Open Championship, World Series of Golf
1981 Masters Tournament, USF&G New Orleans Open, Atlanta Classic
1982 Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open, Sea Pines Heritage, U.S. Open Championship, British Open Championship
1983 British Open Championship
1984 Seiko-Tucson Match Play Championship, MONY Tournament of Champions, Western Open
1987 Nabisco Championship
1996 Memorial Tournament
1998 Mastercard Colonial
Champions Tour Victories (13 wins)
1999 Bank One Championship
2000 IR SENIOR TOUR Championship
2001 Senior PGA Championship
2002 SENIOR TOUR Championship at Gaillardia
2003 Senior British Open, JELD-WEN Tradition
2005 Senior British Open Championship, Charles Schwab Cup Championship
2007 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, The Senior Open Championship
presented by Aberdeen Asset Management
2008 Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf
2010 Mitsubishi Electric Championship, Hualalai, Hawaii
International Victories (4 wins)
1980 Dunlop Phoenix
1984 Australian Open
1992 Hong Kong Open
1997 Dunlop Phoenix
Other Victories (8 wins)
1994 Skins Game
1999 Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge (With Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin)
1999 Diner’s Club Matches (With Jack Nicklaus)
2000 Hyundai Team Matches (With Jack Nicklaus)
2004 Wendy’s Champions Skins Game
2005 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (Raphael Division with Andy North)
2006 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (Raphael Division with Andy North
2007 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (Raphael Division with Andy