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A Thank You Letter To Mr. Watson

Sunday, July 19, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 2:54 PM, under ,

Dear Mr. Watson,

I had my original thoughts all composed for this letter. And then ESPN's Rick Reilly stepped in and took all of my thoughts and said them on the air. Well I don't make $6 million a year to say what other people think, so I will have to offer up my thoughts on this extraordinary week in your life, and in the lives of millions of golfers and golf fans around the world.

Grace, poise, and dignity.

These two character traits have always been a part of your golfing career. You actually chose to come play in the B.C. Open in 1976, making my hometown feel special, something that Jack Nicklaus never did. That was a gift you did not have to give to anyone, but meant so much to me and my friends as young teenagers, hanging out in the parking lot at En-Joie Golf Club hoping the get a job caddying in the tournament.

You always played with a calm demeanor on the outside, never revealing the inner stress as you battled Nicklaus over the years. You never even batted an eyelash when I hopped onto a golf cart carrying you and Bruce (Edwards) for a ride at the Canadian Open so many years ago. But you have no idea what awe I was in sitting there with the two of you.

Watching you this week took me back to a time that reflects what competitive golf should be about. You come from an era where PGA Tour players had to work hard and finish high to make a living on the tour. You are not one of the spoiled players of today who have so much handed to them on a silver platter, often time making more for finishing last than a lot of people do in a month of truly hard work at minimum wage.

This week you had our attention. While Tiger Woods was slashing his way around Turnberry, disfiguring his clubs in anger and frustration, You stayed steady. You did not need to boom the ball 350 yards on a drive to stay in the game. You played your game. You never lost your cool, as far as we could see.

Oh and what a game it was. Your swing was flawless through 72 holes. Many younger players would kill to have a swing so easy and fluid. Sure your putting was not consistent, but you did what it took to stay in the game.

While others would have quit in frustration having scores on the front side each day like you did, you never gave up. You had your game plan and stuck to it. How many people of today's younger generation can say that?

I felt your pain in the playoff. But nobody expected you to even be on page 4 of the leaderboard, much less heading into a playoff. If your legs let you down, so be it. I only wonder if I could play 18 holes, much less 72, when I am your age (and I am not far behind).

You could have walked off the course after playing 17 in the playoff. But you did not. You stayed the true competitor and gentleman you are, and finished the whole playoff. Lesser men would have, and indeed have, walked off without finishing.

You did not need to win to define your golfing legacy. Sure, winning at the age of 59 would have been something for the ages in sport.

But even in finishing second, you won something for everyone watching and for everyone who will hear and read about this week. You stayed relevant in a game now dominated by corporate kiddies who do not have your life experience. You taught them and all of us a lesson.

Grace, poise, and dignity.

Thank you Mr. Watson.

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