It's OK To Admit That Someone Choked, Even If You Were Rooting For Him. Tom Watson, You Choked.
Most people, especially in the mainstream media, are hesitant to say that Watson choked. For some reason, they feel like his performance was so good that they can't simply admit that he choked away what should have been a victory, and feel that it's somehow "nicer" to pretend that he never should have been in contention in the first place.
The folks over at The Big Lead compiled a collection of nice things that people had to say about Watson, instead of just stating the facts: He had a chance to win, and choked.
Golf Digest: “For the first time all week, he showed his 59-year-old nerves. The putt never had a chance. A little more than an hour later, neither did Watson.”
Translation: He's too old to win, and his feeble mind couldn't take the pressure.
SI: "On the 72nd hole Watson finally, heartbreakingly, started to look his age, hitting his birdie putt from behind the green 10 feet past the hole, and then leaving his par putt for the championship inches short … Cink looked spry and focused in the four-hole playoff over the fifth, sixth, 17th and 18th holes. Watson appeared tired."
Translation: We knew the old guy would fall apart. He missed his nap time, and there's no way you could expect him to hang with the young guys.
Jason Whitlock: “We’re going to remember the day Watson was Turnburied. He didn’t choke. It wasn’t a Jean Van de Velde-like collapse.”
Translation: I don't want to say that he choked, because then I'll sound mean. But I'll still compare it to the biggest choke job in golf history, and hope that people don't make the connection.
NY Daily News: “It had taken until his second-to-last shot on the 72nd hole, but the 59-year-old finally looked his age as he took a feeble swipe at a par putt that would have made him the oldest major champion ever. The uphill putt, with little break - the kind Watson had magically run in all tournament - never even made a pass at the hole.”
Translation: He just doesn't have the stamina that he used to.
LA Times: “Then, as that ball pranced across the green on Turnberry’s storied No. 18, golf ushered Watson to the very brink of becoming by 11 years the oldest man to win a major tournament, before going and dumping him into untold regret and reissuing an ancient lesson. Never underestimate its capacity for savagery … It sent Watson’s face from beaming utterly toward utterly crestfallen.”
Translation: Father Time caught up to him, just like we all knew he would... because God gets a kick out of messing with the elderly.
ESPN: “Cink did not so much steal the 138th Open Championship from Tom Watson as he put himself in position to have it handed to him, turning the Ayrshire Coast into a funeral and leaving the hallowed links with a trophy that was well-earned but dulled."
Translation: We really really REALLY want to say that Tom Watson choked, but we would feel bad, so we're just going to say that he handed it to Stewart Cink and pretend that it's somehow tainted.
What all of them fail to realize is this: by saying that Tom Watson DIDN'T choke, even when he so obviously did, it's no better than a slap in the face, and an acknowledgment that you had zero faith in him from the start.
The question of whether or not it was a "choke job" can be answered rather simply. Should he have made this putt, on the 18th hole on Sunday? Seriously... put all other factors off to the side, watch this putt, and answer the question honestly:
Everyone is pointing to his age as if it's some sort of handicap, and as if THAT's what caused him to miss the final putt. The fact is this: He should have made that putt. That is a putt that a pro golfer, even a 59-year old pro golfer SHOULD make. Period. So by missing it, he choked. It's as simple as that.
Now, please don't get the impression that I'm trying to bash Watson in any way, whatsoever. There are dozens of other golfers out there, very good golfers at that, who would have missed that potential winning putt on the 18th on Sunday. For that one putt, the pressure got to Watson. There's no shame in that. Many great athletes in many sports have been in the position to seal a victory in a big position, and failed. It's all part of being mortal.
Is Tom Watson old? Yeah, he's REALLY old. But is that what caused him to lose the British Open? Nope, not at all. He lost because he choked. And he choked because he's a human being, just like everyone else on the planet. Don't patronize him by using his age as an excuse. When people say it wasn't a choke job, they're only saying that because they have, in their mind, dismissed the possibility that he could have won. Since it was never within their realm of comprehension, their low expectations of Watson eliminate their ability to acknowledge the truth.
Tom Watson, at age 59, was one of the best golfers on the planet, for at least one weekend. And then he choked. He was good enough to win, and SHOULD have won, but didn't, because he did not perform as well as he could have. Tom Watson is still good enough to win the British Open. It just didn't happen this time.
So congrats, Tom, on a job well done, just not done well enough. And don't let anyone tell you that you didn't choke, because those are the haters and the doubters who never thought you had a chance.