Five-time Open champion Watson to play final competitive round on Sunday

Watson has never missed a halfway cut in 18 appearances at the Senior Open

Tom Watson has said he will retire from competitive golf by playing his final round in the Senior British Open on Sunday at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The eight-time major winner made the announcement five weeks short of his 70th birthday.

“I’ve thought quite long and hard about the decision I’ve made,” said the five-time Open champion, who has also won three senior Open titles.

“I just don’t have enough tools in the toolbox to compete successfully.”

Watson, whose five Open championship victories put him just one shy of Harry Vardon’s record, also said he had played his last US Senior Open.

The American holed a 20ft putt on the 18th green at Royal Lytham and then told reporters he no longer hit the ball far enough to compete with the 50-and-over senior players.

‘It’s a sensible assessment of the current state of my game,” he said.

The winner of the Senior Open in 2003, 2005 and 2007 is 11 behind the leader, England’s Paul Broadhurst, going into the final round.

Watson first competed in the Open in 1975, and immediately captured the Claret Jug when he beat Australian Jack Newton in an 18-hole play-off at Carnoustie.

He triumphed again two years later after the famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ with Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry, and added further titles in 1980 (Muirfield), 1982 (Royal Troon) and 1983 (Royal Birkdale).

In 2009, at age 59, Watson had a golden chance to become the oldest ever major champion, only to bogey the final hole at Turnberry which pushed him into a play-off with Stewart Cink that he went on to lose.

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