The USGA apparently is dithering on whether to offer Tom Watson a special exemption to play in the US Open this June at Pebble Beach, where he won in 1982 with his now-famous chip-in at 17. Such an announcement, if any, would be made in May.
It shouldn’t be that hard. Watson is a legend, and he can still compete. In case anyone forgets, he was a chip away from winning last year’s Open Championship. And it was no fluke. He recently had a top ten finish against a strong field in Dubai. This isn’t Gary Player hanging on at Augusta to make sure he has an unbreakable record of starts. Watson missed the cut for the 2007 Masters by one shot. Watson is for real.
An exemption is granted by the USGA to the runner up of the US Amateur. I can’t believe that the Open Championship runner up doesn’t get equal treatment. At the very least, Watson would be more competitive than any player he might replace from the bottom of the list.
The USGA could energize the golfing world by inviting Tom Watson. It would be good for the competition. It would be good for golf.