It had been nine years since Tom Watson last won a tournament. It seemed like a lifetime.
"It's like winning all over again for the first time," Tom Watson said after he held off a wave of younger challengers and rolled in a clinching putt on the final green Sunday to win his second Memorial Tournament by two shots."God, it feels good. It feels so good to win again. Nine years. Half of that, I wasn't playing good and the last half I was. But it feels good to be the last person off the golf course, the guy who knocked the last putt in."
Watson followed rounds of 70, 68 and 66 with a 70 to finish at 14-under 274 and collect $324,000.
It was the 46-year-old's first victory in the United States since the 1987 Nabisco Championships. That was also the last time he led a tournament through three rounds. He hadn't won against a full field in nearly 12 years, since the 1984 Western Open.
"I was thinking back to '84 and how good it felt and how I won it," said Watson, who dedicated the win to his ailing father. "I won that with determination and good play on the last day. I did the same today. I just haven't been able to do that the last few years."
He made a one-stroke lead at the start of the day stand up by playing steady golf while those around him found trouble, and David Duval's late charge fell short.
Watson came in ranked among the top-10 tour players in scoring in the first, second and third rounds, but was a dismal 52nd in the fourth round.
He had finished second five times since his last win. Two years ago, he was within striking distance going into the final round of the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open, but ballooned to a 74 each time.
"The most disappointed I was was at the Turnberry British Open," Watson said. "I was playing pretty well and putting pretty well, but the last day the putter felt like an anvil in my hands."
Duval, six strokes behind Watson as he stepped to the 14th tee, went birdie, eagle, birdie, par and birdie to the finish to make things interesting.
"It was not much of a duel out there," Duval conceded. "It was more like him beating up on everybody like always used to do."
But Watson parred three holes in a row, then rolled in a 15-foot downhill birdie putt on the final green to close it out.
"I said to leave it short," he said of the slippery putt, "but I still couldn't leave it short."
Duval's closing 67 left him at 12-under 276, and Mark O'Meara came off the pace to shoot a closing 68 that gave him his fourth straight top-three finish at 10-under 278.
David Frost birdied four of the last five holes to shoot 67 and also ended up at 10-under.
Watson started the week eighth on the tour in scoring but 153rd in putting, yet his putter seldom failed him. He outdrove playing partner Ernie Els - a long hitter 20 years his junior - on every hole on the front side. And he ended a 141-tournament victory drought despite only distant memories of what it was like to play with a lead.
A winner of five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open, Watson had just two bogeys over the last 40 holes.
The victory was the 41st of Watson's stellar career and provided another parallel with long-time nemesis and peer Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus, the course designer of Muirfield Village Golf Club and the Memorial Tournament host, won the Masters - also at age 46 - a decade ago.
Watson, who also won in the rain in 1979, joined Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Hale Irwin as the only two-time Memorial winners.
At Birmingham, Ala., John Bland won the third playoff hole with a bogey Sunday to beat John Paul Cain and capture the rain-soaked Bruno's Memorial Classic on the Senior PGA Tour.
Cain, who holed a long birdie putt at No. 18 in regulation to force the playoff, ended up in the rocks off the green on the third playoff hole and settled for a double-bogey.
With the pressure off, Bland could afford to botch his par putt, and a bogey was enough to claim his third career senior victory and second this season.
After Cain tied Kermit Zarley at 8-under on the tournament's 54th hole, Bland joined them with a birdie of his own. He survived a bad tee shot on the first playoff hole, and the trio remained tied, marching back to the 18th tee to do it again.
On the second playoff hole, Zarley was eliminated with a double-bogey after hitting the woods on his drive, the mud near a creek on his second shot and the bunker on his third. Cain and Bland both made par.
Cain and Bland hit the fairway on the third playoff, but Cain's second shot sailed into the rough. He struck his third shot into the rocks off to the left of the pin, leaving the victory there for Bland to take.
Bland joined Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Jim Colbert and Bob Murphy as this year's multiple winners.
Isao Aoki was fourth at 7-under. Graham Marsh, who won last year's Bruno's tournament, and Irwin tied for fifth at 5-under.
Bruce Summerhays, who led after the first and second rounds and was trying for his first senior victory, had a bad case of the putting blues, shooting a 77 and finishing five strokes back.