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It would not have been right had it been easy.

After all, when you wait this long for something, you don't want it to be handed to you.So David Duval made sure Tom Watson earned his Memorial triumph. And earn it he did.

The sports world got one of those warm, fuzzy feelings that golf so often provides Sunday when one of the game's legends, Watson, snuffed out a winless drought of almost nine years by conquering Muirfield Village at age 46.

And how did he do it?


Fairways and greens. Watson rarely missed either en route to a two-shot victory made possible by the most appropriate of finishes, a birdie putt from 15 feet above the cup with some 25,000 fans pressed together around the 18th green.

"To me, it's the most thrilling win in 10 years, since I won the Masters," said tournament host Jack Nicklaus.

And he may have been right.

Watson, a six-time PGA player of the year and the winner of eight major championships, all but disappeared after the 1984 season. His only win in the United States since that year was at the Nabisco Championships in 1987 and 141 events came and went without another Watson victory.

Until Sunday.

"It feels so good to win again," Watson said after closing with a 2-under 70 on a gray, rainy day for a 14-under 274 total. "The last person off the course. The last putt in. I've missed that so much.

"It's like winning all over again for the first time. I remember the first one, the Western Open in 1974. I won with determination and good play on the last day. This was no different. I've felt I had the power to win, but I could never finish off four rounds. I've been waiting so long for this.

"In the mid-to-late 1980s, I just stopped hitting the ball very well. I just wasn't playing well. But for the last few years I've hit the ball as well as ever, but the putter has felt like an anvil. It has been frustrating. But today makes it all worthwhile. This is just wonderful."

Duval, who played the final five holes in 5-under, came out of nowhere to score 67 and claim his second straight runner-up finish at Muirfield with a 12-under 276 total. David Frost and Mark O'Meara tied for third at 10-under 278 and John Huston rounded out the top five at 9-under.

Ernie Els, who was tied for the lead one hole into Sunday's round, faded to a 75 and was one of five players at 8-under 280.

Huston played well for a spell and was within two shots before Watson ran in a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 10.

"I made that and I figured, `OK, now we have a ballgame. Now these guys have to come and get me."' Watson said.

For a while, no one did. In fact, after Huston hit into the water for a bogey at No. 12, Watson's lead grew to four and it seemed all over but the shouting.

Duval admits that when he stood on the 14th tee, "I wasn't even a factor. I'm just thinking that if I can get a couple birdies I might sneak into the top 10."

Duval birdied the 14th, then dropped a 40-footer for eagle at the par-5 15th and an 18-footer for birdie at No. 16.

Watson laced a dead-center drive at the home hole, then hit a 6-iron shot that landed behind the pin, sucked back into the slope and drew to within 15 feet.

He turned to his longtime caddy, Bruce Edwards, and said, "Was that good enough?"

Only good enough for his second Memorial title, his 33rd tour win and his 41st worldwide triumph.

"I caught a stretch at the end, but Tom really had the upper hand all day," Duval said. "It wasn't much of a duel. It was just him beating up on everybody like he always used to. And that's wonderful. If I have to wait another week or another month or however long for my first victory because Tom Watson wins a golf tournament, that's fine. I mean, it was hard not to be rooting for him."

It seemed as though everyone was doing just that. Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller were among those who walked from the locker room to the scorer's tent to give Watson a quick hug and pat on the back.

"O'Meara came into the locker room and said this was the best thing that could possibly happen to golf," Nicklaus related. "What a great win."