By Chuck Garbedian Special to Published Jul 18, 2009 at 10:09 PM

There is now an official stat for such a thing, but even by today's standards, Tom Watson has rolled in more than his share of putts during the first three rounds of the 138th British Open at Turnberry.

Time and time again in Saturday's third round, Watson snaked home another 20-, 30-, or 40-footer. When he needed a big putt, he made it, even if it was a bomb from across the putting surface.

Can Watson keep it going? I would say "yes," only because he has followed his game plan to a tee. The conservative strategy is to keep his golf ball in play and stay away from the big numbers.

As we've seen, aggressive play can and will be rewarded, but it will also be punished more severely than the less aggressive play. On the opposite end of that spectrum was Tiger Woods, whose early play was too conservative, leaving him only 18 holes to both make up ground and stay in the hunt. In the end, Woods came up three feet short in his effort as his birdie attempt on the 18th green failed to find the bottom of the cup.

The happening: For Tom Watson to win his sixth Claret Jug and his ninth major championship, all he has to do is keep doing what he has been doing for the past three rounds. Keep it in play off the tee, hole some timely putts and do not do anything silly. If you can't tell, Tom Terrific is completely enjoying himself and that's the way this great game should be played. After all, even at the highest levels, it's still a game.

The mix: There are 18 holes left and although Watson has slept on leads before, never has he done it at a major championship when he was more than 59 years old. Although he has said that during Saturday's round he was the "most serene" he has ever been on a golf course, there are several factors that could upset the balance that is "Serenity now, insanity later."

Lucas Glover was a shock at the US Open when he came from behind in the nick of time to snatch a major away from Ricky Barnes among others. Could Matthew Goggin be the next in line to steal a major?

Of all the majors, the British Open is the wild card. At the Masters, there is a limited field, invited by those who run the tournament, so in reality, there are only so many in the field that have a legitimate shot at winning. It is no wonder why Jack Nicklaus has six green jackets, Arnold Palmer and Tiger four each.

At the US Open, there is a wide-open field where any and all who meet the criteria can tee it up for a chance to make it into our national championship. But what makes the US Open so difficult to win is the course set up where again, only a limited number of players are realistically in the mix for the title.

This is why you have a wide range of champions from Ben Hogan to Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods with a Jack Fleck tossed in and a Sam Snead looking in from beyond the gallery ropes.

The PGA Championship is generally a bit more wide open, with teaching professional involved in the field and a host of quality golf courses set up for scoring. While the PGA has given us Tiger Woods as a champion, it has also given us David Toms, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel.

The British Open is a charming, quirky relative. You love to see them occasionally as its entertaining, but you definitely don't want an extended stay. The British Open features intriguing courses set on dunes and cliffs and hollows and swales, all the while being buffeted by wind, rain, heat and cold, sometimes all in the same round. The ball is mostly played close to the ground, so as to avert the affects of the wind. Playing in and winning a British Open takes patience, control of your golf ball and imagination.

Goggin could be the one to come from behind. He too has putted well so far in this edition of the British Open, collecting only one three putt in 54 holes. And Goggin is 5-under par on the par-five holes for the week, including birdies on each so far on No.17.

Entering the final round, there are only seven players under par. Following round one of the Open Championship there were 50 players under par.

The only constant so far in this Open is that Tom Watson's name has been near or at the top of the leader board for three days and he's seemingly made everything he's looked at. Now we come down to the final 18 and the question on everyone's mind is, "Can Watson pull it off...?"

Weather: The weather forecast for Turnberry calls for rain with temps near 60 and winds near 20 mph -- just the kind of weather you want to conclude your major championship. That said, there will be boisterous crowds on hand to cheer on Tom Watson to what could be an improbable victory.


Chuck Garbedian Special to
Chuck has more than a decade of experience in many aspects of the golf industry -- from sales to teaching to hosting radio talk shows. He has been media chairman for the Greater Milwaukee Open since 1992, has served as women's golf coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He currently does work for PGA TOUR Network on SIRIUS XM Radio.