By 1980 Tom Watson was 30 years old and dominating the PGA Tour
Published: August 24th, 2016– In 1980, Tom Watson was 30 years old, the owner of four major championships and on top of the golfing world. A pedestal that was held by the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus for some time, it was in 1980 at Firestone Country Club that the torch was unofficially passed as the golf’s most dominating player. It was a sad fate for the beloved Nicklaus who needed to win the 1980 WSOG (World Series of Golf) to give Watson a run for his money for the Player of the Year award. Nicklaus’s chances were slim after Watson opened up the event with a confident 65 but gave Jack glimmering hope when he turned in a 75 for the second round. Thats when it all ended for Nicklaus–while on the range he pulled a muscle in his lower back forcing him to withdraw from the event and his hopes for any year-end titles.
This wasn’t the first time these two players met on the final day of a tournament and also wasn’t the last. This dimmed the Watson vs. Nicklaus saga, a story that had been popular ever since the two players battled it out in the famed “Duel in the Sun” at the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry. For players chasing the lead like Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, & Lee Trevino–Watson’s consistency proved to be too much as he would card two more 65’s to round out the victory. Ray Floyd matched Watson in the final round with a 65 but still finished three strokes back.
This win secured Watson’s fourth consecutive Player of the Year award and it was the second & final win at the World Series of Golf. With this 1st place check it moved him to $510,258 total earnings for the year, making Watson the first player to ever reach that mark in a single season.