Tom thrilled to be making his Old Course return

Tom Watston believed he had crossed the Swilcan Bridge for the final time in 2015.
Tom Watston believed he had crossed the Swilcan Bridge for the final time in 2015.

When Tom Watson stepped off the 18th at the Old Course following his Open Championship efforts last year he believed it was for the final time.

The eight time major winner was saluted by adoring crowds as he bid farewell to competitive action on the sport’s most famous stage.

But it wasn’t to be a long goodbye.

Watson will again be given the chance to test his skills against the famous Old Course when he makes his return in 2018 when the Senior Open Championship is held in the town for the very first time.

The five-time Champion Golfer of the Year and three-time Senior Open winner was one of those at the forefront of efforts to bring the event to St Andrews.

Clearly the pull of the Old Course was too strong to resist for the 66-year-old.

Watson said: “I am thrilled at the news that the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex will be staged over the Old Course for the first time in 2018.

“Only last July, I played what I believed would be my final competitive round of golf at The Open, and the reception I received as darkness fell on that Friday evening will stay with me always.

“However, The R&A, the European Tour and the St Andrews Links Trust have shown the spirit of cooperation that exists in the game.

“By agreeing to bring this wonderful Championship to the Home of Golf in July 2018, they have allowed not just me, but many other great champions, an opportunity to return to a venue that means so much to everyone who plays the game.”

The Old Course at St Andrews has been a regular host to the world’s oldest and most international Major Championship for more than 140 years and will achieve another historic milestone from July 26-29 when it hosts its first Senior Open.

That’ll complete the full set of Major Championships to be held in the town.

The 144th Open in 2015, won by Zach Johnson, was the 29th occasion on which the championship has been played at St Andrews.

The Ricoh British Women’s Open has been played there twice.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: “There have been many great championships held at St Andrews over the years and it is entirely fitting that the Senior Open should be played at the Home of Golf in 2018. We know that the galleries in St Andrews are passionate about golf and I’m sure they will turn out in strong numbers to see so many renowned senior players competing. It promises to be another wonderful event for golf fans in Scotland.”