Watson overcomes Romero at Senior PGA

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/g/golfgeneric1.jpg' class='caption'> Denis Watson heard too often that he'd never play golf again. It took 23 years to prove everyone wrong.

Updated: May 29, 2007 09:41 IST
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Kiawah Island, South Carolina:

Denis Watson heard too often that he'd never play golf again. It took 23 years to prove everyone wrong.

Watson took advantage of Eduardo Romero's late mistakes to take the Senior PGA Championship, his first US victory since winning three times on the PGA Tour in 1984.

"This validates my golfing career," Watson said. "It's gratifying to know that I've still got it after all these years."

Watson, from Zimbabwe, edged Romero by two strokes to become the first international Senior PGA winner since Gary Player in 1990.

The 51-year-old Watson was as a rising star in the 1980s when he won the Buick Open, World Series of Golf and the Las Vegas Invitational. In 1985, though, Watson's rise ended when he hit into a hidden stump during a tournament in South Africa.

Watson continued playing, but would eventually find out he damaged his neck, wrist, back and shoulders. There's was nerve damage, too.

"I never played a decent round of golf (after that)," he said.

Watson's had eight or nine surgeries, he says, been in a back brace for weeks and spent years in rehab. No less an expert than teacher David Leadbetter told Watson his swing was dead.

"Someone told me that I'd played 30 times in 14 years," Watson said. "That's not a lot of golf."

Things began to turn this season, his first full year on the Champions Tour.

Watson tied for second at the Turtle Bay Championship, then added three more top 10s heading into The Ocean Course, where he had to face Romero.

The Argentine star known as "El Gato," had handled The Ocean Course's famed sand dunes and Atlantic gusts the best of anyone the first three days. He was still ahead by two shots after birdies on the 11th and 12th holes pushed him to 10 under.

That's when things fell apart for Romero - and Watson took advantage. Romero followed a bogey on the 13th hole with a double bogey on the par-3 14th when his tee shot all but buried in soft sand.

Watson, meanwhile, stuck his tee shot about 12 feet from the hole, urging it on with, "Be right. Be right. Be right. Be right. Yes!" Watson completed Romero's fall with a birdie, pumping his fist in triumph as he went to 9 under and gained a two-shot lead.

Watson briefly gave Romero hope. On the 15th hole, Watson's bogey sliced the lead to one. But Watson came back with birdie on the 16th to restore the margin.

Watson made pars on the 17th and 18th - he'd played the holes 6-over par the first three rounds - for a 68. Watson again pumped his fist when his final putt went in, removing his wide-brimmed hat as the gallery applauded.

Price (71) finished at 6 under for third, his best placing since joining the Champions Tour this season.

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