Tom Watson’s Favorite Golf Gambling Story: Win Bet, Miss Cut

Tom Watson’s Favorite Golf Gambling Story: Win Bet, Miss Cut article feature image

Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Watson

The Action Network spoke with several of golf’s biggest legends find out their favorite personal golf betting stories. In a previous series, we spoke with several of today’s biggest stars about their favorite betting stories. You can find those here.

  • Who: Tom Watson
  • When: 1992 Open Championship
  • Where: Muirfield Golf Links, Scotland

On the first tee of a practice round, Watson made a 1,000-pound no-bogey bet with Lanny Wadkins, Fred Couples and one other player. (“The name escapes me,” Watson admits.) The bet: If any of the four could play all 18 holes without a bogey, the other three would owe him the money.

“By the sixth hole, I was the only player still in the bet as the other three made their bogeys and were out.

“As the round progressed, I remained bogey-free until the 16th hole, a par 3. I pulled my iron into the left bunker and proceeded to hit a poor bunker shot, leaving me a 15-footer for par.

“It had gotten very quiet on the back nine with little chatter — even from the usually very animated Wadkins.

“They didn’t say a word as I took my time lining up the putt, which of course I made to the audible disgust of all of them.

“Now I had the par-5 17th and the tough 18th to play to keep bogey-free.

“I made an easy par on the 17th and then proceeded to hit a perfect drive and approach shot to about 5 feet above the hole on 18 — an easy winner. But I missed the putt and it rolled by the hole just outside gimme range.

“Looking up at the boys, I asked them if this putt was good, but only heard crickets — except for Lanny, who exclaimed, “Putt it!!” rather sternly.

“I made the putt and was the recipient of the winnings, but not without a small disagreement as to the amount of the bet. The boys somewhat kidded me, saying it was a $1,000, not pounds, to which I laughingly reminded them what the bet was on the first tee.

“Ironically, this ended up being the only money I won that week, as I missed the 36-hole cut, but the satisfaction of taking some of my buddies’ cash that week made it a little more palatable.”

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