Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info

One more crossed off Watson's list

Like in the movie Bucket List, the American legend ticked off Dubai from the list of places he hadn't been to and was seen smiling despite a poor round.

In The Bucket List, the 2007 movie starring the Hollywood actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, a pair of ageing men compile an inventory of life goals and travel the world ticking off each target as it is achieved.This week at the Dubai Desert Classic, a similar scenario is under way.Tom Watson, the 60-year-old golf legend from America's Midwest, made his competitive Middle East debut at the Emirates yesterday.

The eight-time major winner said beforehand that he felt at a disadvantage because he had never played the Majlis course before and he struggled in some blustery conditions to card three bogeys and a double-bogey and finish his opening round with a one-over par total of 73.But while some players would, in similar circumstances, scowl and sulk, Watson - dressed in a red and white striped polo shirt - swung his clubs like a cane, smiled and donned his cap to the swollen gallery, which followed his every move.

It appeared as if nothing could throw this genial gent - although his collapse at Turnberry last year was testament to disprove such a theory. With the wind blowing and sand swirling into players' faces forcing many to opt to wear sunglasses, Watson was in his element: he had ticked off another item on his list."On my bucket list was to come to the Gulf," he said with a sincere smile, despite the disappointment of missing a putt for a birdie on the par-five 18th.

"I've had the opportunity to go to Kuwait and also Iraq for two of the past three years to visit our troops over there and I have certainly seen it from a different perspective from what it is here. But I want to see a bit more of the world before I leave."When he said "leave", he didn't mean on a flight."I know my years are short and I'm looking to take advantage and see some of these places and see what I've missed," added Watson, who turned professional in 1971.

"The way I live my life, I've always been a hotel-room-and-golf-course kind of guy. I was always focused on being the best golfer and didn't have a whole lot of time to do anything else. Now that I do, I'm smelling the roses a little bit more."Watson has won three of the four majors in golf, yet when asked about the remaining items on his list, "winning the PGA Championship" did not even produce a flicker of excitement in his eye. This is a man enjoying life; golf does not rule over everything else any more - although the passion and dedication to the game remains.

"Last year wasn't a successful year," he said. "Yes, I finished second in The Open Championship at Turnberry, but still it was a second place, not a victory, and that's what I'm out there to do."But I'm still learning. This golf course, the Emirates - I'm learning it. I'm very impressed with the tournament; it's something very special and it certainly makes it one of the best on the European Tour."

Like Nicholson and Freeman in the movie, Watson hopes to take in some of the world's greatest and oldest sights: the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, the Giza Pyramids, the South Pole. Yet he has found himself amazed by some of the emirate's own futuristic sights. "Dubai is a great combination of the Arab world and western culture. It's embraced the capitalistic spirit and the amount of wonderful things they have built here is spectacular," he added.

"I went to the new racetrack [Meydan]."I've been to Churchill Downs, but Churchill Downs is a broken down stable compared to this place. It's something spectacular."@Email:gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 F1 driver Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing is fifth in the Formula One drivers' standings, 46 points behind leader Nico Rosberg. Diego Azubel / EPA / April 20, 2014

Nothing Vettel can do about car, but Ricciardo’s superiority should be worrying

It isn't Sebastian Vettel's fault his Renault-powered Red Bull Racing car is so inferior to the Mercedes, writes Graham Caygill, but he isn't proving much by being outpaced by teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

 Paul Pierce and the Nets own a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against Toronto. Warren Toda / EPA

‘Dinosaur’ Brooklyn Nets roaming ominously in NBA play-offs

Brooklyn's veterans found their form toward the end of the season and now pose a threat in the East, writes Jonathan Raymond.

 The Eastern Conference play-offs have provided the bigger shocks so far, such as Jeff Teague, left, and the Atlanta Hawks win over the Indiana Pacers. Steve C Mitchell / EPA

In the NBA play-offs, better play finally rises in East

It took six months and 82 games but, finally, the Eastern Conference has become interesting.

 Stanislas Wawrinka lifts the Monte Carlo Masters trophy after his triumph over Roger Federer on Sunday. Claude Paris / AP / April 20, 2014

Wawrinka on the rise after topping Federer for Monte Carlo Masters title

The Australian Open champion suggested he is not just a one-major wonder as he bounced back to beat Federer in the Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday for his first Masters title.

 Roger Federer seemed to wear down during his Monte Carlo Masters loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the final on April 20, 2014. Wawrinka won 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. Michael Euler / AP Photo

Federer sees positives but one negative remains

There is plenty to cheer about for Roger Federer fans, but there could be one worrying indication.

 Diego Simeone has used Atletico Madrid supporters to his player’ advantage.

Neutrals’ favourites Atletico Madrid start as underdogs against Chelsea

It has been 18 seasons since they won the Primera Liga title but 40 years since reaching the Champions League final, but they dare to dream, writes Ian Hawkey.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National