Tom Watson proved himself to be as good a prophet as a golfer in shooting a closing-round 71 to win the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur golf championship today.
Watson said after taking a one-shot lead after three rounds that he would like to shoot a 71 and let the rest of the field chase him.He did just that and the remaining competitors could not keep th Stanford graduate from pocketing the $40,000 first prize.
Watson's 72-hole total of 273 broke the tournament record of 277 set in 1958 by Billy Casper. It was good for a one-shot edge over former British and U.S. Open champion Tony Jacklin and a two-swing margin over Lee Elder, whose final-round 71 netted him third place money of $14,200.
Both Jacklin and Elderalso eclipsed the former tournament mark. Uncommonly warm and windless weather was credited by ost observers for the remarkably low scoring in this 36th annual renewal of "Bing's Clambake."
Watson had three birdies and two bogeys en route to his 71, a figure that was matched by both Jacklin and Elder as their relative positions remained exactly the same as they were at te close of the third round. Balky putters were the downfall of both the Briton and the Washingtonian as each missed a half-dozen birdie opportunities.
For Watson the win seemed almost a part of destiny. He has played Pebble Beach more than 50 times since his days at Stanford, but never as well as he did this week.
He termed his mood about the same as it was after copping the l975 British Open in a playoff with Jack Newton.
Pebble Beach's 540-yard home hole took most of the drama out of the television show as first Elder, then Jacklin and finally Watson managed to finish with bogeys. Jacklin missed a three footer that would have saved his par five only moments after Watson, playing just behind him, hit his second shot into a bunker next to a seawall on this Pacific Ocean -lined links.
The second-place finish was the best for Jacklin since his last Amrican victory at the 1972 Jacksonville Open. "I would have liked to have won," said Jacklin. "However, had anyone to ld me two weeks ago that I would shoot 274 at the Crosby, I'd have dismissed him as mad."
Elder also was a happy man. It marked his best finish ever at the Crosby and his biggest payday since hecaptured the Houston Open last May. He won with a bad back that he reinjured upon his arrival on the Monterey Peninsula early in the week. It will cause him to miss the PGA tours stop in San Diego starts Thursday.
"I've got to be pretty satisfied," said Elder, "I missed a lot of birdie opportunities but considering the fact that I could only swing at about three-quarter strength I'd have to say I played pretty well".
Elder will next play in Hawaii and then return to California for the Bob Hope and the Los Angeles Opcti as he gears up for his second attempt to tackle the challenge of the Masters in Augusta.
Leoraco Thompson teamed with amateur Jim Vickers of Wichita, Kon. for a best-ball 61 and a three-shot victory in the Pro-Am competition. Defending champions Hale Irwin and Darius Keaton, the host for former President during his stay here, tied for second with Craig Stadler and John Jennings Jr. at 255, 22 under par.