Tom Watson, at 35 the youngest member of golf's greatest foursome, won all the money -- $120,000 -- in a nine-hole shutout of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player yesterday in the Skins Game.
"Oooooh," Watson said with a big smile when he rapped in an eight-foot putt for a birdie that was worth $70,000 on the par-5 ninth hole at the Desert Highlands course in Scottsdale, Ariz.
While he had a huge lead, it was far from a lock at the halfway point of this unique event that brought together a foursome that has won a total of 41 major pro matches.
Nine more holes, with a total of $240,000 up for grabs, are scheduled today.
"He outclassed us all, quite easily," said Nicklaus, slightly hobbled by recent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Watson, who won a record sixth player of the year title earlier this season, was the only member of the foursome to score a birdie, making three. He won the first hole with a routine, two-putt par when the other three each shot bogey-5. That was worth $10,000.
Watson, a five-time British Open champion and generally recognized as the outstanding player in the game today, also won the third and fifth holes -- with carry-overs, each was worth $20,000 -- with birdies. On the third, he scored from about 15 feet, and needed only a six-footer on the fifth.
The format calls for a prize of $10,000 on each of the first six holes, $20,000 on the next six and $30,000 on the final six. If no player wins a hole outright, the money is carried over to the next hole.