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Watson skips Senior Open for Greenbrier

The PGA Tour is set to kick off again on American soil for the Greenbrier Classic, West Virginia on Thursday.

And they will be welcoming an old hand who‘s a familiar face around these parts.

Tom Watson, pro emeritus at The Greenbrier, will be skipping out on the U.S. Senior Open – one of the biggest majors on the Senior Circuit - to turn up at the Classic, because of a promise to Greenbrier owner Jim Justice.

Watson said: “Very simply I said, ‘Jim, I made a commitment to you and I’m sticking to it.’ So here I am.”

Last year, Watson passed on the opportunity to play, due to commitments to the U.S. Senior Open, but he assured Justice he would be back in 2011.

Watson’s first encounter with Greenbrier happened more than three decades ago as part of the 1979 Ryder Cup team, an experience that he will always remember more for the off-field events than action on the course.

After Watson received a call that his ex-wife had gone into labour back in Kansas City, Justice’s father flew him home via a company plane to get back in time for the birth of his new baby girl, Meg.

The gesture and memory was clearly enough for Watson. He has been back there ever since over the last 30 years bringing his sponsors, and taking over from Sam Snead as the pro emeritus at the course.

Justice said that Watson's participation "meant volumes" particularly considering what he would be giving up this week.

Watson will play the first two rounds with Phil Mickelson, himself fresh from a fine second-place finish at the British Open.

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