The spur to tom watson's golfing revival in San Francisco may have been the threat of being abandoned by his caddie of 14 years, Bruce Edwards. "I told Tom walking off the first tee on Thursday that if he didn't gut it up and show some mental toughness, I wasn't going to be long for this job anymore," said the 32-year-old Edwards. "I couldn't go on watching the way it has been. My fondest memories will be of him giving 110 percent—win, lose or draw."
After a 72 on Thursday, Watson responded Friday with a 65, which tied him for the lead. In the press tent afterward, the first thing he did was publicly thank Edwards.
"Bruce has been very positive," said Watson. "He's kicked me in the rear end a few times. I've needed that."
Watson and Edwards have the longest-standing player/caddie partnership on the PGA Tour. It began in St. Louis in July 1973, when Edwards asked the little-known second-year pro if he could carry his bag. "Bruce was my wedding present," says Linda Watson. "He started working for Tom right after we got married. I'm Tom's best friend, but Bruce is his second-best friend."
The effusive Edwards helped keep Watson up when Tom was tagged as a choker in the mid-'70s, and he enjoyed the wave of success that Watson achieved in the late '70s. It was Edwards at whom Watson gleefully pointed after chipping in on the 71st hole on his way to winning the 1982 Open at Pebble Beach. Edwards's advice to his boss on the final fairway at Olympic on Sunday was typical. "Hell, we can make this wedge shot," he said. "Who says we can't make it?"
But during Watson's victory drought, Edwards often found his man a doubting Thomas. "He's been frustrated, and he hasn't tried as hard as he used to," says Edwards, who lives in Dallas and holds a real estate license. "There have been times when he just went through the motions."
Edwards adjusted like a jockey whose horse needs the whip. "If I say something critical, Tom responds to that," he says. "I try to get him to believe good things will happen and not to be upset by a bad result."
"Today I was telling him to let the little boy inside him do the work on the greens," said Edwards on Sunday. "And he did. His composure and his attitude were fantastic."
After his round Sunday, Watson said he was too let down to play this week at Hartford. Then he looked at Edwards. "Want to go to Hartford?" he asked. "Yeah," said Edwards.
"All right, we'll go to Hartford."
"That shows me he's turned the corner," Edwards said. "He didn't win, but this is the brightest week we've had in a long time."