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Tom Watson's British Open career close to its end

Tom Watson waves to the crowd on the

Tom Watson waves to the crowd on the first green during a special Champion Golfers' challenge at the British Open Golf Championship at the Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Credit: AP / Peter Morrison

ST ANDREWS, Scotland - The greatest British Open career of all time might end as early as Friday, or perhaps on Sunday if Tom Watson makes the cut.

Watson nearly won the British Open at age 59 in 2009, so you can't rule out him playing the weekend at age 65. And if he somehow finishes in the top 10 this week, if he can "catch lightning in the bottle" as he puts it, then he will qualify for -- and play in -- the 2016 Open.

"I still want to compete," Watson said Wednesday. "I still want to hit that shot that really means something under pressure. I know I may have a few left in me, but probably not enough to really make it right.

"[My Open record] has defined my career, and there is a certain sense of melancholy. You can sense that -- the regret that it is over."

Jack Nicklaus finished runner-up to Watson in the 1977 Open at Turnberry, in the "Duel in the Sun" as it became known, and he considers Watson's Open record to be peerless.

"Tom won five times and Harry Vardon won six. James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Peter Thomson also won five, but Tom's victories came in the modern era and with arguably the game's toughest fields," Nicklaus said earlier this year. "That is not taking anything away from any other champions; they were all tremendous players. I just believe that for Tom to beat the people he did under those conditions, in my opinion his legacy has been cemented as the greatest to play in the British Open."

Watson also announced Wednesday that he will make his final appearance in the Masters in 2016. "Those tools I used to play good golf," he said, "those tools are pretty rusty, rusty like me."

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