One of golf's unique pleasures is agelessness. I can still recall watching the Masters on television in the '60s when Ben Hogan made consecutive birdies on the back-nine of Augusta and shot six under par. Even in an era of few cameras and black and white television, the golfing legend's return to championship form for a brief moment was electrical.
In 2009, 59-year-old Tom Watson had a Hogan-like performance for an entire tournament. His play at the British Open that year was an incredible sports accomplishment. Having watched the event live and digested countless newspaper and magazine narratives, I wondered what anyone could add to this story.FOUR DAYS IN JULY: Tom Watson, the 2009 Open Championship, and a Tournament for the Ages by television sports reporter Jim Huber puts a remarkable finish to that incredible weekend. While some of his writing is a little over the top and excessively dramatic, Huber has captured Tom Watson in a poignant fashion. Watson is a Hall of Fame golfer --- winner of eight major championships, including five British Opens --- and considered by many to be the greatest links player ever. FOUR DAYS IN JULY is more than an account of one golf tournament; it's the story of Watson, and it's difficult not be emotionally moved.
Huber weaves the four days of the tournament into Watson's career. Watson had a long association with his caddy, Bruce Edwards, who would succumb to ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As the relationship between golfer and caddy is portrayed and Watson's efforts to continue his charitable work to fight the disease are chronicled, it is difficult for readers to remain unmoved. Huber is no Watson sycophant. He points out his shortcomings and often discusses them in the context of his private and public life. FOUR DAYS IN JULY is one of those wonderful books that takes one event in a life and uses it as a foundation for biography. It's a wonderful summer read.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on June 1, 2011