68-year-old Tom Watson wins Masters Par-3 contest

The swing hadn’t changed…and the years, well, he just rolled them back.

Certainly it was the Tom Watson of old as the eight-time major champion gave the young bucks a lesson in shotmaking to take the traditional Par Three tournament run on the eve of the US Masters.

While it’s more about fun and games and a chance to include the family and close friends and, in Jack Nicklaus’ case, the grandkids, Watson turned the event into much more than a walk down Memory Lane.

Watson started out with a smile on his face but did get a little more serious when he and Nicklaus traded birdies at the first two holes.

Still it was Watson that went on with it as the 68-year-old became the oldest player to win the Par Three contest by seven years with a stunning display of six birdies and three pars to win the event.

“He only had eight putts, including a two putt at the last . . . incredible,” marvelled Nicklaus after the pair and 82-year-old Gary Player completed their nine holes.

The opening birdies and the prospect of being in direct competition certainly seemed to ignite the three men.

“It’s the Watson of old,” grinned Watson, who won the main event, the Masters in 1977 and 1981.

“I wasn’t playing in the big one this year so I figured I may as well win the Par Three. Why not?”

Nicklaus, 78, tried hard to stay with Watson although his swing was notably shorter than in his “Golden Bear” years.

In fact his score of four-under was enough for fourth place in the contest, an impressive feat of its own.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood finished in the runner-up position with a five-under-par 22.

Watson’s score of 21 saw him surpass the great Sam Snead, who won the 1974 edition of the event at the age of 61, as the oldest winner of the Par Three.