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Watson's rare feat

When Tom Watson followed up last month's US Open victory by winning the British Open as well, he became only the fifth player to capture golf's two biggest national titles in the same year. The others were Bobby Jones, who did it twice (1926 and 1930), Gene Sarazan (1932), Ben Hogan (1953), and Lee Trevino (1971).

Watson's triumph at Troon, Scotland, was his fourth British title, going along with those he won in 1975, 1977, and 1980. That makes him only the third modern golfer to have won that many and the 10th overall, with most of the others going back to the 19th century.

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Harry Vardon is the all-time leader with six titles between 1896 and 1914, while the only winners of four or more crowns in the last 60 years are Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke, and Peter Thomson. Hagen won four times in the 1920s, Locke duplicated that feat in the '40s and '50s, and Thomson captured five titles in the '50s and '60s.

In joining this group, Watson moved ahead of contemporaries Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, each of whom has won three British titles. And at age 32, of course , he has ample time left to catch or surpass Thomson - or even Vardon.

The victory also gave him a seventh major championship, going along with his two Masters titles and this year's US Open.

One thing the victory didn't give Watson, however, was any more ''official'' money, since in the strange thinking of the PGA, earnings in the British Open don't count toward its annual money-winning title. Thus his $57,600 first prize goes for nought as far as the PGA is concerned, and Craig Stadler remains No. 1 with $319,976 for the year compared to Watson's second place figure of $288,796.

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