As Marco Dawson lined up the putt, he looked across the green and saw Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie watching intently.
At stake, on Sunday, was the Senior Open Championship in Berkshire, England. The putt was a 25-footer on the 18th, and final, hole.
Dawson sank the putt and won the major after trailing by four strokes earlier in the final round.
“One and two on the money list, Hall of Famers,” Dawson said about his playing partners. “[But] I’m just going to go through the motions and not worry about who I’m playing. I can only control what I do. I can’t control what they do.”
That made Dawson, who never won on the PGA Tour, a big name for the 3M Championship, the Champions Tour event that begins Friday at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.
Dawson, 51, had to rally Sunday to score the impressive victory after trailing Langer and Montgomerie early in the final round. He eagled holes 9 and 14 and birdied 11, 12 and 18 to take a one-stroke lead on the final hole.
“Going back home I thought, I don’t think you could have scripted it any better,” Dawson said.
Thursday, Langer said Dawson has come “a long way” in his career and played well in the final two rounds last weekend.
“He rolled in a couple of putts at crucial moments for eagle to leapfrog Monty and myself,” Langer said. “He kept in there all the time. He was never far from the lead and when he got a nose ahead we weren’t able to close it.”
Dawson admitted after playing in Thursday’s pro-am that he’s a little tired after being on such an adrenaline high. After the Open Championship victory, Dawson and his wife stayed awake until 3:30 a.m. answering congratulatory text messages.
This weekend, Dawson looks to become the first player to win a senior major championship and follow it with a victory in a 54-hole event since Jay Haas in 2008.
In a unique circumstance, Dawson’s mother will caddie for him for the first nine holes Sunday.
“That’ll be kind of neat,” Dawson said. “I don’t know if many of these guys would have their mother carry their bags. So I brought the light bag this week. She may only be able to go nine holes, although she’s tough.”
Dawson had a victory on the developmental Web.com Tour (then the Buy.com Tour) 13 years ago, and broke through on the Champions Tour earlier this season with a victory in Tucson, Ariz., in March.
Last year, Dawson qualified for the 3M Championship in a qualifier and finished tied for third.
“It was the best I’d played in years, and I thought after it was done … I just played the best golf I’ve played in a long time and I wasn’t even close to winning,” Dawson said. “I couldn’t figure out anywhere where I could have made up any shots.”
This weekend, Dawson will look to do just that, and win his second tournament in as many weeks.