British Open co-leader an inspiration to Hawaii golfers

Ikaika Beasley
Ikaika Beasley
Gary Laabs
Gary Laabs

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A senior golfer, playing nearly 7,000 miles away, has become an inspiration to scores of people right here in Hawaii. British Open co-leader Tom Watson is proving age ain't nothing but a number.

It's a Cinderella story in the making.

"I'm rooting for him," Ikaika Beasley, Palolo resident, said. "I hope he wins."

A man two months shy of his 60th birthday -- and coming off hip replacement -- has a share of the lead at Turnberry.

"Oh, I think that's great. It's good for the old-timers," Gary Laabs, Mililani resident, said while laughing.

Then again, we are talking about five-time British Open champ Tom Watson, who's showing the younger generation a thing or two.

"I think he's just using his experience and getting out there and relaxed," Laabs said. "He has nothing to lose really, you know. He's up there. He's already won a few majors."

Laabs, who's been playing golf for 30 years, checks out the clubs at Roots and Relics in Honolulu. Some 6,900 miles from Scotland, people in the store can't help but talk about Watson's inspirational play.

"He's way older than me and he's golfing so good. Wow. So it kind of gives you hope," Beasley, who has a 26 handicap, said. "You figure, oh, one old guy can do 'em. Maybe I get better with age, yeah."

In an unexpected twist, the world's top golfer, Tiger Woods, 33, misses the cut.

"I think it's good for the game," Laabs said. "There's a lot of golfers out there that think, oh no, Tiger's out here. We're going to not have a chance."

"It shows that he's human?" this reporter asked.

"It shows that he's human, absolutely," Laabs replied.

Folks here say it just goes to show golf is a sport where, on any given day, a 59-year-old can smile a little wider, walk a little taller, and score even better than the younger guys.

"Say I go Ala Wai (Golf Course) or somewhere, you see a lot of older people," Beasley said. "I think it's like one sport that you can play forever."