Watson plays his final round while Langer wins the title

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Watson, who won the Open five times, celebrates his seventy-fifth birthday in five weeks

Eight times big winner Tom Watson withdrew from competitive left golf at the age of 69 when Bernhard Langer won a record fourth Senior Open.

The American received a stirring message after he said he would retire to Royal Lytham & St Annes on Sunday.

He was ready for a swansong level-par round before running out of the final three holes for a 73 to finish nine, 15 shots behind German Langer, 61.

"The crowd was very warm and appreciative, "Watson said.

"There will be other people doing the reins and they will do what I did. Life is full of passages and I have gone through my career here, starting in 1975 to here in 2019. It is great."

Langer earned his 41st professional title since he turned 50

Watson enjoyed five Open champion victories between 1975 and 1983, making him only one shy of Harry Vardon's record ever.

He never missed a cut in the Senior Open and remains one of only three men – along with Gary Player and Bob Charles – to win both that tournament and the Open itself.

Despite heavy rains, which suspended the game for more than five and a half hours in the final day, two-time Masters champion Langer played a four under par 66 to turn a three-stroke deficit into a victory with two strokes of the English champion 2016 in England, Paul Broadhurst.

"It is always special to walk 18 in a major, but especially here," he said. "People are so knowledgeable about golf, and it's great how they came out even in these circumstances and encouraged us in the rain.

" It feels very special, whether it's the Open or the Senior Is open. Now that it has won 11 senior majors, it means a lot. No one has won more than nine if I'm right, even the great Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or Tom Watson who retired today. "

Freddie Couples, who won the Masters in 1992, shares a joke with old friend Watson
Watson greets the crowd as he hits his last putt on the 18th green

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