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Watson hoping to win again for former caddie

American golfing great Tom Watson will spare more than a thought for his late caddie Bruce Edwards when he defends his title at the Senior British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club starting on Thursday.

Eight-times major winner Watson won last year's title at Turnberry in Scotland without Edwards on his bag as his fellow American was sick and unable to travel.

Edwards had been diagnosed with a degenerative wasting disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2003 but continued to caddie for Watson until he could no longer cope with the job.

"He told me I was going to come over here (to Scotland) and win this thing without him," an emotional Watson said after beating Briton Carl Mason in a playoff for last year's title.

"I said, 'I'll do it for you, pal.'"

Edwards died at his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida aged 49 during this year's U.S. Masters, giving Watson even greater incentive to retain his Senior British Open crown this week.

However, five-times British Open champion Watson faces a strong field over the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush, including former Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance and Mark James and Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty.

Also playing is former Ryder Cup player Eamonn Darcy of Ireland, who will be bidding for his first senior title on either side of the Atlantic since he turned 50 in late 2002.

"This is my second year now playing on the Seniors Tour, and I was beaten in a playoff in both America and Europe last year," the Irishman told reporters.

"It would be great to win my first one here.

"I would like to be a little bit sharper, but golf is a funny game and can change so much."

Royal Portrush has previously staged the championship five times.

Britain's Brian Barnes won there in 1995 and 1996, nine-times major winner Gary Player of South Africa triumphed in 1997 followed by Briton Brian Huggett in 1998 and Ireland's Christy O'Connor Jnr a year later.

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