Tom Watson has accomplished a lot in golf, winning the British Open five times, the Masters twice along with a U.S. Open. The 62-year-old has had...

LAKE ORION, Mich. — Tom Watson has accomplished a lot in golf, winning the British Open five times, the Masters twice along with a U.S. Open.

The 62-year-old has had success on the Champions Tour as well, winning three of its five majors, including the Senior PGA last year.

Finishing first at the U.S. Senior Open has been elusive.

“I’ve come close,” Watson said Wednesday. “Come close a couple times.”

Make that a few.

Watson, a three-time runner up at the event, acknowledged that winning the event would mean a great deal.

“This event is a very special event to me,” he said.

Watson, Seattle native Fred Couples and amateur Douglas Snoap will tee off together Thursday morning in the first round.

“I hope he goes away thinking he got a good break getting paired with us,” Couples said. “I think he’ll be more nervous than most guys. We’re not going to try and make him more nervous. We’ll talk to him and have fun with him.”

Defending U.S. Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher also withdrew from the 156-player field due to a hand injury.

Watson is thankful to be healthy enough to play. He injured his right wrist shortly after playing in the Masters while mowing the lawn on his Kansas farm for six straight hours.

Watson took several weeks off, including missing out on a chance to defend his Senior PGA championship at Harbor Shores on the other side of the state, before returning to play earlier this month.

Couples — like Watson — is hopeful his health holds up well enough to help him leave the Motor City after putting a U.S. Senior Open championship on his resume. Couples said the accomplishment would rank just below the 1992 Masters and pair of Players Championship titles he has won.

“This would be right under it,” he said.

The 52-year-old Couples took last week off to rest his oft-injured back. He’s hoping that improves his chances of trying to recapture some of the magic he had in April as the oldest player to lead the Masters going into the weekend before finishing tied for 12th.

“I did not play any golf last week just to make sure coming in here that I could physically play and not be in too much pain or have too much trouble swinging,” he said.