Five-times champion Tom Watson is running the gamut of emotions before his final British Open next month, but he is certain of one thing: he does not want to bow out with a whimper.

The 2014 edition at Royal Liverpool was due to be the veteran American's swansong appearance and he is grateful the Royal & Ancient organisers tweaked their rules to allow him a special exemption to sign off at St Andrews, the 'Home of Golf'.

"The anticipation is getting closer and closer to my final Open championship and it's going to be a very special time," said Watson, 65.

"I feel maybe a little bit melancholy but the memories of all the years playing in the Open will make it pretty happy. I've had a wonderful experience playing here in the Open for these last 40 years."

He will not be alone on the occasion as his son Michael will be his caddie. Watson is keen to avoid the tag of 'ceremonial golfer' by ensuring he makes the halfway cut and is still competing in the final two rounds at the weekend.

"I want to walk across the Swilcan Bridge on the Sunday, that's my goal, and anything else will be gravy," he said.

Watson won the coveted Claret Jug in 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983 and came within a whisker of pulling off one of the greatest victories in sport when, as a 59-year-old, he lost a playoff against compatriot Stewart Cink at Turnberry in 2009.

Watson believes the layout of the Fife links could allow him to mix it with world number one Rory McIlroy and company one last time.

"There's an equaliser in the course as far as the run of the ball, the runout," he said. "A lot of the youngsters, the long hitters, will be laying up short of the bunkers and for an old guy like me I just hit my driver and may end up in pretty much the same place.

"But there are a lot of other things you have to do well. First and foremost you have to have a very good touch with your putting because you have so many long putts here.

"It's the only course in the world I've ever played where you can play a good round of golf and you can have ten 60-foot (20-metre) putts," explained Watson who is an ambassador for Polo Ralph Lauren, a patron and official outfitter of the 144th Open.

The American, who won four of his five Opens in Scotland, said his highlight victory came in the so-called 'duel in the sun' 38 years ago when he edged out Jack Nicklaus after an epic battle.

"The one that stands out the most is the one in 1977 at Turnberry where I played with Jack in the last two rounds and I prevailed by a shot," said Watson.

"That was kind of a watershed moment in my career that gave me the belief I can play against the best players."

Asked about the current crop of golfers, Watson singled out world number one Rory McIlroy as the real deal.

"Rory is far and away, I think, the premier golfer in the world today," Watson said about the Northern Irishman. "He's firing on all cylinders. He hits the ball so far and straight and he really emasculates the golf course with his length. Any time you have that length it's a distinct advantage."

The Open, golf's oldest major, starts on 16 July.