Tom Watson ready to say goodbye to Masters competition
In a way, 66-year-old Tom Watson is feeling like his 20-year-old self. That’s exactly why it’s time to say goodbye.
“When I first joined the tour, when you made the cut, you didn’t have to qualify on Mondays,” Watson said. “So you got in the next tournament, so making the cut was really important. That’s the way I feel about this; I’m just trying to make the cut. That’s not enough, and it’s time to say, ‘Adios.’ ”
Watson will play his final competitive rounds at the Masters this year.
“The feelings that I have, people ask me, ‘What is it going to feel like walking up the 18th hole?’ And I really don’t know,” Watson said. “Same thing as walking up the 18th hole at St. Andrews last year. I really didn’t know. Although, when I got to the tee last year, I looked at my son and he had tears in his eyes and I said, ‘Son, no tears. Let’s just have some joy going up there, from all the memories that I had playing in the Open Championship.’ It’s pretty much going to be the same thing for me walking up the 18th hole.”
A two-time Masters champion, Watson has plenty of Augusta memories.
He played with his father and Gene Sarazen in a round before the tournament.
As an amateur in 1970 in his first Masters appearance and trying to make the cut, he made 7 on No. 13 – “I still hate that hole,” he said.
In 1975, in his first Masters as a pro, Watson played with Jack Nicklaus in the final round, when on No. 16 he carded 7.
Of course, Watson also remembers the triumphs of 1977 and 1981. In his first win, he battled with Nicklaus and won by two shots.
Watson will play with Nicklaus and Gary Player in today’s Par-3 Contest. In 1970, Watson played the Par-3 with Player:
“I remember I hit a 9-iron on the fifth hole there as we play it now, or the fourth hole. He said, ‘Man, you hit the ball a long way.’”
Watson’s final round, be it Friday or Sunday, will finish his majors career where it started in 1970.
Watson, who said he will still play on the PGA Tour Champions, held off Father Time longer than most. In 2009, at age 59, he held the lead going into the 18th hole at the Open Championship before losing to Stewart Cink in a playoff to fall short of becoming the oldest major champion in history.
At 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Wat-
son will tee off for his 43rd Masters. Only eight other players have more. Asked whether he will become an honorary starter, Watson said that's not his decision to make.
Although he has missed the cut for the past five years, he shot 1-under and tied for 18th in 2010 when he was 60. He also shot 1-under 71 in last year’s first round at age 65, becoming the oldest player in Masters history to finish under par for a round.
“I intend to come back and play in the Par-3 and the Champions Dinner …,” Watson said. “I’ve been asked the question, ‘What will I miss about it?’ Well, frankly, when I watch the Masters next year, I’ll be missing being in the hunt, being inside the arena, being down on the floor, being on the field.”