Tom Watson, in final start, leaves final sandwich for friend on No. 13
For the final heartbreaking time, Tom Watson placed a sandwich on the bench at the tee of the 13th hole in memory of an old friend in Thursday’s first round of the Masters Tournament.
Watson, who opened with 2-over-par 74 in his final Masters, was paying tribute to his late caddie, Bruce Edwards, who died the morning of the first round of the 2004 Masters from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Edwards always packed an egg salad sandwich in Watson’s bag to eat on the 13th tee because players typically have to wait to hit on this par-5 where most go for the green in two shots.
Watson’s current caddie, Neil Oxman, packs the green-bagged sandwich in the golf bag and hands it to him as he leaves the 12th green and heads to 13th tee. The tradition started in 2005.
Watson does it only in the first round in memory of Edwards, who started caddying for Watson in 1973 and worked 20 Masters for him. Edwards died at age 49.
This year was different, though, because this is the 66-year-old Watson’s 43rd and final Masters. He won the green jacket in 1977 and 1981, but Edwards wasn’t on the bag because the club’s ban on outside caddies wasn’t dropped until 1983.
“That’s part of the tradition, my Masters tradition,” Watson said of the egg salad sandwich. “He loved the Masters. This is his favorite tournament.”
Oxman turned one of Edwards’ traditions into one of Watson’s. The first year Watson placed the sandwich, he wrote “to Bruce, from the boys” on the green wrapper, Oxman said.
“I think the coolest place in all of championship golf is the 13th tee – there are no cameras, no officials,” Oxman said. “There is a remote camera back there but it’s very quiet back there.”
On Thursday, during the handoff of the sandwich, Oxman said “there was no talk, I just gave it to him. He was trying to grind. We’ve been doing it since 2005.”
“If he didn’t get a lump in his throat, I’ll be surprised,” said author John Feinstein, who wrote Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story, which was published in 2004, two weeks before Edwards’ death.
“He loved to caddie and he loved to caddie here more than any place in the world,” Watson said of Edwards. “He just thought this was the neatest golf tournament there ever was. I loved to see his enthusiasm. His enthusiasm wasn’t much different at other courses, but just a little bit more when he came to Augusta. The excitement in his voice was just a little bit more.”
Watson’s goal in his Augusta National finale is to make the cut for the first time since 2010. With a solid round today, he’ll do it.
“Yeah, I’m still there,” Watson said. “I think 74 is not bad for old folks. I can’t complain. Every round of golf I’ve ever played, though, I’ve always said it could have been better. It could have been worse, too, in some respects. I made a long putt at 3 (for his lone birdie of the day). I made some good putts that I was very happy with.”
Not everything went right for Watson. He was addressing a 1½-foot par putt on the seventh hole when his ball moved, which he had to count as a putt.
“I put my putter behind it, and my ball moved,” Watson said. “I caused it to move, so I had to move it back. My putter made it move.”
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