Tom Watson’s goal for his final Masters is no different from every tournament in which he’s played since 1971, the year he turned pro.
“All I’m trying to do is make the cut,” he said. “When I first joined the (PGA) Tour, when you made the cut, you didn’t have to qualify on Mondays. 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, 66, is an eight-time major champion and has won two Masters (1977 and ’81). In 2015, he played his final British Open Championship, a tournament he won five times.
“People ask me what it’s going to feel like walking up the 18th hole,” said Watson. “I really don’t know. Same thing as walking up the 18th hole at St. Andrews last year. When I got to the tee, I looked at my son and he had tears in his eyes. I said, ‘Son, no tears. Let’s just have some joy going up here from all the memories.’ It’s pretty much going to be the same for me walking up the 18th hole.”
Time, of course, has diminished Watson’s game over the years, although he has had a knack for the dramatic recently. He nearly won the 2009 British Open , leading for much of the way before losing in a playoff.
But he knows it’s time to bow out, at least from major tournaments.
“You look in my (game’s) toolbox, and I have one of those tape measures that used to extend out to 265 yards carry off the tee,” Watson said. “Now it doesn’t do that any more. It’s 250 yards off the tee.
“When you see these kids play out here, and see them carry the ball 280-290 yards off the tee, it’s time to say I can’t compete with them. And I haven’t been able to really honestly compete with them for several years.
“The reality of it is I really can’t play (Augusta National) any more. I didn’t want to take up another spot and shoot scores and just not even sniff making the cut.”
▪ Jack Nicklaus marked the 30th anniversary of his 1986 Masters victory, when he became the oldest winner (at age 46) in tournament history.
“It seems like just yesterday we walked off the 18th green and (son and caddie) Jackie and I gave each other a hug,” said Nicklaus, who will serve as the tournament’s honorary starter Thursday with Gary Player. “To me, (that) is probably my most memorable moment in golf, having your son on the bag and being able to share that with him.”
▪ Augusta National chairman Billy Payne confirmed Wednesday that the club is considering making the 510-yard, par-5 13th hole more challenging.
“As we do every year, and historically forever, we are always looking at options for (many) of our holes,” said Payne. “We create plans looking into the future, when we believe that the shot value of certain second shots, principally, has been impacted by how far the ball is now traveling.
“Thirteen is one of those holes we’re studying. We have made no decision whatsoever.”
The 13th, the third and final hole of Augusta National’s iconic “Amen Corner,” has become one of the easier holes on the course. Its scoring average of 4.55 was the easiest on the course during the 2015 tournament and it is the second least-difficult (4.78) in tournament history.
▪ Jimmy Walker won Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest, shooting a record 8-under 19. Walker had one of a record nine holes-in-one in the contest, including one by 80-year-old Gary Player.