News & ToursJuly 15, 2015

Tom Watson's farewell tour adds another stop next April

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- On the eve of what's expected to be his final start in the Open Championship, Tom Watson announced he will be saying good-bye to another major in 2016. Next April, the 65-year-old will play in his 47th and final Masters.

"The course is too big for me," Watson said in his Wednesday press conference. "The toolbox has to have some workable tools in it, and as I said, there are some tools missing now, especially distance. I've lost my distance in the last couple years. I don't have the clubhead speed, and I don't compress the ball very well."

The decision wasn't entirely unexpected, as Watson has missed the cut 12 of the last 13 years at Augusta National. Although he shot an opening 71 three-plus months ago, a second-round 81 Watson left the impression that the farewell would come soon.

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Asked if he had been considering playing his last Masters earlier but had waited out of deference to Craig Stadler and Ben Crenshaw, other past Masters champions who made their farewells in 2013 and 2014, Watson showed that there's still the competitor in him.

"I still wanted to play. I wanted to try to compete there and see if I could do it," Watson said. "Through smoke and mirrors I shot a 71 in the first round. That's the best round I had at the Masters in a few years, but then I shot 81. And when you shoot 81, it's time to say goodbye."

There was melancholy in his voice, as there is about at St. Andrews, as he noted: "If I have any regret it's that this is the end."

With his son Michael on the bag this week, Watson said the goal is to make the cut and be playing on Sunday, which he did a year ago when competing at Royal Liverpool. Should he somehow finish in the top 10, as a past champion he would qualify for another five Opens.

"I hope I'm fighting for the top 10 going across [the Swilcan] bridge [on Sunday]," Watson said. "That's what I hope. But in reality if I'm not, it'll be a great final walk."

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