News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, April 2, 2012
AUGUSTA -- "Just so you know, you can get wherever you need to in the City of Augusta. I'd like to also present you with a key to the city," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, as he handed over a key to the city to golfing great Tom Watson.
Under the spotlight of hundreds of fans, Watson became the eighth man to be the guest of honor at the Mayor's Masters Reception.
"I hope, when my day is gone, and I'm no longer around, that my peers say that that Watson was a hell of a golfer," he said to the crowd.
"Every year, you know, we have stellar honorees. This year it's Tom Watson who was really my childhood hero," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.
Watson made his first Masters appearance as an amateur in 1970. Although he didn't make the cut that year, he made some memories.
"My favorite memory was making a birdie out of the bunker at 18 on the second round. I said, 'You know what, I think I can play this golf course, even though I was just a kid,'" he told News 12.
Seven years later, he won his first of two green jackets. It was 1977. That same year, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver's father played in a Pro-Am with Watson. A young Deke met the man who inspires him to this day.
"His focus on sportsmanship, on dignity, honor, integrity, reverence for the game, those are things that stuck with me as a kid that I took to the mayor's office," he told News 12.
That's why this reception was not only special to the mayor, but for Watson as well.
"Being a lover of this place and a lover of the golf course, it makes it very special to get this honor," said Watson.
News 12 also asked him about his prospects for this week.
"My mindset is good. My golf game is not very good. I wish I could say it's better than it is," he said.
The 62 year old says he just hopes he has a few more Masters Tournaments left in him.
Watson went on to win his second Masters Tournament in 1981. The Augusta National is a course he says is too intense to describe. He compares it to being in a boxing ring and says only a small group of people know what that really feels like.
He's obviously getting older, but don't forget his British Open finish in 2009. Watson says playing Augusta National is quite a bit more difficult than it was decades ago. He tells me he does like his putting game though.