Honorary start is ‘icing on the cake’ for golf great Tom Watson

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 6:10 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Someone who didn’t play in Par 3 Contest on Wednesday was two-time time Masters champ Tom Watson, who won it back in 2018 finishing 6 under.

He was the first person in 13 years to win the Par 3 and then not compete in the Masters the next day.

Watson said he couldn’t play this year because of his shoulder.

He hurt it in a go-kart accident that also almost kept him from hitting the honorary start this Thursday.

He was an honorary starter last year, too, and counts it as one of his most meaningful shots, even though it never actually counted.

“I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences here, he said. “This is the icing on the cake.”

In a ceremoney fit for golf’s kings, Watson’s cooronation came in 2022 when he joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the first time as an honorary starter.

“I went several times to see my friend Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnie and Jack tee off,” Watson said.

This year, his shoulder almost kept him from taking part.

He had to have surgery to replace his shoulder after a go-kart accident on a course he built for his grandkids.

“I live on a farm, so we kind of built a dirt track, and I got on there and just being me, I was trying to go as fast as I possibly could,” he said. “I went around a corner and turned it over and stick my arm out and ruined my shoulder, and now it’s got a prosthesis in there.”

But he said he wanted to be back here and join in on the tradition that he witnessed himself for the first time back in 1975 – when he first played the Masters as an amateur – even if he has to pinch himself.

“I’m really out of my league here with Jack and Gary and what they’ve done in the game of golf,” he said. “That’s a great honor. But I feel very humbled.”

And with his shoulder nowhere near fully recovered – he’s just happy he’ll be able to hit.

“It’s not gonna look very pretty, but I think I can get it airborne,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal, just this, is get it airborne, getting it down the fairway somewhere there.”