Tom Watson leaves lasting memory in final Masters


For one last time at the Masters, Tom Watson walked off the 18th green at Augusta as patrons bid a fond farewell to a legend of the game.

The eight-time major winner, and two-time Masters champion, shared an emotional goodbye in his 43rd and final competitive trip around Augusta National. 

After shooting a two-over-par 74 on Thursday, many believed Watson would have a chance at making it to the weekend, but the 66-year-old legend shot a six-over 78 on a blustery second round to fall just short.

Watson has been noted for his longevity in the game and he proved the old adage that class is permanent by reaching a play-off at The Open just seven years ago, losing out to Stewart Cink on that occasion.

Masters winners receive a lifetime invitation to compete at the event, but Watson felt like he could no longer compete with the best.

"When you see these kids play out here, and see them carry the ball 280 and 290 yards off the tee, it's time to say I can't compete with them," Watson said, in quotes reported by the New York Post. 

"And I haven't been able to really honestly compete with them for several years. So that was the decision-making process, the reality of it that I really can't play the golf course anymore. I didn't want to take up another spot and shoot scores and just not even sniff making the cut."

There was a touching moment Thursday when Watson left an egg salad sandwich on a bench near the 13th tee box to honour longtime caddie Bruce Edwards, who died in 2004 of ALS.

"He had ALS and he struggled and struggled. I saw him in February the year he died, and he checked out on the morning of the Masters. Just perfect, perfect timing for him," Watson added. 

"He checked out. He said, 'All right, take it forward, Tom.' He loved the game. He loved to caddie and he loved to caddie here more than any place in the world."

Watson won his first Masters in 1977. He backed it up with runner-up finishes in 1978 and 1979, then won it again in 1981. He said Friday on ESPN that the thing he loves most about the Masters is being able to "rub shoulders with the greatest players of the game." 

Now, young players getting their feet wet at the Masters are looking up at Watson as one of the best players to ever walk the Augusta National fairways.