Sally Watson close to tears after final pro appearance

Sally Watson signed off from professional golf after playing in the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns, where she hit the opening shot on Thursday. Picture: Getty Images
Sally Watson signed off from professional golf after playing in the Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns, where she hit the opening shot on Thursday. Picture: Getty Images
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Sally Watson admitted she was close to tears as the player once tipped to become the next big thing in Scottish women’s golf brought down the curtain on her professional career.

The 26-year-old, who is starting an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business next month, signed off with a 76 after being the sole Scot to make the cut in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns.

“I was getting a little emotional on the tee,” said Watson of how she felt coming down the 18th in her farewell appearance, having decided on a change of direction after just over four years in the paid ranks.

“But I tried to get back to the process and finish strong, almost getting a birdie only to see my attempt lip it out. Sometimes it happens. I seemed to find a few divots in fairways today. Maybe that was a sign.”

The Elie woman, a Stanford University graduate, finished fourth last out of the 77 players to make it to the weekend, but it was a praiseworthy effort nonetheless in an event being staged around 14 miles from her home.

She’d already been handed the honour of hitting the opening shot in the event and carded rounds of 72 and 69 to survive the cut with two shots to spare.

“It’s bitter sweet,” she added. “It was great to play the weekend and kind of enjoy my last two rounds, knowing they were the last two, rather than these might be the last two if I hadn’t made the cut.

“I’ve been practising hard coming into this event, but it’s never the same as competing. That’s where my expectations were to have fun and enjoy it knowing it would be my last one.”

While she’ll have her head buried in books again for the next few years, the two-time Curtis Cup player is not ruling out the possibility of appearing in an event like this again.

“It seems sort of final, but never say never,” she said. “I’ll still maybe try to qualify for British Opens and US Opens in future.

“If you’re not playing full-time, it’s unrealistic to confidently predict you could do it. Even this week, you can see rust in parts of your game from not competing at the same level this year.

“I did try and practice for these two weeks (she also made the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links) to be playing as well as possible, because when you’re not playing competitively things do get a little rusty. I’ll still play, for sure. There’s a golf club and I’m sure I’ll join that.”

Watson’s stint at one of the leading business schools in the US doesn’t start until 20 September, but she’s heading out on Thursday to get herself organised.

“The school organise class bonding trips abroad, so I’m going to Belize for a week with a bunch of class-mates,” she said, smiling.