Masters Memories: Craig Watson on the thrill of playing with Arnold Palmer

Craig Watson in action at the 1997 Amateur Championship at Royal St George's. Picture: Paul Severn/Getty Images
Craig Watson in action at the 1997 Amateur Championship at Royal St George's. Picture: Paul Severn/Getty Images
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Scots golfer Craig Watson played at the 1998 Masters after winning the Amateur Championhip the previous year at Royal St George’s.

“My memories as the Masters approaches start when I arrived at the course for the first time the Sunday before. I was there to check in, play a practice round and pick up the courtesy car. What strikes you most about the course is how much it drops from the 10th tee to the 12th green.

“About the same as the 10th tee to the 11th green at Craigmillar Park.

“When you stand on the first tee in the opening round, one of the names that is put up on the leaderboard is that of the Amateur champion. After 15 minutes of my opening hole, my name was removed after I made the customary double-bogey. It has been the only time I’ve lagged a three-foot putt!

“After eight holes of the first round I was six-over and, after parring the ninth, I was out in 42. Thinking I was on for a cricket score, I looked over to the big scoreboard at the 18th and was given a huge boost. Ben Crenshaw, a past champion, was through the 17th at 10 over, so I thought that I could beat that. Eight pars and a three-putt bogey on the last and I broke 80.

“My best memory, though, is getting to play with Arnold Palmer. They still re-did the pairings for the second round back then and, fortunately, he had shot the same as me in the first round.

“He knocked it past me by about 30 yards at the first. Anybody who has played with me wouldn’t be surprised, but he was almost 70 by then! He was very encouraging and we had a laugh about some of the putts that we had.”