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Tom Watson bows out after final round at Masters

Tom Watson looks skyward as he reacts with the gallery to missing a long birdie on No. 18. Watson, a two-time champion at the tournament, misses the cut in his last appearance as a player at Augusta National. “I’m a realist,” he says. “If I could still play this golf course, I wouldn’t be retiring (from the tournament).”

Associated Press

Tom Watson looks skyward as he reacts with the gallery to missing a long birdie on No. 18. Watson, a two-time champion at the tournament, misses the cut in his last appearance as a player at Augusta National. “I’m a realist,” he says. “If I could still play this golf course, I wouldn’t be retiring (from the tournament).”

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The first ovation on Tom Watson's final walk up the 18th fairway at Augusta National lasted 55 seconds.

Playing in his 43rd and final Masters, Watson reached the front of the green and stopped. He applauded the crowd, patrons lined up so many rows deep they could only get a glimpse of the two-time Masters champion

Watson pointed to them and then to his heart.

"It was a special walk up the 18th hole," he said.

Finally, he walked to his ball, which was on the back of the green, 66 feet from the pin.

He read the putt. Wanting to give it everything he had in his last competitive round at a place he loves dearly, he walked back to the front of the green and gave the putt another read.

After two practice swings, he stepped up to the ball and gave it a tap. As the ball reached a ridge on the green, the patrons urged it toward the hole. The closer it got, the louder they roared until the ball stopped inches from the hole. One last memory.

Thirteen more seconds of applause followed. Watson tapped in for par and 6-over 78 on Friday, 8-over 152 for the tournament. He missed the cut by two strokes. His playing partners finished and quickly left the green so those there on a beautiful and windy day could love Watson one more time.

Watson revealed last year that this would be his final Masters. The course had become too long and too tough. At 66, he could no longer keep up. He had made just two cuts here since 1998.

"I'm glad I don't have to hit 5-woods and 3-woods into 18 anymore," he said, laughing. "That's what it's all about. That's the reason I'm not playing here anymore."

Watson intimated that he is done facing younger players, unless it's on a 6,400-yard course. He said he will continue to play the Champions Tour.

And in a quirky tribute to the late Bruce Edwards, his close pal and longtime caddie, Watson left an egg salad sandwich on the bench at No. 13.

Amateur with pro poise: Bryson DeChambeau said he didn't get flustered when his tee shot on No. 18 went into a holly bush, or when his do-over was even worse.

The U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion put his philosophy of execution over emotion to a strenuous test even when his second shot left him so far off he had to take a drop next to a road, some 40 yards from where the errant ball landed. The end result was a closing triple bogey and par 72, leaving the 22-year-old tied for eighth, four shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.

"Even when I duck-hooked it twice, I was like, 'You know what, it's just a good opportunity to show my character and good grace as well,' " he said.

DeChambeau, who won the NCAA title last year at SMU, will turn pro after the Masters.

Lefty out: Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson shot 7-over 79, his worst round ever in 24 appearances. He missed the cut for the third time after a two-round total of 151. "I don't know how to explain it," said Mickelson, 45. "I just threw away a lot of shots. … This is worst I've managed myself around this golf course." A year ago, Mickelson tied for second behind Spieth.

Tom Watson bows out after final round at Masters 04/08/16 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2016 11:34pm]
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