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KC native Tom Watson selected as Honorary Starter for Masters

Masters Golf
Masters Golf
Tom Watson
Posted at 10:09 AM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 11:17:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two-time Masters champion and eight-time major champion Tom Watson, a Kansas City, Missouri, native, has been selected to become an Honorary Starter for the 86th Masters Tournament.

Watson, 72, will join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the pre-tournament ceremonial tee shots before the opening round of the Masters on April 7, 2022, in Augusta, Georgia.

“I am honored that Tom has accepted our invitation,” Fred Ridley, who serves as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, said in a statement. “I look forward to commemorating his love for the game and impact on the Masters with his millions of fans across the globe as he hits a tee shot alongside two of the Tournament’s other all-time greats, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.”

Watson won the Masters in 1977 and 1981. He was a three-time Masters runner-up and owns 15 top-10 finishes.

Tom Watson
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JUNE 6- 7 ** FILE - In this April 10, 1977, file photo, Tom Watson, winner of the Masters Golf Tournament, receives the traditional green coat from last year's champion Ray Floyd at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Watson competed as an amateur in his first Masters in 1970. He later competed in 42 consecutive Masters from 1975-2016, the fifth-longest streak in tournament history.

During his Masters career, Watson played 58 rounds below par, which ranks second behind only Nicklaus (71), and his streak of 21 consecutive tournaments with at least one round under par remains a tourney record (1975-95).

Watson’s career 72.74 scoring average ranks fifth in Masters history.

“Augusta National in April is one of my favorite places to be,” Watson said in a statement. “With the many fond memories of both watching the Masters as a youngster and then competing in the Tournament for so many years, I am greatly honored to join my friends and fellow competitors, Jack and Gary, as an Honorary Starter in this upcoming Masters.”

The Masters started the tradition of having Honorary Starters in 1963. There have been 10 former golf champions selected for the honor — including Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer.

Nicklaus began serving as an Honorary Starter in 2010 and Player began in 2012. Lee Elder served as an Honorary Starter last year.

Watson out-dueled Nicklaus among others to win his two Masters and he presented Player with the green jacket, given annually to the tournament winner, in 1978.

Gary Player
Tom Watson, left, 1977 Masters Champion, places the green jacket on Gary Player, 1978 champion, at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Ga., in this April 9, 1978 file photo.

“The opportunity to share the Honorary Starter tradition with Jack, Gary and the Masters patrons will be very special,” Watson said.

With 39 career PGA Tour wins, Watson is tied for 10th in the tour’s history. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988.

Watson won the Open Championship five times — in 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983 — and won the U.S. open in 1982.

His eight major championships rank sixth all-time.

Watson was selected as the PGA Tour Player of the Year six times (1977-80, 1982, 1984).

On the Champions Tour, Watson won a trio of Senior British Open Championships every other year from 2003-2007 and also won two Senior PGA Championships (2001, 2011).

He played on four Ryder Cup teams and captained the U.S. team twice, including a win in 1993 at The Belfrey in England.