AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tom Watson will not go quietly this time around at Augusta National. Even after tapping in for bogey on the 18th hole to conclude his second round at the Masters, Watson’s eyes twinkled when asked if it was time to get realistic about a 60-year-old man winning the Masters.
“I only have thoughts of playing my butt off,” he said. “The same attitude I had 37 years ago when I first played here.”
He’s going to need it.
A day after a sparkling 67 had him a shot off the lead, Watson looked average Friday with a 2-over 74. He hit two more greens and four more fairways than he did in Round 1, but struggled with his touch both on and around the green.
“That’s what killed me,” he said.
Augusta played much longer and tougher Friday, but Watson didn’t back down. He hit driver off the deck into the 575-yard par-5 second and rolled his ball onto the green. Two putts later he had a birdie. He tried the same shot into the par-5 eighth, only to “hit about a foot behind the ball” and was left with an 8-iron into the green when most players had wedges in their hands. He would make par, but three-putted No. 9 for bogey to turn in 38.
Watson offset a bogey at No. 12 with birdies on the two back-nine par 5s, Nos. 13 and 15, and was 4 under for the tournament when he arrived at 18, which was playing dead into the wind. But Watson’s hybrid 2-iron approach into the 465-yard par-4 found a bunker and he made bogey.
Still, at 3-under 141, Watson was just five shots behind leaders Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. As Watson turned to look at the large leaderboard that looms over the 18th fairway to confirm his position, that twinkle returned to his eyes.
“I’m happy I’m still there,” he said. “I’d like a chance to win. I’m getting a little farther away, but I still have a chance.”