KINGSBARNS, Scotland – Sally Watson is a Fifer. She learned to play golf at nearby Elie, where at age 3 she’d play for chocolate bars. Ten years ago, Watson competed as an amateur in her first Ricoh Women’s British Open on the Old Course. On Thursday, she’ll hit the first tee ball at Kingsbarns Golf Links at 6:30 a.m., in what will be her final event as a professional golfer. Her career will end in the place where it started, the County of Fife, six miles from iconic St. Andrews. To the rest of the world, it’s the Home of Golf.
To Watson, it’s simply home.
“Normally, I don’t think there would be that many people out for the 6:30,” said Watson, “but I think mom has gathered the troops.”
Watson, 26, got accepted to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where she’ll begin work on her M.B.A. in September. The Stanford grad’s application included a letter of recommendation from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“She was my academic advisor, but I think more than that,” said Watson, who majored in international relations. “She’s got incredible experiences. You meet very few people who have lived the life that she’s lived.”
Watson played predominately on the Ladies European Tour since turning pro in the summer of 2013. The LET’s light schedule this year actually played in Watson’s favor as she spent the early part of 2017 studying for the GMAT and getting her application together.
Watson isn’t sure what she’ll do after she graduates for a second time. She never saw golf as a long-term career but is grateful for the chance she’s had to see the world. Ultimately, the clever player wants to make a difference. In Rice, she has the ultimate mentor to make that desire a reality.
Watson competed in only three LET events prior to this week and qualified for her fourth Women’s British Open on Monday by advancing through on the first playoff hole on the Castle Course. This is only her second time playing Kingsbarns.
“All the courses along the coast here, we’re kind of spoiled with choice,” she said.
Watson tried not to put too much pressure on herself Monday to qualify, realizing it might be her last day competing as a pro.
“Try to, in a sense, soak up the emotion and the feeling,” she said, “knowing you might never feel that sort of nerves or pressure again.”
Ditto for this week.