CALGARY — After playing in The Masters for a 43rd and final time, Tom Watson will play a PGA Tour Champions tournament in Calgary for the first time.
The 66-year-old golf star confirmed Tuesday he’s in the Shaw Charity Classic field Sept. 2-4 at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club. The tournament, now in its fourth year, has a prize purse of US$2.35 million.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about the tournament, especially the fan support,” Watson said Tuesday on a conference call. “We players love to play in front of a lot of people and that’s what I understand happens up there.
“I know Fred Couples was very complementary on the condition of the golf course. You’ve had three great champions in Rocco Mediate, Freddie Couples and Jeff Maggert, so it’s proved itself that the best players seem to win there.
“I’m looking forward to coming up and putting my old bones to the test up there at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club.”
Two of Watson’s eight major wins came at Augusta National in 1977 and 1981. He played his final Masters round April 8. Watson received a standing ovation on the eighteenth hole, where he tapped in for par and missed the cut by two strokes.
“I can’t play that golf course simply because I can’t carry the ball far enough anymore off the tee,” Watson said. “I can’t get the ball in position where I can land it on the greens from my approach shots and hold the greens.
“That’s a course I just can’t play any more and that’s the reason I retired from competing there.”
The PGA Tour Champions, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour, is for competitive players aged 50 and over.
Winner of a career 14 Champions events, Watson picks and chooses his tournaments. He hasn’t played in more than eight per year from 2012 to 2015.
He finished 4-under-par Sunday and seven strokes back of eventual playoff winner Woody Austin at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in Atlanta.
“In the old days, when there was no Champions or Senior Tour and you were done on the regular PGA Tour, there was no place to compete and therefore you lost that competitive edge,” Watson said. “You lost that edge very quickly. With the Champions Tour, it remains there.”
He says he’ll continue to compete as he feels he has a chance to win.
“I enjoy playing competitive golf and when I’m competitive and have a chance to win, that fills me up,” Watson said. “That’s why I do it.”
The Shaw Charity Classic’s prize money, a day trip to Banff and the opportunity to do some fishing in Western Canada also attracted Watson to the Calgary tournament.
It follows the LPGA’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open at Priddis Greens southwest of the city Aug. 22-28.