The tradition of the Honorary Starter at The Masters dates back to 1963, with many, many legends of the game previously having the honour of hitting the first tee shots of the week at Augusta National.
Previously Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Ken Venturi, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Lee Elder have been Honorary Starters and now, two-time Masters champion, Tom Watson, will join the illustrious list alongside current starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced that Watson will join both Nicklaus and Player, with the 86th edition of the tournament beginning Thursday, 7th April, 2022.
“I am honoured that Tom has accepted our invitation,” said Ridley. “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, who previously won the Masters in 1977 and 1981, made 42 consecutive starts from 1975-2016, the fifth-longest streak in the tournament’s history. During those 42 starts, he managed an amazing 15 top-10’s and is also only one of 17 players to win multiple Masters tournaments.
Speaking about his Honorary Starter inclusion, Watson said “Augusta National in April is one of my favourite places to be. I have many fond memories of both watching the Masters as a youngster and then competing in the Tournament for so many years. I am greatly honoured to join my friends and fellow competitors, Jack and Gary, as an Honorary Starter in this upcoming Masters.
“In both of my victories, Jack was on my heels. And when Gary won his third Tournament in 1978, I was there to help him put on the Green Jacket. Moments like those stand out in my career, and the opportunity to share the Honorary Starter tradition with Jack, Gary and the Masters patrons will be very special.”
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