• Former British Amateur champion played Augusta in 1998
• Hopes weather can hold out this year and 72 holes will be played
CRAIG WATSON | CRAIGMILLAR PARK OPEN
In a little over two weeks’ time, it’ll be a tale of two Watsons as Bubba Watson prepares to defend his Masters title while, on Scottish soil, former British Amateur champion Craig Watson will be looking to record back-to-back Craigmillar Park Open wins.
The East Renfewshire golfer won by two shots over Benn McLeod from Musselburgh last year, winning the competition for a second time, with his last success coming way back in 1995.
Since that win 20 years ago, Watson has been crowned British Amateur champion – defeating Trevor Immelman at Royal St George’s in 1997 – and as a result played the Augusta National course where namesake Bubba has won two of the last three tournaments.
And heading into his Craigmillar Park Open defence on April 11-12, Watson gave his thoughts on beating Immelman – who of course went on to win the Masters in 2008 – and his Augusta experience.
"I don’t think he ever wakes up wondering what would have happened if he had won the Amateur" - Craig Watson
He said: “I haven’t really kept an eye on how Trevor is getting on although I was delighted when he won at Augusta because it helped my street cred!
“When I was playing against him in the British Amateur, I heard that he was on the phone to his parents saying he just had to beat some Scottish guy in the final. He was only 17 and I was this old guy so we’ll let him off. And I don’t think he ever wakes up wondering what would have happened if he had won the Amateur.
“It was much colder over there than I expected and I remember saying in an interview that if I had wanted to play in the cold and wet, I would’ve just entered the Craigmillar Park Open.”
Despite making those comments way back in 1998, they’re still very relevant now after last year’s Open, which is always the opening SGU Men’s Order of Merit event of the season, was reduced from 72 to 36 holes.
And although Craig Watson is excited to take to the course in less than three weeks’ time, he hopes the weather can stay fair so the full four rounds can be completed.
He said: “I’m very much looking forward to defending my title and hopefully the weather will be a bit kinder to us all this year.
“Luckily, last year I was out early and got the best of the weather conditions because it just got windier and windier as the afternoon went on.”
In the past, the Craigmillar Park Open has attracted a very strong field, with notable past competitors including leading Scottish professionals Stephen Gallacher, Marc Warren and Scott Jamieson.
And heading back onto the topic of Augusta, Craig Watson has offered some advice to reigning British Amateur champion Bradley Neil, who is all set for his first Masters experience.
“I’m sure Bradley will have a great time. He must hit it miles past me, so the clubbing will be totally different, so I’d just tell him to watch loads of DVDs and see how they all play the 18 holes because what you see of Augusta on the TV is pretty much what you see when you get there.”