It was not unexpected. A two-time Masters champion with eight major titles had not made it to the weekend here since 2010, when he shot 67 in the first round for second place after 18 holes and tied for 18th on Sunday. Still, there was one sweet mission accomplished this week when Watson, now 66, paid a unique and touching tribute to the late Bruce Edwards, his longtime caddie. Edwards died from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2004, the same day the Masters first round started that year.
Edwards carried an egg salad sandwich in his bag round Augusta National and always gave it to Watson as he walked from the 12th green over to the 13th tee. There was usually a delay there because so many players up ahead were waiting for the par-5 green to clear up ahead before hitting their second shots. That’s where Watson had a little extra time to eat his sandwich.
On Thursday, his current caddie, Neil Oxman, also handed Watson an egg salad sandwich wrapped in a green Augusta National plastic bag. As he has done in every first round since 2005, Watson left that single sandwich on the bench at the 13th tee in memory of his old friend. That first year, he wrote on the wrapper “to Bruce, from the boys.”
“That’s part of the tradition, my Masters tradition,” Watson said. “He loved the Masters. This was his favorite tournament. He loved to caddie, and he loved to caddie here more than any place in the world. He just thought this was the neatest tournament there ever was. His enthusiasm wasn’t much different at other courses, just a little more when he came to Augusta.”
Watson said he felt the fans love all the way around the course Friday and added that he had no regrets about stopping. He won here in 1977 and 1981, had three seconds and 13 top-10 finishes in 43 starts.
“The gratitude the crowd showed me all day, I feel vey blessed they feel that way about me,” Watson said, pausing several times to compose himself. “I hope I entertained a lot of people over the years…The reality is it’s time. This golf course is too big for me.”
Bryson DeChambeau, the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion, played his first two rounds in the same threesome with defending Masters champion Jordan Spieth and handled that assignment with some aplomb, at least until his 36th hole.
He was high up on the leaderboard for most of the second round and went to the 18th tee only one shot off the lead at 3-under. Then came disaster, a triple-bogey 7 after a dead hook out of bounds, dropping him back to even-par 72 and even for the tournament, four shots behind and tied for eighth.
DeChambeau was one of two amateurs among six in the field to make the cut, along with 20-year-old Romain Langasque of France, the British Amateur winner who was at 3-over 291 after a 73. DeChambeau, a 22-year-old Californian who played college golf at Southern Methodist University, has already announced he will turn professional next weekend and make his pro debut at the Heritage at Hilton Head, South Carolina.