Interview with PGA Hall of Fame member Tom Watson
South Carolina wins first Watson Cup
The team of South Carolina Juniors held on to a slim lead after the first round of matches to win the inaugural playing of the Watson Cup.
The tournament featured 8 juniors from South Carolina matched up against 8 junior golfers from the East Lothian Junior Golf League of Scotland playing a Walker Cup type of match.
The South Carolina Junior Golf Association team won the cup with a 19 1/2 to 16 1/2 victory.
The matches were played at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’ Ocean Course and Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique course which was designed by the matches namesake Tom Watson.
“You boys are some of the luckiest young golfers in the world,” said Watson Cup founder Ben Zeigler. “You are going to remember this experience for the rest of your life,” he said.
In addition to lending his name to the competition Watson spent the final round on the course watching the boys compete.
“The way you get better is to compete,” said Watson. “And always play for something. Put something on it, so every shot means something. That is the way to get better,” said the five-time British Open Champion.
Three points were available in each match. The points were earned with a win on the front nine, the back nine and the overall match.
South Carolina entered the final round with a 2 point advantage after the opening round of four-ball matches.
Upstate juniors Daniel Brasington from Woodruff and Logan Hawkins from Williamston led the way scoring 2 1/2 points each in the first round.
During the two days on the course and the time the teams spent together at tournament activities they got to learn more about each other.
“It was fun to get to know the other golfers and compete,” said Hawkins. “They get to play a lot more golf in Scotland than we do here. I enjoyed competing against them,” he said.
After putting up a near perfect score in the first round, Brasington ran into a buzz saw in the second round as David Rudd took all three points in the match.
Brasington was one of the youngest golfers in the field while Rudd at age 18 was amongst the most experienced and it showed as he was 6-under par when the match ended on number 16.
“He made everything,” said the Woodruff golfer. He pitched in for an eagle and chipped in for a birdie. I didn’t like getting beat, but it still was a great experience,” said Brasington.
While officials with walkie-talkies had an idea of the score during the final round, the last pairing on the course was played as if it would be the deciding match.
When Nicholas Velasquez and Cameron Spencer came to the final hole both teams and the spectators ringed the 18th green.
“It was crazy to see all those people,” said Velasquez. “I have never had that many people watching me play,” he said.
The Johns Island junior won his match with a conceded par on the final hole and earned all three points.
“I felt some pressure, but it was good pressure to make sure I concentrated on hitting good shots,” he said.
Gene Zeigler and Pake June from Florence joined Velazquez in earning all three points in their two matches.
The singles matches ended with the South Carolina team holding a one point lead over the Scottish golfer by the score of 12 1/2 to 11 1/2. With the four-ball matches added in the South Carolina team won by three points.
“We are looking forward to hosting the matches in 2020,” said Dave Warren, the Scotland team leader. “We will play two fantastic golf courses. Murifield which has hosted 15 Opens and Royal Burgess Golf Society which is the oldest golf club in the world,” he added.
Watson sees a bright future for the event being played in his name.
“With events like this, other kids who didn’t get in this event will target this event. They will want to be in the event. they will play harder, practice harder, play in more competitions. And what does that do? It makes themlifetime golfers and it grows the game,” concluded Watson.