Tom Watson visited the 10th edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) in his capacity as Brand Ambassador of The Open and had one piece of advice for the finest amateur golfers of the region – there is no shortcut to success.
The winner of eight major championships, including five Open Championships and two Masters, watched the third round of the region’s premier amateur golf tournament and then spent time talking to the players during the rain delay.
Asked what would be his best advice for players who want to have a career like his, the 69-year-old American said: “If these boys don’t ask me about the chip-in at Pebble Beach to win the US Open, they are always asking how they can become better as a golfer.
“The one thing that I can tell them is how I made myself into a good golfer. When I decided to turn professional, I decided I would practise more than anybody else on the Tour. I’d hit more balls than others. That I did and it made me a better player.
“I put myself in position to win many times early in my career but I choked it away because I could not handle the pressure and that is OK.
“You need to put yourself more in those situations, the better you learn how to deal with it. The main thing is that you have to strive to be better, and better, and better.”
Watson, who almost won The Open at Turnberry at the age of 59, said he had no doubts the Asia-Pacific region would become a superpower in the game in very near future.
“I built a golf course in China about three years ago and during that process I had the opportunity to be at a golf facility in Shenzhen,” he added.
“There were many Chinese youngsters playing there and I am not joking when I say almost each one of them, I think barring one, had a swing like Adam Scott, who I consider has the best swing in our game.
“Their plane, their grip, their swing … it was just excellent. I have never seen anything like that.
“I was convinced that day that China would become a powerhouse in international golf. And I see that story repeating in so many countries in the region – in Korea, in Japan. You are seeing it happen in this particular tournament already.”
Watson praised the Founding Partners of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A – for putting together the tournament.
“I am very proud of what they are doing. They are all trying to promote the growth of the game and this tournament is a good example,” said Watson.
“Let me call it the ‘carrot.’ The carrot of being able to play the Masters Tournament and now The Open as well. Can you imagine how much any golfer in any part of the world would love to do that?
“It really is the biggest reward that you can have for winning a tournament. And to have it here in Asia, to involve the 42 member nations of the APGC, it only enhances the growth of the game.
“That’s the most important thing for me – it would make the youngsters want to play golf.
“We have to create life-time golfers and tournaments like this are a critical part of it.”