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Tom Watson has confirmed he has recovered enough from shoulder replacement surgery to take his place as honorary starter for the Masters on Thursday.
The two-time Masters champion needed shoulder replacement surgery in November after a go-kart accident on his farm in Kansas, and made teeing off at Augusta alongside his two fellow golfing legends his main priority.
After doing regular rehab and starting to hit balls again, the 73-year-old hit some drives on Wednesday just eight days before the Masters begins and feels confident he can help start the tournament.
“I’m feeling fine and I will be able to hit the tee shot, not very well, but I’ll be able to hit it,” Watson told Golfweek.
“They’re going straight but they’re not going far,” he added. “Of course, when you hit it short you don’t hit it very crooked.”
Watson only began the role as honorary Masters starter last year, but his place in 2023 was put in jeopardy after the serious and surprising accident at his home.
When asked to explain what a man of his age was doing in a go-karting accident, the eight-time Major champion told the Beyond the Fairway podcast earlier this month that he was testing out a track built for his grandchildren.
“For my kids I had a go-kart 25-30 years ago and they’d run it up and down the driveway here," said Watson. "They had a grand time. I have grandkids now, ages 6-10, and I said, ‘I need to get a go-kart for these kids.’ So, I got one, but it was a little bit small for adults so I got one for me too.
“I said, ‘Why don’t I build a track,’ a dirt track with hairpin turns and straightaways and 90s and a few little bumps so you can get a little bit of air in it.
"I turned around this corner and the kart tipped over and I stuck my arm out rather than keeping my arm inside the cage.
"I have a roll cage on there that works just fine unless you stick your arm out. I screwed up my arm up pretty badly and so now I’m in the recuperative stage.”
Watson now seems to have completed enough rehab to at least get one solid, if unspectacular by his own admission, drive away to start this year's Masters.
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Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website. Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.
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