This is only the 12th event Watson has entered this year on the Champions Tour. He ranks 41st on the money list and hasn't won in 2004, but that's partially because he's operating at far less than 100 percent.
'For the last several years I've had recurring pain in my hip,' Watson said Thursday. 'I'm going to have arthroscopic surgery next Tuesday in Boston. After that I'll have some surgery on my right shoulder. The pain in my shoulder has affected my golf.'
He hopes to resume playing in time for the 2005 Masters.
'If I didn't play golf I wouldn't be doing these surgeries now,' he said. 'Well, maybe I'd do the hip because I like to ride horses and it would allow me to do that.'
Watson, 55, attributes the injuries to the wear and tear of a career that has spanned more three decades. Along the way, he earned more than $10 million and won 39 tournaments, including the U.S. Open and the Masters.
But now he's hurting. So after he finishes playing 54 holes in the tournament that starts Friday, the 5-foot-9 golfing giant will step away from the game.
'I want to have freer movement and less pain in my hip,' Watson said. 'My shoulder problems are mechanical and nerves. That's what happens after hitting 200,000-plus balls.'
Watson expects to ultimately undergo hip replacement surgery, but not until he closes his illustrious career.
'I intend to play four or five more years, and I'd like to play without pain out here,' he said.
Watson also endured mental anguish last year. Although he had his finest season on the Champions Tour, winning the Senior British Open and more than $1.8 million, he watched his longtime caddie, Bruce Edwards, battle Lou Gehrig's disease. Edwards died in April.
Watson is one of 78 pros entered in the $1.6 million tournament. Larry Nelson won it last year, shooting a 9-under 207 to beat Jim Dent and Doug Tewell by two strokes.
Craig Stadler, the top money winner on the Champions Tour this year, is not entered. He tied for 20th at the event last year.
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