Watson Completes Heavy-Hearted Round

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tom Watson knew the day was coming, but why did it have to be the first day of the Masters? Just after arriving at the course on Thursday for the opening round of the Masters, Watson learned of the death of longtime friend and caddie, Bruce Edwards.
 
'Hilary and I looked at each other and we said, well that's just typical,' Watson commented. 'He wanted to die on the first day of the Masters, his favorite tournament.'
 
Watson received a cell phone call from Marsha, Edwards' wife, but the call broke up. As Watson was dressing in the Champions locker room, a doorman told Watson that his wife was at the door.
 
'I knew exactly what it meant,' said Watson, who won this event in 1977 and 1981.
 
Edwards, who was 49, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in January 2003. He caddied for Watson until the UBS Cup in December.
 
Watson finished second at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship last year, but won the season-long Charles Schwab Cup crown and immediately donated the $1 million prize to ALS research in honor of his friend.
 
After completing his first round at Augusta, Watson choked back tears throughout his post-round press conference.
 
'I think he is not with us in body anymore, but I can tell you he's with us in spirit,' said Watson. 'The spirit of Bruce Edwards, if you ever ran across him, you knew what a genuine person he was and what a wonderful way he had with his words.'
 
Watson thrilled the crowds at the 2003 U.S. Open with an opening-round 65. However, the better he played the more people began rooting for his caddie, Bruce.
 
After holing his final par putt, Watson and Edwards shared tears and a hug on the ninth green. As the duo walked off the green, the crowd roared its approval, chanting Bruce's name all the while.
 
'He will be missed. He will be missed,' said Watson. 'I feel for his mom and dad. I feel for Marsha.'
 
On Wednesday evening, Edwards was awarded the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to someone who continues to be active in golf despite a serious illness or injury.
 
'No long faces tonight,' said Watson at Wednesday's ceremony. 'Let's celebrate his wonderful heart. There's not a mean bone in his body. I want to thank Bruce for always being there in such good spirits, even though he is dying. That's why we love him.'
 
Watson struggled through his opening hole with a bogey on Thursday, but bounced back to birdie the third. He later bogeyed the fifth and seventh. Around the turn, he posted a birdie and two bogeys, but none of it mattered. All he could think about was the man some called 'the Arnold Palmer of caddies.'
 
'He's a genuine guy, a great sports fan, loved all sports,' Watson said. 'He certainly did his job with aplomb and respect for the game, and that made him. I'm relying on his spirit to take care of me this week.'
 
Former PGA Tour player Jeff Julian also was stricken with ALS. He is still fighting the disease, but the outlook for him is not good either.
 
'Damn this disease! Damn it,' Watson shouted at his press conference. 'They are going to find a cure.'
 
Ben Crenshaw, a two-time winner here, had this to say about Edwards: 'He was a real professional and one of the most positive human beings I have ever been around. He was selected as our co-captain, caddie pick, at the 1999 Ryder Cup for his positive outlook. It's not fair.'
 
Watson won two majors last year on the Champions Tour, the Senior British Open and the Tradition. Edwards was unable to made the trip across the pond to the Senior British, but was on the bag at the Tradition. Watson knows he will grieve, but that is what people do when they lose someone close to them.
 
'Yes, we have grief and I'm sure I'll cry,' Watson said. 'I'll cry a lot before it's over, that's the way I look at it.'
 
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