Tom Watson To Join Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player as Honorary Starter at Masters 2022

Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player
Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player pose on the 9th green during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National GC on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, GA. (Photo by Harry How via Getty Images)

The Masters Tournament announced that Tom Watson will become the 11th honorary starter at the Masters, joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, beginning with the 2022 edition of the season’s first major.

“I am honored that Tom has accepted our invitation,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

“I look forward to commemorating his love for the game and impact on the Masters with his millions of fans across the globe, as he hits a tee shot alongside two of the tournament’s other all-time greats, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.”

The tradition of the Masters’ Honorary Starter goes back to 1963 with Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod doing the honors for a decade. Neither Hutchison nor McLeod won the Masters but instead were winners of the 1937 and 1938 Senior PGA Championship, respectively, which were contested at Augusta National.

Since, though, the regular honorary starters have been former champions, including Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Player and Nicklaus. Ken Venturi and Lee Elder each took part in one edition as a special tribute.

Watson won the Masters in 1977 and 1981. He also compiled 15 top-10 finishes in 42 starts. He is one of only 17 players to win multiple Masters.

“Augusta National in April is one of my favorite places to be. I have many fond memories of both watching the Masters as a youngster and then competing in the Tournament for so many years,” said Watson. “I am greatly honored to join my friends and fellow competitors, Jack and Gary, as an Honorary Starter in this upcoming Masters.”

“In both of my victories, Jack was on my heels. And when Gary won his third Tournament in 1978, I was there to help him put on the Green Jacket.
“Moments like those stand out in my career, and the opportunity to share the Honorary Starter tradition with Jack, Gary and the Masters patrons will be very special.”

Masters’ Honorary Starters
  • Jock Hutchison, 1963-73
  • Fred McLeod, 1963-76
  • Gene Sarazen, 1981-99
  • Byron Nelson, 1981-82, 1984-2001
  • Ken Venturi, 1983
  • Sam Snead, 1984-2002
  • Arnold Palmer, 2007-2015
  • Jack Nicklaus, 2010-
  • Gary Player, 2012-
  • Lee Elder, 2021
  • Tom Watson, 2022
Masters Honorary Starters by Year

1963-73: Jock Hutchison, Fred McLeod
1974-76: Fred McLeod
1977-80: No Honorary Starters
1981-82: Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson
1983—: Gene Sarazen, Ken Venturi
1984-99: Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead
2000-01: Byron Nelson, Sam Snead
2002—: Sam Snead
2003-06: No Honorary Starters
2007-09: Arnold Palmer
2010-11: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus
2012-15: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player
2016-20: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player
2021—: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Elder
2022—: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson

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