Teeing it Up With Sally Watson

Feb. 19, 2010

STANFORD, Calif. - Some 40 years ago, a golfer named Watson roamed the then-whispy fairways at the Stanford Golf Course, forging and refining his game that would ultimately reach heights only a handful of golfers have ever attained.

Over his career, he developed a deep love for links golf and would go onto win five British Open championships. The people of Scotland adopted him as one of their own.

Flash forward to present day and there is another Watson quickly making her mark on the Stanford golf program. She has already played in a British Open, finishing 50th in the 2007 event at St. Andrews at the ripe 'ol age of 16. She has also been a steady fixture for Great Britain & Ireland in Curtis Cup play.

Sally Watson won her first collegiate title last weekend at the Peg Barnard Invitational on her home course in just her fourth collegiate event, sharing medalist honors with a 36-hole score of 144 (73-71). She made clutch par saves at 17 and 18 to clinch a share of the individual title and played with poise and maturity beyond her years.

Sally grew up playing 'wee courses' in the little village of Earlsferry, located on the east coast of Scotland, which is the home of five-time Open winner James Braid. She has played the Old Course more times than she can count, thanks to a links card which gave her access to all of the courses that would certainly top anyone's list when planning their ultimate Scottish golf vacation.

Now, just a little trace of a Scottish brogue remains after spending many of her formidable years in the United States, first in nearby Orinda and then later at The Pendleton Academy in Florida.

It's a long road traveled from Earlsferry, Scotland to Stanford, but one that will once again prove pivotal in the long golfing journey of this golfer named Watson.

Tee it Up with Stanford freshman Sally Watson...

Home course?
Elie and Earlsferry Ladies Golf Club in Scotland.

Favorite course you have played?
St.Andrews -Old Course. I played in the Women's Ricoh British Open at age 16 and also the 2008 Curtis Cup there, so I have a lot of great memories of the course!

Course you would most like to play?
Augusta National

How many times have you played the Old Course?
I can't even remember how many times I have played the Old Course anymore I have played it so often now. I have what is called my links ticket, which entitles me to play all eight of the courses in St. Andrews including the Old Course.

Name your top three favorite courses in Scotland?
The Old Course, Muirfield, and my home course Elie.

Favorite golfer?
Jack Nicklaus or Catriona Mathews

One swing thought you are always trying to remember?
Keep my head still.

Favorite major championship to watch?
The Masters because ANYTHING can happen on Sunday!

What was your introduction to Stanford?
I can't remember my first introduction to Stanford. My dad had heard of it because of the fantastic reputation that it holds and so I think when it came closer to the time for me to begin thinking about colleges we started investigating it more and then when Coach first started emailing me I really began taking a serious look and loved everything I found out!

Earliest memories of playing golf?
Playing around the wee 9-hole course in my home village in the summer with my sister and two cousins when I was only four. My sister was six and my two cousins were only five and three.

What's your most memorable round?
The three-hole playoff I played in to qualify for the Ricoh Women's British Open with my dad caddying for me and my mum, sister and aunt there for support. There were 14 of us for eight spots and we finished in the dark. It was the most pressure and excitement I have ever experienced.

Tell us about your experience playing in the Women's British Open?
Playing in the Women's British Open with my dad caddying for me and all of my family and friends out supporting me was by far the greatest experience of my life. It was also one of the longest and most tiresome weeks of my life, too. I had arrived back from the U.S Girls Championship in Tacoma, Washington, on the Sunday morning the week of the Open. I qualified in a playoff on Monday which lasted until around 10:00 at night and then went back home for a quick celebration before I headed off to bed.

It was a little harder than normal to get a good night's sleep that week because there was just so much going on and so much excitement all of the time, from getting my players badge to riding in the courtesy car home. On Thursday my tee-off time was not until 3:30 p.m. and it took us over six hours to play, so once again that week, I finished in the dark.

On Friday I had a mid morning tee-time and then the rest of the day was spent checking the computer every 10 minutes to try to see if I was going to make the cut. Thankfully I did and the weekend just got better and better. It is hard to explain the feeling of walking up the 18th hole at The Old Course, with my dad beside me, my family waiting behind the green and a few thousand other spectators lining the fairway. The week I played in the Women's British Open is a week I will remember forever. It was the greatest week of my life.

What's your most memorable shot?
My six-foot, right-to-left putt on the 18th hole at St Andrews to win 1 up against the American's in my first Curtis Cup match. There must have been around 2,000 people circling around the green to watch our match finish. The cheers were crazy when my ball went into that hole!

Favorite ball mark?
A red dot

Favorite club in your bag?
My putter

One thing you are constantly working on to improve as a player?
Confidence and commitment

Why did you decide to come to Stanford?
It has the greatest practice facility in the America and possibly the world! Great coach, great team and great opportunities both on and off the course.

Favorite spot on campus?
Our practice facility and my room

What are some of your interests other than golf?
I love spending time with my family and friends, I love watching sports and watching Stanford play. I also love to play basketball.

Do you have any superstitions?
Not right now.

Favorite movie?
Pretty Woman or He's Just Not That into You.

What's on your IPOD?
I listen to everything-mostly things that my friends or sister recommend to me.

Favorite meal?
I love everything my mum makes but she makes the most amazing turkey dinner on Christmas Day every year. It is the BEST!

Tell us about your hometown of Earlsferry, Scotland?
Earlsferry is an extremely small village which is attached to another small village called Elie. Everybody knows everybody. The Royal Burgh of Elie and Earlsferry is located right on the east coast of Scotland.

The two villages of Elie and Earlsferry are linked around a natural harbor on the East coast of Fife, and are popular seaside resorts with many facilities to offer both locals and visitors. Gone are the days of the 1800's when the harbor was a bustling port. Today Elie and Earlsferry have a more relaxed atmosphere where people enjoy windsurfing, sailing and golf. The most famous Elie golfer is James Braid who won the Open Golf Championship five times between 1901 and 1910.

Earlsferry is a very old village where the ferries used to arrive from North Berwick and other ports on the Lothian coast. The village, however, owes its name to Macduff, the Thane of the Earl of Fife in the 11th century. When Macduff was escaping from the clutches of Macbeth - the true story behind Shakespeare's play, 'Macbeth' - he took refuge in a cave near Kincraig Point until it was safe for a local fisherman to ferry him over the Firth of Forth to Dunbar. Thereafter the village was known as Earlsferry.

James Braid, five times winner of The Open was born and grew up in the village of Earlsferry and was a member of the Thistle aged 15. He considered the 13th hole, nestling beneath the towering cliffs of Kincraig Point to be 'the best hole in golf' and the 4th as needing 'twa guid dunts wi' a wood' to reach the green into the prevailing wind.

Such is the quality of the course, it was in days gone by a qualifying course for the Open Championship and has hosted a number of notable tournaments including the Seniors Championship, the Scottish Professionals Championship and the Scottish Ladies Championship.

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