The Thailand Golf Championship, an event the two-time Masters champion has played for three consecutive years without yet winning, is at the very top of his wish list and Watson would like nothing more than to have the coveted title in his possession as he enters his traditional winter break.
“I love visiting Thailand and I love competing in the Thailand Golf Championship,” said the world number four, who was defending last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, where he finished in a share of 35th. “I’ve met so many great friends in Thailand and I have so many wonderful memories … the only thing missing from my three trips so far is the trophy.”
Watson, widely considered the greatest shot-maker in the game, will join the likes of defending champion Lee Westwood, fellow two-time major winner Martin Kaymer (2010 PGA Championship and 2014 US Open), European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, 2013 TGC victor Sergio Garcia and local favourite Thongchai Jaidee in an all-star cast at the fifth edition of the Asian Tour’s flagship tournament, which will be played 10-13 December at the award-winning Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi.
Watson, who has twice-claimed the Green Jacket after brilliant performances at Augusta National Golf Club in 2012 and 2014, has a best finish in Thailand of tied-second, which came on his debut three years ago when he placed behind runaway winner Charl Schwartzel.
After recording a solid season on the PGA Tour, the 37-year-old believes the time has come for him to succeed at an event – and on a course – that he considers among the most enjoyable on his schedule.
“The Thailand Golf Championship is a week I really look forward to – the hospitality we players receive is second to none and Amata Spring really suits my eye,” said Watson, who played a vital role for his country at October’s Presidents Cup in Korea, which saw the United States team edge their International counterparts in a closely-fought encounter.
“It’s a week where I feel really comfortable, so I can’t wait to get started. I feel like I’ve been playing well enough to win, so if I can do it in Thailand, that would be the icing on the cake. It would mean ending my year on a real high.”
On a dramatic final day at the Presidents Cup, the American played Thai star – and Presidents Cup debutant – Thongchai in the singles and came away with a half point after their match finished all-square. Watson was greatly impressed by the tenacity of the 46-year-old, and was full of praise for the veteran whose recent fine form has seen him rise to 33 in the world rankings.
“Thongchai is a great player – there’s no doubt at all about that,” said Watson, who won the Travelers Championship in June for the second time in his career. “I’ve come to know him from playing in Thailand and there is really no weakness to his game. He’s become a real champion.
“The strength of golf in Asia – and especially in Thailand – is at an all-time high, which is cool to see, of course, but it means I have more players to worry about when I get to Amata Spring,” continued Watson.
“Thongchai is playing great, we’re seeing Kiradech [Aphibarnrat] do some amazing things in Europe and Asia, and there are more and more players coming through and making a name for themselves.
“These are exciting times for Thailand golf – and I’m sure we’re going to see the local players shine at the Thailand Golf Championship.
“But as long as I finish out on top, I’m not going to mind,” ended Watson with a smile.