Golf advice? Tom Watson has played a round or two. He might have a bit to share.
He had some Friday business to attend to first, though: the opening round at his namesake Watson Challenge, held this year at the par-72 Shadow Glen Golf Club in Olathe.
The round went pretty well. The 68-year-old Kansas City sports legend and veteran of so many memorable PGA victories beat his age by a stroke, carding a 5-under 67 that placed him solidly atop the leaderboard in a tie for first with Ryan Argotsinger of Lee's Summit.
So, back to the golf advice.
Sure, he watched some of the competition on Friday, he said, but he didn’t pay too close attention.
Monitoring his own position was all he wanted to do, he said, at least until the end of the day.
“You can’t worry about other players and how they do, other than at the end of the tournament,” Watson said. “You need to know your position, because it dictates what you can and can’t do.”
That would be some sound advice for Andy Spencer, the defending Watson Challenge champion. Spencer, 20, golfs year-round at Milburn Country Club and plays for the Kansas Jayhawks.
On Friday, he was working through some early jitters after arriving at the course at 8:30 a.m., ready as he'd ever be to tee off against some of the most promising fellow young golfers in the Kansas City area.
Spencer said he was grateful to be the event's champion for a year. But he made pretty good headway on a title defense, too, opening with a 2-under 70 at the Olathe track.
“Coming back and trying to defend the title is pretty fun,” Spencer said. “Obviously, it’s a different course, but being able to call yourself a Watson Challenge champion for a year is pretty cool.”
The Shawnee Mission East High graduate is also proud to be representing KU on the course.
“I feel like whenever we are wearing a Jayhawk or carrying around a Kansas bag that we represent the university, which is obviously a lot bigger than myself,” Spencer said. “Our coach tells us that you’re not only playing for the name on the back of your shirt, but the front of the shirt too. We take a lot of pride for KU.”
Michael Letzig, Robert Russell and Clay Ederer each opened with 69s to share third place behind Watson and Argotsinger.
Spencer sits tied for sixth headed into Saturday's action with Matt Foland, Ryan Buerk and Tyler Docking.
“The biggest challenge is coming prepared, playing against some of the biggest players,” Spencer said. “Obviously there’s Tom Watson — that really gets my nerves going. It’s mainly just preparing yourself for playing against guys like him.”
The second round of the 54-hole tournament tees off this morning at Shadow Glen.
The championship round is set for Sunday.