Golf: Watson out of sight

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The Independent Online
Better men than Craig Watson have driven out of bounds on the 14th hole here but, despite doing it twice in his semi-final yesterday, the 31-year- old Scot progressed to today's 36-hole final of the Amateur Championship.

Bernhard Langer, that most methodical of strategists, patiently explained why he hit an iron off the 14th tee for three days when the Open Championship visited Sandwich in 1993. On the final day Langer took a driver, sliced it out of bounds and lost his chance of catching Greg Norman.

Watson, who works in his family's lighting shop in Falkirk when not playing golf, could have had his hopes extinguished when he lost two balls on the adjoining Prince's course to go one-down to Bath's Colin Edwards.

Despite the greatness of the prize - the Amateur champion is annually invited to the US Masters - the Scottish international maintained his usual phlegmatic air. "I was beginning to get excited but the 14th kept that in check," he said.

Having chipped in at the ninth to start a run of three holes won, Watson, who turned to a long-handled putter two weeks ago, got up and down at the 15th to square the match. He halved the next from a bunker when his par-putt did a 360-degree spin before dropping in, and then won the 17th after Edwards drove into a bunker. Edwards' putt at the last to continue the game only just missed before Watson holed from three feet for the victory.

It was the second time in the day Edwards had faced Barclay Howard, who caddied for Watson. Edwards, who has 52 caps for England, had beaten the Walker Cup man at the last in the quarter-finals after making "one of the best swings of my life" at the 18th hole. Edwards hit a five-iron to four feet while Howard slipped down into Duncan's Hollow.

Watson will today face the South African Trevor Immelman, who will be attempting to become the first overseas winner for seven years and the youngest champion, beating the record of his countryman Bobby Cole, who was 18 when he won in 1966. Immelman, the only winner of his national junior and senior Amateur titles in the same year, won the battle of the 17-year-olds when he recovered from being three down with eight to play against West Herts' David Griffiths to win by one hole.

Nick Price and Greg Norman share the lead after the opening round of the Kemper Open in Potomac, Maryland. Price, displaying ominously good form before next week's US Open, parred every hole on the front nine yesterday then stormed home with five back-nine birdies to join his friend and rival Norman at five-under-par 66 at the Avenel TPC course.