Move over, Hal Sutton. There’s a new career leading-money winner among golfers – wait for it, wait for it – in cutting, and his name is Tom Watson.
The 72-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer took up cutting, a western-style equestrian event rooted in ranching in which a horse and rider handle cattle during a 2½-minute performance, the sport at which his wife, Hilary, excelled. After her death in late 2019, Watson found solace, not in golf but rather cutting, as chronicled in Golfweek (March issue, 2020). In that story, Watson said he had earned to date $28,000 and set a goal to pass Sutton, whose career earnings in the sport totaled $42,000.
When Watson vaulted past Sutton, the former PGA champion, two-time Players champion, and 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, in October at the Brazos Bash in Texas, he texted Sutton to let him know that he was the new king of the money list – at least among professional golfers.
“I said, ‘Don’t tell anybody how much it cost to get there,’ and he laughed,” Watson said.
It’s just the latest example of Watson, the hard-nosed competitor, and proof of just how invested he’s become in the sport to go from novice to good enough to win a belt buckle, the typical trophy awarded at cutting events. Watson has done it the old-fashioned way – he’s earned it.
“I know what worked for me when I turned pro in golf, and that was to work as hard as I could,” Watson said.
Judges score a run on a scale from 60 to 80, but unlike golf the higher the number the better. At the time of the previous Golfweek story, Watson’s best score was a 74, which he described as the equivalent of shooting 66 in golf. Since then, he’s recorded a 76 and a few 75s. Watson tabbed himself as about a 10 handicap at cutting.
“I’ve got a really good horse that makes me look good,” Watson said.
He’s already gearing up to add to his winnings in 2022 with an ambitious schedule in the saddle.
“The first week of January I have a show in Abilene, show my two‑ and three‑year‑olds and will probably show at least twice in February, then go play at ‑‑ going to play the Mitsubishi Electric Hualalai tournament on the Senior Tour. That will be my only event on the Senior Tour (next year). Then March and early April during Nationals, there’s a big show called the Super Stakes, and I’ll be showing there my two‑ and three‑year‑olds, turned four‑year olds.”
Next up: $50,000 in career earnings is in Watson’s sights.