Tom Watson backs out of Colonial to attend funeral

Marget Lewis of Fort Worth caddies for PGA Tour pro and Fort Worth native Martin Flores.
Marget Lewis of Fort Worth caddies for PGA Tour pro and Fort Worth native Martin Flores. Star-Telegram

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial lost one of its bigger names from this week’s field on Monday.

Eight-time major winner Tom Watson informed tournament officials that he would not play in the tournament.

Watson backed out of Colonial to attend the funeral of his longtime mentor, Stan Thirsk, who passed away at age 87 Saturday in the Kansas City area.

Watson, 65, won the 1998 event and has surprised many by his ability to stay competitive in the twilight years of his career. He does not play many PGA Tour events, though, and has played in only two this year — the Masters and the RBC Heritage.

Watson will not be replaced by an alternate.

Home cooking

Playing at Colonial never gets old for hometown guy J.J. Henry.

Henry, the former TCU standout, is set to play in his 14th tournament at Fort Worth and is feeling good about his game despite missing last week’s cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C.

“Knock on wood, I feel like my game is coming around,” said Henry, playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

“There’s something about being back home. I played great [in Monday’s] pro-am, didn’t really miss a shot. I’ll get in some good practice the next couple of days, and hopefully we can string some stuff together and be in the hunt come Sunday.”

Henry has made the cut the past two years, finishing tied for 42nd in 2013 and tied for 57th last year. Those results, however, don’t tell the full story.

Henry feels he had a chance to win each of those tournaments going into the final round, but he was doomed by subpar Sundays. He shot a 5-over 75 on the final day in 2013, and a 3-over 73 last year.

Trying to play well in front of family and friends, Henry acknowledged, could have factored into those Sunday scores.

“No doubt there’s an extra layer of self-induced, self-imposed pressure to play well because you feel like you know the golf course and where to hit it and where not to hit it,” Henry said. “With that being said, being a veteran out here for 15 years, I feel like I’ve gotten over it.”

Henry has only played once this month. It’s allowed him to rest and recover from a nagging bout with tendinitis in his right arm.

“I’d look good in plaid,” he said. “I don’t know how that jacket would look with a purple shirt underneath it. But I’d like to find out.”

Herron watch

It’s been 21 years since Tim Herron first pegged it at a PGA Tour event.

And now at age 45, the Minneapolis native and former University of New Mexico player will be swatting it at Colonial for the 18th time.

Herron has collected four Tour victories, including the plaid jacket at Colonial in 2006.

As has happened with so many professionals at this stage, though, Herron has split time with starts on the PGA Tour and Tour the past two seasons.

“It’s hard to go down a level when you’ve been out here this long,” he said before Monday’s Hogan Pro-Am. “Being a Tour veteran and kind of having your status in limbo means you just have to suck your ego up and go play. Now the goal is to stay really fresh and get ready for the promised land.”

In golf parlance, that’s the Champions Tour, and Herron has about five years before he’ll get a go out there.

“But I still feel like I can compete with these guys,” he said. “When you’re older, you just don’t seem to have as many consistently great rounds. I don’t know why that is, but I still have the dream and still want to pursue success in my career.”

In Herron’s 18 Colonial starts, he’s missed the cut just five times and also has a second-place finish.

Caddie help

The First Tee of Fort Worth is celebrating 10 years of having kids from its program caddie for PGA Tour pros.

The kids were caddies for Monday’s Hogan Pro-Am and will be in action again at Wednesday’s Pro-Ams, working the 13th hole.

Kevin Casas contributed to this report.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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