Former Fort Payne and UAB golfer Blake Watts competed in his first USGA Mid-Am earlier this week at the Stonewall Golf Club in Elverson, Pennsylvania against 263 other players from across the country.
All qualifiers were fighting for the top spot as the winner of the tournament would earn an invitation to participate in next year’s Masters Tournament with the best golfers in the world in Augusta, Georgia.
Watts qualified for the Mid-Am by shooting a 67 and tying for 2nd at an Aug. 4 tournament at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Mid-Am started off with two rounds of stroke play on Saturday and Sunday. The players with the top 64 scores then advanced to a match play tournament to decide the champion.
Watts teed off Saturday for his opening round and carded a 75 which was five strokes over par. He had one birdie on his third hole and six bogeys for the round.
Watts said he knew he could put a better score.
“I really didn’t hit the ball that well in my first round,” Watts said. “I felt like I was still in contention at that point, though. I was still pretty confident that I could put together a better round the next day and advance.”
Watts’ ability to close out holes fell apart in his second round Sunday. His round started with 10-straight holes shooting bogey or worse before carding his first par on the 11th hole. He finished with a +15 score of 85.
Watts said his short game came unglued throughout the round.
“My putting is what made me score so poorly in the second round,” Watts said. “I was hitting the ball better at the start of round, I just couldn’t finish. I think I had five 3-putts on the day.”
Watts needed a combined score of +8 or better to be in the top 64 and advance.
He said that despite the rough outing, it was a great experience.
“It was great to be able to play at that level,” Watts said. “It was a special event, and one of the most special moments I’ve had golfing. Hopefully it’s not a once in a lifetime experience, though. I think the Mid-Am is in Atlanta next year, so one of my goals is definitely to qualify for that event.”