Brady Watt of Australia had just suffered a tough semifinal defeat last August in the U.S. Amateur Championship, when a victory not only would have given him a shot at the Havemeyer Trophy, but also a guaranteed berth in the 2014 U.S. Open and a likely spot in the 2014 Masters Tournament.
Oliver Goss, his opponent and a fellow Aussie, had holed several long putts, including an 18-foot birdie to take the lead for good and an unlikely 30-footer for another birdie and a half when it seemed that Watt would square the match. So what did Watt do after Goss had finished him off, 2 up? He agreed to caddie for his countryman in the next day’s championship match at The Country Club.
“When we finished, I found out his caddie was flying home,” said Watt, 22. “He asked if I wanted to jump on the bag and I said sure. We’re good mates – it’s friendly fire, you know?”
Watt had been the championship’s co-medalist after qualifying rounds of 68-66, and he reeled off four victories, including a 1-up win over U.S. Junior champion Scottie Scheffler in the quarterfinals. But in the semifinals, he met his match.
“Whatever I did really well, he kind of did a little bit better,” said Watt, who had arrived in the United States for the first time six weeks earlier, in late June.
It wasn’t the first time Goss and Watt, who both hail from Perth in Western Australia, dueled with a big prize at stake. At the 2012 Western Australian Open, a professional event, they finished 72 holes tied at 16 under par, having both made birdies on the final two holes. In the sudden-death playoff, Goss finally prevailed with a par on the fifth hole.
While Goss, 19, enrolled at the University of Tennessee last January – and earned All-Southeastern Conference honors – Watt opted to take a job as a custodian at an office building in Perth, working nights as he honed his golf game during the day.
Goss ended up losing to Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, 4 and 3, in the championship match, getting a taste of his own medicine in the process.
“I had a blast caddieing for him – he played great,” said Watt of Goss. “The guy [Fitzpatrick] just holed a lot of putts early. Gossie did the same thing to me. That’s the beauty of match play. Sometimes you play your best and you lose; other times you play your worst and win. You take it as it comes. No regrets.”
Mary Joe Clark of nearby Wellesley, Mass., certainly had no regrets about how the week went. She and her husband, Todd, housed Goss and Watt, and Mary Joe said hosting them was one of the best experiences of her life. Among other local events, they brought the Aussies to a Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game at Fenway Park, thus exposing them to a rivalry a bit more heated than their own.
“As I put it on Facebook and Twitter after we played, we get the best out of each other,” said Watt. “That’s a win in itself. We lift each other – we were two or three under par. I was glad I was able to lift my game to that intensity. I’m just proud of how I’ve played.”
He can also be proud of how he handled himself after he completed play for the week.