MADISON, Miss. (WJTV) — Randy Watkins remembers his U.S. Open experience like it was yesterday.
“It was a lot to undertake and I’m so proud and so lucky that I got do it,” Watkins said. “It was a lifelong dream. And my late father sure was proud of that.”
Watkins, who now opens and operates three golf courses in the Jackson Metro area, played in the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club just outside New York City. He was only 22 years old.
“I remember the day teeing the ball up on the first hole. And I leaned over to tee it up. I can see my knees shaking in my pants. And I thought oh boy this is bigger than me I think. So I walk back to my caddy to wipe my hands off and I was really sweating. Nervous. And I really was just buying time. And my caddy looked me right in the eye and said ‘you need to hit that ball and let’s get out of here’.”
Thirty-six years later Watkins can tell you every single detail about the experience, including his practice round with Lee Trevino.
“So he (Trevino) and I and Bill Rogers played. We played right behind Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd, Lanny Watkins and Greg Norman. And out of that massive crowd, which never said my name because they were cheering for everybody else, I hear my name…I look over and a guy waved at me he said ‘I’m from Madison’. So I walked over and introduced myself and we talked. He had a polaroid camera. He took a picture of me standing on the tee with Nicklaus, Trevino and Bill Rogers. And I still have it to this day. It was a great memento. And what a great memory. I ran into the guy 20 years later out at Deerfield. I mean, the odds are just silly.”
Watkins knows first hand how challenging of a course Winged Foot is, and he expects this weekend to be no different.
“I think the winner this week is going to be Winged Foot. I don’t think they’ll shoot under par. Hale Irwin won it in ’74 at 7 over. I’m not going to be shocked if it’s pretty close to that score.”