Howley Hall's Craig Watt wins to make most of his first Father's Day

HOWLEY Hall's Craig Watt will never forget his first Father's Day as a dad after he ended his wait for a Leeds & District Union major title by winning the stroke play championship at Cookridge Hall.

Howley Halls Craig Watt with his son Rory.

And the occasion was made even more special for the 29-year-old as his father, Bill – the man who started him playing the sport –was with him every step of the way as he carded a level-par 72 in sweltering conditions to win by a shot from the host club’s Jeehvan Singh.

It also made up for being pipped by Cookridge’s Tom Broxup on countback last year when the event was staged at Howley Hall.

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“It was quite a special moment for me with it being my first Father’s Day as a dad,” said Watt. “To get home with the trophy and sit my little boy, Rory, in it and have a picture taken – that made it even more special.”

His son, named after the four-time major champion Rory McIlroy by Watt and his partner Becci, will no doubt enjoy hearing the tale of how his dad became the 2017 holder of the John Keightley Cup in years to come.

Watt got off to a fast start and was two under after three holes, but was back level by the turn.

He started the homeward stretch with consecutive birdies to get back to two under. However, he followed with a bogey at 12 and a double at 13.

Watt says his dad, also a Howley Hall member, has always proved a big help in such moments.

“What tends to happen is my dad will kick me up the backside a bit and say, ‘come on, you can do this’ sort of thing,” said Watt.

“I just thought, ‘right, let’s try and pick one shot up to get back level and if someone beats you they’ll have played good golf to go under par.”

After a run of pars he birdied 16 to do just that, and closed out with two pars for his score. After a two-hour wait, he knew he had won.

“The course was in fantastic condition, the greens are really good as well,” said Watt. “Cookridge had done a great job in getting the course prepared.”

Watt had been a regular member of the Leeds Union team, but says golf has had to be put on “the back burner a bit”, following Rory’s arrival.

However, next month he will attempt to add the Yorkshire Open title to his Leeds stroke play crown when it is played at Howley Hall.

But he knows he will face stiff competition from his friend, fellow member and Yorkshire champion, Ben Hutchinson.

“It would be nice to add that but Ben will be in that and he won it last year so he’ll take some beating around our home course,” said Watt, who was thankful to Becci for indulging him on Sunday by allowing him both to play golf and then watch the final round of the US Open in the evening.

He also had praise for his dad, commenting: “Dad was the one who got me into golf, back in the day, and he was the taxi driver.

“He’s given up so much time over the years so it was nice for him to see it come to fruition on Father’s Day. It was a very special day.”