Hilary Watson, wife of eight-time major champion Tom Watson, died on Wednesday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 63.
The Watsons originally got Hilary’s diagnosis in October 2017. Seven months later, after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and a six-hour surgery to remove the tumor, she was declared cancer free. According to John Feinstein of Golf Digest, the cancer returned just a month later, which led to more treatments.
After over a year of fighting, Tom put her in hospice care last week at their family farm in Stillwell, Kansas.
Throughout the vast majority of her cancer treatment, Hilary Watson never stopped riding horses. She had been doing competitive horse-cutting, a western style of equestrian, for years. She had even gotten Tom into it, and at the British Senior Open in July (his last before retirement), he admitted that his passion for competitive horse-cutting had grown greater than his passion for golf.
Hilary and Tom, who had been married since 1999, leaned on fellow golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy throughout Hilary’s treatment. The Mickelsons had gone through their own cancer scare a decade ago when Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. From Golf Digest:
Amy Mickelson was in almost constant touch with Hilary, and Phil talked to Tom at length about dealing with the fear and helplessness he was feeling.
“It was very kind of Phil,” Tom said. “He and Amy were both great, almost from the beginning.”
In a text to Feinstein, Tom Watson shared his feelings about the death of his wife.
“The void she leaves will be filled by memories which will always remain as they leave indelible marks on our souls which we will never forget. She said she was dying to live, not living to die throughout her entire ordeal with her cancer. She’s my hero.”
In addition to her husband, Hilary is survived by her three children, two step-children, and two sisters.
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