Watson handling success well

Playing in his second event since winning his second Masters, Bubba Watson finished the first round of The Memorial at -6.

May 29, 2014; Dublin, OH, USA; Bubba Watson drives on the 10th hole during the first round of the Memorial Tournament first round action at Muirfield Village Golf Club. 

Joseph Maiorana / USA Today Sports

DUBLIN, Ohio - The pink driver is a hot club.

Bubba Watson is swinging his others pretty well, too.

Playing in just his second event since winning his second Masters six weeks ago, Watson made an eagle early and finished with three consecutive birdies Thursday in the first round at the Memorial. He's at -6 and right in the mix at a Muirfield Village Golf Club in a star-studded field.

Again, he's one of those stars -- and he appears to be handling his success nicely.

"It's a learning process," Watson said of being a two-time winner of what may be golf's most recognizable tournament. "It took me a while. (This) doesn't mean I'm going to play well for the rest of my life, but right now I'm handling it."

When Watson won his first Masters in 2012, he and his wife, Angie, were in the process of adopting their son, Caleb. With a win Watson admits "nobody expected," plenty changed.

Quickly.

"For me it's learning...how to be a Masters champion, how to deal with the pressures of that, but also the pressures of being a dad for the first time," he said. "Being a husband and father, those things come before golf."

Golf's been good, too. Watson is No. 5 in the latest World Golf Ranking, the highest of his career and 23 spots higher than where he ended 2013.

In eight events in 2014, Watson has two wins and two seconds -- his first two wins since that 2012 Masters. He's looking for a strong showing here, then will take off next week before the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

"Truthfully, none of us here are thinking about the Open," Watson said. "We're all thinking about trying to win here. We'd like to all shake the hand of Jack Nicklaus Sunday afternoon.

"So, none of us are trying to practice for (two weeks from now). We're always trying to practice. We're always trying to get better at the game of golf."

He said his goal here is just "to get to Sunday afternoon," but he's off to a good start. Watson teed off Thursday morning on No. 10, was -2 at the turn and birdied four of his last holes to get to -6 and a three-way tie for the early lead.

"The conditions were favorable for good scores," Watson said. "There was no wind."

The leaderboard figures to be crowded by the time Watson tees off again Friday afternoon, but few are playing better of late than Watson and few would be surprised if he does make it to Sunday afternoon right in the mix.

"I love this place," he said of Muirfield Village. "Coming back here, it's one of the places that you always see a great field, a good golf course. For me, I love the look of it. I don't think I've ever played very well here, but I love coming back and challenging myself.

"I don't think I've ever had a real high finish here, but I look forward to the challenge. Hopefully now that I'm playing a little bit better, making my way a little bit better, hopefully it will show."

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