MOSEL, Wis. –– Bubba Watson walked off Whistling Straits after Thursday’s first round wondering how he almost won the PGA Championship on this same golf course in 2010.
Watson, one of the favorites coming into the year’s final major, shot an even-par 72 with birdies on his first and last holes, but a lot of nothing in between.
“I hit my driver bad today,” Watson said. “A lot of blind shots out here. I know somehow I finished second here a couple years ago. Just hard for me to get focused on where I needed to end up just because I can’t see.”
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Watson likes to see the landing areas off the tee and when he can’t, the game becomes more difficult for the two-time Masters champion. The three bogeys were not from particularly poor shots, Watson said, but rather the fact that it is a major setup and if you miss the fairway it can cost you a shot.
For Watson, the other interesting aspect of his struggles on Thursday is linked back to his last two events, where he finished runner-up at the RBC Canadian Open and at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“For the way I felt, my body feels after a tough week last week – to change the subject for a second,” Watson said. “I’m more amazed at what Tiger and players can do when they win back‑to‑back weeks because of the energy level and mental stress of trying to compete at a high level in one week and then the very next week do it again.”
Watson has excelled during the 2014-15 season with seven top 10s in 14 events, including a victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a playoff win at the Travelers Championship. Equally remarkable is the fact that the left-hander has also recorded three runner-up finishes and a third, as well, making the season one of extreme intensity.
Friday’s second round will likely be equally intense as Watson battles to get in contention. The closing birdie will make things a little easier.
“It will make dinner and lunch taste better,” Watson said. “To finish it off with a bogey birdie was huge. It’s huge for confidence. It’s huge for just momentum going forward. Hopefully tomorrow I have good momentum."