Bubba Watson says U.S. Open outburst directed at himself
UNIVERSITY PARK, Wash. — There were double-bogeys to start each of his nine-hole splits, but it was what happened at the very end that got a mini-eruption from Bubba Watson.
“Pathetic for a professional golfer,” Watson could be heard shouting after his second shot into the 604-yard, par-5 18th in the first round of the 115th U.S. Open.
The immediate reaction was that something had ignited his anger. Perhaps the turtle-like pace of play, given that Watson and others were embroiled in rounds lasting five-and-a-half hours? Watson said no. The problem was all him.
“I hit a terrible shot. I knew exactly where it was (short, left of the 18th green),” Watson said of his fairway shot that he had intended to reach the green. Instead, “I knew that I was dead. I don’t want a 30-footer for birdie when I’m going for a par-5 in two.”
Indeed, Watson two-putted for par, having been 60 feet in two, but only in position to knock his third shot about 30 feet long because of a severe slope in the green. It was the best he could do, but at the end of the day, making par at both par 5s was more unsettling than the double-bogeys he made at the first and 10th holes.
“I’m down, but at the same time, it’s the U.S. Open and I know there are a lot of big numbers waiting. I’ve got three more days.”
Watson’s round of level-par 70 matches his best opening round of the national open. The previous time he shot 70, at Oakmont in 2007, Watson recorded his best-ever finish in this championship, a share of fifth. Since then, he’s batted .500, missing three cuts in six starts, though even when he’s stuck around for the weekend he’s not been better than joint 18th.
He knows what you’re thinking, that he doesn’t maintain enough composure to play well in this demanding test. He fielded questions about his outburst on 18, about the few times that the slowness seemed to be weighing him down and laughed. “We’ve all seen articles written about me,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a pouter, so nothing new.”
He was being facetious, because Watson insisted that the slow play was not bugging him. Sadly, “that’s the one problem we have, no matter what PGA Tour tournament we’re in, slow play. We’ve had it for 50 years out here and there’s just no way to (fix) it. Practice rounds were over six hours here.”
Suggest he was on the verge of losing his composure and Watson will deny it. In fact, he felt a sense of pride for the way in which he handled the first hole (he was wide of the green, his third shot ran up the slope and came back at him) and 10th (bunker off the tee, bunker with his second shot) and made a pair of doubles.
“A few feet in another way and maybe they go the other way and I make solid pars. That’s what the U.S. Open does. Shots you miss by a few feet are dramatic,” Watson said.
“For me, it’s keep your head down and keep focused on what you want to do.”
Especially a key when you carry a 7-wood. That’s right, big, bad, powerful Bubba swings a 7-wood. Pray tell, since when?
“Put it in the bag at (The Players Championship),” he said, with a smile. “But I just haven’t played since then.”
It didn’t help him at the first hole, for it was the club he used when his second shot ran up the bank and came back at his feet. But Watson said he’s into keep things this week — the 7-wood and his composure.