Bubba Watson battles Birkdale to remain in British Open contention

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Bubba Watson battles Birkdale to remain in British Open contention

PGA Tour

Bubba Watson battles Birkdale to remain in British Open contention

SOUTHPORT, England – Bubba Watson made three bogeys and a pair of doubles in his second round Friday at the British Open. He hit some “perfect” shots that the gusting wind grabbed right out of the sky and made not-so-perfect. At one point, a television camera caught Watson saying to himself, “I can’t even play golf, man.”

Yet, there Watson is at even par through 36 holes at Royal Birkdale. Tough critic? Not exactly; Watson actually was pleased with his 2-over 72 in brutally windy conditions.

“I just didn’t want to come up here,” Watson said after stepping on the podium in front of three writers. “It’s the same questions every week: ‘Hey, how do you feel about your round?’ ”

To answer that question for Watson, he played an impressive round of golf while many others in the field played themselves into an early exit. He birdied the ultra-tough par-4 sixth hole to get to 4 under. And after playing the next eight holes in 6 over, Watson birdied Nos. 15 and 16, and then closed with two straight impressive par saves from greenside bunkers.

He “smothered” his second shot at the par-5 17th and pulled it into the crowd. He drew a good lie, though, and found the front-left greenside bunker with his third shot before getting up and down. He found the front-left greenside bunker at the par-4 18th, too, and again saved par, nearly holing his shot from the sand.

When asked about grinding out pars after wayward shots on the final two holes, Watson quickly interjected: “Well, wayward, that’s a tough word to say. There’s a lot of wind out there. I don’t know how you played that hole today, but it’s very difficult.”

When you combine heavy winds, some rain and links golf, most every shot becomes are difficult to control. And Watson did it better than many others on Friday.

Watson is 169th in strokes gained-putting, but his performance on the greens this week has been especially comforting. Watson has made a bunch of putts from 5-to-6 feet this week.

“I’ll take it,” Watson said. “I told Teddy (Scott, his caddie), even though I was 2 under early, if I could shoot even par for the tournament for two days, first of all, I made the cut, and second of all, it means I’m playing pretty good.”

He doesn’t have a very good Open record. In eight previous starts, Watson has missed four cuts and not finished better than T-23. But Watson has figured out Royal Birkdale so far through 36 holes.

“The difficult part is just trusting and believing that you’ve got all the right numbers and the right wind directions, so that’s the key,” Watson said.

Watson seems to be trusting and believing in his abilities this week. Even if he doesn’t always say it to himself on the course.

 

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