With season on the line, Bubba Watson struggles to opening 75

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With season on the line, Bubba Watson struggles to opening 75

PGA Tour

With season on the line, Bubba Watson struggles to opening 75

NORTON, Mass. – It is a pretty rare occurrence to see a Masters champion dew sweeping at a PGA Tour event, but on a glorious late-summer New England morning, two of them, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, were in the first group at the Dell Technologies Championship.

Watson, who enters this week ranked No. 49 in the Official World Golf Ranking, earned a place in this week’s 100-man field after finishing tied for 10th at last week’s Northern Trust. That propelled him from 113th to 72nd on the FedEx Cup point list, but the two-time Masters winner needed to stay hot on Friday because only the top 70 on the list Monday night qualify for the next playoff event, the BMW Championship outside of Chicago in two weeks.

Unfortunately for Watson, the day turned out to be long, frustrating walk that concluded with a bogey on the ninth hole (his 18th) for 75.

The 4-over performance was a struggle from start to finish, beginning with a three-putt bogey on Watson’s first hole from 66 feet and concluding with that bogey on nine, which came after a poor approach shot from 155 yards out in the fairway came up 81 feet short.

In between, Watson carded only a single birdie and railed several times about bad luck and tough breaks.

On the 14th, after his approach shot rolled through the green, his chip shot took a funny hop and rolled just over 4 feet from the cup.

“Can you get a worse bounce than that,” he barked at Ted Scott, his caddie, as he pointed to an old hole in the putting surface that, apparently, caused the shot to veer off course.

A pulled approach shot on the 15th brought out an “Arrggghh!!!” and after making the turn in 39, he missed a 10-foot birdie putt and slapped his thigh.

On the second tee box, he bellowed, “Just as I hit it, that gust of wind came up!”

On the first hole, after missing another 10-foot birdie chance, Watson told Scott as they walked to the next tee, “(DeLaet’s putt) didn’t break, but mine somehow broke.”

On his final hole, moments after hitting his second shot and leaving it short, he berated himself and said, “How could you do that?”

In many ways, Friday’s round was a microcosm of his season. Adorned all in black, with a blue golf glove and playing a white ball today, Watson’s pink driver was not the problem. He averaged 302.9 yards per drive and hit 7 of 14 fairways, but a couple of those misses were just into the fridge and left him in a good position. It was Watson’s iron game, shortgame and putting that let him down on a day when he needed to make birdies.

Watson finished the day with a negative strokes gained average in approach the green, around the green and putting. He has a negative season average in those categories too. In fact, after Kelly Kraft and Ryan Moore’s withdrawals, midway through Friday Watson ranked 88th in strokes gained: putting (-2.165) among the 98 players in the field. For the season, Watson ranks 128th in strokes gained: putting (-.066) on the PGA Tour.

The top 70 players and ties make the cut at the Dell Technologies Championship, so if Watson wants to continue his season and make it to Chicago, the first thing he probably has to do is shoot a round in the 60s and make the cut.

In other words, on Saturday he’ll need to sweep in birdies instead of sweeping off the dew.

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