Well-rested Bubba Watson brings length, creativity to U.S. Open

Well-rested Bubba Watson brings length, creativity to U.S. Open

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Well-rested Bubba Watson brings length, creativity to U.S. Open

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UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Bubba Watson is not what you would call the typical U.S. Open player, but that could all change this week at Chambers Bay.

One of the longest players off the tee, Watson has struggled in eight U.S. Opens, recording only one top-10, a T-5 in 2007 at Oakmont, and four missed cuts, including two of the past three years.

But that’s merely history for Watson. Already a fan of this municipal course along Puget Sound from having played here in outings, Watson came to Chambers Bay last Tuesday after a five-week hiatus from competition. He has played 45 holes on the course, with some additional golf at other area courses.

“I’m excited,” Watson, No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, said Wednesday morning on the practice range. “I haven’t played. I’ve got full energy. I’m ready to go. Back in the day, when the PGA Tour used to have a break, everybody had three months off and somebody is always going to win. So I don’t see rust. I see at our level there’s no such thing as rust.”

Just as he must do at the Open Championship, Watson will be challenged this week with taking large divots on turf that is a better fit for a picker’s swing.

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In adjusting to the firmer turf, the left-handed Watson has a tendency to push his shot left because the clubhead doesn’t dig into the ground. He will have to make the proper adjustments to be successful.

Watson’s other issue is with the speed of the greens. A fast-green putter who has won twice in four years at Augusta National, Watson will have to adjust to fescue greens that won’t run at a modest Open Championship pace but will be slower than at the Masters.

“It comes down to making your 10‑footers, your 5‑footers and playing smart and playing the right way,” Watson said. “Being aggressive with your 8‑iron and not your 4‑iron or your 7‑wood.”

Watson, who is tied for fourth in driving distance on Tour (306.9 yards), expects to enjoy an edge off the tee.

“It’s obviously an advantage because I can hit shorter irons off the tees to par 3s to short par 4s,” Watson said. “I can throttle back with a 3‑wood or a 7‑wood. Obviously driving over holes, driving over bunkers, different things like that, it’s going to help a lot.”

Though Watson possesses raw talent, his greatest attribute could be his imagination. That trait will be required to succeed around Chambers Bay.

“This is a place where people get down,” Watson said. “U.S. Open creates negative thoughts in your head. You have to take those in stride and try to be better, try to perform at a high level. That means trust in your lines, trusting what you’ve figured out on the golf course, what me and Teddy (Scott, his caddie) have worked on, and believe in what our game plan for that week on that hole and that strategy for that hole or that nine holes or that 18 holes.”

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