Bubba Watson played his opening round of the U.S. Open on Thursday as if he couldn’t wait to get back home, kick back, and take in the match from the privacy of his rec room.
Watson, who entered the tourney with little enthusiasm for the tough Olympic Club set-up, tweeted prior to his opening round about his star-studded threesome that included an equally lackluster Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who left the other two in his dust.
“Thinking about WDing from US Open cause I want to watch @TigerWoods & Phil on tv,” @bubbawatson typed Thursday before his morning tee time with the two legends. “But I forgot I got the best seat in da house!! #CrazyFan”
Well, the “CrazyFan,” who complained that the course did not fit his eye and worried about a score of 80 “lurking” somewhere in the San Francisco fog, will have to pull a miracle or two from his golf bag on Friday unless he plans to get an early start for New England. Watson, who missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago in his first start since a self-imposed hiatus after his Masters win in April and will play in next week’s Travelers Championship, began his day with a bogey. He added six more, plus a double, on his way to an 8-over 78.
Among his many head-scratching decisions was a driver off the fairway on the 670-yard, par-5 16th hole, a shot he explained to reporters that was not meant to go for the green but just “get it somewhere down there.” His driver off the tee on the short par-4 seventh that went right of the tree line elicited this comment from NBC Sports’ analyst Johnny Miller: “That is a nutty shot.”
Watson conceded that his plan to smack the stuffing out of the course came up a tad short.
“It beat me up today,” Watson said. “That golf course is too tough for me.”
Mickelson, who finished just two shots better than Watson, began his round with a lost ball off his first tee, three quick bogeys, and it went downhill from there.
“I didn’t play very well, obviously. You could see that,” said the other Lefty in the group, who withdrew from the Memorial after posting an opening-round 79. “I fought hard there for a while trying to keep it a few over….But it was a tough day when you play it the way I did.”
Ironically, Mickelson birdied the one hole, the 13th, that he cautioned, earlier in the week, could result in a one-way ticket to Hartford for golfers who misplayed the 199-yard par-3.
As for Woods, Watson sounded like an awe-struck fan boy describing the way the 14-time major winner made his way to a 69 and a multi-player share of second, three shots back of 18-hole leader Michael Thompson.
“Tiger, that was the old Tiger. That was beautiful to watch,” Watson said, waxing poetic about the bullets Woods shot down the fairways and the drained clutch putts. “That’s what we all come to see. That’s what we all want to watch and that was awesome to see him strike the ball.”
After Friday’s round — barring a stunning reversal of fortune on a track that clearly has his number — Watson will be able to get the popcorn out and watch Woods attempt to grab his fourth Open title.
But even with all that beset him on Thursday, Watson seemed to keep a sense of humor about his disastrous day.
“I figured out what I did wrong today on the golf course,” he tweeted following his round, “missed the putt for 77.” For extra measure, Watson added a hash tag that has become his motto: “golfishard.”
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer