SAN FRANCISCO -- Olympic Club, 1. Bubba, 0.
“It beat me up today,” Bubba Watson said after posting an eight-over-par 78 on the slick and sloping Lake Course. “It’s beating me by eight right now.”
This place will do that to a player, especially when he hits just five fairways and eight greens as Watson did in the first round of the U.S. Open. Playing alongside Tiger Woods (69) and Phil Mickelson (76), the Masters champion sputtered right out of the gates. Related Photos: Day 1 at the U.S. Open He found the left rough with his opening drive, at the par-4 ninth, then tried to hack his ball up to the green but advanced it only 10 yards. More bogeys followed at 11, 15 and 16, and after a birdie at the par-5 17th, Watson doubled the short par-4 18th.
Watson said his strategy was to overpower the course, but bomb-and-gouging doesn’t work at Olympic. The rough is too sticky, the fairways too slanted, the greens too slick. (There’s a reason Tiger hit only three drivers Thursday.)
Watson was asked about how his game plan worked out for him.
“I shot eight over, so not very good.”
Fair enough. But about that rough -- how did your short irons work out of it?
“I shot eight over, so not very good,” he said again. “You could answer these [questions] yourself.”
Jack Nicklaus tried to make the case in his press conference Wednesday that there’s no such thing as horses for courses. “A lot of people say, this golf course doesn't suit my game, which to me is the most ridiculous statement you ever hear,” Nicklaus said. “You're supposed to suit your game to the golf course.”
If that’s true, Watson had best get to work. Because after 18 holes at the Olympic Club, he sounded like a man resigned to defeat.
“It's a lot better than I am,” Watson said. “That golf course is too tough for me."
(Photo: Al Tielemans/SI)