NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Bubba Watson brought the attention back to his golf Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Watson was on a short list of emerging American stars when he won his second PGA Tour event of the year in New Orleans. That was four months ago, and he hasn’t done much on the golf course since.
All that changed in the second round of the TPC Boston, when he used his power to make eagle on the par-5 seventh for the second straight day and wound up with a 7-under 64 to put himself in front.
Even as the afternoon wave of players coped with a troublesome breeze, Watson was in good shape halfway through the second FedEx Cup playoff event.
He was at 10-under 132, one shot clear of Brandt Snedeker, whose 64 featured a hole-in-one on the 16th hole. Rickie Fowler made a strong move early before he settled for all pars on the back nine in his round of 67 that left him three back.
Also three shots behind was Ernie Els in what might have been the biggest development of a lazy, late summer afternoon south of Boston.
Els was among the final players to qualify for these playoffs, and a late rally at The Barclays allowed him to advance to the second round. Needing an even stronger performance at the TPC Boston, he ran off four birdies over his last six holes for a 65 that also put him three shots.
“I’ve been working quite hard to get some kind of game going, and it seems like I’ve got it going a bit now,” Els said. “The putter is starting to cooper a little bit better.”
Els currently is using a belly putter. Phil Mickelson tried the belly putter for the second straight day, although it was more his long game that led to a 73. He was 11 shots behind and flirting with a missed cut at the tournament he won four years ago.
Watson hasn’t missed many cuts this year. He really hasn’t done much of anything aside from his two wins in San Diego and New Orleans. He attributed it to getting accustomed to a little more celebrity.
“You win three times in less than a year, all the people are writing about you in the paper, you’ve got more fans, you’ve got a lot more friends, you’ve got a lot more family, you’ve got a lot more of everything,” he said. “For me, for getting a simple guy like myself, it’s not what I dream to do.”
He said he feared he might be sick because his energy was drained, then later realized that being in the spotlight required more energy. Watson also learned about the attention from his growing star power in France, when he joked about not knowing the names of some of the most famous landmarks and was criticized in Europe and at home.
Self-deprecating as ever, Watson had no problem making fun of himself or the situation in France. When asked about the landmarks in New England, he said, “There’s a fence or something, isn’t there? A green one?”
He was only joking about Fenway’s “Green Monster.”
“I love the Yankees, sorry,” he said. “They’re all going to hate me, anyways.”
Watson referred to his round as boring, perhaps because it was a tidy display of length and a few putts – nothing wild like what occurred on the par-3 16th.
With the pin in the front right of the green, below a shelf, Snedeker hit 9-iron just long and to the right, then watched it spin back and drop into the cup for an ace. A short time later, Snedeker heard another loud cheer from the 16th and found out later that Greg Chalmers also had a hole-in-one.
Snedeker, meanwhile, had an eagle-bogey-eagle finish to the back nine for a 29. He wasn’t happy with the bogey, although found a few benefits.
“Got me right back in the right frame of mind and made two good swings on 18,” he said. “Made a good putt for eagle there. Kind of knew I was going to have a pretty good round, to shoot 6 under on that nine.”
Fowler got to the top of the leaderboard, then had to work hard for pars on the next five holes and saw birdie opportunities go away. He still is in the mix for his first PGA Tour win, however.
Sergio Garcia had a 65 and was four shots behind, along with world No. 1 Luke Donald, who shot 70.
The FedEx Cup playoffs ended for Ian Poulter and Stewart Cink, among others. Both missed the cut and already were outside the top 70 on the list of players who are trying to advance to the third playoff event in two weeks outside Chicago.